Category Archives: TV/Film Review

Review of My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea

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This review was originally published last October when the movie screened at the New York Film Festival. It opens today in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto; it will expand to additional cities over the coming weeks. For more information on the film’s expansion schedule, please see Dash Shaw’s tumblr.

Over the past several years, Dash Shaw has earned widespread acclaim through writing and illustrating of graphic novels such as 2014’s Doctors. This year he unveiled a new type of project: his first feature length film, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. Shaw’s animated movie premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival before appearing this week at the New York Film Festival. My Entire High School is a thrilling, poignant movie, which demonstrates that Shaw’s skills stretches beyond the printed page.

Film by its nature is a collaborative process. When a movie is successful, it is the result of a variety of talented individuals blending their skills into a final product. At the same time, some filmmakers leave behind more prominent fingerprints than others. Most fans would be hard pressed to distinguish the characteristics of an Andrew Stanton directed Pixar film from a Peter Docter one. This is not a slight on the quality of their movies, which is quite high, but an observation about style. Meanwhile, other recent animated films such as Frankenweenie and Anomalisa are instantly recognizable as the products of Tim Burton and Charlie Kaufman’s idiosyncratic imaginations. Shaw’s My Entire High School fits into this second category. As with Frankenweenie or Anomalisa, My Entire High School is a visually striking, emotionally resonant experience. To watch it is to become fully immersed in the distinct vision of its creator.

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Review of Wilson

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In 2010 Drawn and Quarterly released Wilson, the first original graphic novel by the acclaimed writer/artist Daniel Clowes. Despite this distinction, Wilson possesses a serial vibe, often feeling more like a collection of episodic comic strips than a plot driven narrative. This impression is reinforced by Clowes’ decision to vary his art style throughout so that loose cartoons rest opposite pages of more naturalistic detail. What the book lacks in narrative or artistic unity, it gains in thematic cohesion. Wilson displays a biting, if loving, critique of its protagonist as he stumbles through the tribulations of life. The story and the visuals blend to create a very specific ambiance. This mix of comedy and drama was probably what appealed to director Craig Johnson whose previously film, The Skeleton Twins, was focused on a pair of suicidal twins. On paper, Johnson’s sensibility would appear to be a good match for Clowes’. Unfortunately the film Johnson and Clowes, who wrote the screenplay, have produced is an amusing one which fails to live up to its complete potential.

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Logan Movie Review

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(No Spoilers)

There’s a Deadpool advert that played in my theater just before Logan started, which was short but entertaining. It was just what you expect from a two minute sketch of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool teasing his next film, but in spite of that, it was enjoyable none the less. Even if the beats are well-known and semi-predictable, there is viewing pleasure to be had in seeing how those beats are played out. Logan is in the same vein as that Deadpool advert, it delivers what you expect and does it well… Continue reading Logan Movie Review

Review of The LEGO Batman Movie

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No Spoilers

It has often been observed how malleable a character Batman is. Over the past several decades he has found himself equally at home busting the heads of petty street criminals and out-witting cosmic menaces with (new) god-like powers. What unities such diverse plots is a common interest in the humanity of the hero. The tone of the narrative might emphasize oppressive bleakness or optimistic redemption, yet what all the best Bat-stories have in common is an interest in who the man is beneath the cowl. This is true of the movies as well; for example, Christopher Nolan’s masterful Bat-trilogy is as, arguably more, concerned with Bruce Wayne than it is with Batman. In many ways, The LEGO Batman Movie liberally skewers the melancholy tone of Nolan’s films, while sharing with them an interest in the hero’s personality. Amidst the bonanza of gags, Chris McKay’s new film has something to say about Batman’s character.

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Riverdale Pilot Review

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The CW adds another comic show to its lineup, starring broody teens in an overcast setting doing sexy things, because they’re teenagers. Based on the classic Archie Comics characters, Riverdale represents an audacious attempt at making Archie Andrews and his gang “hip”. But does it work?  Continue reading Riverdale Pilot Review

This Year’s Finest 2016: TV Convo

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2016 brought an increasing number of comic based programs to television. Josh joins me in discussing a large cross-section of what both worked and did not these past twelve months.

Cosmo: This year, the DC/CW brand continued its bold expansion, launching one new series (Legends of Tomorrow) and annexing a another (Supergirl). Before we get to those, and the Arrowverse’s namesake, let’s begin with what I feel remains the most consistently successful of the CW shows: Flash.

Josh how are you feeling about the series?

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Review of Doctor Strange

doctor-strange-posterNo Spoilers

For a production company that is faulted at times for sticking to a very specific formula, Marvel Studios takes a fair amount of risks. The most obvious of these is a willingness to base big budget movies around B-List characters. However, as Ant-Man demonstrated last year and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, viewers are eager to embrace heroes who previously had little, if any, exposure outside of fan culture. This combined with a mixing of subgenres (science-fiction space opera, heist caper family drama) has helped keep the formula from growing stale. Yes, the standard tropes are still there, but, in the best movies, they blend with more unique elements. This is definitely the case with Doctor Strange, the most recent entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its mixture of technical prowess and strong ensemble acting crafts a film which is equal parts awe-inspiring and humane. Central to the movie’s success, same as Captain America Civil War earlier this year, is the conviction that the spectacle must be anchored with compelling character work.

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Review of Luke Cage, Episodes #9-13

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Spoilers

Marvel’s latest series on Netflix’s takes a victory lap as it closes out the thirteen part story and prepares to showcase a new hero next year. For now, there’s plenty to discuss about the events in Harlem and the impact they have on the Streets of the MCU… Continue reading Review of Luke Cage, Episodes #9-13

Review of Luke Cage, Episodes #5-8

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“And with my unique skills, nah, you can’t compare me”- Guru of Gang Starr from Mass Appeal

In the Netflix series Luke Cage, Marvel introduces their third hero to be given their own series via the streaming service. Much of the show’s structure is similar to the series that have proceeded it but Luke Cage distinguishes itself in it’s voice while stretching out it’s dramatic moments. Like in past Marvel Netflix series, the middle section is where the show really picks up the plot of the series while throwing in a couple curve balls and red herrings to keep viewers on their toes. Luke Cage is another success for Marvel and Netflix, yet it’s greatest strengths come from it’s subtle differences.  Continue reading Review of Luke Cage, Episodes #5-8