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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Haiku Review: ‘A Ghost Story’

July 15, 2017

Nobody could have predicted it, but here we are: a weird little indie made for $100,000 toppled ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ at the box office last weekend. How? Who? What? Say goodbye to your loved ones, children, and join us in a communion with the dead.

A-GHOST-STORY-via-A24

Casey Affleck dies
Existentialism lives
Letting go is hard

That’s not really a spoiler, by the way, Casey Affleck dying. The call sheet for ‘A Ghost Story’ listed just two actors (Affleck and Rooney Mara) and a bed sheet — one of them had to wear it, right? These are performers already adept at playing figurative ghosts; playing a literal one isn’t the biggest stretch.

After dying in a car accident, Affleck finds himself…well, becoming a ghost. His mortuary sheet becomes a spectral shroud, his modest South Texas rancher a haunted house, and his wife, Mara (she’s “M” in the credits; he’s “C”. The names aren’t important) the bereaved widow struggling to move on. Until she’s compelled to leave. Which is when this nitrous-fueled little tone poem really kicks into second gear.

You could be forgiven, really you could, for assuming ‘A Ghost Story’ is in fact one more unnecessary competitor in the Sad White People Movie Olympics. (Think: ‘Manchester by the Sea’, ‘Rabbit Hole’.) It meets ALL the requirements:

— grief
— tears
— elegiac, non-diagetic choir music
— lengthy takes of people doing mundane things, like eating
— Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara

Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 4.54.20 PM

On paper, this movie looks like it should come with a free therapy session and (small) cup of frozen yogurt. There’s no way it could be as surprising as ‘The Lobster’, as captivating as ‘Moonlight’.

AND YET.

Keep reading!

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Haiku Review: ‘Inside Out’

June 26, 2015

THREE YEARS separate this from our last movie review, but rustiness and/or writing validity aside, Pixar’s latest demanded a return to the keyboard. Grab your “All of the Feels” haz mat suits and join us on this overwrought psycho-critical journey!

NEMye3g3VuXNQM_1_1Aimed at children, sure
But adults with movie blogs
Are still children too

Wall-E is the best movie Pixar has ever made, and this is an unequivocal fact. Robots in love dancing through space on vapor trails, expressing this beautiful feeling neither of them really understand (they’re robots) but know their lives would now be empty without? FUCK, BRO, THAT’S THE STUFF.

…Of course for you, “best Pixar movie, unequivocally” might mean the brotherhood of toys embracing each other as they literally stare down death of Toy Story 3. Or the ocean-spanning search for a nervous father’s only son of Finding Nemo. Hell, it could even be Brave, if you’re being deliberately contrarian about it! Everyone has their favorite Pixar movie, and everyone has that movie in their head, consciously or not, when they sit down to watch the studio’s latest.

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Haiku Review: ‘Contagion’

March 27, 2012

Germaphobes and shut-ins, THIS is the cinematic validation you’ve been waiting for! (Bird — six months!)

Dozens of Oscar
Winners lend B-movie a
Slightly higher grade

There is one reason and one reason only that Contagion made as much money as it did last fall, and it’s staring at you, dying, on the bottom right side of that movie poster. Though hardly a spoiler alert when the trailer gives it away, SPOILER ALERT: GOOP founder and Emmy improviser Gwyneth Paltrow bites it in the first five minutes of the movie. The people want what they want! Why this strategy didn’t work for Jersey Girl I have no idea, but there you go — kill a loathed actress in the opening scene of your movie and the audience will come in droves to watch. Even if the rest of the movie has them grabbing for the nearest bottle of Purell and hoping to God no one in the theater coughs!

Keep reading!

Haiku Review: ‘Shame’

December 9, 2011

He played Magneto.
Now? Poon hound who loves night runs.
…It’s called range, people!

WARNING: this review may feature some saucy language. Proceed with a sailor’s tolerance.

If you’re anything like me, ‘Shame’ will be the first NC-17 movie you ever see in theaters. And, aware of this, you’re going to head into your showing with a checklist of totally high school expectations: Fassbender peen? Check. Mulligan carpeting? Threesomes, alley romps, and furious self-administration? You want it, ‘Shame”s got it; this is sexy Christmas come early, especially for people who really don’t care to see ‘The Muppets’. But for all its titillation, ‘Shame’ is about as far from sexy as a movie can be. Once the novelty of the lead actor’s (let’s just SAY it) sizable penis wears off, what you’re left with is maybe the true successor to ‘Precious’ — or, in so many words, a movie that’s by design the opposite of fun. But also excellent?

You’re intrigued, we know it. Keep reading!

Haiku Review: ‘Drive’

September 22, 2011

“DRIVE yourself to the theater right now and see this revved-up thrill-ride!” – Pete Hammond

Hey girl, you see me
Stomping that bad dude’s face in?
Morse code: “I Love You”

I have to believe that at least half the people who saw Drive last weekend had no idea what they were getting into. Much like fellow pop art pieces 127 Hours and Inglourious Basterds, Drive lures you in on the promise of one movie and then — FAKE OUT — manages to show off something completely different. Oh, the pink font and straightforward trailer had you convinced you were buying tickets to a fast-moving heist movie? That’s adorable! Ryan Gosling would playfully wink at you if he weren’t busy threatening some dude’s life with a hammer. Or shotgun. Or car. He’s adept with pretty much all of those weapons, because your future husband from The Notebook is SOMETHING OF A PSYCHOPATH — handsomer than Travis Bickle, but with the same Vesuvian temper and “jacket as uniform” fashion sense. This ain’t your grandma’s Baby Goose!

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Haiku Review: ‘The Tree of Life’

August 24, 2011

This is the first film
For which a Haiku Review
Is appropriate

Earlier this spring I embarked on what can only be called a “navel-gazing cinematic odyssey” when, alongside roommate Tim Goessling, I sat down to watch all the Terrence Malick movies I’d been avoiding my entire life. MARATHON! It’s easy to understand the hesitation, I hope — Malick’s movies aren’t known for their accessibility or whimsy, and even his shorter entries are supposed to last forever. Why ruminate on the existential plight of man as told through the reflection of a butterfly when there are Jackasses to be punched in the nuts? But as an Art Lover with glasses — or at least, at the time, the need for glasses — I knew it was my responsibility to at some point get down to business.

So I did. Badlands. Days of Heaven*. The Thin Red Line. The New World. All chewed on, swallowed, and digested in the hopes that I might accomplish two things: 1) be able to hold my head high at THOSE kinds of parties and 2) walk into The Tree of Life, at that point the 2011 Palme d’Or winner, with something less than complete ignorance. Over several weeks Tim and I became very familiar with what we’ll call “Terry’s Tics” — those narrative and stylistic choices you see again and again in the filmmaker’s work. Extensive voiceover, for starters. An obsession with “innocence,” especially as exemplified by nature. People living on the fringes of society. Man’s inhumanity to man. Bible passages. Whispering. Classical music. Donkey shows.

The Tree of Life, if you must know, manages to take every one of those tics, marry it to every thought Terry’s ever had, and somehow birth an occasionally coherent — and always beautiful — examination of What It Means To Be Alive. Let’s see how!

Follow us into the void, won’t you?

Haiku Review: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’

August 23, 2011

Have you heard about this movie?

Captain America; Chris EvansBrooklyn kid makes good
Minus plaid, glasses, vinyl
Plus super-shield, running

Starting with the end credits of the first Iron Man and cartwheeling through to next spring’s Avengers, Marvel Studios has spent considerable money and effort attempting something that’s never been done before: adapting not just a comic book character, but a comic book universe to the screen. So far that’s met with mixed results. Iron Man 2, you’ll remember, blew — and precisely because of Marvel’s attempts to shoehorn in Avengers subplots that weren’t totally organic to the story. Thor wasn’t much better, introducing a character most audiences were probably unfamiliar with (Hawkeye) in a way that did little to change that knowledge. Also energy cubes or whatever. Point is, in focusing their laser eye so much on this massive 2012 team-up movie, the filmmakers behind recent Marvel “standalones” have sort of lost the forest for the trees.

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Haiku Review: ‘Midnight in Paris’

August 16, 2011

 Blonde-haired, broken-nosed
Alter-ego loves his jazz
And we smile, cry

I should say right off the bat that I’m not nearly as familiar with Woody Allen’s films as I’d like to be. Like everyone, I’ve seen the staples — Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters — but not much beyond that, certainly not enough to make any claim toward “Woody literacy.” In this case I am practically Woody illiterate! More than a few podcasts and articles I’ve caught in the last few months have seemed to go to great pains trying to place his latest, Midnight in Paris, in the filmmaker’s overall creative spectrum. Better than Vicky Cristina Barcelona? Not quite Zelig? (The guy’s made something like three movies a year for the last four decades, so the rearranging here is obviously hard.) I’m not the person to tell you, the Woody expert, where this one fits. But what I CAN tell you is that short of re-watching Toy Story 3, it’s probably the most satisfying movie you’ll see this summer.

Allons-y!

Haiku Review: ‘Win Win’

July 8, 2011

‘Bridesmaids’ you may still be able to catch in theaters; ‘Win Win’ DEFINITELY not. So…

Giamatti and
Verisimilitude and
Cannavale. …Sold!

Making good slice-of-life movies these days has to be difficult. On one side of the business you’ve got the Academy reiterating how important it is for your movie to be British (and about the trouble expressing emotions when you’re British); on the other side, nerds — so many goddamn nerds! — dictating creative policy from their parents’ basements and/or Gamestop. “I get that the character’s an accountant, but wouldn’t it be more captivating and, like, post-modern if he were an accountant…to superheroes?” Irony of ironies considering the film on the board today, it’s generally a LOSE LOSE scenario out there for any movie without a glossy hook.

More TBS Very Funny riffs on the title after the jump!

Haiku Review: ‘Bridesmaids’

July 5, 2011

Six funny ladies
Struggle against Apatow
Women be poopin’

I really, really liked Bridesmaids. Who wouldn’t? There’s practically nothing to dislike! It features 1) probably the most number of funny women ever on screen at the same time (two of whom are SNL hall-of-famers), 2) a rich, emotionally resonant story about friendship and self-worth and 3) an Irish cop, drinking. But there’s a weird sort of bipolarity lurking beneath the film’s surface, vacillating for two hours between the “female Hangover” proclamations of the marketing campaign (at right: “these ladies just don’t give a fuuuuu–“) and a quieter, maybe even melancholy story buried under scenes of women shitting in sinks. Not that those two tastes (??) can’t coexist — producer Judd Apatow has built an entire career on their combination — but that in Bridesmaids, it never feels all that harmonious. There’s the movie this was sold as (and pushed toward)…and the movie it seems afraid to be.

Intrigued? Keep reading!