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Movie Review for Chappaquiddick

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Ted Kennedy’s life and political career become derailed in the aftermath of a fatal car accident in 1969 that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne.
Review by Kurt Loder:

“The new movie Chappaquiddick is a political bombshell 50 years delayed. We’ve always had most of the facts of the case, but there was a longtime disinclination to get too exercised about them. However, times have changed, and now the story reads a lot differently. But since the infinitely annoying Kennedy family still has its benighted admirers, director John Curran has wisely taken a straightforward approach to recounting what happened on and after that summer night in 1969 when Senator Ted Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, drove his car into a pond on Chappaquiddick Island, just off Martha’s Vineyard, and then walked away, leaving a 28-year-old woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown (or possibly to asphyxiate, gasping desperately for two hours at an ever-diminishing bubble of air inside the overturned vehicle). There’s no need for partisan exaggeration in this story; the undisputed facts are awful enough.”

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New Movie Reviews

The reviews are in for ‘Ready Player One’

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Image: warner bros.

Ready Player One hits theaters this week and critics have weighed in with almost unanimous agreement that, while the movie is visually stunning and a fun thrill ride full of references, it all gets a little old well before the credits roll.

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel of the same name dives deep into the virtual world of the OASIS and never stops throwing pop culture references at viewers which according to most critics is perfectly fine, despite the lackluster story at the movie’s heart. After all, Spielberg told viewers at SXSW that Ready Player One is a movie, not a film, and should be enjoyed as such.

Read one to see what critics thought of Ready Player One.

The movie is better than the book

Tasha Robinson, The Verge:

The film improves significantly on the book by prioritizing the story over the signifiers. The hardcore pop-culture crowd that is this movies ultimate intended audience will have plenty to pore over and pick apart in this film. But the story moves briskly enough, and with enough giant-sized, screen-friendly excitement that it doesnt feel like its aimed solely and specifically at them.

Brian Truitt, USA Today:

And if youve ever wanted to see Hello Kitty and RoboCop in the same film, Spielbergs got you covered. The abundance of references isnt as egregious as it is in the original book. Think of it as the Goldilocks and the Three Bears of nerdiness: Some might think theres too many, some might think theres too little, but really its just right.

The visuals and amount of references are stunning

Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly:

Spielberg is a master at visual storytelling, obviously. Despite some sensory overload, theres no denying he can still weave mind-blowing action sequences. Wade speeds through the OASIS as familiar characters pass through the side windows. Maybe Ill catch them all by the fourth viewing.

Michael Philips, Chicago Tribune:

Spielberg juices it, flinging the audience between virtual worlds, and between virtual and real ones. The visual referencing is happily relentless. The holy hand grenade from Monty Python and the Holy Grail flies by for a cameo; so does King Kong and The Breakfast Club and Chucky from Childs Play and famous emblems of Spielbergs own movies.

The movie contradicts itself

Tasha Robinson, The Verge:

Unequivocally, the films biggest problem is the half-assed love story between Wade and Art3mis, which operates on approximately 75 percent wish-fulfillment and 25 percent apathetic inevitability. When they first encounter each other, Wade is starstruck: he knows Art3mis from her online cool-girl rep, and watching her in action, he sees her as an ber-badass with leet skillz and an appealingly punk devil-may-care attitude. Its a short, shocking jump from there to him telling her he loves her. What follows should be important and telling she reminds him that they dont know each other, that hes seeing an online avatar and a mental picture hes largely invented … But the film never follows through on that mature and useful point. The insta-relationship that develops between them is as inauthentic and insulting as the central romance in Edgar Wrights Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, without any of the sense of irony or intentionality.

A.A. Dowd, AV Club:

The films villain, played by Ben Mendelsohn, is a bigwig slimeball who wants to monopolize and monetize The Oasis through excessive pop-up ads. His true crime, though, is that hes a total noob who doesnt know his stuff. Ready Player One cant see the deep, inherent irony of its battle lines, the way it pits an evil corporationcomplete with branded, uniformed, Stormtrooper gamersagainst kids whose entire identities have been shaped by corporate product. Is Mendelsohns heavy really so different than Ready Player One itself, whose whole raison dtre is capitalizing on affection for stuff you liked when you were young?

It wears out its welcome

Michael Philips, Chicago Tribune:

The movie runs 140 minutes, which feels overgenerous for the amount and the quality of the narrative at hand.

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly:

By the last half hour (which is punctuated by one of Spielbergs cornier endings), a sort of fatigue sets in. And not the kind you get from playing a video game for too long, but the kind you get from watching someone else play a video game for too long. Eventually, you feel like youre living through the 80s in real time. In other words, Ready Player One is pure Thriller, until you eventually look at your watch and want to Beat It.

Ready Player One hits theaters March 29.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/27/ready-player-one-reviews/

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New Movie Reviews

Why ‘Love, Simon’ is so important, and why you need to see it (twice)

Charmaine Blake

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Everyone loves “Love, Simon,” and all that it represents

Image: Twentieth Century Fox

The recently released Love, Simon is not only making LGBTQ+ history; it’s also elevating the rom-com genre in unprecedented ways.

It’s been met with a choir of critical praise so far. Mashable’s own MJ Franklin showered it with love in a review that called it “a gotdamn delightful romcom, and gay as hell.” In a perfect summation of the movie’s far-reaching impact, he wrote: 

“[Love, Simon is] a heart-wrenching, empathy-expanding look at what it means to be a gay teen AND it’s a universal story about the awkward, messy attempts of navigating high school, AND it’s a hilarious comedy in it’s own right.”

Voices all around the internet are in agreement: Love, Simon is not only a triumph of cinema, but a huge leap toward a long overdue and desperately needed cultural shift.

Why is it so important? For one, it’s probably the first rom-com with the power to save literal lives. 

Data indicates that LQBTQ+ teens are at a much higher risk of attempted suicide or suicidal thoughts. As a recent report from CNN noted, a 2015 study conducted in the United States found that 40 percent of high school students who identify as “gay, lesbian or bisexual or questioning” had “seriously” considered suicide at one point or another. (It’s important to note those numbers donot include transgender teens.)

Non-profit organizations like Dan Savage and husband Terry Miller’s It Gets Better Project have worked hard to provide everyone who identifies as LGBTQ, and youths in particular, with the support system needed to combat this too-common sentiment. But a mainstream Hollywood movie that addresses the joys of gay high school experiences as well as the difficulties has the potential to reach people on a much larger scale.

And that’s not to mention the important fact that this stellar, young cast isn’t just diverse in terms of sexual orientation, but also race:

In 2016, groundbreaking Best Picture winner Moonlight shined a bright light on the especially isolating experience of being gay, black, and male in America, from youth to adulthood. That stark portrait and its success sparked an important conversation that Love, Simon continues in its own uniquely impactful way.

It should go without saying, but Love, Simon is not just an important film for LGBTQ+ people. As Franklin put it, “calling it a gay teen rom-com seems to do Love, Simon a disservice because it’s so much more than that.” This movie reflects reality by showing a broad spectrum of love and coming-of-age issues, including those of straight people. 

Heterosexual people and their relationships still dominate mainstream culture, and LGBTQ+ folks have had no problem identifying with the universal experience of love depicted in all those rom-coms. Love, Simon steps out of that heteronormative mindset, but it’s still for everyone.

Representation in mainstream culture leads to normalization. As a gatekeeper of what our culture views as “normal,” Hollywood has the power to breed life-changing empathy toward LGBTQ+ folks in those who struggle to see outside their own heterosexual lives.

New Movie Reviews

Ready Player One review Spielberg’s shiny VR caper isn’t worth playing

Charmaine Blake

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Flashy adaptation of the book is full of pop culture references and striking visuals but a thin plot and shallow characters

With the help of Van Halens Jump, Steven Spielbergs Ready Player One launches its video game adventure story at full speed. The year is 2045; the place is Columbus, Ohio. Our hero, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), fills in the details while climbing past his grungy homes of his town, the stacks, where trailer parks are piled on top of each other sky-high. Things are so miserable in Wades world, everyone escapes to play in an immersive virtual reality game known as the Oasis. Its Steve Jobs-like founder, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) is worshipped like a god until his death some years before. However, before he left the mortal world, the benevolent creator left behind a series of games that would reward the winner with the Willie Wonka-like prize of the keys to his virtual kingdom.

Thats a lot of story to race through in two hours and 20 minutes, but Spielberg paces his movie to fly past the films explanations of events as quickly as possible. The conflict is straightforward and simple: our hero and his friends must outplay the corporate bad guys led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) and beat him to the three keys that would control the game. Some scenes are just too bloated with with trivia to have any real weight. The information isnt given in a casual, conversational way, but in a pretentious manner, as if theyre trying to impress you with minutiae.

The Ernest Cline novel on which its based on is perhaps best known for its many pop culture references. The film follows suit with a soundtrack filled with an upbeat selection of greatest hits from the 80s, with a few interlopers from the 70s. The deepest cut is perhaps Princes I Wanna Be Your Lover, but the rest are songs you likely know the lyrics to. Its tragic that all history of pop culture post-1989 seems to have been lost, but anyone who remembers the 80s may feel nostalgic spotting artifacts from their past. A DeLorean! Theres Batman! Thats the … Holy Hand Grenade? Theres even a few nods to Spielbergs movies, like when a T-Rex chases a car in Jurassic Park. Its easy to get distracted by these cameos on the edge of the story.

The film mimics video games weightless camera, creating a floating point of view around fight scenes and chase scenes. While thrilling to watch, its a style that left me queasy from motion sickness. The spinning is sometimes so fast, its tough to figure out which player is winning or who is fighting who. With too much movement, momentum is lost. The audience has to regain its footing in the story before running off towards the finish line.

While the movie is visually whimsical with its design and neon colors, the weakness of the source material still pokes out. Plot holes remain, despite screenwriter Zak Penn and Spielbergs efforts to liven up the visuals and punch up the dialogue. Im not sure I have a great understanding of how the game mechanics are supposed to work. If movement is required to move an avatar in the game, how do people play in the Oasis while standing in their living rooms?

For a movie about the heros journey, theres no arc for any of the characters. Theyre all already heroes, the big bad is evil from start to finish. Sheridan isnt given enough to act on. Wade and his teammates are almost interchangeable, save for a few differences in height and race. The grown-ups seem to enjoy their roles a bit more than the very serious group of young gamers. Mendelsohn has some fun playing a slippery villain, and Rylance is reliably childish as the Wonka/Jobs hybrid.

Tye
Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke in Ready Player One. Photograph: Jaap Buitendijk

Unfortunately, Ready Player One has a noticeable girl problem: it cant see female characters as just other people. For as skilled and resourceful as Art3mis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke) is, her avatar is that of an impossible pixie dream girl a creature with a svelte body, anime-inspired big eyes, weapons training and the person who knows and loves almost every reference Wade makes. Of course, shes damaged with a birthmark on her face, and hes the only nice guy who can see that shes truly beautiful. Samantha is the artificially programed Eve to Wades Adam, but worse because she never gets the chance to sin.

Those who come away cheering for Ready Player One will likely have enjoyed the films many references, the storys breakneck speed and playful visual design. Others may want to unplug from the paint-by-number characters and shallow plot. The film has much to say about our present-day fixation on nostalgia. So many characters pine to go back to their 80s future, but some of us want to see whats next. Theres no leveling up or cheat codes that can help with that.

  • Ready Player One is released in the UK and US on 29 March

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/mar/12/ready-player-one-review-spielbergs-shiny-vr-caper-isnt-worth-playing

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