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"A Simple Favor" is an Offbeat Little Thriller that Adeptly Wields the Talents of Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively: Review

Film Review: A Simple Favor There's a sub-genre that Hollywood has brought back in the aftermath of the massive success of David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl a few years back; the domestic thriller, usually based on a best-selling novel and usually starring a woman. Other entrants in the genre include The Girl on the Train, the upcoming The Woman in the Window, and Paul Feig's new movie A Simple Favor. I am a huge proponent of the domestic thriller, as I love twisty and often fun mysteries that also have room for some social satire. With a script by Jessica Sharzer adapted from the Darcey Bell novel, A Simple Favor offers up everything I love about the genre in exciting and unexpected new ways. 
The movie stars Blake Lively as a gorgeous, sophisticated, and deeply unhappy mother who befriends a put-together mommy vlogger (Anna Kendrick), who plays detective when Lively's character suddenly disappears.Although it shares many similarities with Gone Girl,A Simple Favo…
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A Very Female Kind of Rage: The Women of "Sharp Objects"

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR ALL OF SHARP OBJECTS TO FOLLOW 
Sharp Objects, the HBO miniseries based on the Gillian Flynn novel, concluded its eight-episode on Sunday night with a killer installment that included one heck of a twist ending: Amma (Eliza Scanlen) is the person responsible for the killings that Camille (Amy Adams) was sent back to Wind Gap to report on. This series was a lot of things; a slow-burn mystery, an intense character study, and depiction of self-harm, a showcase for terrific actors, a perfect vehicle for Jean-Marc Vallée's trademark dynamic editing style. And there is a lot I could say about it, but for now, I want to focus on how Flynn, Vallée, and Marti Noxon subvert expectations about the characters we think we know, and how easy it is to do so because of societal assumptions about women.

The set-up of Sharp Objects is close to perfect. Camille Preaker is a deeply damaged woman with problems with alcohol and a penchant for carving words into her body who must c…

Oscars: My Response to the Newly Announced Academy Award Changes

The Oscars are losing relevance or so says the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which announced Wednesday a batch of changes to its annual telecast. The changes, designed to reverse a ratings dip in recent years, are the kind of desperate attempt to stay relevant that threatens the integrity of the whole affair. 

The first change, consistent with the Academy's desire to create a three-hour telecast, is that some awards will be presented during commercial breaks, with edited (meaning condensed) versions of the acceptance speeches airing later in the broadcast. It has not been determined which categories will be bumped, but I'll tell you right now it ain't gonna be Best Actress. The categories where celebrities are nominated will be shown live, and the tech categories won't be. This move is flat-out disrespectful to the men and women nominated in the below-the-line categories who deserve recognition for their vital contributions to movies. The Tony Awards fo…

"Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" is a Fun Musical and Showcase for the Wonderful Lily James: Review

Film Review: Mamma Mia: Here We Go AgainMamma Mia: Here We GoAgain is the sequel to the 2008 film Mamma Mia, which was based on the stage musical of the same name, which itself was based on the songs of ABBA. If it seems like some of the fun would be lost with each additional iteration,  Here We Go Again proves otherwise. As unnecessary as it may be, the sequel is an exceptionally fun time at the movies.

Following the Godfather Part II template, Here We Go Again is actually half-sequel, half-prequel, with a continuation of the first movie's plot interwoven with flashbacks depicting how Donna met each of her daughter's potential fathers and how she came to inexplicably live on a gorgeous Greek island, which was set up in the first film. Being the second musical to exclusively feature the music of ABBA, Here We Go Again faces the inevitable challenge of the first movie having done nearly all of the Swedish group's best and most well-known songs. A number of them are trotted o…