In Review!: “Blade Runner 2049”

Much has changed in the futuristic world of replicants and blade runners, but as ever in the real world, destructive forces remain the same. Blade Runner 2049 takes up decades after Ridley Scott’s influential vision and gives us something glossier and just as morally intricate. Ryan Gosling’s Officer K discovers a mystery than ultimately puts him on the search for Harrison Ford’s Deckard, with the potential for earth-shattering consequences. This time, in the hands of director Denis Villeneuve, the epic elements are also a bit glacial.


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In Review!: “La La Land”

Bursting with chutzpah and a near relentless drive to leave you breathless, La La Land is something special. With artfully uplifting highs and bold cinematic gestures, it’s as audacious as anything at the movies in recent memory. Director Damien Chazelle has created a musical that exists with one foot in the real world and the one in the stylized, swaying its body back and forth between the two to divine effect. Its musical numbers are like if those late-90s Gap commercials also thrived on thematic context and narrative perspective – the smile on your face may be stupid, but the film isn’t.


Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star as showbiz dreamers and Los Angeles transplants that fall in love before becoming disillusioned with both. As their career compromises don’t match the ideal, the honeymoon of young love naturally also becomes strained. For all of the film’s exclamation point positivity, it does exist in a world that tells us we can have love or career, but getting neither is even more likely. For La La Land, optimism can be both naive and necessary sustaining force.

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In Review!: “The Big Short”

The 2007 financial crisis has left behind not only global financial destruction and economic distress, but also lingering rage among the masses still mind boggled about the particulars of just what hell caused so much upheaval. That rage fuels the fire of Adam McKay’s The Big Short, a well-intentioned misfire that somehow aims to clarify through cacophony.


Perhaps the clang and clutter of the film’s construction is intended to reflect the over-stimulated world that we find ourselves in today, where every bit of consumerism and media drives a culture of distraction that keeps us from noticing the rug being pulled out from under us, let alone how and who is doing the pulling. But the film distracts us much in the same way: cocaine editing and zipping eyesore handheld filming prevent any type of resonance with the subject. It’s simply too much and the film buckles under the strain of withstanding such recklessness.

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