Screened Out – Live by Night

By : Stephen Miller
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Ben Affleck, Chris Messina, Chris Cooper, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Brendan Gleeson

It’s difficult to imagine anyone would want to watch Live by Night twice. In the middle, I found I didn’t want to watch it even once. I checked my watch four times.

Oh, sure, the sepia tones were pretty for a little while. Then all the tans started to remind me of tepid, badly cooked oatmeal – lumpy and dull, like this flick.

By dull, I mean this is a stereotypical 1930s crime film, abetted by being ponderous and meandering. The characters are also boringly beige; the lead character is completely indecipherable. The only good news is that it’s easy to nitpick minor flaws while you’re waiting for something interesting to happen.

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Screened Out – In the Heart of the Sea

By : Stephen Miller
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Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Ben Wishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Charlotte Riley, Tom Holland

Captain Ahab made some bad choices in relentlessly pursuing that notorious white whale. Ron Howard made some bad choices in his filming of the “real” story behind Moby Dick.

It’s not that ITHOTS is a bad film, per se. In fact, many a casual filmgoer will like it. Unfortunately, filmmaking is about making decisions, and a good many of them here don’t make any sense whatsoever. When looking for specificity in moviemaking, you will find a lot lacking in Howard’s approach.

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Screened Out – Suffragette

By : Stephen Miller
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Cary Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Wishaw, Natalie Press

In this last election, only between 14 and 15 percent of voters actually cast a ballot. Sure, these were mostly municipal elections, which for some reason, people think are insignificant. However, it’s easy to see that many could forget how our forbearers waged bloody fights for the privilege. In America, women lobbied for 74 years. In both the U.S. and England, the struggle got more and more violent as women’s rights were denied.

Suffragette shines a light on the history of the U.K. campaigns of the 1910s. It’s a much-needed story told with great art direction and fantastic actors all around. Unfortunately, there are a couple small errors that keep this important subject from being a great film.

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Screened Out – Ex Machina

By : Stephen Miller
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Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander

Some of us love brainteasers – films that make us discuss “what ifs.” The ponderous and fascinating Ex Machina is one of those movies. You only need to know the barest description of plot to decide whether this story is for you. Revealing too much might lessen the entertainment.

Screenwriter and novelist Alex Garland helms Ex Machina, his directorial debut. He’s always fascinated with the future – he wrote 28 Days Later and adapted the strange Japanese novel Never Let Me Go. Both of them are grim. This is no different. In Ex Machina, he delves into the ethically cloudy world of A.I. – Artificial intelligence.

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Screened Out – Edge of Tomorrow

By : Stephen Miller
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Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton

Tom Cruise’s last foray into science fiction was last year’s Oblivion, which was pretty to look at but also fairly stupid. Edge of Tomorrow is not so beautiful – a grim, grungy, violent world wrapped in an apocalyptic war with an alien race – but it shows some cleverness.

People will argue that it’s just Groundhog’s Day meets Starship Troopers. Yes, they’re right. Yet, for a summer popcorn flick, Edge of Tomorrow is still extremely entertaining.

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