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  • The Cinema Dispatch | Film Review Website

    Review May 16, 2024 'Back to Black' Review Everything has been scrubbed with disinfectant several times over, leaving behind a product so basic that you’d barely get the impression that this person was special at all. Read More List May 7, 2024 Ranking the Planet of the Apes Franchise Now is the best time to look back and rank all nine films in this primal franchise once and for all. Read More Award May 11, 2024 Awards Update: Chucking At The Wall And Seeing What Sticks The puzzle pieces are completely scattered, leaving their final configuration up to anyone’s imagination Read More 2024 Oscar Predictions 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Blitz 3 Conclave 4 Sing Sing 5 Kinds of Kindness 6 Hard Truths 7 The End 8 The Nickel Boys 9 Queer 10 Joker: Folie à Deux Best Picture movie review website film review website movie news coverage movie blog movie website Reviews 'Back to Black' Review Everything has been scrubbed with disinfectant several times over, leaving behind a product so basic that you’d barely get the impression that this person was special at all. SHOP 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP Lists Ranking the Planet of the Apes Franchise Now is the best time to look back and rank all nine films in this primal franchise once and for all. SHOP Ranking the Films of Adam McKay In honor of his 56th birthday, here’s a look back at the filmmaker’s work and how his evolution has made an impression on Hollywood. SHOP MSPIFF43 Preview Over 200 films from around the world will be screened at The Main cinema during the two-week-long event SHOP Cannes Predictions - Part 3: The Loyalists Cannes is a festival built upon relationships, and these auteurs have been steady as a rock for so many years. SHOP Cannes Predictions- Part 2: The Regulars Directors with a decent Cannes and/or festival background SHOP Essays & Awards Awards Update: Chucking At The Wall And Seeing What Sticks The puzzle pieces are completely scattered, leaving their final configuration up to anyone’s imagination SHOP 96th Academy Awards Recap All in all, this awards season ended with some predictable victors, but it also gave us enough surprises to be entertaining. SHOP Awards Update: Final Oscar Predictions After six months of updates (and many more months of patiently waiting), it’s time to close out the 2023/2024 awards season. SHOP The Winners and Losers of the 2024 Oscar Nominations It was an eventful morning, with plenty of surprise inclusions and omissions. SHOP Awards Update: Final Oscar Nomination Predictions After months of festivals, box office results, and precursor awards, it’s finally time to put the chips down SHOP

  • Reviews | The Cinema Dispatch

    Reviews May 16, 2024 'Back to Black' Review Everything has been scrubbed with disinfectant several times over, leaving behind a product so basic that you’d barely get the impression that this person was special at all. May 13, 2024 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. May 8, 2024 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. May 4, 2024 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. May 3, 2024 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. May 1, 2024 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is April 30, 2024 'The Idea of You' Review Hathaway and Galitzine have a witty banter between them, making this romance both somewhat believable and rootable April 25, 2024 'Boy Kills World' Review Even if this doesn’t get etched into history, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in the present with it. April 25, 2024 MSPIFF43 - Dispatch #2 The Convert, Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World, In Our Day, Wildcat April 23, 2024 'Sing Sing' Review It's an important film when it's all put together, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lecture. Prev Page 1 2 3 4 5 1 ... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 ... 29 Next Page

  • Lists | The Cinema Dispatch

    Lists May 7, 2024 Ranking the Planet of the Apes Franchise Now is the best time to look back and rank all nine films in this primal franchise once and for all. April 17, 2024 Ranking the Films of Adam McKay In honor of his 56th birthday, here’s a look back at the filmmaker’s work and how his evolution has made an impression on Hollywood. April 11, 2024 MSPIFF43 Preview Over 200 films from around the world will be screened at The Main cinema during the two-week-long event April 9, 2024 Cannes Predictions - Part 3: The Loyalists Cannes is a festival built upon relationships, and these auteurs have been steady as a rock for so many years. April 7, 2024 Cannes Predictions- Part 2: The Regulars Directors with a decent Cannes and/or festival background April 5, 2024 Cannes Predictions - Part 1: The Question Marks The first of three parts of this series looks deeper into the fog March 23, 2024 Ranking the Films of Michael Haneke A master of discomfort, challenging audiences to confront the unsettling truths that lurk beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary lives. March 17, 2024 Omaha Film Festival 2024 - A Recap Tyler's thoughts on some of the film he saw this year March 7, 2024 Top 10 DreamWorks Animated Movies They’ve proven adept at telling stories of different substances and styles. January 15, 2024 2024 Preview 24 Must-See Films Prev Page 1 2 3 4 5 1 ... 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 6 Next Page

  • Awards | The Cinema Dispatch

    Awards May 11, 2024 Awards Update: Chucking At The Wall And Seeing What Sticks The puzzle pieces are completely scattered, leaving their final configuration up to anyone’s imagination March 11, 2024 96th Academy Awards Recap All in all, this awards season ended with some predictable victors, but it also gave us enough surprises to be entertaining. March 8, 2024 Awards Update: Final Oscar Predictions After six months of updates (and many more months of patiently waiting), it’s time to close out the 2023/2024 awards season. Oscar Predictions ​ Last Updated: 05/11/2024 Next Update: 06/10/2024 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Blitz 3 Conclave 4 Sing Sing 5 Kinds of Kindness 6 Hard Truths 7 The End 8 The Nickel Boys 9 Queer 10 Joker: Folie à Deux Best Picture 1 Denis Villeneuve (Dune: Part Two) 2 Steve McQueen (Blitz) 3 Mike Leigh (Hard Truths) 4 Joshua Oppenheimer (The End) 5 Edward Berger (Conclave) Best Director 1 Hard Truths 2 Blitz 3 A Real Pain 4 Kinds of Kindness 5 Challengers Best Original Screenplay 1 Conclave 2 Queer 3 Sing Sing 4 The Nickel Boys 5 Dune: Part Two Best Adapted Screenplay 1 Ralph Fiennes (Conclave) 2 Daniel Craig (Queer) 3 Colman Domingo (Sing Sing) 4 Ed Harris (Long Day's Journey Into Night) 5 Richard Gere (Oh, Canada) Best Lead Actor 1 Saoirse Ronan (Blitz) 2 Angelina Jolie (Maria) 3 Emma Stone (Kinds of Kindness) 4 Jessica Lange (Long Day's Journey Into Night) 5 Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Hard Truths) Best Lead Actress 1 Samuel L. Jackson (The Piano Lesson) 2 John Lithgow (Conclave) 3 Stephen Graham (Blitz) 4 Clarence Maclin (Sing Sing) 5 Willem Dafoe (Kinds of Kindess) Best Supporting Actor 1 Isabella Rossellini (Conclave) 2 Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (The Nickel Boys) 3 Danielle Deadwyler (The Piano Lesson) 4 Hong Chau (Kinds of Kindness) 5 Toni Collette (Juror No. 2) Best Supporting Actress 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Blitz 3 Joker: Folie à Deux 4 Maria 5 Parthenope Best Cinematography 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Blitz 3 The End 4 Kinds of Kindness 5 Conclave Best Film Editing 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Conclave 3 Challengers 4 The End 5 Maria Best Original Score 1 TBA 2 TBA 3 TBA 4 TBA 5 TBA Best Original Song 1 Dune: Part Two 2 A Quiet Place: Day One 3 Joker: Folie à Deux 4 Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga 5 Blitz Best Sound 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Blitz 3 Megalopolis 4 Gladiator II 5 Conclave Best Production Design 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Blitz 3 Joker: Folie à Deux 4 Nosferatu 5 Wicked Best Costume Design 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Beetlejuice Beetlejuice 3 Maria 4 Joker: Folie à Deux 5 Nosferatu Best Makeup & Hairstyling 1 Dune: Part Two 2 Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes 3 Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga 4 Twisters 5 Gladiator II Best Visual Effects 1 Inside Out 2 2 Untitled Wallace & Gromit Film 3 The Wild Robot 4 The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim 5 Moana 2 Best Animated Feature 1 TBA 2 TBA 3 TBA 4 TBA 5 TBA Best International Feature 1 TBA 2 TBA 3 TBA 4 TBA 5 TBA Best Documentary Feature 1 Dune: Part Two (11) 2 Blitz (10) 3 Conclave (9) 4 Kinds of Kindness (6) 5 Joker: Folie à Deux (5) 6 Sing Sing (4) 7 Hard Truths (4) 8 The End (4) 9 The Nickel Boys (3) 10 Queer (3) Nomination Leaders

  • 'Avengers: Endgame' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Avengers: Endgame' Review May 2, 2019 By: Hunter Friesen It’s taken eleven years and twenty-two films, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally reached its long-awaited bittersweet conclusion. Thanos has snapped his fingers and half of all life on Earth is gone. With the few remaining heroes left, the Avengers embark on a revenge quest against the villain that has stolen their friends and loved ones. But just like all plans, this one doesn’t go right and the team must now band together for one final showdown in order to save the universe and set things right once and for all. *Forewarning, this review may be a bit shallow at times and free of specific details for the sake of not wanting to give away spoilers. So please give me the benefit of the doubt as I try to be careful with my words. After four outings, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo have firmly planted their position as the MCU’s best directors. Whether it be during somber conversations between characters or in the Lord of the Rings style final battle, the amount of detail and effort that goes into each frame is unparalleled by any other blockbuster. Regular Marvel cinematographer Trent Opaloch’s compositional lighting and camera movement is simply outstanding and keeps the film running on all cylinders throughout its three-hour runtime. Also keeping the energy high is the lightning pace that brothers infuse into the film’s second and third act. They may miss the mark a bit during the first hour, but they more than make up for it in the latter two thirds as they deliver some of the most entertaining material put to screen. Lastly, aiding the brothers is a sweeping score by the always underappreciated Alan Silvestri. His music is swiftly able to go from epic to intimate in the blink of an eye and is a key driver behind many of the overwhelming emotions felt. Co-written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Avengers: Endgame may mark the first film in the franchise to look back in the past as opposed to solely setting up the future. The specific medium it uses to reminisce may not be the most logical or neat, but the end product is a string of touching moments that pleasantly rewards fans that have stuck around all these years. After some time away from each other during Phase Three, the main core of the Avengers is finally back together, albeit under less than ideal circumstances. This initial tighter cast allows the main troupe to get their time to shine in what could be a few send-off performances. Things start to get messy when the entire roster is put back together. Some characters get the shorter end of the stick in terms of screentime, but I don’t know how it could all be properly done unless this movie was another six hours longer (which I would still approve of). Marvel films have been built since day one on their ability to blend comedy with high emotional stakes. The stakes have never been higher here, and the same can go for the number of quippy jokes. The quality of the humor is surprisingly high throughout, but the sheer amount of one-liners during what should be tense moments verges on borderline overkill. With its bafflingly long cast list, Endgame boasts quite a few key acting highlights. The co-leads of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans shine brighter than they ever have before. They’ve gotten better with each performance and leave it all on the screen as they share immense chemistry with each other and everyone around them. Josh Brolin is still great as Thanos. While he doesn’t reach the high bar he set for himself in Infinity War , he still delivers another powerful performance that towers over all the other Marvel villains. Both Karen Gillan and Paul Rudd surprisingly stand out as Nebula and Ant-Man, respectively. They each have a more grounded personal story that offers a stark contrast to the epic main narrative. I realize I’m leaving a lot of great performances on the cutting room floor, but it would take a novel to talk about them all. Basically, everyone either did well or just alright. Nobody was outright bad. Arguably the biggest pop culture moment of all time, Avengers: Endgame is a film that arrived with an infinite amount of expectations and meets each and every one of them. Within its 181-minute runtime, you’ll laugh, you’ll more than likely cry (I did), and most importantly, be amazed at how a legendary neverending franchise can reach such a satisfying conclusion that both respects the past and gives confidence for the future. Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

  • 'Bardo' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Bardo' Review November 25, 2022 By: Hunter Friesen No one can ever blame Alejandro G. Iñárritu for not trying hard enough. Be it the juggling of multiple storylines across multiple languages in Amores Perros and Babel , the one-take trickery within Birdman , or the on-location shooting in frigid temperatures for The Revenant , Iñárritu has never been one to take the easy road. With Bardo , another entry in the ever-growing and possibly soon-to-be fatigued genre of director autobiographies, the two-time Academy Award winner for Best Director rivals only Charlie Chaplin and his fellow countrymen Alfonso Cuarón in terms of how many facets of production he has fingerprints all over. Serving as the director, writer, producer, editor, and composer, and basis for the entire narrative, there isn’t a single moment where Iñárritu’s presence isn’t front and center, resulting in the year’s most technically accomplished and uber-pretentious (you decide the connotation of that term) piece of filmmaking. Bardo , or Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths as it's officially called (here’s hoping Iñárritu stops with these elongated titles, Birdman was enough), marks Iñárritu’s first feature film since 2015. Of course, who can blame him for wanting to step away from it all after the immense logistical pressures of constructing Birdman and The Revenant ? But more than just returning to making films, Bardo also represents the Mexican director's return to his native country since his 2000 debut of Amores Perros . Unlike most directors, like Kenneth Branagh with Belfast or Steven Spielberg with The Fabelmans , Iñárritu’s view of his personal life isn’t through rose-tinted glasses. The character named Silverio Gama serves as the Iñárritu stand-in. He’s one of the most revered journalists and documentary filmmakers in Mexico and the United States. But fame in both lands is a double-edged sword, with many of his critics, himself included, finding him too gringo for Mexico, and too Latin for America. “Success has been my biggest failure,” Silverio claims as he prepares to accept an honorary award that will surely churn that existential divide even more. Just as it is within other memory-based films like The Tree of Life or 8 1/2 , the plot within Bardo isn’t really all that important. Much of the film is told out of chronological order, looping around in a circle as aspects from early scenes get reworked into later ones. And much of it isn’t literal either, with plenty of symbolic moments, such as a reenactment of a 19th-century battle or a newborn baby asking to be put back in the womb because “the world is too fucked up” (yes, you read that right), used as grand representations for personal turmoil and existentialism. Is any of it really that deep or insightful? No. And should I have a ton of sympathy for an ultra-successful celebrity that’s going through a glorified midlife crisis? Also no. But there is great beauty within Bardo’s falseness. Replacing regular DP Emmanuel Lubezki (who went off to help David O. Russell make his first feature since 2015 in Amsterdam ) is the equally legendary Darius Khondji, doubly present this year with James Gray’s Armageddon Time . Iñárritu and the Iranian cinematographer concoct some of the most mesmerizing images of the year, taking inspiration from Terrence Malick’s insistence on natural lighting. Many of the most stunning moments are told in Iñárritu’s signature long takes, with the highlight being a dance sequence where the camera weaves around a sea of people as it follows Silverio letting loose. On a technical level, this often feels like Iñárritu’s most ambitious film yet, which obviously is quite the statement. But just like Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front , this must-see theatrical experience will be mostly limited to television screens as Netflix holds the distribution rights. Bardo is a work of staggering beauty, looping around in circles as it makes you ask questions about how we got here, what's going on, and what's going to happen next. Fans (such as myself) will latch on to this singular vision and ponder the meaning behind it all, while detractors will immediately turn it off on account of its obtuse pretentiousness. And, like any great work of art, both sides will be correct in their stances. Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

  • 'Hunt' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Hunt' Review November 27, 2022 By: Hunter Friesen There are certain things within our mortal world that have been proven to be impossible. You can’t travel faster than the speed of light, nor can you read someone’s mind (all the mutants reading this must feel so smug). There are also the less fun things humans can’t do, such as achieving world peace or not paying taxes. And now I think I’ve stumbled upon a new scientific impossibility: Understanding the plot of Hunt on a first watch. As the directorial debut of newly minted Emmy winner and Squid Game star Lee Jung-jae, Hunt is the most serious adaptation of Mad magazine’s Spy vs. Spy . The Cold War still rages on, with Russia and the United States shifting their political war out of Vietnam and over to Korea. The wounds of the Korean War still sting thirty years later, with both North and South battling each other in a war of paranoia and information. There’s a rumor going around that there is a North Korean mole, codenamed Donglim, within the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). This mole has leaked the plans for several failed past operations and may have access to the itinerary and security details for the president’s upcoming trip around Asia. In order to get to the bottom of this mess, the newly appointed director covertly orders the chiefs of the foreign and domestic security units to investigate the other by any means necessary. Foreign Unit chief Pyong-ho (Lee Jung-jae) and Domestic Uni chief Jung-do (Jung Woo-sung) have had their differences in the past, such as when Jung-do killed a suspect who had kidnapped Pyong-ho during an assassination attempt on the president. Each of them has a slight suspicion over the other’s loyalty, and this “no red tape” opportunity is just what they need to dig deep and uncover every dirty secret. Unless you have an eidetic memory or a Ph.D. in contemporary Korean history (two things I definitely don't have), making sense of Hunt in the moment is an impossibly difficult mental exercise. As many of us did with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet a few years back, you have to accept the convoluted nature of the whole thing. Double crosses become triple crosses, which then become quadruple crosses, which then become quintuple crosses (I’m not even joking with this). And deciphering the script, co-written by Jo Seung-Hee and Jung-jae, may not be worth the effort, as nearly every plot beat follows the standard spy thriller rulebook. Hunt can’t use the same “don't try to understand it, just feel it” excuse as Tenet , as there isn’t any emotional pull to feel (not that Tenet had a heart either). Fortunately, Jung-jae fills those emotional and logical gaps with enough bullets and bombs to equip a small army. Taking influence from Michael Mann (specifically the street shootout from Heat ) and his fellow countrymen Park Chan-wook, Jung-jae plunges into the action set pieces headfirst with handheld camerawork and propulsive editing. There is not a single dull moment within this spider web, with the characters getting increasingly woven together to chaotic results. If you thought the intricately layered works of John le Carré ( Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager ) weren’t complex enough or didn’t have nearly enough frenzied shootouts, then Lee Jung-jae has something for you in Hunt . He treats his debut as if it's the bus in Speed , never letting it go under 55 mph in fear that the nitrate itself will instantaneously combust. Your two options are to accept that situation and ride this bus all the way to its fiery conclusion, or jump off this speeding hunk of metal. You’re going to get hurt either way, it’s just up to you if you want it to be a good or bad type of pain. Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

  • 'Unfrosted' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Unfrosted' Review May 3, 2024 By: Hunter Friesen We’ve had a lot of corporate biopics over the past year; Air , Tetris , Flamin’ Hot , Pain Hustlers , BlackBerry , The Beanie Bubble , and Barbie (it still counts) just to name a few. And while they’ve ranged from really good to state-run propaganda, they’ve all lacked the one critical thing that separates the greats from the classics: a burning desire to care. Sure, I love basketball (I write this in a euphoric state as my long-suffering Minnesota Timberwolves are finally making a playoff run) and there’s a bit of a compelling underdog story to Air , but how much can I expect myself to care when I know the story ends with everyone making billions of dollars? What sort of satisfaction was I supposed to feel in Tetris when Taron Egerton outsmarts the evil monopolistic businessmen, only for his company to eventually become the same sort of corporate behemoth decades down the road? In steps Jerry Seinfeld to the director’s chair for the first time ever. The man behind the famously titular “show about nothing,” is here to do the opposite of what everyone else has been feigning over the past year. Be honest, do you really need to know the story of how Pop-Tarts came into existence? If so, is that information worth two hours of your life? Of course not! So let’s break the mold of these stodgy rags-to-riches-to-greed biopics and stop pretending to care about the “truth” behind the products that run the world. The race for space has been replaced with breakfast toaster pastries in Unfrosted . Kellogg’s and Post, both located in the “Cereal City” of Battle Creek, Michigan, have their sights set on being the first to the market. Team Kellogg’s is comprised of product specialist Bob Cabana (Seinfeld), CEO Edsel Kellogg III (Jim Gaffigan), and lab whiz Donna Stankowski (Melissa McCarthy). Across the road at Post is Marjorie Post (Amy Schumer) and her beleaguered second-in-command Rick Ludwin (Max Greenfield). It’s weird to say a biopic’s best quality is its disregard for reality, but that’s exactly the kind of strength that Unfrosted proudly wears on its sleeve. This is the kind of movie where the now 70-year-old Seinfeld plays a typical suburban dad with two young kids and someone says, “Pack your bags. We’re going to Moscow!” and then they’ll be there the very next scene. Quite a few people perish along the way to perfecting the Pop-Tart formula, prompting one of the funniest lines from a now-widow, “Why did my husband die!?! Isn’t this a cereal company!?!” Seinfeld’s response? A slight shrug. There is a very distinct SNL feel to the whole thing, which only gets increasingly accented with each SNL cast member cameo (Fred Armisen, Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Bobby Moynihan, Darrell Hammond, etc.). Jokes are flying a mile a minute, most of them feeling as if they were written the week of filming and there wasn’t enough time to fully workshop them. There are some classic Seinfeld zingers and wordplay, but nothing to the extent of what he’s produced before. I guess that’s to be expected when a screenplay has four credited writers (Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Andy Robin, Barry Marder). Hugh Grant as a pretentious Laurence Olivier type who plays Tony the Tiger is often a riot. McCarthy and Schumer are pretty much going through the motions, which still makes for a few decent bits. It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. Watch it, or don’t. I don’t think Seinfeld himself really cares, and I don’t think anyone else will either. It’s definitely the lesser of two evils when compared to the forced reverence we’ve been experiencing in this ever-growing subgenre. Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

  • 'Blue Beetle' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Blue Beetle' Review August 18, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen Blue Beetle is the best DCEU film in years. But that’s not much of a statement, as it would take a monumental amount of skill to make something lesser than Black Adam , Shazam: Fury of the Gods , or The Flash . It's like a student got three straight F's on their exams and then got a C-, or Shaquille O’Neal finally making a free throw. The act itself isn’t noteworthy, but the context makes it a landmark moment. There’s also not much fun to be had with Blue Beetle ’s competence, as every story element and character decision is pulled directly from the “How to Make a Superhero Origin Story For Dummies” textbook. Take a shot each time a sentence in the subsequent paragraph reminds you of another superhero film. Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) is just a kid from Palmera City who’s the pride and joy of his immigrant family. He’s returning home after obtaining his college degree, but family hardships prevent him from unlocking his true destiny. He and his wise-cracking sister (Belissa Escobedo) take jobs as part of a mansion cleaning staff. There he crosses paths with Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine), the niece of tech billionaire Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon). Jenny asks him to hide something called The Scarab, which quickly decides to attach itself to Jaime, making him a world-killing supersoldier (he’s DC’s Iron Man, to put it bluntly). He didn’t choose to have these powers, but he’ll need to learn to put them to good use as people like Victoria want to use them to take over the world. Blue Beetle wears its heart on its sleeve when it comes to the family dynamic within the cast. For the most part, it greatly succeeds in establishing that special bond. Jaime’s uncle Rudy (George Lopez, doing a pretty good job spinning gold out of the lead he’s given) is the “Mexican Doc Brown,” and he always fears that the government is tracking them. But it’s not like the Reyes family would just lie down and take it, as Nana (Adriana Barraza) has a secret revolutionary past, a joke that tries to go on longer than its shelf life. This is a tight-knit group, providing both the most emotional and entertaining moments of the film. Unfortunately, writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer put all his skill points in that area. Besides the family, there’s not much of any reason to care about what’s going on. There’s very little introduction or explanation into what The Scarab actually is, why it chose Jaime, and what Victoria’s evil plan is supposed to accomplish. Although I’m sure the answers to these questions would have been just as clichéd as everything else, I still would have appreciated the courtesy of having them addressed. Director Ángel Manuel Soto doesn’t do much to make up for those problems with the action. It’s the usual “overpowered hero takes out tons of goons before fighting the final boss, who has the same powers they have” that we’ve come to expect (again, the comparisons to Iron Man are uncanny). At least Tony Stark felt like a person in a suit, unlike the poorly rendered CGI creation that Maridueña just ADRs over. The Cobra Kai has the charm and looks to be a superhero, but those seem to be his only assets. It’s hard to nail down where Blue Beetle lands in this whole DC shakeup, not only because of the wishy-washy answers from head honcho James Gunn but also because it feels so much like a product of the old regime. If it’s meant to cap off this decade-long run that started with Man of Steel , I guess we could have gone out with something worse. If this is the start of something new, then there’s not much to get excited about. Same shit, different day. Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

  • 'Marriage Story' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Marriage Story' Review December 12, 2019 By: Hunter Friesen “Divorce is like death without a body.” With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce in America, this quote from Noah Baumbach’s new film now rings truer than ever. Debuting on Netflix, Marriage Story centers on the relationship between Charlie and Nicole Barber. Charlie is an emerging New York theatre director and Nicole is a revered actress who's followed him on the stage for the last decade. The good times are over now and the couple is in the process of divorce, with their eight-year-old son, Henry, caught in the middle. The couple first decided to part ways amicably, but over time things got messier with lawyers and a sudden move by Nicole to Los Angeles. Now on opposite coasts, the two sides must bear the immense strain of splitting up while still trying to keep some semblance of their family together. The tenth feature from Baumbach (and second for Netflix), the unfolding of Marriage Story takes several cues from its stage theatre setting. Numerous scenes play out in long, uninterrupted takes as characters move around the space, delivering monologues aimed at the audience just as much as they are at other characters. The blocking of each camera and character movement is superb as it allows scenes to flow with grace and deliver their maximum effect. Accenting Baumbach’s work behind the camera is an orchestral score from legendary musician Randy Newman. The score calls back to Newman’s similar work in Toy Story as the mood swings back and forth from playful to somber. More of a writer first, and director second, Baumbach’s screenplay contains both unparalleled honesty and authenticity. The film opens with Charlie and Nicole saying what they love about each other, only for it to be revealed that it’s all part of an exercise assigned to them by their divorce counselor. This perfect establishing scene and many others work wonders at making us feel for their relationship and connect it to our experiences, both good and bad. Being as this is a semi-autobiographical film for Baumbach about his earlier divorce, you may fear that bias would be present. Luckily, Baumbach isn’t interested in taking sides. He may give Charlie a little more of the benefit of the doubt, but overall he paints a balanced picture where both the features and flaws of each character are on display. And despite the depressing subject matter, the film is still able to be quite funny as comedy gets weaved throughout. This is usual for Baumbach, who uses humor as an addition to the drama rather than a clean break from it. Playing Charlie and Nicole are Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, respectively. Each of them is amazing on their own and will deservedly be showered with awards this season. They each have their big individual scenes and one grand one together, but where they each make their money is in the little scenes between the big ones. A small facial movement here or special line delivery there goes a long way in developing who they are and what they stand for. Laura Dern is also great as Nicole’s no-nonsense lawyer, Nora. Dern has made a name for herself as a tough character, and she continues that here with a fierce, commanding performance. Alan Alda and Ray Liotta play Charlie’s two lawyers that have two very different styles that complement each of their acting strengths. Alda is the gentler and more presentable one when compared to Liotta’s more hostile and brash demeanor. Never before has a film been so pleasantly depressing and genuinely funny at the same time. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, or you’ll do both at the same time. By the time the credits start rolling, you’ll have been on a journey with not just these characters, but also with yourself. Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

  • 'Extraction 2' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Extraction 2' Review June 9, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen Between Tom Cruise, the John Wick franchise, and the newly minted Extraction franchise, a constant battle of one-upmanship is going on within the stunt industry (at least in the Western hemisphere, as Asia has already established itself as a master of the art form). The jumps are getting higher, the setpieces are getting longer and more complicated, and the violence is being doled out through more creative avenues. It’s a buyer’s market, with all of us being happy customers. The continuous rejection by AMPAS to include a stunt category within the Oscars may be a blessing in disguise, as someone (we all know it’s Cruise) may go a bit overboard in pursuit of that gold trophy. “Going overboard” is the name of the game when it comes to Extraction 2 , at least within the elaborate set pieces. Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth) proves that good viewership (and having a distributor hellbent on burning as much cash as humanely possible) is the best medicine. He’s miraculously survived the mortal wounds he suffered at the end of the first entry, with his handler, Nik (Golshifteh Farahani), putting him into forced retirement. Of course, no action hero can stay out of the game for long. A mysterious messenger arrives at Tyler’s doorstep with a mission: extract his ex-wife’s sister and her two children from an infamous Georgian prison. After a few minutes of soul-searching and one Rocky training montage, Tyler is back in fighting shape, ready to bulldoze an unquantifiable amount of bad guys in his path. Extraction established itself in the summer of 2020 with its focus on the brutality of close-quarters combat through methodical long takes and gruesome violence. Stuntman-turned-director Sam Hargrave mixed the smoothness of John Wick with the gruffness of Jason Bourne , delivering semi-mindless carnage at a time we all needed a bit of escapism. This sequel doesn't lose sight of that identity, with the opening set piece unfolding across an eye-watering 21-minute long take, beginning from a jail cell and ending with a train derailment. Of course, just like Sam Mendes’ 1917 , the single take here is digitally stitched together from various smaller takes spread across various locations. Nonetheless, it’s a sight to behold as it lunges from a stealth mission to a prison yard brawl to a car chase to a train heist without ever losing an ounce of energy. The athleticism of the actors is tested, with Hemsworth reaching peak physical performance just as about anyone else would be on the ground gasping for air. Hargrave may have broken Hemsworth free of the shackles of Marvel fight choreography and editing, but the script by frequent MCU director Joe Russo goes through a speedrun of every action movie cliché in the book. We’ve got a badass hero with a tragic past that he revisits by watching old footage from a family vacation at a beach; a stereotypical Eastern European villain that waxes poetically about the value of family; “one last job” that gets the hero out of retirement; and the sacrifice of a comrade (no spoilers of course). You’ve seen this all before, both in better and worse movies. But neither you nor I are watching Extraction 2 for the plot, so it’s best not to dwell on its shortcomings. The action is here in all its bombastic glory, and you don’t even need to leave the couch to enjoy it. What more could you want on a Friday night? Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

  • 'Wicked Little Letters' Review | The Cinema Dispatch

    'Wicked Little Letters' Review March 28, 2024 By: Hunter Friesen What would you rather be: Polite and with a stick up your ass, or vulgar and sincere? To the delight of all stick sellers, 99% of the residents living in the 1920s seaside English town within Wicked Little Letters side with the former camp. It’s an area that is as conservative as they come, with all the men returning from The Great War wanting to settle down and have the women back in their place. “Hysteria and general tears” is what passes for a crime, with the only bit of controversy being the appointment of Gladys Moss (Anjana Vasan) as the first female police officer. That is, until the Irish Rose Gooding (Jesse Buckley) moves in next door to Edith Swan (Olivia Colman) and her strict parents (Timothy Spall and Gemma Jones). Rose and Edith are a tale of polar opposites. Rose is a free-spirit who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and swear like a sailor. She came over with a young daughter and an unmarried love interest. Edith is a Christian woman who never married and is always dutiful to her parents. So, when Edith and several of the town’s residents start receiving exceptionally hateful and foul letters, you can imagine who they all accuse. Writer Jonny Sweet has set the stage for a modern-day (at least when compared to the source material) Crucible . This time, instead of the free-spirits being labeled as witches, they’re barbaric heathens that die the slow death of social rejection. There are several helpings surrounding the debate of gender roles, specifically on women’s freedom during a pivotal moment in the twentieth century. It’s all very surface-level and done with a winking attitude, portraying all the men as domineering buffoons. Also hammered home several times over is the hilarity of swear words, especially within a setting that is the antithesis of vulgarity like Puritan England. The words “fuck,” “shit,” “whore,” and “cock” get more prominent use here than they did in a Martin Scorsese movie. While it’ll likely play like gangbusters at your local AARP-sponsored screening, everyone else not drawing from Social Security will shrug their shoulders after its second or third use. And by the thirtieth scene where the punch line is that someone says “fuck,” you’ll be more likely to say “fuck this” and leave. Colman and Buckley are clearly having fun with the roles, reveling in the opportunity to act together after never being able to share the same space in The Lost Daughter (they played the same character at different ages). The over-reliance on dirty words is made palatable thanks to the deliveries of the two actresses, each salivating at the chance to have characters that are given a modicum of agency during this period. There really isn’t much suspense about who the author of the letters is, with Sweet and director Thea Sharrock spelling it out in as bold a print as possible. It’s all light and fancy-free, almost too much for its own good. But a healthy movie ecosystem needs to offer products for the older crowds (see 80 for Brady and anything else Diane Keaton is doing these days), so take your grandparents out to the cinema before you go see Civil War . Must Read 'I Saw the TV Glow' Review I can’t get it out of my head, and that’s what’s most important. SHOP 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' Review It rises above the notion that it’s an unnecessary addition, as it reaches for newer relevant themes in a world turned upside down. SHOP 'We Grown Now' Review Faults aside, "We Grown Now" still has some powerfulness as it brings eyes to a part of an iconic city that’s unknown to outsiders. SHOP 'Unfrosted' Review It’s all a farce that makes for an inoffensive 90 minutes on Netflix. SHOP 'The Fall Guy' Review It gets points for having its heart in the right place, but it also gets docked quite a few by failing to put its money where its mouth is SHOP

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