Wildling Review

Wildling is Fritz Böhm’s first feature film, and it’s such an assured debut, darkly mystical and elegant. This nighttime fairy tale tells the story of Anna (Bel Powley), a young woman who’s spent much of her life locked in a room like Rapunzel, with only “Daddy” (Lord of the RingsBrad Dourif, in an equally untrustworthy role) as company.

Daddy treats Anna with tenderness, warning her against “the wildling” that stalks the woods surrounding their remote fairy tale tower. He seems loving and protective – but he’s also keeping Anna in seclusion. We watch her grow from toddlerhood to young womanhood in the confines of the same tiny room – and all the while we keep seeing Daddy inject a mysterious substance into Anna’s tummy. These opening scenes are disorienting, diving right into the narrative instead of offering any tidy context, immediately eliciting intrigue and perplexity from the audience. The context comes later, as Wildling’s story grows clearer but never less strange. Read More »

Film Criticism Video Essay

Film criticism matters! Shout it from the rooftops. That said, there seems to be a common misconception about what film criticism even is. An informative new film criticism video essay attempts to get to the bottom of just what criticism is, and why it’s important.

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first light review

As this generation’s filmmakers attempt to create their own superhero origin stories without going through Marvel or DC, Jason Stone’s First Light succeeds by blending Chronicle with YA romance. Hard sci-fi elements that limit themselves to rural country suburbs before breaking out like a conspiracy containment gone wrong. As illuminations flicker and cosmic mysteries unravel, a relationship between boy and girl remains thematically intrinsic – powers exist, but effects needn’t overshadow story. Not to suggest a boring watch by any means – it’s just nice to see the unknown be mixed with tender crafts.

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brothers' nest review

There’s no such thing as the perfect crime and this is doubly true in the movies. The Australian thriller Brothers’ Nest is built around a seemingly perfect criminal plot that turns out to be spectacularly imperfect once a rogue element or two enter the equation. You’ve seen this set-up before and you’ve seen it before because it works. We like to watch perfect structures tumble. It’s why we slow down at car accidents. And the duration of Brothers’ Nest is spent watching the car slide toward catatastrophe in ultra-slow motion. We await the final impact. We know it’s going to be painful. And then it is.

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Tomb Raider trailer

Alicia Vikander kicks ass. No matter what you may think of the new Tomb Raider, it can’t be said that Vikander hasn’t put in the work to play Lara Croft. From the moment she shows up on screen, training in a boxing ring, it’s clear that this is a woman who can handle herself. No, she’s not invincible — later on in the film, she’s almost completely incapacitated by a piece of debris going through her stomach — this is a movie, not a game. It’s not like she can operate in film on hit points and extra lives.

The only pity is that she’s stuck in a movie (directed by Roar Uthaug) that’s about as precarious as some of the traps she has to navigate when she’s finally thrust into a tomb.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

It’s difficult not to describe Love, Simon in contradictory terms. To put it as simply as possible: it’s extraordinary for just how ordinary it is. If one were to point out its faults, they would be the same as any other mainstream teen coming-of-age movie. Maybe it’s a little glib, maybe it bucks realism for dramatic effect, maybe it doesn’t really take any risks — isn’t it more important that this movie is so profoundly normal when its star (by Hollywood’s metrics) is so rare?

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tomb raider review round-up

The Tomb Raider review embargo has lifted, and let’s just say the critics aren’t exactly enamored with the latest big-screen Lara Croft adventure. Not even Oscar winner Alicia Vikander is enough to elevate this video game movie – although there are some kind words here and there. Our full Tomb Raider review round-up is below.

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prospect review

Prospect exists in a huge universe, one whose scope boggles the mind and imagination. And we are treated to only the smallest, most tantalizing glimpse. A taste. What a taste it is.

Here is an indie science fiction film so aware of its unavoidable budgetary limitations that it builds them into its own mystique. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but casually evocative descriptions of a dozen unique planets and unseen societies is worth $100 million. The scale of Prospect lies unseen in the margins, placing this tiny tale of survival smack dab in the middle of a galaxy that the film dares us to imagine. There’s something special about that. Something powerful. And it certainly helps that Prospect is led by characters who immediately invest us in what’s going on. We want to follow them, to learn more about them, because perhaps they’ll guide us to the worlds they keep talking about.

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never goin' back review

Cinematic comedy has a long history of men being idiots. Of men making mistakes. Of men getting in over their heads. Of men being deadbeat losers who make a series of increasingly poor decisions and whose lives spiral into chaotic, raunchy anarchy. Of men, despite giving us every reason to disregard them, ultimately winning our affection.

What Never Goin’ Back does is take a long hard look at a familiar comedic template and ask, “But what if ladies?” And then it does it better than just about everyone else.

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A Wrinkle in Time Trailer

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time.)

I’m going to start this A Wrinkle in Time spoiler review a little differently than normal. I think we, as a critic and audience, should be honest with each other for a moment.

Some of you out there might not be aware of this, but there’s a certain burden that comes with being a woman of color in the film criticism space. To be truthful, I don’t feel this burden all of the time, but I always know it’s there. As I’m surprised to find, writing this review for A Wrinkle in Time happens to be one of those times in which I distinctly feel the pressure I’m under as a black woman to like and laud A Wrinkle in Time, to support director Ava DuVernay. But I can’t honestly do that. The film has a multitude of issues that must be addressed.

However, the film itself can also be reviewed on two different levels: how it performs as a film for children and how it performs as a film for adults.

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