Mini Movie Reviews: Nerve

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Are you a watcher or a player? That’s the question that lies at the premise of this summer’s hip and unique thriller Nerve. In this 2016 film starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, an online game has been created in which players win money by performing increasingly dangerous tasks out in public, and those prizes are funded by people who pay to watch them accept dares that range from the embarrassing to the potentially deadly.  Continue reading

Mini Movie Reviews: Hush

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At the suggestion of a friend, I recently watched the movie Hush. Although I viewed this film on Netflix, there was no chill. Hush is a horror film that revolves around deaf writer Maddie (Kate Siegel) who has retreated to in a cabin in the middle of nowhere to live a life of isolation, and to pound the keys for her new book. The solace she thought she would enjoy soon turns to terror as a masked psychopath shows up outside her house and begins to engage in psychological warfare. Continue reading

Film Analysis: The Fugitive

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In the brilliant 1993 thriller The Fugitive, the filmmakers use a variety of techniques to lead the viewer through the story, from dropping hints with color and lighting that viewers are not necessarily trained to consciously notice while they’re watching, to employing a gripping editing style that effectively supports the cat-and-mouse game that embroils the film’s two main characters. Every movie has content, which is what is seen and heard on screen, and what is referred to as form is the way in which the film’s creators manipulate that content to their own ends and present it to the viewer. The filming and production techniques used by the filmmakers of The Fugitive intelligently support the content of the movie, and raise it to a level that exceeds the expectations of the audience for cinematic fare of its type. Continue reading

Your Ass or a (Plot) Hole In the Ground

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Everybody’s a critic these days. More specifically, everybody’s a movie critic, and all are self-appointed. As my good friend Chris has said time and time again, “nobody sets out to make a bad movie”. The people who write screenplays and direct major motion pictures are generally smart, and have teams behind them who brainstorm with them, edit and approve the final product. “Plot holes”, as they’re called, are instances in a movie in which something is left unexplained, questions are left without answers, or a logical progression of some sort is glossed over or omitted altogether. The purpose of a movie is to entertain, above all else.

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Ryan Remembers…The Chase

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Take a trip back with me to 1994, a time when Charlie Sheen was young, sane, and likable. In The Chase, Sheen plays Jack Hammond, an escaped convict who in a moment of desperation is forced to kidnap the daughter of California’s wealthiest real estate mogul, and lead the Newport Beach police on a high-speed chase as he heads toward Mexico. He stops at a convenience store for gas (to put into the stolen car he’s driving) and cigarettes, and when confronted by two officers, he takes one Miss Natalie Voss (Kristy Swanson) hostage by “candypoint”, shoving a Butterfinger bar into her back, pretending that it’s a gun. He then takes Natalie, the only daughter of real estate tycoon Dalton Voss, to her shiny red BMW and heads for the border, with her in the passenger seat, and a gun cadged from one of the hapless cops who let him get away. Continue reading

Movie Trailer Madness

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The trailers are a crucial and exciting part of the movie-going experience, getting you pumped up not only for the film you are about to see, but for upcoming flicks that they tease. I, for one, refuse to miss them when I go to the theater, as they often enough end up being better than the movie I’m actually there to see. They complete the experience, along with paying twenty bucks for popcorn that likely cost a dollar to make, and a bucket of soda that cost even less. If the theater is crowded enough, after each trailer you can see and hear fellow fans doing the same thing you are, which is turning to the person you’re there with, and shaking or nodding your head, and making some sort of comment about your level of approval between mouthfuls of popcorn.

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Ryan Remembers…My Fellow Americans

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Released in 1996, My Fellow Americans is one of the sharpest, most well-written comedies of that decade. With an all-star cast including Jack Lemmon, James Garner (both of whom are unfortunately no longer with us), Dan Aykroyd, Bradley Whitford, John Heard, and Wilford Brimley, the movie delivers a plot complete with a frame job that goes all the way up to the Oval Office, and loads of laughs along the way. Lemmon and Garner star as two former Presidents who form a most unlikely alliance, forced to set aside their hatred for each other when one of them is framed for taking a kickback on a defense contract while in office.

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Ryan Remembers…Down Periscope

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In 1996’s Down Periscope, Kelsey Grammer stars as Lieutenant Commander Tom Dodge, a U.S. Navy submarine commander who is specifically chosen to lead a rag-tag crew in an impossible series of war games against a more decorated and power-hungry leader. Admiral Graham (Bruce Dern), has had it out for Dodge for some time due to his spotty track record on missions, and sticks him with a bunch of Navy rejects, which includes another superiors son who has a raging attitude problem, a college basketball choke artist, a driver with a gambling problem, an electrician who’s had more voltage pumped through him than a transformer, and a cook whose water is not exactly boiling. The fun doesn’t stop there, of course, as Dodge is also paired with an executive officer by the name of Marty Pascal (Rob Schneider), who himself has some quite acute anger management issues. Rounding out the cast of major characters is Lauren Holly as dive officer Emily Lake. She is sprung upon Dodge as a surprise by Graham, who is instituting a trial program that would enable women to work on submarines for the first time. As if that weren’t enough, the ship he is given to command is a recommissioned submarine from World War II that is falling apart at the seams, and is set to compete against a world-class nuclear sub in the games.

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Ryan Remembers…Cashback

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Back in college, I had a roommate by the name of Dave. We lived together for the final two years of school, and we did little outside of watching movies and television. He remained in New Brunswick with his girlfriend after graduation, in an apartment just off campus at our old stomping grounds of Rutgers. From time to time, I would go up to see him, and we’d spend the day gorging ourselves on the fine cuisine that can be found on Easton Avenue, and watching movies. On one of those occasions, Dave suggested a movie that he had already seen, and told me, “I don’t think you’re going to like this movie.” I scoffed, and he insisted that we watch it anyway.

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