Tag Archives: Three and a Half Reels

First They Killed My Father

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Release Date: September 15, 2017
Screened: September 11, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 136 minutes
Rating: NR – equivalent to a strong PG-13
Studio: Netflix
Director: Angelina Jolie
Cast: Sareum Srey Moch; Phoeung Kompheak; Sveng Socheata; Mun Kimhak; Heng Dara; Khoun Sothea; Sarun Nika; Run Malyna; Oun Srey Neang

Angelina Jolie directs the adaptation of Loung Ung’s memoir “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers” and the results are a film that is experienced rather than enjoyed. Continue reading

mother!

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Release Date: September 15, 2017
Screened: September 11, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 121 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence; Javier Bardem; Ed Harris; Michelle Pfeiffer; Brian Gleeson; Domhnall Gleeson; Kristen Wiig

I can’t think of a contemporary director who brings the “WTF?!?!” better than Darren Aronofsky, and he proves as much with his latest: the maternal insanity that is mother! Continue reading

BPM (Beats Per Minute)

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Release Date: August 23, 2017 (France); October 20, 2017 (USA – limited)
Screened: September 10, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 140 minutes
Rating: No Rating Yet (it’ll be R)
Studio: Memento Films
Director: Robin Campillo
Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart; Arnaud Valois; Adèle Haenel; Antoine Reinartz; Théophile Ray; Catherine Vinatier

**Minor Spoilers**

Director Robin Campillo affectionately explores the early years of the AIDS crisis through the lens of the Paris outfit of AIDS activist group, ACT UP. Continue reading

I, Tonya

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Release Date: September 8, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Screened: September 9, 2017 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Runtime: 119 minutes
Rating: No Rating Yet
Studio: Miramax 
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Margot Robbie; Sebastian Stan; Allison Janney; Julianne Nicholson; Bobby Cannavale; Caitlin Carver; Mckenna Grace; Paul Walter Hauser

Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya takes a ripped-from-the-headlines true story and infuses it with unexpected empathy. Invaluable assistance is provided from star Margot Robbie, whose performance here is even more star making than her showy breakout turn in Wolf of Wall Street. Her work, as well as that of co-stars Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney (not to mention director Gillespie and cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis) should garner plenty of attention come awards time. Continue reading

Wonder Woman

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Release Date: June 2, 2017
Runtime: 141 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot; Chris Pine; Connie Nielsen; Robin Wright; Danny Huston; David Thewlis; Saïd Taghmaoui; Ewen Bremner

All hail Wonder Woman!! After decades of development hell, the grand dame of DC Comics finally gets her own standalone movie…and what a movie it is! Easily taking her rightful place alongside (and surpassing, some would argue) the big screen treatments of her Justice League comrades, “Wonder Woman” is a knockout of an action movie, an origin story, and plain, old big budget popcorn entertainment. Continue reading

The 4th Man

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Release Date: March 24, 1983
Runtime: 102 minutes
Rating: Unrated (closer to R)
Studio: International Spectrafilm / Anchor Bay Entertainment
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Jeroen Krabbé; Renée Soutendijk; Thom Hoffman; Dolf de Vries; Geert de Jong

It’s only fitting that a movie review site called The 4th Reel review a movie called “The 4th Man,” so here goes!

A virtual blueprint for his later, more mainstream potboiler “Basic Instinct,” “The 4th Man” exhibits all of the elements of director Paul Verhoeven’s mode of outrageous storytelling that has made him one of the most audacious film directors working today.

This one is stamped Verhoeven all-around: the icy blonde, the tortured author, the lethal dagger, the bisexuality, the fast cars….there are so many parallels to “Basic Instinct” (one of my all-time favorite movies, by the way) that they’re difficult to count. It’s almost as though he saw in “BI” an opportunity to make an even more outlandish version of “The 4th Man.” I loved it…loved every twisted, depraved minute of it. Continue reading

Sully

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Release Date: September 9, 2016
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Tom Hanks; Aaron Eckhart; Laura Linney; Mike O’Malley; Anna Gunn; Jamey Sheridan

Hero worship doesn’t get much more blatant, or for that matter, more entertaining than “Sully,” Clint Eastwood’s dramatization of the Miracle on the Hudson from a few years back. Tom Hanks easily inhabits Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s wings in an effectively understated (and remarkably physically realized) performance that ranks among one of the actor’s best. Continue reading

Black Mass

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Release Date: September 18, 2015
Runtime: 122 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Johnny Depp; Joel Edgerton; Benedict Cumberbatch; Dakota Johnson; Julianne Nicholson; Kevin Bacon; Peter Sarsgaard; Rory Cochrane; David Harbour; Adam Scott; Corey Stoll; Jesse Plemons

Johnny Depp is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination in what is arguably the best performance of his career as James “Whitey” Bulger, a small-time Boston hood who grew to become one of the FBI’s most wanted. Scott Cooper’s riveting “Black Mass,” based on the book of the same name by Boston Globe journalists Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, is a brutal and uncompromising piece, right in line with the life of its subject. Continue reading

Trainwreck

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Release Date: July 17, 2015
Runtime: 125 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Amy Schumer; Bill Hader; Colin Quinn; John Cena; Dave Attell; Tilda Swinton;
LeBron James; Brie Larson

Amy Schumer bulldozes her way onto the big screen playing a magnified version of her women-are-just-as-raunchy-as-men comedic persona in ‘Trainwreck.’ Schumer (who also wrote the screenplay) is a natural performer and going on the basis of her debut as a leading lady, we will be seeing lots more of her in years to come. That is a good thing. That is a very good thing. Continue reading

Sorcerer

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Release Date: June 24, 1977
Runtime: 121 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Paramount Pictures / Universal Pictures
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Roy Scheider; Bruno Cremer; Francisco Rabal; Amidou

God bless the Film Forum! If it wasn’t for this extraordinary little theater on W. Houston, special engagements of overlooked movies like “Sorcerer” might never be seen on the big screen again, relegated to not-exactly-the-same laptop viewing.

A reimagining of the classic French thriller “The Wages of Fear,” William Friedkin’s follow up to his groundbreaking and genre-defining “The Exorcist” was an ambitious flop back in 1977. The victim of shifting tastes in popular entertainment at the dawn of the blockbuster era, as well as timing (it opened a weekend before “Star Wars,” the phenomenal success of which immediately shattered any chance it had at success), “Sorcerer” has thankfully enjoyed a resurgence in critical acclaim over the years, and rightfully so. While not a perfect movie, it nonetheless fits very much within Friedkin’s oeuvre of hyper-intense, challenging work. Shit, movies don’t get much more intense than this! Continue reading