‘Sergeant York’ Classic Film Review

Grade: A-

 

The year was 1941, and two films came out that year that changed film forever; ‘Citizen Kane’, and ‘Sergeant York’. Both films are considered to be not only “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films” by the American Film Institute (AFI, for short), but were also Oscar nominees running in nearly every one of the same category (Except ‘Supporting Actor and Actress’, which the latter was nominated for). Sadly, both films lost the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar to a lesser-known film called ‘How Green Was My Valley’. (I am still interested in viewing the film for that reason alone.) Despite both films being important to the film industry, only one received more box-office attention than the other. That film was ‘Sergeant York’. While ‘Citizen Kane’ went on to be shown in film schools (and high school classes) in later years as a tool for how to make a great film, ‘Sergeant York’ became the BIGGER deal. Not only was it a major Oscar nominee (winning only two for Gary Cooper’s performance as the real-life Alvin C. York, but for William Holmes’ editing as well.), it also became the highest-grossing film of that year. (Which, if adjusted for inflation, is still one of the highest grossing movies of all time) 

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‘The Boss Baby’ Film Review

Grade: C-

Throughout the majority of Dreamworks‘ newest film ‘The Boss Baby’, I felt like I needed a nap. I am not saying that the film is boring, but during its first half, it feels chaotic. Not only does ‘The Boss Baby’ have an unappealing animation style, but when it uses its visual style to show the imagination of 7-year-old Timothy Templeton (Voice of Miles Bakshi, a.k.a the grandson of animator Ralph Bakshi), it comes off as annoying, causing me to lose interest in what this film is trying to accomplish. 

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‘The Book of Henry’ Film Review

Grade: D-

Colin Trevorrow’s ‘The Book of Henry’ is a movie that is not quite sure of what path it wants to take. Gregg Hurwitz’s screenplay is a map so poorly structured that, from the 10-minute mark, the film feels lost. ‘The Book of Henry’s destination comes in the form of a thriller in the style of the great Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’, with a little bit of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’, and Danny DeVito’s ‘Throw Momma From the Train’ to be a welcoming and inventive experience. Yet 15 minutes along the road, it takes what Bugs Bunny calls “A wrong turn at Albuquerque” to the realms of family drama. I blame the fact that this screenplay is – according to Trevorrow – 20 years old, so the script must have worn off with time. Why did Trevorrow decide to take on this mission to direct ‘The Book of Henry’ instead of give up when he saw the script? I’m not sure, but I guess he wanted to do something while waiting for ‘Star Wars Episode IX’ to come in 2019.

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‘Rough Night’ Film Review

Grade: C

Throughout its marketing run, ‘Rough Night’ was compared to the late 90’s dark comedy ‘Very Bad Things’, which had the same concept about a bachelor (or in this case, bachelorette) party gone wrong. I have never watched the Peter Berg film, but know and understand why so many people are making comparisons. It even had elements of ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ (a comedy about pretending a dead guy was still alive) for good measure. With its marketing, ‘Rough Night’ has also been compared to raunchy comedies, such as, ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Bridesmaids’. (Which, if you do the math, you get an unrelated trilogy of booze and semi gross-out humor.) However, the reception upon ‘Rough Night’s release has been mixed; add to the disappointing box-office returns over the weekend, and you are none the wiser. From day one, it seemed that this female-led comedy was doomed to fail. Surprisingly, it’s not as terrible as most would think.

‘Rough Night’ – written by Paul W. Downs (who plays in this movie as Scarlett Johansson’s character’s fiance) and Lucia Aniello (who also directs this R-rated comedy) of ‘Broad City’ – is a comedy that plays as either hit or miss, proving the argument that this particular genre is “subjective”, as many would say about film in general. You’re either going to laugh your ass off at each and every penis joke that gets uttered by these ladies, or you will cringe over the sight of Johansson and friends attempting to get rid of a male stripper’s recently deceased body, with images of a bloody mess to add injury to insult. (Don’t worry, this is not a spoiler! It is part of ‘Rough Night’s concept.) I honestly found ‘Rough Night’ to be fun when it needed to be, despite not being what is expected.

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‘Cars 3’ Film Review

Grade: B-

Despite what Pixar wants you to believe, ‘Cars 3’ is not really the third installment of the successful series of cash cows, it is actually the second film that took a decade to make. This might sound confusing, but ‘Cars 2’ didn’t really exist; what you saw before this film was actually a rough screen test that was accidentally released to the public before they made changes. “Why does the ‘3’ exist in the title?”, you may ask. I could answer that by saying that the studio realized too little too late that the damage had already been done, and what was called “Cars 2” at the time was already released, so they decided to slap the number 3 in the title. I’m not even sure I should call this movie “Cars 3”, but I will just play Pixar’s game and, try as I might, to call it what it was marketed as. (However, I should have listened to the man I happened to overhear call it “Cars 2” when I was paying for my ticket; he knew what was going on.)

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‘It Comes At Night’ Film Review

Grade: C-

I have never been more baffled at a movie-going experience than ‘It Comes at Night’; not that I hated the movie or anything, but as I was sitting in a near empty theater with my best friend, I was feeling a little discomfort while sitting through this independent horror film written and directed by Trey Edward Schults; it isn’t the discomfort you usually get by watching a horror film (despite the film’s creepiest, most unsettling moments happening at night, or in nightmare sequences), this feeling was a range of emotions from boredom, to frustration, to even confusion. I noticed it from my friend, who was sitting next to me, and the vibe made me more unsettled than this film tried to.

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‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ Film Review

Grade: A

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ looks like Oscar bait. It has an Oscar-nominated actress in the lead role, a compelling score by composer Harry Gregson-Williams, emotional scenes where actors cry at the drop of a hat, and the words “Based on a true story”, but this is one of the few times where I can say that this attempt at being thought of during Oscar season really pays off. ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ tells the story of Antonia (Chastain) and Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh), who run the Warsaw Zoo in Poland, yet have to find a way to survive when the German army starts bombing, causing Jews to flee with nowhere else to go, but to find shelter in the destroyed zoo.

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