Recently by Elias Levey-Swain

The Secret Life of Pets Blu-ray Review: Too Simple?

It fails to rise above the barrier separating the good from the iconic.
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Illumination Entertainment’s chuckle-inducing new animated feature film, The Secret Life of Pets, is an exhilarating journey through urban-domestic-animal life. From class struggles to gang culture, this film tackles many of the most critical issues facing this under-represented faction of world society. Max, the spoiled protagonist, represents the animalistic and inherent qualities that we humans share. He is prone to becoming habitual, he likes things to stay the same, and he is wary of newcomers and what threats they may bring. Louis C.K.’s seamless voice performance brings life to this character in a not-so-powerful, but satisfying way. There are some great

T-Rex Movie Review: A Teenage Gold Medalist is Still a Teenager

T-Rex thrives in its moments of tranquility, which eerily and excitingly juxtapose the moments of explicit competition and internationally sanctioned brutality.
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Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari’s spacious and often tranquil sports documentary follows boxer Claressa “T-Rex” Shields before, during, and after her historic gold-medal victory at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. Born, raised, and trained in Flint, Michigan - of water-crisis fame - T-Rex fought through the amateur ranks to become the first female boxer to take home the gold at the Olympics when she was seventeen years old. Ever on the precipice of history, Claressa’s story is bold, unbridled, and told in a way that highlights the essence of her character rather than a distorted or inflated image

They're Watching Movie Review: Scary Monsters and Scarier Moldovans

In They're Watching, comedy meets horror, but you have to wait about an hour.
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They’re Watching is not an ordinary horror-comedy. It does not blend well the themes of both genres at once, amid the pursuit of some new genre altogether. Micah Wright and Jay Lender’s first film instead asks the question: what would happen if we made a film that began as a comedy, and then everything went horribly haywire and it devolved into a fantastical horror/quasi-Euro-exploitation picture? They’re Watching is far from character driven, deriving its plot and themes from its innovative format and the setting rather than from the stories of individuals. In the same breath, it embraces its mostly anonymous

Clouds of Sils Maria Movie Review: Heartache and Laughter in the Swiss Alps

Clouds of Sils Maria's currency is poignance, and in that sense it is infinitely wealthy.
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With Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas has created something that is both desperately intrusive and hypnotically magical. It is neither earthbound nor ethereal, rather it transcends definition in its creation of a brand new world whose story begs to be told. Juliette Binoche delivers her most impressive work in at least a decade as the veteran French actress Maria Enders. She is jaded, and she resents the youth for the way in which they take their talent and fame for granted. However cynical she has become, she is grounded by the presence of her personal assistant Valentine. In Kristen

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein: Pretty Pictures! Good Words!

An exciting glimpse into the making of one of the most exciting films of the year.
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Mad Max: Fury Road is a phenomenon. It is the summer blockbuster beloved by millions, revered by critics, and held dear by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. There are so few films that are loved so universally throughout those three crucial audiences. Fury Road not only achieved that universal love, but transcended genre altogether to become something that it feels wrong to even label as a Blockbuster, or a critical darling, or an Oscars-sweetheart. There is something fundamentally urgent about how good it is, that makes an audience member want to watch it in theaters as many

Ip Man 3 Movie Review: Love, Redemption, and Mike Tyson

Some of the best action sequences in years are on display in Wilson Yip's latest martial-arts romp!
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Wilson Yip’s newest addition to his Ip Man film series, Ip Man 3, is a wildly entertaining and surprisingly poignant feature effort that lacks only in plot structure and character development: two completely unimportant aspects of any film. Of course, in the case of a martial-arts film so brilliantly choreographed and shot as this one, that last part really is true. Ip Man 3 suffers from its lack of story-arc dynamics only when isolated from its excellent displays of Wing Chun (Ip Man’s martial art of choice). Otherwise, the story gets lost in the action in a way that contradicts

Beasts of No Nation Movie Review: Beautiful Brutality

Not my favorite film of the year, but a bold and unbridled effort nonetheless.
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“I am thinking that the only way not to be fighting is to be dying.” Cary Joji Fukunaga’s most recent directorial effort, Beasts of No Nation is a colorful triumph of cinematic storytelling. Fukunaga’s bold insistence to be party to every aspect of filmmaking (director, screenwriter, cinematographer, producer) clearly benefits his ability to share his vision with an audience; and displays his art as something perhaps more complete than what would have been created had he worn only his director’s hat. Fukunaga’s latest work tells the story of Agu (Abraham Attah), a young boy thrust into the role of soldier

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