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One of the things that I’ve learned from being part of the larger critical discourse surrounding movies is that I generally align with the consensus view of my peers. That’s not to say I’m in lockstep with the crowd – we all have our differences – but a lot of the time, we’re in the same neighborhood.

Not always, though.

Take the new Netflix film “Hillbilly Elegy,” directed by Ron Howard from a script by Vanessa Taylor adapted from J.D. Vance’s 2016 memoir of the same name. This story of a young man’s connection to his Kentucky roots and how those roots impact his current circumstances as a student at Yale Law School has been largely panned by critics, with many viewing it as a transparent awards grab lacking in soul and substance.

I respectfully disagree.

I’m not calling this a perfect movie by any stretch – it has its share of issues to be sure. But it is a much better movie than it has been deemed by critics, a story of poverty and its generational impacts that at least tries to address the emotional, social and economic realities that come from being poor. It isn’t always successful, but even the misplaced efforts merit a degree of credit.

Published in Movies
Saturday, 29 December 2018 21:53

The absurdity of venality – ‘Vice’

If you were to make a list of real-life political figures who might make a good subject for a biopic packed with satiric elements, pitch-black humor and a liberal sprinkling of absurdism, former Vice President Dick Cheney would probably sit pretty low on it.

And yet, that’s precisely what writer/director Adam McKay has done with his new movie “Vice.” The filmmaker’s follow-up to 2015’s “The Big Short,” his biting and surprisingly impactful riff on the housing crisis of the late-00s, takes on one of the most powerful and influential – for better or worse (mostly worse) – men to hold the office of Vice President.

With a virtuoso performance from Christian Bale as Cheney and an absolutely dynamite ensemble cast, McKay treats Cheney’s calculated rise through the ranks culminating in a consolidation of political power never before seen in the office of the VP. And he does it with a depth of intelligence and razor-sharp wit, bringing together stock footage and fourth-wall-breaking internal commentary with a more-or-less straightforward look at the biographical details; the end result is one of the most thought-provoking and challenging films of the year. Not to mention one of the best.

Published in Movies
Friday, 11 November 2016 11:50

Fate and first contact - 'Arrival'

Sci-fi offering simply exceptional across the board

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 13:39

Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Man of Steel' a sadly unsatisfying misfire

We live in an entertainment age where everything old is new again. Iconic worlds and characters are constantly being revisited. Current trends often lead to reboots that attempt grittiness or edginess. Of course, those attempts have become ubiquitous, hence losing the very edge that they're searching for. And worst of all, sometimes you get edginess for the sake of edginess.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 15:27

No trouble with Trouble with the Curve'

Relationships take the field in this baseball offering

As a rule, I enjoy most sports movies, but the truth is that with very few exceptions, Hollywood has been most successful with films about boxing and baseball. While boxing's visceral brutality is a large part of why it works on film, baseball's advantage is in its inherent romanticism. America's relationship with its pastime allows the sport to work as a framework to explore our relationships with one another.

Published in Movies

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