Category: Reviews

…And in Case We Don’t See You: Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night

Four years ago today, I sent an email to a handful of friends from whom I’d been geographically displaced and a few film-loving strangers who I followed on social media to announce that I wanted to start a film discussion blog. That e-mail was the genesis of Audiences Everywhere. Today, I’m writing to all of you as friends to let you know that the Audiences Everywhere journey has reached its end. It’s a bittersweet day, but there are reasons here to both celebrate and look ahead with excitement. On January 1st, 2014, I did not know anything about blogging....

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All the Money in the World Touches Upon Tragedy But Can Resort to Moralizing

Overview: A tragic true story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973; Imperative Entertainment; 2017; Rated R; 133 minutes. “Why doesn’t your family love you?”: Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World is the story of the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III in 1973, and his grandfather, J. Paul Getty, at the time the richest man in the world, who  refused to pay his ransom. Michelle Williams as Gail Harris, mother of John Paul Getty III (referred to as Paul) carries much of the film, and is always committed and often successful. Although her...

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Ode to a Forgotten Captain: On Top 10s, Film Discourse, and Underpants

There is nothing inherently significant about the end of a year, symbol as it is of the end of a cycle begun from an arbitrary point. The stars have no recognition of the fact that we have reached the same point we were relative to the sun 365 days ago, and yet it is these moments we choose as waypoints, for reflection and looking towards the future. We can reassess where we’ve been since the last moments of collective reflection, as seen through the pervasiveness of Top 10 lists and best of the year claims. Critics and laymen and...

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Bright is a Well-Intentioned Mess

Overview: In an alternate present, Officer Ward, a human cop, returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound inflicted by an orc citizen. His partner Jakoby, also an orc, faces a certain amount of prejudice from the other police officers and from Ward himself, but this becomes a secondary concern as the pair stumble into an imbroglio involving a traitorous elf, a magic wand, a street gang, an orc crime syndicate, and goodness knows what else. Netflix; 2017; Not rated; 118 minutes. Uh…: In Bright, writer Max Landis and director David Ayer team up to bring us something...

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With ‘The Post’, Steven Spielberg Affirms A Key To Democracy

Overview: The story of The Washington Post’s effort to publish the Pentagon Papers, a trove of classified documents that the U.S. government wanted kept under wraps. DreamWorks; 2017; Rated PG-13; 115 minutes. Democracy Dies in Darkness: There’s no question that The Post is a film that celebrates and champions the importance of a free press to a democracy. It has a clear point of view, which is emboldened by the current political climate hovering over the world inhabiting the theaters it arrives in. But it’s a Steven Spielberg movie through and through. This stage of Spielberg’s career—say, since 2005’s...

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The Greatest Showman Will Leave You Demanding A Refund

Overview: A musical loosely based on the rise of P.T. Barnum shows the birth of the circus and his vision of true spectacle; 20th Century Fox; Rated PG; 105 minutes. Wasted Opportunities: As a genre, the musical has, at different points in cinema history, been both maligned and celebrated. The advantage of the musical as an art form is that music is easily tied to emotion. For this reason, a moment that could be silly or over the top may fit perfectly into music and lyrics. Done correctly, musicals can invoke intense feeling and emotional moments can be seared...

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Te-Ata Isn’t a Good Film, But It Comes from a Good Place

Overview: Defying cultural and sexual stereotypes, young Chickasaw actress Mary Thompson Fisher, under the stage name Te-Ata,  takes America by storm with gripping, dramatic retellings of her people’s folklore. c. Paladin; 2016; Not Yet Rated; 105 minutes. Third World Cinema in the First World?: Nathan Frankowski’s Te Ata is exactly the kind of film that critics, historians, and social justice advocates have been clamoring for. It is a Chickasaw story about a Chickasaw hero starring Native American performers. It addresses the tragic realities of their persecuted histories without being defined by them, preferring instead to focus on what is...

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The Shape of Water Shows the Beauty in Our Differences

Overview: Against the backdrop of the Cold War, a mute woman who works in a research facility begins a romance with a creature of unknown origin. Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 123 minutes. The Others: For centuries, otherness has been the symbol of the enemy in every form of artistic expression. It is a simple shortcut that the human brain can make in an instant, sometimes without a single, recognizable thought. If something is obviously aberrant from the norm, it must be bad. But there is problem with normality: it doesn’t truly exist. We are all aberrant, in...

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The Last Jedi is a Mostly-Successful Exploration of Morality and Legacy

**CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD** Overview: The members of the Resistance struggle to stave off the quickly approaching First Order, and Rey seeks help from Luke Skywalker. Lucasfilm; 2017; Rated PG-13; 152 minutes. I came to this island to die: The Last Jedi is ambitious thematically, narratively, and visually. Numerous plotlines involving several new characters are explored in various locations, and although some feel vastly less successful than others, the heart of the film, as grounded in Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren, and their struggles with the burden of the force, carries The Last Jedi to greater heights. Strongest and most...

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5 Best Additions Star Wars Comics Have Made to the Canon

Originally published on May 4, 2016. We’ve all experienced the overwhelming joy of The Force Awakens by now, but Disney’s licensing opportunity has created another rewarding experience within the Star Wars universe. Through Marvel Comics, a new Star Wars canon is being built, one that is filling in the blanks between films and creating new characters and plot points that feel just as much a part of this saga as the ones we’ve known for the past 40 years. Smartly, Marvel has decided to keep their Star Wars output small, ensuring continuity and quality. Unlike other comic books and...

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I, Tonya is Fourth Wall-Breaking, Genre-Defying Fun

Overview: From “redneck” childhood to Olympic near-glory and then on to infamy, this is the story of a life bigger and more cutting than any hack punchline. 2017; Rated R; Clubhouse Pictures;119 minutes. Full 90s: I, Tonya opens with a statement that its story is based on “irony free, wildly contradictory” interviews with the real people involved in the events depicted in the film. What initially reads as qualifying—in other words, be warned you might not be getting the full truth—instead quickly becomes a promise as you’re introduced to the principals. By the time you realize someone (possibly many...

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The Disaster Artist Offers Studio Comedy Caricature

Overview: The true story behind the making of The Room and the bizarre friendship held between its two principal actors, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. A24; 2017; Rated R; 104 minutes. James Dean and Marlon Brando: The circumstances that gave birth to The Room border on the unbelievable. Written and directed by its enigmatic leading man, Tommy Wiseau, the film was independently funded by him to the tune of $6 million. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Wiseau’s magnum opus doesn’t look like a $6 million motion picture. Far from it, The Room is marked by a peculiar narrative and lacks...

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Now Available on Amazon Prime: Silence, the Problem of Pain, & the Challenge of Cinema as Religious Text

Originally published on January 16, 2017. Silence is now available for streaming for Amazon Prime subscribers. Overview: Upon hearing that their mentor has apostatized, two 17th Century Jesuit priests venture into Japan, where Christianity is outlawed, to find him. Based on the novel by Shūsaku Endō. Paramount Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 161 minutes. What’s In The Frame?: Martin Scorsese famously said, “Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out,” a sentence that might be as useful as any working definition that has been offered for the art form as it hits its toddler stage. But the...

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Now Available on Netflix Instant Streaming: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Is A Heartfelt Embrace of the Weird

Originally published on May 4 2017. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now available on Netflix Instant streaming. Overview: The cosmic adventures of the mismatched team continue as Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) uncovers the secrets of his true parentage, bringing him into contact with his father (Kurt Russell). Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 136 minutes. Band of Outsiders: Ayesha, High Priestess of The Sovereign sits on an opulent throne, boasting of the perfect evolutionary state reached by her species. The Sovereign are covered in gold, from their clothing and skin all the way down to...

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