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Entries in film (20)

Friday
Nov212014

Little Hope Was Arson

Little Hope Was Arson
Director: Theo Love
Released on: November 18th, 2014 [Limited/VOD]
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

For East Texas and the rest of the Bible Belt, God is an important part of people’s lives. Some churches have stood over a century and have served as a meeting place for families going back many generations. People have been baptized, married and eulogized within the walls of these buildings.

And just as the people of East Texas believe in a powerful, righteous God, so too is their belief in an evil, malevolent Devil. In 2010, ten churches were set ablaze across three East Texas counties. Families and congregations in the area became fearful — some even believing Satan himself was destroying the churches. The crimes and the ensuing investigation are the subject of Little Hope Was Arson, an engaging, true-life crime story that shows that community bonds strengthen in the face of sinister transgressions.

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Thursday
Nov202014

Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Released on: November 14th, 2014
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

In 1996 recluse millionaire madman John du Pont assassinated a man who was arguably the greatest American wrestler ever. It was not supposed to happen. After all, du Pont invited the wrestling extraordinaire brothers Dave and Mark Schultz to come to du Point’s Foxcatcher estate to create a great American wrestling team. Great things were supposed to be accomplished, and sometimes they were. But wrestling on the mat and wrestling with one’s own and another’s psyche are two different phenomena — yet not necessarily distinct.

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Thursday
Nov202014

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything
Directed by: James Marsh
Released on: November 14th, 2014
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Behind every great man there’s a great woman, so says the outdated cliché. In this case, that woman would be Jane Hawking, portrayed by Felicity Jones (Like Crazy), in the delightful The Theory of Everything. Adapted from Jane’s memoir Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, the film tells the story of her relationship with her husband, physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) from their time as students at the University of Cambridge until the publication of A Brief History of Time, Stephen’s bestselling book that explained black holes to the masses.

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Wednesday
Nov192014

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Released on: October 31st, 2014
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Jake Gyllenhaal gives a creepy, demented and oddly comic performance as Louis Bloom in the sleek thriller Nightcrawler. When we first meet the character, he is down-on-his-luck and eeks out a living stealing from construction sites. After witnessing a car accident and the immediate media response to the wreck, he decides to do better for himself—as an entrepreneur by any means necessary. He’s decides to go into business as a freelance cameraman for the news. He acquires a camera and police scanner, and begins to film the carnage and crime of Los Angeles at night. Paying for his footage is Nina (a marvelous Rene Russo), a seasoned news director who badly needs ratings for her ailing broadcast.

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Monday
Oct132014

Left Behind

Left Behind
Directed by: Vic Armstrong
Released on: October 3rd, 2014
Grade: 1 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Yep, it’s been 14 years since the incredibly awful, low-budget, end-times thriller Left Behind: The Movie starring Kirk Cameron hit video shelves. As per usual, idea-strapped Hollywood thinks it’s due for a remake. Producer Paul Lalonde returns to familiar Revelation-inspired territory with a bigger budget, more sophisticated productions values and a recognizable cast to retell the story of those left over after the Rapture, the event where the godly are taken instantly to Heaven before Christ returns to Earth, as some Christians believed is prophesied in the Bible. Based on Rev. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ wildly popular series of novels, this Left Behind remake, despite its Hollywood polish, is just as bad and laughable as the original.

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Locke

Locke
Directed by: Steven Knight
Released on DVD/Blu-Ray: August 12th, 2014
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

In this age of bloated CGI spectacles, pointless remakes/reboots/reimaginings and two-hour dick jokes, innovation in cinema is very far and very few between. It seems that Hollywood would rather run out of ideas than make smart and challenging films. It’s quite an embarrassment.

On the other hand, you have films like the British import, Locke. Written and directed by Oscar nominee Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises), this captivating film experiment is the antithesis of everything that is wrong with the current state of Hollywood. Shot over a few weeks on a miniscule budget and set entirely in a car in real time, it tells the story of engineer and family man Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy, The Dark Knight Rises) going for one of the most important drives of his life.

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Saturday
Sep062014

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears
Directed by: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Released on: August 29th, 2014 [USA/LIMITED]
Grade: 1 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange) has just returned to Brussels from a business trip abroad. After leaving several messages for his wife, Edwige (Ursula Bedena), without receiving response, Dan comes home to find the door is chained from the inside. When Edwige still does not answer Dan through the ajar door, Dan breaks the chain and enters his home.

Edwige is missing. Rather than immediately call the cops, Dan goes on a drinking binge and then rings up his neighbors to see if they have seen his wife. One of his neighbors lets him into her home. A strange woman whose face remains shadowed in darkness, Dora (Birgin Yew), relays a ghastly story about the day her husband went missing in the ceiling after he tied her up and sedated her. (She wakes up later to help him, somehow eschewing or forgetting or forgiving her husband's horrific behavior.)

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Monday
Aug182014

A Will for the Woods

A Will for the Woods
Directed by: Amy Browne, Tony Hale, Jeremy Kaplan, Brian Wilson
Released on: August 15th, 2014 [SCREENINGS]
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Faced with a terminal illness, Clark Wang decides to eschew America's typical burial methods and take the green way out and under.

At most a slight deviation from the way most humans have been buried since the beginning of time (and continue to do so in much of the world), a green burial is the eco-friendly, formalized ritual where the deceased is laid to rest in a natural setting using biodegradable materials. There is no embalming or concrete involved. Often a simple stone is used as the marking spot.

Not only does this ritual allow one to "return to the earth" in an environmentally responsible way, it also allows natural land to remain free from development since the land is now a burial site.

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Monday
Aug182014

Life After Beth

Life After Beth
Directed by: Jeff Baena
Released on: August 15th, 2014 [LIMITED]
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Written and directed by Jeff Baena, Life After Beth tells the comedic-tragic teenage tale of a single child named Beth Slocum (Aubrey Plaza) who went hiking one day, was bitten by a snake and died. (Snakes and teenage girls are always a scary combination.)

At first, Beth's death causes great grief in her father, Maury (John C. Reily), her mother, Geenie (Molly Shannon) and her boyfriend, Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan). Following the funeral, Zach begins to bond with Beth's parents, especially Maury. The two play chess together, talk about what they wished they had said to Beth when she was alive and they even share some wacky tobacky. Geenie gives Zach Beth's winter scarf, which he wears around his neck like a chain in the summertime.

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Sunday
Aug172014

Around the Block

Around the Block
Directed by: Sarah Spillane
Released on: August 1st, 2014 [LIMITED]
Grade: 2 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

After a hiatus, American Dino Chalmers (Christina Ricci) has returned to Australia to be with her fiance, Simon (Daniel Henshall). A bright-eyed idealist, Dino takes a job at Redfern High School. Redfern High School is located in a particularly rough neighborhood in Sydney.

In the first of the film's numerous too-convenient tropes, Dino notices one of the students, Liam (Hunter Page-Lochard), a teenager who she filmed in the streets the day before, happens to be in her class.

Liam has troubles. He lives in a poor, violent neighborhood known as The Block. His Mum (Ursula Yovich) is unemployed; his father, Jack (Matt Nable), is in prison; and his older brother, Steve (Mark Coles Smith), plans to avenge his father's imprisonment and uncle's death.

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