Brigid K. Presecky 95 posts

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Shocking doc ‘Anthropocene – The Human Epoch’ shows human effect on planet

Official selection at Berlin, Sundance and Toronto International Film Festivals, feature documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch examines the massive effect that humans have had on Planet Earth. A 10-year journey with international researchers and scientists, filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky uncover the relevant, revolutionary scope of man’s footprint. (BKP: 4.5/5) Review […]

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Powerful Darrell Hammond doc ‘Cracked Up’ a story of survival

Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond brings his 2011 memoir “God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, Saturday Night Live, and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem” to life in this emotionally raw documentary of overcoming childhood trauma. (BKP: 4.5/5) Review by Vice President and Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky “You overcame sh*t, too.” […]

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‘Blinded by the Light’ celebrates the catharsis of art

From prolific director and women-in-film advocate Gurinder Chadha comes Blinded by the Light, a joyful and meaningful story about a Pakistani teenager growing up in 1980s England who discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen. The universal theme of connecting with the work of a singular and special artist is carried on Blinded by the Light’s […]

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Camila Mendes saves ‘Coyote Lake’

Riverdale star Camila Mendes stars in Sara Seligman’s Coyote Lake, an on-the-border thriller about a mother and daughter who kill human traffickers. What it lacks in thrills (and overall plot), it makes up for in the world Seligman creates, one which gives Mendes a chance to share another side of her acting abilities. (BKP: 3.5/5) […]

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‘The Farewell’ is Lulu Wang’s Oscar to lose

Writer/director Lulu Wang’s autobiographical story centers on a Chinese grandmother with a terminal lung cancer diagnosis – only she is the only person in her family who doesn’t know it. Starring Awkwafina in a dramatic leading role as Billi, the daughter of first-generation immigrants, The Farewell is a universal story that captures the true essence […]

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‘Toy Story 4’ goes beyond infinity

The story of Woody, Buzz and the gang continues in Toy Story 4, directed by Josh Cooley and co-written by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom. When his owner Bonnie makes a new favorite plaything out of a discarded spork and pipe cleaners, Woody (Tom Hanks) must teach Forky (Tony Hale) what it really means be […]

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‘Framing John DeLorean’ a compelling docu-drama on famed con man

The man who invented the DeLorean is unable to go back in time to undo his mistakes: the irony. A car made famous by in the 1985 megahit Back to the Future, the DeLorean and its maker have been the subject of fascination for decades. In a unique hybrid of documentary and feature film, filmmakers […]

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‘Too Late to Die Young’ a subtly impactful coming-of-age drama

The first female filmmaker to win the Leopard Award in the Locarno Film Festival’s 71-year history, Dominga Sotomayor creates a subtly impactful coming-of-age drama in Too Late to Die Young. Based on her adolescence in 1990 Chile, Sotomayor tells a story of family, loss and transition through the poignant lens of 16-year-old Sofía (Demian Hernandez). […]

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‘The Sun Is Also A Star’ a well-intentioned victim of YA adaptation

Based on the best-selling novel by Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything), The Sun Is Also A Star is Warner Brothers’ addition to the early-summer canon for young adult romance. Written by Tracy Oliver (Little and What Men Want) and directed by Before I Fall helmer Ry Russo-Young, this YA adaptation is more of the same. (BKP: […]

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Amy Poehler’s ‘Wine Country’ a refreshing good time

From director Amy Poehler and writers Liz Cackowski and Emily Spivey, Wine Country is a heartfelt comedy wrapped up in a Saturday Night Live lover’s dream. Reuniting for a 50th birthday party on a girl’s trip to Napa, California, a group of friends comes back together in the midst of multiple midlife crises. Perfecting human […]

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Nostalgic ‘Body at Brighton Rock’ leaves rookie park ranger stranded

Roxanne Benjamin’s Body at Brighton Rock tells the story of a rookie park ranger who gets stranded in a mountainous forest with a dead cell phone battery – and a dead body. Karina Fontes carries the indie thriller with her portrayal of a young woman dependent on her own wit and strength to battle fear, […]

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Metz and Grace make ‘Breakthrough’ a universal uplift

Director Roxann Dawson’s Breakthrough recreates the miraculous true story of a Missouri boy’s traumatic accident and the unfailing faith of his devoted mother. With This Is Us star Chrissy Metz leading a strong cast, the film is a tactful reimagining of what could have easily been turned into Christian-skewed camp. (BKP: 4/5) Review by Vice […]

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Fanfiction-inspired film ‘After’ could have used Harry Styles

Directed by Jenny Gage, After tells the story of a young college freshman who falls for a bad boy. Compared to other fanfiction-turned-film like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, Susan Martin’s adaptation of Anna Todd’s novel of the same name is more in line with Riverdale or The CW teenage phenomena of glossy, fantastical […]

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CATCHING SIGHT OF THELMA & LOUISE (2017): Review by Brigid K. Presecky

Following the 1991 release of Thelma & Louise, director Jennifer Townsend conducted a questionnaire as a research project: did other people share a similar, visceral reaction to the film? After sorting through handwritten letters and cassette-tape voicemails, Townsend follows up with her responders two decades later. This uniquely touching documentary shows how impactful art can […]

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Patricia Clarkson leads neo-noir homicide investigation in ‘Out of Blue’

Based on Martin Amis’ 1997 novel “Night Train,” Patricia Clarkson stars as a lead investigator in the death of a leading astrophysicist (Mamie Gummer). Although the stellar cast is more compelling than the story itself, the science fiction elements make director Carl Morley’s Out of Blue a unique homicide puzzle to piece together. (BKP: 3.5/5) […]

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‘Captive State’ another gloomy envisioning of dystopian America

Erica Beeney co-writes with director Rupert Wyatt, creating a sci-fi thriller with the help of a stellar cast, including John Goodman as William Mulligan, a Chicago police officer tasked with fighting an invading alien force. For fans of the impending-doom genre or those willing to dissect the political commentary, Captive State could be captivating. For […]

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Matt Smith captures a visionary in ‘Mapplethorpe’

Director Ondi Timoner paints a portrait of an artist in her Tribeca Film Festival award-winning biopic Mapplethorpe. The impeccable Matt Smith disappears into controversial artist Robert Mapplethorpe in this memorable lead role, following the evolution of a trailblazing photographer. (BKP: 3.5/5) Timoner’s fascination with her subject matter shines through in Mapplethorpe, balancing audience’s perceptions of […]

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Rodriguez stands out in messy ‘Miss Bala’

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Twilight, Miss You Already) and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, Miss Bala is an ambitious action drama set in Tijuana. Gina Rodriguez is a deserving lead despite the complicated, questionable plot following a California makeup artist who gets caught up in tense drug cartel drama near the Mexico border. (BKP: 3.5/5) […]

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Nuanced dramedy ‘Egg’ examines motherhood, female friendship

From director Marianna Palka and screenwriter Risa Mickenberg, Egg is a sharply-written feature about the diverging paths of college friends and their seemingly different approaches to adult life. (BKP: 4/5) Art school friends Tina (Alysia Reiner) and Karen (Christina Hendricks) lead entirely opposite lives – Tina lives in an artsy loft with her free-spirited husband; […]

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Christina Hodson’s ‘Bumblebee’ gets nostalgia right

Christina Hodson’s take on the Transformers story focuses more on human emotion than the well-known Michael Bay franchise. With Hailee Steinfeld impressively leading the action blockbuster, this new telling of an old tale is a refreshing change. (BKP: 4/5)

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Star, producer Aniston returns to comedy gold in ‘Dumplin'”

“As Dolly would say, ‘It’s hard being a diamond in a rhinestone world,’” Willowdean Dixon’s Aunt Lucy tells her in the opening sequence of Dumplin’. The popular Netflix feature directed by Anne Fletcher, written by Kristin Hahn and starring Danielle Macdonald is exactly that – a diamond in a world of rhinestone movies that try and fail to preach body positivity. Adapted from the novel by Julie Murphy, Dumplin’ is an inspiring comedy for bigger girls everywhere, who haven’t really had a protagonist they can count on – until now. (BKP: 4/5)

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‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ another retelling of classic origin story

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is a visually impressive live-action film that retells the story of The Jungle Book from the point of view of Mowgli the “man cub.” Rudyard Kipling’s century-old story has been retold several times, from the well-known 1967 Disney animated film to Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation. From first-time screenwriter Callie Kloves and director Andy Serkis (a motion capture expert), Netflix’s Mowgli is an origin story that’s biggest failing is being told too many times. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ a clever, memorable Disney sequel

From co-screenwriter Pamela Ribon, Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet is a fun, thoughtful journey of two colorful arcade game character venturing into the world wide web. Undeniably imaginative and satirical without snark, this sequel to Wreck-It Ralph (2012) is a great addition to Disney’s ever-growing list of decent sequels. (BKP: 4.5/5) Review by Managing Editor […]

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Rowling, Redmayne dive deep in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’

In Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald, J.K. Rowling uses her time turner to take us back to the 1920s Wizarding World, when Dumbledore (Jude Law) was still just a professor, long before the names Riddle and Potter appeared on his radar, let alone in his Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. The Ministry of […]

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Stellar cast of ‘Lez Bomb’ guesses who’s coming out at dinner

Writer/director Jenna Laurenzo’s new spin on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner tells the story of a closeted young woman who brings her girlfriend home for Thanksgiving. When her male roommate shows up unannounced, misunderstandings snowball into comedy gold, aided by a stellar supporting cast of Cloris Leachman, Bruce Dern, Deirdre O’Connell, Steve Guttenberg, Elaine Hendrix and Kevin Pollak. (BKP: 4/5)

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Nutty ‘Nutcracker’ not quite a Christmas classic

Screenwriter Ashleigh Powell creates a whimsical world in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a disjointed but entertaining ride through a magical kingdom kids can only dream of. But along with flowers, sweets and snow (what three of the four realms are made up of) comes a lingering evil, which Powell and directors Joe […]

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‘London Fields’ hardly worth the five-year wait

Writer Roberta Hanley’s adaptation of Martin Amis’ book of the same name falls prey to both the fictional story and the real-life drama behind the scenes. Starring Amber Heard and Billy Bob Thornton (and Johnny Depp — dating itself immensely as production began in fall 2013), this hodgepodge of a mystery thriller is one to skip. (BKP: 2/5)

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‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ a buzzy showcase for McCarthy

In a dramatic turn for Melissa McCarthy (not the first, but lauded as so), Can You Ever Forgive Me? tells the story of fledgling author Lee Israel and the illegal lengths she went to for extra cash and a sense of purpose. The Marielle Heller-directed drama based on Israel’s memoir of the same name is a no-makeup-Oscar-buzz-generator showcase for McCarthy, but its anti-hero protagonist isn’t much of a protagonist at all. (BKP: 3.5/5)

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White and Monroe make believable pair in honest love story ‘After Everything’

Co-writers and co-directors Hannah Marks and Joey Power tell an honest, raw love story of two people who prematurely deal with the hardships adulthood. When Elliot is diagnosed with cancer after only one date with Mia, the couple is thrust into the role of patient/caregiver in the midst of a passionate, burgeoning relationship. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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Giamatti and Hahn a sad, perfect duo in Netflix dramedy ‘Private Life’

Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn bring their best to Tamara Jenkins’ Netflix dramedy, Private Life. Telling the story of two 40-something artists struggling with fertility, they enlist the help of their gung-ho step-niece in the hopes that her donation egg will start their family. (BKP: 4.5/5)

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