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Gary Oldman delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in an otherwise unremarkable ‘Darkest Hour’

(12/08/17 7:39am)

Something anomalous has happened in filmmaking recently: Two World War II films released concurrently by different directors happened to contain eerily similar subject matter, and managed to complement one another. These films were “Dunkirk” (Christopher Nolan) and “Darkest Hour” (Joe Wright). “Dunkirk” is a harrowing film chronicling the escape of the surrounded British armed forces from the clutches of the Nazis while “Darkest Hour” serves as a biopic of the man who delivered them from their fates.


‘Tom of Finland’: A solid biopic that lacks focus

(12/08/17 8:39am)

Directed by Dome Karukoski, this Finnish film tells the real-life story of Touko Laaksonen, more famously known as Tom of Finland, one of the most important and influential gay icons of the 20th century. “Tom of Finland” effectively reveals Touko’s inner frustrations and accomplishments, but lacks the flow and emotional heft necessary to pack a bigger punch.



'The Divine Order' is a charming feminist manifesto

(12/01/17 6:52am)

“In 1971, the world was changing…but here at home, time stood still.” These are the words that open “The Divine Order,” hinting at the world the viewer is stepping into; a world still full of sexism and inequality. Despite the film’s familiar story arc, it is complemented by a dynamic cast, a brisk pace, and impeccable comedic timing that make it one of a kind.


'Roman J. Israel, Esq.' proves Denzel Washington isn’t slowing down anytime soon

(11/30/17 6:55pm)

From Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy comes “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” Denzel Washington stars as a former civil rights lawyer who is in a state of personal crisis. He slowly realizes that the world is not the same as it was when he was young, and that the legal system still does not favor or always help the less fortunate. These brewing thoughts paired with his internal struggle makes the film an effective and enjoyable critique against modern legal institutions, but people may be turned off by its meandering nature.




“120 BPM” shows the French ACT UP movement as sex, pain, death, dancing

(11/20/17 9:43pm)

120 Battement Par Minute (Beats Per Minute) is director Robin Campillo’s second major film. The two and a half hour movie discusses many aspects of the French AIDS epidemic in the 1990s through a mostly historical fiction lens with some real documentary found footage. Campillo seems to define the afflicted gay community through an on-screen combination of sex, death, dancing and group solidarity. Even if there is disagreement among the more extreme members of ACT UP, the AIDS awareness group the film centers on, the entire community still feels connected.


‘The Room’ star, Jacob Tremblay, does it again with ‘Wonder’

(11/18/17 11:01pm)

Based on the New York Times bestseller, “Wonder” tells the beautiful story of August “Auggie” Pullman, a 10-year-old boy with an extremely rare facial deformity, attending school for the first time after being homeschooled by his mother all of his life. The film is heart-warming and inspiring -- especially school-aged students. ‘Wonder’ has the capability to really spark change amongst families with children living with facial deformities. Its emotional and honest depictions of love, kindness, and forgiveness are exceptional. The child cast did a beautiful job of capturing the real-life reactions to a new student with unique facial differences, however, some may have missed the mark when it came to really pushing the envelope during the very emotional scenes.


‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is a masterful tale of grief and redemption

(11/17/17 11:14am)

In his 2008 cult hit “In Bruges,” writer and director Martin McDonagh depicts two hitmen out on a contract in Bruges, Belgium. While the film never strays far from the macabre inevitability that someone is going to be murdered, the relationship between the two hitmen is akin to that of an old married couple trying to salvage their marriage by taking a vacation.


Save yourself from seeing ‘Justice League’

(11/17/17 9:00am)

“Justice League” opens with a smartphone video recording Superman. Children behind the camera hastily ask him questions about his sigil and stumble into their ending question, “What’s your favorite part of planet Earth?” Henry Cavill freezes and ponders his newly adopted homeland, he looks down and smiles -- before he can give us an answer the screen cuts to black.


'Murder on the Orient Express' only makes it as far as its star power can take it

(11/13/17 5:57am)

When Quentin Tarantino’s “ The Hateful Eight” came out in 2015, it was lauded as a grand success. Tarantino was able to craft a unique murder mystery spanning 167 minutes with only one major set piece. For all intents and purposes, it was a cinematic triumph. While “Murder on the Orient Express” seems to take note of Tarantino’s success, it fails to even come close.


‘God's Own Country’ is an impactful take on a familiar story

(11/11/17 11:37pm)

“God’s Own Country” has been compared quite a lot to “Brokeback Mountain,” as they’re both meandering tales about finding forbidden love in the countryside. They both cross the entire spectrum of emotion from sweet to tragic and back again, but “God’s Own Country” deviates from the picturesque mountains of Wyoming, instead taking place in the gray, cloudy British countryside.




'Thor: Ragnarok' owns its personality as one of Marvel’s unique films

(11/04/17 4:16am)

Marvel is an unstoppable machine in the movie business, with three films scheduled to come out every year until 2020. Each one is expected to be a surefire hit due to a devoted, widespread following, including the newest addition to Thor’s solo ventures. Marvel films have a generally positive track record but despite every film being a box office hit, there are flaws that exist.


‘Blade of the Immortal’ balances fantasy and gruesome reality

(11/03/17 7:48am)

Takashi Miike has directed a long list of films ranging from action dramas to comedy musicals. One of his newest films, “Blade of the Immortal,” adds to Miike’s list of violent action dramas as it depicts the gruesome and emotional tale of Manji (Takuya Kimura), an immortal swordsman, and Rin Asano (Hana Sugisaki), a girl who was forced to watch her father’s murder and mother’s rape. She seeks out Manji to help her take revenge on a group of murderous swordsmen. Takashi Miike has succeeded before and succeeds again at creating a blend between a pure fantasy samurai film and an intense, emotional and realistic story.


‘Novitiate’ depicts women grappling with their faith in a time of transition

(11/03/17 8:46am)

The Vatican II era of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s was a watershed moment for the faith. It marked the transition from the archaic -- but time-honored -- traditions of the church to more accepting, liberal policies under Pope John XIII. In “Novitiate,” writer and director Margaret Betts explores how these changes impact a group of young women who decide to devote their lives to God, as well as a veteran of the faith who feels as though the church is leaving her behind.


'Wonderstruck' is just not wondrous enough

(11/02/17 8:45pm)

Directed by Todd Haynes and based on the book by Brian Selznick, “Wonderstruck” tells the stories of two deaf children as they go on separate adventures in different time periods to search for something missing in their familial lives. Unfortunately, both tales aren’t all that compelling to begin with and the film has a tendency to meander, unable to balance the full complexities of both characters.  


Rory Kennedy and the zone of discomfort

(10/27/17 11:38pm)

After filmmaker Rory Kennedy screened her new documentary, “Take Every Wave” about the life of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton, in New York recently, a man approached her and said he’d finally go into the ocean, even though he was terrified of the water and had never been in it before. “So, for him, that’s his wave,” Kennedy said.