i, tonya

In the 1990s, the story of figure skater Tonya Harding dominated the early days of the 24-hour news cycle. It was the testing ground for where news was headed, away from reporting and into gossip. It would be repeated tenfold by the O.J. Simpson trial, which came after the Harding incident was dying down. By then, the media was learning a valuable lesson: everyone loves a juicy story with a lot of dirt.

Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya trades in gossip, but it also wants to get to the truth. The truth that many people probably don’t even know. For most people, Tonya Harding is little more than a punchline. I, Tonya wants to remind you she’s also a person. Read More »

Suburbicon Review

It’s not often that one film attempts so many different things and manages to make none of them work, but gosh darn it, Suburbicon somehow makes such blundering seem easy. Director George Clooney packs a whole lot of ideas into his tale of the underbelly of 1950s suburbia, but they’re really bad, lazy ideas, which is a shame because Suburbicon has quite the pedigree.

The biggest problem with Suburbicon is that it’s really two different movies cobbled together. One movie is a dark, farcical Coen Brothers-style crime movie. Which makes sense, since the Coens have a writing credit on the film. But then there’s the other movie, one that deals with racism and white supremacy. This is an element of the film that absolutely none of the advertising even hints at, which is kind of strange.

You really shouldn’t hold a movie’s advertising against it, but the trailers for Suburbicon make it look like a wacky dark comedy about a family man in the 50s fighting back against his tormentors. That’s not even close to what this movie is about, and the fact that the trailers tried to sell it as that hints at a movie that folks don’t know how to sell.
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Molly's Game Review - Jessica Chastain

Aaron Sorkin has had some trouble when it comes to his female characters. It’s not that Sorkin has never written a good female character; he has – C.J. Cregg on The West Wing immediately springs to mind. But more often than not, Sorkin has a tendency to reduce women to roles in which their biggest character trait is how well they stand beside powerful, smart men.

So it’s interesting that for his directorial debut Molly’s Game, Sorkin chose to helm a feature about a woman. Perhaps the writer was issuing a challenge to his critics – “I’ll show you once and for all that I can tell a story about a strong female character without resorting to mansplaining.”
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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Review

It seems Wonder Woman has not one but two origin films in 2017. After breaking the box office and single-handled rescuing the DCEU with Patty JenkinsWonder Woman, the Amazon Warrior’s impetus is explored even further with Angela Robinson’s sweet, funny, and sexy Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.

Robinson’s film follows the people who helped create the most popular female superhero, and it’s not your typical creation tale. Instead, this is a polyamorous love story about the man and two women who fell in love with each other and eventually put their heads and kinks together to create Diana of Themyscira.  
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manhunt trailer

John Woo made a career creating operatic, ultra-violent crime films peppered with shoot-outs, stand-offs, morally ambiguous characters, and lots and lots of slow-motion doves. Woo eventually made the leap from Hong Kong cinema to Hollywood and created one of the greatest action movies of all time, Face/Off. But Woo’s Hollywood adventure was never truly able to rise above the joys of that film, and the filmmaker returned to Hong Kong.

Woo’s latest film, the Chinese-Hong Kong production Manhunt, is being heralded (by people who are paid to promote the film) as a return to form, supposedly recalling his classics like A Better Tomorrow and The Killer. Well, don’t believe the hype.

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The Death of Stalin Review

“I wanted to get away from American politics,” joked Veep creator Armando Iannucci at the world premiere of his new film The Death of Stalin during the Toronto International Film Festival. “So what better way than to make a film about a narcissist who terrifies his own country?”

It’s hard not to see parallels to the current American political climate and that of the chaotic days following the demise of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as depicted in The Death of Stalin. Of course, The Death of Stalin manages to make its events much funnier. Much, much funnier. With this film, an adaptation of a graphic novel, Iannucci, who helmed the acerbic In The Loop, has made his masterpiece, a pitch-black comedy of terrors that might be one of the most hilarious films of the 21st century.
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The Florida Project Review

The Magic Kingdom colors almost every scene of The Florida Project. Sean Baker’s achingly beautiful and heartbreaking new film is set in Florida (obviously), very close to Disney, and nearly everything in the background advertises the The Most Magical Place On Earth. Tourist trap stores with huge painted signs advertising Disney merch constantly lurk in the periphery.

But the characters in The Florida Project occupy their own kingdom, one comprised of rundown motels and abandoned buildings. These might seem like squalid conditions, but Baker finds a way to make them seem warm and welcoming without ever trying to glamorize them. The sunsets are fierce and gorgeous, lush pinks and reds and golds, vast and seeming to stretch on for infinity. They feel like home.
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happy end tiff

Michael Haneke is not known for light-heartedness. The Austrian filmmaker behind Funny Games, Caché, The White Ribbon, and Amour specializes in challenging, often incredibly bleak dramas where all is not right in the world.

So when Haneke’s new film was announced with the title Happy End, most people familiar with the director likely assumed this was a deliberate misnomer. Well, it is and isn’t. Happy End, which played at the Toronto International Film Festival, is perhaps one of the least-depressing films Haneke has made, while also still being plenty of bleak. There’s a bemusement at work here, as if Heneke is winking at the audience with every scene.

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Stephen King's It

There’s a level of artifice inherent in acting. A great performance lets us forget that. Generally speaking, it’s a more difficult task when it comes to child actors, which is what makes Andy Muschietti’s It so remarkable. The Losers’ Club he’s assembled is stellar across the board; there’s nothing about these kids that seems fake or affected, to the point that even when the film starts to fly off into more extreme flights of fancy, they manage to keep it firmly grounded.

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Stephen King's It Trailer

This weekend brings the latest adaptation of Stephen King‘s classic horror novel It to theaters. Or at least it brings the first half of what will be a two-part theatrical adaptation, when all is said and done.

Director Andy Muschietti is tackling Pennywise the Dancing Clown and his terrorizing of the misfits known as The Losers’ Club this time, and based on the early buzz on social media recently, it sounded like the movie was going to be a beloved horror hit. Now that the full reviews are starting to arrive, things are looking a little more mixed, but there’s still plenty of acclaim here and word that fans don’t necessarily need to worry about being disappointed as long as they don’t expect perfection.

Read some of the It reviews from around the web below. Read More »