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Essential Viewing

Widows: Film Review

By | Essential Viewing

Released – November 16th, 2018 Written By – Gillian Flynn, Steve McQueen Directed By – Steve McQueen Starring – Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, Daniel Kaluuya, Colin Farrell Runtime – 129 minutes Genre – Heist / Thriller / Drama What makes a marketable idea? If you’re a filmmaker, or a writer—and if you’re on this site, you probably are—you’ve probably received this critique at least once in your career: “I like the idea, but it needs to be more marketable.” On the surface, you probably have a basic understanding of what that means. It needs to appeal to a certain demographic. It has to have a strong, easily pitchable concept. It has to be fresh and new. You also probably have this sinking feeling in your stomach when you get that critique: the second something becomes “marketable,” it loses everything that makes it unique and meaningful, right? If you…

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Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Film Review

By | Essential Viewing

Released – March 1984 (Japan), February 2005 (U.S., English Dub) Written By – Hayao Miyazaki Directed By – Hayao Miyazaki Starring – Japan: Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Yoji Matsuda, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Iemasa Kayumi. English Dub: Alison Lohman, Patrick Stewart, Shia LaBeouf, Uma Thurman, Chris Sarandon Runtime – 117 minutes Genre – Anime, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Even avid Hayao Miyazaki fans tend to overlook his oft-forgotten sophomore feature, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Adapted from Miyazaki’s manga of the same name, Nausicaa follows a young princess (of the same name) as she becomes embroiled in a war between post-apocalyptic fiefdoms, all while trying to stop an environmental disaster that threatens the last vestiges of humanity. In order to save her small kingdom from war and environmental ruin, Nausicaä must discover a way to bridge the gap between man and nature before it’s too late. Nausicaa is the princess of the Valley…

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The Love Witch: Film Review

By | Essential Viewing

The Love Witch Released – November 11, 2016 Written By – Anna Biller Directed By – Anna Biller Starring – Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise Runtime – 120 minutes Genre – Comedy, horror, romance In film, there are auteurs and then there are auteurs, individuals with such a command over a film that it’s undoubtedly their vision and theirs alone, individuals whose work makes you wonder how the hell did they all that, individuals who make italicizing and bolding the word auteur a necessity. Today, we’re talking about that kind of auteur. Written, directed, edited, produced, scored, costumed, and set designed—whew!—by Anna Biller, The Love Witch follows Elaine (Samantha Robinson in a gloriously affected performance), a young woman who resorts to love magic to find a man, and is perhaps one of the most ambitious films in the last. . . pick a timespan. The reason?…

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8th Grade: Film Review

By | Essential Viewing

Eighth Grade Released – Aug 8th, 2018 Written By – Bo Burnham Directed By – Bo Burnham Starring – Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson Runtime – 94 minutes Genre – Drama, Comedy, Coming-of-age A beautiful, uncomfortable portrait of everyone’s most traumatizing school year, Eighth Grade follows Kayla, your typical, uninteresting 13-year-old girl. Online, she creates videos to express herself, giving advice on topics she is woefully unqualified to talk about, such as: being yourself, having confidence, making friends. In real life, she is a quiet loner, hopelessly awkward, and desperate to fit in. Kayla goes through all of the hallmarks of coming of age. Crushing on a boy out of her league, going to a pool party she was only invited to out of obligation, trying to make friends with older kids, disconnecting and reconnecting with her single dad, etc. All of this culminates in her graduation from 8th…

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Falling Down: Film Review

By | Essential Viewing

Falling Down Released – February 26th, 1993 Written By – Ebbe Roe Smith Directed By – Joel Schumacher Starring – Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey Runtime – 1 hour, 53 minutes Genre – Crime, Drama In a city rife with racial tension, a struggling economy, and a dwindling middle class, a disgruntled middle-aged man has armed himself with a bag of guns and is rampaging the city. This may seem like a present-day news headline, but it’s actually the plot of a Joel Schumacher film from 1993 starring Michael Douglas. The relevance of the film is even more poignant today. With racial injustices prompting Black Lives Matter, and a disgruntled middle America electing Donald Trump into the White House, the plot for Falling Down seems to focus on the exact type of man who might vote for Trump and fit into a 2018 environment. Michael Douglas plays a character we know only…

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The Crook: Film Review

By | Essential Viewing

The Crook (Le Voyou) Released: November 20th, 1970 Written By: Claude Lelouch, Claude Pinoteau, & Pierre Uytterhoeven Directed By: Claude Lelouch Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Christine Lelouch, Charles Gerald, Charles Denner Runtime: 2 hours Genre: Crime, thriller, caper A contemporary of the Nouvelle Vague directors but never really one of them, Claude Lelouch continues to plug away at the age of 80, releasing a film annually to the indifference of French critics. In the States, his legacy will likely be the derisive laughter of high school French classes forced to sit through A Man and a Woman, but there are some genuinely interesting titles in his filmography. Similar to Truffaut, what comes through Lelouch’s work is a love of cinema, and The Crook is his film that most effectively conveys this exuberance. Jean-Louis Trintignant stars as “Simon the Swiss,” a notorious Parisian thief on the run after escaping from prison. Hiding…

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Joe Versus the Volcano: Film Review

By | Essential Viewing

Joe Versus the Volcano Released: March 9th, 1990 Written and Directed By: John Patrick Shanley Starring: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes Genre: Dark comedy, fantasy, romance Most people are familiar with the combination of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. From Sleepless in Seattle to You’ve Got Mail, the duo has proven to be a sure-fire winner. But there’s a lesser known film in which the two star: Joe Versus the Volcano. When the film released in 1990, it was met with mixed reviews. Most people didn’t “get” it—and that’s not surprising, as the most common word used to describe the film is “quirky.” As you begin watching, bubbly Amblin credits roll over the screen while an amalgamation of depressing imagery harkens back to German expressionism. You may find yourself wondering, “isn’t this a comedy?” But this is the genius, near-impossible-to-pull-off tone of Joe, a…

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