Being too young when the group was in its initial firebrand incarnation to understand, much less appreciate the early activism of Greenpeace, I’ve ended up simply dismissive of the organization as a whole. That’s despite knowing nothing about the group’s founding. The Sundance doc How to Change the World is a good way find a path back through the group’s history.
At its best, How to Change the World is tremendously inspiring, and by turns thrilling, comic, and shocking. A portrait of the achievements of an unlikely group of allies rather than a sales pitch for the modern organization, How to Change the World is drawn from writings by founder Robert Hunter, the group’s shaggy, media-savvy general, and features jaw-dropping footage culled from the Greenpeace archive of film footage. Though while the film offers a vision of Greenpeace I’d never seen, it is also somewhat overlong, and cursed with organizational problems that add nothing to the audience experience. Read More »
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The Bronze gets a gold medal for ambition. Directed by Bryan Buckley, it stars the Big Bang Theory‘s Melissa Rausch (who also co-wrote the film) as former Olympic hero Hope Ann Greggory. Think Kerri Strug turned Tonya Harding. A decade removed from a life-changing Bronze medal, she’s now a foul-mouthed, delusional has-been living in her father’s basement and doing unspeakable things while watching her former self.
Hope eats like crap, curses like a sailor, treats her dad (Office Space‘s Gary Cole) awful and is just generally a terrible person. Yet when her former coach dies, she’s given an opportunity to redeem herself by coaching another rising gymnast. Along the way she’ll date Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch, make fun of the gymnast’s mom played by Cecily Strong, and have the most flat out hilarious, disturbing and crazy sex in recent memory with The Winter Soldier himself, Sebastian Stan.
So does that all work? Continue reading our Sundance 2015 The Bronze review below. Read More »
Editor’s Note: This review originally ran on November 12. We’re bumping it up now that American Sniper is in wide release.
Director Clint Eastwood has great aspirations for American Sniper. First and foremost, he hopes to make a movie paying tribute to the most deadly sniper in the history of the United States. That’s the late Chris Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper. He also hopes to show Kyle not as only a heroic solider, but a complex man confident in his actions and concerned about of their results. The film paints a grim picture of post-traumatic stress disorder and what it does to our veterans, especially in regards to their families. Finally, there’s also a drive to keep things exciting, so there are many gun battles in the deserts of Iraq.
Yes, American Sniper is an incredibly ambitious film with many moving parts. All of those parts work in certain instances, but only on rare occasions do they all come together at once. The disconnection makes the film fall just short of those great aspirations.
American Sniper had its World Premiere on Veterans Day at AFI Fest presented by Audi and you can read the rest of our review below. Read More »
Paddington is a PG-rated family film about a talking bear who moves from the jungles of Peru to London. That premise, based on a popular series of children’s book by Michael Bond, is obviously silly. Yet writer director Paul King‘s adaptation is so on the money, so well-done, so deceptively simple, heartfelt and flat-out entertaining, it make movies with far more plausible plots seem silly by comparison.
Below read the rest of our Paddington movie review, which talks about what the movie does right that others should take note of. Read More »
Star Wars #1 might be one of the most anticipated comic book issues in years, as it should be. The series is important for a lot of obvious reasons, as Marvel takes back the publishing rights to the series that Dark Horse has had for many years. But will fans enjoy the first 48 pages of this new Star Wars adventure? Marvel sent me an early digital copy of their upcoming Star Wars comic book series. Read my review of the Star Wars 1 comic after the jump.
Here is why the new Star Wars comic book series matters.
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Note: This review originally ran on December 9. We’ve republished now that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is in theaters.
Every time Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth, we expect something special. All of his Lord of the Rings films got Best Picture nominations and while The Hobbit films haven’t lived up to the achievement of the first three movies, they’ve had their moments. In my reviews of An Unexpected Journey, and The Desolation of Smaug I found things to like about each film, despite their flaws.
So, following the trajectory of the first trilogy, I hoped The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies would be the best of the bunch. Imagine my disappointment to find out it was the opposite. Below, read our Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies review. Read More »
Editor’s note: This review originally ran in June, but the wonderful Comet opens in limited release this weekend, so we’ve republished it. It’s also on demand. Watch the trailer here.
Imagine you’re watching your relationship on TV. It is playing on five channels, with each channel airing a different stage of the relationship. When things get too uncomfortable, awkward or emotional, you just flip the channel. On that next channel, you’d continue to watch your relationship unfold, maybe from a point a few years later. The cumulative result of the experience would probably put into perspective the whole of what you and another person can be together. Loving in one moment, hateful in another, caring, selfish and more.
That metaphor is an elaborate attempt to describe Comet, the directorial debut of Sam Esmail, which had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival this weekend. Comet stars Emmy Rossum and Justin Long as the central couple. While there is absolutely no TV channel surfing involved, the film’s complex and fascinating structure feels like that, from the audience perspective. It’s a dense, funny, insanely well-written and well-acted film. Unlike most romantic films, it keeps you guessing. Simultaneously, it raises questions about the nature of love, life, and truth, all disguised in an semi-conventional love story told in the most unconventional of ways. It’s a special movie. Read More »
(Note: this review originally ran in January during the Sundance Film Festival; we’ve republished it now as the film opens in theaters and on VOD this weekend.)
The Babadook is one of the best horror movies in years, a vigorous and hellishly intense story about a family on the edge of sanity. This isn’t a gore showcase, but a wild emotional roller coaster. (If you need a tonal touchstone, look to Polanski films such as Repulsion and The Tenant.) There is a monster of sorts, but the movie would almost be just fine without him — the actors put each other through fire and pain, and writer/director Jennifer Kent drops us right in there with them. Read More »
Note: This review was original published on November 10. We’ve bumped it up now that the film is in theaters.
It’s a shame The Hunger Games series gets filed into the “young adult” category. Sure, there’s some dystopian young romance in there, but with each subsequent film, the series proves it is about much more than unattainable love with sporadic action. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 takes the series to its furthest point from YA stereotypes yet.
However, what’s most interesting about this latest installment — the first part of a two-part finale — is just how different it is from the rest of the franchise. Is that a good thing? Below, read why The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 feels like a different franchise. Read More »