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‘Jersey Boys’: A Night Not To Be Remembered

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…

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

’22 Jump Street’ Gets the Sequel Right

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.

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

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

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.

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

Review: ‘Transcendence’ Never Quite Hits Its Mark

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…

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

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

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…

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

‘Non-Stop’ Is No Joy Ride

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…

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

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

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…

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

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

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…

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

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

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…

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

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

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…

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

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

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…

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

’12 Years a Slave’ Is Merciless, Magnificent

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.

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

Daniel Radcliffe Electrifies in the Sexy, Daring ‘Kill Your Darlings’

“I love complicated,” Dane DeHaan’s Lucien Carr mutters seductively near the beginning of Kill Your Darlings. But be careful what you wish for has never had so much meaning; complicated doesn’t begin to encompass the story at hand.

Kill Your Darlings, in its simplest terms, is about the birth of the Beat Generation

Robert Kessler | October 16, 2013 - 1:00 pm

As ‘Captain Phillips,’ Tom Hanks Gives a Tour de Force Performance

Captain Phillips is, at its heart, a thriller. There is the unhinged villain, the dramatic military rescue and, in the center trapped in the crosshairs, our hero, Captain Rich Phillips. And while director Paul Greengrass doesn’t do much to elevate the film above that of a generic thriller, no one told Tom Hanks. Hanks does…

Robert Kessler | October 9, 2013 - 2:00 pm

‘Gravity’ Is the Year’s Most Anticipated Film for Good Reason

It’s not every day that a movie storms onto the screen and, in a relatively-short 90 minutes, leaves you completely spellbound. In fact, there is nothing ordinary about Gravity, which is damn near perfect.

Disaster strikes within 10 minutes. In another 20 minutes, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are…

Robert Kessler | October 4, 2013 - 9:10 am

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Porn Comedy ‘Don Jon’ Scores Big

That a movie about a gel-haired, Camaro-driving Jerseyite with a porn addiction and a dysfunctional Italian Catholic family doesn’t come off as a parody is an accomplishment in and of itself. It’s a toss-up whether Don Jon owes its sincerity most to Joseph Gordon-Levitt the actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt the writer or Joseph Gordon-Levitt the director, as he serves all…

Robert Kessler | September 27, 2013 - 8:30 am

‘Short Term 12′: This Fall’s First Must-See Film

It’s not an easy sell. The story of a bunch of kids living in group housing and their counselors who could use some counseling themselves. But to skip Short Term 12 based solely off its premise would be to cheat yourself of an emotionally-charged and genuinely touching story. The film is as eye-opening as it…

Robert Kessler | August 23, 2013 - 9:00 am

Who Needs Lovers With Drinking Buddies Like These: ‘Drinking Buddies’ Reviewed

As overused tropes in film go, can men and women ever really be friends might just be the most common. In Drinking Buddies, writer/director Joe Swanberg asks this question once again, the answer being a resounding maybe. While the film’s theme may be as old as movies themselves, Drinking Buddies manages to feel entirely modern;…

Robert Kessler | August 21, 2013 - 9:00 am

Amanda Seyfried’s ‘Lovelace’ Doesn’t Go Deep Enough

Lovelace, the biopic of Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace, could have just as easily been called A Tale of Two Lindas. What starts as a dreamy fantasy about a girl who finds freedom and the fame she always craved as the poster girl for the sexual revolution quickly sours, circling back to re-tell the same…

Robert Kessler | August 9, 2013 - 9:00 am

‘The Lone Ranger’: Gore Verbinski’s Runaway Train

There is a point during The Lone Ranger in which you will want to throw your hands up and scream “I give up.” You won’t of course, but you’ll find yourself looking at other things, like the floor or ceiling, for the rest of the far-too-long two and a half hours as Gore Verbinski’s maddening mess…

Robert Kessler | July 2, 2013 - 3:30 pm
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