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‘Jersey Boys’: A Night Not To Be Remembered

Robert Kessler | June 20, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Everyone knows the music of The Four Seasons. Who doesn’t have some sort of fond memory attached to “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Working My Way Back to You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” or “December, 1963?” So it’s not clear why director Clint Eastwood would turn Jersey Boys into… More »

’22 Jump Street’ Gets the Sequel Right

Robert Kessler | June 6, 2014 - 9:00 am

It’s a tricky thing, a sequel. How do you duplicate the magic of the original, while injecting originality into the new film? It’s a question that 22 Jump Street screenwriters Michael Bacall, Oren Uziell and Rodney Rothman clearly asked themselves while penning the sequel to 21 Jump Street and one they share with the audience. More »

‘Obvious Child’: A Not-So-Obvious Romantic Comedy

Gabrielle Chung | June 5, 2014 - 10:30 pm

Abortion doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with romantic comedies. It’s generally avoided by mainstream movies. But given that it’s a hot-button topic and something that many women deal with nowadays, it’s about damn time that someone made a film revolving around the complexities and romantic complications behind the matter. Enter Obvious Child.

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Review: ‘Transcendence’ Never Quite Hits Its Mark

Robert Kessler | April 18, 2014 - 8:30 am

It’s no mistake that the spirit of Christopher Nolan feels present throughout Transcendence. Not only is Nolan a producer, it’s also directed by Wally Pfister, Nolan’s longtime cinematographer. But unfortunately its beautiful and moody exterior covers an ultimately substance-less thriller, a cinematic merengue.

Pfister certainly knows how to dress up a film, using… More »

Veronica Mars Returns Like an Old Friend, This Time on the Big Screen

Robert Kessler | March 14, 2014 - 3:30 pm

It’s a strange beast, the film adaptation of a popular television series. Even stranger when that film adaptation was turned down flat by film executives, only to be funded by a rabid fan base on Kickstarter. Which brings us here, seven years later and Kristen Bell is cracking wise and solving crimes once more as… More »

‘Non-Stop’ Is No Joy Ride

Robert Kessler | February 28, 2014 - 9:35 am

First thing’s first: the plot of Non-Stop is capital-I Insane. But, then again, so is the plot of Face/Off, which stands as one of the better action films of all time. While Non-Stop is not exactly of the same calibre as Face/Off, it is an entertaining enough thriller, though it’s perhaps guilty of taking itself… More »

George Clooney’s ‘Monuments Men’ Finds Its Art, But Can’t Find Its Voice

Robert Kessler | February 7, 2014 - 7:00 am

There is a good movie somewhere within The Monuments Men and it’s despite an impressive cast and a little-known true story from World War II that that movie never comes to fruition. Instead, the audience is left with an odd little film that feels destined to bore middle schoolers as a substitute teacher files her nails… More »

‘The Lego Movie’ Is a Smart, Hysterical Celebration of Individuality

Robert Kessler | February 6, 2014 - 11:21 am

The Lego Movie is far funnier and far more edgy than a film based on a toy has any right to be.

From its outset, it’s determined to elevate itself beyond the genre of “children’s film.” It is, at the same time, an uproariously funny kids’ movie and a razor-sharp satire about our… More »

‘American Hustle’: David O. Russell’s Madcap Adventure

Robert Kessler | December 13, 2013 - 11:04 am

There is a wildness to David O. Russell’s American Hustle, almost manic, that fits well with the movie’s strange cast of characters and its based-very-loosely-on-a-true-story plot. In fact, the cast almost sounds like the set-up for a joke: what happens when a chicken piccata-loving New Jersey mayor, a volatile FBI agent, a brassy, incompetent housewife… More »

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ is a Major Improvement on the First Hobbit Film

Robert Kessler | December 12, 2013 - 8:00 am

A follow-up to last year’s underwhelming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug feels like a return to form for the man who made his name directing the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Fans of the original will definitely be satiated by this second of three Hobbit films, which are… More »

‘Catching Fire’: Jennifer Lawrence’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Robert Kessler | November 21, 2013 - 3:00 pm

While a good film overall, there was a whitewashing that occurred while making the first Hunger Games movie. Gone was the sense of brutality in the books and, with it, the book’s entire purpose of questioning our voyeuristic fascination with youth and violence in pop culture. (Author Suzanne Collins has said she was inspired to… More »

’12 Years a Slave’ Is Merciless, Magnificent

Robert Kessler | October 18, 2013 - 12:45 pm

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave opened to rave reviews at the Telluride Film Festival in August. It has since emerged as a contender for both Best Picture and Best Actor Oscars; it is clear that the film is a cinematic success. But what remains unclear is whether this film will be a hit at the box office. More »

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