Posted in: Review

Red Sparrow

When the trailers for Red Sparrow were first released, they drew numerous comparisons to Marvel’s Black Widow character, a Russian spy trained from an early age at a strict school for secret agents, and then deployed on covert missions around the world. But the full movie of Red Sparrow shows just how different Dominika Egorova […]

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The Lodgers

The atmosphere is thick in Irish horror movie The Lodgers, both in director Brian O’Malley’s style and in the remote location of a crumbling rural estate. Shot at the real-life Loftus Hall, dubbed “the most haunted house in Ireland,” The Lodgers presents itself as a Gothic ghost story, but its hauntings are pretty mild, with […]

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Looking Glass

At this point, it’s not surprising to see Nicolas Cage starring in yet another cheap, trashy straight-to-VOD thriller; what’s more unusual is when he shows up in something a bit more ambitious, like recent festival favorites Mom and Dad and Mandy. Looking Glass falls in the former category, unfortunately, throwing Cage into a half-formed, vaguely […]

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Double Lover

Whatever its other flaws, French filmmaker François Ozon’s erotic thriller Double Lover certainly doesn’t hold back in its depiction of sexuality. The opening shot shows main character Chloé (Marine Vacth) getting what looks like a somewhat traumatic haircut, and Ozon cuts from there to an extreme close-up of his heroine’s genitals, as Chloé undergoes a […]

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A Fantastic Woman

When the title character of Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman first appears onscreen, she seems poised to live up to the movie’s billing of her: Marina (Daniela Vega) is singing a sultry cabaret song in a dimly lit bar, dressed beautifully and sensuously and eyeing her distinguished (and much older) boyfriend Orlando (Francisco Reyes). But […]

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A Ciambra

A minor character in writer-director Jonas Carpignano’s first feature, 2015’s Mediterranea, 14-year-old Pio (Pio Amato), a Romani living in the Italian port town of Gioia Tauro, takes center stage for Carpignano’s follow-up, the bleak but heartfelt coming-of-age drama A Ciambra. Born into a sprawling family of petty criminals living on the edges of society, Pio […]

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24 Hours to Live

For an assassin who’s touted as the best around (commanding a price of $2 million a day to take out a potential corporate whistleblower), Trevor Conrad (Ethan Hawke) doesn’t seem all that impressive during the first half-hour of the silly thriller 24 Hours to Live. He’s so bad at his job, actually, that he straight […]

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Person to Person

With its separate alternating stories, Dustin Guy Defa’s Person to Person at first seems like it might be the hipster version of intersecting-narrative dramas like Crash or Babel, but Defa isn’t interested in drawing pseudo-mind-blowing connections among the movie’s various threads. Instead he just plays each one out casually, like a stoner telling a rambling […]

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Festival Report: TCM Classic Film Festival 2017

The definition of “classic” can be pretty flexible at the TCM Classic Film Festival, but that’s part of what makes the event great: In addition to screening well-known, well-loved movies on the big screen, the annual event in Hollywood puts at least as much effort and attention into showing movies that are neither well-known nor […]

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Things to Come

Although it shares an English-language title with a landmark science-fiction movie, Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come (whose original French title literally translates as “the future”) is mainly about living in the present, and the difficulty of processing each moment as it comes. Philosophy professor Nathalie Chazeaux (Isabelle Huppert) has her entire life upended over the […]

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London Road

Musicals have taken on dark subjects in the past, but none in quite the same way as London Road, which premiered to great acclaim at London’s National Theatre in 2011. Writer Alecky Blythe spent three years interviewing residents of the town of Ipswich, where five prostitutes were murdered by a serial killer in 2006, and […]

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Festival Report: TCM Classic Film Festival 2016

There are multiple ways to approach the TCM Classic Film Festival, all of them highly rewarding, and the annual event in Hollywood (now in its seventh year) has attracted such a growing audience that attendees might end up never even crossing paths, depending on their individual tastes. As the name indicates, the festival is the […]

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Southbound

Horror anthology films are often inconsistent in terms of both tone and quality, with segments that often feel like separate, unrelated movies simply packaged together (in some cases because they are). But the filmmakers behind Southbound worked together to create a uniquely seamless anthology, in which one story bleeds into the next so smoothly that […]

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Manson Family Vacation

Brothers Mark and Jay Duplass have leveraged their success to become something akin to indie-movie moguls, using their names as producers and presences as actors to help struggling filmmakers get their projects off the ground. The brothers’ latest protégé is writer-director J. Davis, whose debut feature Manson Family Vacation was produced by the Duplasses as […]

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Goodnight Mommy

A few weeks ago, the trailer for Goodnight Mommy became a bit of an online sensation, with various web outlets declaring it one of the scariest of all time. Anyone who goes to see the Austrian horror movie expecting one of the scariest movies of all time, though, is going to end up disappointed. That’s […]

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Festival Report: TCM Classic Film Festival 2015

At the sixth annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the big closing-night world premiere was a silent movie from 1919 that almost no one had seen in 80 years, and the in-demand sell-outs were obscure 1940s film noirs and a pre-Code battle-of-the-sexes comedy. That’s the delightful alternate world of this festival, which has grown […]

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Zombeavers

The title of Zombeavers alone gives potential viewers a pretty good idea of whether they’d want to see it or not. If your first reaction is laughter or excitement, then you’ll probably get some enjoyment out of Jordan Rubin’s silly (although perhaps not silly enough) horror-comedy. But if your first reaction is to groan and shake […]

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Amira & Sam

It’s tempting to give writer-director Sean Mullin extra credit for putting a spotlight on under-represented characters in his limp romantic dramedy Amira & Sam, but when those characters are drawn so poorly and stuck in such a contrived, flimsy story, their mere presence onscreen isn’t enough. The title characters are U.S. Army veteran Sam (Martin […]

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Bound (2015)

One might expect a review of Bound to open by noting that the movie shouldn’t be confused with the 1996 Jennifer Tilly/Gina Gershon thriller of the same name, but production company the Asylum would probably be happy if audiences did confuse it with that movie. More likely, they’re hoping audiences will confuse Bound with 50 […]