Burn While Watching: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Masterful Boogie, “Inherent Vice”

January 19, 2015  |  2014, Bold Cinema, Reviews  |  No Comments

inherent vice phoenixPaul Thomas Anderson‘s new movie is very strange, and left me, even more than “The Master,” completely disoriented after its first viewing. Anderson threw me into this world, or more like lulled me into it thanks to Joanna Newsom‘s narrator Sortilège, and kept spinning me like a spinning top while exhaling marijuana smoke with Bob Marley-levels of thickness right into my face. “I’m glad I was there, loved hanging out with those people, don’t know what the fuck it was all about, can’t wait to be back.” That was my insta-reaction to”Inherent Vice.” I knew I had to see it at least once more before writing about it.

The second time around was a much more sober experience. I followed more closely, understood the Coy Harlingen and Sauncho Smilax characters more, but still got lost right before Martin Short makes his incredibly entertaining cameo. Understanding Harlingen and Smilax made me appreciate Owen Wilson blending into the film’s context surprisingly well just by being Owen Wilson, and Benicio Del Toro at his funniest best, respectively. The second time around, more importantly, I confirmed my impression that the film’s core themes are defined by Larry “Doc” Sportello’s (Joaquin Phoenix) relationships with, first, his ex old lady Shasta (Katherine Waterston, in breakthrough mode), and secondly, Bigfoot (Josh Brolin, giving an ultra-layered performance). And then, it hit me like a ton of bricks made of duh: every Anderson film is defined by the relationships of his characters. “Inherent Vice” is just the most elliptical Anderson film yet, and it’s deliberately confusing to the point of making you think the plot matters more than the characters. I felt ready to write.

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REVIEW: Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” Is Profound In Its Simplicity, And The Year’s Greatest Blockbuster.

November 11, 2014  |  2014, Blockbuster, Reviews  |  No Comments

Interstellar MainFrom all the marvelling one does as a direct side effect of watching Christopher Nolan‘s profound new film “Interstellar,” one wondrous, adrift thought leads to the core essence behind today’s blockbuster. There is no strict science, no didactic derivation that leads to a three-lettered equation, to what sustains this essence; we let our own individual feelings, experiences, and memories construct the foundation, and once the final arrangement ticks all of our subjective boxes, we judge all blockbusters upon this conception. In this way, no matter what the story is or where in time and space it’s located, directors like Michael BayZack SnyderJoss Whedon etc. etc., are all competing for the biggest patch of sand within boundaries of the same sandbox. They are perpetually compared to one another, and are too similar in too many ways, whereas in the alternate dimension of art house it’s much tougher to draw straight lines. I’m not sure the same Nolan who burst onto the scene with 2000’s “Memento” would think he’d be compared to the Bay’s and Snyder’s of the film world 14 years later, but after he signed on the dotted lines for the Batman trilogy, his must’ve known his career would took a sharp turn. With films like “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” and now “Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan has not only conquered the sandbox with the tallest castles, he’s expanding the boundaries in profound ways.

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REVIEW: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Leading Legacy Ends With Excellence In A MOST WANTED MAN

July 28, 2014  |  Reviews  |  No Comments
Property of Lionsgate

Property of Lionsgate

A grey cloud follows every film featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman ever since his untimely death earlier this year. When the film is posthumously released, the cloud is all the darker for it. So when a film like God’s Pocket comes out to disappointing reviews (read Way Too Indie’s underwhelmed reaction here,) every Hoffman fan among us can’t help but feel slightly dejected. So here’s some much-needed good news; Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, adapted from the John Le Carré novel of the same name, stars Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last leading role, and it’s the kind of material that’s perfectly suited for the late, great actor’s talents. It may not get ahead of films like The Master, Capote, Magnolia, and Almost Famous in terms of substance; but it’s a sophisticated and shining addition to a boisterous filmography.

Read full review on Way Too Indie here.

Don’t Miss This In Theatres: CHEAP THRILLS ( **** 1/2 )

April 2, 2014  |  Bold Cinema, Fantasia, Reviews  |  No Comments
Drafthouse Films

Drafthouse Films

The Oscars were surprisingly great this year. But, were they so great to make me completely abandon my blog forever and ever? No. Did I watch 12 YEARS A SLAVE win, and jump up and down like Steve McQueen only to realize (mid-air) that I’ll never be able to post another article on my Grapevine ever again? Absolutely not. Be that as it may, this post – exactly one full month from my last update – isn’t an original. So, allow me to take a moment of your time and plug my contributions yes? OKAY!

While I’ll never be too far away from the Grapevine, I’m currently contributing movie reviews to two super awesome sites. IndieWire’s The Playlist is one of the comfiest havens for everything film related, so I’m stoked to be a regular contributor for them. And if that wasn’t enough, the wonderful Way Too Indie have recently accepted me into their collective and while I’m only two reviews in (here and here), I plan on sticking around for a while. If you fancy some indie, too much is never enough with these guys.

Then there’s the good folks across the pond in the ol’ UK of…(it’s not the same as US of A, damnit), WhatCulture. For these chaps, I tend to flex my mainstream muscles and dish out list articles – paying attention to the other side of me; the side that loves Batman, TV shows and ranking random movie-related factoids in order. It’s lovely. But, their editorial process has tightened up recently, which means some articles get the boot. Guess where those’ll be landing? Muahaha

Now that you’ve gotten a little taste of how busy I’ve been keeping this past month, I’m so happy we caught up. But, don’t leave just yet! I want to remind you about a film I saw last year at the Fantasia Film Festival, which ended up in my year-end festival top ten list and – after too many months – is currently in cinemas. If you haven’t seen this movie and you’re thinking about what to watch to have some fun – E.L. Katz’ CHEAP THRILLS needs to be a no-brainer decision. This is an absolute gem of a film, just demented enough to bring the dementia out in all of us. And that final shot! Ahh..superb.

Click “READ MORE” to read my review from Fantasia in case you missed it and catch Cheap Thrills in theatres before it’s too late!

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REVIEW: THE LEGO MOVIE is every kinds of awesome ****1/2

February 13, 2014  |  Comedy, Feature, Reviews  |  No Comments


You may or may not believe this but you’ve already probably heard about it and maybe you’re going like pfft that can’t be right and you’re not believing it but the Lego Movie that just came out this past Friday is AWESOME and you should remember that word because you’re going to be hearing it and singing along to it a lot in the movie in fact I’m so excited to review the Lego Movie that I’m not even going to pause for breath or full stops or commas or paragraphs or proper sentences or any of that boring adult stuff because the Lego Movie makes you feel like a kid again which is what Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were really truly kinda going for here and at one point during what screenwriters who stick to rules like to call the third act Lord and Miller do something that’s totally completely out there and it’s going to kind of test you a little and you may feel a little weird about it because I felt a little Emmett Brickowskiweird about it at first but it’s OK it really is because it actually ends up working and you’re gonna be all like woah that’s kind of weird but it totally works and I’m all for it or you’re not going to be like that and you’re gonna wish for something else but either way it’s OK because this assembled bundle of joy for kids and nostalgia for 20-somethings and fading memories for really old people hits the ground running and doesn’t stop and it’s hilarious because it’s running in that awkward way that you’d imagine Lego characters to be running in and Lord Miller are so creative with this movie that they even incorporate THAT into the whole grand scheme of things which if I’m losing you right now is totally fine because you’ll know it when you see it which you absolutely positively must do right this second stop what you’re doing and go see The Lego Movie even and especially if you think that it’s just another dumb toy-based consumerist devil-designed marketing trickery or ploy by some big corporation which in essence it actually IS but Lord Miller are so whip-smart they even incorporate THAT which just goes to show how much thought has been put into this so if you’re thinking that this is going to be some kind of bullshit animated equivalent of BATTLESHIP (which stars Liam Neeson who also provides one of the many perfect voices in The Lego Movie and who I can only hope and imagine would agree with everything I’m saying right now) or a brainless TRANSFORMERS franchise more plastic than the toys its based on then think again and when you think you’ve got it think twice because The Lego Movie builds circles around those two and holds more creativity more laughter more emotion and more inspiration in Bennyone of its LEGO bricks than either of them or their shat-out sequels combined but that’s enough about garbage I gotta get back on track here and tell you that The Lego Movie is about Emett Brickowski voiced by Chris Pratt who is just an ordinary Lego construction worker and doesn’t have any friends until his life completely changes when he meets Lucy voiced by Elizabeth Banks who takes him through this super secret portal and tells him that there’s all kinds of dimensions in the universe which are like the Lego themes of pirates and spaceships or Lord Of The Rings or really girlie themes with rainbows and unicorns but that they’re all in peril because President Business voiced by Will Ferrel means to stick them all together and basically ruin all kinds of possibilities for change so maybe you’re already seeing how deep this supposed kids movie actually goes but that’s just the instruction manual compared to the endless possibilities this ridiculously fun movie explores including having a blast with our culture’s superhero obsession thanks in part to the greatest Batman voice that needed to happen in Will Arnett and a Green Lantern cameo by Jonah Hill that actually makes Green Lantern fun to watch and the most nostalgic Lego character you’ll ever meet with a perfectly broken helmet and faded out torso voiced by Charlie Day that will make you want to scream SPACESHIP!!! like you’ve never screamed it before but above all else the greatest thing about The Lego Movie is that its suitability for kids ages 8-14 is just a suggestion and one that a lot of adults will end up willfully ignoring because they’ll walk out just as charmed just as amused and in way more appreciation of the creative intelligence at display by Lord Miller who are so in tune with their product they’ve even thought of THAT while writing this hilarious and memorable and imaginative screenplay which will have quotes and songs wrestling for attention in your head for seconds minutes days months to come and I haven’t really seen what other animated films are coming out this year but come Oscar 2015 and The Lego Movie doesn’t take the Oscar for Best Animated Movie someone somewhere needs to literally choke on a Lego because PIXAR and Dreamworks only wish they can make something as exciting and fresh and funny as this AWESOME movie.

You should totally see it.



REVIEW: From riches to rags, the story of how THE COUNSELOR turned into one of the worst films of the year.

October 27, 2013  |  2013, Directors, Reviews  |  No Comments


Moments like this are pretty rare; shitting on a film filled with so much promise on paper that it’s almost embarrassing to think about. Embarrassing. Ridley Scott’s THE COUNSELOR is oozing with talent; some of the hottest “it” celebrities at the moment who can actually act when in the right hands, an author who flew into popularity like a comet after The Coen Brothers’ NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and a veteran director who has powerful films like ALIEN, BLACK HAWK DOWN & MATCHSTICK MEN to his name. And yet one of the most asked questions about this year in film will surely have to be “what in the name of fuck went wrong with The Counselor?” It’s almost like giving 25 million dollars to a mechanic – as sad as it is true, that’s the film’s actual budget according to Wikipedia – and telling him to direct a feature film with it. (He’d spend $24.9 million on the cast). It’s like a rich man’s gamble caused by boredom, a paraplegic preforming open-heart surgery or a tone deaf pianist’s cover version of a Mozart sonata but there’s one thing it’s definitely not like; a good film.

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FNC ’13 REVIEW: There’s no better way to get lost this year than with Robert Redford by your side. ALL IS LOST.

October 20, 2013  |  2013, Bold Cinema, Festivals, Reviews  |  No Comments


From the FNC Festival Grapevine.  

Here’s something funny; J.C. Chandor’s ferocious new feature ALL IS LOST is one of the few North American films I saw at this year’s festival, its star is one of the most recognizable Hollywood names of the 20th century and yet somehow, it’s the most experimental and artistically tenacious film of the whole year let alone FNC. Out of all the movies I was scrambling to see at this year’s FNC, most of them are from everywhere but the USA. Indeed, one of the most captivating things about FNC is how devoid they are of any pandering to big corporate pictures from good ol’ Holly. Their reputation stays in tact because All is Lost, arguably the closest FNC got this year to Hollywood, is so far from all kinds of Hollywood standards, it might as well be directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Making its premiere at Cannes and sailing around Melbourne, Telluride, New York and London, Chandor’s All is Lost has been getting some major traction along the way. Once you see it, and you absolutely, positively must see it, this film will open your eyes to the wonders of creation in its most naked form. A complex, audacious film with the simplest premise in the world is one of this year’s greatest artistic achievements, beating – in my humble opinion – a certain little film set in space.

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REVIEW: GRAVITY, The Most Visually Spectacular Buzz Kill Of All Time.

gravity (1)

Originally Reviewed as Part of TIFF 2013.

Bookending my festival with Steve McQueen’s 12 YEARS A SLAVE and Alfonso Cuaron’s GRAVITY was a big part of the ideal TIFF ’13 package for me. McQueen delivered and he delivered big. SO big in fact that little birds told me about the standing ovations at every screening and the film ended up walking away with the TIFF People’s Choice Award. He managed to meet and exceed very lofty expectations. And then there’s Alfonso Cuaron. He’s made a name for himself as one of the most original and exciting directors to watch. 2001’s Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN shoved him into the spotlight and the technically dazzling dystopian fable CHILDREN OF MEN made the light only brighter in 2006. Whispers of a space movie began not too long after that and the build up to what eventually became Gravity officially began. Fast forward to 2013, after all kinds of delays and casting issues, a volcano of orgasmic reviews erupted in Venice and James Cameron went around calling it “the best space film ever done”. Things couldn’t have looked better. Surely, this was the groundbreaking, cinematic masterpiece it was always destined to be right? Try to imagine my surprise and utter disbelief after walking out of the theatre and thinking that I just saw Miss Congeniality 3: Lost In Space with the greatest special effects to date.

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FANTASIA: CHEAP THRILLS Is A Finger Flickin’ Good Dark Comedy & Thrilling First Feature.

August 12, 2013  |  2013, Fantasia, Reviews  |  No Comments


Having just experienced one of the most enthusiastic nights in a theatre after a long while with Adam Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT, I was sure of one thing going into E.L. Katz’s Cheap Thrills; it would have to do a hell of a lot to compare. When I heard that it won the SXSW ’13 Midnighters Award and then found out that Katz, Wingard, writer Simon Barrett (You’re Next), Ti West (director of THE INNKEEPERS featuring two of the actors from Cheap Thrills) and a handful of others are all creative buddies who bounce ideas off each other, things started to look promising. I was a fool. There was no way anything could have prepared me for Cheap Thrills, a debut feature that turned out to be one of the best Fantasia films I ever saw. That’s right. Ever.

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FANTASIA: Think All The Fun’s Been Had With Home Invasion Movies? I Think YOU’RE NEXT. ****

August 5, 2013  |  2013, Fantasia, Reviews  |  No Comments

Wow. Ok so, I don’t remember the last time I had that much fun in a theatre. Together with E.L. Katz’s CHEAP THRILLS (review coming up), Adam Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT was one of the most involved experiences I’ve been a part of during any festival. And it felt good. Really, really good. Almost to the point of being tempted to to say “fuck it, five stars, masterpiece”. Moments of imperfection, that are surely seen as part of the movie’s charm by diehard genre fans, stop my fingers after the fourth star only because deep down in my pits, I’m not a diehard genre fan. These are the kind of movies I used to stop and laugh at before switching to the next channel. But the more I see and have fun with genre films, the more my appreciation grows and I’m beginning to understand that technicalities like acting, cinematography and story structure can be thrown out the window when you end up having this much fun with a movie. And the story couldn’t be simpler.

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