Films

by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, December 4 | Posted in Film

Out of the Dreamworks Animation stable of franchises, the curiously popular Madagascar series has always seemed like the benchmark of mediocrity. They've never been particularly funny, the animation when compared to the competition has always seemed blocky and lackadaisical, and the voice acting has never really stood out, aside perhaps for Sacha Baron Cohen's lemur king. David Schwimmer doing what is basically Ross from Friends in giraffe version? Ugh.

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by Dan Kampling | Wednesday, November 26 | Posted in Film

It's official now that the final installment in a series of films has to be split into two parts. The only real advantage of this approach is that it generates double the business at the box office, which comes off as a greedy endeavor with a successful franchise. However, from a filmmaking standpoint, splitting the material in half makes for a rather unsatisfying experience with the knowledge that this story won't be wrapped up until a whole year later.

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 20 | Posted in Film

It's hard to believe that it was 20 years ago when Jim Carrey became an instant superstar with his triple threat of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and Dumb & Dumber. Carrey participated in all but one of the follow-ups to these films, stating that he doesn't enjoy reprising previous roles.

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by Jeremy Webster | Wednesday, November 19 | Posted in Film

While strolling through the Christmas ornaments in Target, a display featuring boxes of cheap-looking character tree danglies from the Disney Princess, Star Wars and Marvel Comics sharing the same basic package design and all sitting on the same display gave me a momentary chill.

All of it, save for a couple of renegade holdover film franchises, (X-Men, Spider-Man) are in the hands of the big bloated mouse.

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

Michael Keaton is the embodiment of a tour de force actor, who has portrayed a wide variety of roles that have stretched over the last three decades. For this past decade, Keaton hasn't headlined a film, leaving us clamoring for his eventual comeback film, and it has definitely been worth the wait for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

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by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

With Interstellar, director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy; Inception) was, to use the obvious line, aiming for the stars. That epic aspiration does bear some fruit throughout the nearly three hour running time of this science fiction epic, though its final act crashes back down to Earth with a resounding, inexplicable thud.

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

Any photojournalist will tell you that timing is everything when it comes to their craft. That perfect shot can't last forever, and it's up to them to catch it just in time to make the news beat. It's a fiercely competitive field, not just with differing news outlets, but with freelancers who can often be at the on the scene first hand. The new thriller, Nightcrawler, from writer-director Dan Gilroy, centers on these types of photographers who gather and sell footage to news networks, no matter the cost of life.

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

Just when you thought you've had enough terror this Halloween, via the October at the Oldtown Horror Festival, here comes another opportunity to catch some horror movie standards on the big screen. This Friday and Saturday night, the Palace Theater will be screening not only 1978 genre defining slasher film, Halloween, but the 1981 sequel as well, encapsulating the entire night the infamous Michael Myers returned home to Haddonfield.

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by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

The Book of Life, the feature film debut of Jorge R. Guiterrez, is a film this critic has heard a number of people admit (including KMUW's Jim Erickson in his own review) lost them storywise partway through, though they were more than happy to stay for the fantastic visual universe onscreen.

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by Mike Marlett | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

The Tallgrass Film Festival's 12th year has, for the 12th consecutive year, set attendance records. This year, more than 13,800 people attended the festival's events — which included more than 100 screenings, parties, educational classes and VIP events.

At press time, the official ticket sales figures were not in, but sales were, according to festival director Lela Meadow-Conner, the highest they've ever been — especially the VIP TallPasses.

Meadow-Conner said that the continued success and ever-increasing popularity of Tallgrass makes her feel "pretty damn good."

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

Everyone knows that war is hell, but it can so easily be glamorized in the cinema. At some point, we all thought World War II was a real-life action-adventure movie, until we discover the truly horrific accounts that war films wouldn't or couldn't depict. Playing with a toy tank with green army men makes it all seem like fun and games without any consideration of just how terrifying it was to be either up against or inside one of those machines. Those sensibilities are depicted in the new World War II film, Fury by writer-director David Ayer.

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

Have you ever wondered if sharing a bed with your significant other could lead to a quarrel and then to a murder case? It's not completely impossible. And it's the idea behind the best-selling mystery novel turned box office success, Gone Girl, which examines that fear under the razor sharp direction of acclaimed director David Fincher.

This quarreling couple is Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike). After they move from New York to Missouri, resentment grows between the two until Amy's sudden disappearance leaves Nick as the main suspect of her murder.

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by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

Dracula Untold, Universal's latest attempt to reboot its Universal Monsters franchise, is a curious beastie in that it's essentially an origin story in the style of the Marvel Studios films that have proven box office dynamite over the last few years. The result, while entertaining and mostly competent, is a mixed blessing as such.

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

Former Saturday Night Live performers Kristen Wigg and Bill Hader's reputations in films have managed to stay tolerable. Sure, most of them have been profitable films, but they fail to leave any sort of lasting impression that makes them stand out from their predecessors. Thankfully, their involvement in the independent film Skeleton Twins allows an opportunity for these comedic actors to break out of their typical mass audience appealing comedy shell and show their worth in a truly great black comedy.

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by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

The horror franchise formula presents one of the simplest and most dramatic examples of film industry marketing determination at its most undiluted: make film A on a shoestring budget, and if it makes gobs of money, make film B. Repeat the process as quickly as possible to continue cashing in on the trend while its hot, ceasing only when it seems commercial viability has been exhausted (but keep other products involving franchise alive and well to establish sense of nostalgia, thus keeping the brand alive for a future remake or reboot).

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by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

With The Equalizer, the first re-teaming of director Antoine Fuqua and star Denzel Washington since they hit Oscar paydirt with Training Day, another popular old 1980s TV series gets an edgy, modern reboot.

Fans of the original series may find "edgy" to not be a strong enough descriptor given how violent this updated version gets at times. But hey, as Dylan said, "the times, they are a changin'."

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by Dan Kampling | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

It's a common occurrence to dream or think of most bizarre imagery. Most of them are forgotten in the next moment, but the ones that manage to survive can form the basis for works of art. In terms of the motion picture, many are based around one particular idea, such as James Cameron turning a fever dream into The Terminator. What we're reviewing today derives from the mind of cult filmmaker Kevin Smith attempting to combine his typical brand humor with the total seriousness of a man-turned-animal type of horror story in Tusk.

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by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

The Maze Runner marks the latest young adult genre novel adapted to film, the first book in a series (naturally) by James Dashner. While the film has its issues — including an inexplicable, impossible twist at the end — it is, for the most part, a quality effort by director Wes Ball and crew.

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by Mike Marlett | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

The Tallgrass Film Festival has announced its feature film selections for the gala and spotlight screenings — these are seven films that are not part of the festival's annual awards.

For the first time, the film for the Stubbornly Independent Gala was selected by a jury of entertainment industry professionals.

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by Jeremy Webster | Thursday, November 13 | Posted in Film

With a new Criterion Collection Blu-ray release, Eraserhead, the first feature film from the brilliant and eccentric director David Lynch, is, as oddly as it may sound, not a film that's necessarily best watched as a source of entertainment or even enjoyment.

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