Review – Licorice Pizza (2021)

Licorice Pizza (2021) - IMDb

by Armando Vanegas

It’s not a surprise that 2021 has been a trash ass year. It’s unanimously ties with 2020 as the worst years in human history. Seriously, has anyone said 1990 or 1979 was trash? No, because coronavirus didn’t exist then. So therefore, those are wrong answers. Licorice Pizza comes at a great time where we need an escape. This year hasn’t exactly been as exciting or as satisfying when it comes to movies personally because art is in a weird place right now and emotionally, a lot of movies didn’t hit as hard as I would’ve liked. Licorice Pizza, though, is one of the few movies that actually delivered for me this year. It worked for me precisely because it’s a movie that refuses to live in the now and instead recognizes the joys of being young when you didn’t have as many worries in the world in a time when things just felt less complicated. I’m not going to be all hyperbolic and say that it was so thrilling that the edge of my seat needed an edge of the seat or that it’s going to bring movies back because movies never left. What are you talking about? But I did enjoy it a lot due to its clear inspiration from films like American Graffiti and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted a gratifying coming of age story that feels like a great return to the vibe of Boogie Nights.

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Review – Good Boys (2019)

by Armando Vanegas

Studio comedies are in a weird place right now. For some time, there was a time where every other week, there was a comedy coming out that looked good to me. Most of the time, I seemed pretty pleased with what I got. Even the worst ones had something to giggle at, for the most part. Perhaps the fact that Judd Apatow had smash hits with The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up made a lot of studios wake up for a bit and try harder for a little while. Nowadays, I barely see many come out and most of the recent ones that do underwhelm me. It could also be more that I changed or the movies changed or most likely, both. Whatever it was, Good Boys has come around to bring some much needed laughs to the movies. While it seemed like the kind of movie that was going to follow the trend of being forgettable, I heard some good buzz that indicated that this was going to be a fun time and it delivered on that. The trailer wasn’t much of an indicator of its quality since it wanted me to think it was funny solely because it featured kids using profanity. I wondered how much that could carry a movie. As it so happens, there is more to the movie than that. While it does follow a lot of the same beats as other coming-of age comedies like Superbad or even this year’s Booksmart, it’s a movie that’s concerned with just making you laugh. If you’re looking to have a hilarious time at the movies, Good Boys will do the trick.

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Review – Good Boys (2019)

by Nile Fortner

Even though the movie Good Boys has some wacky, gross-out jokes, and 12-year-olds in outrageous situations, this film has a lot of heart, especially towards the end. The movie’s charm comes from the way producer Seth Rogen and debut-director Gene Stupnitsky showcase the innocence of kids. The comedy comes from that innocence of children talking about things in an adult perspective. This film follows a similar format of Superbad or more recently Booksmart.

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Review – Booksmart (2019)

by Kevin Muller

Olivia Wilde has been in the business for over ten years. As an actress, she’s juggled a career starring in both projects on television and film. On top of being strikingly beautiful, she carries herself with confidence, possessing both a razor sharp wit and deep intellect. Both her parents were respected journalists that rubbed elbows with many influential people during their careers. Wilde has spoken of many anecdotes, from her childhood, involving people from the political and entertainment world. She has been surrounded by respected people all her life. It is a lot to live up to and now she has challenged herself to be more than a pretty face. She has tried her hand at directing a coming of age story, with two female leads. How does she do with her first directorial debut?

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Review – Booksmart (2019)

by Old King Clancy

Going into Booksmart, I’d had the film on the edge of my radar, mostly due to it being the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde, the strong reviews and was being touted as the female Superbad. This was a description I later found out was more apt than I initially thought with one of the lead actresses being Jonah Hill’s sister – but had I not been given a free ticket to see the film early, I might have waited before checking this one out. Instead, I’m going to use this platform to tell people to go out there and see this film because it’s a hilarious, dirty, and an unclichéd look into female friendships and the life of a modern high-school student that deserves more than just being called the female Superbad.

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Review – All These Small Moments (2019)

Molly Ringwald & More Deliver Big Performances & Heart in the Film ‘All These Small Moments’

by Nile Fortner

Molly Ringwald is back with a talented cast that includes 2014’s The Guest star Brendan Meyer, Girls TV show star Jemima Kirke, and director Kevin Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith, in Melissa Miller Costanzo’s directorial debut.  Costanzo, who has worked in the art department for such films as The Fighter and Precious, gives us a look at young Howie who has had a rough year. He broke his arm, he along with his brother have to deal with their parents unraveling marriage, and the only thing that keeps Howie going is his love for a mysterious woman.

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Review – Eighth Grade (2018)

By Armando Vanegas 

Comedian Bo Burnham’s feature film debut Eighth Grade, a new movie about a young girl going through the last week of eighth grade, will probably make most people’s skin crawl, due to how it manages to hit so close to home depending on one’s personal childhood experiences. But it made this reviewer feel very engaged and invested for just that reason due in part to Burnham’s skills behind the camera. He makes a rather simple slice of life story as convincing enough for someone like its introverted and social media obsessed main character Kayla, played by actress Elsie Fisher. Fisher proves to have a future in movies as her role fits her like a glove. She doesn’t so much announce herself as a star in the making, so much as she quietly nudges to the person next to her and writes it in a note to pass it down the theater aisle. She finds a way to make this character both sympathetic and off-putting, sometimes in the same scene. She makes the moments of her character’s anxiety feel too real and gives a lot of unexpected tension to the proceedings. She also successfully manages to embody the feeling of alienation that one gets from that awkward time in one’s life while struggling to make a connection through social media. This is one of the ways the movie manages to subvert expectations while being more thoughtful and emotionally in-depth than most other coming of age movies.

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