Tag Archives: Topical

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

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

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Release Date: April 21, 2017 – Tribeca Film Festival
Runtime: 105 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Public Square Films
Director: David France
Cast: Victoria Cruz; Marsha P. Johnson; Sylvia Rivera

Here is a documentary that should be required viewing in high schools, in gender studies classes, and in history classes from now on. “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” is an important and indispensable piece of work about one of the foremost founders of the modern LGBT movement. 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

King Cobra

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Release Date: Screened April 18, 2016 – Tribeca Film Festival
Runtime: 91 minutes
Rating: Not Yet Rated (but let’s be real..it’ll be R)
Studio: Yale Productions/SSS Entertainment/Digital Ignition Entertainment/RabbitBandini Productions
Director: Justin Kelly
Cast: James Franco; Garrett Clayton; Christian Slater; Molly Ringwald; Keegan Allen; Alicia Silverstone

A movie as salacious and lurid as the story it’s telling, “King Cobra” has its flaws, but is generally an effective, lean, and very mean piece of “ripped-from-the-headlines” cinema. Boasting a cast including James Franco, Molly Ringwald, Alicia Silverstone, Keegan Allen, a hasn’t-been-this-good-in-years Christian Slater, and former teenybopper Garrett Clayton, ejecting himself from tweendom straight into the tighty-whities of grown-up films, “King Cobra” offers a stylish though straightforward, yet not uncompelling, dramatization of this tawdry tale of murder and sex. 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

Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank

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Director Sheila Canavan, Barney Frank, Jim Ready

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Release Date: Screened June 20, 2014 – 16th Annual Provincetown Film Festival
Runtime: 87 minutes
Rating: NR
Studio: Pack Creek Productions
Director: Sheila Canavan, Michael Chandler
Cast: Barney Frank; Jim Ready; Neil Barofsky; Dustin Lance Black; Eliot Spitzer

Controversial. Witty. Acerbic. Straightforward. No bullshit. These are all words that can describe the former US Congressman from Massachusetts, Barney Frank. His voyage from local politician to the national stage is documented in Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler’s “Compared to What: The Improbably Journey of Barney Frank,” which screened last night at the 16th Annual Provincetown Film Festival. Continue reading

Her

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Release Date: December 18, 2013 (limited); January 10, 2014 (wide)
Runtime: 126 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix; Scarlett Johansson (voice); Amy Adams; Chris Pratt; Rooney Mara

This one was a total surprise! My expectations were low: another self-consciously quirky Spike Jonze movie with resident Hollywood oddball, Joaquin Phoenix. And while this movie is definitely left-of-center, it is also quite possibly, the most heartfelt and truly tender movies I’ve seen in ages. Continue reading

Side Effects

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Release Date: February 8, 2013
Runtime: 106 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Open Road Films
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Jude Law; Rooney Mara; Catherine Zeta-Jones; Channing Tatum

Instead of going out with a bang, Steven Soderbergh decided to go out with more of a tremble. While his latest, and purportedly last movie, is an entertaining enough social thriller, it is not the big, shiny, mass-market type of movie that has characterized his output in recent years (“Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve,” “Ocean’s Thirteen”). While it’s never a bad thing for a director, especially one as talented as Soderbergh, to flex his or her creative muscle and produce an eclectic mix of films, in my opinion, if this is going to be your last movie, why not go out with a grand, splashy piece of entertainment as a send-off?? Critics be damned! Continue reading

Zero Dark Thirty*

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Release Date: January 11, 2013
Runtime: 157 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Columbia Pictures (Sony)
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain; Jason Clarke; Kyle Chandler; Jennifer Ehle; Chris Pratt

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS, I guess…]

Goooooooood movie!!

The search for Osama Bin Laden took a really long time. While most of the American public wasn’t aware of the actual behind-the-scenes military machinations of what truly went into the search, “Zero Dark Thirty” attempts, and very much succeeds, in giving us an insider look into what is, undoubtedly, one of the most fevered manhunts of all time. Continue reading