5 Things I Learned from Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic cast4star-2“Always tell the truth. Always take the high road. Live each day like it could be your last. Drink it in. Be adventurous, be bold, but savor it. It goes fast.”

If you had the opportunity to be fully present for your children, could you do it?

In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

Writer/director Matt Ross was fully focused on parenthood while penning this script. He took questions that he asks himself as a father and translated them into the character of Ben (played by Viggo Mortensen). “My goal was to create a movie that was intellectually stimulating and emotionally moving.”via First Showing.

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I’m about seven months late to catching one of the most outstanding and underreported indies of last summer, so pardon the delay. Each year brings constant booms in technology and increased distractions for us millennials and non-millennials. Captain Fantastic delves into a territory I’d be most uncomfortable with – an existence void of the toxic influences of society. The horror! Right?

Here’s what I learned from Captain Fantastic…

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Review: Green Room is Year’s Most Horrifying

Green Room Movie Poster5star“It’s funny. You were so scary at night.”

There are some movies that make you question where you stand on Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory – Green Room is one of them, and I don’t think I’d survive.

With white power slogans subtly displayed throughout the film’s central location, a neo-Nazi skinhead bar in the desolate Oregon backwoods (led by Sir Patrick Stewart!?), the timing of the film’s release is a eerily relevant in the era of a Trump America. Green Room creates a raw, gut-wrenching survival experience that had me white-knuckled throughout the entire movie.

Even Sir Patrick Stewart (Darcy) 30 pages deep into reading the script, stopped reading to immediately set his home security alarms and open a bottle of scotch before finishing the script.

“Remember, it’s not a party,” Darcy tells his followers on stage in the microphone. “It’s a movement.” You’re damn right.

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Best Moments of the Golden Globes 2017

Jimmy Fallon Golden Globes 2017

The 74th annual Golden Globes were last night, and they were hosted by a surprisingly nervous Jimmy Fallon.

The last twelve months have been tremendous accomplishment for independent films, and they dominated the Globes. Sadly, some of my favorites got snubbed, and La La Land swept through the awards winning all seven it was nominated for (the most wins for one film in Globes history).

Outside of the glaring losses, there were also a handful of hilarious flubs, awkward cuts and tremendous speeches.

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Check out my favorite moments of the 2017 Golden Globes.

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La La Land is Overrated

la la land movie poster3star“This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!”

La La Land’s ode to old Hollywood has re-ignited our love affair with musicals and the magic seldom seen on screen, but while this movie reminds me why I love classics of yesteryear, it’s respectful homage is also a reminder that it will never match those classics it honors.

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Bogart and Bacall. Tracy and Hepburn. Stone and Gosling? I can’t quite stomach the idea of the latter couple on the same pedestal as the power couples of the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema, but La La Land desperately wants you to believe that Stone and Gosling are the 21st century golden couple.

With a massive 12 nominations from the Critics Choice Awards, La La Land is proving to be the movie to beat this year as critics hail it “the years best” and “an instant classic,” but Ryan Gosling tap dancing around a light pole at dusk doesn’t make him Gene Kelly.

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My Favorite Things About Scrooged

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Robin over at Write Out of LA is hosting a Christmas Movie Advent Calendar series throughout December highlighting one holiday film per day. My contribution to the series is the 80s-inspired modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Scrooged.

Scrooged is undoubtedly my favorite Christmas movie of all time – it’s a tale as old as time without the gimmicks or seriousness. It’s got one hell of a cast with the most memorable Scrooge himself, Frank Cross, played by the legendary Bill Murray. The film was actually a resurgence for Murray who had taken an imposed four-year exile from Hollywood and what a joyous return!

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Murray was an A-list movie star by the time Scrooged hit theaters, but up until that point he had always been part of an ensemble cast (Caddyshack, StripesGhostbusters). This was his first opportunity to shine solo on screen. Director Richard Donner admit this little gem about shooting the final scene of the movie: “On the last take I saw something happen to Billy. I saw Billy Murray become an actor.”

Here are my five favorite things about the movie.

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Coming of Age: The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen movie poster3star“And I say to myself, ‘Everyone is as miserable as I am. They’re just better at pretending.'”

The Edge of Seventeen is being called a “teen-angst masterpiece,” but this darkly comical coming-of-age portrait of youth is a walk in the park in comparison to my teenage years.

What immediately captured my attention was this movie’s masterful marketing: “In the tradition of classics like Clueless, Mean Girls and Juno…” and “This film captures the essence of what made John Hughes movies so special.”

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Classic and timeless are being tossed around by many critics describing this movie. I don’t want to start this review on the wrong foot, because I enjoyed the film, but I missed the masterpiece that everyone else is experiencing. This glimpse into a suburban teenager’s world is as average as it is predictable. If you want to see something you haven’t seen before, you won’t find it here.

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Review: Arrival is Year’s Best Sci-Fi

Amy Adams Arrival
“If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”
5star

If E.T.’s landed on Earth tomorrow, what would you do? If you had the option to change the course of your life, would you do it?

Arrival is the most cerebral experience of 2016, and the intimate nature of the film has everything to do with that.

The film is not entirely original; it takes the age-old science fiction premise of aliens landing on Earth with the panicked world asking: “Why are they here?” But this sci-fi addition has all the right ingredients from it’s cast to director to score to script that produces some serious thought-provoking material. The exploration of this archaic, hypothetical reality leaves me wondering when this inevitable future will occur off-screen. I’m. Not. Ready.

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Review: Moonlight is the Best Movie of 2016

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5star

“At some point you’ve got to decide for yourself who you gonna be. And let nobody make that decision.”

Moonlight brings the internal struggle of being a gay black man in America out of the shadows by shining a light on the concept of masculinity within the context of personal identity.

“What’s a faggot?” asks young Chiron, mercilessly bullied by classmates each day, because they consider him different.

Moonlight unfolds in three chapters of one man’s life, from childhood to young adulthood, as he discovers who he is as a black, homosexual man in the Miami projects. With themes including race, homophobia, identity and black masculinity, it’s a miracle that a film of this nature was made. It’s going to be the answer to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite.

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The film is based on the unproduced play by gay black playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. “Black men loving each other is a radical idea,” McCraney admit. It certainly isn’t a conventional story, but it’s one that desperately needs to be told.

Being poor, black and struggling with sexual identity are things I know absolutely nothing about. What I can relate to in Moonlight is identity and how society can negatively affect personal development in crucial stages of life. It’s bold exploration of personal adversity is exactly what the world needs to see right now.

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The Magnificent Seven is a Great Remake

the magnificent seven 2016 gif4star-2“What we lost in the fire, we’ll find in the ashes.”

 It’s been 56 years since Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen burst onto the screen introducing a generation to one of the greatest Westerns of all time. Now, director Antoine Funque (Training Day) has decided to resurrect a nearly extinct genre for a new generation of cowboys.

If you’re familiar with my reviews, you’ll know that I’m not the biggest fan of remakes or reboots, especially when you’re tapping into golden nostalgia. I’m also not a fan of Westerns or shoot-em-up flicks, so what sold me on The Magnificent Seven?

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Generations of Magnificence

The Magnificent Seven (1960) is actually a remake of the 1954 Japanese epic Seven Samurai. Whether or not you believe this is a story in need of of re-tellling, Funqua cites our current political atmosphere is the perfect opportunity to modernize a classic with diverse heroes attempting to halt political corruption.

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