Posted in: Review

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is a rare children’s fantasy that confronts complicated emotions head-on and doesn’t shy away from ugly sentiment. It might get heavy, but the somberness isn’t enough to make the summoning of a giant tree monster to cope with grief any more profound than standard patronizing fairytales. Though the methods of allegory are […]

Posted in: Review

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Making his English language debut with The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Norwegian director André Øvredal delivers a precise examination and deconstruction of horror convention. Much like the father/son coroners performing the obligatory postmortem, Øvredal strips away layers and pieces to get to the truth. The film is creepy, grotesque, and has a fundamental understanding of […]

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La La Land

La La Land is a magical movie about love and dreams. It’s simultaneously a throwback to classic musicals, a modern romance, and a timeless riff on chasing your artistic passions. The enthusiasm with which writer/director Damien Chazelle shows and tells the story is infectious; the musical numbers elate and the emotion exhilarates. And, occasionally, devastates […]

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The wizarding world of Harry Potter created by J.K. Rowling, and translated beautifully to the screen in a miracle of continuity and creativity over the course of the aughts, is a wondrous achievement. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is not. While a plot that involves a hate group speaking out against “the other,” […]

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk covers very little ground. In juxtaposing the experience of the Iraq War with perceptions of it back home and the commodification of heroic soldiers, the film becomes what it’s attempting to call out. It’s an empty, impassive, short-sighted view of the complexities of war and how it affects combatants and […]

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Loving

Loving v. Virginia was a landmark civil rights case and, therefore, includes all the ingredients for Hollywood to make an ostentatious, celebratory melodrama. Thankfully, writer/director Jeff Nichols takes a unique approach, focusing on the family central to the litigation as simple, decent folks who just want to be together, instead of classifying them as plaintiffs […]

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The Monster

A desolate wooded road. An evening rainstorm. Car trouble. A woman and her daughter in peril. And…a hungry monster. The Monster has a lot of familiar creature feature raw materials, much like writer/director Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers uses standard home invasion tropes. What elevates both films are three-dimensional characters and deeper drama that meshes with […]

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Trolls

Finally, someone’s made a movie featuring those good luck totems adored in bingo halls across the country that reached the apex of their popularity several decades ago. While Trolls may not exactly tap into the cultural zeitgeist with the product it’s resurrecting, it does follow the current trend of toys-of-yore to screen. Everything from action […]

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Inferno

Even Robert Langdon, the genius symbologist at the center of Dan Brown’s series of airport novels, might have trouble deciphering what’s going on in the film adaptation of Inferno. The book may have a protracted page count and a lot of superfluous silliness, but at least it painted a clear picture, however trivial and preposterous. […]

Posted in: Review

31

Creepy clowns are a horror staple, from film to the local October haunted house. And now, there’s a bunch of them just hanging around on street corners and in the woods and freaking people out. The iron is always hot for a bastardized take on the slapstick performers, and the grimy aesthetic of writer/director Rob […]

Posted in: Review

Kevin Hart: What Now?

It won’t have the staying power or cultural impact of stand-up specials from Pryor, Carlin, or Murphy, but Kevin Hart: What Now? is an entertaining and sporadically very funny diversion provided by a charismatic comedian. Hart’s conviction and genial delivery sells the observational material and even if there’s a dearth of readily quotable bits, there’s […]