Reviews

Vacation-movie-review-2015

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Vacation’ Isn’t Worth The Trip Down Holiday Road

Film: Vacation
Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth
Directed by: Jonathan M. Goldstein, John Francis Daley

Vacation–the successor to the last entry in the National Lampoon comedy series–opens on a series of pictures depicting seemingly idyllic families enjoying their vacations. In ye olde National Lampoon fashion, there are also a few visual gags centered on puking and erections (luckily, not in the same frame). From the get-go, this spiritual sequel (reboot? who cares?) is already trying to bring back the kind of humor that made the original quadrilogy so famous. Instead of relying on sight gags and absurdist …

I Am Chris Farley

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘I Am Chris Farley’ Adds Nothing New, Still Manages To Be Funny

Film: I Am Chris Farley
Directed by: Brent Hodge, Derik Murray

Chris Farley, that bubbly, rambunctious, endearing, laugh-a-minute inducing lovable Saturday Night Live comedian, is the subject of the new talking heads doc, I Am Chris Farley. Despite sporting a title that could be misread for Farley talking directly to the viewer, directors Brent Hodge (A Brony Tale) and Derik Murray (I Am Bruce Lee) make the 92-minute running time feel swift with archival footage from Farley’s best skits and first-hand accounts of his comedic prowess. The main narrative of the film may be scattershot, …

foreign tongues fragile as said before

REVIEW: Foreign Tongues – ‘Fragile, As Said Before’

Artist: Foreign Tongues
Album: Fragile, As Said Before
Label: No Sleep
Genre: Indie, Sadness

A catalyst for somber emotive imagery and tenderness felt, the best way to experience Foreign Tongues‘ debut record is by imagining a simple, empty white room, being sure to give this space enough room to bloom. A room to be filled with vast amounts of sound, pain, beauty, demure and efflorescence, as the band masterfully performs to you an album of heartfelt honesty, pain and sensation. “Fill me up, oh you fill me up.”

Fragile, As Said Before may be one of the strongest debuts …

pixels-review

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Pixels’ Is A Disaster In Every Way

Film: Pixels
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James
Directed by: Chris Columbus

Adam Sandler has official hit rock bottom, and he’s dragging your childhood heroes, as well as the great Peter Dinklage, down with him.

Pixels is exactly what we fear seeing when we pay to go to the movies. From beginning to end the film, which plays like an extended version of the spoiler heavy trailer with needless exposition added to extend its running time, is a complete waste of everything needed to make movies. The cast—while talented—folds completely under the pressure to make something memorable out of what I …

unexpected-review-2015

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Unexpected’ Is A Wonderfully Simple Indie Gem

Film: Unexpected
Starring: Cobie Smulders, Gail Bean
Directed by: Kris Swanberg

Unless you’re planning for it, the news that you’re about to have a baby can be both an exciting and terrifying experience in someone’s life. For Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders), there was probably no good time for the news that she would soon give birth to her first child to arrive. It’s not that she never wanted children, but she always planned to have them at some unknown point in the future when her life was a bit more settled. Unfortunately for Samantha, life rarely cares about the plans …

Paul-Rudd-Ant-Man-Movie

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Ant-Man’ Is One Of Marvel’s Best

Film: Ant-Man
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly
Directed by: Peyton Reed

Fear not, everyone. The reign of Marvel as the leader in modern summer entertainment is far from over.

Everyone knew from the very beginning that the third phase of Marvel’s beloved cinematic universe would need to undergo a serious evolution in order to keep moviegoers engaged, and in response to that demand the studio has pulled off something just short of magical with Ant-Man. Not quite as serious as the Avengers films, but also not so light-hearted that it overlooks the key emotional beats needed to make superhero …

2015 80/35 des moines music festival

LIVE REVIEW: 80/35 Music Festival (Day 2)

The second day of 2015′s 80/35 will not be a day forgotten any time soon.

Despite a little bit of heat, the entire day was filled with memorable sets all the way from the evening’s headliner down to the smallest local band. It doesn’t happen often in the festival world, but it just felt like one of those where every single band was putting on a show at their peak potential.

Check out what you missed:…

Trainwreck-Review

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Trainwreck’ Cruises With Help From Amy Schumer

Film: Trainwreck
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, Lebron James

Judd Apatow’s directorial features have been losing their comedic luster as of late, trading in laughs for more commonplace and conventional themes of parenthood and mid-life crises with This is 40 and Funny People. With Trainwreck, it’s like his spitfire hangout kind of humor has been revived by way of his new muse, comedienne Amy Schumer. Ripping from events in her own life, the film properly emulates the societal pressures put upon women in regards to staying monogamous while splicing through the kind …

2015 80/35 des moines music festival

LIVE REVIEW: 80/35 Music Festival (Day 1)

Day 1 of 2015′s 80/35 is in the books. The weather was beautiful, the music sounded great, the crowd showed endless enthusiasm and feet soreness is at a manageable level.

The main stage, as promised in the 80/35 preview, did not disappoint. But, aside from the top-of-the-bill acts delivering expectedly shining performances, there were some true gems hidden on the side stages. Check out the run-down of everything I caught from day 1 here:…

wolfpack-documentary-review

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Wolfpack’ Must Be Seen To Be Believed

Film: The Wolfpack
Starring: The Angulo Brothers
Directed By: Crystal Moselle

I don’t know that I have ever felt about a documentary the way I do for Crystal Moselle’s directorial debut, The Wolfpack. It’s a deeply moving look at the human experience as viewed through the eyes of a Lower Manhattan family whose only working knowledge of the world around them has been informed by their love of film. Despite what they lack on the surface however, they share an unbreakable bond that lifts their collective spirits above the immediate surroundings.

It’s not as bleak as you may think, …

The-Gallows-Review

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Gallows’ Might Be The Worst Film Of Summer 2015

Film: The Gallows
Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown
Directed by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing

2015 may be the year I finally stop defending found footage/POV storytelling in cinema. It’s been a good run, more or less, but after witnessing the hundredth-plus remix of the same twelve ideas presented with little to no original twist whatsoever in The Gallows I’m starting to believe my faith in shaky-cam storytelling has officially been depleted.

The year is 1993, and through the lens of a shoulder-mounted home video camera perched between two parents who don’t know when to shut up, we bare witness to …

Minions-movie-review

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Minions’ Is Cute, But Empty

Film: Minions
Starring: Pierre Coffin, Sandra Bullock
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda

Two years after Despicable Me 2 became one of the biggest animated films ever, Universal is trying to maximize franchise revenue with the funny, yet emotionally empty prequel, Minions.

Yes, the tiny yellow creatures that won over the hearts of children everywhere while simultaneously annoying parents with their unique, Sims-like language have been given their own adventure, and it takes place several years before the events of the first Despicable Me film. In fact, the story actually begins at the dawn of time, when …