Movie Review: Dope (2015)


Title: Dope Release Date: 19 June 2015 Director: Rick Famuyiwa Summary/Review: Growing up in “The Bottoms” of Inglewood, California, Malcolm and his friends Diggy and Jib get good grades, play in a punk band, and are obsessed with 1990s hip hop music and fashion.  As geeky misfits they have to navigate themselves around bullies, drug dealers,…

Movie Review: Zootopia (2016)


Title: Zootopia Release Date: March 4, 2016 Director:   Byron Howard and Rich Moore Summary/Review: Set in a world of anthropomorphic mammals where predator and prey have agreed to live together, Zootopia is a comic, animated film that smartly takes on issues of inequality that appear ripped from the headlines touching upon women’s rights, Black Lives Matter,…

Movie Review: Heima (2007)


Title:  Heima Release Date:  5 October 2007 Director: Dean DeBlois Rating: **** Review: Not your average concert film.  Sigur Rós returns to Iceland after a world tour (the title means “At Home”) and conducts a thank you tour of their island nation.  The band performs in community halls, an abandoned factory, on hillsides, and on a…

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda (2008)


Title: Kung Fu Panda Release Date: 6 June 2008 Director:  Mark Osborne, John Stevenson Summary/Review: Another family movie night, inspired by a visit to the zoo.  Po is a clumsy panda working in a noodle shop who is a big fan of the Furious Five kung fu warriors.  He somewhat accidentally finds himself selected as…

Movie Review: Despicable Me (2010)


Title: Despicable Me Release Date: 9 July 2010 Director: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud Summary/Review: By my daughter’s request, I caught up with popular culture by finally seeing this animated family film.  Gru is a supervillain who is embarrassed by a younger and more successful villain’s heist.  As part of a plot to get back on…

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)


Title: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Release Date: 2008 Director:  Dave Filoni Summary/Review: Feeling all Star Wars-ish lately, I decided to watch this animated movie set in between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.  Obi Wan and Anakin are leading clone armies into battle against the separatists and have to negotiate a treaty…

Movie Review: Easy A (2010)


Title: Easy A Release Date: 2010 Director:  Will Gluck Summary/Review: This movie was described to me as the high school comedy interpretation of The Scarlet Letter.  The story begins when 17 y.o. Olive tells her friend that she lost her virginity to a fictional college boyfriend.  Word gets out and Olive suddenly has a bad girl reputation….

Movie Review: 42 (2013)


Title: 42 Release Date: 2013 Director:  Brian Helgeland Summary/Review: This straightforward biopic documents Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers when he became the first black player to break through the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  It suffers from an excess of Hollywood dramatic moments, but mostly it’s true to life in showing…

Movie Review: Fight Club (1999)


Title: Fight Club Release Date: 1999 Director:  David Fincher Summary/Review: Scratch this off the list of movies everyone has seen except me.  Not that I hadn’t already known the basic plot details of the movie for some time.  Still that made it fun to watch for evidence of the big twist before it was revealed….

Movie Review: Over the Hedge (2006)


Title: Over the Hedge Release Date: 2006 Director:Tim Johnson & Karey Kirkpatrick Summary/Review: The kids picked out this movie about a ragtag group of animals who awake from hibernation to learn that their forest has been surrounded by suburban development.  A scheming raccoon teaches them that they can get food by raiding the human’s trash but…

Movie Review: The Big Short (2015)


Title: The Big Short Release Date: 2015 Director: Adam McKay Summary/Review: I wouldn’t think that The Big Short by Michael Lewis, a book about the investors who saw through the complex shenanigans around financial instruments leading to the great collapse of 2008, would make a great movie.  But director McKay and his cast and crew do a great job of…

Movie Review: Brooklyn (2015)


Title: Brooklyn Release Date: 2015 Director: John Crowley Summary/Review: I love immigration stories, and Irish immigration stories especially.  I’m sentimental that. But I really struggled reading the novel Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín.   It’s a beautifully written book that depicts the everyday challenges of a young woman alone in New York half a world away from her family,…

Movie Review: Her (2013)


Title:  Her Release Date: 2013 Director:  Spike Jonze Summary/Review: Set in the near future, this movie is about a man developing a romantic relationship with the consciousness of a computer operating system.  It’s an interesting take on the love story dealing with layers of reality and artifice and the role of technology in human society….

Movie Review: Return of the Jedi (1983)


Title:  Return of the Jedi Release Date: 1983 Director:  Richard Marquand Summary/Review: And so we conclude introducing the children to the classic trilogy of Star Wars films.  The kids enjoyed this and certainly got a lot more laughs than the previous two installments.  Return of the Jedi certainly does have more humor and a positive spirit…

Movie Review: The 1964 World’s Fair (1996)


Title: The 1964 World’s Fair Release Date: 1996 Director: Rich Hanley Summary/Review: The World’s Fairs in New York have long fascinated me, growing up hearing the stories from my parents and playing among the ruins in Flushing Meadow Park as a child.  This light documentary narrated by Judd Hirsch captures the wonder of the fair through rich archival…

Movie Review: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)


Title:  The Empire Strikes Back Release Date: 1980 Director:   Irving Kushner Summary/Review: Still the best of the Star Wars films, allowing space for the characters to breath and grow and for the actors to show their chops, while still having intertwining action plots that come together at the end.  And it’s funny.  It certainly wasn’t…

Movie Review: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29


Title: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 Release Date: 2008 Director: Kevin Rafferty Summary/Review: This football documentary has an intriguing title in that it gives away the final score, yet it also fibs about one side winning a tie game.  It’s a no-frills sports documentary where tv footage of the actual game is interspliced with interviews with dozens…

Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)


Title: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Release Date: 2015 Director: J.J. Abrams Summary/Review: I was probably among the last people in the Star Wars-loving universe to see this movie, but it was worth the wait.  The Star Wars franchise is back in good standing with this movie that, yes, has great special effects and action sequences,…

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)


Title: Pitch Perfect 2 Release Date: 2015 Director: Elizabeth Banks Summary/Review: There’s always some chanciness around sequels to a cult classic movie. This one takes the Rocky III approach, with the Barden Bellas succeeding for several years but failing as success gets to their heads, facing the taunts of new rivals, and having to regain their way.  In this…

Movie Review: Star Wars (1977)


Title:  Star Wars Release Date: 1977 Director:   George Lucas Summary/Review: Rating: ****1/2 What can you say about this movie in 2016?  Most people know and love the movie and our popular culture is steeped in its motifs.  But this was the first time my children watched the movie and  the first time I’ve watched it…