‘La La Land’ (2016) Review

La La Land (2016) Review: No School Like The Old With 14 Academy Award nominations to its name, it’s hard not to walk into ‘La La Land’ affected by the hype. That hasn’t happened since Jack and Rose sailed the ocean. To Celine Dion no less. La La Land also features a love story between a red headed woman and a dirty blond man. Although this movie has a little more singing than ‘Titanic’. Impertinent perceptions aside, it’s still almost impossible to review a movie which is already being lauded as the very best of last year.Yet, this is a review for La La Land. A movie which makes no apologies for what it is. A musical. Within the first 5 minutes of the film, ‘La La Land’ explodes into the first of many heavily choreographed song and dance numbers. I was technically impressed by these scenes. Marveled at them. I was also wholly bored by them. Sure I appreciated how much work it took to film. Especially when La La Land uses so many moving steady shots to showcase its performances. Still, I remained unmoved.It wasn’t until about 20 minutes in that I could see what people had been talking about. Something about Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling tap dancing won me over to the point where the film had me grinning from ear to ear as it went on. Those stars play the lead roles in this film. He’s a…

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‘Monster Trucks’ (2017) Review

Monster Trucks (2017) Review: Must Be 10 Years Or Younger To Enjoy My dad once told me how much he suffered as a parent. Being forced to watch every inane piece of material that captured the attention of my easily swayed mind. Put a superhero in it. A robot. Anything with an explosion kept me happy. There's no two ways about it. I liked some stupid stuff as a kid. Sure there was the occasional Pixar movie. A cut above the usual drivel, and a saving grace for my parents who had endured enough fart jokes for a lifetime. 'Monster Trucks' is very much not that saving grace. The title ‘Monster Trucks’ doesn’t inspire confidence. As I sat in an empty cinema, that inspiration dwindled further. Still, ‘Monster Trucks’ is one of the only big releases these days not based on something else. So there’s that. It follows the story of Tripp, a small town boy, with big dreams. Those dreams seem within grasp, when an oil drilling gone bad unleashes an unknown subterranean species. A monster he names Creech that has the unique ability to make his truck go really fast. Not that fast. Actually just mildly faster than your average truck.‘Monster Trucks’ is every movie where a kid finds a friend in a mythical creature. Something seen recently in the remake of ‘Pete’s Dragon’. Whereas that film was a familiar breath of fresh air, ‘Monster Trucks’ is more or less unremarkable. As…

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‘Hacksaw Ridge’ (2016) Review

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) Review: A Movie For Everyone, And No One The world has no shortage of war films. Additionally there is no shortage of world war II films. Yet ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is just that. A World War II film that in fact, has a story worth telling. I suppose one more couldn’t hurt. The story is of US army medic Desmond Doss. A trained soldier, who believes in the fight against Nazi Germany, but he only has one condition. No guns.Immediately that sounds a little more than problematic on the battlefield. It’s what makes ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ such a compelling story. Desmond believes no man should take the life of another, as intended by God. A gun is built for just that. A killing machine. The movie spends a great part of its run-time watching Desmond defend his beliefs to his superiors. Suffering the contempt of his fellow soldiers in the process.The brilliance in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is its brutality. At the very first scene there are shots of men with flaming sleeves, running in terror. Screaming. When a soldier is shot, the camera picks up every gory detail. The movie immerses you in the horrific details, that prompted a few in the audience to turn away. I can’t think of a better way to convince you of the main character’s conviction. You feel the same way about violence as he does by the end of the movie. It's the Battlefield 1 of…

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‘Fences’ (2016) Review

Fences (2016) Review: Denzel As Your Dad After weeks of the holiday season, going from house to house and being surrounded by loved ones, ‘Fences’ comes along with a reminder of the dark side of family. Based on the 1983 play of the same name, ‘Fences’ takes place in 1950s Pittsburgh and follows the Maxson family, and the conflict that comes with raising a family, and the struggles of coming to terms with the life you ended up living.‘Fences’ does this through a series of conversations between the family members. Most palpable are those between father Troy Maxson, played by Denzel Washington, and son Cory, played by Jovan Adepo. The family drama that’s presented feels all too familiar, with scenarios I’m sure will resonate. Even as the film veers into its more dramatic elements, it still feels like a story that many people have already been a part of.Where ‘Fences’ soars is in the undoubtedly stellar performances of its cast. Everyone delivers the letter above A game. Every micro expression feels thought out, and as big of a presence Washington has, he still has to contend with the scene stealing antics of Viola Davis, who more than gives him a run for his money. If anything he can blame his double role as both director and actor.What I found most interesting about 'Fences' is it's use of silence. There's hardly any score, and the films biggest emotional moments are met with a…

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