Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator top 25 

THE GREAT DICTATOR – Bringing a Voice To the Silent

Charlie Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) is one of my favorite films of all time. This has little to do with the distinction of being his first full fledged “talkie,” and more to do with its audacity in having the gall to satirize Adolph Hitler during his rise to power. The film came about a year after the start of WWII, and a year before the Pearl Harbor attack, when the U.S. finally deigned to dirty it’s hands in the matter. But production started before all that in 1938, the year that Germany annexed Austria. This was a year before the start of WWII and during a period when American censors and businessman were still either defending Hitler, or at least adamantly insisting that nobody piss him off. Even United Artists, the production company that Chaplin co-founded urged him to avoid the subject, worried about Hays Code censors and the possibility that the film would never be allowed in theaters.

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Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot review 

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT – The Hottest Piece of Ass in the Middle East

Based on the autobiography of war correspondent Kim Barker, WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT’s struggles are similar to those of every movie that’s “based on a true story.” It can’t quite find its theme and dramatic arc, because real life doesn’t have themes or dramatic arcs. In real life, stuff just happens, and we make sense of it as we go. It isn’t nearly as satisfying or succinct, but if WTF’s plot is merely a day-in-the-life, at least its subject is the constantly amusing and engaged Tina Fey as a fictionalized Kim “Baker.”

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Braveheart Battle Spears editorial 

“I DON’T WANT TO LOSE HEART. I WANT TO BELIEVE.” – BRAVEHEART and the Importance of Fictional History

[Spoilers for Braveheart follow.]

Braveheart is one of the most frowned upon Oscar Best Pictures winners in recent history. Comparing its rotten Tomato Score (which is how we do things now) to all of it’s Oscar winning kin from the 90’s onward, only 4 films sink lower in critical opinion than its 78% “above average” score. [These are Forrest Gump (1994) 72%Gladiator (2000) 76%A Beautiful Mind (2001) 75%, and Crash (2005) at 75%,)] This puts Braveheart in the 20th percentile of its class.

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Casey Affleck in The Finest Hours review 

THE FINEST HOURS – Damp Men Doing Brave Things

THE FINEST HOURS is as middling as films come, consistently engaging, but never quite hitting the thrilling heights that it could have with a tighter pace and a shorter running time. The film has the same struggle as many other dramas that have been “Based on a True Story.” Real life, even in phenomenal circumstances such as these, rarely plays out in a typical 3-act structure, with action rising into a climax, immediately followed by a satisfying conclusion. The upside, of course, is that a weight and legitimacy is added to the proceedings that you don’t get from pure fiction. THE FINEST HOURS benefits from this, but is hampered by a soggy third act, in which the tension deflates as slowly as the second act climax was built up. Action become repetitive, and then the film literally moves into slow motion as even the protagonists just seem tired and done with it all. This is meant to be played as a final beat of terror. What if our heroes are just too cold and tired to finish their journey to safety? But instead, it just leaves the audience feeling as cold and exhausted as the characters.

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PL Travers is having none of Walt Disney's shit review 

SAVING MR. BANKS – Disneyvisionist History

SAVING MR BANKS is a difficult movie to peg, and your enjoyment of it will likely depend on A ) How much affection you have for the MARY POPPINS film, and B ) How much you mind dramatized and loose interpretations of historical events. Taken at face value, the film is a quite charming, though it edges on schmaltzy. Looking past that, I constantly wondered what Mrs. Travers would think of the Disneyfication of her life. The acting is phenomenal, Emma Thompson especially. Looking past that, I wondered how accurate…

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Django Unchained review 

DJANGO UNCHAINED – Take THAT Slavery!

You probably already know if you’re going to like DJANGO UNCHAINED. If you can stomach, and in fact relish in Quentin Tarantino’s propensity for over-the-top bloodbaths, you are going to find even more reason to relish it here than ever before. These targets get what they have coming to them, and unlike the INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, Django and Dr. Schultz are heroes I didn’t feel icky about rooting for. Speaking of which: Jamie Foxx, and especially Christoph Waltz, turned in phenomenal performances. Waltz’s character is hysterical and Foxx has set a…

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Daniel+Day-Lewis+as+Abraham+Lincoln review 

LINCOLN – What it Takes to Become a Great Man

I could nitpick Spielberg’s LINCOLN for maybe two scenes in the film that I thought were a tad on the clunky side. Besides that, I can find absolutely nothing to criticize it for. The acting is phenomenal. The dialogue, though difficult to decipher at times is magnificently written. The production value, cinematography and direction were all absolute top notch, and the story is something that every American needs to understand. The film is kind of like the true historical biopic version of THE DARK KNIGHT, where slavery is the Joker…

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Argo script reading review 

ARGO – Hollywood Saves The Day

ARGO may have missed a few opportunities with its source material, and a bit of the action may be fictional, but the film does a dang good job of telling a little-known story that America needs to be reminded of. While the Iranian public is the terrifying antagonist for the majority of the film, a prologue ensures that the audience knows from the get-go that they have good reason to be. The movie is about American individuals trying to clean up the trash of what America as a whole did…

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Lawrence+and+Sherif+Ali+marvel+at+the+majesty+of+the+desert review 

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA – A Revitalized Masterpiece

Saw the digital restoration of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in the theater today. Besides appearing as if it were filmed yesterday, the film made a much bigger impact on me than it did when I saw it at age 20. I think as an adult, I much more fully appreciate the concept of how one man’s passion can both change everything and change nothing at the same time. Share List

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