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The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear overalls.

While working underground to fix a water main, Brooklyn plumbers—and brothers—Mario and Luigi are transported down a mysterious pipe and wander into a magical new world. But when the brothers are separated, Mario embarks on an epic quest to find Luigi.

Winning I shudder with the knowledge that in a few days, this grossed higher than any Pixar movie. Imagineer that. This about as charmless as it gets without the floor falling off, so I can only attribute the success to love of the character. As a non-gamer,...


Published September 11, 2023
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023)
Heroes aren't born. They're mutated.
Filmmaker(s): Jeff Rowe

After years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts. Their new friend April O'Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.

Inside the Lines In most respects, this is a conventional film. It has a lot of story, more than one dynamic development, and character portrayals way beyond the normal. Its conventionalism is also reflected in the father dynamic, pervasive these days, the social message of antiracism,...


Published September 5, 2023
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Oppenheimer (2023)

Fours First let me remark on the film itself. Visually, Nolan continues his ‘dogma of performance’ where every decision is slanted toward reality except — predictably — the sex scenes. Structurally, he has mapped his philosophy of folded narrative onto basically four events with nested histories,...


Published August 27, 2023
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The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (2022)
A journey, in search of home.

The unlikely friendship of a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse traveling together in the boy’s search for home.

Ensnared The affirmative platitudes that anchor this are inescapable, and since they are relatively true, you may as well embrace them. My tween boys did, and I’m glad for it. But why I am recommending this is the art and animation. I have to admit that...


Published August 6, 2023
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Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)

Broken Cosmologies These come to me already broken. For me to enter the world of a film, I have to have some understanding of the world. But over many decades the origins have been confusing. Each movie tosses the cosmology of the previous one and substitutes...


Published July 26, 2023
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No Bears (2022)

Religions All religion is about sex, all tribalisms about religion, and all film about tribalism. This is the form of how I approach things these days, with three layers of introspective epiphany, and a token from the film for each layer. In this case, I thought to share...


Published July 14, 2023
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Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021)

Self with Shoes On As I understand it, this was concieved in the breakup of a marriage. The voice and most of the script is by the disappointed wife, and the surrounding framing by the presumably inadequate husband. The actual events had some videos posted to YouTube,...


Published July 14, 2023
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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)
It's how you wear the mask that matters.

After reuniting with Gwen Stacy, Brooklyn’s full-time, friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is catapulted across the Multiverse, where he encounters the Spider Society, a team of Spider-People charged with protecting the Multiverse’s very existence. But when the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles finds himself pitted against the other Spiders and must set out on his own to save those he loves most.

Chapter and Verse Lest I sound overly critical below, let me say up front that this is an important film if only because it extends the vocabulary. I’m excited by it and what we may expect. However, I recently commented on ‘Fast X’ and noted that these...


Published June 29, 2023
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Fast X (2023)
The end of the road begins.
Filmmaker(s): Louis Leterrier

Over many missions and against impossible odds, Dom Toretto and his family have outsmarted, out-nerved and outdriven every foe in their path. Now, they confront the most lethal opponent they've ever faced: A terrifying threat emerging from the shadows of the past who's fueled by blood revenge, and who is determined to shatter this family and destroy everything—and everyone—that Dom loves, forever.

Neonoir Reversed There are three components to these kinds of products. Action scenes of some kind, a cosmology, and a story to weave them together. Characters and drama are irrelevant. For me, sometimes the cosmology was enough, like the middle ‘Wick’ projects. Sometimes it blows me away,...


Published June 20, 2023
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