Top Gun 2

When Tom Cruise posted an unexpected first look at Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick, something dawned on me. Had we heard any supporting cast announcements yet? Those actors who’d be given their wings and the opportunity to fly alongside one of cinema’s most daredevil pilot aces? That’s a big N-O besides Val Kilmer’s confirmed participation, so my mind began to wander. Who could rival the likes of Jester, Goose, Hollywood and more in Cruise’s upcoming flyboy sequel? We’re not here to discuss leads. Kosinski’s locked Maverick and Iceman. But what new crop of rookies could effortlessly flank our returning aces? Each plane carries one naval aviator (pilot) and an accompanying Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) – specialists bonded by trust and survival.

The possibilities? Endless.

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demon wind

Before this week, I pushed no “MUST SEE” Demon Wind agenda. As of three days ago, I hadn’t even indulged this not-often-discussed cult discovery. That’s until essential horror streaming resource Shudder added Charles Philip Moore’s 1990 “How did this get made?” case study to their already blushing catalog.

My interest was tickled with a confirmation tweet from the site’s official account, then fellow Twitter denizens started flooding their hyperbolic and dazed rants about a movie too tantalizingly terrible/insane to ignore. A film so divisive that its mere existence could part households, as confirmed by /Film’s own Jacob Hall:

The verdict was in. I had to watch this movie.

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Upgrade trailer

Each year during Austin’s SXSW Film Festival, press attendees (like myself) must pick-and-choose amidst a Texas-sized whirlwind of conflicting screening times and maximum exhaustion. In 2018, that meant (excitedly) interviewing Upgrade writer/director Leigh Whannell alongside stars Logan Marshall-Green and Betty Gabriel instead of catching a buzzy midday showing…like it was even a hard choice? Upgrade won the Midnighters Audience Award and ended up being one of my festival highlights with good reason. Check out my glowing review.

When sitting down with three talented parties such as Whannell, Gabriel and Green, there’s never enough time to ask even half the questions you prepare, but that doesn’t stop an interviewer from trying. Whannell opened up about time-hop filmmaking on a budget, Gabriel exposed the mindset of her character, and Green permitted the same. There was plenty to be said about where society is headed and how Upgrade takes that into consideration along with sci-fi discussions about existing examples of cultural deconstruction. Ideas have to come from somewhere – social influences or past Hollywood classics.

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Upgrade Review

(This review originally ran during our coverage of the SXSW Film Festival. Upgrade is in theaters today.)

Leigh Whannell’s latest film Upgrade is one of the most strikingly invigorated sci-fi watches I’ve been awestruck by in quite some time. I’m talking *hard* sci-fi, with callbacks to anything from eXistenZ to The Matrix to Minority Report. Whannell customizes an “efficient” future not so far from our own, where self-driving Loop Dash vehicles chauffeur around bioengineered super-beings and pizzas aren’t ordered, they’re printed. It’s the kind of SmartHouse, techno-takeover world that Apple users dream of, blackened and revenge-ified by Whannell’s oddly apt Her meets Weekend At Bernie’s scramble – with way more splattered blood and guts. Read More »

sequence break clip

From the nightmares of Genius Bar gurus and arcade repairmen alike slithers Graham Skipper’s Sequence Break – equal parts David Cronenberg body horror and Under The Skin darkness (literal, physical darkness). Streaming horror service Shudder was quick to nab the title’s exclusive distribution rights after a noisy festival run, right after they wiped away a thick coating of creamy nonsense from…well…everything. This movie is gross, inquisitive and nostalgic by way of generational homage. Skipper’s love of decades-old practicality and effects work is a mucky blast from the past, primed to earn a slot on my year-end “WTF Movie Moments” round-up.

You might remember Sequence Break appearing in an earlier feature I used to hype y’all with exciting genre titles set to land in 2018, but no upload date was announced at that point. That, as you might assume, has changed! Like, to this month! You can see the film right now as it was just released on Shudder as of last night. I’d say “What are you waiting for?”, but first, the good people behind this lurid digital gusher have a clip they’ve asked us to debut.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War

If you’re as outspoken an advocate of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy as I am, Avengers: Infinity War probably left you with loads to internally process. Yes, we’re going to grade the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War.

James Gunn’s lovable cosmic cowboys play a pivotal role in challenging Thanos’ scheme to collect all six Infinity Stones. Star-Lord, Drax and Mantis end up alongside Tony Stark’s space clan, Rocket and Groot aid Thor’s Stormbreaker quest, Gamora reunites with her father Thanos – the Guardians have plenty going on, but not every arc struck me as complete. We knew there’d be some character development issues with such a cluttered team-up feature, but the range of representation for my favorite MCU heroes endure scales from “Is Groot as mighty as Thor?” to “Gamora hitting rock-bottom.”

Oh, should I mention spoilers will follow? I mean, why would you click on an Infinity War article without seeing the movie anyway. In any case, here goes:

Massive Infinity War spoilers follow.

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Death in the MCU

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: Marvel has no idea how to make death matter in its movies.)

We’ve come a long way since 2008’s Iron Man introduced Marvel Studios’ ambitious Phase One initiative. Ten years, nineteen movies, one sacrificial offering of Kevin Feige’s soul to ward off genre fatigue – but despite critical, monetary, and filmmaking successes that continue to redefine the increasingly iconic Marvel Cinematic Universe, the elemental truth of insufficient stakes remains the franchise’s greatest foe.

Marvel stresses event-level entertainment and exhibits the ability to spectacularly deliver on that promise, proven by my continued desire to witness the Avengers pound tyrant after tyrant into submission. Plucky do-gooder confidence plays into ultimate showmanship, yet it cannot be denied that hero sendoffs are scarce and oddly unaffecting when implemented.

Does death even matter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? At this franchise milestone, I submit that it does not. Warning: spoilers ahead. Read More »

braid review

I’ve never robotripped, ingested geltabs of acid or licked stimulant toad excretions, but if I did, I’d imagine the experience to resemble Mitzi Peirone’s Braid. Style over substance just had a new league invented by this hallucinogenic rabbit’s hole, laced with uppers and light on explanations. Keeping up isn’t an option here – audiences are better served soaking in sugar plum scenic drenches than trying to rationalize character motivations. Peirone marches to the beat of her own drum, that’s part of a massive in-tune band, performing on her own made-up holiday. Hold onto something and try not to lose your mind…there’s no Mad Hatter to save you this time.

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Cargo Review

Netflix’s “zom-dram” Cargo – what’s essentially an Australian The Walking Dead spinoff – boasts far more inspiration from survival instincts over typical rotter squashing. No tactical military platoons, just a father and child fighting against outbreak paranoia. Supplies are scarce, native tribes echo ritualistic thinking and do I detect a hint of anti-fracking commentary? Man’s mutilation of Mother Nature pits industrial complexes against respect for cavernous and magnificent brushlands in this greed-poisoned flatlands march. An environmentally sound subgenre take that’s powered by 2018’s strongest horror theme: parental fears and intergenerational unrest.

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The Endless Trailer

Those of you paying attention, yes – I’ve been quite busily covering Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s The Endless around these parts. I premiered an exclusive clip that teases an existential “Struggle,” interviewed the duo about their cinematic inspirations, and now comes the most fun reveal yet in the form of a giveaway contest! It’s time for us here at /Film to give back with a little help from our filmmaking friends, specifically, the team behind your new favorite mindfreak (according to myself and Jamie Righetti who reviewed the film out of Tribeca).

The Endless begs to be seen, and hopefully what’s about to come ignites your motivational fire.

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