Miss Peregrines School for Mediocre filmmaking.

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What the fuck did I just watch? Yes, there are times before you reach the credits of Miss Peregrines School for Peculiar Children when despite being ok with the ride, you have to ask yourself that question. Tim Burtons latest movie is a fantasy film about superpowered children and the young man who is sent on a quest by his grandfather to find and help them. It’s all typical young adult novel stuff, so the kids are sure to like it. It also looks quite nice, relatively reserved for a Burton movie, but all the better for it. As the movie is set in 1943, the styles work with his particular aesthetic without feeling forced. So overall the film looks good. Then we start to dig deeper than that, and shit falls apart.

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“I’m ACTING… Gawd

First, the acting. Our lead is a young fellow by the name of Asa Butterfield, who has been acting professionally for a decade now. He is our protagonist, Jake, but he feels stiff in the role, often uncomfortable when he shouldn’t be. The same can be said of Ella Purnell as Emma. Of the younger cast she handles the material better than the rest, but it’s still surprisingly hum-drum acting. Of our more mature cast members, Eva Green spends most of her time being striking, and saying lines in a variety of peculiar, vogueing ways. Still, she seems like she is phoning it in, and the same can be said for Samuel L. Jackson. Neither are bad in the roles, just… present.

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Critters (1986) – Live Tweet

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Live tweeting the 1986 classic Critters, Director Stephen Herek’s 1986 feature debut. Starring Dee Wallace,  M. Emmet Walsh,  and Billy Green Bush with a notable appearance by Billy Zane, this classic creature feature holds up thirty years later (released 4/11/86), with decent practical effects, and a great core concept. It would spawn 3 sequels and is rumored to be making a return in the form of a television show in 2017. New Line Cinema managed to make a tidy profit from the 2 million dollar film, collecting 6 times that amount before it left theaters. In regular rotation on Cinemax and the USA network while being a VHS staple, it holds decent nostalgic appeal. While the scare factor is low, the fun factor is high, with its simple formula and quality effects. And with an 82 minute run time, it doesn’t last long enough to wear thin.

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The Magnificent Seven | How to fall over a railing, the movie

Magnificent 7.JPGI’m not much for westerns. They fall just slightly above martial arts movies at the very bottom of my hierarchy of movies I can tolerate watching. As a result, I’ve only seen a handful in my life, and don’t have much to say about any of them. There was that one time that Carl made me watch Pale Rider, and I didn’t totally hate it because it had a ghost. But, that doesn’t exactly qualify me as a fan.

Needless to say, I was profoundly irritated that the movie universe decided to make me watch 2 westerns in a row. Especially, 2 that were not so great. After the slow motion Dukes of Hazzard episode that was Hell or High Water, I will say that The Magnificent 7 was a bit livelier. Although, for all its liveliness, it still managed to be tedious and weirdly joyless.This movie did not connect for me at all, so instead of an insightful analysis,  here are some dumb things I noticed during the few bits where I managed to pay attention. Continue reading

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Prattling along with the Magnificent meh.

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“I’ve been paid a lot, but never everything”.

It takes a bit to get to this line, but once Chisolm (Denzel Washington) utters it, the seven begin to take shape. The Magnificent 7 will bring you down an entertaining path. It’s made with modern sensibilities and tone, with dabbles of the current political climate. The lead cast is the most racially diverse ensemble in memory (but don’t fret, the town they defend is as white as they come). There’s a quip about democracy & capitalism, a quote a little on the nose but only slightly more so than the Trump-like land-baron villain Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) that speaks it. It’s perhaps supposed to elicit a bit of humor, but this line drops as hard as most of the humorous dialog. The characters laugh, but we don’t. It’s a shame, because humor could have gone a long way to endearing this film.

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Hell or High Water | A real slow time

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Posing for their album cover.

The Hell or High Water marketing department really wants you to believe that this is an Oscar caliber movie. But if they really believed that, would they have released it right now- lost amongst the tangle of barely watchable summer movies? Sure, next to Blair Witch and Bridget Jones Gets Up the Duff, it shines. But does it shine bright enough for Academy gold?

Nah.

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Hell or High Water in the Lone Star State.

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While Crime Drama is an apt genre description of the David MacKenzie directed, Taylor Sheridan scribed Hell or High Water, it may fit more appropriately into a distinctly American category; Texan. Texan films have proliferated in parallel with the Westerns genre for the last 70 years, but it was really born of such films as Giant(1956) and carries on in modern cinema with the likes of No Country for Old Men (2007). As these films demonstrate, the genre is not beholden to the Western formula. There is simply a specific feel to the characters and their attitudes that is quintessential Texan. And Hell or High Water has that feel, to a tee. And damn does it do it well.

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When the Bough Breaks, the quality will fall.

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When the Bough Breaks is a classically-styled psychological thriller, blending the formulas of such films as The Hand that Rocked the Cradle, Obsessed and Single White Female. It stars the perfectly utilized Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall and relatively new Jaz Sinclair as the young temptress/antogonist. The plot places Chestnut and Hall as John and Laura Taylor, highly successful professionals that have been unable to conceive a child. As their options become limited, they seek a surrogate. Enter Sinclair, as Anna Walsh, and her scheming boyfriend Mike Mitchell (An intense turn by Theo Rossi, who slips into hamminess in his attempt to bring another layer to the plot), whom plots to manipulate the situation in any manner which best suits their financial gain. Before long Anna begins to develop an infatuation with John, leveraging the child she carries and sabotaging his marriage, as well engaging in all the additional beats you’d expect from such a film.

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