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Review: Million Dollar Arm photo
Review: Million Dollar Arm
by Matthew Razak

A feel good sports movie from Disney? I don't think anyone was expecting anything to earth shattering from Million Dollar Arm. Life lessons will be learned. Sports will be played. People will change. It's the kind of thing that Disney has become a pro at, and your enjoyment on Million Dollar Arm will rest entirely on whether or not you're tired of sports movie cliches.

Also, John Hamm is just a damn charming man. Damn charming.

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Review: Godzilla photo
Review: Godzilla
by Matthew Razak

When that first roar hits you know they did this thing right. There's a chill that will go down your spine if you're a Godzilla fan. As he moves you'll wonder at how they found that perfect balance between rubber suit and actual monster. This is Godzilla.

Godzilla's previous American outing was a sin against all things good in the world, but this one, this one knows what's up. Well, at least when it comes to giant monsters knocking the sh*t out of each other in the middle of cities. That's what really matters, right?

There's plenty to be said about the new film, and it isn't all positive, but in the crucial aspects -- the ones that have always made Godzilla fun -- it succeeds. 

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Reviews: Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves photo
Reviews: Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I like film festivals for a lot of reasons, but one of the best is the way films are forced into context with a number of other, entirely unrelated films. The act of watching multiple films in a day alone creates all sorts of weird unintentional connections and relationships, and doing that day after day after day makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish one film from another when it comes time to buckle down and think about what each film did well, didn't do well, and what it all meant. When two films play within 24 hours of each other that highlight the successes and failings of the other, looking at them individually seems silly.

Such was the case with Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves. In execution, the films could hardly be more different, but they are both black comedies that made me seriously consider the role of humor in gravely serious situations. Like any good student of George Carlin, I believe people can joke about anything. But those jokes, while I support their right to exist, may be tasteless or insensitive or flat-out horrifying.

Whitewash understands this. Big Bad Wolves does not.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with Whitewash's VOD release.]

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Review: The Other Woman photo
Review: The Other Woman
by Matthew Razak

The Other Woman is a raunchy comedy that wants to be taken emotionally seriously while promoting the fact that woman are awesome and can easily take the lead in any kind of film. It basically wants to be Bridesmaids, but unlike that modern comedy classic it instead comes off as crass and completely insulting to the very female characters it wants to glorify. Falling quickly into tropes, stereotypes and comic cliches it veers dangerously into trouble as its attempt at female empowerment turns into the worst case of justice porn this side of a serial killer getting killed at the end of a horror film. 

It's a despicable film that clearly has no idea what it's doing as it contradicts its own themes constantly throughout its entire run, eventually landing in a big puddle of false feminism that would set the movement back years if anyone actually cared about the movie. Oh, and there's a pooping scene. Because when you're not actually funny you always run to poop. 

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Review: Soft in the Head photo
Review: Soft in the Head
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Every once in a while, I see a movie that feels truly unique, and when that happens I tend to obsess over the process instead of the result. For better or worse, some films are just different, and while I definitely appreciate that difference, sometimes I really just have to wonder why.

Soft in the Head is different, and I spent much of the film wondering. I never found an answer.

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2:00 PM on 04.15.2014

New Releases, week of 4/19/14: Ride Wit Me Edition

Looks like we've finally left the Oscar season as this week's home video releases range from interesting to, well, Ride Along. First off, there's Philomena, Wrong Cops, and The Secret Life of Papa John's KFC's Cinnabon's...

Nick Valdez

3:00 PM on 04.08.2014

New Releases, week of 4/12/14: Smog County Edition

This week's new releases have every audience covered. The big releases include The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (which I'll never see), August: Osage County (which my mom wants to see), Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones...

Nick Valdez



Review: Sabotage photo
Review: Sabotage
by Matthew Razak

I've been hyping Sabotage since I first heard about it. I'm a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan and a huge David Ayers (End of Watch) fan so the two together sounds like sweet, sweet cop action bliss. Ayers is great and melding action and drama while developing actual characters and Schwarzenegger is great at... well... being in action movies. Things looked pretty good.

It was easy to get excited to because the supporting cast was really solid and the trailers actually advertised the film in the right way. Heading in I was certain I was going to have a good time at this movie. You know what? I did. 

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Review: Noah photo
Review: Noah
by Matthew Razak

To preface this review I'd like to point you towards this article, which explains how I, as a DC film critic, finally got to see Noah ahead of time. Basically, Paramount for some reason thought it would be grand to screen the film for only religious critics, and when they got called on their crap threw the company that does the screenings under the bus. On the plus side they did arrange a screening so I got to see Noah ahead of time for this review (which was embargoed until today despite opening last night).

But that really has nothing to do with Darren Aronofky's biggest movie yet. At $130 million dollars this isn't the small budget fare we're use to seeing from him. Instead it is an epic in the most biblical sense of the word. It's a daunting task to retell a story about faith in a increasingly secular industry, and the way Aronofsky goes about that is very interesting.

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1:00 PM on 03.25.2014

New Releases, week of 3/29/14: Dances With Wall Street Edition

The Wolf of Wall Street releases on home video this week. I'm especially curious about it since I labeled it my "Top Film of 2013," and I can't wait to see if it holds up. Other big titles: Chinese Zodiac, starring Jackie Cha...

Nick Valdez



Review: Rob the Mob photo
Review: Rob the Mob
by Michael Jordan

The mob, a subject that has been covered almost every way you can think of. Glorified, glamorized, famous and infamous. We forget sometimes that the mob is a real thing, with real people, and real reasons for their perspective involvements. We forget the repercussions of said organization, not only to others in the community, but the people inside the mob as well. Rob the Mob does something special, something unique, and something that many other films are afraid to do: Tell its story, til the very bittersweet end.

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Review: Guilty of Romance photo
Review: Guilty of Romance
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I greatly enjoyed Himizu, another 2011 Sion Sono film released last week in NYC theaters, but there was something it lacked that I expected from that sort of film: sex. It had the violence (although it was definitely subdued in comparison to some of his other films), but there was none of the weird, creepy nudity found in some of his other films. I wasn't unhappy about it (it would have added nothing to that film), but I was surprised. When I checked out Guilty of Romance and randomly clicked on a part of the timeline, I found myself staring at a woman on all fours in a colorful room, presumably a love hotel, in the middle of that most intimate of acts.

And there was the Sion Sono I had expected. For better or worse, what Himizu lacked, Guilty of Romance has in spades.

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Review: Himizu photo
Review: Himizu
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I can see why Sion Sono was drawn to Himizu. The manga, which ran from 2001 to 2002, seems like exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to the man who made Cold Fish and Suicide Club. But that's not really a compliment. 

Immediately after finishing the film, I went to read the manga. Usually I'm not particularly interested in checking source material after seeing an adaptation, but the film deals rather explicitly with things that hadn't taken place when the manga was written. And now, 43 chapters later, I can say that the film is indeed very different from the manga.

And that is a very good thing.

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Review: Need for Speed photo
Review: Need for Speed
by Nick Valdez

Need for Speed is in a tight spot. As a videogame adaptation it not only has to be a well made film, but also needs to please fans of the videogame series. It's got to do an odd little dance where it needs to show just enough evidence of its origin without it becoming overbearing or it succumbs to the same problems as other videogame movies had in the past. 

You can argue all day whether or not Need for Speed is unfairly held to a higher standard of quality thanks to the unbelievable amount of criticism videogame movies get already, but this is what we've got to work with. So I guess the ultimate question is: Does Need for Speed fulfill your needs? 

Haha, no. 

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11:00 AM on 03.05.2014

New Releases, week of 3/8/14: The Hunger Edition

It's another good week of home video releases as the Best Picture winner, 12 Years A Slave finally hits. Along with that we have the best part of The Hunger Games saga, Catching Fire, Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster, and if al...

Nick Valdez



Review: Child's Pose photo
Review: Child's Pose
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

At first glance, Child's Pose is making a political statement about the class divide present in modern day Romania. The narrative of a wealthy family trying to skirt its responsibilities to a poor family is heavily charged, and for much of the film's first half, I expected to open this review with some statement about how wealth and connections in the modern age can literally let people get away with murder. 

But then things changed. The class thing became less important, and the story became a whole lot more personal, because Child's Pose isn't really a film about how much power the wealthy hold over the poor. It's about the depths of motherly love.

Or rather, motherly obsession.

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Review: Cheap Thrills photo
Review: Cheap Thrills
by Sean Walsh

Any movie synopsis that includes "black comedy" and "David Koechner" is an instant sell for me. Toss in Empire Records' Ethan Embry and the two leads from Ti West's The Innkeepers and my expectations will be through the roof.

Cheap Thrills is in turns comedic, uncomfortable, and downright disturbing. Most of the times you'll find yourself laughing, you'll also be cringing. Ultimately, it begs the question "What would you do in this circumstance?"

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Review: 3 Days to Kill photo
Review: 3 Days to Kill
by Michael Jordan

3 Days to Kill is oddly complicated, and it has the potential to lose people right from the start. To understand this review you will have to keep that in mind, as what the movie appears to be and what the actual movie is are two totally different things.

With that said, you are going to want to see 3 Days to Kill, even if the ride to the end of this roller coaster is extremely bumpy. 

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Review: Pompeii photo
Review: Pompeii
by Matthew Razak

I'm all for a mixing of genres. Comedy/horror? Golden. Dramatic comedy? Awesome. Sci-fi/action? Great. It usually works for the best. You get a little of one thing you like and then a bit of another. Pompeii is what happens when genre mixing goes horribly wrong, turning what could have been a decent disaster movie into some sort of melodramatic romance replete with an awkward remake of Gladiator.

The thinking seems to be that when you already know that everyone is going to die at the end it makes it kind of hard to make any plot interesting so why not try them all out and see if any stick. None do... other than Kit Harrington's abs.

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Review: Almost Human photo
Review: Almost Human
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I've realized something important in the past year or two: I don't really like period pieces. I like watching films from other eras and seeing them as they represent their own culture and time, but I don't really like seeing them try to reminisce about a better (or worse) point in history. The further back it goes, the less interested I am. There are exceptions to be made, of course, but they're few and far in between. 

Almost Human is set in the late 1980s, which would be a strike against it, if it wasn't for the fact that its time period is all but irrelevant. It would be basically the same movie if it was set in 2013 as it is set in 1989.

Somehow, that's even worse.

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12:00 PM on 02.18.2014

New Releases, week of 2/22/14: Nice Day for a Wedding

Earlier this year I had finally caught up on Game of Thrones. Never seen the show before now, but after some boredom and prodding from others, I finally gave the show a shot. I was instantly hooked and blasted through three s...

Nick Valdez



Review: Robocop photo
Review: Robocop
by Matthew Razak

I have a great fear, dear reader. A great fear that the new RoboCop film will become the next Dredd. I fear that it's a great action movie that's coming out in the doldrums of the movie season without a big enough marketing push and with a character that not enough people care about even though they should. A movie that deserves sequels, but won't get them because it doesn't make enough at the box office. 

I have this fear so I'm putting this here so you don't even have to read very far to see it: Go see RoboCop. It deserves your money. 

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