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California Literary Review » movie thriller California Literary Review

Movie Review: Upstream Color

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Brett Harrison
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Davinger

April 15th, 2013

The problem with writing this review of Upstream Color is that I’ve only seen it once. This isn’t to say that the movie will make complete sense upon subsequent viewings, but it definitely requires multiple watches (plus access to Wikipedia, fan theories, and frame-by-frame analysis) in order to begin to appreciate what writer-director-actor-composer-fundraiser-distributor Shane Carruth accomplished with his second feature about the “subjective experience of life,” relationships, and several other intangibles.

Movie Review: Trance

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Matthew
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Newlin

April 13th, 2013

In its brief run time of an hour and 40 minutes, Trance includes a heist to steal a priceless piece of art, a love story, a revenge story, double crosses, a triple cross, amnesia, the power of the mind and a pretty shameless plug for a British carmaker.

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

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Matthew
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Newlin

March 28th, 2013

Unable to fathom who would actually enjoy a movie like that, I wondered how I was going to write a critical analysis of such a terrible piece of Hollywood junk. So, for my review of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, I have invited a special guest to help me discuss the movie and break down what worked and what did not. Please help me in welcoming my 12-year-old self, Matt.

Movie Review: Dark Skies

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Julia
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Rhodes

February 23rd, 2013

In the suburbs, there’s a feeling of camaraderie. If you need a hand fixing the minivan’s broken taillight, Joe from next door can help you out. If you’d like a date night for Italian food and a romantic comedy in theaters, Christine from up the street can take the kids. No one ever shows up empty-handed to a neighborhood barbeque. With so many families packed into such a tiny space, who could possibly feel unsafe?

Movie Review: Side Effects

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Julia
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Rhodes

February 9th, 2013

Side Effects is the twisty story of Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara), a depressive young woman whose wealthy husband (Channing Tatum) has been in prison for insider trading. Upon his release, Emily begins to flounder.

Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty

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Julia
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Rhodes

January 12th, 2013

Despite Bret Easton Ellis’s claims to the contrary, Bigelow is an interesting filmmaker because of her talent and perspective. Certainly, she’s beaten a path through the Hollywood boys’ club and been the first female to win the Best Director Oscar. These things are notable wholly because of her gender. More important, though, is the fact that she continues to produce work that amazes us with its artful tension, nuance, and complexity. In this sense, you may feel, watching Maya face off against the men in suits, barreling a hundred miles an hour toward a seemingly impossible goal, that you’re getting a glimpse at Bigelow’s own struggles.

Movie Review: Killing Them Softly

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Dan
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Fields

December 1st, 2012

Killing Them Softly has all the right elements for a blistering satire, or merely a solid, offbeat action drama, but despite the best efforts of the cast, cavalier execution and a surprisingly poor script have made it a big unsightly mess. Even when exposing sores on society’s underbelly, it pays to write characters with some measure of appeal.

Movie Review: Skyfall

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Matthew
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Newlin

November 9th, 2012

Our latter-day Bond, played to perfection by Daniel Craig, has re-energized the character created by novelist Ian Fleming and encompasses both the class and style typified by Bond in the early years of the now five-decade old franchise. The super spy’s latest outing, Skyfall (a.k.a Bond 23), is not only a humble homage to the earliest films (Dr. No, Goldfinger), but also a gigantic leap forward in terms of the character’s mythology which has been, up until now, rather blurry.

Movie Review: Maniac

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Brett Harrison
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Davinger

November 5th, 2012

Satire, serious, or schlock? That was the question playing through my mind during Maniac, director Franck Khalfoun’s remake of William Lustig’s remarkable 1980 film that mixed the serial killer and slasher genres during the nascency of slasher films.

Movie Review: Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

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Julia
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Rhodes

October 27th, 2012

At least in the first film, the various creatures and characters were new and well done. There was a shrewd, unsubtle (some might even say shrill) commentary on dogmatic thinking, rape, and female villains. The second film features nothing new, lacks even the most rudimentary analysis of its own mythology, and is laid out like an increasingly stupid haunted house.

Movie Review: Sinister

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Julia
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Rhodes

October 13th, 2012

Sinister has its flaws; it’s all a little too neat, the ghosts too visible. The “twist” ending isn’t, at least for anyone watching carefully. Everything is tied up at the end, packaged with a neat, bloodred bow, and the director can’t resist getting in one last jump scare. If it weren’t for these things – which could have been imposed by the studio for all we know – it would be a nearly perfect horror film.

Movie Review: Argo

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Matthew
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Newlin

October 12th, 2012

As the eyes of the entire country are watching news reports of the hostages, the CIA, FBI and White House are scrambling to get the six embassy employees out of the country before they are found, captured and, most likely, killed. Tony Mendez (Affleck) is a CIA “exfiltration” expert, having dealt with a number of dangerous and improbable missions throughout his career.

Movie Review: Looper

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Matthew
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Newlin

September 28th, 2012

With Looper, Johnson takes on science-fiction, but in his own signature approach that comes at the genre from an obtuse angle. He doesn’t waste time explaining the time travel technology (Who cares? It works.) or the inherent paradoxes that are unavoidable. (At one point, Abe says, “This time travel crap just fries your brain like an egg.” Johnson is telling audiences not to worry about the details, just enjoy the ride.)

Movie Review: End of Watch

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Dan
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Fields

September 22nd, 2012

End Of Watch is a perfectly serviceable drama. It is also a bait and switch job. Writer/director David Ayer, whose chief preoccupations are Los Angeles street life and the pitfalls of police work, set out to create a different kind of cop movie and succeeded. This mean that the ads linking this film to Ayer’s breakout script Training Day are inappropriate.

Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution

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Julia
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Rhodes

September 15th, 2012

No, Resident Evil isn’t an exemplar of well-crafted story, subtle dialogue, or flawless continuity, but it certainly is fun to watch. During an impressive chase scene involving a colossal dog-like zombie creature thing, I grinned like an idiot, shaking my head at the implausibility of it while enjoying every second.

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