Review: Z for Zachariah

Excerpt: Z for Zachariah doesn’t focus on the over-dramatics associated with post-apocalyptic films. In it’s beautiful, natural landscapes it shows how three people are serendipitously united in one of the few areas in the world that is not irradiated.  The pacing is so steady and consistent that you can almost not fault it. ‘Almost’ being the key word. There are moments where the story and even sound design makes you think the film is going to take a suspenseful thriller pace, but after the sound cues subside we are back where we started. Each has their own views on the direction they’d like their future to take and who they want to be part of it.

RATING: ★★★★★★★ (7/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks

Review: Grandma

Excerpt: Grandma boasts a strong, female ensemble cast that is as diverse as it is talented. Laverne Cox and Judy Greer are just a few of the great actresses in this film. This was also one of the last films that the late Elizabeth Peña was in, and she plays a coffee shop owner who is ready for a rumble anytime. Julia Garner’s character is meant to represent the fading of the feminist ideals that Tomlin’s generation fought for. This becomes obvious when the only Mystique (feminine or otherwise) that Garner’s character knows is the one from the X-Men. Ironically enough, Mystique from X-Men is a complex feminist character in her own way, but you’ll have to read the comics to get more on that. Marcia Gay Harden’s character is meant to portray the feminist extreme, where you cut men out of your life completely and focus solely on self-sufficiency and career advancement. Both are meant to show the extremes and how one is the symptom of the other, with Harden’s character being too busy to instill the ideals she grew up with.

RATING: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks

Review: Digging for Fire

Excerpt:  The quiet development of the story is both a gift and a curse. Digging for Fire‘s leisurely pace actively mimics the slow speed in which our own conversations turn into profundities. The only difference is that we tend to be part of our own conversations, so boredom is rarely an option. Watching everything unfold on-screen can be trying since much of the conversation has the possibility of coming off as mundane. The stodginess recedes once the conversation gets to the weighty ideas they have been slowly building up to making them mostly worth the trip. That is where the pacing can play a big role. For the most part, this film takes its consistently steady pace as we get to know the characters. Then, there is a turn, where the tension increases and the suspenseful elements come into play, saving the film from monotony.

RATING: ★★★★★★ (6/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks

Review: American Ultra

Excerpt: “ In American Ultra, director Nima Nouridazeh likes to pile on scenes of action and fighting to confuse into believing there is anything actually happening. Without a great story behind it, everything just feels like a violent opera performance on mute. Sure, it’s great to look at, and entertaining to a certain degree, but ultimately without substance. Substances, on the other hand, they had plenty of. I may have even enjoyed this stoner film if I had emulated the main character before seeing it. Missed opportunity, I suppose.

RATING: ★★★ (3/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks.

Review: Straight Outta Compton

Excerpt: Straight Outta Compton has a message for those willing to hear and see it. It’s a message about change and protest, even in the face of death. Regrettably, halfway through the film it feels as though its spirit has changed, and we find ourselves meandering through the second half. The powerful message that was at the forefront of their music is now relegated to background television chatter, drowned out by petty personal squabbles. Maybe it reflects a wider change that society insidiously went through around that time, moving from a sense of community in a shared struggle to a greater focus in self-preservation and self-interest. Either way, the dynamic energy of the film slows to a reflectionary amble as each person realizes their mistakes and the film reaches its inevitable end.

RATING: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks

Review: Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

Excerpt:  Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is full of ideas and teachings that will majestically soar miles above most children’s heads. There are lessons on marriage, divorce, freedom, and death. All are ideas too complex, and frankly unentertaining, to most kids whose parents might accidentally take them to see this film. The main story would be all but unnecessary if it wasn’t used as a vehicle to move us into the vignettes, or if it wasn’t also a chance to get to hear the voice acting talents of Salma Hayek, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina, John Krasinski, and of course Liam Neeson. Neeson’s voice lends itself especially well to the role of the Prophet, reading the prose in a calming, almost meditative way. Although the animation may flow wildly on the screen, Neeson’s voice is what anchors you to the film, and it remains your soothing guide through the entire journey.

RATING: ★★★★★★ (6/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks

Review: I Am Chris Farley

Excerpt: I Am Chris Farley has an unspoken and not fully acknowledged darkness that remains in the outskirts of the film from its beginning. It lies heavy in the air, like an obsidian elephant in the room that can only be talked about in vague terms, but never fully addressed. Going into this film, we know already broadly how Chris Farley died. Unfortunately, we don’t find out too much more about Farley’s self-destructive downfall that we didn’t already know. He was constantly in rehab and had several substance abuse problems, going through the cycle of binging and rehab like it was one of his routines. You can tell that his friends wish they had each done more to help him, and that is perhaps why many tip-toed around the topic.

RATING: ★★★★★★ (6/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks

Review: Call Me Lucky

Excerpt: The most interesting thing Call Me Lucky does is build up a character we may have been unfamiliar with at the start of the film, only to break him down again to give him even more complexity. Goldthwait, who continues to see Crimmins as an inspiration and a hero, develops the character so well that all the aggrandizing done in the first half of the film comes off as well-deserved.  Goldthwait’s honest treatment of Crimmins, along with the refusal to sugar-coat any of the events, gave the film the power to create a lasting impression on the audience. If you started this film not knowing who Barry Crimmins was at the start, it is very doubtful now that you’ll ever forget.

RATING: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks

Review: The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

Excerpt: “The quirky tone and whimsical elements of [The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet] are the perfect juxtaposition to the heaping piles of pathos that are in every cell (sometimes front and center, sometimes waiting just beneath the surface) of this film, waiting to ooze out of every scene like sap from a tree. Does that make this film sappy? At times it is a little overdone and verging on Lifetime special. There is the occasional heavy-handed use of sentiment, but thanks to cast, it comes off as more sincere than soppy most of the time.”

RATING: ★★★★★★★ (7/10 stars)

To read the rest of my review, visit The Young Folks.