Focused criticism, or keep’em guessing

Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie,
DB Wong, Gerald McRaney, Adrian Martinez; directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

With Focus, we get to see the planning, tricks and strategies of the con. It’s like pulling back the curtain, angling the mirrors, or opening the box or cage to show the audience how the trick was accomplished. For some, that can be a let down — one may not want to witness how the sausage is made.

Contractual voyeur killers

Fifty Shades of Grey

Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford; directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Taking critical aim

American Sniper

Starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner; directed by Clint Eastwood

I have a cinematic dream…

Starring David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey, Andre Holland, Tim Roth; directed by Ava DuVernay

This week’s review is written using portions of the text of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech (delivered Aug.0 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.); with apologies to him and all who have been inspired by his powerful words.

Breaking the codes

The Imitation Game
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance; directed by Morten Tyldum

The Theory of Everything
Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis; directed by James Marsh

Cinematic laundry lists

The annual year-end list of movies shows — yet again — that these are just that: Lists. It all depends on who’s doing the sorting and on what basis. For example, here are some lists that show the absurdity of the whole endeavor and justify why some — including artists themselves — eschew awards and reject the notion of comparing artistic endeavors.

How to train your stay puff man

Big Hero 6
An animated film starring the voices of Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henny, James Cromwell; directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams

If you’ve seen How to Train Your Dragon (and its sequel), you’ve seen this one as they both have the following:

Young man, who is scrawny and nerdy and about 8-11 years old, is the lead character.

Young man lead character endures estrangement from family.

Space-time incoherence


Starring Matthew McConaughey,
Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain,
Michael Caine;
directed by Christopher Nolan

Cinematic (a)musing

Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis;
directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist;
directed by Damien Chazelle

I saw these films together and so will review them together. But I’m having a hard time deciding which one to review first, or even which one I liked better. I just can’t seem to get started.

Simian cinema

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell; directed by
Matt Reeves

This week’s review is written by Caesar, an ape critic who can amazingly utter rudimentary English (as opposed to French, or Portuguese, or Swahili) with some helpful translation: