When it comes to sports on film, none transfer to a composed and contained visual medium quite like boxing. Two men, and in some cases women, square off in a confined arena below the spotlights of show time. The action is fast, but not too fast, and in the end, a winner’s hand is raised while the music soars. And while boxing provides the draw for Hands of Stone — based on the true-life story of Panamanian champ, Roberto Durán (Edgar Ramírez) — the movie offers little else in the dramatics department to make it a full course meal. Durán was … Continue reading HANDS OF STONE


Cinema feeds on cinema. No cinematic work is crafted in a vacuum and contemporary works refer back to previous ones. Sometimes in very inventive ways, other times for nothing more that pure derivation. They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it can be. But it can also be plain laziness. That laziness is what makes Todd Phillips’s latest, War Dogs, such a disappointment. Here are a story and a style, extremely familiar and highly derivative for all the wrong reasons. Based on the Rolling Stones article, “The Stoner Arms Dealers: How Two American Kids Became Big-Time … Continue reading WAR DOGS


Kubo and the Two Strings — the latest stop-motion animation from the Portland-based Laika Entertainment — opens with a fantastic piece of advice: “If you must blink, do it now.” With that, director Travis Knight drops the audience into a fairy tale that races along without pausing to catch the audience up with a backstory. Much like Lucas’s Star Wars, Kubo builds worlds first and answers questions later. The attentive viewer need not fear: comprehension is possible without explanation. That is the nature of classic folk tales. Or fairy tale, myth, story; call it what you will, but all are … Continue reading KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS