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Entries in Review (67)

Tuesday
Feb022016

A Good Wife

A Good Wife [Dobra zena]
Directed by: Mirjana Karanovic
Released at: Sundance Film Festival 2016
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Commencing and concluding with a disrupting male gaze that focuses on two circles of sorts, Serbian actor Mirjana Karanovic makes an impressive debut as director and co-writer in A Good 
Wife, a film about personal and political cancer in current Serbia. 

Milena (Karanovic) is 50-year-old mother of three taking care of hubby (Boris Isakovic) and household in a small suburb outside of Belgrade. A woman with little identity of her own, Milena fills her days shopping, gossiping with other equally vacuous (yet not so wealthy) housewives and watching home videos. 

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Tuesday
Feb022016

Pleasure. Love.

Pleasure. Love.
Directed by: Huang Yao
Released on: Sundance Film Festival 2016
Grade: 2 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

In Huang Yao's Pleasure. Love. people in their 30s essentially have love (and career) worked out and it is up to them to impart that wisdom on their younger counterparts so they may in turn bestow such wisdom and assurance on future lovers. 

Two stories with overlapping narratives, the first one, "Pleasure" is the more interesting and developed one. Nan (Daizhen Ying) has moved to Beijing, China, to go to school, but he is soon expelled due to lack of payment. This leads to a job selling books on the street (how novel), which pays so little he is threatened with eviction (a distracting, underdeveloped subplot). One night he meets Yajie (Nan Yu). Gorgeous, middle class, older and more mature, only in cinema land would a painfully awkward guy like Nan get a woman Yajie's caliber.

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Wednesday
Dec232015

Uncle Nick

Uncle Nick
Directed by: Chris Kasick
Released on: December 4th, 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Featuring a performance and physique few A-list actors would maintain in a Holiday-centered film, Brian Posehn plays the eponymous character in Chris Kasick's directorial debut, Uncle Nick.

We first meet Nick at home, lounging around in his boxers, surrounded by empty bottles of booze and X-rated material streaming on his laptop. When he stands up, he is all flab, rubber and smooth (except for a stretchmark he will inquire about later). Audiences may also ask: Is he too drunk to get an erection?

A lonely guy with seemingly nothing positive going on in his life, Nick finds out from his mother's nursing home that she will not be able to spend Christmas eve with her family. This does not sit well for Nick. He wanted his mother along, at least to serve as a buffer against his detestable brother, Cody (Beau Ballinger), and as a ride over to said brother's house. Nick just got a DUI.

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Tuesday
Nov172015

I Smile Back

I Smile Back
Directed by: Adam Salky
Released on: November 6th, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther


Featuring Sarah Silverman in what may be the best performance in any American film this year, I Smile Back offers a tragic look into a woman who can no longer take the artifice of her milieu.

Laney (Silverman) seems to have it all: a very nice home; a loving, handsome husband who has just published a book named Bruce (an excellent Josh Charles); two healthy, adorable children (Shayne Colman and Skylar Gaertner) and all the leisure time she can handle.

Yet she is not happy. Everyone around her is bogus in some way, falsifying her or his (mostly his) testimony everywhere Laney looks. Trapped in such existential horror, what is a bourgeois women to do other than consume copious amounts of cocaine and alcohol? Oh, and have an affair with a close friend, Donny (Thomas Sadoski), who is one fraudulent mother pumper. Has Laney never heard of going shopping in order to fill the void?

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Monday
Nov162015

Love

Love
Directed by: Gaspar Noé
Released on: October 30th, 2015 [LIMITED]
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther 

Nothing should be surprising when one goes to see a film by writer-director Gaspar Noé (Irreversible; Enter the Void). In the opening scene of his latest film, Love, a woman named Electra (Aomi Muyock) and a man named Murphy (Karl Glusman) are fingering the genitals of each other. His cock is as hard as rock (a stiffy in cinema!) while she is just squeaky wet. The scene does not end until he ejaculates — money shot and all.

Clearly, the two are in love.

With the cinematic blink of an eye, which Noé used masterfully in Enter the Void, Murphy now occupies his bed with Omi (Klara Kristen). It is New Year's Day and their son, Noe (Jean Couteau), is screaming in the other room. As Murphy goes to retrieve the boy, we learn Murphy is suffering from veisalgia (AKA a hangover) and has been hung out to dry up in a relationship he does not want.

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Sunday
Nov152015

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits: A Novel

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits: A Novel
Author/Publisher: David Wong/Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: Oct 6th, 2015
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed By: Pawl Schwartz

Wong has excelled so far, graduating from Cracked.com university and now on to being a big-time author. His first book you already know is John Dies at the End, a fun-as-hell, hilarious ride for any fan of the great horror comedies (Evil Dead, Dead and Breakfast, Shaun of the Dead, etc.), which was made into a pretty mediocre movie. Weird, right? Wong is horror/comedy on the page, but when translated to film, it just doesn’t feel as explosive or clever. Perhaps it’s because I read the book first; but one thing is for sure: Wong hasn’t painted himself into a corner with his genre island, and he has excelled in his newest novel Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits.

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Tuesday
Oct062015

The Walk

The Walk
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Released on: September 30th, 2015 [IMAX 3D]
Grade: 4.5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Maestro Robert Zemeckishas always been on the vanguard of cinematic technical wizardry. Since many of the films he has directed are part of the American cinematic canon — such as Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Forrest Gump, to name a few — would anyone really have any doubt that The Walk, his latest 3D spectacle, would be an unremarkable movie? Hell fucking no, they wouldn’t.

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Thursday
Sep172015

Pixels

Pixels
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Released on DVD/Blu-Ray: October 27th, 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

Given that this year is the 20th anniversary of the comedy classic Billy Madison, a lot has been recently written or said about not only about the legacy of that film, but also of the career of Adam Sandler. The general consensus, at least among my peers, is that his first few films — namely the aforementioned Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore — stand among the best comedies of its time, but his output has since become uninspired and unfunny.

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Thursday
Sep172015

Beyond the Mask

Beyond the Mask
Director: Chad Burns
Released on DVD/Blu-Ray: September 8th, 2015
Grade: 1 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Justin Tucker

For the past decade or so, producers and studios have been trying with varying degrees of success to appeal to church-going families for their movie-going dollars by producing Christian-themed movies. The trend started with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which proved there was an untapped market by bringing in over a half billion at the box office and going on to be the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time. It continued with Fireproof, the Kirk Cameron-starring drama that made Sherwood Pictures, a Christian film ministry, a major player in Hollywood after it became the highest-grossing independent film of 2008. It reached an apex last year when films like Noah, Son of God, God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real and Exodus: Gods and Kings gave Christians plenty to choose from at the cineplex.

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Tuesday
Sep152015

Coming Home

Coming Home (Gui lai)
Directed by: Yimou Zhang
Released on: September 9th, 2015 [LIMITED]
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Taking vulgar, ideological populism to its extreme, China's Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and 1970s imprisoned thousands of intellectuals who were perceived as "counter-revolutionary" effete bourgeois elements who were trying to bring back capitalism to China.

This Cultural Revolution measure, along with thousands of other counterproductive ones, tore families and lives apart. Based on the ending of Geling Yan's novel, The Criminal Lu Yanshi, the latest film by Yimou Zhang (Ju Dou; To Live; House of the Flying Daggers) cast two of China's finest actors to relay a story about two people who were sacrificed in the name of ideological purity.

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