Review — Telling you all that I have been looking forward to this film would be an understatement. Ever since it was announced two years ago, I have been anticipating a thought-provoking experience from “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
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REVIEW— A handful of theater students put on a show called ‘Mud’ this past weekend. The play, written by Cuban-American Maria Irene Fornes, revolves around a man and a woman living in what I assumed to be the 1920s. Mae (Sophia Massidda ’20), a hard-working woman trying to educate herself to achieve a better life, works on a farm maintained by Lloyd (Yair Koas ’19), a man with whom she has an unspecified relationship. Both impoverished, Mae learns to read and do math while the illiterate Lloyd taunts her for it in his state of deteriorating health. While the two are at each other’s throats, Mae brings home Henry, a friend who aids in the purchase of Lloyd’s medication yet has a secret desire to steal Mae and his home away from him. The three violently butt heads in fits of rage and vengeance, as each get in the way of the other’s desires.
REVIEW — Brandeis’ sketch group Boris’ Kitchen is one of the few performing companies that I enjoy and continue to return to. Their jokes don’t land every time, but I always end up laughing harder than I expect to going in. There are usually a few jokes in each show that kill. Comedy is subjective, of course, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. There were quite a few scenes where I didn’t laugh out loud. I would only smirk at a joke while the rest of the room would boom with laughter. It’s just how I react to most comedy that doesn’t match my style. Yet, oddly enough, Boris’ Kitchen still entertains me. The cast is full of contagious energy, and the joy they bring to their audiences is commendable.
REVIEW — The original “Blade Runner” from 1982 is controversial yet unanimously accepted as a modern sci-fi classic. The film has been modified into several different cuts over many decades to satisfy either the production executives or director Ridley Scott but never both. Fans detest the narration-riddled theatrical cuts and praise the subtler final cut.
“American Assassin” is a new film currently available to watch at our very own Embassy Cinema in Waltham. It’s a popcorn flick that doesn’t demand much from its audience. The action is standard, the acting is serviceable and vistas are polished to the extent that the film looks too perfect (as is now expected 2017 movies). It might also be one of the only “pure” 2017 action movies, excluding the comic book genre. With “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Justice League” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” coming out this fall, a good old-fashioned shaky-cam fight might just take the taste of oversaturated, CGI-riddled action out of your mouth.
“Good Time,” an independent film made by Benny and Josh Safdie, revolves around a bank robber stuck between a rock and a hard place. His mentally disabled brother was arrested and blamed for their robbery gone awry, his romantic relationship with an older woman is poisonous for both parties and his financial woes are already overwhelming when his brother’s bail payment is added to the list.
One might be under the impression that after the dismal reports of this summer’s low blockbuster turnout and disappointing box office performance that there has been a shift in audience preferences. The last four months’ films have been a combination of critical bombs and uninspired sequels and remakes. Instead, this summer has been home to indie darlings and the occasional blockbuster phenomenon. This shift has proven that audiences are fatigued by CGI-riddled action movies and watching the “nth” installment to nearly decade-long franchises.
Jordan Peele is a name most people associate with comedy, satire and the title of the witty show “Key and Peele.” Since then, the duo has split off to do independent projects. You’ve most likely seen Keegan-Michael Key in past projects such as “Why Him” and the underrated “Don’t Think Twice,” in both of which Key was the stand-out.
The film releases in the first half of March have been very diverse. We have the comedy “Table 19,” the superhero flick “Logan” and the monster movie “Kong: Skull Island.” While the cinematic climate of mid-January to mid-April is usually laden with mediocre or subpar entries following the impressive dramas for Oscar contention around December, there are usually one or two movies that stand out and rise above the others. I am referring to last year’s “Deadpool” and “Zootopia” or 2015’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Ex Machina.”
The year the indies triumphed. Not one blockbuster, enjoyable as some exceptions were (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Deadpool,” “Rogue One”), managed to reach my top ten favorite movies of 2016. The year’s movies averaged out a B- grade, but the following films were all at minimum an A-. They outweighed the duds that were “Suicide Squad,” “War Dogs” and “Magnificent 7.”
“Justice delivered without dispassion is always in danger of not being justice.” I was reminded of this quote from “The Hateful Eight” (2015) throughout the Hillel Theater Group’s performance of Sherman Segel’s adaptation of “12 Angry Men,” titled “12 Angry Jurors.” In this story, penned by Reginald Rose, jurors must decide whether to send a suspected 19-year-old to the electric chair for the alleged murder of his father. They must put aside their prejudice against reisdents of New York slums and their disdain for the lengthy and repetitive legal system.
“Inferno,” the third installment of the “Robert Langdon” trilogy, succeeding “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels & Demons,” was released last Friday. Though the first two were subjected to mediocre reviews, Ron Howard returned to helm the third film as director. Based on Dan Brown’s fourth Robert Langdon book, “Inferno” revolves around a conspiracy involving a billionaire’s endeavor to fix the Earth’s overpopulation problem. He plans to release a plague to infect billions of people but is forced to commit suicide to avoid being captured by the World Health Organization.
What a week for visuals! When it comes to movies that I anticipate to have stunning visuals, I find myself purchasing an IMAX ticket. This week’s entries did not disappoint. “Deepwater Horizon,” directed by Peter Berg, stars Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich and Kurt Russell. Russell is having a renaissance of his own a lá Matthew McConaughey with his recent hits “Bone Tomahawk” and “The Hateful 8,” as well as the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
As autumn arrives, Oscar hopefuls will dominate theater space, leaving room for few comedies and action movies until the winter. Starting off the season is “Sully,” the new Tom Hanks vehicle directed by acclaimed filmmaker Clint Eastwood. The story centers around the insurance dispute regarding whether or not Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger performed what was absolutely necessary without endangering the passengers’ lives on US Airways Flight 1549, where he famously landed the failing plane in the Hudson River. Bureaucrats argue that he had enough thrust and time to return to LaGuardia or land in the nearby airports of Newark or Teterboro in New Jersey, while Sully claims his intuition to immediately land in the Hudson River was correct.