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Thursday, June 11,2015

On agents and agency

‘Spy’ treats Melissa McCarthy like a real person%u2028

By Ryan Syrek
Melissa McCarthy is immensely talented, armed with a stunning repertoire of acting skills. So, of course, Hollywood sees her and claps its collective hands together, yelling “Make the funny lady fall down again!” Spy is writer/director (and frequent McCarthy collaborator) Paul Feig’s attempt to save his friend from a Jack Blackian fate. In a clever conceit, he allows McCarthy to trot out her staid, clichéd usual characters, only to abandon them in favor of something authentic. Had it not been for one painfully tone deaf, unfunny, offensive running gag, Spy would have been damn good and not simply good.
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Thursday, June 4,2015

Quake and stakes

‘San Andreas’ is morally terrible, kind of watchable

By Ryan Syrek
As people die in ugly, awful ways all around him, Ray ignores them in order to save his estranged wife and loving daughter. If you’re not related to Ray, sorry about your death by fire or pulverization, but you can’t ride in the city’s helicopter or the plane he steals, truck he steals or boat he steals.
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Thursday, May 28,2015

All refrain

‘Pitch Perfect 2’ is a worthy encore

By Ryan Syrek
Fact: It’s harder to make people laugh than cry. Fact: It’s harder to make someone laugh a second time than the first. Conclusion: Comedy sequels are the hardest sequels to make satisfying. Pitch Perfect was a comedy ninja, stealthily stepping from shadows to chuck a throwing star of hilarity into the funny bone of unsuspecting viewers. But Pitch Perfect 2 is an encore performed before a ravenously loyal crowd demanding to hear certain hits. It’s clear that everyone, including first-time director Elizabeth Banks, felt the pressure to obey the raised lighters in the audience and repeat certain notes, lest those lighters become torches and pitchforks.
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Thursday, May 21,2015

Men ruin everything

Yes, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is as good as you’ve heard%u2028

By Ryan Syrek
This isn’t to say that the film isn’t speaking volumes. Hell, it’s not even speaking: it’s shouting and screaming over a wailing guitar riff. The brides scrawl graffiti in the dungeon they escaped, reading “We are not things” and “Who killed the world?” The latter has a clear answer: Dudes.
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Thursday, May 14,2015

Sodium eyewater

‘The Salt of the Earth’ swims in human suffering

By Ryan Syrek
The last one, “Genesis,” is beautiful and moving. It ties in to Salgado and Wanick’s Institutio Terra, which is a restoration of part of a rainforest that began in the 1990s. Yeah, they rebuilt a rainforest, in case you feel like recycling is a bit too much effort on your part to save the planet.
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Thursday, May 7,2015

Are you not entertained?!

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is a joyous spectacle

By Ryan Syrek
Another epic tale about incredibly powerful beings fighting against one another with melodramatic overtones? Ugh.
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Thursday, April 30,2015

Let’s not be gods

‘Ex Machina’ is a thoughtful thriller%u2028

By Ryan Syrek
This is in stark contrast to the muted Caleb, a painfully shy nice dude who is overwhelmed by the opportunity in front of him. That opportunity? To be the human component in the “Turing Test,” which determines whether a computer has achieved true artificial intelligence.
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Thursday, April 23,2015

Sexually transmitted ignorance

‘It Follows’ reminds you sex = death%u2028

By Ryan Syrek
David, I know it’s hard to find good actors and actresses, especially young ones. But there are local car commercials with more convincing performances than this. Like, it’s easier to believe Crazy Larry actually is losing his mind over those low, low prices than that Kelly (Lili Sepe) gives a shit about her sister’s vaginal possession.
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Thursday, April 16,2015

The bacon of blockbusters

‘Furious 7’ is gloriously unnecessary%u2028

By Ryan Syrek
The “plot” this time out, as if we need bother with such crap when there are cars to drive fast and people to punch, sees Deckard Shaw ( Jason Statham) looking to murder Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his crew, including Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Brian (Paul Walker), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Ludacris) and Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson).
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Thursday, April 2,2015

Unlucky harms

‘’71’ features a soldier with many troubles

By Ryan Syrek
Americans can barely be bothered to care about civil unrest and violence currently unfolding on their own soil, let alone on another continent… let alone a conflict that has since resolved years ago.
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