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.

Reviews Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 1.33.56 PM

A shabby motel room, the windows covered in cardboard and duct tape, a young boy hiding under a bed sheet, his eyes covered by goggles, his ears wrapped in industrial-strength headphones, and two older men, who claims he’s the boy’s father and the other who’s there’s as friend, protector, and the father’s partner. The men, Roy (Michael Shannon), and Lucas (Joel Edgerton), share the coiled, tense body language of …

Reviews Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 8.52.00 AM

We can blame the Harry Potter series, at least in part, for the pernicious trend of splitting the last book in a YA series into two, generally bloated halves, each one a cynical, unwarranted, unnecessary cash grab. Where Harry Potter went, other YA adaptations followed, from the Twilight Series to The …

Reviews Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 9.25.03 AM

Life Lesson No. 357: Just because a doomsday prepper/survivalist may be ready for a post-apocalyptic world doesn’t mean you want to spend the post-apocalypse hunkered down with him or her in their underground lodging. That’s the unfortunate life lesson Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a young woman who awakens after a mysterious car crash …

Reviews Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 1.16.20 PM

Disney may have ceded the title of family-friendly animation champion to Pixar more than a decade ago (Disney smartly purchased Pixar around the same time), but its transition into computer animation, despite several setbacks and roadblocks, has placed it firmly, if not always comfortably, in second place thanks in no small measure to the …

Reviews Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

“War, what is it good for?” asked the protest song first performed by the Temptations (later definitely re-recorded by Edwin Starr in 1969). That song answered the question with an unqualified, resounding, “Absolutely nothing!”, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF), the second Tina Fey vehicle in just three months…

Reviews Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 9.22.31 AM

Anyone looking for irrefutable proof that we are, in fact, living in the “darkest timeline” imaginable need look no further than London Has Fallen, the oddly unanticipated sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, the first of two 2013 terrorism-flavored, White House-related action films (the other being Roland Emmerich’s far superior, but alas, also …

Reviews Triple 9

A “gritty,” borderline nihilistic urban actioner featuring an all-star cast in showcase roles, including multiple Academy Award nominees (Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor) and one actual winner (Kate Winslet), Triple 9 never rises above its unoriginal, derivative origin as a mash-up of better, well known genre…

Reviews Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 8.24.57 AM

For at least some social critics, “whitewashing” – casting melanin-deprived actors in non-Caucasian roles (and the cycle of non-diversity that inevitably results – is the end all be all when it comes to evaluating the latest big-budget spectacle that regularly unspool across multiplex screens. To be honest, it’s an important, even vital, question to ask about any …

Reviews Risen

The “greatest story ever told” – or depending on your perspective, cynical and otherwise, the greatest story ever sold – gets another somber, serious, big-screen treatment in Kevin Reynolds (Rapa Nui, Waterworld, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) latest attempt to move back into Hollywood’s good graces…

NP Approved Hail Caesar

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend us your ears (or really, your eyes and only for a few moments). We come here not to praise William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (it’s received no shortage of acclaim over the last five or six centuries), but to praise the Coen Brothers’ latest film, Hail, Caesar!, an utterly delightful, unapologetically…

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