OnScreen Review: "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?"

OnScreen Review: "Won’t You Be My Neighbor?"

For many, many years, Mister Rogers was a staple of PBS and children’s lives in America. I remember watching him as a child growing up in the 80s. He was far from my favorite show as a kid, but there is no denying that he was a distinct part of my childhood. All these years later, even if I can’t remember all the words to the song to “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” I can at least remember the tune, Mister Rogers coming in through the door, changing into his sweater and changing his shoes, the trolley to the neighborhood of make-believe, and then the closing song “It’s Such a Good Feeling.” My experience with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was limited to my own individual childhood viewing for a few years, and so it was great to get to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor? to gain a greater appreciation for who Fred Rogers was and how radical his show truly was.

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MIFF 2018 – Part 1

MIFF 2018 – Part 1

Last year, I attended my first film festival. The Maine International Film Festival (MIFF) is a 10-day event in Waterville, ME run by the Maine Film Center. It is hosted at two locations: The Railroad Square Cinema, a small three-screen theater that is one of the rare independent theaters in the northeast, and the Waterville Opera House, located in the heart of downtown Waterville. When I attended MIFF last year, I could only do two days, but I made the most of them, seeing a maximum of seven films over those two days. I so thoroughly enjoyed my experience that I was determined to come back this year for more.

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OnScreen Review: "Ant-Man and the Wasp"

OnScreen Review: "Ant-Man and the Wasp"

It seems like it gets lost in the shuffle in comparison to all of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe properties, but 2015’s Ant-Man is an easily enjoyable movie. Despite some initial questions about Paul Rudd being tapped to join the MCU, Ant-Man has slid right in alongside all the others in the MCU rather smoothly. In addition to being a superhero flick, it was also a good genre heist movie as well. This time around, it’s more of a straightforward action movie, though still tempered with plenty of comedy.

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OnScreen Review: "Sicario: Day of the Soldado"

OnScreen Review: "Sicario: Day of the Soldado"

I’m a huge sports fan. Growing up in New England, I have gotten to experience more than my fair share of championship teams this century. There is a lot of turnover in sports now, with players switching teams regularly. Every once in a while, a team has an exceptional season and wins a title, but loses some key players through free agency or retirement, and the next year they aren’t terrible, but they just aren’t the same as the year before because they were unable to replace those key players. Some of the elements are there, but there is just too much missing of what made the team great.

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OnScreen Review: "First Reformed"

OnScreen Review: "First Reformed"

Can God forgive us?

This is half of a question raised in the film First Reformed, words that linger over everything that transpires in this unique concoction from writer/director Paul Schrader. Schrader is most known for being the screenwriter of some of Martin Scorsese’s biggest films: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ. These are provocative films, and First Reformed is also a film that intends to provoke and move the viewer.

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OnScreen Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"

OnScreen Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"

We have a special fascination with dinosaurs. Maybe because their skeletons remained preserved for us to discover them and learn about them. Maybe it is because they were at the top of the food chain on this planet before we were around and we now reside in the spot they once occupied. Maybe because dinosaurs are just cool when you first learn about them as a kid. Whatever the reason, a bestselling book named Jurassic Park was became a blockbuster movie in the 90s. It spawned two sequels that were decidedly less impressive than the original. Three years ago, this franchise, once thought to be extinct, was brought back to life in a hugely successful blockbuster, Jurassic World. Given how Hollywood works, there was no way there wouldn’t be a sequel. And given how, apparently, this franchise works, there was no way that this sequel would not come close to matching the success of its predecessor. And so now we must deal with the dino dropping that is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

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OnScreen Review: "The Incredibles 2"

OnScreen Review: "The Incredibles 2"

There are fewer bankable guarantees in film than Pixar productions. Their track record speaks for itself, the Cars franchise notwithstanding (Hey, nobody bats 1.000). It’s hard to believe that it’s been 14 years since The Incredibles came out in 2004. With all of the Pixar films I have enjoyed, The Incredibles remains firmly in my Top 5 for Pixar (In order: Wall-E, Inside Out, Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, and Up.). The Incredibles 2 is the 20th feature film release from Pixar and it more than measures up to the stature of the original.

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OnScreen Review: "Hereditary"

OnScreen Review: "Hereditary"

If the D+ Cinemascore is any indication, people need to prepare one of two ways for seeing Hereditary. General mainstream audiences tend to have certain expectations of a movie in the horror genre. If a movie is marketed as the best horror movie of the year, that also tends to put certain expectations in people’s minds. And when a horror movie refuses to conform to the generally agreed upon ideas of what a horror movie is supposed to be, audiences tend to reject them. Hereditary is not a mainstream horror movie. In a lot of ways it is a throwback but also its own unique thing. If that is of interest to you, then you need to prepare for an unnerving viewing experience. I thought I was prepared, and I was wrong.

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OnScreen Review: "Ocean's 8"

OnScreen Review: "Ocean's 8"

When I first heard that they were making Ocean’s 8, I was skeptical. I was unimpressed with the all-female Ghostbusters movie, despite being a fan of the cast. I am not much of a fan of Hollywood’s apparent decision to make every franchise some kind of shared cinematic universe like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It works for Marvel, it quickly loses its appeal much beyond that. And while every film should be taken on its own merits, I’m not a fan of the gender-swap trend that seems to be happening in Hollywood; I am a fan of a lot of films featuring great female actresses, and I want more movie roles for them overall, but I also want more original roles for them to play (and, really, I’ve been beating the drum for more original content in Hollywood in general for years). So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this spinoff from the Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney trilogy of films of the last decade.

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The SNL End-of-Season Report Card

The SNL End-of-Season Report Card

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the cast of Saturday Night Live. At the end of each season, there is a sense of limbo as the status of cast members is unknown. Many come back, some leave, but it's been proven time and time again that in the cut-throat halls of 30 Rockefeller Center, it's safe not to get too attached to a cast member. So let's break it down and see how the cast fared this year. 

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OnScreen Review: "Solo: A Star Wars Story"

OnScreen Review: "Solo: A Star Wars Story"

If the tale as old as time is Beauty and the Beast, the oldest tale in Hollywood might be the troubled production. For all of the financial and critical success of the Star Wars franchise since it was bought by Disney and they set out to launch a new trilogy and a slew of spin-offs and origin stories, there has been a lot of behind the scenes turmoil, most notably on Solo: A Star Wars Story, where the originals directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired for “creative differences” and replaced with Ron Howard, who reshot approximately 70% of the film. Typically, troubled productions produce troubling results, so a lot of curiosity has surrounded this spin-off about a young Han Solo.

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OnScreen Review: "Deadpool 2"

OnScreen Review: "Deadpool 2"

Deadpool is a character that Ryan Reynolds was born to play. This was clearly established in 2016’s Deadpool, which was wildly successfully and unabashedly R-rated and irreverently funny. After raking in a stunning $363 million domestically, a sequel was a sure thing, they even announcing during the post-credits that a sequel was going to introduce the character of Cable.

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OnScreen Review: Short Film Series at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival

OnScreen Review: Short Film Series at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival

Normally, most of the readers on this blog know me to be someone who covers theatre. That’s been where most of my background as an artist has been, and it’s what first led me to want to write for a website such as On Stage Blog, in the first place. However, after reviewing a number of theatrical productions this past month at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival, I also had the chance to attend their short film series which occurred early this month, which includes a high-quality selection of films that, for the most part, left me quite impressed…

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The CW Passes on "Wayward Sisters" for Some Odd Reason

The CW Passes on "Wayward Sisters" for Some Odd Reason

Thirteen seasons in and no signs of stopping, there is no doubt that Supernatural is The CW's most popular show right now and arguably, ever. But with more seasons behind them than in front of them, it would make sense for the network to take advantage of creative pathways to keep the Winchester Universe alive as well as hold on to their ever-faithful fans. 

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OnScreen Review: "Tully"

OnScreen Review: "Tully"

One of the things I love most about movies is that they can be a glimpse into the lives and experiences of others. There is only so much of the world I can experience from my little corner of the globe in Maine, even if it is “the way life should be.” Movies provide a chance from the comfort of a living room or movie theater to see things from someone else’s perspective and partake in experiences that are different than my own.  I love sitting in the darkness of a movie theater, near the front so that the screen takes up practically my entire field of vision, and immerse myself in someone else’s world for that brief bit of time. In a time when we seem to be in desperate need of it, movies can serve as great empathy vehicles as we walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. That may be with a character that doesn’t even speak our language or look the same as me from the other side of the globe, or it can be something domestic but still different from my individual life.

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OnScreen Review: "Isle of Dogs"

OnScreen Review: "Isle of Dogs"

There is a 2012 piece in The New Yorker that came out after Moonrise Kingdom (my favorite Wes Anderson film), titled “Does Wes Anderson Hate Dogs?” Given the fate of Buckley in The Royal Tenenbaums and Snoopy in Moonrise Kingdom (still my favorite Wes Anderson film), I suppose it was a fair question to ask. Maybe Wes Anderson read that article, maybe he didn’t, but Isle of Dogs is an emphatic answer to that question, not in the least because the title literally sounds like “I love dogs” when spoken quickly. It’s also Anderson’s second stop-motion animated feature after his 2009 adaptation Fantastic Mr. Fox.

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2nd Opinion Review: "Avengers: Infinity War"

2nd Opinion Review: "Avengers: Infinity War"

People who know me, know that I am a massive geek. My all time favourite movie was Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, mainly because of how indulgent it is to watch with acting royalty such as Christian Bale, Michael Caine and of course Heath Ledger's with his iconic portrayal as the joker. However, that film is no longer number one on my list, The Dark Knight is number two. What is number one you ask? Well, I have just seen Avengers Infinity War and Marvel have just head-butted DC to the ground with a freaking stunning piece of superhero galore.

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OnScreen Review: "Avengers: Infinity War"

OnScreen Review: "Avengers: Infinity War"

It’s all been building to this. Except for when everything was building to The Avengers. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been building to this moment, more or less, over the last decade’s worth of movies, eighteen so far. Avengers: Infinity War is supposed to represent the beginning of the end for what is known as Phase Three of the MCU. With a planned (and already filmed) sequel due to arrive next summer that concludes the story, Infinity War leaves Earth’s mightiest heroes hanging on a perilous note with the stakes pushed higher than perhaps any movie has ever pushed the stakes before.

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