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Entries in Review (36)

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

Three Hundred Million

Three Hundred Million
Author/Publisher: Blake Butler/Harper Perennial
Release Date: October 14th, 2014
Grade: 5 out of 5 Meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Three Hundred Million blasts off like an LSD pipe bomb from page one, beginning in a messy big bang of vague sociopathic declarations and aphasia level word-salad that washes over and through the rest of the book like static on a TV, always struggling against the solid footing given to the reader by the interspersed monologues of 'normal people,' Gravey's 'boys' and how they were drawn to our disoriented narrator, the thing inside Gravey.

“The World occurs because of god,” the book starts. “In our year here god is not a being but a system, composed in dehydrated fugue. Under terror-sleep alive we hear it heaving in and out from the long bruises on our communal eternal corpse, consuming memory. The wrecking flesh of Him surrounds, holds us laced together every hour, overflowing and wide open, permeable to inverse, which no identity survives.”

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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

Destiny

Destiny | PS4/PS3 Xbox 360/Xbox One
Released: Sept 9th, 2014
Developer/Publisher: Bungie/Activision & Sony
Grade: 2.75 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Frankly, I’m pissed. After ten minutes of research online, I have determined that I have, in fact, beaten the highly anticipated video game known as Destiny. I downloaded it five days ago, and it’s already over. Epic? More like a gorgeous two-pump-chump as it stands now.

It was all roses and puppy dogs back at level ten. I had my four or five planets open as locations to travel to in order to do missions, and I never saw anyone over level 25 (this was early into the release). “Oh,” I think to myself, “another area must open up after level 25” because, if I was already at level 10 after a good solid sitting of play, 25 couldn’t be the end.

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Author/Publisher: Haruki Murakami / Knopf
Release date: August 12th, 2014
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Pawl Schwartz

Tsukuru is colorless. He has a tight-knit group of friends that define him this way, their names all being Japanese for a different color, and his meaning ‘Gray’ and ‘Builder,’ which he is. Tsukuru builds train stations, and gets an almost aspergers-esque glee from doing so.

When Tsukuru comes back to visit his hometown, his group of friends quite vocally cast him aside and ask him never to contact them again, which he accepts without question. For years afterwards, Tsukuru lives in Tokyo, never visiting home, and never asking why he was excommunicated, living a very Murikami-esque lonely existence, only without the Japanese joy-in-simplicity attitude that most Murikami characters are imbued with. Tsukuru is in a dark place, a lonely place, and he plans to do nothing about it. That is, until a new girlfriend forces him to confront his childhood friends and get some closure on the situation, to free Tsukuru from his constant misanthropy and fear (not to mention, erectile dysfunction).

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Life Itself

Life Itself
Directed by: Steve James
Release Date: July 4th, 2014/Streaming now on Amazon.com 
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

One of my favorite pastimes growing up was staying up late on Sunday nights to watch Siskel & Ebert on the St. Louis affiliate. Not only was it a great way to end the week in anticipation of going back to school on Monday, but it fostered my interest in movies as an art form. The dynamic duo broadened my horizons by introducing me to films I couldn’t find at my small town multiplex and by recommending classics to rent at the video store. Without Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, I would not be doing what I am right now.

When Ebert passed away in April of last year, after more than a decade battling thyroid cancer, he joined his reviewing partner at the Great Movie Palace in the Sky. The world mourned the death of the most popular and important film critic in the history of movies. There has never been anyone quite like him in his field and there probably won’t be anyone else like him to come. He was the rockstar of movie reviewers. He was the voice of the plebs in a profession mostly made up of pretentious snobs and humorless know-it-alls out of touch with the general moviegoing public.

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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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