Movie Reviews 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

by Alan Rapp on December 22, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • IMDb: link

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie reviewI never expected to see Spider-Ham show up in a theatrical film as a major supporting character. I also never expected Sony to outdo Marvel in producing the best super-hero movie of the year. These are but two of the wonders of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which give us the origin story of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) as the new Spider-Man while also offering a few different versions of Peter Parker (Chris Pine, Jake Johnson, Nicolas Cage), Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn) and her robot, and Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) as heroes from other dimensions brought to this Earth to help Miles stop the Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) who threatens to destroy reality while furthering his own selfish desires.

With a visual style that looks and feels like a moving comic book, the film by directors Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman offers everything a Spider-Man fan could want (with the exception of not including the Scarlet Spider, sigh). While staying true to the original characters, small choices such as the breeze to blow Spider-Man Noir’s (Cage) overcoat and adding ballet as a piece of Spider-Gwen’s fighting style are genius.

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Mary Poppins Returns

by Alan Rapp on December 20, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Mary Poppins Returns
  • IMDb: link

Mary Poppins Returns movie reviewMy initial reaction to the news of Disney’s decision to make a sequel to Marry Poppins was something along the lines of “No, no, no, no, no, no. No.” Although it may not quite measure up to the original, Mary Poppins Returns does succeed in capturing the spirit of the first film and delivers a magical treat for audiences this Christmas.

Stepping into the shoes of Julie Andrews for the title role is Emily Blunt as the magical nanny returns to help the grown-up Banks children (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer). More successful than something like Hook, Mary Poppins Returns still deals with some of the same themes involving growing up and loosing the childlike wonder that makes life worth living. Blunt is terrific in some inspired casting. Although the songs of the sequel don’t measure up to the original (there’s only a single number here even approaching the energy of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” or “Chim Chim Cher-ee“) the songs we do get help tell the story of the Banks children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) and their introduction to Mary Poppins‘ magical world.

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Roma

by Alan Rapp on December 17, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Roma
  • IMDb: link

Roma movie reviewWritten, produced, and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Roma is a semi-autobiographical film centered around the maid (Yalitza Aparicio) of family in Mexico City during the 1970s. With complete control of the film, Cuarón takes his time with the story as it unfolds slowly over the course of more than two-hours. This proves to be Roma‘s strength and curse.

While beautiful to look at, the glacial pace of the story borders on tedious at times (making one wonder if it is worth sticking around to the end). Then, in its final half-hour, Roma delivers like no other film this year. So, how to judge it becomes the question?

Let’s start with the look of the film, the intimacy of the family’s dwelling, and the long sweeping shots of the city. The sole credited cinematographer, Cuarón makes sure his vision is captured on film. And without doubt, Roma if a visual feast. On top of this is Aparicio’s grounded performance as Cleo who acts as the heart of the film. Available on Netflix, the plodding pace may deter some viewers who can switch the channel, but Roma does provide gifts that are worth waiting for.

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The Favourite

by Alan Rapp on December 14, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Favourite
  • IMDb: link

The Favourite movie reviewSet during the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), The Favourite is a sly period dramedy focused on the rivalry between two cousins (Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) over position and the affection of the Queen. Filled with backstabbing, political maneuvering, and deception, the story begins with the arrival of Abigail (Stone), a former lady now forced into the role of a servant. Abigail is given a position in the palace by Lady Sarah (Weisz) who underestimates just how far her cousin will go to increase her station.

Set between the two women, and also the two political factions fighting over the war in France, at the heart of the film is Anne herself. Presented as a broken woman, who may not have been all that smart to begin with, Coleman infuses her with unexpected depths as we begin to wonder just how much of the manipulation she suspects. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Robbie Ryan, the look of The Favourite offers sharp contrast to the more vile machinations under the surface (not unlike its lead characters). Although there are men present, mostly in Parliament, the script views them as largely superfluous and spends little effort to hide where the true power in England lies.

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The Other Side of the Wind

by Alan Rapp on December 13, 2018

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Other Side of the Wind
  • IMDb: link

The Other Side of the Wind movie reviewIt may have taken an extra 40 years, but the last film from Orson Welles is finally available to be seen. While it is nearly impossible to separate the film from its history (covered in detail in the new documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead), The Other Side of the Wind has the benefit of working despite this potential limitation and delivering a fitting last chapter to Welles’ career with a biting satire and visual smorgasbord finally pieced together more than three decades after the director’s death.

Never one to back away from a challenge, Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind offers a layered feast, which can be devoured all at once but is best digested over multiple viewings. The experimental project delivers one or two small missteps (most notably the horrific performance by Cathy Lucas in a, thankfully, small role) but also yields terrific results. The narrative follows the final days of an aging director struggling with his latest film while make statements about the change in Hollywood culture from the old school studio system to the rise of a New Hollywood.

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