Nebraska (2013)

Family is complicated, as is small town interpersonal politics. The addition of fame and a potential fortune amplifies tensions that crescendo towards a battle for personal pride. When a hapless salesman realizes his boozy old father plans to travel cross- country to claim a non-existent prize based on a misunderstanding, it’s becomes clear he’s just […]

Maze Runner: the Scorch Trials (2015)

This sequel to The Maze Runner effectively plunges its characters deeper into increasingly dark and twisted places that help train them for the ultimate test to be faced in the final installment. The continued portrayal of relationships as mutually respectful and fiercely loyal– absent of any hormone- fueled delusions– more than make up for the […]

The Maze Runner (2014)

Unfortunately, I need to preface this by saying that, despite being both sophisticated and dark, this was supposed to be a kids’ movie. It’s a significant consideration because, for some reason, it seems to garner recurring criticism over the supposedly impossible group dynamic. If we’re going to split hairs, it’s only fair to point out […]

Cool Runnings (1993)

I remember seeing this sweet and funny Jamaican bobsled team’s journey to the Olympics when it first came out. Everyone in the theater clapped at the end! When I rewatched it with a member of a much younger generation, it still held the same charm that evoked a swell of emotion capable of warming an […]

Only the Brave (2017)

Second to 9/11, the Yarnell Hill fires took the lives of the most firefighters at once. And to think I repeatedly gravitated towards this film then rejected it! I wrongly– but understandably– assumed it would either be a scrappy little high-fiver or a tribute to testosterone. Was I wrong! Not that Twister isn’t inspiring… I […]

Sneakers (1992)

A post- Cold War caper is masterminded by former hackers running a security company, who team up to save the world from cyberterrorism. Fun, right? Like any tech film, it deserves to be considered in the context of its time; juxtaposed against political uncertainty, technological innovation will always be in danger of misuse but this […]

Mystery Men (1999)

The ensemble’s inability to reach consensus– both on and off screen– works for their chemistry, or scripted lack thereof. The final product ultimately fell flat for a large portion of its audience because it’s an awkward meld of spoof, satire and homage. But isn’t that– like it or not– the essence of superhero status? Comic […]

Hell or High Water (2016)

The Western genre, a long-standing movie staple, is characterized by a rough-around-the-edges hero, who musters his steely courage in order to exact vengeance. There’s always a small but hardy village standing tough in the middle of a harsh and desolate landscape. Despite its modern context, this movie does not disappoint; especially since, unlike traditional Westerns, the protagonists have realistic flaws. The stakes are high as two brothers, a divorcee and an ex-con start robbing banks out of desperation to save their family’s dying Texas ranch. Not far behind are a couple of old pros, a ranger and his partner assigned to what was expected to be a small time offense. As the lawbreaking escalates, everyone involved quickly realizes their lives are on the line.

One Last Heist/ The Hatton Garden Job (2017)

The fact that there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking or mind-blowing would normally be a strike against a movie; but this particular caper seems to be an homage to Guy Ritchie’s signature style, rather than a knockoff. As closely as anyone could base a movie on a major British news story, several old professional thieves team up to procure retirement funds. But don’t be fooled; though they only steal from the filthy rich and never kill anyone, none of them could be compared to Robin Hood. The young’un of the bunch has specific recruiting criteria: “Now the way I see it, this is an old school gig. And needs an old school crew.” However, as one of the first of the reluctant hires points out, “There’s old school and then there’s just… old.” According to the actor who plays him, “People should see this movie because this is what your granddad was up to when you weren’t looking.”

Waking Ned Devine (1998)

Old Ned Devine bought the winning lottery ticket! Unfortunately, he died from the shock of it. His friends decide to cash in his ticket; after all, that is what their dearly departed friend would’ve wanted. Unfortunately, they must fool the man from the lotto who’s coming to verify Ned’s identity. Word travels fast in a rural village so they must enlist the help of a few others and eventually, the entire town.  Fortunately, there’s more than enough money to go around when split amongst them so everyone agrees… except for mean old Lizzie Quinn. Unfortunately, she’s determined to make good on her threat to rat them out.