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Monday, Jul 7, 2014
With his picture postcard imagery and similarly shorthanded scripting, Michael Bay's movies may be nothing more than a colorful crib mobile.
Above: Promo still for one of Michael Bay’s Transformer’s films.

I have to admit - I have never been the biggest fan of Michael Bay. I don’t like theBad Boys films. I can watch both The Rock and Armageddon without retching, usually, while both Pearl Harbor and The Island suffer from some of the most egregious cinematic stumbles made by any supposed filmmaker.

I even hoped that Pain & Gain would jettison some of the King of Excesses more manic proclivities and actual be a “human” comedy. Instead, it suffered from the same problems that plague almost all Bay’s efforts, issues best exemplified by his tedious, tired Transformers tentpoles.

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Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014
It could have been a late April sleeper. Instead, Johnny Depp's sci-fi thriller failed to ignite the box office. Here are five reasons why.

With its less than impressive box office totals and almost universal critical derision, many are calling Transcendence the first major “big budget” flop of 2014. There are even those who are taking the fallout even further, arguing that Johnny Depp’s tenure as an international superstar is over while pointing to his last few films—Alice in Wonderland, The Rum Diary, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Dark Shadows, and The Lone Ranger—as examples of his fading A-list status. Of course, Alice was a billion dollar “disaster”, while the pathetic Pirates pulled in another nine figures.

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Thursday, Apr 17, 2014
Whatever the case, the stinger trend, once seemingly novel, has now run its course.

So there I was, on Monday night, sitting in the audience for Warner Bros. screening of the highly anticipated film Transcendence. The Johnny Depp sci-fi effort, the first feature to be directed by Christopher Nolan’s longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister, has been getting a lot of buzz, and while I’ll save the critique for others on the site, I will have to say that another aspect of the movie experience bothered me to no end. After the final scene, after the final conflict was resolved and the open-ended conclusion clunked by, there was a smattering of applause followed by…nothing. No real movement, except for a few old codgers who had clearly seen enough. No, the vast majority of the audience simply remained in their seats, clearly anticipating the questions left by the film would be wrapped up in one of those by now annoying pre/post/during credits “stingers.”

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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013
JFK may not be "right", but by raising questions and not settling for the standard answers, it's the right thing to do.

When it was released in 1991, it was simply seen as another Oliver Stone screed set to the horrific events of history. Riddled with ridiculous conspiracy theorizing and undeniable artistic merit, it would soon become a talking point for those on either side of the Warren Commission controversy. Those who wanted to be believe in a second gunman, the grassy knoll, and a high ranking government cover-up got all that… and much, much more. Those satisfied with the single bullet theory and the lone assassin explanation viewed it as yet another way for Stone to sell his homegrown paranoia while dressing up fantasy in the falsehood of “facts”. Still, some 22 years later, JFK remains a masterpiece, a motion picture manipulation of one of the United States most tragic times argued by some as an affront in that it convolutes truth in order to tell an alternative version of what possibly happened 50 years ago in Dallas.

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Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013
In the spirit of Rodney Ascher's recent documentary, here are two films that I find differing meanings in vs. the rest of the mainstream moviegoing public.

Over the last few weeks, my fellow films critics and I have been having an interesting debate. No, it’s not who will win Best Picture or why certain studios fail to screen specific titles for us. Instead, we’ve been arguing over the documentary Room 237 - you know the one, Rodney Ascher’s film about the various secret interpretations and intentions within Stanley Kubrick’s “horror masterpiece” The Shining. In said movie, the filmmaker follows a group of individuals and pseudo scholars as they argue that one of the greatest cinematic auteurs in the history of the artform turned Stephen King’s novel about a haunted hotel into an apology for the Native American genocide, an explanation of the Holocaust, a mea culpa for Kubrick faking the moon landing, and at least two other equally obtuse deconstructions. For some in my brother (and sister)-hood, the project is akin to mental masturbation. It’s geek obsessives fetishizing a film that, for the most part, seems pretty straight forward.

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