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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
If you surgically grafted a snippet of Flowers for Algernon and a low-end documentary about the human brain onto a Cliff Notes summary of La Femme Nikita, the result might approach the lazy schizophrenia of Luc Besson's latest fembot warrior fantasy.

Luc Besson has been impatient when it comes to shootouts ever since 1990’s La Femme Nikita. A typical scene that we’ve seen him repeat from that film to 1997’s The Fifth Element to his newest, Lucy, goes as follows: a lone armed hero or villain walks swiftly into a room filled with many other characters with guns. The lone gunperson lets off many, many rounds in the blink of an eye. Everybody else falls down dead.

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Monday, Jul 21, 2014
Michel Gondry goes all out here, bringing both the fanciful wonders and dire circumstances of our couple's doomed affair to breathtaking, eye-popping life.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen filmmaker Michel Gondry in what we’d call “full Gondry” mode. After his amazing breakthrough, the endearing romantic tragicomedy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he’s made attempts at cult/commercial appeal (Be Kind, Rewind), mainstream blockbusting (the grossly underrated Green Hornet) and a few reasonable reminders of his eccentric penchant (The Science of Sleep,The We and the I).

There have even been a few fascinating documentaries (The Thorn in the Heart, Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?) thrown in for good measure. Now, the undeniable visualist is back with an adaptation of Boris Vian’s highly experimental 1947 novel Froth of the Daydream (here retitled Mood Indigo). Telling a simplistic tale in a highly surrealistic manner, it would seem right up Gondry’s style over substance alley. And it is. Magnificently so.

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Friday, Jul 18, 2014
A long time ago, Disney wanted to bring a bit of excitement into a kid's entertainment world. Planes: Fire and Rescue revisits that idea, and succeeds.

There was a time, at least 50 years ago, when Disney took as much care with its live action films as its did with its animation. While these titles could never live up to the breathtaking artistic breakthroughs being made by their pen and ink masterworks, Disney still managed to craft family entertainment without resorting to ridiculous contrivances or obvious audience pandering. It all began with an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island, and flourished with efforts like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Swiss Family Robertson. There was even some unheralded excellence buried among the goofball comedies (The Shaggy Dog) and oddball entries (Greyfriar’s Bobby? Seriously).

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Friday, Jul 11, 2014
When coming of age movies are measured years from now, Boyhood will be the benchmark for artistic achievement and cinematic scope.

Our lives are made up of individual moments, parsed out over individual minutes over individual seconds which, in the end, always seem too short and sadly succinct. There’s no great story arc, just lots of little ones, each playing out among the various personality pros and cons we develop and scatter like so many dandelion seeds into the wind.

By the time we are old enough to realize it, we only remember the epics, the instances where things changed radically for better and worse. Births, deaths, degrees, achievements, jobs, kids, diseases, divorces—these are the buzzwords we use as we spin our time into something more meaningful. In the end, though, those individual moments fade, failing to resonate as powerfully as a performance or a passing, a problem or an epiphany.

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Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014
Like being locked in a narrative limbo with no realistic relief in sight, Tammy tries to get away with being bold and brazen

It would be easy to call Tammy a work of subversive genius. It would be rational to try and explain away its lack of laughs and overall condescending contempt for women of all makes and models as part of some screwball cinematic experiment gone wholly if horribly awry. Certainly Melissa McCarthy (our star and co-writer) and her hubby Ben Falcone (co-writer and director) didn’t mean to make a movie so clueless and incompetent that the rising star would suddenly see her considerable commercial cache come crashing back down to Earth?

Or did they? Perhaps this is all part of the plan: take a tired idea (the road movie), jazz it up with some Oscar level acting (Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates) and then bungle both the approach and the delivery. The result is a ridiculous excuse for entertainment that’s neither funny nor fun. But it sure is seditious, huh?

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