Film Review: ‘The Light Between Oceans’ has class but falters the message of love

A film full of class, and one of the most aesthetically beautiful films to grace the screens this year, Derek Cianfrance’s “The Light Between Oceans” manages some tender and enchanting moments.  With that said, it stumbles and falters in certain executions of character motivation and generic story structure.  Cianfrance has performed remarkably well in his other […]

Film Review: ‘Sausage Party’ Brings Raunchy Laughs and an Oscar Worthy Song

Animation has never been such a fantastic blend of fun and dirty as seen in “Sausage Party” from Sony Pictures.  Created as the movie your perverted older brother made in high school but you can’t help but love him for it, the definitely offensive but enthusiastically rapturous romp is the surprise hit of the summer. Directors […]

Film Review: The Jungle Book (★★★½)

Anticipating the live action adaptations of some of our beloved animated classics of our childhood has been a task to endure.  Add that with an even grueling process of waiting for “The Jungle Book,” as directed by “Iron Man” director Jon Faverau, and you would find my expectations down with anything surrounding another “Scary Movie” […]

Film Review: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (★★)

Working through the early announcements to now, and finally seeing the result of Zack Snyder’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” has been like going through the seven stages of grief and loss.  With the film’s challenging flaws to overcome, there’s some exciting and pulse-pounding moments to admire greatly.  Let’s work through it: Step 1 […]

Film Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (★★★½)

There has been an awakening…and it is good.  In 1977, George Lucas gave birth to “Star Wars: A New Hope.”  A monumental achievement that has bled over into generations and now, will reach a new wave of future generations with the newest installment.  “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a smart, keen, and dynamic installation […]

Film Review: Joy (★★)

David O. Russell seems to have made a self-indulgent attempt to return to his quirky filmmaking style which garnered him a legion of lovers following “I Heart Huckabees” and “Flirting with Disaster.”  However, it seems he tried to mix his “acclaimed” straight-forward style that has made him a bonafide Oscar favorite with “The Fighter” and “American […]

Film Review: The Revenant (★★★½)

Like a one-man solo act such as “All is Lost” and “Gravity,” Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s newest and most ambitious work “The Revenant” blends one man’s fight to survive with the even more visible theme of vengeance.  With a career that is full of tremendous performances, five-time Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio offers an intense and […]

Film Review: The Big Short (★½)

Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” opens with a narration from Ryan Gosling, already in a similar aesthetic to that of Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” but blended with a delivery that we might have seen on NBC’s “The Office” when it was on television.  As a matter of fact, it injects the sexy […]

Film Review: The Good Dinosaur (★★★)

Pixar offers another base hit for its already stunning performance as a well-oiled studio with Peter Sohn’s “The Good Dinosaur.”  Standing tall as one of the Pixar’s most beautiful creations to date.  A lusciously crafted piece that stands as another key example of cinematography executed brilliantly in animated features.  While the story hawks too much […]

Film Review: Concussion (★★½)

An inspiring academic by the name of Dr. Bennet Omalu takes on the titan of Sundays, the NFL, in order to prove a direct link from head trauma during football games to CTE, a football related injury that occurs.  Writer/director Peter Landesman takes on the very detailed, and dramatic thriller “Concussion,” with an insightful amount of […]

Film Review: Anomalisa (★★★★)

There comes a moment in “Anomalisa,” from co-directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, where you stop fighting the need to try to understand the weird yet invigorating story structure, and surrender to all the quirks, charm, and emotional tension its displaying on screen.  Hypnotizing in the words and expressions of its stop-motion characters, Kaufman’s screenplay […]

Film Review: Room (★★★½)

Director Lenny Abrahamson taps into the human spirit, pure and unhindered in his film “Room,” adapted from the novel by Emma Donaghue, who writes the film’s screenplay.  Anchored by two tremendous performances from Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay, “Room” mixes an emotionally harrowing story with classic film techniques that surprises even the most dedicated […]

NYFF Film Review: Brooklyn (★★★½)

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: Often movies have a magical quality as you’re viewing them.  Some will demand your undivided attention, others will hypnotize your senses, leaving them to simply wash over you with their exuberance and classic filmmaking procedures.  In the case of John Crowley‘s “Brooklyn,” the latter is certainly the case.  There comes a […]

NYFF Film Review: Son of Saul (★★★★)

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: We simply don’t deserve László Nemes, the first-time writer/director of Hungary’s submission for the Oscar’s Foreign Language category, “Son of Saul.”  Nemes vacuums everything we think we know about filmmaking and the Holocaust, and gives it a raw, intense, and fresh outlook that we haven’t seen since Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” […]

NYFF Film Review: Carol (★★★)

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: The seduction and hypnosis of a Todd Haynes film is hard to deny.  His attention to detail in such films like “Far from Heaven” and “I’m Not There” are simply superb, and one cannot overlook the vision he engulfs upon as he directs each one of them.  In his newest venture, […]

NYFF Film Review: The Lobster (★★★★)

It took some time to let Yorgos Lanthimos‘ new film “The Lobster” settle into my mind.  On the surface is a dark comedy, full of rich images, and staggering performances from its principal cast.  Deeper lays one of the most original and heart wrenching stories on modern relationships, likely the best seen in film since […]

NYFF Film Review: The Walk (★★)

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL: Robert Zemeckis has created some of the best films of the last 30 years.  “Forrest Gump” is one of cinema’s finest masterpieces, “Back to the Future” revolutionized the time travel genre, and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is a beautiful merge of animation and the real world.  With his newest effort “The Walk,” […]

Film Review: Truth (★★½)

James Vanderbilt‘s feature debut “Truth” assembles the likes of two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, alongside Oscar-winner Robert Redford, in a story about how Mary Mapes and Dan Rather lost their careers following a “60 Minutes” story about George W. Bush’s military records.  While professionally and passionately executed with the performances of its cast, Vanderbilt’s […]

Film Review: Spotlight (★★★★)

Seconds after the credits for Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” roll, an overwhelming feeling of changing your career takes over.  Is film criticism really where I belong?  What important, life-changing story am I not writing about?  Truth is, quite a bit of classic films give off that same feeling.  “Rocky” made a bunch of our fathers and […]

Film Review: The Danish Girl (★★★½)

With the transgender movement heavily in the media with figures like Caitlyn Jenner, and countless others heading the conversation, a film like Tom Hooper‘s “The Danish Girl” feels vibrantly relevant in today’s cinematic climate.  Spearheaded by two powerhouse performances from Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl” is a luscious and […]

Film Review: Straight Outta Compton (★★★★)

“It’s the film of my generation.”  I uttered that exact phrase to my wife following what was one of the most vibrant experiences in a theater in some time.  An undeniable love letter to one of the most influential groups in rap music history, F. Gary Gray‘s “Straight Outta Compton” is a vivacious and powerfully timely […]

Film Review: Trainwreck (★★★½)

The comedic brilliance of female actresses is no secret to the industry.  People like Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, even veterans like Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep have demonstrated their comfort in a genre that is dominated by slapstick chubby guys and constant flushing bowel movements.  Writer and performer Amy Schumer joins the élite list with her […]

Film Review: Jurassic World (★★)

Well let’s start with the obvious.  If you never saw “Jurassic Park” or “The Lost World” and “Jurassic Park III” is your benchmark for the dinosaur franchise, then you’ll likely really like “Jurassic World.”  If you’ve seen all of them, then you have a glimmer of hope in me saying that it’s not as bad […]

Film Review: Tomorrowland (★★)

There are several instances when Brad Bird‘s latest film “Tomorrowland” comes off the hinges like a door desperately trying to say attached to a house in the middle of a tornado.  Sure its beautifully polished from an aesthetics stand point, with rich and beautiful production design by Scott Chambliss, but little else to grab onto in […]

Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (★★★½)

The slickest, coolest ride you can take this year has arrived in the form of George Miller‘s “Mad Max: Fury Road” starring the talented Tom Hardy and the impeccably magnificent Charlize Theron.  A reboot that blows every aspect of the original away with stunning cinematography by John Seale, luscious production design by Colin Gibson, and […]

Film Review: Maggie (★★★½)

2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: Zombies have been all the craze for quite sometime with shows like “The Walking Dead” and films like “World War Z” dominating the box office.  I’ve never been such a fan of the genre as something about the undead just hunting on human flesh never seemed appealing.  In Henry Hobson‘s “Maggie,” […]

Film Review: Meadowland (★★★½)

One of our few female Cinematographers Reed Morano steps behind the camera in a different way to make her directorial debut on “Meadowland,” written by Chris Rossi in his screenwriting debut.  Starring Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson, the film tells the story of Sarah and Phil, a couple who suffer an unimaginable loss and deal with […]

Film Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron (★★½)

Full disclosure: I’m not an avid superfan of the Marvel universe.  This shouldn’t disqualify me from talking about the newest mega film “Avengers: Age of Ultron” but it’s worth noting.  Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and some other new cast of characters make up Joss Whedon‘s poem to superhero fans everywhere.  There’s nothing that […]

Film Review: Grandma (★★★★)

2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: Paul Weitz gave the world “About a Boy” over a decade ago, masterfully telling a story through it character’s relationships and actions.  The well-received film garnered major acclaim from critics and got Weitz his first Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.  Since then, Weitz has never returned to that type […]

Film Review: Bleeding Heart (★★★)

2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: The intimate and calm nature of Diane Bell‘s “Bleeding Heart” is simply mesmerizing.  Starring Jessica Biel as May, a yoga instructor who finds her biological sister Shiva (played by Zosia Mamet), who is a sex worker with an abusive boyfriend (played by Joe Anderson).  The unlikely pair explores the boundaries of their […]

Film Review: The Adderall Diaries (★★)

Writer/director Pamela Romanowsky‘s adaptation of “The Adderall Diaries” based on Stephen Elliott’s memoir has so many great ideas.  It’s a blend of different genres that calls back to many different films from the past however, it’s unfocused execution and narrative ultimately leaves you bewildered rather than intrigued. Starring Academy Award nominee James Franco as Stephen […]

Film Review: The Overnight (★★½)

2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: There’s a point during Patrick Brice‘s darkly comedic film “The Overnight” where the humor goes from infectiously enjoyable to awkwardly unnerving.  That both works for and against Brice’s storytelling and filmmaking abilities.  Through its strong ensemble that includes Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godrèche, Brice’s film touches on the different […]

Film Review: Slow West (★★★)

2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: Scottish director John Maclean mimics the heart and charisma of the old western with his feature film debut “Slow West” starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender. “Slow West” tells the story of Jay Cavendish (played by Smit-McPhee), a Scottish aristocrat that travels to Colorado in search of his […]

Film Review: Home (★★½)

Children films have been known to push the envelope for its audience.  Pixar’s “WALL-E” had the entertaining, cute factor to appeal to its targeted demographic but at its core it was enriched with adult subject matter that compelled its story for an adult audience.  That’s always been the goal of any studio that takes on […]

Film Review: Map to the Stars (★★★½)

(This review was previously posted in September 2014 during the New York Film Festival.) Probably the weirdest monster you’ll come across, David Cronenberg‘s Map to the Stars is an odd animal full of wit, charm, and pure entertainment value.  Definitely not for the faint of heart, but for those who love rich and layered characters, […]