Category: Film Reviews

5 Favorites Redux #79: Films of Samuel L. Jackson

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Although Spiral will be good for a poll of the best Saw films, it won’t work terribly well for a 5 Favorites list since I love fewer than 5 of the films in the series. Chris Rock doesn’t have a lot of truly great films on his filmography, and since I don’t tend to highlight voicework, which leaves out the Secret Life of Pets films. That said, Spiral does co-star Samuel L. Jackson who is one of the most prolific modern actors with over 133 film credits since his debut in 1972 and his rock star emergence in the late 1980s and most notably post-Pulp Fiction in 1994. There are plenty of films in his filmography to make this selection process a little difficult.

Among the films I considered, but didn’t pick were: Goodfellas (1990), Jurassic Park (1993), Eve’s Bayou (1997), The Red Violin (1998), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016).

A lot of these that I chose to highlight but not detail were because his role in the film was minimal or wasn’t particularly key to its success. He was also a welcome vocal presence in The Incredibles and its sequel.

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Review: Ghost in the Shell (1996)

Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Rating



Director

Mamoru Oshii

Screenplay

Kazunori Ito (Manga: Masamune Shirow)

Length

1h 23m

Starring

Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, Koichi Yamadera, Yutaka Nakano, Tamio Oki, Tessho Genada

MPAA Rating

Not Rated
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5 Favorites Redux #78: Favorites: Garfield, Haddish, Molina, Oyelowo, Statham

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

A wide array of new movies releases this weekend and it’s impossible to pick just one actor to highlight, so I picked five. I ultimately bypassed two names. The first was Billy Crystal whose new comedy, Here Today, co-stars Tiffany Haddish, whom I did include below. I struggled to find an adequate film to represent Crystal that I would say I enjoyed more than these other films. The other I thought about including was Rosario Dawson, who features in this week’s The Water Man, but for similar reasons to Crystal, I couldn’t choose a film that I ultimately cared for more than the below.

Now to the five actors I ultimately selected. Alongside Dawson, The Water Man features David Oyelowo and Alfred Molina. Haddish, as mentioned above, is in Here Today while Andrew Garfield is front and center in this week’s Mainstream. Finally, there’s Jason Statham, an actor whom I generally cannot stand, and his new film Wrath of Man looks like more of the same, but who did deliver one performance that finally made me appreciate him…but only that one time. Now, to the five films that I chose to represent Garfield, Haddish, Molina, Oyelowo, and Statham.

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Review: The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)

The Mirror Has Two Faces

The Mirror Has Two Faces

Rating



Director

Barbra Streisand

Screenplay

Richard LaGravanese (Screenplay: Andre Cayatte, Gerard Oury)

Length

2h 6m

Starring

Barbra Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Lauren Bacall, George Segal, Mimi Rogers, Pierce Brosnan, Brenda Vaccaro Austin Pendleton, Elle Macpherson

MPAA Rating

PG-13
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Review: James and the Giant Peach (1996)

James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach

Rating



Director

Henry Selick

Screenplay

Karey Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Roberts, Steve Bloom (Book: Roald Dahl)

Length

1h 19m

Starring

Paul Terry, Simon Callow, Richard Dreyfuss, Jane Leeves, Joanna Lumley, Miriam Margolyes, Pete Postlethwaite, Susan Sarandon, David Thewlis, Steven Culp

MPAA Rating

PG

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5 Favorites Redux #77: Oscars: Best Picture

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Sunday is the 93rd Oscars and in time with the annual ceremony, I reach the end of my 5 Favorites series on my favorite Oscar nominees and winners. Today, I tackle Best Picture.

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Review: 2020 Oscar-Nominated Short Films (2021)

2020 Oscar-Nominated Short Films

Rating

See Below

Director

Animated: Madeline Sharafian (Burrow), Adrien Merigeau (Genius Loci), Michael Govier, Will McCormack (If Anything Happens I Love You), Erick Oh (Opera), Gísli Darri Halldórsson (Yes-People); Live Action: Doug Roland (Feeling Through), Elvira Lind (The Letter Room), Farah Nabulsi (The Present), Travon Free, Martin Desmond Rose (Two Distant Strangers), Tomer Shushan (White Eye); Documentary: Anthony Giacchino (Colette), Kris Bowers, Ben Proudfoot (A Concerto Is a Conversation), Anders Hammer (Do Not Split), Skye Fitzgerald (Hunger Ward), and Sophia Nahli Allison (A Love Song for Latasha).

Screenplay

Animated: Madeline Sharafian (Burrow), Adrien Merigeau, Nicolas Pleskof (Genius Loci), Michael Govier, Will McCormack (If Anything Happens I Love You), None (Opera), Gísli Darri Halldórsson (Yes-People); Live Action: Doug Roland (Feeling Through), Elvira Lind (The Letter Room), Farah Nabulsi, Hind Shoufani (The Present), Travon Free (Two Distant Strangers), Tomer Shushan (White Eye); Documentary: Anthony Giacchino (Colette), Ben Proudfoot (A Concerto Is a Conversation), Joey Siu, Rocky S. Tuan (Do Not Split), None (Hunger Ward), and None (A Love Song for Latasha).

Length

Animated: 6m (Burrow), 16m (Genius Loci), 13m (If Anything Happens I Love You), 9m (Opera), 8m (Yes-People); Live Action: 18m (Feeling Through), 33m (The Letter Room), 24m (The Present), 32m (Two Distant Strangers), 20m (White Eye); Documentary: 24m (Colette), 13m (A Concerto Is a Conversation), 35m (Do Not Split), 40m (Hunger Ward), and 19m (A Love Song for Latasha).

Starring

Animated: None (Burrow), Nadia Moussa, Georgia Cusack, Jina Djemba (Genius Loci), None (If Anything Happens I Love You), None (Opera), Helga Braga Jónsdóttir, Jón Gnarr, Þorvaldur Davíð Kristjánsson, Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, Kristján Franklin Magnúss, Sigurður Sigurjónsson (Yes-People), Live Action: Steven Prescod, Robert Tarango, Francisco Burgos, Alestair Shu, Javier Rodriguez, Coffey, Jose Toro, Luis Antonio Aponte (Feeling Through), Oscar Isaac, Alia Shawkat, Brian Petsos, Tony Gillan, Michael Hernandez, Eilsen Galindo, John Douglas Thompson, Kenneth Heaton, Larry Smith, Guillermo Estrada, William Merrell (The Letter Room), Saleh Bakri, Mariam Kanj, Mariam Basha (The Present), Joey Bada$$, Andrew Howard, Zaria Simone, Mona Sishodia, Cameron Early, Jeremy Rivette, Trevor Morgan (Two Distant Strangers), Daniel Gad, Dawit Tekelaeb, Reut Akkerman, Amira Bushari, Gosha Demin, and Hameis El-Sheikh (White Eye).

MPAA Rating

N/A

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5 Favorites Redux #76: Oscars: Female Actors

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

In my penultimate 5 Favorites Redux article before the Oscars, I give the women their fair due and, honestly, I felt genuinely more impressed with the female side of the ledger than the male. After the break, my 5 favorites in lead and support.

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Review: That Thing You Do! (1996)

That Thing You Do!

That Thing You Do!

Rating



Director

Tom Hanks

Screenplay

Tom Hanks

Length

1h 48m

Starring

Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, Tom Hanks, Charlize Theron, Obba Babatunde, Giovanni Ribisi, Chris Ellis, Alex Rocco, Bill Cobbs, Peter Scolari, Rita Wilson, Chris Isaak, Kevin Pollack, Robert Torti, Chaille Percival, Holmes Osborne Jr.

MPAA Rating

PG

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The Morning After: Apr. 12, 2021

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:

2021 Oscar-Nominated Short Films

With 13 of 15 shorts under my belt, I have to say the political commentary of this year’s shorts is far more pointed than it has been in recent years. The Documentary Shorts and Live Action Shorts were most notable in this regard. Whereas with the Animated Shorts, there’s a more interesting dynamic playing out in that only one is computer animated, though it could easily be mistaken for stop-motion. That’s a rarity, but the creative and daring subjects and expressions in the film are far outside what we normally see in that category.

Once I see Hunger Ward and A Love Song for Natasha, I’ll be able to write a full review of the entire program, but so far there are four films that stand head-and-shoulders above the rest: animated short If Anything Happens, I Love You, live action shorts Feeling Through and The Present, and documentary short Colette. Their subjects, respectively, are school shootings, homelessness and kindness, human dignity in the face of discrimination, and Nazi concentration camps. That doesn’t mean that the others aren’t good, Genius Loci and Opera are fascinating to watch, and Yes-People is rather humorous. Two Distant Strangers has a fascinating story to tell about police brutality and murder while Do Not Split explores the thorny topic of Hong Kong against the backdrop of Communist China.

There are also mediocre shorts, though none are abjectly terrible. Burrow feels like minor Disney about burrowing animals and a sense of community, The Letter Room puts Oscar Isaac in a prison mailroom so that he can peruse communications between prisoners and the outside world, White Eye is a one-take short about the presumed theft of a bicycle, and A Concerto Is a Conversation is an interesting, but dull look at a grandfather’s influence on his musical son. Next week, once I’ve seen the remaining two, I will put together a review of them all rather than a Morning After report on them.

5 Favorites Redux #75: Oscars: Male Actors

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

We only have three weeks left to go before the 93rd Academy Awards and so my series of favorite Oscar nominees and winners is slowly coming to a close. This week, I look at male actors in both leading and supporting categories. Some of these choices were difficult and I may have ultimately put more in than I should have, but there have been a lot of favorite performances nominated (and myriad other favorites that weren’t).

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5 Favorites Redux #74: Oscars: Directing

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

The penultimate award of almost every year of the Oscars, Best Directing is often the crowning achievement of a cinematic career, with the winner being able to crow about their victory even if they aren’t on the list of the film’s producers who could win the year’s top prize.

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Review: Up Close and Personal (1996)

Up Close & Personal

Up Close & Personal

Rating



Director

Jon Avnet

Screenplay

Joan Didion, John Gregory Dunne (Book: Alanna Nash)

Length

2h 4m

Starring

Robert Redford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stockard Channing, Joe Mantegna, Kate Nelligan, Glenn Plummer, James Reobhorn, Scott Bryce, Raymond Cruz, Dedee Pfeiffer, Miguel Sandoval, Noble Willingham, James Karen

MPAA Rating

PG-13

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5 Favorites Redux #73: Oscars: Animated Feature

Welcome to 5 Favorites. Each week, I will put together a list of my 5 favorites (films, performances, whatever strikes my fancy) along with commentary on a given topic each week, usually in relation to a specific film releasing that week.

Having matured during the 1990s Disney renaissance, I became a quick study of animated pictures, largely those in the Walt Disney canon, but eventually branching out into various studio works. I gained appreciation for a number of studios and directors as animation entered a revitalized period in the late 1990s and 2000s with the advent of computer animation, pioneered by Pixar, a studio that eventually became a part of Walt Disney. During this period, I came to revere the works of Hayao Miyazaki, the burgeoning DreamWorks Animation, and, eventually, into the stellar works of Aardman Animation and Laika. This knowledge and familiarity hasn’t diminished in the resultant years and the emergence of the Best Animated Feature category in 2001 forever linked two of my great passions.

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Review: Talk to Her (2002)

Talk to Her

Talk to Her

Rating



Director

Pedro Almodovar

Screenplay

Pedro Almodovar

Length

1h 52m

Starring

Javier Camara, Dario Grandinetti, Leonor Watling, Rosario Flores, Mariola Fuentes, Geraldine Chaplin, Pina Bausch, Malou Airaudo, Caetano Veloso, Roberto Alvarez, Elena Anaya, Lola Duenas, Adolfo Fernandez, Ana Fernandez

MPAA Rating

R

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