Ep. 128 – Toy Story 4

June 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod try to determine the worthiness of “Toy Story 4.”

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Ep. 122 – Shazam!, Unicorn Store, and the runtime of Avengers: Endgame

April 8, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod dive into “Shazam!” and “Unicorn Store.” They also discuss the 3 hour runtime of “Avengers: Endgame” and the controversial practice of splitting movies in two.

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The End of the Tour

August 15, 2015 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Joan Cusack
Directed by: James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”)
Written by: Donald Margulies (debut)

More than a simple heartfelt tribute to someone who is considered by many as one of this generation’s greatest writers, “The End of the Tour” really wants to understand what exactly was going on in the head of late novelist David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) during the pinnacle of his career when he wrote his epic novel Infinite Jest in the mid-90s. It’s an answer director James Ponsoldt (“The Spectacular Now”) and his former college professor and first-time screenwriter Donald Margulies are ultimately unable to offer audiences, but should still be commended for crafting a fascinating and personal character without doing what most films of this nature can sometimes do and turn its main subject into a sacred idol. We may not get any answers from “The End of the Tour,” but with a personality as complex as Wallace’s, it’s difficult to know where the talent and the tortured soul begin and end. Or if one can even exist without the other.

Featuring Segel as Wallace during a five-day-long interview session on the last leg of his Infinite Jest book tour with Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), “The End of the Tour” pits writer versus writer in an intimate retelling of what Lipsky wrote in his own book, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, which was published two years after Wallace committed suicide in 2008 at the age of 46. Wallace’s death bookends the film as we watch Eisenberg’s Lipsky receive news of Wallace’s suicide and immediately goes into his closet to retrieve the box of recordings of their five-day-long interview, an interview that never actually saw the light of day at Rolling Stone.

With Lipsky’s book, and now with Ponsoldt’s film, fans of Wallace’s writing can get a sense of who Wallace was depending on whether or not you believe Lipsky’s and Segel’s versions of the beloved author are something you consider authentic. While some may argue that Segel does not present a true representation of who Wallace was (read The Guardian‘s review by Wallace’s friend Glenn Kenny), he does create a character with enough depth and interesting perspective to care for him as a real person. What is even more thought-provoking, however, is the dynamic between Segel and Eisenberg as the two men push and pull each other into uncomfortable and emotional corners that neither probably though they would find themselves in when their interview first begins. Think of it as conversational theater.

My Sister’s Keeper

June 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Sofia Vassilieva, Abigail Breslin
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes (“The Notebook”)
Written by: Nick Cassavetes (“Alpha Dog”) and Jeremy Leven (“Alex and Emma”)

There’s so much negative connotation when a film is referred to as a Lifetime Movie of the Week. Typically, this signifies the movie is cliché, overacted, and sappy and usually about spousal abuse or someone dying of a mysterious disease or someone fighting an addiction. But in the entire history of the Lifetime Channel, isn’t it possible that at least one of those dramas was actually watchable to more than the female demographic it caters to?

“My Sister’s Keeper” isn’t a Movie of the Week, but if it were it would be that unmentioned tear-jerker that is the exception to the TV-movie rule. Although it tries to slide into that position in the final act, director/writer Nick Cassavetes (“The Notebook”) and the entire cast create a poignant foundation where family thresholds are tested with life and death scenarios.

Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Jodi Picoult, “My Sister’s Keeper” tells the story of the Fitzgerald family, who are waiting helplessly as their oldest child, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), slowly dies of leukemia. Through nonlinear storytelling, we watch parents Sara and Brian (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) faced with a decision to have another child (Abigail Breslin) so that later in life when their sick daughter needs a new kidney, a carefully customized baby with the same chromosomal makeup would be available. Along with an inevitable surgery, their engineered daughter, Andromeda (did they really have to make her name sound so sci-fi?), would also be used to collect blood cells and bone marrow to keep her older sister alive.

But by the age of 11, Andromeda doesn’t want to be a lab rat anymore. When Kate finally needs a kidney transplant, the family is shocked when Andromeda hires a high-profile lawyer (Alec Baldwin) and sues her parents for “medical emancipation,” which means she can’t be forced to give her kidney to her sister.

Of course, this splits the family down the center and forces them into court. Sara, who was a lawyer before she stopped practicing to care for Kate, is beyond disbelief because her own daughter would allow her sister to die. Compassionate father Brian, sees both sides of the argument. What kind of life would Andromeda lead if the transplant wasn’t a success?

It an ethical mindbender as the family waits as Kate becomes sicker. “I don’t mind my disease killing me,” Kate says, “but it’s killing my family, too.” While it would have been easily to let the sentimentality wander all over the place, Cassavetes stays focused on the issue at hand and allows his characters to work their way through these scenes organically.

With some effective performances by all the women – Diaz, Vassilieva, Breslin, and Joan Cusack as the judge hearing the case who is going through her own tragedy – the film is touching on many levels despite unnecessarily dabbling in melodramatic tone. When only the heart of the matter is at the forefront, “My Sister’s Keeper” is a moving piece.