Another of those movies almost everyone has seen, Home Alone is one of the highest grossing comedies of all time. It’s an exacting family fantasy in that it works out the pleasure and fear kids go through when they’re home alone. The laundry list of what not to do goes out the window right along […]Read more "Home Alone (1990)"
Terry Zwigoff’s Bad Santa is that rarest of Christmas birds: a black comedy that works. This is, without question, a foul-mouthed, delirious, ugly motion picture. A fascinatingly dark smorgasbord of human misery, this 2003 outing features a screenplay by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Their previous work? The 2001 flick Cats & Dogs.Read more "Bad Santa (2003)"
An often hilarious comedy of errors, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one of those pictures that almost everyone has seen. This 1989 film is certainly episodic in nature, but it’s still a very funny compendium of Christmas-related comic terror. From its use of the calendar to the insistent “will he or won’t he?” lingering of […]Read more "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)"
It’s sometimes hard to know what to make of BASEketball, the 1998 comedy directed by David Zucker and written by committee. The picture is a star vehicle for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. The trouble is that they don’t have any off-screen credits, but there is a sense that they […]Read more "BASEketball (1998)"
Based on the classic Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Isao Takahata’s beautiful The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is yet another striking animated classic from the good people at Studio Ghibli. This is Takahata’s fifth motion picture, a remarkable follow-up to 1999’s highly underrated My Neighbours the Yamadas and a brilliantly warm […]Read more "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)"
One of the best documentaries of 2014, The Overnighters is a staggering and beautiful film about broken people. It is written and directed by Jesse Moss and is one of the most pertinent pictures to come around in quite some time. It tells a layered tale that not only deals in matters of the immediate […]Read more "The Overnighters (2014)"
A shadowy, muddy, defiantly cold thriller, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is wonderful noir entertainment. This 2014 motion picture is an exciting, snaking caricature of American derring-do, coiled into a classical tale that finds videographers with camcorders and ambition prowling the Los Angeles night looking for gore and grime to capture with their pervasive lenses.Read more "Nightcrawler (2014)"
On the surface, Wes Anderson’s masterful The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of those pictures that feels like pure confection. It indeed looks the part, a whirling and wonderful world of perfect images and impeccable design. But under the surface is a lurking darkness, an element the film refers to plainly as “the barbaric slaughterhouse […]Read more "The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)"
Every so often, it pays to remember life’s sweet rewards and see the finest films the cinematic world has to offer. And then, for the sake of decorum, it pays to dip a toe in the proverbial sludge. In the spirit of the latter is The Keeper, yet another 2009 outing featuring Steven Seagal. This […]Read more "The Keeper (2009)"
An captivating drama about how the working class is turned against each other, Two Days, One Night is that remarkably rare breed of motion picture in that it’s actually authentically human. Written and directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, this 2014 Belgian film received a 15-minute standing ovation at Cannes and boasts one of the […]Read more "Two Days, One Night (2014)"
Were it not for a dazzling lead performance by Chadwick Boseman, it would be difficult to navigate the waters of Get on Up. This 2014 biopic details the life of James Brown and is directed by Tate Taylor, who directed The Help from 2011. It features a screenplay by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, which itself […]Read more "Get on Up (2014)"
An overly tidy, depressingly maudlin comedy-drama, This Is Where I Leave You is stacked with good performers and decent performances but never manages to go anywhere them. Directed by Shawn Levy, this 2014 picture is based on the Jonathan Tropper novel of the same name. The author of the 2009 book also wrote the screenplay.Read more "This Is Where I Leave You (2014)"
James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy stands out in the Marvel Cinematic Universe because it dares to be different. It’s a colourful, invigorating, fun motion picture with a spring in its step. It still contains the convoluted plot elements of many comic book films, but this 2014 outing is so brilliantly entertaining that it’s easy […]Read more "Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)"
Much of the initial appeal of The Skeleton Twins will come from the outdated notion of seeing two primarily comic actors playing “against type.” In the case of this 2014 film, the two comic actors are ex-SNL cast members Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. They get to play disaffected siblings ensconced in indie movie clichés […]Read more "The Skeleton Twins (2014)"
There is a tendency possessed by critics to reduce certain films to mere components, especially in cases where said components tend to be of the “gross” variety. The 2013 German movie Wetlands has fallen prey to such unexceptional assessments, with list devotees getting in on the act with “articles” describing the “Five Most Disgusting Moments” […]Read more "Wetlands (2013)"
The tale of The Dog is almost too strange to be true. This 2013 documentary is produced and directed by Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren and is a 10-year labour of love, with remarkable footage and interviews of the subject adding up to a beguiling experience. Said subject is John Stanley Wojtowicz, the bank robber […]Read more "The Dog (2013)"
Based on the 2012 memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild uniquely captures the tale of Cheryl Strayed. The book details Strayed’s 1,100 mile trek from the Mojave Desert through to the border of Washington State and Oregon, a journey she took in part to find some semblance […]Read more "Wild (2014)"
Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves is an impeccably crafted thriller that evolves organically from well-rendered characters and some top shelf performances. This 2013 film is written by Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond and excels as it telegraphs the events through each act. It could be argued that the final act is a little on the wild side, […]Read more "Night Moves (2013)"
Directed by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman, Remote Area Medical is a dazzling look at the struggle far too many Americans go through on a daily basis just to achieve decent health standards. There are many, many political issues under the surface, but this 2013 documentary astutely sidesteps these matters in order to focus on […]Read more "Remote Area Medical (2013)"
An often excruciating, mind-numbing explosion of gaudy chaos, Rio 2 is worse than its predecessor. It’s also an extraordinarily tedious affair in the sense that the melange of characters, situations, colours, songs, and sounds thickens into a dull paste that looks an awful lot like liquefied crayons and likely smells like bird droppings.Read more "Rio 2 (2014)"