Movies to Watch With Logan Lucky

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Logan Lucky.)

Steven Soderbergh is back from an inactive hiatus where he limited his filmmaking involvement to Ocean’s Eight, the TV movie MosaicThe Girlfriend ExperienceGodlessRed OaksMagic Mike XXLCitizenfour, and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. It’s unclear if he painted anything during that time.

His first feature since Side Effects in 2013, Soderbergh has teamed again with Channing Tatum for the NASCAR heist flick Logan Lucky. Tatum and Adam Driver play drivers attempting to knock over the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600. (Look out for newcomer Daniel Craig as Joe Bang!)

Do you need to have seen the other Wolverine movies to get Logan Lucky? No clue, but here are six films to check out alongside Soderbergh’s latest caper.

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the stand revisited 1

(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition: does the television miniseries adaptation of The Stand represent the pinnacle of Stephen King adaptations or…not.)

If you grew up between 1950 and 1990, you knew how the world would end.

The United States and the Soviet Union would press a few buttons, and aliens would sift through the radioactive ashes. Rod Serling told us all about it. Dr. Strangelove put clown shoes on it. School children learned pointless ways to defend against it. There was a bone-deep helplessness that came with the fear, not just of the end of your life, but of all life itself, floating in the back of your head at all times.

Right after I was old enough to be made aware of that fear, it disappeared. The Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and we Americans were forced to open our minds to new ways of destroying the entire population.

Stephen King’s The Stand straddles these immobilizing periods by existing in different forms. The first, a Cold War novel about the collapse of society following a massive government blunder; the second a post-Cold War miniseries about the collapse of society following a massive government blunder.

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The Dark Tower Trailer Breakdown 20

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: The Dark Tower.)

The Dark Tower is a mystery. It’s an adaptation/kinda sequel to a series of Stephen King books that act as an expansive corpus of multi-world fantasy that has the epitome of a cult following. There are thirty years between the first and last published books, and it’s been ten years of development to bring this to theaters – enough time to take us from J.J. Abrams with Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen to Nikolaj Arcel with Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba.

There’s no telling what this thing is gonna be like. Even the trailers only offer a glimpse that’s shoot-out heavy and suggests that our world is at stake if the tower falls. To be blunt, they make the movie seem generic, and the books are anything but.

So what do you pair with something like that? Let’s stick with the fantastical, the adventurous, and the bullet-riddled, but I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section.

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Mohawk Review

Fresh from his ghostly triumph We Are Still Here, writer/director Ted Geoghegan finds himself combing the woods for a different kind of horror with Mohawk. One part revenge thriller, one part historical drama, one part home invasion where the United States is the home being invaded, this ambitious indie project delivers a spark of real-world tragedy yet falls prey to its low budget limitations.

The hook of Mohawk seems simple, but old grudges add gasoline to the fire and ensure no one leaves without blood on their conscience. It opens near the end of the War of 1812 as tribe members Oak (Kaniehtiio Horn) and Calvin Two Rivers (Justin Rain), and British soldier Joshua Pinsmail (Eamon Farren) try to convince elder Wentahawi (Sheri Foster) to join in war against the Americans. She refuses, and things start racing downhill once Two Rivers murders a bunch of American militiamen as they sleep. A cadre of American soldiers is dispatched to hunt him down, but, like the old adage says, if you embark on a journey of revenge dig, like, fifteen or sixteen graves.

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Dunkirk

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Dunkirk.)

In the early summer of 1940, a group of Allied soldiers had to be evacuated from their position on the beach of Dunkirk, France, after being surrounded by Nazi troops in the first weeks of the Fall of France. The events necessitating their rescue, according to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, were a “colossal military disaster,” and the resulting mission (Operation Dynamo) is now know rightly as the Miracle of Dunkirk.

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you know that’s the subject of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, which has near-universal praise from critics. Some are pointing to the bleachers to predict an Oscar. Others are calling it his best film in a career littered with greatness.

Let’s see what kinds of movie connections we can make to Dunkirk as it dominates screens (big and bigger) this weekend.

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the villainess review

The opening of The Villainess is dangerous. An exhilarating, first-person POV hallway fight scene that leaves a lot of unnamed henchmen in bloodied heaps is thankfully smart enough to (cleverly) shift away from the first-person angle just when you start wondering if the next two hours of your life are going to be a video game you aren’t in control of. The move expands our view of the stunningly choreographed action and announces a hint of the innovation yet to come. Yes, it’s dangerous, and like a lot of dangerous things – a mile-high tightrope walk, hanging to the outside of a C130 in flight, killing Keanu Reeves’ dog – it’s also thrilling when done right.

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Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man should be the very symbol of franchise fatigue. It’s a 55-year-old character who has been played by three different actors in six films within 15 years. The last three Spider-Man films were bloated messes largely devoid of super-fun dance sequences. Yet Spider-Man: Homecoming has brought freshness and joy to summer, and to a genre still trying to find its feet. Critics like it. Fans like it. Its future looks as bright as an Infinity Stone.

It would be unfair to mine it for certain lessons (Have a well-established, global brand to use in a movie! Get Marvel to take the creative lead on their own character, who’s a well-established, global brand!), but there’s something that every studio can learn from it, and a few tricks that apply beyond the superhero world.

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All the Marvel Big Bads, Ranked By Badness

michael keaton as the vulture in spiderman homecoming

I totally get that you don’t want to read an introduction about how there’s a new (great) Marvel Cinematic Universe villain because of Spider-Man: Homecoming. You’re skipping this to get right to the list so you can get right to the comments section. No sweat. You’ve earned it.

If you’re still reading, there are two things to keep in mind regarding this particularly ranking of Marvel’s bad guys. One, I’m judging them all based on Personality and Plan Points. How magnetic are they? How stupid is their plan for world domination (or whatever else they’re seeking)?

Two, Thanos isn’t on it because he doesn’t count. He’s not a villain; he’s a Postmates customer with the munchies. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to Infinity War when he can legitimately join this list.

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Spider-Man Homecoming story

It starts with young Bruce Wayne’s parents gunned down in the streets. Or Tony Stark kidnapped by terrorists wielding his own weaponry. Or Doctor Strange destroying his life-saving hands in a car wreck. Or a radioactive spider bite followed by a deadly moment of apathy.

Then it’s all about discovery. Awkwardly wielding new powers and new priorities. You get a Rocky-style montage, and maybe you sew your own suit. Wayne gets some wonderful toys and becomes Batman. Stark changes his company’s entire focus and becomes Iron Man. Strange seeks enlightenment and becomes a Sorcerer.

All the while, the villain is amassing allies and formulating the big plan, and when they unleash the CGI-fueled terror on the innocent people of the city/country/world, the newly-confident hero, forged out of their own suffering, is there to save the day.

This is the formula. Trauma, training, triumph. And Spider-Man: Homecoming messes with that formula. Major spoilers follow.

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Movie Mixtape: Spider-Man Movie Connections

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Spider-Man: Homecoming.)

Be honest. What would you have done if you’d seen Sony and Marvel cast someone to play Uncle Ben in Spider-Man: Homecoming? Screamed? Shook your head? Vowed never to see it, only to buy opening night tickets? These are all correct answers.

For the third time in only 15 years, Spider-Man is being introduced to us on the big screen. For the first time, he’s come home to the warm, awaiting arms of the Marvel family so that he can have direct contact with Iron Man and Happy Hogan and some other surprise guests along the way.

Fortunately, Uncle Ben is not one of them. Wisely, the studios, the writers and co-writer/director Jon Watts are letting us shake hands with a new Peter Parker (Tom Holland) after his most formative moment, after he’s fought crime in a funny suit, and after he’s helped Iron Man slap Captain America in the face during Civil War.

Homecoming sees Parker juggling life as an unpopular high school sophomore and life as a superpowered hero who wants to do more than help old ladies cross the street. It’s a spectacular outing for Spidey that smartly avoids most of the tired tropes beaten into our eyeballs over the past decade. It’s light, sometimes dry, and it pairs well with these other films.

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