Movie Review — Row the Boat, Please: ‘Manchester By the Sea’ is Good, But Too Slow to be Great

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Though it ain’t Jimmy Stewart finding life’s true meaning is in the small pleasures, it’s not that far off.

Manchester By the Sea is a grim tale — we see Casey Affleck as Lee grinding it out as a maintenance man for a Boston slumlord, not much going right for him. His daily life consists of getting hammered after a day of drudging work before collapsing in his one room, cell-like apartment. Casey is obviously damaged, and though we don’t yet know what caused it, we are shown glimpses of his gristly past in a series of flashbacks throughout the film.

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The Most Anticipated Movies of 2017

The new year has arrived which means plenty of movies to look forward to in the coming weeks and months ahead.

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Movie Review — Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Will Leave You Speechless

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Silence has been on Martin Scorsese’s back-burner for a long time, continually putting it off for other projects since the 1990s. At this point, it’s an understatement to call it a passion project as much as an obsession. It’s a movie he is adamant to get right.

After reading the novel Silence by Shusaku Endo, I was skeptical Scorsese could pull it off, considering the novel’s formal literary style in contrast to the famous director’s usual informal flair and unconventionality. I couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong. He takes a totally different approach, moving away from his comfort zone and succeeds at faithfully adapting and honoring a beautiful novel. By the end, the emotional weight of this film will leave you speechless.

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Movie Review — ‘Passengers’ is a Poorly Written Romance Wrapped in a Pretty Sci-Fi Film

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On the outset, Passengers looks like a potentially solid film with two great leads in Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, an up and coming director with his much buzzed about movie, The Imitation Game and the screenwriter of Doctor Strange and Prometheus.

But, of course, the spotlight is primarily on Pratt and Lawrence and all the positives and negatives that come with that kind of attention. Their performances and the story premise alone should have made Passengers a blockbuster, but somewhere along the way the story takes a few too many bizarre turns and finds itself in a sea of bad lines, clichés and plot holes. By the end, rather than a passenger enjoying this film, you may feel more like a hostage to a poorly written romance wrapped in a pretty science fiction film.

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Movie Review — Why Not See ‘Why Him?’ This Holiday Season?

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It’s no wonder why James Franco has the wrinkles of a smile burned into his star-studded face; he’s played more stoners, scoundrels, and screwballs with an insatiable grimace than anyone can count by this point, and he’s hilarious at doing so. His role as Laird Mayhew in the typical “father v. fiancée” formulaic comedy is the most recent installment to this repertoire of character-types – in fact, it is perhaps his latest and greatest addition.

The strength of his performance comes not only from his surprisingly well-developed character; it also stems from how the other cast members interpret their characters and play off one another, including Bryan Cranston as Franco’s sworn-father-figure-enemy. Tightly wound Ned Fleming (Cranston) is compelled by daughter Stephanie (charmingly portrayed by Zoey Deutch) to give her eccentric boyfriend a chance, to that he reluctantly agrees. Although this commonly adapted and re-adapted formula risks suffering from some overused lines and gags – Why Him? isn’t of exception – the charming chemistry between its cast elevates the could-be tired comedy to a new level, where it preserves the integrity of even some of the more plainly-crude-and-stupid humor in the film.

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Movie Review — Relevant, Grounded and Visceral, ‘Rogue One’ is the Prequel We Deserve

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After only a year later of coming off the high of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Gareth Edwards’ (Godzilla, Monsters) Rogue One faces the task of living up to both the original trilogy and The Force Awakens. A standalone film set in-between the prequels and the original trilogy, Rogue One is a unique project that doesn’t follow the same rules.

It doesn’t have Jedi, the classic text crawl, or familiar faces for fans to connect with — and as a war film and not a space opera, it sets itself apart even further, taking Disney out of their comfort zone and into darker territory. Yet, defying the odds, Edwards recaptures the excitement and feel of Star Wars while simultaneously making it his own and, quite possibly, setting the standard for future Star Wars installments to come.

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Movie Review — ‘Man Down’ is a Cliche-Ridden Mess

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After a two-year stint playing a real life crazy person, wearing paper bags on his head at red carpet events, videotaping himself viewing all his old movies live, riding on elevators with people and hitchhiking across America (plus so much more), I can only imagine Shia LeBeouf woke up one morning and realized he had bills to pay. So, he hopped on the first movie that would take him. It’s ironic, then, that he’s the one redeeming feature of Man Down — a movie so riddled with cliches and bad writing it’s like seeing a talented LeBeouf put on a powerful performance in a Hollywood purgatory, forcing him to pay penance for scorning them.

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Movie Review — Make Way, Make Way! ‘Moana’ is Calling You!

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It is no secret that a multi-media conglomerate such as Disney can turn out successful films one after the other. However, there is something to be said for the development and progress the production company has made in its endless bounds towards a more inclusive and culturally rich repertoire.

Moana, the latest installment in the Disney princess movie franchise (although that in itself is up for debate, as the film’s title character will object) is a credible marker in the strides Disney had made – from the gorgeous production design to the catchy tunes that will most likely be playing on repeat, the film reminds us of the wonderful capacity for storytelling and narrative design the production company possesses.

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Movie Review — ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is Another Magical Ride

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Trying to produce a series of prequels from an already established franchise is like farming in a lush grassy field plagued with mines. Few filmmakers have tilled this soil unscathed (See Star Wars prequels and The Hobbit prequels). While you have to establish a set of new characters to identify this as a totally new series, you also have to throw the audience a few bones to tie it back to the familiar franchise. Most of all, you have to prove authenticity. Prove to the audience this isn’t a sneaky cash grab with little thought put into it. For Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, that’s a heavy order with a long Harry Potter shadow to escape and embrace at the same time. It’s fortunate David Yates is back in the director’s chair, and even more so that J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay. While they weren’t able to avoid all the mines in front of them, they successfully tilled a new plot of land for the next four movies while also making this singular movie feel whole and complete all on its own.

Fantastic Beasts is set seventy years before Harry Potter visits Hogwarts, and follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he arrives in New York City for a brief stop, but is sidetracked as one of his creatures escapes and gets him into trouble with the witches and wizard community for accidentally exposing himself to the public.

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Movie Review – ‘Arrival’ is a Poignant, Well-Crafted Sci-fi

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Despite the endless tools of communication at humanity’s disposal, it’s hard enough for the average person to get their point across on Facebook much less world leaders trying to understand each other at the United Nations. Communication is messy. Even as I write this I’m assuming you’ll read the words exactly as I intended rather than something else, but the truth is some will interpret it differently than others. Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is all about communication and how we interpret and understand information — and Arrival is wrapped in such a beautiful story with wonderful acting and masterful direction that you won’t even think twice about it.

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