Author Archives: ian0592

“The Night Before” is the best movie yet about being a Jew on Christmas

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It’s like they put out Christmas movies earlier and earlier every year.

The release of “The Night Before” marks the start of 2015′s Christmas Movie Season. It is perhaps one of my favorite Christmas-themed movies in a long time. Maybe after a few more viewings, I will be able to put it alongside “Trading Places.”

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Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

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And with one flame from an electric guitar, summer movie season was reborn.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a refreshing shot of adrenaline in every way possible. It is based on a franchise that I have never seen and that doesn’t matter, because it eloquently states a nearly 40 year old backstory in a brief voiceover.

We are transported to a desert landscape that is anything but empty. In the future, Earth is a wasteland. Everybody searches for water and oil. Gangs form, but sides often blur together. The angry Max (Tom Hardy) of the title teams up with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to bring down the psychotic cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

This is a future ruled by lack of resources, where eating a two-headed lizard is the best form of nutrition.

For a barren landscape, this world sure is populated by bright, colorful figures who all abide by different codes. Sure, this is called “Mad Max,” but “Fury Road” often feels like it is about everybody else, whether you have a pale face, or a flaming electric guitar. But Hardy, of course, is a born action star. Hell, at this point, he can play anything. He doesn’t even do that much “”acting” here. All it takes is a few grunts, and I am on board.

The real star here may be Charlize Theron. Furiosa is both nurturing and terrifying. She is somebody who would take care of you, but definitely not somebody you would ever want to pick a fight with.

This is director George Miller’s full vision, and it feels like something he’s been saving up to do for a long time. “Fury Road” was in development and production hell for many years, and the wait was definetly worth it. The film is settled on a few big action set pieces that last a long time and do not disappoint in the slightest. I think what I am most impressed with is Miller’s ability to turn every possible object into a weapon, whether that be a crane or a flaming electric guitar. He is like a way cooler MacGyver.

Many people have been pointing out a “lack of plot” in “Fury Road.” “Fury Road” has a plot, it is just much more sparse and simple than most blockbusters nowadays. That is a great thing. There is one, straight-forward villain. The heroes are clear. The goals are small and attainable. Nobody is trying to launch a nuclear missile through a wormhole. This is literally a world without rules. You don’t have to shut off your mind to watch “Fury Road,” but it definitely the simplest summer blockbuster to digest.

With “Fury Road,” it feels like George Miller was able to play in his own personal sandbox. Then, he decided to blow it up, crash a few cars in it, and set it on fire with a flaming electric guitar. Just roll with it, and you’ll have the best time you’ve had at the movies in a very long time.

Mad Men Series Finale: Don Draper is the Ultimate Workaholic

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Don dreams up the latest Geico Humpday ad. Image via Quartz

“You don’t want to run away with me, you just want to run away” -Rachel Menken

“Are you alone?” -Random girl at bar

No matter where Don Draper is, no matter who he is with, he will always be alone. He has to be: that’s what makes him so damn good at his job.

After eight amazing years of peaks and (some) valleys, “Mad Men” drew to a close this past weekend. Just like with any revered show, the finale was up for some serious debate. But unlike “The Sopranos,” there was no debate that the creator didn’t even intend for us to have over life and death.

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Movie Review: It Follows

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The great thing about being a film critic is that you can see a great film before the inevitable hype sets in with a nearly unbiased perspective. The problem with being an unlicensed film critic (do critics get licenses?) is that you see films whenever you get a chance, preferably as soon as they are first released in theaters.

So that is the difficulty with It Follows, which has been touted as the greatest thing for the horror genre since Alfred Hitchcock directed a film about a haunted loaf of sliced bread. It Follows is special in many ways, and I am rooting for it as a little indie that could. At times, it is a great throwback to horror classics. Unfortunately, this is exactly what holds it back.

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Movie Review: While We’re Young

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Noah Baumbach has spent so much time shooting around Brooklyn that the borough has become his own personal sandbox.

While We’re Young, Noah Baumbach’s sixth feature film, allows the director to expand his world all while remaining within the confines of it. While We’re Young isn’t the best film that he’s made, but its by far his most entertaining and accessible.

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Movie Review: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

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When you have a premise as good as the one that Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter has, it is most likely that you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Luckily, the execution somehow manages to beat out even the initial promise.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is so many things at once, that it is somewhat tough to describe. It is an adventure, but not a swashbuckling, heroic one. It is a comedy, but a quiet, rather depressing one.

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Movie Review: Chappie

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Image via Collider

Whenever a new movie comes out that isn’t a sequel, remake, or based on a comic book comes out, I have a bad habit of immediately assuming that it will be good. We can define it as confusing originality with brains. A good name for that would be Elysium Syndrome.

With Chappie, Neill Blomkamp manages to pull himself out of a sophomore slump with something that is sometimes frustrating but often fun and filled with interesting, half-realized ideas.

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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

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“This ain’t The King’s Speech, bro.” Image via Forbes

January and February are typically Hollywood’s dumping ground months. This is the time when studios just want you to see the Oscar leftovers that they released the last week of December. This is the time of Uwe Boll and Kevin Hart to reign. But once awards season ends, there is something refreshing about watching a movie in which nobody dies from a terminal illness. I don’t care what the groundhog said; with Kingsman: The Secret Service, summer has come early.

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Analog This: Parks and Recreation is the Great American Sitcom

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Last night marked the end of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, which ran for seven great seasons. Sure, it never got high ratings, but it did bring the phrase “Treat Yourself” into the lexicon. Let’s see Two and a Half Men invent something that gives you an excuse to go shopping for toys.

Parks and Rec was good for more than just a laugh (although, it delivered plenty of those), it marks the end of an era for network sitcoms as NBC tries to wade in the murky waters of the current TV landscape of streaming and cable. There was something about Parks and Rec that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside each time the opening credits rolled.

But there is something else that sets it apart from all other sitcoms. All of you literary snobs out there might be familiar with the Great American Novel, which is the idea that one book possibly encapsulates the culture and values of the United States. Some think its The Great Gatsby. Others say its The Catcher in the Rye. I say its whatever you were forced to read in English class during sophomore year of high school. Anyway, the idea of America seems to hard to capture in just one thing, but if there ever was a Great American Sitcom, it would be Parks and Recreation.

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