Everyone knows that the Coen brothers are master storytellers, so it seems to be no surprise that their latest feature, ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ is an anthology film. It is not a collection of many genres (despite having elements of comedy, drama, and action), but a series of vignettes set in the old west. It is in line with ‘No Country For Old Men’, and their remake of ‘True Grit’ as a western, yet more fun and exciting. Its stories range from the ridiculous and absurd to dark, cautionary, and gritty; which is what the Coens have been about for their many years of film-making.
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In a way, ‘Paddington 2’ is like ‘The Dark Knight’; it may not be the sequel we need right now, but it is the sequel we deserve. In a month where we are exposed to cinematic garbage, Paul King’s continuation of the well-received family comedy/sleeper hit manages to rise, not from Peru like its title character, but from London to America in order to set things right. It is as sweet as a marmalade sandwich and will warm your heart like a cup of hot cocoa in the middle of Winter. Might I add, it is also a charming addition to the library of children’s talking-animal films, and ranks along with the likes of ‘Babe: Pig in the City’ and ‘Stuart Little 2’ as one of the most charming talking-animal movie sequels.
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As Batman in ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and Christian Wolff in ‘The Accountant’, Ben Affleck has had a pretty good 2016; although, he hasn’t directed a film since ‘Argo’, which was a very funny and thrilling piece of work that earned 3 Oscars, including Best Picture (but no director nod for Affleck). Here, he has to balance both being behind and in front of the camera; the result is a rushed, squeezed-in gangster flick about adultery, the prohibition-era, and a bit of soul-searching. As a director, Affleck has it covered. The action scenes in this movie are well-handled as well as its costume design and beautiful cinematography. But that’s all ‘Live By Night’ has going for it.
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