REVIEW: Hail, Caesar!

Photo: Universal Pictures

Photo: Universal Pictures

Chris Luckett

The Coen Brothers are an odd breed. They’re brilliant filmmakers, as their combined 28 Oscar nominations stand as testament to. But like Quentin Tarantino and the Wachowskis, they can be their own worst enemies sometimes.

So long as they treat the script and characters as the most important pieces of the picture, they invariably spin gold. (See: Blood Simple, Fargo, The Big Lebowski.) Whenever their visual eye and compulsion for cinematic homage take precedence, though, their movies end up misfires at best and forgettable at worst. (See: The Hudsucker Proxy, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Ladykillers.)

Hail, Caesar!, the brothers’ first mainstream movie since 2010’s True Grit and their first “goofy” comedy since 2008’s Burn After Reading, has all the pieces to have been one of their greats. Unfortunately, they’re lost in a sea of half-sketched scenarios and overlong set pieces. Continue reading

REVIEW: The Book of Life

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

Chris Luckett

Many were turned off by Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993. Scenes of talking skeletons, severed limbs, and disembodied heads came off as macabre and morbid to some who couldn’t get on board. Jorge Gutierrez’s The Book of Life has all of the same content, yet feels entirely different and wholly alive (no pun intended), simultaneously solving one of the shortcomings of its predecessor by adding one simple thing: colours.

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REVIEW: 22 Jump Street

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Chris Luckett

Remember when your parents told you to make fun of yourself before your bullies could, to deflate their insults? Someone told that to 22 Jump Street, too. It’s got some problems and much of it isn’t very original, but before you can even roll your eyes at the ridiculousness of its stupid premise or clichéd plot contrivances, the movie’s already making the joke. 22 Jump Street may be the most meta movie since Adaptation. and the most self-aware comedy since the Wayne’s World movies.

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