Dunkirk Review: What You Need to Know

Dunkirk movie poster5star“Hope is a weapon. Survival is victory.”

White knuckled, heart racing and teeth clenched, this movie engulfed me entirely, and I was only ten minutes into it.

For those who need to brush up on their history, the miracle at Dunkirk is simple: When 400,000 men couldn’t get home, home came for them.

The evacuation occured during the Battle of France in WWII when Germany cut off and surrounded a vast number of British, French, Belgian and Canadian soldiers. The evacuation took eight days, with a total of 338,226 soldiers being rescued by a fleet of 800 boats, including 39 British destroyers.

But, before you go into this movie with preconceived notions, I’ve laid out some points to consider that are worth knowing pre-viewing.

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“Okja” on Netflix is Life Changing

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After watching the Netflix original movie Okja, I’m an emotional wreck and looking at food in a whole new light.

In 2007, Lucy Mirando became CEO of the Mirando Corporation where she announced that her organization had been breeding a special kind of superpig. Twenty-six of the best pigs would be sent to locations around the world, and ten years later, one will be crowned the winner.

In 2017 in South Korea, a young girl named Mija risks everything to save her best friend – one of the genetic superpigs named Okja – from the multi-national Mirando Corporation who have captured Okja to bring to New York City for the Best SuperPig Festival.  Along her quest, Mija encounters a group from the Animal Liberation Front who join her to save Okja from slaughter.

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Wonder Woman is Overrated

Wonder Woman 2017 poster3star“I will fight, for those who can not fight for themselves.”

It appears that everyone is praising Wonder Woman; a female superhero lead’s cinematic debut has finally arrived, and it’s alarmingly average.

I rarely second-guess myself when making unpopular assessments on movies, and I’m sitting here mind-blown as to why this movie (as a whole) is being lauded as the greatest of the great for women.

As Christina Cauterucci at Slate asked herself in her review, and as I currently ask myself: Did I blackout during some essential scenes?

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Wonder Woman Made Me Finally See the Importance of Female Representation,” Dana Stevens wrote at Slate. Or “Her femininity is part of the story, for the way it makes even the other heroes in the movie underestimate and discount her. But her gender is never the story’s primary thrust,” wrote a critic at the Verge.  Right. The “most beautiful woman the world has ever seen” whose male characters are constantly wagging their tongues at throughout the movie…gender is no thrust here.

This is one of the safest movies I’ve ever seen, but some critics are already asking about the film’s Oscar potential.

As my queen Ellen Ripley would say, “Did IQ’s steadily drop while I was away?”

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Four Deleted Scenes from Aliens (1986)

aliens 1986 title“You know, Burke, I don’t know which  s p e c i e s  is worse. You don’t see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.”

After the success of my website’s most viewed post from a few years back, Three Important Scenes Deleted from Alien, I wanted to followup with an entry chronicling four important scenes omitted from the theatrical cut of James Cameron’s Aliens…a film so powerful that it has fans arguing that it’s the only sequel in a franchise to surpass the original in greatness.

Before the release of Aliens in 1986, James Cameron removed over 20 minutes of footage bringing the theatrical run-time to 137 minutes. Five years following Cameron decided to reinsert over 17 minutes of deleted footage back into Aliens creating the Aliens Special Edition.

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While I’ve seen both the theatrical cut and director’s cut, the latter doesn’t differ heavily from the former…certainly not nearly as drastic as  Alien³: The Assembly Cut. The advantage of this theatrical cut is all about the pacing of the film – it flows smoothly and quickly…exactly what studio execs wanted.

My preference? There are aspects of the director’s cut that I find could have been beneficial to keeping, while others deserved to be left on the cutting room floor. Personally, I prefer the theatrical cut.

Sigorney Weaver’s preference? She threatened to never shoot an Alien film again if the longer director’s cut was not released.

Here are four scenes that didn’t make it in the theatrical cut.

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Top 10 Movies of the 90’s

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Welcome to the second act of my three part decades series – the top 10 movies of the 90’s.

The 90’s had many classics that have come to define the landscape of film history.  With the success of the newly-founded summer blockbuster, studio executives began to invest more and more into mega-budget films. The average cost was now roughly 53 million dollars contrasting from the 18 million dollar budget average of the decade prior.

Addressing this matter Tim Dirks of FilmSite.org hits the nail on the head:  “There still existed an imbalanced emphasis on the opening weekend, with incessant reports of weekly box-office returns, and puffed-up reviews and critics’ ratings. The belief was sustained that expensive, high-budget films with expensive special effects (including shoot ’em-ups, stereotypical chase scenes, and graphic orchestrated violence) meant quality. However, the independently-distributed film movement was also proving that it could compete (both commercially and critically) with Hollywood’s costly output.”

With this rise of studios like Miramax erupted production and distribution of some of the most remembered and influential films of all time sparking the birth of the indie film movement. For those of us that were children in this decade, we were blessed with the continuing nostalgia factor of 80’s film-making, but the rise of future of visual effects, CGI and the beauty & grit of Guerilla film-making became more prominent.

So without futher ado here is my list of my 10 favorite films of the 90’s.

***Forest Gump will not be on this list.  I hate Forest Gump.  Sorry in advance.***

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Top 10 Movies of 2016

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The 2017 Academy Awards are finally upon us, and this year we can safely praise the industry for not imitating #OscarsSoWhite. The hashtag heard round the world last year explained the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations, but not this year.

The Academy has nominated four Best Picture movies about people of color (Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion and Moonlight), seven acting nods for performances of color as well as nominations in categories such as directing, screenplay and cinematography.

This year it really comes down to two movies. One focuses on black America and personal diversity while the other is about following your dreams. Moonlight and La La Land are undoubtedly the two movies to beat.

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While I’m fearful that the overrated La La Land will sweep the Oscars, Trevor Dueck argues that “two white tarts dancing and singing in Hollywood might have come out a year too late.” I’m not so sure about that though.

As the director of Moonlight Barry Jenkins explains, “They could not be more different films. I don’t think a love for one has to be to the rejection of the other. I can only speak to the film I made, which was made in the service of shining a light on a character who is often marginalized. Where that falls in the context of the awards season, I can’t say. But I love that regardless of where we are right now, a year and a half ago, we sat down to make this thing, and that’s exactly how I felt and it’s how I feel now.”

Everyone knows my stance on the undeserving Goliath that is La La Land (see here), but this feel-good musical has earned a whopping 14 nominations, a record only shared with All About Eve and Titanic. WTF, right? Even the LA Times asks who will survive the onslaught of La La Land? After sweeping the Golden Globes, it’s proven to be an unbeatable force.

But there were more great movies this year than those two. Many of those movies were ignored by the Academy entirely but were some of my favorites of the year.

Here are my top 10 personal favorite movies of 2016!

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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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Top 10 Movies of the ’80s

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The 80’s had some spectacular movies. As I sit here writing this post, I look back on my life with a love for cinema, but now my news feed is our current political climate. I think what happened to the love of our neighbors.  We live in a constant state of apology and open bigotry.  We march, we complain, we are given participation awards and have never been more divided.

Don’t worry…this is not a political rant or a cry for us to unite.  As a matter of fact, this is a distraction from these very  issues.  Having now been around for nearly 4 decades, I’ve built quite the love for the cinema.  I studied cinematography in college, I’ve produced shorts, I’ve worked on 200 million dollar mega budget films and I’ve even tried my hand in documentary production.  During all of this time, I’ve found that the film arts are my salvation. With that being said I figured I would give a subjective look at my 10 favorite films of each decade: The 80’s, 90’s and 00’s.  

These lists are meant to be my personal favorites that I watch often, or they’re movies that changed the landscape of the industry through storytelling, production, acting, etc. I hope you enjoy!

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The 80’s…As Tim Dirks of FilmSite.org eloquently says, “The decade of the 1980s tended to consolidate the gains made in the seventies rather than to initiate any new trends equal to the large number of disaster movies, buddy movies, or ‘rogue cop’ movies that characterized the previous decade. Designed and packaged for mass audience appeal, few 80’s films became what could be called ‘classics’. The era was characterized by the introduction of ‘high-concept’ films – with cinematic plots that could be easily characterized by one or two sentences (25 words or less) – and therefore easily marketable and understandable.”

 With this mentality we were introduced to a slew of teen angst films, sequels galore and the birth of the modern day “Hollywood Blockbuster.”  Here are my personal favorites.

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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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