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  • Top 10 Martin Scorsese Films

    Top 10 Martin Scorsese Films October 16, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen In the realm of American cinema, few names resonate as powerfully as Martin Scorsese. With a career spanning over five decades, he has crafted a body of work that is as diverse as it is profound. He’s bigger than the gangster films he’s mainly known for, adapting himself to deliver quintessential entries within the sports, noir, biopic, and kids subgenres. It was an extreme challenge to narrow this list down to only ten movies, as a director of his stature has so many masterpieces that even the great ones don’t make the cut. A ranking of the 11-20 entries would still tower over 99% of other filmmakers. Honorable mentions that just missed inclusion were Raging Bull , Hugo , and New York, New York . 10. Gangs of New York Gangs of New York is an epic about the battle for American democracy, often paralleling some of the modern struggles within our government. It features some of Scorsese’s best world-building as he weaves us in and around the catacombs and rickety tinderbox buildings of 1860s New York. Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance may not rank as the highest in his filmography, but it doesn’t matter when Daniel Day-Lewis is chewing every scene as the violently charismatic Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting. 9. Taxi Driver Taxi Driver sees New York as it truly was in the 1970s: a cesspool of crime and villainy that no decent person should visit, let alone live in. Scorsese bridges the gap between our thirst for the unseen on screen and how it plays out in reality. There’s a smoky focus on the physical and mental damage done, and how the media can twist evil into a morbid story of vigilante justice. 8. Silence Faith-based movies are often met with skepticism, but the power of Scorsese’s filmmaking is always able to appeal to both sides of the coin. He transports us the 17th-century Japan, a place of clashing cultures that becomes the backdrop for the soul-searching journey of Father Rodrigues. Andrew Garfield painfully captures the inner turmoil of a man battling his faith and the system that surrounds him. 7. The Departed Not many directors can claim that their seventh-best film was the one that netted them both the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture. Scorsese blends a taut and intricate plot with stellar performances from its ensemble cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Martin Sheen. It was, and still is, one of his most straightforward films, offering escapist thrills through a refined lens. 6. The Irishman At 209 minutes, The Irishman is a true-crime epic. Telling the story of mob hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, the long-gestating project is packed with an all-star cast of Robert De Niro as the titular character as well as Joe Pesci and Al Pacino in career-defining roles. Instead of rehashing his usual gangster formula, Scorsese flips the script and fully exposes the audience to the doom and gloom that a life of crime brings to someone. 5. Goodfellas Goodfellas is the shining testament to Scorsese’s unparalleled brilliance at bringing the world of organized crime to life on the silver screen. It showcases an unapologetic and unflinching portrayal of the mafia lifestyle. We are in the same position as Lorrain Bracco’s Karen Hill, always weary of what’s going on and what’s around the corner, but too blinded by lights to do anything about it. And even when we spin out of control, there’s still a piece of us that wants to do it all over again. 4. The Wolf of Wall Street The exuberance and moral decay of 1980s Wall Street never felt more alluring than it does in The Wolf of Wall Street . But that excitement is also a powerful teacher, showcasing that greed isn’t good. It’s a car crash that you can’t look away from, filmed so kinetically that almost want to be in the driver’s seat. It also took extreme talent from Scorsese and his whole team to set a Guinness World Record for the most instances of swearing in a film, with the word “fuck” said 506 times. 3. Casino Like the story itself, Casino is as excessive as possible. It was the most Scorsese-like movie Scorsese had made up to that point, featuring all the hallmarks: Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, the rise and fall of the mob, smooth camera movements, an absolute fuckton of swearing, and a roaring soundtrack. It’s compelling and thrilling to watch from minute one to minute one-hundred and seventy-nine. 2. The Aviator This biographical masterpiece flawlessly captures the tumultuous life of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes. Leonardo DiCaprio is perfectly cast here as he was miscast Gangs of New York , brilliantly showcasing Hughes's genius, eccentricity, and inner demons. Scorsese’s meticulous attention to detail recreates Classical Hollywood as we witness the rise and fall of one of cinema’s first titans. 1. The Age of Innocence The costume drama is not a genre one would normally associate with Martin Scorsese. But Scorsese is not a director confined to certain genres. Tender, yet brutal, The Age of Innocence burns with fiery passion while also being extinguished by icy repression. It's a battle of yin and yang that Scorsese perfectly balances with his sumptuous staging and set design. But what always separates Scorsese from the pack is the performances he can bring out. He always seems to find a new level for even the very best such as Daniel Day-Lewis. Winona Ryder radiates and Michelle Pfeiffer incites yearning with her performance. Never has such a naked performance been given under so many layers of clothes. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • The Greatest Irish Filmmakers

    The Greatest Irish Filmmakers March 17, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If we’re going by the past few years worth of Oscar nominations, it would seem that the Irish film industry is going through a renaissance period. The dark humor and rough political history of the land lend well to complex films, most recently seen in The Banshees of Inisherin and Belfast . Along with celebrating those films, I want to take a look at some of the top filmmakers to hail from the “Old Country.” Because of the close geographical proximity and political intertwining, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to distinguish someone as either Irish or English. Of course, there’s no law against being both, but I’d like my list to be narrowed down to only filmmakers that identify as Irish and mostly create Irish films. This excludes people such as Kenneth Branagh and John Boorman, as they tend to be more British with their identity and work. Fear not though, as there are still several venerable names that will be featured here, with all of them building up a distinct filmography ripe for discovery. Neil Jordan Jordan has long been fascinated by unconventional sexual relationships, which makes sense when you consider that The Crying Game was his big breakout, netting him an Oscar for his screenplay. Jordan has split his time between his homeland and Hollywood over the decades, with Interview with a Vampire, Michael Collins, The End of the Affair , and Breakfast on Pluto being some of his more popular works. He’s also helped launch the careers of several famous Irish actors such as Stephen Rea, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Colin Farrell, and Saoirse Ronan. Martin McDonagh McDonagh has become the central representative for Irish cinema through his absurdist black comedies, with almost all of them containing acts of savage violence. Yet there’s always a little bit of humanity that gleams through the bloodshed. Colin Farrell has been his most loyal compatriot, appearing in In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths , and The Banshees of Inisherin . McDonagh has also successfully transferred his style to America, directing Oscar-winning performances from Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell (also in Seven Psychopaths ) in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri . Although he does technically have an Oscar for his 2006 short film Six Shooter , the world still awaits McDonagh to climb the Dolby Theatre steps for one of his feature films. Jim Sheridan Only a select few directors have had the pleasure of working with Daniel Day-Lewis on multiple occasions, with Sheridan being the only one to work with him on three films. Their first collaboration was for Sheridan’s directorial debut My Left Foot , which netted both of them Oscar nominations, with Day-Lewis winning for his lead performance. After a brief intermission with The Field , which got Richard Harris an Oscar nomination, the pair would reunite for In the Name of the Father and The Boxer . Sheridan would amass another surprise Oscar hit a few years later, with his warm immigrant tale within In America receiving double acting nominations along with a nod for his screenplay. Lenny Abrahamson Abrahamson was originally going to have a career in philosophy, but he abandoned his doctorate studies to pursue a career in filmmaking. While his parents may have been initially disappointed in him, the decision proved to be the right one, as he was the recipient of the award for Best Director at the Irish Film and Television Awards for his debut feature, Adam and Paul . He’s won the award another four times since, most recently for Room , for which he also received a surprise Oscar nomination. His work on the small screen has been just as fruitful, with 2020’s Normal People containing two breakout performances in Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. Terry George George started out as the writing partner with Jim Sheridan, sharing credit on the screenplays for In the Name of the Father and The Boxer . Sheridan would even co-write the screenplay for George’s directorial debut, Some Mother’s Son , starring Helen Mirren. He would make a splash on his first solo endeavor, 2004’s Hotel Rwanda , chronicling the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo would be nominated for their performances, along with George’s script. George would also lend his talents to HBO, working on prestige dramas such as In Treatment and Luck . John Carney Nobody loves folk music more than John Carney. He entered the scene with Once in 2007, a love story about two struggling musicians in Dublin. While a tiny production, the film was able to win the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Falling Slowly.” 2013’s Begin Again shifted that story to American, with Keira Knightly playing a singer and Mark Ruffalo as a down-on-his-luck record executive. Another Oscar nomination would be earned for the song “Lost Stars.” He moved back to Dublin for Sing Street in 2016, which rode the indie circuit to enthuse reviews for its youthful exuberance. Now the two lands have come together for his latest film, where American Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars alongside Eve Hewson in a Dublin-set story about a mother and musician coming together through song. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it received strong reviews. Apple is set to release it sometime this year. John Crowley Crowley assembled an all-star cast consisting of Cillian Murphy, Kelly Macdonald, and Colin Farrell, for his debut feature film Intermission . The grungy aesthetics of that Dublin-set story would be translated into his next feature Boy A , which announced the talents of Andrew Garfield to the world. Saoirse Ronan would be the next young actor to work with Crowley, with Brooklyn netting her an Oscar nomination along with one for Best Picture. Unfortunately, Crowley wouldn’t reach the next level with The Goldfinch , but I’m hoping it’ll only be a brief stumble followed by a confident rebound. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • Top 10 Films of 2020

    Top 10 Films of 2020 February 18, 2021 By: Hunter Friesen For the past two years, I’ve led this article by saying how crummy the year has been. Well, 2020 doesn’t even deserve to be joked about as it was such a terrible year that I’m glad has passed, even though I don’t have much hope for 2021. Even with the pandemic shutting down theatres and several tentpole films being delayed indefinitely, there were still quite a few movies worth celebrating. In an effort to give praise to those that deserve it, here is my list of the ten best films of 2020. Honorable Mentions Possessor Tenet The Truth On the Rocks Let Them All Talk 10. Ammonite What can be considered dull to some is romantic to others. Set in 1840s England, writer/director Francis Lee tells the story of a forbidden lesbian romance between a lonely fossil hunter and a young woman burdened by a loveless marriage. Ammonite has all the tropes of the romantic drama genre, but none of its clichés. Lee avoids these traps by trusting his leads in Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, who are a winning combination as they give amazing performances with little dialogue. Everything comes from just a look or a glance, enough to describe a whole scene and carry a film. 9. One Night in Miami After many successful years in front of the camera, Regina King proves she’s just as skilled in the director’s chair. What could have been an overly stagey experience is turned into a fiery character drama featuring some of the most influential figures in history in Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke. Screenwriter Kemp Powers takes these four larger-than-life figures and brings them down to Earth and connects their lives to the present-day African-American experience. Special praise goes to the performances by British-born Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X and Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. as Cooke, as well as his contribution to the song “Speak Up." 8. The Prom The cinematic equivalent of a sugar rush, director Ryan Murphy assembled an all-star cast for his Netflix adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. The story of a lesbian teen who is denied the ability to tale her girlfriend to her conservative town’s prom is told exuberantly through flashy song & dance numbers. While it does have its cake and eat it too, the guilty pleasure that this film brings is in the wonderfully campy performances from its main troupe and its earworm-inducing tunes. 7. Wolfwalkers Hailing from Ireland, this fantasy adventure beat Pixar’s Soul to be the best-animated film of the year. Aspiring adventurer Robyn stars as our hero as she befriends a free-spirited “wolf walker” named Mebh, who has the power to become a wolf at night and defends the ever-shrinking forest. Beautifully animated in various styles and boasting a great lyrical soundtrack, Wolfwalkers also touches our minds with its authentic philosophical message about deforestation and the bridging of cultural differences. 6. The Nest Similar to the calculated and observational style of Stanley Kubrick and Yorgos Lanthimos, Sean Durkin’s newest feature is a drama/horror tale about the dangers of greed and ambition. Jude Law and Carrie Coon each give career-best performances as a couple that is forced to come to terms with their increasingly meaningless lives. With the gap between the haves and the have-nots becoming wider every day, this social critique is timely in the present and I suspect it will continue to be in the future. 5. First Cow First Cow is the most gentle “bro movie” out there. Writer/director Kelly Reichardt calmly guides us through this frontier-set story of friendship and opportunity. As unpredictable as it is gorgeous, Reichardt balances various genres as the film eventually spins itself into a heist film with high tension and stakes. Even with all these changing elements, Reichardt never loses the emotional connection with her characters. I’m still hoping Evie the Cow can get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. 4. The Trial of the Chicago 7 The words “the whole world is watching!” still ring in my head even after six months since seeing Aaron Sorkin’s newest Netflix film. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a nostalgic old-school courtroom drama bolstered by strong modern filmmaking and terrific performances from its cast. The timeliness and importance of its message make it a must-see as our nation faces a turbulent path of healing after a disastrous year. Full Review 3. Nomadland With Nomadland , writer/director/editor Chloé Zhao has crafted something special, something that pulls you in and never lets you go. Many times you catch yourself just basking in the imagery. The plains, the mountains, the natural landscapes. It doesn't feel like a movie, but a feeling that just carries you all the way through. With a lead terrific performance from the legendary Frances McDormand and a supporting turn from the reliable David Strathairn, Zhao combines so many complex things to create a true piece of art. 2. The Vast of Night Amazon’s The Vast of Night is a director's showcase for Andrew Patterson. With long takes and tracking shots that are near Cuarón level, Patterson fully immerses us in this 1950s-set small-town alien invasion mystery. Spookier than any conventional horror movie and brimming with an abundance of talent from its cast and crew, The Vast of Night is a startlingly well-made debut that will surely lead to fruitful careers for all those involved. 1. Never Rarely Sometimes Always Written and directed by indie-darling Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is an authentic and upsetting coming-of-age story. Taking place over a trip to New York City to abort an unwanted pregnancy, Hittman did an impeccable job of exuding sympathy and connecting me to a process I am biologically unable to relate to. The title of the film comes full circle near the end in a scene that left me with no dry eyes. Newcomer Sydney Flanigan is a star in the making with her lead performance. Her career will be one to watch. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • The Influence of Howard Hawks in John Carpenter's 'Assault on Precinct 13'

    The Influence of Howard Hawks in John Carpenter's 'Assault on Precinct 13' April 5, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen Bridging over the changes of New Sentimentality in the late 1960s, the early 1970s was a time of seismic cinematic change. It was a time when a new batch of filmmakers was looking to create something new while also honoring those that came before them. This new group, better known as The Film School Generation, consisted of names like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese. They were heralded around for making films such as The Godfather, Carrie, Taxi Driver , and Star Wars . Each of these films took clear inspiration from its predecessors. Lucas mentioned the influence of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films, Spielberg was indebted to David Lean and John Cassavetes, and Scorsese revered Federico Fellini. This same period also saw the rise of the career of John Carpenter, who broke onto the scene with his action crime-thriller, Assault on Precinct 13 . Like those in The Film School Generation, Carpenter lovingly borrowed several elements from those that influenced him to be a filmmaker. But he also wanted to be an auteur, reimaging and adding new aspects to classic stories. Carpenter’s film took inspiration from a few different sources, most notably the works of Howard Hawks. Hawks was one of the most prolific filmmakers of the 40s and 50s, churning out top-notch John Wayne westerns and a few comedies. Carpenter took particular interest in Hawks’ Rio Bravo when finding inspiration for his film. Hawks’ Westerns were always known for how they branded their heroes through a rite of passage. The good guys had to prove to the other characters, and the audience, that they were good. Dean Martin’s character in Rio Bravo isthe central character who goes through this arc. Carpenter directly uses this within his film, having his characters prove their heroicness through acts of valor against the odds. We as the audience identify and lift these characters who are good at their job and do it in the name of honor. Physically, Carpenter also uses Hawks’ model of staging his film within a limited number of locations. A fact that can be hinted from the title of the film, the majority of the action takes place within Precinct 13. The setting becomes familiar and we understand why the police are protecting it. The precinct almost becomes a castle that must be defended from invaders. Speaking of invaders, Carpenter directly took a page out of another filmmaker's book when he decided how to portray the gang members. While Hawks was the older teacher, Carpenter’s contemporary George Romero was the inspiration for that element. Only a few years earlier did Romero make waves with his independent horror film, Night of the Living Dead . Like how Romero dehumanized the zombies in his film, Carpenter adopted that style for his villains. By not giving them any dialogue and never showing their faces, Carpenter strips the gang oftheir humanity, creating them into a pack of remorseless killers. At the same time being indebted to Hawks and Romero, Carpenter was still able to add his spin. Hawks also had the trademark of the “Hawksian woman”, often a tough character who acts more like “one of the guys” rather than a pure damsel in distress. Most of the women in Hawks films were progressive for the time, but still often seen as weaker than the men and needed saving from time to time. Carpenter took that idea a step further, making his women characters equal to the men. In Precinct 13 , Leigh is an equal badass compared to her male co-stars. She shoots bad guys, takes charge of situations, and even takes a bullet for her troubles.She even gets her moment at the end of the film when she walks off without medical help. By honoring the past and blazing a trail for the future, John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 is a timeless classic. Its handling of themes, setting, depiction of villains, and women stereotypes make it a perfect example of how movies can be inspired by the past and how they can inspire the future. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • The Best Military Movies for Veterans Day

    The Best Military Movies for Veterans Day November 11, 2022 By: Hunter Friesen With America’s lengthy involvement in armed combat over the past century, it’s no surprise that there is a bountiful supply of war films, ranging from small-scale character dramas to epic recreations. To honor those that have served, I’ve compiled a list of war films that I recommend you check out. All of them pertain to war from an American point-of-view (so don’t expect Come and See or 1917 ), with each doing it in their special way. They’ll be listed in chronological order according to their release date. The Longest Day (1962) The Longest Day is an interesting piece of military and cinematic history. We have plenty of movies about the American perspective of landing on Omaha Beach, but we don't have any that tell the entire macroeconomic story relating to that fateful day. Through a style that has long been abandoned, three different directors each tell a side of the story: American/British, French, and German. We get unique perspectives because of this tactic, with an all-star cast of John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, and Robert Mitchum providing larger-than-life performances. Patton (1970) Patton is a film caught between two time periods of both Hollywood and real-life history. In 1970, the golden age of Hollywood was coming to an end as studios were moving away from lavishly epic productions and leaning more into auteur-driven stories that reflected the harsh realities of life. That year also was the height of the unpopularity over the war in Vietnam. Protests occurred regularly, and patriotism was no longer seen as a virtue. The brilliance of Patton is that it can appeal to everyone. Francis Ford Coppola's script sees Patton for who he was, warts and all. He was a genius on the battlefield, achieving victory with historical speed and precision. The Germans feared and respected him. He was also a tyrannical brute. He berated soldiers both verbally and physically (an act that nearly cost him his career), and pushed his men to the absolute limit. He got the nickname "Old Blood and Guts" for his bloodthirsty campaigns that, while successful, were incredibly dangerous. George C. Scott's performance is one of the finest biographical portrayals ever. Because the film has no side plots or heft supporting characters, Scott's electrifying performance is what drives the three-hour runtime. But Scott isn't alone as director Franklin Schaffner assists him with well-composed battle sequences and startling imagery. The film is epic in scope like in the past, but it is also intimate in detail and character. It's a balancing act that entertains the viewer with production and theatricality but also educates them about one of the most complicated men in American history. Born on the Fourth of July (1989) Centering on the loss of innocence and the façade of the American dream for the Vietnam-era youth, Oliver Stone returns to his Platoon roots. There's even some of the original crew returning here, like Willem Dafoe in a small role that doesn't occur until almost 2/3 through the movie. Stone crafts several ingenious individual scenes with his might behind the camera. The prom, the Vietnam battle scene, the protest at Syracuse, and Tom Cruise playing the loudest game of chicken by exclaiming the word "penis" are some of the great moments. John Williams' score supplements the sweeping nature of the story. Cruise makes you forget about those problems from time to time as he effortlessly runs the gamut of Kovac's life from wide-eyed patriot to battle-weary realist. His performance is a reminder that he is a real actor, even if we tend to disagree with that sometimes. Saving Private Ryan (1998) The firm ideals of bravery and good ol' American patriotism are not traditionally found within Saving Private Ryan . Instead, Steven Spielberg , along with screenwriter Robert Rodat, offers something not usually found within a war film: humanity. While still an action film at its heart, the mind of the film is centered on philosophy, as opposed to pure entertainment. The titular mission of extracting Pvt. James Ryan isn't an honorable one. It doesn't take a genius to see the flawed math of risking the lives of eight men to save one. Spielberg and Rodat don't dance around that thought, and also find time to analyze the themes of doing your duty and the futility of war. None of this is to say that the men in this movie aren't brave. It takes a lot of guts and courage to do what they did, which is why we have a day to honor them. But they don't carry out their mission out of their love for the stars & stripes. They do it because they have to. It's an order, and orders must be followed. There's a character named Upham in the film. He's the squad translator and doesn't have the same fighting spirit as the rest of his fellow compatriots. There are times when you get mad at him for not being tough or getting the job done flawlessly. But I would bet many of us would be more like him than John Wayne when the time comes. Within the film, there are no individual heroes, only real men fighting to keep themselves alive for just another moment. The opening set piece is one of the greatest ever produced, with chaotic camerawork, editing, and sound design. It's no wonder no film has attempted to portray D-day since, as Spielberg has set the bar at an unassailable height. The Thin Red Line (1998) While released in the same year and covering the same war, Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line and Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan could not be any more different. Marking his return to filmmaking after a 20-year absence, Malick imbues the film with his usual philosophical ruminations on life and the futility of violence. “What difference do you think you can make, one single man, in all this madness?” is a line that is often repeated, sometimes with brutality and sometimes with lyrical beauty. Of course, Malick still excels at giving action fans what they came for. With one of the most stacked casts ever assembled - including, but not limited to, George Clooney, John Travolta, Adrien Brody, Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, and Nick Nolte - the action set pieces are awe-inspiring in their ability to convey the confusion and hopelessness within combat. Soldiers weep as they know they are taking their last glances at the living world, and others question the ethics of killing someone in the name of your country. Some war films claim to have more on their mind than just action, but none pontificate and leave with as much to chew on as Terrence Malick does with The Thin Red Line . Black Hawk Down (2001) Each great director has quite a few stinkers that blemish their track record. But each great director also has a few or many great movies that perfectly showcase why they are great. Case in point, Black Hawk Down is one of the finest works by Ridley Scott and his tactical style of direction. In real-time, the Battle of Mogadishu rages on with bullets whizzing, men screaming, and the overall frenzy rattling everyone down to the bone. It's amazing how Scott and his team, which includes an amazing score by Hans Zimmer and genius editing by Pietro Scalia, were able to take this daunting puzzle and piece it together. The Hurt Locker (2009) Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscars for Best Director and Best Motion Picture for this Iraq War thriller. Screenwriter Mark Boal, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, based much of the story on his experiences being an embedded journalist on the front lines. Jeremy Renner stars as a bomb defuser who seems to have a death wish, much to the distress of his squad mates that just want to make it to the next day. Bigelow’s full-throttle direction lends itself to some incredibly tense action set pieces. It’s an exhausting experience enduring the 130-minute film, which, to Bigelow and her team’s credit, puts you right in the mental and physical shoes of the characters. Causeway (2022) Shifting away from the battlefield and towards the home front, first-time director Lila Neugebauer sensitively delivers a personal story that avoids much of the PTSD/trauma clichés we’ve come to expect. Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry each deliver powerfully subtle performances, with their characters striking up an interesting connection that goes deeper than something purely platonic or romantic. For viewers that tend to steer away from violence, this new film on Apple TV+ will offer a semi-fresh take on the well-worn genre. Full Review Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • Cassavetes & Newman: Hollywood Stars, Art Cinema Auteurs

    Cassavetes & Newman: Hollywood Stars, Art Cinema Auteurs March 11, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen As actors, John Cassavetes and Paul Newman worked within the Hollywood studio system. Cassavetes starred mostly in miliary movies, while Newman was one of the biggest stars in the world with hits such as Cool Hand Luke and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid . While both of them were prevalent on the multiplex screens, they were much different behind the camera. As directors, they veered into unfamiliar territory, creating films more in line with the auteur theory that wasn't present in the movies they starred in. Through the films Faces and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds , both Cassavetes and Newman created films one would consider part of the arthouse crowd. In his essay “The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice," David Bordwell writes that arthouse films are “a distinct mode of film practice, possessing a definite historical existence, a set of formal conventions, and implicit viewing procedures.” Hearing the word “convention” when describing arthouse cinema sounds like an oxymoron as everything within this specific industry is meant to be in contrast to the usual conventions within Hollywood. But every movement and genre has to have rules, whether written or unwritten. These rules can be seen in both Cassavettes’ and Newman’s films. Bordwell writes that the narratives within art cinema pride themselves on two things: realism and authorial expressivity. Life is to be shown as realistically as possible, with real locations and problems. In Faces , shot in grainy 16mm, Cassavetes makes it seem as if the viewer is a fly-on-the-wall as we watch a marriage decay. There is no gloss and the music doesn’t swell our emotions, instead, we are bombarded with closeups and technical inconsistencies. It’s the cinéma vérité style commonly found within Europe at the time. Cassavetes’ camera doesn’t glamorize American life, it shines a light on the reality of middle-class suburban life. Richard and Maria fight about their sexual desires and their discontent for one another. Instead of finding solace in each other, they find it in the bottle and strangers. It’s highly unconventional for the time and way ahead of anything that was coming shortly. Like Faces , Marigolds is filled with imperfect characters stuck in a realistically depressing situation. Beatrice has aspirations, but she doesn’t have the means to accomplish them. She’s also an embarrassment to her daughters and is an alcoholic. But the story isn’t about her, it’s actually about Matilda coming to terms with her downtrodden life. She and her mother are determined to push past their social convention offenses. Newman doesn’t treat the situation as misery porn, he simply follows the story. He’s connecting his audience, who most likely share the same circumstances, with the characters. Like Cassavetes, Newman’s visual style is pulled back, never reveling in the situation and the performances are also more reflective of the characters you would see on your street block. With both Faces and The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds , John Cassavetes and Paul Newman pushed back against the Hollywood system they had inhabited for many years. Through technical and thematic intrusiveness, they were able to tell real stories for real people, something the big machine out in California simply didn’t want to do. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • Cannes 2023 - Everything I'll Be Seeing

    Cannes 2023 - Everything I'll Be Seeing May 15, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most prestigious film events in the world, attracting movie buffs, critics, and industry professionals from across the globe. Each year, the festival showcases some of the most captivating and thought-provoking films, ranging from indie productions to big-budget blockbusters. As a film enthusiast, I am excited to once again attend this year's festival and share my thoughts on some of the films I'll be watching. The lineup promises to deliver a diverse range of stories and perspectives. In this article, I'll be taking you through some of the most highly anticipated films that I'll be watching at the festival, giving you a glimpse of what's in store for cinema lovers this year. *All film descriptions and pictures have been supplied by the festival program* The Old Oak (dir. Ken Loach, United Kingdom) The Old Oak is a special place. Not only is it the last pub standing, it is the only remaining public space where people can meet in a once-thriving mining community that has now fallen on hard times after 30 years of decline. TJ Ballantyne (Dave Turner), the landlord, hangs on to The Old Oak by his fingertips, and his hold is endangered even more when it becomes contested territory after the arrival of Syrian refugees who are placed in the village. In an unlikely friendship, TJ encounters a young Syrian, Yara (Ebla Mari) with her camera. Can they find a way for the two communities to understand each other? So unfolds a deeply moving drama about loss, fear, and the difficulty of finding hope. Black Flies (dir. Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, United States) Ollie Cross (Tye Sheridan), a young paramedic in New York, teams up with Rutkovsky (Sean Penn), an experienced EMT. Facing extreme violence, he discovers the risks of a job that every day shakes his beliefs about life… and death. Cobweb (dir. Kim Jee-Woon, South Korea) In the 1970s, Director Kim is obsessed with the desire to re-shoot the ending of his completed film ‘Cobweb’, but chaos and turmoil grip the set with interference from the censorship authorities and the complaints of actors and producers who can’t understand the re-written ending. Will Kim be able to find a way through this chaos to fulfill his artistic ambitions and complete his masterpiece? Kidnapped (dir. Marco Bellocchio, Italy) In 1858, in the Jewish quarter of Bologna, the Pope’s soldiers burst into the home of the Mortara family. By order of the cardinal, they have come to take Edgardo, their seven-year-old son. The child had been secretly baptized by his nurse as a baby and the papal law is unquestionable: he must receive a Catholic education. Edgardo’s parents, distraught, will do anything to get their son back. Supported by public opinion and the international Jewish community, the Mortaras’ struggle quickly take a political dimension. But the Church and the Pope will not agree to return the child, to consolidate an increasingly wavering power… A Brighter Tomorrow (dir. Nanni Moretti, Italy) Giovanni, a renowned Italian filmmaker, is about to start shooting a political film. But between his marriage in crisis, his co-producer on the verge of bankruptcy, and the rapidly changing film industry, everything seems to be working against him! Always on the edge, Giovanni will have to rethink his way of doing things if he wants to lead his little world toward a bright tomorrow. May December (dir. Todd Haynes, United States) Julianne Moore and Charles Melton star as a married couple whose 20-year relationship inspired a national tabloid obsession at its offset. Now preparing to send their grown children off to college – as Melton reconciles with empty nest syndrome in his mid-30s – an actress (Natalie Portman) embeds with the family to study them for an upcoming film where she’ll play Moore. The couple buckles under the pressure as Portman probes as deeply as she can for an honest performance. About Dry Grasses (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey) Samet, a young art teacher, is finishing his fourth year of compulsory service in a remote village in Anatolia. After a turn of events he can hardly make sense of, he loses his hopes of escaping the grim life he seems to be stuck in. Will his encounter with Nuray, herself a teacher, help him overcome his angst? La Chimera (dir. Alice Rohrwacher, Italy) Everyone has their own Chimera, something they try to achieve but never manage to find. For the band of tombaroli, thieves of ancient grave goods and archaeological wonders, the Chimera means redemption from work and the dream of easy wealth. For Arthur, the Chimera looks like the woman he lost, Beniamina. To find her, Arthur challenges the invisible, searches everywhere, and goes inside the earth – in search of the door to the afterlife of which myths speak. In an adventurous journey between the living and the dead, between forests and cities, between celebrations and solitudes, the intertwined destinies of these characters unfold, all in search of the Chimera. Anatomy of a Fall (dir. Justine Triet, France) Sandra, Samuel, and their 11-year-old visually impaired son, Daniel, have been living far from everything in the mountains for a year. One day, Samuel is found dead at the foot of their house. A suspicious death investigation has been opened. Sandra is soon charged despite the doubt: suicide or homicide? A year later, Daniel attends his mother's trial, a true dissection of the couple. Firebrand ( dir. Karim Aïnouz, United Kingdom) In the bloodstained England of the Tudors, Katherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII, is appointed Regent during his military campaigns. With this provisional role, Katherine tries to influence the king's advisers towards a future based on her Protestant beliefs. On his return from combat, the king, increasingly paranoid and ill, accuses a childhood friend of Katherine of treason and sends her to the stake. Horrified by her act and secretly bereaved, Katherine fights for her own survival. Conspiracies ensue within the palace walls and the court holds its breath – will the Queen misstep and Henry have her executed? With the hope of a kingdom without tyranny, will she be able to submit to the inevitable for the good of king and country? Monster (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan) When her young son Minato starts to behave strangely, his mother feels that there is something wrong. Discovering that a teacher is responsible, she storms into the school demanding to know what’s going on. But as the story unfolds through the eyes of the mother, teacher, and child, the truth gradually emerges. Palme d’Or winner and internationally acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda returns with a delicate, powerfully moving story of love, duty, social conflict, and secrets. Asteroid City (dir. Wes Anderson, United States) In 1955, students and parents from across the country gather for scholarly competition, rest, recreation, drama, and romance at a Junior Stargazer convention held in a fictional American desert town. Writer/director Wes Anderson further plants Cannes as his home with this star-studded whimsical comedy. The Zone of Interest (dir. Jonathan Glazer, United Kingdom) The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig, strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp. Writer/director Jonathan Glazer returns to feature filmmaking after a ten-year absence with this highly original story of love in the darkest of places. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • Movies That Made More Money Than You Think

    Movies That Made More Money Than You Think August 7, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen In the modern world of cinema, the power of recognizable brands often sets the stage for box office success. However, now and then, something unique emerges that not only captivates audiences worldwide but also defies all expectations by amassing colossal profits beyond anyone's wildest imagination. These are the movies that made way more money than they were supposed to, shattering records and redefining the very essence of success in the film industry. One ground rule is that each selection for this list was released in 1990 or afterward. This is approximately the time the modern box office landscape was born, with multiplexes overtaking the long-standing mom & pop movie theaters. It’s also hard to compare and analyze box office performances from several decades ago, as it wasn’t uncommon for a movie to be in theaters for months on end. Both Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music were in theaters for over four years upon their initial release, which certainly gave them an advantage towards becoming two of the highest-grossing films ever. Several metrics were also used to make these selections, such as the amount of money the movie made, how much it was expected to make based on projections and the performance of similar movies, and its overall cultural relevance (or lack thereof). From underdog productions battling against all odds to star-driven blockbusters soaring to unprecedented heights, each film on this list has a unique tale to tell. Ghost (1990) ($500 million) 1990 was the year of surprise hits. Pretty Woman, Home Alone , and Dances with Wolves all hugely outgrossed expectations. But the best of the bunch was Ghost , a bit of female counterprogramming from Paramount against the boy-friendly summer titles of Die Hard 2 and Back to the Future III . Mixing steamy romance, crime drama thrills, the supernatural, and comedy, the film was the prototypical four-quadrant release. Its PG-13 rating wasn’t too risque for conservative viewers, while still pushing the envelope enough to entice teenagers. It opened #2 at the box office in July just behind the second weekend of Die Hard 2 . It would remain in either of those top two spots for the following nine weeks and would retain the same theater count (1700) until November. It had the third-highest domestic gross ever (behind E.T. and Star Wars ) before Home Alone dethroned it that holiday season. It’s a simply astounding feat for a film that has never inspired sequels, spin-offs, or even merchandise sales (at least not yet). What Women Want (2000) ($375 million) It’s hard to envision it now, but Mel Gibson was, for a brief moment, a romantic leading heartthrob. The $34.4 million opening weekend for Nancy Meyers’ film was the highest ever in December at that time and even bested Gibson’s action-oriented films like Ransom and the Lethal Weapon franchise. An EW poll found that nearly half the audience saw the movie for Gibson, who would receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical (losing to George Clooney for O Brother, Where Art Thou? ). The film ended with $180 both domestically and internationally, claiming the fourth best worldwide cume of 2000. Meet the Fockers (2004) ($525 million) Gone are the days of star-driven studio comedies being at the top of the box office charts. Meet the Fockers earned the highest-ever Christmas Day gross at $19.5 million in 2004, even beating the previous’s year champion, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King . The character of Greg Focker was almost as lucrative as Harry Potter and Peter Parker that year, with the comedy sequel finishing its box office run with over half a billion dollars. It was Robert De Niro’s highest-grossing film for fifteen years until it was beaten by Joker in 2019. The Da Vinci Code (2006) ($760 million) While many films on this list accumulated their huge grosses due to good reviews and word of mouth, neither of those was the case for The Da Vinci Code . The film boasts a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes and was the recipient of several rounds of booing during its premiere as the opening film of that year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film was also banned in several countries such as parts of India, Egypt, and China (after it had played for a few weeks), and was boycotted by several religious groups. None of those factors stopped audiences from flocking to the film that summer. It amassed a near-record worldwide total of $224 million on its opening weekend, thanks in part to the immense popularity of the novel and the star power of Tom Hanks. Over 70% of its $750 million total gross would come from international territories, with a similar breakdown occurring for the film’s two disappointing sequels: Angels & Demons ($500 million total) and Inferno ($220 million total). 2012 (2009) ($770 million) Sure, disaster movies are pretty dependable at the box office because of their simplistic storytelling and bang-for-your-buck visuals. But does it make much sense that one of the most forgettable entries in that subgenre, Roland Emmerich’s 2012 , is also one of the most successful? 2012 was boosted by a viral marketing campaign that latched onto the urban legend of the world ending in the year 2012. Comcast even blocked out a ten-minute chunk of time on nearly every genre to show a clip of the film. Even with a less-than-ideal leading man in John Cusack, the film accumulated almost $800 million worldwide. Almost 80% of those dollars came from overseas, as the film was the first $700+ million grosser to make less than $200 million stateside. True Grit (2010) ($250 million) It only took twelve days for this Western remake to become the highest-grossing film within the Coen brothers’ filmography. The strong critical reactions and awards buzz helped the movie double its opening weekend projections, pulling in over $25 million during the holiday weekend. There was also the advantage of the Coens dialing down their eccentricities for this film, delivering a more conventional crowdpleaser that had a more long-lasting theatrical appeal. It ended up being one of the highest-grossing Westerns ever, finishing with $171 million domestically and $81 internationally. That holiday window happened to be the coronation of star Jeff Bridges, who also appeared in the chart-topping TRON: Legacy . Black Swan (2010) ($330 million) While it is nice to see Oppenheimer and Barbie sparking a renewed conversation about the merits of “original” programming at the box office, it is still a little disheartening to see that this same conversation was taking place over a decade ago thanks to Black Swan . Strong interest in Darren Aronosky’s film started from the viral marketing campaign, which didn’t commence until just a few weeks before the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival. The buzz out of the fall festivals matched the enthusiasm online, something relatively unheard of for an arthouse movie. Along with the strong critical remarks it received, especially for Natalie Portman’s lead performance, one of the biggest benefits of the movie was that it was somehow able to appeal to nearly every demographic. Arthouse cinephiles were excited about a new Aronofsky film, dance and theater fans got a unique reimagining of Swan Lake , and horror junkies were treated to a dark psychological tale of obsession. The film would gross over $100 million domestically, all before it even had been released internationally, with many of those dates pushed up to capitalize on the demand. In the end, it grossed $330 million worldwide on a $13 million budget, placing it as the second biggest sleeper hit of 2010. What was #1 you ask? The King's Speech (2010) ($480 million) Everything Everywhere All at Once ’s worldwide gross of $140 million puts it near the top half of Best Picture winners in the modern era. But that total doesn’t even match the domestic cume of The King’s Speech , which only accounted for a little less than a third of the film’s global take of almost $500 million. Tom Hooper’s film is the second-highest-grossing Best Picture winner of the 21st century, behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (which stands so far ahead with over $1 billion). Between claiming the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, having the highest per-theater-average opening weekend of the year ($350,000), and receiving a yearly best of twelve Oscar nominations, success followed The King’s Speech everywhere it went. It was hailed as one of the most successful British independent films ever only after a month of release, overcoming the controversial R-rating it received. The film also made over half its money after the Oscar nominations were announced, with the compelling exploration of friendship and resilience resonating deeply with viewers. American Sniper (2014) ($550 million) If asked to guess which film conquered the North American box office in 2014 most people would defer to a franchise film such as Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 , or Captain America: The Winter Soldier . Those would all be good guesses (they each placed within the top five), but sitting on the throne was 84-year-old Clint Eastwood with American Sniper . Showing the power of appealing to middle America and controversy about its messaging, American Sniper grossed $90 million in its opening weekend, more than double what it projected to do. The A+ CinemaScore and awards attention kept it at the top of the box office for the next six weeks, where it would end with over $350 million domestically and $550 worldwide. It still stands as the highest-grossing war film ever (not accounting for inflation) and is only behind The Passion of the Christ and Deadpool as the highest-grossing R-rated film in North America. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • Terms and Conditions | The Cinema Dispatch

    Terms and Conditions *Last updated June 29, 2023* AGREEMENT TO OUR LEGAL TERMS We are The Cinema Dispatch ("Company," "we," "us," "our"), a company registered in Minnesota, United States at 1602 Hamel Lane, Shakopee, MN 55379. We operate the website (the "Site"), as well as any other related products and services that refer or link to these legal terms (the "Legal Terms") (collectively, the "Services"). You can contact us by phone at 952-217-9768, by email at, or by mail at 1602 Hamel Lane, Shakopee, MN 55379, United States. These Legal Terms constitute a legally binding agreement made between you, whether personally or on behalf of an entity ("you"), and The Cinema Dispatch, concerning your access to and use of the Services. You agree that by accessing the Services, you have read, understood, and agreed to be bound by all of these Legal Terms. 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When you create or make available any Contributions, you thereby represent and warrant that: * The creation, distribution, transmission, public display, or performance, and the accessing, downloading, or copying of your Contributions do not and will not infringe the proprietary rights, including but not limited to the copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret, or moral rights of any third party. * You are the creator and owner of or have the necessary licenses, rights, consents, releases, and permissions to use and to authorize us, the Services, and other users of the Services to use your Contributions in any manner contemplated by the Services and these Legal Terms. * You have the written consent, release, and/or permission of every identifiable person in your Contributions to use the name or likeness of every such identifiable person to enable inclusion and use of your Contributions in any manner contemplated by the Services and these Legal Terms. * Your Contributions are not false, inaccurate, or misleading. * Your Contributions are not unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, pyramid schemes, chain letters, spam, mass mailings, or other forms of solicitation. * Your Contributions are not obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, violent, harassing, libelous, slanderous, or otherwise objectionable (as determined by us). * Your Contributions do not ridicule, mock, disparage, intimidate, or abuse anyone. * Your Contributions are not used to harass or threaten (in the legal sense of those terms) any other person or to promote violence against a specific person or class of people. * Your Contributions do not violate any applicable law, regulation, or rule. * Your Contributions do not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party. * Your Contributions do not violate any applicable law concerning child pornography, or otherwise intended to protect the health or well-being of minors. * Your Contributions do not include any offensive comments that are connected to race, national origin, gender, sexual preference, or physical handicap. * Your Contributions do not otherwise violate, or link to material that violates any provision of these Legal Terms, or any applicable law or regulation. * Any use of the Services in violation of the foregoing violates these Legal Terms and may result in, among other things, termination or suspension of your rights to use the Services. 6. CONTRIBUTION LICENSE You and Services agree that we may access, store, process, and use any information and personal data that you provide and your choices (including settings). By submitting suggestions or other feedback regarding the Services, you agree that we can use and share such feedback for any purpose without compensation to you. We do not assert any ownership over your Contributions. You retain full ownership of all of your Contributions and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your Contributions. We are not liable for any statements or representations in your Contributions provided by you in any area of the Services. You are solely responsible for your Contributions to the Services and you expressly agree to exonerate us from any responsibility and to refrain from any legal action against us regarding your Contributions. 7. THIRD-PARTY WEBSITES AND CONTENT The Services may contain (or you may be sent via the Site) links to other websites ("Third-Party Websites") as well as articles, photographs, text, graphics, pictures, designs, music, sound, video, information, applications, software, and other content or items belonging to or originating from third parties ("Third-Party Content"). Such Third-Party Websites and Third-Party Content are not investigated, monitored, or checked for accuracy, appropriateness, or completeness by us, and we are not responsible for any Third-Party Websites accessed through the Services or any Third-Party Content posted on, available through, or installed from the Services, including the content, accuracy, offensiveness, opinions, reliability, privacy practices, or other policies of or contained in the Third-Party Websites or the Third-Party Content. Inclusion of, linking to, or permitting the use or installation of any Third-Party Websites or any Third-Party Content does not imply approval or endorsement thereof by us. If you decide to leave the Services and access the Third-Party Websites or to use or install any Third-Party Content, you do so at your own risk, and you should be aware these Legal Terms no longer govern. You should review the applicable terms and policies, including privacy and data gathering practices, of any website to which you navigate from the Services or relate to any applications you use or install from the Services. Any purchases you make through Third-Party Websites will be through other websites and from other companies, and we take no responsibility whatsoever about such purchases which are exclusively between you and the applicable third party. You agree and acknowledge that we do not endorse the products or services offered on Third-Party Websites and you shall hold us blameless from any harm caused by your purchase of such products or services. Additionally, you shall hold us blameless from any losses sustained by you or harm caused to you relating to or resulting in any way from any Third-Party Content or any contact with Third-Party Websites. 8. SERVICE S MANAGEMENT We reserve the right, but not the obligation, to (1) monitor the Services for violations of these Legal Terms; (2) take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in our sole discretion, violates the law or these Legal Terms, including without limitation, reporting such user to law enforcement authorities; (3) in our sole discretion and without limitation, refuse, restrict access to, limit the availability of, or disable (to the extent technologically feasible) any of your Contributions or any portion thereof; (4) in our sole discretion and without limitation, notice, or liability, to remove from the Services or otherwise disable all files and content that are excessive in size or are in any way burdensome to our systems, and (5) otherwise manage the Services in a manner designed to protect our rights and property and to facilitate the proper functioning of the Services. 9. TERM AND TERMINATION These Legal Terms shall remain in full force and effect while you use the Services. WITHOUT LIMITING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF THESE LEGAL TERMS, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO, IN OUR SOLE DISCRETION AND WITHOUT NOTICE OR LIABILITY, DENY ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE SERVICES (INCLUDING BLOCKING CERTAIN IP ADDRESSES), TO ANY PERSON FOR ANY REASON OR NO REASON, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION FOR BREACH OF ANY REPRESENTATION, WARRANTY, OR COVENANT CONTAINED IN THESE LEGAL TERMS OR OF ANY APPLICABLE LAW OR REGULATION. WE MAY TERMINATE YOUR USE OR PARTICIPATION IN THE SERVICES OR DELETE ANY CONTENT OR INFORMATION THAT YOU POSTED AT ANY TIME, WITHOUT WARNING, AT OUR SOLE DISCRETION. If we terminate or suspend your account for any reason, you are prohibited from registering and creating a new account under your name, a fake or borrowed name, or the name of any third party, even if you may be acting on behalf of the third party. In addition to terminating or suspending your accoun t, we reserve the right to take appropriate legal action, including without limitation pursuing civil, criminal, and injunctive redress. 10. MODIFICATIONS AND INTERRUPTIONS We reserve the right to change, modify, or remove the contents of the Services at any time or for any reason at our sole discretion without notice. However, we have no obligation to update any information on our Services. We will not be liable to you or any third party for any modification, price change, suspension, or discontinuance of the Services. We cannot guarantee the Services will be available at all times. We may experience hardware, software, or other problems or need to perform maintenance related to the Services, resulting in interruptions, delays, or errors. We reserve the right to change, revise, update, suspend, discontinue, or otherwise modify the Services at any time or for any reason without notice to you. You agree that we have no liability whatsoever for any loss, damage, or inconvenience caused by your inability to access or use the Services during any downtime or discontinuance of the Services. Nothing in these Legal Terms will be construed to obligate us to maintain and support the Services or to supply any corrections, updates, or releases in connection therewith. 11. GOVERNING LAW These Legal Terms and your use of the Services are governed by and construed by the laws of the State of Minnesota applicable to agreements made and to be entirely performed within the State of Minnesota, without regard to its conflict of law principles. 12. DISPUTE RESOLUTION Informal Negotiations To expedite resolution and control the cost of any dispute, controversy, or claim related to these Legal Terms (each a "Dispute" and collectively, the "Disputes") brought by either you or us (individually, a "Party" and collectively, the "Parties"), the Parties agree to first attempt to negotiate any Dispute (except those Disputes expressly provided below) informally for at least thirty (30) days before initiating the arbitration. Such informal negotiations commence upon written notice from one Party to the other Party. Binding Arbitration If the Parties are unable to resolve a Dispute through informal negotiations, the Dispute (except those Disputes expressly excluded below) will be finally and exclusively resolved by binding arbitration. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WITHOUT THIS PROVISION, YOU WOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO SUE IN COURT AND HAVE A JURY TRIAL. The arbitration shall be commenced and conducted under the Commercial Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") and, where appropriate, the AAA’s Supplementary Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes ("AAA Consumer Rules"), both of which are available at the American Arbitration Association (AAA) website. Your arbitration fees and your share of arbitrator compensation shall be governed by the AAA Consumer Rules and, where appropriate, limited by the AAA Consumer Rules. The arbitration may be conducted in person, through the submission of documents, by phone, or online. The arbitrator will decide in writing but need not provide a statement of reasons unless requested by either Party. The arbitrator must follow applicable law, and any award may be challenged if the arbitrator fails to do so. Except where otherwise required by the applicable AAA rules or applicable law, the arbitration will take place in Scott, Minnesota. Except as otherwise provided herein, the Parties may litigate in court to compel arbitration, stay proceedings pending arbitration, or confirm, modify, vacate, or enter judgment on the award entered by the arbitrator. If for any reason, a Dispute proceeds in court rather than arbitration, the Dispute shall be commenced or prosecuted in the state and federal courts located in Scott, Minnesota, and the Parties hereby consent to, and waive all defenses of lack of personal jurisdiction, and forum non conveniens concerning venue and jurisdiction in such state and federal courts. Application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act (UCITA) are excluded from these Legal Terms. In no event shall any Dispute brought by either Party related in any way to the Services be commenced more than one (1) year after the cause of action arose. If this provision is found to be illegal or unenforceable, then neither Party will elect to arbitrate any Dispute falling within that portion of this provision found to be illegal or unenforceable and such Dispute shall be decided by a court of competent jurisdiction within the courts listed for jurisdiction above, and the Parties agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of that court. Restrictions The Parties agree that any arbitration shall be limited to the Dispute between the Parties individually. To the full extent permitted by law, (a) no arbitration shall be joined with any other proceeding; (b) there is no right or authority for any Dispute to be arbitrated on a class-action basis or to utilize class-action procedures; and (c) there is no right or authority for any Dispute to be brought in a purported representative capacity on behalf of the general public or any other persons. Exceptions to Informal Negotiations and Arbitration The Parties agree that the following Disputes are not subject to the above provisions concerning informal negotiations binding arbitration: (a) any Disputes seeking to enforce or protect, or concerning the validity of, any of the intellectual property rights of a Party; (b) any Dispute related to, or arising from, allegations of theft, piracy, invasion of privacy, or unauthorized use; and (c) any claim for injunctive relief. If this provision is found to be illegal or unenforceable, then neither Party will elect to arbitrate any Dispute falling within that portion of this provision found to be illegal or unenforceable and such Dispute shall be decided by a court of competent jurisdiction within the courts listed for jurisdiction above, and the Parties agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of that court. 13. CORRECTIONS There may be information on the Services that contains typographical errors, inaccuracies, or omissions, including descriptions, pricing, availability, and various other information. We reserve the right to correct any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions and to change or update the information on the Services at any time, without prior notice. 14. DISCLAIMER THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED ON AN AS-IS AND AS-AVAILABLE BASIS. YOU AGREE THAT YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES WILL BE AT YOUR SOLE RISK. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, WE DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN CONNECTION WITH THE SERVICES AND YOUR USE THEREOF, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. WE MAKE NO WARRANTIES OR REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE SERVICES' CONTENT OR THE CONTENT OF ANY WEBSITES OR MOBILE APPLICATIONS LINKED TO THE SERVICES AND WE WILL ASSUME NO LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY (1) ERRORS, MISTAKES, OR INACCURACIES OF CONTENT AND MATERIALS, (2) PERSONAL INJURY OR PROPERTY DAMAGE, OF ANY NATURE WHATSOEVER, RESULTING FROM YOUR ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE SERVICES, (3) ANY UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO OR USE OF OUR SECURE SERVERS AND/OR ANY AND ALL PERSONAL INFORMATION AND/OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION STORED THEREIN, (4) ANY INTERRUPTION OR CESSATION OF TRANSMISSION TO OR FROM THE SERVICES, (5) ANY BUGS, VIRUSES, TROJAN HORSES, OR THE LIKE WHICH MAY BE TRANSMITTED TO OR THROUGH THE SERVICES BY ANY THIRD PARTY, AND/OR (6) ANY ERRORS OR OMISSIONS IN ANY CONTENT AND MATERIALS OR FOR ANY LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND INCURRED AS A RESULT OF THE USE OF ANY CONTENT POSTED, TRANSMITTED, OR OTHERWISE MADE AVAILABLE VIA THE SERVICES. WE DO NOT WARRANT, ENDORSE, GUARANTEE, OR ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY PRODUCT OR SERVICE ADVERTISED OR OFFERED BY A THIRD PARTY THROUGH THE SERVICES, ANY HYPERLINKED WEBSITE, OR ANY WEBSITE OR MOBILE APPLICATION FEATURED IN ANY BANNER OR OTHER ADVERTISING, AND WE WILL NOT BE A PARTY TO OR IN ANY WAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MONITORING ANY TRANSACTION BETWEEN YOU AND ANY THIRD-PARTY PROVIDERS OF PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. AS WITH THE PURCHASE OF A PRODUCT OR SERVICE THROUGH ANY MEDIUM OR IN ANY ENVIRONMENT, YOU SHOULD USE YOUR BEST JUDGMENT AND EXERCISE CAUTION WHERE APPROPRIATE. 15. LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY IN NO EVENT WILL WE OR OUR DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, OR AGENTS BE LIABLE TO YOU OR ANY THIRD PARTY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES, INCLUDING LOST PROFIT, LOST REVENUE, LOSS OF DATA, OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING FROM YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES, EVEN IF WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. 16. INDEMNIFICATION You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold us harmless, including our subsidiaries, affiliates, and all of our respective officers, agents, partners, and employees, from and against any loss, damage, liability, claim, or demand, including reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses, made by any third party due to or arising out of (1) use of the Services; (2) breach of these Legal Terms; (3) any breach of your representations and warranties outlined in these Legal Terms; (4) your violation of the rights of a third party, including but not limited to intellectual property rights; or (5) any overt harmful act toward any other user of the Services with whom you connected via the Services. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we reserve the right, at your expense, to assume the exclusive defense and control of any matter for which you are required to indemnify us, and you agree to cooperate, at your expense, with our defense of such claims. We will use reasonable efforts to notify you of any such claim, action, or proceeding which is subject to this indemnification upon becoming aware of it. 17 . USER DATA We will maintain certain data that you transmit to the Services to manage the performance of the Services, as well as data relating to your use of the Services. Although we perform routine backups of data, you are solely responsible for all data that you transmit or that relates to any activity you have undertaken using the Services. You agree that we shall have no liability to you for any loss or corruption of any such data, and you hereby waive any right of action against us arising from any such loss or corruption of such data. 18. ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS, TRANSACTIONS, AND SIGNATURES Visiting the Services, sending us emails, and completing online forms constitute electronic communications. You consent to receive electronic communications, and you agree that all agreements, notices, disclosures, and other communications we provide to you electronically, via email, and on the Services, satisfy any legal requirement that such communication be in writing. YOU HEREBY AGREE TO THE USE OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES, CONTRACTS, ORDERS, AND OTHER RECORDS, AND ELECTRONIC DELIVERY OF NOTICES, POLICIES, AND RECORDS OF TRANSACTIONS INITIATED OR COMPLETED BY US OR VIA THE SERVICES. You hereby waive any rights or requirements under any statutes, regulations, rules, ordinances, or other laws in any jurisdiction which require an original signature or delivery or retention of non-electronic records, or to payments or the granting of credits by any means other than electronic means. 19. CALIFORNIA USERS AND RESIDENTS If any complaint with us is not satisfactorily resolved, you can contact the Complaint Assistance Unit of the Division of Consumer Services of the California Department of Consumer Affairs in writing at 1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N 112, Sacramento, California 95834 or by telephone at (800) 952-5210 or (916) 445-1254. 20. MISCELLANEOUS These Legal Terms and any policies or operating rules posted by us on the Services or with respect to the Services constitute the entire agreement and understanding between you and us. Our failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of these Legal Terms shall not operate as a waiver of such right or provision. These Legal Terms operate to the fullest extent permissible by law. We may assign any or all of our rights and obligations to others at any time. We shall not be responsible or liable for any loss, damage, delay, or failure to act caused by any cause beyond our reasonable control. If any provision or part of a provision of these Legal Terms is determined to be unlawful, void, or unenforceable, that provision or part of the provision is deemed severable from these Legal Terms and does not affect the validity and enforceability of any remaining provisions. There is no joint venture, partnership, employment, or agency relationship created between you and us as a result of these Legal Terms or use of the Services. You agree that these Legal Terms will not be construed against us by having drafted them. You hereby waive any defenses you may have based on the electronic form of these Legal Terms and the lack of signing by the parties hereto to execute these Legal Terms. 21. CONTACT US To resolve a complaint regarding the Services or to receive further information regarding the use of the Services, please contact us at: The Cinema Dispatch 1602 Hamel Lane Shakopee, MN 55379 United States Phone: 952-217-9768

  • 2022 Losers

    2022 Losers January 2, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen Now that the winners of 2022 have been crowned, it’s time to shift our focus to the bottom of the ladder. These are the ones that will probably look back at their output with disdain, and, hopefully, will use it as motivation to do better in the future. Like the winner's list, some tough decisions had to be made for the finalists here, so your preference might not be found here. Remember, this is all good fun, so don’t take it personally. DCEU DC fans have always thought it was the DCEU vs. MCU, but this year proved that it was never really a competition, because at least Marvel has consistency when it comes to delivering on what's promised and pleasing the fans. Black Adam was a box office disappointment, made all the more embarrassing by Dwayne Johnson’s insistence otherwise. Henry Cavill announced his return as Superman, filmed a post-credit scene for Black Adam , and then was let go only a month later. Adding insult to injury was Matt Reeves’ The Batman , which, like Joker , showed that DC characters can be used to make great movies if the right people are put in the driver’s seat. Maybe James Gunn and Peter Safran can right the ship? Warner Bros. Discovery Let’s take it one step further than just DC and examine the bigger fish. Along with having to plan out a painstaking rebuild process for their superhero franchises, Warner Bros. also has the Fantastic Beasts franchise in crisis mode and had to endure the entire Don’t Worry Darling tabloid mess. They also pissed off a swarm of creators and fans by shelving completed projects and removing content from HBO Max as part of their costly merger with Discovery. Harry Styles Of course, Styles’ music career may have continued to flourish in 2022, but we’re focusing solely on his work in movies. Both Don’t Worry Darling and My Policeman didn’t live up to the weight of expectations, with Styles’ acting being mostly described as wooden and amateurish. I wonder if Kevin Feige is starting to worry about how he’s going to be utilized in the MCU going forward? Christian Bale On paper, Christian Bale’s actions of reuniting with David O. Russell and joining the MCU don’t seem all that bad. But in reality, both moves came nowhere close to reaching their potential. Amsterdam was a critical and financial disaster, and Thor: Love and Thunder didn’t give him the villain spotlight that he deserved. Bale would reteam with director Scott Cooper for the third time in The Pale Blue Eye , but Netflix’s muted release of the film kept its impact to a minimum. Oscar Movies at the Box Office Unless you were a superhero or horror movie, chances are you didn’t make much of a dent at the box office. Unfortunately, the films geared more toward the awards race don’t fall into those two categories. She Said posted one of the worst opening weekends ever for a movie in wide release, and James Gray’s Armageddon Time could only muster $1 million domestically despite strong reviews and a starry cast. Steven Spielberg, the most financially successful director of all time, could only attract $8 million for one of the best-reviewed films of the year, The Fabelmans . You could claim The Banshees of Inisherin as a success with $20 million worldwide, but Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri made over $150 million just five years ago, so there’s only so much positivity that can be spun. Liam Neeson Another year, another serving of forgettable action movies by Liam Neeson. Maybe the success of the Taken franchise was a mistake, as it has pigeon-holed Neeson into these generic “tough guy” roles. Blacklight and Memory proved to be nothing more than Redbox quality, and they also didn’t make much money at the box office either. Neeson didn’t have much success on the prestige side of the spectrum either, as his reunion with writer/director Neil Jordan in Marlowe was greeted with tepid reviews after its extremely muted premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. Kevin Hart Hart may have attracted large viewership with his two Netflix movies The Man from Toronto and Me Time , but that doesn’t mean anybody who watched them actually enjoyed themselves. Both films were met with overwhelmingly negative critical reactions and didn’t help Hart expand his range as an actor or comedian. With Adam Sandler gaining positive notices for Hustle and returning to the Safdies for a future Netflix film, it seems that Hart has been kicked down to the bottom level of the Netflix content creation factory. Judd Apatow Speaking of Netflix and career low points, writer/director Judd Apatow released his worst movie to date in The Bubble . As a needlessly long two-hour movie that felt like four hours, this Netflix “comedy” took a group of talented actors and forced them to work way below their pedigree. Apatow also didn’t do well in his producing role for Billy Eichner’s Bros , with that movie (undeservedly) failing to register at the box office. Disney Animated Movies It was a pretty crummy year all-around for the Mouse House, but there was nowhere it hurt more than in their animation department. After the two most recent Toy Story movies grossed over $1 billion each, Lightyear cratered to just over $200 million. Strange World will be an even costlier mistake, with losses expected to rise above $150 million. And their most critically acclaimed film of the year, Turning Red , was shuttered off to Disney+, angering many of the creatives over at Pixar. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • Top 10 Oliver Stone Films

    Top 10 Oliver Stone Films September 15, 2022 By: Hunter Friesen As one of the most controversial figures in American filmmaking, Oliver Stone has never been shy about wearing his politics on his sleeve, which were shaped by his experiences in the Vietnam War, and the American cultural turmoil of the 1960s. Films such as Platoon, Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July , and JFK gave way to his meteoric rise as an outspoken voice against a country he loves so much. But even with all that success early on, Stone hasn’t been able to find a footing in the 21st Century, turning in subpar work that doesn’t contain the epic anger he once had. In honor of his 76th birthday today, here’s a look at Stone’s ten best films as a director, many of which remain American classics. 10. Salvador This biographical war drama went largely unnoticed in 1986 due to the fact it was released the same year as Platoon . In fact, Stone competed against himself at the 1987 Oscars as both Salvador and Platoon were nominated for Best Original Screenplay (both would lose to Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters ). Salvador falls right in line with Stone’s career ambitions as he critiques America’s involvement in Central American politics during the Reagan administration, which had been embroiled in controversy over the Iran-Contra Affairs. James Woods, who was Oscar-nominated for his leading role, doggedly carries the film as a burnt-out journalist who slowly begins to see the horrible truth the further he goes down the rabbit hole. 9. Talk Radio With Talk Radio , Stone had finally met his match with a protagonist that was as angry as he was. Eric Bogosian reprises his stage role from the Pulitzer Prize-nominated play he created, delivering a grotesquely unlikeable character that you dare not look away from. In a similar vein to Paddy Chayefsky’s Network , Stone’s film is a scathing critique of our mass media culture, a subject he would tackle again with Natural Born Killers . With Robert Richardson’s dizzying circular camerawork and Bogosian’s never-ending tirade of insults towards his listeners, Talk Radio is in-your-face entertainment from beginning to end and has only gotten more and more relevant in our age of clickbait media. 8. The Doors Similar to the fate of Salvador , The Doors has often been pushed under the rug due to it being released a mere nine months before JFK . Following the larger-than-icon of Jim Morrison and the formation of the titular band, Stone’s film was the perfect combination of the psychedelic style of the creators and the period. Critiqued for its historical inaccuracies (which Stone is no stranger to), the film is best remembered for Val Kilmer’s stunning performance as the central figure. Kilmer was reportedly mistaken several times for the real Jim Morrison and did his own singing in each of the film’s concert sequences (take that Rami Malek). 7. Wall Street Only a year removed from Platoon , Stone switched his sights from American foreign policy to the domestic financial industry with Wall Street. Most famous for coining the multi-meaning quote “Greed is good,” and giving finance bros a figure they (wrongly) looked up to, Wall Street is overly naïve and mostly just two hours of Stone yelling about how capitalism is broken. But that doesn’t mean his simple statements aren’t correct, nor does it make the film any less entertaining with its flashes of excess that would later become popular in films such as Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street . It’s a shame the 2011 sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps wasn’t able to match the heights of its predecessor, especially considering the ripe material Stone was given with coming out of the Great Recession in 2008. 6. Any Given Sunday With enough light and noise to give even the audience a concussion, Stone makes Any Given Sunday into a war picture. He never lets you forget that football is not played on just a simple field, but a battlefield. The score is everywhere, the blood is spilling, and everybody is playing for their survival. Stone's direction is ambitious and loud, which is the sort of thing that works perfectly for this type of sports movie. Everything is heightened to the highest degree, both emotions and physicality. It's no wonder the NFL didn't approve of this movie as no viewer can come out of this and be motivated to watch football, let alone play it. 5. Born on the Fourth of July With a great Tom Cruise performance at its center, Born on the Fourth of July is an endearing, yet conventional, biopic. Centering on the loss of innocence and the façade of the American dream for the Vietnam-era youth, Stone returned to his Platoon roots. He crafts several ingenious individual scenes with his might behind the camera, which earned him his second Oscar for Best Director. The scenes at the prom, Vietnam, and the Syracuse protest are just some of the great moments. John Williams’ score perfectly supplements the sweeping nature of the story, as it contains trumpet swells that recall youthful patriotism and a string orchestra that signals the haunting moment reality has crushed those once bright dreams. 4. Nixon A few years after making JFK , Stone gave Kennedy’s 1960 election opponent the full cradle-to-grave epic biopic with Nixon . Surprisingly not as damning as one would think and turning out to be a box office bomb by grossing only $13 million against its $44 million budget, Stone’s film plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy as our “hero” rises to the highest mountain, only to be eventually brought down to the lowest valley. The Welsh Anthony Hopkins, who, unlike Val Kilmer, doesn’t share many resemblances to his counterpart, gives a great performance, complete with a foul mouth and overwhelming thirst for alcohol. Hopkins was Oscar-nominated for his portrayal, as was Joan Allen as First Lady Pat Nixon. 3. Platoon As the film that quickly raised Stone’s status as an American auteur, Platoon is a dizzying autobiographical masterpiece. There's no order to anything that happens, from the battle scenes to the doldrums of downtime. Along with your confusion, you feel despair and a loss of purpose. What's the point of any of this? Soldiers are sent to die, or they survive and wish they were dead. The film was an enormous box office hit, grossing nearly $150 million on only a $6 million budget. It would conquer the 1987 Academy Awards with a haul of four awards, including Best Director for Stone and Best Picture. It would also launch the careers of several of its stars, many of which would work with Stone again (Charlie Sheen in Wall Street and Willem Dafoe in Born on the Fourth of July ). 2. Natural Born Killers Making each of his previous films look tame in comparison, Natural Born Killers creates a hellscape within the mind of the viewer as Stone savagely takes down the true-crime obsession of the American public. Matching the bewildering chaos on-camera was a bevy of troubled stars behind-the-scenes, such as the drug-addicted Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Sizemore, and Juliette Lewis beginning to practice Scientology. You also had Quentin Tarantino - who had just won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Pulp Fiction - lambasting the film for its reworking of his original script. All that drama fueled public anticipation for the film as it became a box office success while being banned in several countries and demonized by politicians for its unflinching violence and gonzo style. With the 2010s seeing a boom in true-crime podcasts, scripted television, and reality shows, the film has only gotten more relevant as time went on, with several critics praising the film for its messaging during its 25th anniversary in 2019. 1. JFK Accurately described as a “mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma,” Stone’s magnum opus is his quest for truth and justice against the military-industrial complex that stole his innocence. It’s a masterwork of cinematography by Robert Richardson and editing by Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia, both of which won Academy Awards in their respective categories. Richardson employed 7 cameras and 14 film stocks during the production, ranging from 16mm to 35mm, as well as color and black and white. Despite some of the film’s claims being later debunked, the “counter-myth” Stone proposes is nonetheless enticing at the moment and makes you wonder what else could be lurking in the shadows. The meeting between Jim Garrison (wonderfully played by Kevin Costner) and Mr. X remains one of the most effective conspiracy scenes in cinematic history. While it was trounced by The Silence of the Lambs in each of the above-the-line categories it was nominated for at the 1992 Academy Awards, JFK remains one of the quintessential films of its time and genre. Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

  • TIFF23 Dispatch - Part 3

    TIFF23 Dispatch - Part 3 September 18, 2023 By: Hunter Friesen All of the films were screened at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Click here for additional full reviews and dispatches. Select films below will receive separate full-length reviews at a later date, most likely in connection to their public releases. North Star Maybe not every actor should be allowed to make their directorial debut. Kristen Scott Thomas' first foray behind the camera (while still being in front in a supporting role) is littered with choppy editing, poor pacing, and a scattershot script that has way too much on its plate. Emily Beecham is the only shining star (pun intended) in a cast that includes Scarlett Johansson fumbling a British accent and Sienna Miller being fine, I guess. This is surely bound for VOD/streaming way down the line. (2/5) His Three Daughters Azazel Jacobs’ follow up to French Exit (remember that during the pandemic?) starts incredibly rough as our three lead characters act as if they’re aliens who are trying to replicate drought emotions. This bug may be a feature to some, but it ends up feeling like a grating mashup of Yorgos Lanthimos and Wes Anderson. Things do settle down later, allowing for the actresses to flourish. Natashya Lyonne stands out as the slacker of the three sisters, and yet she seems to have the firmest grasp on the mysteries of life. (2.5/5) Seven Veils It wouldn’t be a normal TIFF if it didn’t feature the newest film by hometown hero Atom Egoyan. Amanda Seyfried plunges headfirst into her role as the new director of a revival of Salome at the Canadian Opera Company, a production Egoyan himself helmed while making this film. There’s a lot of big swings, with more than half of them not connecting. But the ones that do connect are really special, such as the audacious staging of the material. The bar may be low, but this is Egoyan's best work in decades. (3/5) Woman of the Hour Anna Kendrick dominated the actor-turned-director battle at this year’s TIFF, with her film, Woman of the Hour , being quite the impressive statement on her skills behind the camera. Now all she needs to do is find a good script, because the one here doesn’t give her enough to work with. While well staged, much of the “action” of the film by the serial killer feels like filler, and the main ideas are spelled out as if they're competing at a spelling bee. Netflix opened the market with an $11 acquisition, giving this true crime film the perfect home. (3/5) Knox Goes Away Between the other hitman focused movies at the fall festivals and how much it seriously fumbles the great concept of a hitman battling rapidly developing dementia, Michael Keaton’s sophomore directorial outing fails to be anything more than a depressing shrug. Luckily for the actor/director, he’s slightly exonerated from blame as Gregory Poirier’s CSI-level script is what sinks this ship. Al Pacino gives his most comfortable performance sitting in some luxurious recliners, and Marcia gay Harden does Keaton a favor by showing up for one half-decent scene. (2.5/5) Must Read 'Maestro' Review Cooper’s filmmaking is just as confident and classical as Bernstein’s musical arrangements. SHOP 'Saltburn' Review Its brain might not always equal its bite, but there’s so much self-assured showmanship that I was glad to get lost in this maze. SHOP 'The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' Review Even with it being unable to promptly say goodbye and bits of desperate fan service, this is still a cut above the rest of the YA genre. SHOP 'Napoleon' Review Scott continues his string of blockbusters propelled by smart filmmaking and collaborative artistry SHOP 'The Marvels' Review Not bad enough to be a catalyst in the downfall of the MCU, nor good enough to be its savior. SHOP

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