replace review

What’s intriguing about Norbert Keil’s Replace isn’t just the Richard Stanley co-writing credit. It’s more than the “Barbara Crampton Effect.” Sinful style hypnotizes like a tractor beam that entraps voyeuristic eyes, like someone spliced the cinematic DNA of Nicolas Winding Refn and Vincenzo Natali. Vanity becomes an obsession that leads to sci-fi experimentation, not to downplay the Cronenbergian body horror elements at play. Music pulsates, skin is flayed, beautification is achieved through vile means. Yes, motivations stink of The Neon Demon. But there’s more than shallow LA scuzziness here, evocative of man’s inherent fear of deteriorating with age.

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Jamie Lee Curits Psycho Shower Scene

The running water. The figure behind the shower curtain. The flash of the knife. The sudden screech of strings to accompany the slaughter. Everyone knows the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho – even people who have somehow managed to never see the film. It is, perhaps, the most famous scene in film history, and it’s a moment that changed the medium itself.

So famous and influencial is the shower scene that it now has its own documentary in the form of Alexandre O. Philippe’s fascinating 78/52. While at times bordering on Hitchcock hagiography, 78/52 is an incredibly in-depth exploration of just what makes the shower scene, and Psycho in general, tick. At the time, Hitchcock had become a household name thanks to his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series. He was also coming off the technological wonder that was North By Northwest. The fame brought on by these projects enabled the filmmaker to get away with murder, so to speak, by adapting Robert Bloch’s lurid, pulpy Psycho, ostensibly applying an A-movie mentality to a B picture.

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Dunkirk Spoiler Review

(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: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.)

In Christopher Nolan movies, the clock is always ticking.

Time is a precious commodity, and it’s also a luxury that the characters who inhabit Nolan films do not have. With his tenth film, Dunkirk, Nolan applies his favored ticking clock narrative to its fullest, crafting arguably his best film, or at least the film that most exemplifies his considerable talents. It’s also in a way a rebuff of the criticisms that have dogged many of his films up until this point – if you thought some of Nolan’s films before Dunkirk were too exposition-heavy, here is a film with almost no exposition to speak of. If you believed his previous movies lacked emotion or feeling, witness this: a film that is relentlessly tense and harrowing, concluding with a moment of perfectly rendered emotional triumph. It seems hyperbolic to throw the “masterpiece” designation around so soon after a film is released, but if Nolan’s Dunkirk isn’t officially a masterpiece yet, time may eventually fully reward it that distinction. The clock is ticking.

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Dunkirk score

The sheer amount of space in Dunkirk is overwhelming. There are three vast swaths of it: air, land, and sea, rendered in stark whites and blacks, and blues in-between. Men and boats alike come across as matchstick figures, just as dominated by negative space as any J.M.W. Turner painting. Warmer colors come in the form of the soldiers and civilians whose fight to stay alive forms the backbone of the film’s narrative, and as the tick-tick-tick of Hans Zimmer’s score kicks in and the three main storylines intercut, it becomes apparent that we’re not just looking at empty space; we’re seeing triple forces, slowly threatening to crush the men stranded at Dunkirk.

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dunkirk review round up

Dunkirk seemed like a strange choice for Christopher Nolan‘s next feature, since he’s a director known for his abstract sci-fi features and clever plot twists. Box office predictors and audiences didn’t know what to make of the war epic about a relatively obscure (to American audiences) World War II evacuation, with some estimating that it would be his lowest-grossing movie in years.

But if the reviews are anything to go by, Dunkirk may be Nolan’s most stunning achievement yet. Dunkirk is being met by some of the most enthusiastic praise of Nolan’s career — and indeed, many critics are calling it the filmmaker’s best movie so far.

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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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war for the planet of the apes ceasar and woody gun to the head

When news of a Planet of the Apes prequel franchise was first announced, plenty of people were skeptical, especially those who loved the classic film franchise that began in 1968 and spawned four sequels, a live-action TV series and an animated TV series. The 2001 remake directed by Tim Burton had already soured audiences all over the world. But 10 years later, we were all pleasantly surprised by Rise of the Planet of the Apes from director Rupert Wyatt, and even more enamored and impressed by the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, from filmmaker Matt Reeves in 2014.

Now, Reeves has returned behind the camera for War for the Planet of the Apes, a film that is not only one of the most significant blockbusters of the decade, but the concluding chapter in what will be regarded as one of the all-time greatest film trilogies. Read More »

Spider-Man Homecoming Spoiler Review

(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: Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming.

The hype is real — Spider-Man: Homecoming is definitely the best Spider-Man movie made to date. The film, which stars Tom Holland as a fresh-faced Peter Parker, gives us our best version of the character as well as the most realistic, most diverse on-screen version of Queens in a Spider-Man film. There are a ton of positives with this film, as well as some food for thought, so without further ado, let’s get into it.

Spoilers ahead.

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spider-man homecoming theme

For some fans, it goes without saying that Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t just a title that describes what’s happening in the high school life of the superhero’s young alter ego Peter Parker (Tom Holland). It’s also evocative of the fact that the webslinger is finally back home where he belongs, in the same cinematic universe as his other Marvel Comics comrades, the Avengers.

Spider-Man: Homecoming gives us the spectacular version of the webslinger that fans have been waiting to see. It stands out from the rest of the adaptations, including the more favored original iteration directed by Sam Raimi and portrayed by Tobey Maguire, simply because it introduces a dynamic that has been lacking from the Spider-Man franchises thus far. Not only does it combine the trials and tribulations of high school life with the dangers of being a secret superhero, but it also gives Spider-Man a much larger world to play in, one that may be more intimidating than the wallcrawler himself even realizes.

Read on for more in our full Spider-Man Homecoming review. Read More »

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Despicable Me 3 trailer

In just seven years, Illumination Entertainment has turned the grouchy, pointy-nosed villain Gru and his yellow Minions into some of the most recognizable characters in all of pop culture. They’ve starred in multiple movies, they show up in theme parks, you can buy their toys, and so on. The characters are ubiquitous. This feat of marketing is even more fascinating in its success considering that the Despicable Me franchise has yet to produce a truly good film, a streak sadly continued by the latest, Despicable Me 3. Like the first two films, as well as the obnoxious Minions spin-off film from 2015, this new entry is a loud, manic, and frantic extended episode of an overly familiar sitcom.

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