Author Mel Valentin

Mel Valentin hails from the great state of New Jersey. After attending New York University as an undergrad (politics and economics double major, religious studies minor) and grad school (law), he relocated from the East Coast to San Francisco, California, where he's been ever since. Since Mel began writing about film nine years ago, he's written more than 1,600 reviews and articles. He's a member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Online Film Critics Society.

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In 1973, 90-million Americans huddled around their cathode ray tubes to watch the “Battle of the Sexes” exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. At 29, King was considered the best women’s tennis player in the world (Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova’s dual ascendancy was just years away). At 55, Riggs was long past his …

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6.5
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Writer-director Matthew Vaughan had 414 million reasons – or rather his producing partners did – for making a sequel to 2015’s semi-surprising comic-book adaptation, Kingsman: The Secret Service. With that kind of return on investment (ROI) equal to more than four times the production budget, a sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, was …

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7.5
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Everything isn’t awesome in Warner Bros.’ latest, cinematic universe-expanding exercise in brand management and IP (intellectual property) exploitation, The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Based on a decade-old line of LEGO toys – thus, minus the nostalgic factor that contributed heavily to the success of 2014’s The LEGO Movie – The LEGO Ninjago Movie …

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8.0
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If there was a Lifetime Achievement Award for Acting, chances are Jake Gyllenhaal would be in the running, if not win outright. A confident, fearless performer, Gyllenhaal has crafted a career as a performer playing larger-than-life characters, sometimes to the detriment of the film surrounding his performance. Gyllenhaal has appropriated the usual …

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7.5
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Privilege, especially of the white, male kind, allows you to look at your life and not see your accomplishments, including a loving wife, a talented, well-adjusted son a year away from college, or the one-man, non-profit organization you founded and lead, and see nothing but dreams unfulfilled, potential untapped, and disappointment realized. Add to …

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Moments into American Assassin, the franchise starter wannabe based on Vince Flynn’s throwback pulp action-thriller series directed with competent anonymity by Michael Cuesta (Kill the Messenger, Roadie), Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien, Teen Wolf, The Maze Runner series), a privileged, twenty-something vacationing on the island…

NP Approved
9.0
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The rare auteur working inside the studio system, Darren Aronofsky’s (Noah, Black Swan, The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Pi) obsessions, with life, death, and above all, art with a capital “A,” filtered through a particular, unparalleled preoccupation with spirituality, mysticism, and religion (of both the Judeo-Christian…

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7.0
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One of the most prolific writers of the last half-century, Stephen King has earned the “master of horror” title by writing more than 50 novels and published close to 200 stories, selling more than 350 copies in the process, ultimately defining and redefining pop culture in myriad, unexpected ways. Not surprisingly, his novels and…

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6.0
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What a difference a decade (actually 12 years) makes: In 2005, Reese Witherspoon rode critical acclaim and academy love to an Oscar for Best Actress for her star turn opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line. An Oscar, even one for Best Actor or Best Actress, however, doesn’t guarantee a steady stream of Oscar-worthy…

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7.5
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Post-Twilight, Robert Pattinson had two, equally valid paths he could take: He could parlay his relative fame and notoriety into similar leading roles in big-budget, disposable entertainment or leverage that same fame and notoriety into far more challenging, if less commercially viable, indie roles. Like his one-time onscreen and…

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