In Review: Irresistible

Like the reanimation of ghosts past, the year leadup to an election cycle always guarantees a cinematic product and a shrugging response by audiences. Studios program glib or grim political musings that no one asked for, the best of which might have been the eyerolling self-seriousness of failed prestige play The Ides of March. Remember the Kevin Costner-led Swing Vote? There is a reason that you certainly don’t. While these films often arrive as naked attempts to cash in on the moment in superficial terms, cinematic memory typically does right in allowing them to go forgotten and quickly so. Pray for a similar fate to meet Jon Stewart’s Irresistible, a pungently toxic dose of cynicism in a subgenre defined by its cynicism.

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In Review: The King of Staten Island

After his longest filmmaking gap since emerging with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow returns with another character piece about someone getting their shit together. His films have been defined by focusing on protagonists with atypical charisma and unexpected depth, taking archetypes like the stoner of Knocked Up or the promiscuous drunkard of Trainwreck and giving them complete arcs. More than that, his films aim to challenge reductive perceptions of his heroes while also allowing them to grow in organic human ways. His latest, The King of Staten Island, entirely misses the mark on all of these elements.

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In Review: Downhill

Transposing Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure through an American lens, Downhill casts Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell as parents on a skiing vacation that may sink their marriage. When a mountain avalanche sends Ferrell’s Pete fleeing with his phone instead of protecting his wife and two sons, cracks in the marriage’s foundation are blown wide open, jeopardizing their future. But with such a lifeless adaptation as this, we’re instead left wondering if it might be for the best.

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In Review: Cats

The thing about Cats, the record-setting Broadway musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on a series of poems by T.S. Eliot, is that it exists as a piece of pure, unadulterated imagination. No matter how you may try to wrap your head around the spectacle of dancing, nude-appearing felines singing anthems to themselves, it is still, quite simply, a musical about cats being cats. You either accept it for what it is, in its brain-warping glorious incongruity, or you don’t. This remains true in the adaptation taken to even further extremes on the big screen by director Tom Hooper, assembling a cast of recognizable (if not all desirable) names enshrouded in digital insanity. Whether earnestly accepting its big budget spectacle or basking in schadenfreude or agog in horror, you mileage may indeed vary with what is in store.

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In Review: Richard Jewell

Churning out films at a steady clip, Clint Eastwood has become as synonymous with no-frills fast turnarounds to get his films into theatres as quickly as possible. Expediency seems to be the most important thing to Eastwood these days. Well, with the exception of projecting a certain kind of white male as an aggrieved victim to the system. Richard Jewell is another in a circling of the drain, with both of these worst behaviors from this treasured American filmmaker, as haphazardly assembled as it is ideologically conceived.

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