Yearly Archives: 2015

The biggest problem with ‘Joy’ is its own director

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“Joy” had scenes. And while some of them were very good, I’m not sure that it’s actually a movie, though.

“Joy,” the latest film by David O. Russell is a biopic that proudly displays a big asterisk on the “bio” part. It tells the true story of Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), an overworked, single mother who created the Miracle Mop and became a millionaire.

Now this is the kind of story David O. Russell loves: somebody who is constantly held down by their insane mess of a family. And that is what ultimately hurts Russell at certain points: he is constantly standing in his own shadow.

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“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


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


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


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


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


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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