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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Reviews

22 Sep 2016
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It’s been 17 years since a whole bunch of people got the shit scared out of them by sticks, twine and Heather Donahue’s mucous in The Blair Witch Project, that success story that got the ball rolling on the now-dreaded and despised “found footage” horror genre. It’s been 16 years since the first sequel, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, One Too Many came out and essentially killed the franchise, although the found-footage cheapie-horror shtick would live on, peaking with Cloverfield (2008), and pretty much sucking before and after that. Now, here in 2016, a second sequel to The Blair Witch Project has made its way into cinemas. Would Lionsgate take the opportunity to reintroduce a once-promising premise into a new style of film—perhaps a traditional narrative about the Blair Witch, set in the forest, without the gimmick of people running around with cameras filming themselves, even when they are…
13 Sep 2016
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If you are a fan of work by directors like David Cronenberg and Dario Argento, then you might be able to make it through Antibirth, a rather unpleasant horror-comedy. A party girl (Natasha Lyonne) blacks out at a rambunctious gathering and finds herself going through pregnancy symptoms shortly thereafter. Those symptoms start with standard nausea and then advance to skin peeling off and teeth falling out; she eventually discovers there’s something well beyond standard procreation at play. Chloe Sevigny co-stars as another low-class party girl for director Danny Perez, whose film gets progressively disgusting through the really, really gross birthing scene. Argento and early Cronenberg were never my cup of tea; I just don’t get down with most body-horror scenarios. That said, this film will have an appeal to those who like their horror hard-core when it comes to the gore quotient. As for the story, it’s a muddled affair…
15 Sep 2016
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Don’t go see Sully, Clint Eastwood’s take on the heroic actions of pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, expecting a lot of historic realism. The portions about a pilot successfully landing his plane in an ice-cold Hudson River and allowing more than 150 people to tell the tale are really the most important, and most compelling, parts of this movie. As for the evil, fictitious inquisition that tortures Sully (played by Tom Hanks in a typically riveting performance) and co-pilot Jeff Skiles (welcome back to decent movies, Aaron Eckhart!) … well, that’s basically a lot of made-up horse shit. That’s not to say Sully wasn’t tormented in the days after the event, and the film does a good job of displaying his internal struggles. The man had to essentially crash-land a plane after a bunch of birds flew into his engines, and then he had a bunch of dicks asking him tons…
08 Sep 2016
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While Luke Scott has definitely inherited some directing chops from his dad, Ridley, his feature-directing debut is hampered by a derivative script. Morgan shows that Luke Scott knows how to produce some major visual flair (his dad is a producer, by the way) and has an ability to draw good performances from his cast—but the movie itself is a pastiche of other science-fiction and horror films, most notably his dad’s own Blade Runner. Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is an artificially created humanlike being. She’s only 5, but she looks like a teenager and has superior intellect and physical skills. She’s been genetically engineered to age quickly, and while she is basically a well-meaning entity, her behavioral wires get a little crossed up sometimes—resulting in violent “errors.” Morgan goes ape shit when she’s not allowed outside. This results in Dr. Kathy Grieff, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, being on pain meds for…
07 Sep 2016
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Craig Robinson and Markees Christmas are one of the best father-son movie teams in a long time in Morris From America, a charmer from writer-director Chad Hartigan. Christmas plays Morris, a 13-year-old American living in Germany, because his dad, Curtis (Robinson), has a job there as a soccer coach. Morris is learning German, trying to make friends, and developing a crush on older girl, Katrin (Lina Keller). He’s also dealing with the kind of crap you would expect a black American to be dealing with in an all-white city. The dynamic between Robinson (in easily his best performance) and Christmas is perfect; it seems like these guys are really father and son. They complement each other perfectly, and it’s refreshing to see a father and son talk and deal with each other the way they do in this movie. The relationship between Morris and the somewhat-troublesome Katrin is also refreshing…
01 Sep 2016
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Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter shine as Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson on their first date in Southside With You, an ultra-sweet and enjoyable account of the time the future president and first lady got together for a day and eventually went to see Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. Writer-director Richard Tanne, above all things, does a great job of capturing the spirit of the late ’80s with his period piece, placing the two icons in a very believable, low-key environment. Sawyers (a dead ringer for Obama) and Sumpter capture the spirit of the couple without exaggerating any of their characteristics. It’s a blast watching a young Robinson, who was actually Obama’s mentor and adviser at a law firm, keeping a persistent Obama’s romantic pursuits in check. It’s also funny to see the future president lighting up many cigarettes during the course of the movie, including one in the…
01 Sep 2016
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I know movies are mostly fiction, and much of what happens in them wouldn’t really happen in the real world. Still, when a plot is based in reality—in other words, lacking ghosts, aliens, cyborgs, etc.—I lose interest when things become too outlandish and inexplicable. That brings us to Don’t Breathe. Now here’s a horror movie helmed by a guy who knows how to put a good scare together, that being Fede Alvarez, who gave us that relatively decent Evil Dead remake. The movie deals with three dimwits (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette and Daniel Zovatto) who are trying to rob a blind military veteran (a growly Stephen Lang) in his house. During their heist, they find out a few really bad things about the guy—such as his desire to become the next Jigsaw (the ridiculous villain from the Saw series). Rocky (Levy, who also starred in Alvarez’s Evil Dead) wants to…
25 Aug 2016
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Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster are simply amazing in Hell or High Water, a terrific modern Western from director David Mackenzie. Pine and Foster play two brothers who devise a bank-robbing scheme to save the family farm; Bridges is the soon-to-be-retired sheriff trying to stop them. Pine takes his career to a whole new level with his work here; he disappears into his part, making us forget he’s Captain Kirk. Foster, an actor I couldn’t stand when he was younger, gets better and better with each film; this is his best work yet. Pine’s Toby is supposedly the more sensible brother, while Foster’s Tanner is the nut. However, those roles sometime switch, and the acting by both makes it mesmerizing to watch. What else can you say about Bridges at this point? He’s one of the best actors to have ever walked the Earth, and Hell or High…
25 Aug 2016
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Director Todd Phillips, a man responsible for slob comedies like The Hangover and Old School, takes a more serious, satirical route with War Dogs. The results are mixed—but ultimately entertaining. The film is based on an article in Rolling Stone that described real-life gun-runners and the way they bilked the government and screwed each other over. It plays out as a sort of Wolf of Wall Street with weapons and Albania instead of stocks and the financial district. Contributing to the Wolf vibe is Jonah Hill as Efraim Diveroli, a diabolical, narcissistic weapons dealer who puts profit before morality and friendship. Even though Hill throws in an annoying laugh, the core of his performance is funny—and brutal when it needs to be. He continues to show he’s far more than a giggle-getter: He’s a real-deal actor. Miles Teller plays his partner, David Packouz, a massage therapist who can’t keep his…
18 Aug 2016
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Friendships are a big deal in our younger years. Writer-director Ira Sachs is very much clued into this reality with Little Men, a beautiful little movie about a family moving to Brooklyn after a relative has left them a home. Greg Kinnear, in his best role in years, plays Brian, an actor on the downside of his career who moves with wife, Kathy (Jennifer Ehle), and son, Jake (Theo Taplitz), to the new Brooklyn home, where Jake instantly befriends the charismatic Tony (Michael Barbieri). They go to the same school together, play video games and aspire to become artists. Tony’s mom (Paulina Garcia) operates a business in the home Brian has inherited. When Brian tries to raise her low rent, problems ensue, and despite the best of intentions, relationships are affected. Everybody is terrific in this movie, especially Taplitz and Barbieri, who come off as very real. Kinnear, looking world-weary…
18 Aug 2016
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There’s been too much “more of the same” at theaters this summer. Flat big-budget blockbusters and sequels without an ounce of creativity or originality keep being churned out of the Hollywood industrial complex, delivering an astounding amount of expensive, vapid horse shit. Sausage Party, the animated hellcat from writer-producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is the first big studio film in a long time that is screaming with originality. It’s a profanity-laden, blasphemous middle finger to the movie-making establishment that thinks it’s OK to turn out sequels and comic-book movies that suck—because the studios know people will shell out for them anyway. Sausage Party couldn’t be more fun, and it’s a film like nothing you’ve seen before. In a sunny supermarket, a bunch of vegetables, hot dogs and buns wake up and sing a happy song, convinced that today will be the day they are chosen by humans to enter…
11 Aug 2016
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a skunk blast to the face for those of us looking for a fun superhero movie earlier this year. Well, Suicide Squad looked like a fine chance for DC Comics movies to get back on the right track. With David Ayer (Fury, End of Watch) at the helm, and a cast including Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad had the potential to be a fun blast of movie mischief. Sadly, Suicide Squad does nothing to improve the summer blockbuster season. In fact, it is the equivalent of a big, stinking torpedo of shit. After a first-half buildup that does a decent job of introducing bad-guy characters like Deadshot (Smith), Harley Quinn (Robbie) and The Joker (Leto), the movie becomes a spastic colon, resulting in that big turd referred above. The script—if one could call it that—involves some nonsense with a…

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