Full Cavity Search
UR A Meatball Rating System

Everybody's Doing It

 

Lurk No Further

Wednesday
Sep022015

Armada

Armada
Author/Publisher: Ernest Cline/Crown
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

If you were expecting this book to break new and exciting ground, then put a pin on those expectations now. For better or for worse, Cline has opted to venture down a path that is similar in story, content, and structure to Ready Player One in order to cement his authorial identity and territory, rather than striking out boldly in any new direction.

Armada, as Cline hinted in many pre-release interviews, is as close as we have gotten to a modern Ender’s Game. It could easily be called Ernest Cline’s Ender’s Game without a single change to the story.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep012015

The Second Mother

The Second Mother
Directed by: Anna Muylaert
Released on: August 28th, 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

In one of the nice neighborhoods of São Paulo, an upper-middle class family lives a life of monotonous order where everyone knows her or his place.

The official matriarch of the family, Bárbara (Karine Teles), seems to be of some importance to the fashion world. It is never exactly disclosed what she does, but we know it keeps her away from home during the week. Her husband, Carlos (Lourenco Mutarelli), was once an artist, but now just hangs around the house all day. He inherited money from his hardworking father so why labor? Their son, Fabinho (Michel Joelsas), is a teenage kid with all the advantages and none of the discipline to carve much of an identity for himself. He likes to swim and smoke pot.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug242015

Digging for Fire

Digging for Fire
Director: Joe Swanberg
Released on: August 21st, 2015
Grade: 2 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Lee (Rosemarie Dewitt), her husband, Tim (co-writer Jake Johnson), and their 3-year-old son, Jude (Jude Swanberg), have just arrived at a swank Hollywood Hills home, courtesy of one of Lee's clients.

While walking the grounds, Tim discovers a bone and a gun halfway buried in the dirt. He calls the cops, but the operator "with an attitude" says there is nothing they can do without more "evidence" (a suspicious response, but okay). Tim wants to excavate the grounds further to find proof of misdeeds. Lee thinks it is a bad idea. Tim concedes to Lee.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug242015

Top Spin

Top Spin
Director: Sara Newens, Mina T. Son
Released on: August 21st, 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther 

For many Americans, playing table tennis, AKA ping pong, has been an enduring pastime over the years. The difference, however, between recreational fun and those striving for Olympic play is a lot longer than the length of a ping pong table and a lot harder than the speed of a smash hit.

Proving the sport can take on a greater level of skill and commitment than the typical American will see in her or his lifetime, Mina T. Son and Sara Newens' documentary, Top Spin, sheds lights on the great game of table tennis through its three highly likable and highly skilled subjects. These intelligent, well adjusted American kids are not just good, they are seeking a spot at the 2012 London Olympics.  

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug242015

Grandma

Grandma
Director: Paul Weitz
Released on: August 21st, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

One of the most audacious American films of the year is finally here. I am writing about writer-director Paul Weitz's Grandma. 

A considerable hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the 80-minute Grandma tells the story of Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin), a woman navigating her life after her longtime lover has passed away. Afraid to ever get close to another lover again, Elle cruelly, somewhat abruptly, ends her four-month relationship with Olivia (Judy Greer). 

That same day, Elle's granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner) shows up at Elle's doorsteps unannounced. Sage is pregnant and needs the money to terminate the pregnancy and terminate it that day — no waiting periods in California. 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug102015

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Director: Marielle Heller
Released on: August 7th, 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

San Francisco, California, 1976. The kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst is the news story du jour. It is a time of permissibility. The radical politics of the 1960s are gone. Noxious disco, swapping couples, and cocaine are in full swing.

In one particular home in The City by the Bay, 15-year-old Minnie Goetze (Bel Powley) is looking for love and loins in the wrong places. A budding artist, she draws a gigantic woman who rules the streets of San Francisco (brought to “life” by animator Sara Gunnarsdottir.) Minnie has dreams, desires, woes and whimsy, which she records in her diary. She also has the desire to sleep with “The handsomest man in the world,” Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). Monroe, however, is a lot older than Minnie.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

Self/less

Self/less
Directed by: Tarsem Singh
Release Date: July 10th, 2015
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Tarsem Singh first caught my eye as the director of the dazzling music video of REM’s “Losing My Religion” and I was excited to see him break into Hollywood with his 2000 sci-fi debut, The Cell. That film’s plot, about a psychologist who uses advanced technology to enter the mind of a comatose serial killer, wasn't as good as it must have sounded on paper, but the movie was watchable because of Tarsem’s spectacular and disturbing visuals.

His latest film, Self/less, covers similar territory in terms of exploring man’s psyche and its relationship to the body. It concerns Damian Hale, played by Sir Ben Kingsley, a ruthless New York tycoon who is close to dying from terminal cancer. Of course a filthy rich son-of-a-bitch would want to live forever, so he decides to try a new procedure called “shedding,” where his mind will be transplanted from his dying body into a younger body (Ryan Reynolds) grown fresh in a lab.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

Black Sea

Black Sea
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Released on DVD/Blu-Ray: May 5th, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Black Sea stars the always impeccable Jude Law as Captain Robinson, a salvager who has spent most of his life working on a sub away from home, losing his wife and son as a result. When he is let go by his employers, he feels betrayed. Desperate for a payday and hoping to reclaim what he surrendered in his life, he takes a risky job commanding a submarine to the bottom of the Black Sea.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul152015

Dope

Dope
Directed by: Rick Famuyiwa
Released on: June 19th, 2015
Grade: 3.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Dope is a vibrant coming-of-age story about Malcolm (Shamiek Moore) and his pals Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel) set in the Bottoms, a rough section of Inglewood, California. They find escape by immersing themselves in the hip-hop of the 1990s and by playing in a punk rock band called Awreeoh. Within their neighborhood, they are outcasts. They are looked at suspiciously because of their lack of gang affiliation and are bullied for doing “white shit” like applying for college. Malcolm hopes that getting into Harvard University will be his way out of the Bottoms.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul022015

A Little Chaos

A Little Chaos
Directed by: Alan Rickman
Release Date: June 26th, 2015
Grade: 2.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Actor/director Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos stars Kate Winslet as the widowed Sabine De Barra, who makes her living as a landscaper in 1682 Paris. Unorthodox and bold, she is carving out her own distinct style. She is interviewed by court landscape architect of King Louis XIV, André Le Nôtre (Matthias Schoenaerts), who needs help after being tasked by the King (Rickman also pulling directing duty) to create an outdoor ballroom for the Gardens of Versailles, complete with a cascade fountain.

Though reluctant at first, André is charmed by Sabine’s free-spiritedness and engineering prowess and brings her on board the project. Though she is met with some resistance because of her gender, she overcomes and finds favor with the royalty court, including the flamboyant Duke Philippe of Orleans (the amusing Stanley Tucci) and the King himself.

Click to read more ...