Author: Mike Votto

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Because Warner Brothers can’t let their cash cow die a honorable death, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them kicks off the first of FIVE planned additions to the Harry Potter cinematic universe, and it looks like they’ll have a lot to work with and plenty of growing to do. While it looks and sounds like Harry Potter, the new film is both refreshingly and frustratingly different: it’s a little more adult, it’s titular beasts provide the required wonderment, but the plot and characters are simultaneously underdeveloped and overwritten. The storyline bounces between worthwhile plot points and useless diversions, all the while anchored by two paint-by-numbers...

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The Revenant

Color me mostly unimpressed by The Revenant. I’ll admit: it’s a gorgeous movie, but when you give cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki a ton of cash and beautiful vistas, he’s gonna deliver. But this was an overlong, boring story that was more of a chore to sit through than a cinematic revelation. Leonardo DiCaprio turns in one of his most over-the-top performances, solidifying himself as Hollywood’s premiere screamer (and also Hollywood’s go-to grunter…majority of his lines in the film are unintelligible). Overall, a huge disappointment, but at least it was pretty to look...

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The Big Short

Explaining the 2008 financial crisis to people can be daunting – the intentionally confusing nature of the entire situation is what kept it from being fully understood by the public at large. Director Adam McKay recognized there was a gap in telling this story and crafted an easy-to-digest, compelling film that is among the best of the year. With stellar performances throughout, the kinetic presentation and editing are the real stars. While at times The Big Short can seem a bit pandering and condescending – I wasn’t a fan of the Margot Robbie and Anthony Bourdain bits – it...

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Eaten Alive!: The Rise and Fall of the Italian Cannibal Film

I’ve always had a soft spot for cannibal movies. Maybe it’s because of a late night viewing of a Cannibal Holocaust bootleg back in middle school, but there was always something strangely poetic and raw about the genre…as long as you could look past the excessive gore. Director Calum Waddell’s documentary dives into the birth and death of this sub-genre, interviewing many of the principal creative minds behind this depraved little slice of 1970’s cinema. While it is certainly a low-budget production, Waddell is an able storyteller and his work with this shallow subject matter is more than impressive (his other release...

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The Night Before

Perhaps he’s just run his course, but Seth Rogen’s schtick just doesn’t work for me anymore. The Night Before is a minimally funny holiday movie with Rogen as the anchor comedic talent, but most of the best laughs come from the players around him. Michael Shannon, an actor known for his off-beat dramatic performances, steals the show whenever he pops up during the run-of-the-mill story. You’ll leave The Night Before thinking that you’ve seen that movie before but you could swear it was a lot...

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