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Non-Review Review: Parkland

There are few moments that hold as much sway over American popular consciousness as the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Perhaps only the moon landing or the news footage of the 9/11 attacks could compete from the last half-century of history. The assassination and its aftermath have been discussed and reconsidered countless times in the decades since those shots rang out in Dallas. There are those who continue to believe in some sinister conspiracy, while others seem to accept the probability that the nation was rocked by the actions of a single disturbed individual.

Parkland offers relatively little to the discussion, focusing on the stories unfolding around the assassination and the lives that intersect with the famous historical figures who pass through the narrative. While it’s a nice idea in practice, these sorts of historical ensemble pieces can be tricky, as Bobby demonstrated rather recently. There’s a sense that even some of these characters who find themselves caught up in events larger than themselves have become figures of interest themselves, and a scant 93 minutes isn’t enough to peel back any layers or reveal anything particularly insightful.

Sadly, the characters are not as well developed...

Sadly, the characters are not as well developed…

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Non-Review Review: Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots is a fun film. It’s a very fun family film that works because it never takes itself too serious. Breaking free of the increasingly irrelevant Shrek films, which devolved into exactly the type of feel-good fairy tale stories they originally savagely lampooned, Puss in Boots benefits from the freedom to define its own identity. Of course, it retains the trappings (after all, Puss inhabits a world with Jack and Jill and Humpty Dumpty and Little Boy Blue), but it doesn’t carry the same level of baggage that its parent series does. It’s not a vicious parody of Disney values, and in fact feels remarkably straight-forward. However, the simplicity of its approach is remarkably endearing, and means it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the ride. Puss in Boots is solidly entertaining family fair, arriving perfectly in time for the holidays.

Here, kitty kitty kitty...

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Non-Review Review: Armageddon

At least Michael Bay’s Armageddon is honest with you from the opening moments. A deep and thoughtful voice provides an explanation of how a single hunk of space rock managed to wipe out the dinosaurs, complete with an illustration of that important moment. Now, as a viewer, you are confronted with two options. Your choice will define whether you enjoy the movie, or whether it ends up causing you serious physical pain. Your options are: (a.) sit back and enjoy the fact that Bay opened his movie with a pseudo-science lecture which had the decency to include an explosion with the force of “ten thousand nuclear bombs”; (b.) wonder why, if this scene is set millions of years ago, the continents are all in exactly the same places they are today.

We'll always have Paris... Oh, wait...

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Blood on Film: Violence and Morality…

I am always fascinated about discussions over violence in movies. Mostly because it’s one of those “hot button” issues which always comes up in some context or another and is typically portrayed as an argument with two extremes. This week, while promoting his new movie Faster, actor Billy Bob Thornton offered his own opinion of modern movie-making:

In our current state of affairs, especially in the entertainment business, we’re living in a time when we’re making — in my humble opinion — the worst movies in history.

They’re geared toward the video game-playing generation. And these video games, which I’m on my son about constantly, these games are people killing for fun, and I think traditionally in movies, there’s always been some kind of lesson in the violent movies.

In fairness, Thornton is a typically controversial figure (for example, recently alienating Canadian fans), but it’s an interesting idea to look at – the assumption that violence (and specifically how it is handled) can contribute to a movie’s quality (or lack thereof). Is he being just a little melodramatic?

Well, it is the second of December...

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