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Christopher Nolan Scores a V for Victory with Dunkirk

18 Jul

Christopher Nolan’s latest, Dunkirk, is a film for anyone who wished the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan was an hour and a half longer.

The director of the The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, and Inception has given us a definitive account of one of World War II’s most heroic and miraculous — not to mention, pivotal — events, and in the process, has made a movie that is a real must-see. Continue reading

Local Boy Makes Good Hero

6 Jul

Movie-watchers got their first look at Tom Holland in the Spider-suit last year, when the erstwhile Peter Parker was recruited by mentor Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) to help him in the fight against Captain America, et al. in Captain America: Civil War. Holland was such a blast of energy in the role that he practically stole the film right out from under stars Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans.

Now, Holland gets his own stand-alone Spider-Man film in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and shows that the inflated cameo was no fluke. This Spider-Man is the one we’ve been waiting for. Or, you might say, third time’s the charm. Continue reading

That’s Why They Call It Love

3 Jul

Like so many single people of a certain age, Kumail Nanjiani is getting pressured by his family to get married. But there’s a “twist”: In traditional Pakistani Muslim culture, you don’t choose your spouse, it’s all arranged for you. And so, at every family dinner, a potential wife just happens to be in the neighborhood, and shows up right before dessert.

But Kumail wants nothing to do with that custom. Since moving to Chicago at a young age, he’s stopped praying and has been assimilating into American culture. Instead of becoming a doctor, he’s chosen a career as a stand-up comedian. (Fine. He’s also an Uber driver.) And, as the new movie The Big Sick begins, he meets an American woman named Emily (Zoe Kazan, writer and star of the excellent Ruby Sparks), and the two start dating. Continue reading

Young Mozart with a Go-Kart

2 Jul

Baby Driver is a movie for anyone who lives life with a constant soundtrack of music playing. Those who sing along with the radio, change the way they walk or drive depending on the song they’re listening to, and can’t sit still when they go to concerts.

This one’s for all of us.

Nowhere is this more true than in its opening credits sequence, where our title character (played by Ansel Elgort, from The Fault in Our Stars) doesn’t so much walk through the city as he grooves, while listening to Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle.” Eagle-eyed viewers will spot song lyrics appearing as graffiti on the walls.

Nice touch. Continue reading

Everybody Wanted Some Good Movies in 2016!!

27 Dec

everybody-wants-someEvery year around this time, movie watchers put on end-of-the-year goggles and delight in the riches that come with awards season movie releases.

Funny thing is, it wasn’t so long ago that many of those same people (myself included) were bemoaning the lack of quality releases this year. For example, in September, in a column on the sorry state of movies, Boston Globe critic Ty Burr actually wrote, “Someday we may look back on 2016 as the year the movies died.” Ouch. (And this was less than a year after Spotlight, a fantastic movie about a group of dogged Boston Globe reporters, won all kinds of awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture.)

There was also a great video by a YouTuber who calls himself the Nerdwriter about the epidemic of “passable” movies.

To be sure, neither Ty or the Nerdwriter — or the multiple other critics who wrote similar columns — was wrong. Much of 2016 did feel seriously lacking in great cinematic pleasure.

And yet, here we are. Continue reading

Heroes and Villains

4 Aug

On the surface, the two new movies Suicide Squad and Gleason would seem to have very little, if anything, in common.

One is a big, loud comic-book movie about a group of meta-human villains, and the other is a true-life documentary about the devastating effects of ALS on a former NFL football player. One is about some very bad characters acting sort of heroically and the other is about an actual hero acting even more heroically.

But at their cores, both movies are about flawed heroes. Heroes overcoming their own challenges.

And here they both are in theaters, presenting discriminating moviegoers with a choice. Which one should you see? Here are my reviews. Continue reading

Tickled Is So Much More Than a Laughing Matter

27 Jun

tickled-posterIf it’s true that truth is stranger than fiction, then what are we to make of the new documentary Tickled?

Ostensibly the story of a New Zealand reporter who wants to know more about the world of Competitive Endurance Tickling (yes, that’s really a thing), this documentary takes viewers on an unforgettable journey down a rabbit hole so twisty they’ll never see the bottom coming.

Without spoiling anything, here’s the gist: David Farrier is one of those lighter-side TV personalities who is always reporting on the weird and wacky side of life. So when he comes across videos featuring the sport of “competitive endurance tickling,” he figures he’s found his next great story. In the world of CET, a young jock is held down — shackled, actually — and, yes, tickled by one, two, or three other men. Why do they do this, other than, apparently, for significant financial gain? Who wants to watch this? And who is behind it all? Continue reading