Taken - Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson is “taken” with the action genre no more.

The unlikely action star is retiring his particular set of skills and turning his back on the action genre a few months past his 65th birthday. I say unlikely because Neeson was a renowned prestige drama actor until the late ’90s and early ’00s saw him dabbling in blockbusters like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and Batman Begins. Then Taken came along in 2008 and gave him a late-career boost, transforming him into the modern era’s exemplary grizzled action star.

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer Review

While watching The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a passage from Stephen King’s Pet Sematary came to mind: “It’s probably wrong to believe there can be any limit to the horror which the human mind can experience. On the contrary, it seems that some exponential effect begins to obtain as deeper and deeper darkness falls — as little as one may like to admit it, human experience tends, in a good many ways, to support the idea that when the nightmare grows black enough, horror spawns horror, one coincidental evil begets other, often more deliberate evils, until finally blackness seems to cover everything. And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.”

Yorgos Lanthimos, director of the bleak but funny The Lobster, takes his penchant for the unpleasant to the next level with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. As the film unfolds and grows progressively disturbing, you can’t help but ask yourself, “Why am I watching this?”

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Roman J. Israel, Esq. Review

Writer Dan Gilroy made an exciting directorial debut with 2014’s excellent Nightcrawler, a Los Angeles-based character study with a strong lead performance. Now Gilroy is back with yet another character study set in L/A. Sadly, lightning doesn’t strike twice for Gilroy – his new film, Roman J. Israel, Esq. is a mess.

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the shape of water

Thank the movie gods for Guillermo del Toro. One of our best living filmmakers, del Toro crafts gorgeous, poetic films that combine genres to great effect. No one working today is making movies like the Crimson Peak filmmaker, and with The Shape of Water, del Toro may have made his masterpiece.

The Shape of Water is a poetic love story set during the Cold War, after John F. Kennedy’s Camelot has come to a tragic close. “The end of Camelot [was] the peak of the promise of the future,” del Toro said, “jet-fin cars, super fast kitchens, television, everything that if you’re white, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual, you’re good. But if you’re anything else, you’re not so good. Then when Kennedy is shot and Vietnam escalates, and the disillusionment of that dream occurs, I don’t think that has healed.”

This is a love story, yes, but it’s about so much more. As is his custom, del Toro builds an entire world, and populates it with memorable, believable characters. The Shape of Water is also a fairy tale, and all good fairy tales need a princess.

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Downsizing Trailer

After playing the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival this month, Alexander Payne‘s latest film Downsizing has debuted a full theatrical trailer, giving us a glimpse at the director’s first sci-fi film as only he can deliver.

Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig star in the film as a couple who decide to abandon their lives in the normal-sized world in the innovative and planet-saving “downsized” community of Leisureland, New Mexico, a society created in the future to deal with overpopulation of the world. Watch the first Downsizing trailer below to see what this new movie looks like. Read More »

darkest hour review

It’s been a surprisingly big year for Dunkirk. Earlier this year, Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk both told stories about the evacuation of British troops from the beach at Dunkirk during World War II. Now Joe Wright, who also chronicled the events of Dunkirk in Atonement, tells yet another version of this story with Darkest Hour.

Darkest Hour is the behind-the-scenes look at not so much the evacuation itself, but the events leading up the evacuation. The film’s main focus is British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Darkest Hour isn’t so much a biopic of a famous politician but rather a week-in-the-life type tale. As the film opens, parliament has lost faith in Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) for underestimating the nazi threat.

Chamberlain is forced to resign, and the only man the parties seem to be willing to back is Churchill. But while he may have party support, Churchill will soon find his new position is even more challenging than he could’ve imagined.

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current war tiff

The last thing cinema needs right now is another movie about a brilliant man whose brilliance is expressed through being a stubborn jerk. We already have a wealth of these artist as needlessly mean, antisocial guy portraits, and to keep adding more at this point goes well beyond beating a dead horse.

But Me and Earl and the Dying Girl director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon manages to get some great milage by taking such a setup and approaching it through a deconstructed lense with The Current War. The brilliant jerk in question this time is none other than the Wizard of Menlo Park himself, Thomas Edison. Edison, that brilliant inventor and sometimes thief, is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, an actor who has made almost an entire career playing brilliant jerks. It’s typecasting to the nth degree, but it also works. Cumberbatch brings an amusing, detached air to Edison, playing the genius as an overly competitive, short-tempered savant who wants to slap his name on everything.
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Molly's Game Reviews

The Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing, and one of the movies we were most excited to hear about was the directorial debut of The Social Network and A Few Good Men writer Aaron Sorkin. If the reviews from the festival are any indicator, not only does Sorkin have another fantastic movie to add to his career, but Jessica Chastain can add another acclaimed performance to her résumé.

Molly’s Game follows a former Olympic skier who turned from the sudden end of her athletic career to a thriving business throwing poker games for Hollywood celebrities, business tycoons and plenty of exclusive high rollers. To find out what critics are saying about Aaron Sorkin’s first turn at directing his own script, read out round-up of Molly’s Game reviews below. Read More »

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 »

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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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