Author: Schyler Martin

The Last Five Years

Overview: An adaptation of a popular musical stage play, The Last Five Years follows the five-year relationship of a young couple through its ups and downs. 2015. Rated PG-13. 94 minutes. As an adaptation: If you’ve seen a production of The Last Five Years or even just heard the soundtrack, you already know that this is a great story. Much like the joyous beginning of a relationship and the rocky end, the songs range from upbeat and fun to emotional and painful. The Last Five Years was always going to be tricky to adapt. Cathy’s story begins at the end of the relationship...

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The Voices

Overview: Small-town factory worker Jerry seems to be leading a normal life, until he speaks to his pets and his pets speak back. What follows is a funny, twisted tale of murder and dwindling sanity. 2015; Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment; Rated R; 107 minutes. The Tone: If the Coen brothers and Bobcat Goldthwait ever teamed up, the result might look something like The Voices. This violent, off-kilter comedy is darkly hilarious, constantly entertaining, and overwhelmingly wacky. Put simply: I can’t remember the last film that I loved this much. (Actually, I think it was probably Her. So yeah, it’s...

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Still Life

Overview: A quiet, unassuming man works to find the next-of-kin for people who have died alone. Distributed by Redwave Films; Unrated; 92 minutes. I’m Just Going to Say It: I hated this movie. I hated it the way I hate trying to solve a math problem with numbers and letters in it. I hated it the way I hate stepping in a puddle and getting water in my tennis shoes. I hated it the way I hate going to the dentist. Okay, maybe I didn’t hate it that much, but I really freaking hated it. Still Life is a...

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Against the Sun

Overview: When three US airmen crash land in the ocean during Word War II, they must fight to survive for days on a small raft without food, water, or any sight of immediate rescue. Distributed by Goldcrest Films NY; Rated PG; 100 minutes. The Obvious: It’s impossible not to compare this movie to the similar survival stories that came before it — most notably, All Is Lost and Life Of Pi, and while those comparisons might seem obvious, Against the Sun really is a very different film. All Is Lost is one man’s battle against himself. Life of Pi is...

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The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water

Overview: Spongebob and his friends must unite in the most zany, epic fashion to save Bikini Bottom from a post-apocalyptic fate. (Hang on, folks. It’s only going to get more outlandish from here.) 2015; Paramount Pictures; Rated PG; 93 minutes.  The rumors are true: If you know anyone who’s seen this movie or you follow movie news at all, you’ve probably heard that it’s trippy. Like, really trippy. I want to be sure that anyone reading this review understands that I am not exaggerating when I say that the rumors are true, and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen....

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Virunga

Overview: When a British oil company threatens a renowned and diverse national park in Congo, members of the community come together to fight to save it. Netflix. 2014. 97 minutes. What Is Virunga? In one of Virunga’s many stunning and humbling moments, an officer at Virunga National Park says, “If we fail here, the whole conservation sector in Congo is going to fail.” This statement sums up exactly why this film feels so important. Virunga is more than a park. It’s a home, a source of pride, a piece of history. And like its focus, Virunga, as a film, is more...

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Paddington

Overview: Based on the popular children’s books by writer Michael Bond, Paddington follows a young bear in his quest to find a home in London. 2014. StudioCanal. Rated PG. 95 minutes. The Characters: The Brown family  is made up of a familiar cast of characters: a kind and loving wife, a strict and overly careful father, an angst-filled teenage daughter, and an excitable dreamer of a son. But what Paddington gets right that other films usually get wrong is the way every character has an individual and fulfilling arc. Everyone wants something. From Paddington to Mr. Brown, every character...

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Loitering With Intent Review

Overview: When Raphael, semi-successful actor turned bartender, and Dominic, a young, hardworking guy who can’t seem to catch a break, get the chance of a lifetime to pitch a film script to an interested producer, they head out to the country to attempt to write a winning script in just ten days. Of course, things don’t go according to plan, and there are all kinds of distractions for Raphael and Dominic. 81 minutes. 2014. Oh, the Self Indulgence: I once told a friend that I was pretty much guaranteed to enjoy any movie where a group of self-involved young adults get...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #20: Short Term 12

Short Term 12 Director:  Destin Daniel Cretton Genre:  Drama Cinedigm/Demarest Film Premise:  Short Term 12 explores the lives of the workers and residents of a home for at-risk teens. Brie Larson plays Grace, our main character. She’s compassionate, yet hardened enough to keep control and run the house. Her boyfriend and co-worker, Mason, a kind-hearted, funny, almost impossibly sweet guy, serves as her right hand man. Larson is phenomenal as Grace, and she certainly has great material to work with, but it’s John Gallagher Jr. as Mason who stole my heart. The Writing: In a film that had the tendency to fall into tired clichés about inspiration kids in hard situations, Short Term 12 keeps things remarkably fresh. I don’t feel like I’ve seen this movie before. It is something new. Something I wish I had written. It is subtle and emotional, delicate in its character work and raw in its hard honesties, sprinkled with truths about life that are offered so casually that they don’t come across as some cheesy lesson. This is a screenwriter and director (Destin Daniel Cretton) who deeply cares about his characters, and that is harder to find in the film business than it probably should be. Almost every character in the film is fully developed. The character arcs mean something. The motivations make sense. Everything about Short Term 12 is rooted in empathy,...

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The Theory of Everything

Overview: The true story of the relationship between famous physicist Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde during ups and downs of Hawking’s battle with ALS. Focus Features. 2014. 123 minutes. Eddie Redmayne: First thing’s first: Eddie Redmayne. Every conversation about this movie is probably going to revolve around Redmayne’s transformative performance as Hawking, and there’s a reason for that. Redmayne portrays Hawking before his diagnosis, during the early stages of his illness, and after his most extreme transitions, such as losing his voice and regaining it with the use of a computer system. Redmayne is flawless. Truly. You’ll forget that...

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Dumb and Dumber To

Overview:  In this follow-up to Peter and Bobby Farrelly’s 1994 film about two stunningly stupid best friends, Harry tells Lloyd that he needs a kidney transplant and the two set out on a road trip to find the woman they’ve been told is Harry’s daughter, in the hopes that she might donate her kidney to him. A ridiculous amount of dumb action ensues. 2014, Universal Pictures, rated PG-13, 110 minutes. The Reboot: In the years since Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne don’t seem to have learned a thing. They are exactly as they were in the...

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Four Moments from The Office that Prove Steve Carell Can Go Dramatic

In Foxcatcher, Steve Carell steps into the darkest role of his career as Olympic wrestling coach John DuPont. The film is getting stellar reviews, and Carell’s transformative performance is specifically picking up a lot of awards season buzz. One thing’s for sure: We’ve never seen Steve Carell like this before. But I’m here to argue that Carell’s success in this role really shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, Carell gave a quietly magnificent performance of Michael Scott on The Office for years. Unlike some comedies (How I Met Your Mother, Louie, Scrubs, etc.) The Office rarely strayed from its...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #11: The American Scream

The American Scream Director:  Michael StephensonGenre: Documentary Brainstorm Media/Chiller Films When Vincent Bariteau, Manny Souza, and father and son Matt and Rick Brodeur look at Halloween, they see more than one night of spooky fun. These men are self-proclaimed “home haunters,” and for them, Halloween means weeks of crafting and preparation, a major financial investment, and more passion than most people can understand. The American Scream follows these men and their families for every step of the home haunting process. The highs. The lows. Even the buying of supplies. (Bariteau gets a real coffin.) It’s all chronicled through this...

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A Good Marriage

Overview: A faithful wife makes the terrible discovery that her loving husband of 25 years is secretly a well-known serial killer who’s been brutally torturing and murdering women for years. 2014. Reno Productions. Rated R. 103 minutes. Stephen King’s Uniquely Nontransferable Voice: I have this ongoing theory that Stephen King’s is a voice that only works on paper. In King’s world of the written word, it’s perfectly all right for a woman to snap, “You dirty sneak!” at her murderous and psychopathic husband. Because of King’s masterful, subtle, mentally-charged characterization, these lines are fine, and we can roll with...

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This Is Where I Leave You

Overview: Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, This Is Where I Leave You follows an estranged family as they sit shiva after their father’s death. Warner Bros. Pictures. 2014. R. 103 minutes. As An Adaptation: This Is Where I Leave You was always my least favorite Jonathan Tropper book. Don’t get me wrong; I love Tropper. He’s one of my favorite writers, but this story always felt jam-packed with too many intensely troubled characters that didn’t get nearly enough individual developmental moments, and it had far, far too many annoying try-hard attempts for big cinematic moments. The movie, unfortunately, suffers from the exact same flaws — basically, too many characters, not enough time — so in a disappointing way, I guess this is a pretty good book-to-film adaptation. The Cast: I could talk all day about the sheer amount of talent that signed on for this project. Jason Bateman. Tina Fey. Connie Britton. Adam Driver. Rose Byrne. Who can blame them? The story is filled with potentially beautiful, emotional moments for each of the actors, and those moments are easily the film’s greatest strength. One day I’m going to stop being surprised when Bateman blows a dramatic role out of the water, but it is not this day, and I remain in awe of him. He’s wonderful as the lead, and he is raw and believable in...

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