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The Disaster Artist

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 18:05:04 PST

Highly Recommended

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As an uberfan of the so-bad-it's-good masterpiece The Room and a solid admirer of The Disaster Artist, The Room co-star Greg Sestero's tell-all book about the making of mysterious vampiric figure Tommy Wiseau's "Tennessee Williams style melodrama as told by an alien who has apparently never seen normal human beings interact" drama-turned-dark-comedy-after-initial-audience-reactions-full-of-howling-laughter, I was a bit reserved in my excitement when I found out that James Franco was going to direct the film adaptation, as well as portraying Wiseau himself.

On the surface, Franco's uninhibited, renaissance man-type creativity and open bravery regarding his artistic output makes him the perfect conduit to channel Wiseau's misguided but admittedly unbridled drive to make it in an industry that rejects him at every turn. Just like Wiseau, Franco keeps working on projects that no one watches...Read the entire review

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Justice League

Fri, 01 Dec 2017 13:08:21 PST

Rent It

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The drama surrounding Justice League getting onto the big screen has been nearly as prevalent as the general anticipation for the superhero film itself, if not more so. Major issues obviously drew attention, from the replacement of the director late in production -- due to tragedy -- to the considerable reshoots that followed, so significant that discussions were had about proper directing and writing credits. Comparatively minor concerns may have been overshadowed by the bigger ones, but their existence just added to the theatrics: a digitally-removed mustache, a lackluster costume for a superhero already well-realized on TV, and whether one of the actors will continue playing their role afterwards. And, of course, there's the ge...Read the entire review

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Lady Bird

Thu, 30 Nov 2017 11:25:30 PST

DVD Talk Collector Series

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Director: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Beanie Feldstein
Year: 2017

Greta Gerwig has been the offbeat, indie, New York apartment, Noah Baumbach, self-deprecating It Girl for years, to the point that at 34 she was starting to feel a little old. She's dabbled in co-writing, even co-directing 9 year ago, but it's apparent that her artistic vision has always been directed by men, and the result has always been something that isn't completely authentic. Well, is it 2017 or is it 2017, and is this the time that women step into lead roles/jobs/positions or not? There has been a modern sweep of feminism through our country, thanks in part to Trump, as much as it pains many of us to give him any sort of credit wha...Read the entire review

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Justice League

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:10:07 PST

Recommended

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Director: Zach Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons
Year: 2017

The DC Universe isn't expanding with as much success as was anticipated, critics and audiences alike jumping on board to rip open the flaws in the franchise to expose the deeper decay within. But I'd like to play devil's advocate for a minute in support of what DC is trying to do, although that seems backwards in multiple ways. First, let's compare this Universe to Marvel's, which didn't start off so hot either. The Avengers movies are kinda bad, enjoyable but crappy, and although Iron Man was an instant hit, things really didn't start...Read the entire review

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Justice League

Sun, 19 Nov 2017 05:22:59 PST

Recommended

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It has taken far too many films to get there, but Warner Bros./DC finally seems to have found the right formula for success. Building on both the good and the bad that has come before it, Justice League isn't quite a home run, but it manages to finally give us something to cheer for when it comes to the world's greatest superheroes - including one whom they finally get right after three attempts (I won't say any more than that here).

The movie begins not long after Batman v Superman left off. The world is without its Kryptonian hero, and things have gone from bad to worse. Martha Kent has the bank foreclosing on her farm, Lois Lane is writing fluff pieces because she has lost her drive for serious journalism, and Bruce Wayne is combing the globe looki...Read the entire review

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sat, 18 Nov 2017 10:45:54 PST

DVD Talk Collector Series

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The new film from writer-director Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, covers similar thematic ground to his first two feature films, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths. A horrific crime leads to a spiral of pain, anger, revenge, and violence that seems to beget only more pain, anger, revenge, and violence. But unlike the stylized gangster-world setting of McDonagh's earlier flicks, Three Billboards sets its action in an outwardly unassuming American small town.

Frances McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, whose attitude is no-nonsense to the point ...Read the entire review

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Thor: Ragnarok

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 13:12:18 PST

Highly Recommended

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Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett
Year: 2017

In an expanding Marvel Universe, the Thor films may be the weakest links. The Iron Man franchise was a great success, as was the Captain America franchise, and the Avenger movies have mostly held their own as well. Even the stand-alone origin stories like those o...Read the entire review

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Thu, 02 Nov 2017 10:51:31 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan
Year: 2017

I stumbled upon Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos one late night when I caught a description of his third film, Dogtooth, and decided to give it a whirl. His third feature overall, but the first that had received any attention as a real prospect, Dogtooth is an offbeat horror/comedy about a family who keep their growing children confined to the home to shelter them from the outside world. It is bizarre, uncomfortable, graphic, upsetting, but brilliant, and Lanthimos instantly won me over. His next major movie, The Lobster, received a lot of American attention, ...Read the entire review

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The Foreigner

Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:20:24 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Rory Fleck Byrne
Year: 2017

Jackie Chan is listed on IMDb as having 134 roles, many of them uncredited or as an extra. During the 80s and 90s, he began to obtain larger roles, and then in 1998 he emerged in front of American audiences alongside Chris Tucker, melting our hearts as only Chan can and proving that he could be a legitimate Hollywood superstar. From there, he became a franchise player, appearing mostly in movies that worked once because of his certain skill set and could probably work again; Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, Kung Fu Panda, Karate Kid. He's an icon, was recently given an honorary Academy Award, and at 63, is apparently just getting started...Read the entire review

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Happy Death Day

Wed, 25 Oct 2017 14:03:04 PDT

Recommended

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Director: Christopher Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard
Year: 2017

Each year there's a surprisingly excellent horror flick that catches critics' eyes, that keeps hope that the genre can be more than ghosts jumping out of closets alive. This year, the title will probably be claimed by It Comes at Night or Get Out, the former being pure, unrelenting, psychological terror, the latter being part comedy, part social critique, with enough style embedded throughout to deserve the 'horror' label. Happy Death Day won't rival either of these films in quality, but it does resemble G...Read the entire review

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Blade Runner 2049

Mon, 23 Oct 2017 14:53:14 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Merely the suggestion of producing a sequel to a revered classic can push film lovers over the edge. This can be caused by the fear that said sequel won't feel like a proper part of the world created by the original, or that this new installment might either flesh out certain ambiguities left alone in the first film or rework details in the storytelling to benefit this new follow-up. All those concerns emerged with the mentioning of a sequel to Ridley Scott's seminal science-fiction film, Blade Runner, one whose legacy -- and decades of critical reevaluation -- hinges on both literal ambiguity involving the fate of the main characters and contextual ambiguity in the thought exercise over whether the protagonist, Deckard, was or wasn...Read the entire review

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 14:38:54 PDT

Highly Recommended

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One of the most deftly executed and viscerally effective horror films of the year is released under the guise of an eccentric art house drama, as master of unapologetic nihilism Yorgos Lanthimos builds, with intricate precision, the realization of many nightmare every parent must have had. Before we get into any details, a personal side note: With undercover horror masterworks like mother!, It Comes at Night, and now The Killing of a Sacred Deer, is 2017 the year for filmmakers to traumatize parents to the point of becoming catatonic with fear?

I'm all for uncompromising visions that dare peak the audience into some deeply dark and mucky crevices of human imagination, but can we please give parents a break in 2018? For example, I don't have any siblings, so at this point I'd be fine if we get some daring auteur work where something horrible happens to the protagonist's sister or brother. I gue...Read the entire review

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The Mountain Between Us

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 11:49:07 PDT

Recommended

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Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Starring: Kate Winslet, Idris Elba
Year: 2017

Talk about a power couple. Winslet and Elba are two of Hollywood's brightest stars, with the filmographies to back them up. Winslet is a veteran, a professional, a pillar; call her whatever compliment you will and I'll second the motion. Elba is currently a hot commodity, a name on everyone's lips, a new wave leading man; I'm glad we've seen him as often as we have lately, because he deserves the screen time. This pairing was set up for success, was the driving force behind the film, and was the main reason anything positive came out of this movie. But the problems lie in the details apart from the casting of the leads, which was quite smart, while the rest...Read the entire review

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 12:03:18 PDT

Recommended

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Director: Angela Robinson
Starring: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote
Year: 2017

With the success of Wonder Woman, our interest in the superheroine was piqued. Gal Gadot's portrayal of the Amazon Princess reinvigorated the DC universe in a way that the modern Superman and Batman hadn't seemed to be able to accomplish, lighting a fire under comic book fans and bringing new audiences into the theatre to witness the return of the greatest fictional, female warrior of our time. This new franchise even appeared to bolster the feminist movement, showing that woman-led films can succeed monetarily, that female directors can create wonderful content, that lad...Read the entire review

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Blade Runner 2049

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 12:56:45 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas
Year: 2017

Denis Villeneuve is Hollywood's current premiere director. In the past four years, he has created four films that have each been independently excellent. Prisoners, an emotional wreck that you can't help but fall deeply into. Enemy, a metaphorical labyrinth that you enjoy being lost in. Sicario, one of the best visual experiences you will have at a theatre. Arrival, science f...Read the entire review

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Blade Runner 2049

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 01:28:57 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Philip K. Dick's famous short story Second Variety foretold a world where machines didn't need humans anymore because they could build their own increasingly advanced machines. This certainly takes over the basic need for human productivity, but can machines emulate, or even replicate, our souls, our capacity for emotion, for love? That's a whole other human need that would need to be reproduced if they're to take over our society. Of course there are many hard sci-fi films that study the possible repercussions of artificial intelligence that's programmed to copy human emotions, Spielberg's still misunderstood Artificial Intelligence itself at the forefront.

In films, the concept of artificial intelligence's ability to love is usually juxtaposed wit...Read the entire review

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It

Thu, 28 Sep 2017 08:29:27 PDT

Recommended

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Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsg rd, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard
Year: 2017

As a huge Stephen King fan, I knew I had to go back and read the book, one of the very few that I had missed, before I watched the movie. Honestly, it's not King's best. It's long, it's uneventful, it's laden with metaphor, but it isn't exciting enough to make the reader want to slog through the work. The parallel storyline is a big problem, it cuts all the drama out of the plot, and I'm not sure why he chose to do that. Actually, that's one of many choices I'm not sure why King made while fleshing out this idea, including a group sex scene involving 11-year-olds, which was put at the end of the book for a reason, since he may have gu...Read the entire review

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Mother!

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:41:28 PDT

DVD Talk Collector Series

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Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem
Year: 2017

Aronofsky doesn't fuck around, and so neither should we when we talk about his films. Pi, Requiem, The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan, Noah, Mother!; this is his filmography, these are some of the most deeply discussed and contested films of the last twenty years, the man is an unapologetic genius whose creations we don't always understand or appreciate, but who should be someone we admire based on sheer unrelenting artistry in the face of an industry that can't wait to squash it down. For my money, Black Swan is his best, and actually I'd go so far as to call it one of the greatest cinematic accomplishments of the past two decades,...Read the entire review

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:41:28 PDT

Recommended

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Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
Year: 2017

I was shocked that I liked the first Kingsman so much, and I still have trouble recommending this movie to friends. They don't believe that it's good, despite its success and its high ratings; they just can't get past the fact that it shouldn't have worked, they can't allow that it did. I understand, I was surprised myself by how much fun I had simply sitting in the audience, how well the ridiculous story worked when it shouldn't have been able to be so silly and yet so cool. Taron Egerton was the secret ingredient we didn't know movies needed, and the kid ha...Read the entire review

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:21:09 PDT

Recommended

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I remember discussing the reasons behind my thorough enjoyment of the first Kingsman with a couple of critic friends who hated its unfocused and uncontrolled crassness, ultraviolence, and goofy ugliness. While I agreed with most of their points, I proposed that if one was to approach it as a demented hard-R Saturday morning cartoon, and not take any of its multitudes of offenses to decency seriously, then it's a rocking good time. Tone and narrative approach is everything when it comes to such "tasteless" material. I deemed 2008's Wanted, another Mark Millar graphic novel adaptation, to be the worst and most tasteless film of the last decade.

Yet here I was, on the other side of similar arguments I had about Wanted's many fans, trying to explain why Kingsman deserved praise while Wanted should have been s...Read the entire review

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mother!

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 13:46:14 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Darren Aranofsky's challenging, terrifying, sometimes even nauseating purging of a bunch of supremely high-concept allegories is one of the most original and thought-provoking, if not one of the best, films of the year. Besides the directing full of pinpointed assuredness, the soul-bearing performances from everyone involved (Especially Jennifer Lawrence, who is asked to go to some uncomfortable places while the camera is an inch away from her face during most of the runtime), and a willfully insane story structure, especially for an American studio release, its real success comes from the fact that it can be digested in many different forms and many different tonal approaches by the audience.

1. If you're a genre hound who doesn't necessarily care about unraveling the film's many blunt philosophical and theological allegories, don't really care much about diving deep into what's real and isn'...Read the entire review

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Logan Lucky

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 08:34:00 PDT

Rent It

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Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig
Year: 2017

Steven Soderbergh's obsession with Channing Tatum needs to stop immediately. He's also infatuated with Matt Damon, but that, at least, doesn't factor in here, and Damon also happens to be a far superior actor. As with Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst, sometimes a director becomes too focused on a single actor, casting them in roles that never suited them, forcing them into characters that would have been better played by a dozen different, random names. Soderbergh is too focused on Tatum, and so can't see that he's only a marginal talent, someone who craned his neck above hunky and comedic roles one time in Read the entire review

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The Glass Castle

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:37:06 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts
Year: 2017

The Glass Castle is an early Oscar favorite, if perhaps not for Best Picture than for a few other, "smaller" awards. Its best shot goes to Woody Harrelson for Best Supporting Actor for what is hands down the best performance of his career. He's had one hell of a year: Wilson, War for the Planet of the Apes, LBJ, and Three Billboards, which is a film I'm dying to see. The versatile and experienced actor hasn't always rubbed audiences the right way, can be abrasive on screen, and shouldn't be considered one of the greats of our time, but there's no q...Read the entire review

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The Dark Tower

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:23:31 PDT

Rent It

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Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Idris Elba, Tom Taylor, Matthew McConaughey
Year: 2017

You'd have to run a poll to get anything near some accurate statistics, but the number of those who see the Dark Tower movie has got to be exponentially higher than the number who have also read the entire Dark Tower series. And of course, that's not counting the connected side stories, the extra book written into the sequence, and the literal dozens of Stephen King books that tie in; Hearts in Atlantis, The Stand, 'Salem's Lot, Insomnia, etc. My point being, only an extremely small number of audience members will be up on the magnum opus and all its connected plots that is King's masterwork. I just happen to be both a f...Read the entire review

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Atomic Blonde

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 04:54:43 PDT

Rent It

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Director: David Leitch
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Toby Jones
Year: 2017

Some graphic novels work as film adaptations (300), and some do not (Watchmen), but the fact that this relatively obscure medium is becoming both more public and more respected is good for all areas of art. Not every single attempt to bring these stories to life on the big screen is going to go according to plan, but I do appreciate the work put into both the novels themselves and their movie versions, because wow that's a lot of effort. Atomic Blonde is Hollywood's latest stab at bringing a modern comic to a new audience, and credit David Leitch for moving from stunt coordinator to movie collaborator to film director; that c...Read the entire review

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 09:14:11 PDT

Rent It

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Director: Luc Besson
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevigne, Sam Spruell
Year: 2017

Valerian is the shocking disappointment of the summer, a surprisingly crappy sci-fi flick that looked to be anything but. The trailers, the hype, the background, the visuals; audiences were preparing themselves to be blown away by this piggybacker to the immense GotG success, and we weren't even concerned that it looked to be somewhat of a copy. We wanted this movie to be a success, that might be the hardest part to accept, and even understanding that high expectations sometime lead to unattainable goals, Valerian should have been better than it turned o...Read the entire review

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Dunkirk

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:08:17 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy
Year: 2017

Inarguably excellent director Christopher Nolan creates another masterwork with Dunkirk, a lesser-known true story of the beginning of WWII and one of the tensest moments in European military history. Nolan's prowess is established, his fame well-deserved, his films excellent pieces of art as well as incredibly entertaining moments of original content. Following, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, Read the entire review

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Dunkirk

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:57:07 PDT

DVD Talk Collector Series

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"All we did was survive"

"That's good enough"

- Dialogue from Dunkirk

When it comes to war films, we're used to near-mythological depictions of heroism and sacrifice. Ideologically, we would all like to fantasize about being brave and heroic fighters if we're put in the middle of a battlefield. But once the reality of the situation kicks in, once bombs start dropping around us and bullets whiz by an inch from our faces, we might realize that the act of survival itself might be enough heroism, if we're able to leave behind the romanticized ideal of warfare. Christopher Nolan's new masterpiece Dunkirk is a breathtaking and nerve-wracking experience that never lets go of our nerves from the first frame to the last, putting us face to...Read the entire review

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Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:57:07 PDT

Recommended

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Some might see the momentum behind Spider-Man: Homecoming as hype, but it's closer to pressure on this unique partnership between Sony and Marvel Studios to, in the mindset of the incredible dedicated fans of the webslinger, finally get the character completely and utterly right. Even the title tries to draw attention to the significance of Spider-Man being brought back into the Marvel universe fold, creating an opening for Peter Parker to utilize the studio's creative insights and to interact with other characters in their roster. In terms of the tried-and-true summer blockbuster framework, Homecoming fittingly utilizes the tools now at its disposal, never shying away from youthful humor and spunkiness as it twists together...Read the entire review

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War for the Planet of the Apes

Fri, 14 Jul 2017 14:50:36 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
Year: 2017

People are freaking out about War for the Planet of the Apes and its trilogy, calling it the best end to the best trio of movies in film history. Now, that's just silly, there are a handful of iconic threesomes I can think of off the top of my head that are better (the original Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings), and I don't think this trilogy will be loved 50 years from now the same way those classics I just mentioned are/will be. BUT, the mere fact that those heavy-hitters are brought into the conversation tells you just how good Rise, Dawn, and War absolutely are. I would have called th...Read the entire review

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Spider-Man: Homecoming

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 20:04:07 PDT

Recommended

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Director: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.
Year: 2017

I hate to be labelled as a contrarian, but I didn't like Spider-Man: Homecoming as much as the majority of America did, and I'll try my best over the course of this review to explain why. So you know, in the past I would have claimed that I didn't like "comic book movies", that they were poorly-made and far too focused on money over quality. Through the years, I've learned to enjoy the genre for what it is, and Marvel movies specifically have won me over, partially because they are getting better and better. The Avengers Universe is improving with each addition, and I especially appreciate the Captain America films (Read the entire review

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The Beguiled (2017)

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 05:23:57 PDT

Highly Recommended

(image) (image) It's been a while since Sofia Coppola has directed a piece of work stemming from somebody else's storytelling, dating back nearly twenty years prior to the release of The Beguiled, her latest atmospheric period thriller. From concepts that are entirely of her creation (Lost in Translation and Somewhere) to expanded dramatizations of real events (The Bling Ring and Marie Antoinette), the originality inherent in her perspective hasn't had to play by the rules of adaptation since her rendition of Jeffrey Eugenides's novel, The Virgin Suicides. Even with that one, Coppola's first directorial effort, she imparted her own techniques and thematic concentrations upon the narrative, tweaking the surreal atmosphere into something of her own. ...Read the entire review

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Baby Driver

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 08:59:11 PDT

Rent It

(image) In writer/director Edgar Wright's new film Baby Driver, we're introduced to Baby (Ansel Elgort), a young man afflicted with tinnitus, who drowns out the ring with music, and who makes a living driving getaway cars for bank robbers. In some senses, we know why Baby drives -- because he's supernaturally good at it, because he owes money to a gangster, Doc (Kevin Spacey), and eventually because he wants to try and use that skill to save Deborah (Lily James) from the criminals he's surrounded himself with -- but the movie's major problem is we never really know what drives Baby.

The movie does fill in some of Baby's backstory: as a child, Baby's parents fought, and his iPod, a treasured Christmas gift from both of them, helped drown out their constant fighting. He was listening to the iPod when a fatal car wreck left both of them dead and Baby with his permanent "hum in the drum." Now, Baby use...Read the entire review

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Baby Driver

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 15:19:42 PDT

Highly Recommended

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Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal
Year: 2017

Heist movies are a strange breed, a mix of action and comedy that's hard to sculpt into something resembling the form you first imagined. It's one of the toughest genres for directors to get right, at least in so much as pleasing both audiences and critics, and in creating a final product that is as cool as the original idea that launched an entire team of professionals toward making your vision a reality. The work that goes into making any film is almost unbelievable, but I have to imagine that bringing a story like this to the screen offers a unique set of challenges that is cinematically unmatch...Read the entire review

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The Book of Henry

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 00:16:49 PDT

Skip It

(image) As a film critic, one of the responsibilities each writer juggles is how to approach spoilers. In some cases, aspects of a film that many readers would consider spoilers are also necessary to write about the film's qualities. That's true of The Book of Henry, skyrocketing director Colin Trevorrow's little indie detour between Jurassic World and the ninth Star Wars movie -- the reason being that Henry is a wild fumble of tone and material, packed to the brim with bad and/or inexplicable narrative and dramatic choices, all of which are played with an astonishingly straight face.

The movie starts out cloying, but relatively simple. Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) is the precocious movie kid to end all precocious movie kids, an obnoxiously cute genius, more interested in keeping an eye on the family's finances while he works the stock market than playing video games. Instead,...Read the entire review

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