Anne Hathaway in Colosssal review

Movies about giant monsters descending upon cities are a common sight, as are movies about chronic screwups trying to get their lives back on track. But if a movie has ever combined those premises before, I haven’t seen it.

Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Colossal stars Anne Hathaway as a hard-drinking, unemployed thirty-something who hits rock bottom when she gets dumped. But her messy life takes an even crazier turn when she realizes that she’s somehow connected to an enormous creature that’s begun terrorizing Seoul. It’s a bizarre conceit that works against all odds, anchored by strong performances from Hathaway as Gloria and Jason Sudeikis as Oscar, Gloria’s childhood friend.  Read More »

Arrival Review

Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival begins with a premise we’ve seen in a hundred summer blockbusters. One day, aliens arrive on Earth, in the form of twelve mysterious ships scattered around the globe. Their purpose is unclear, and humanity is naturally both intrigued and terrified. Where it goes next, though, is a welcome return to grown-up sci-fi, more Contact or Interstellar than Independence Day.

For starters, the aliens don’t open with an attack. And we Earthlings don’t, either. Instead, the U.S. military calls upon Louise (Amy Adams), a linguistics professor, to try and make contact with the alien spaceship in Montana. From there, Villeneuve carefully unspools a story that’s equal parts heart and intellect, encompassing memory, language, loss, love, grief, and the passage of time.

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A Monster Calls review

J.A. Bayona‘s adaptation of Patrick NessA Monster Calls is a five-hankie sobfest, a ruthlessly effective tearjerker even by cancer drama standards. The sniffles start with the premise. A boy (Lewis MacDougall) struggles with his mother’s terminal illness, and calls upon a giant tree monster for help. The monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) forces a deal upon the boy: he’ll tell three stories, after which the boy will have to reveal his own deepest, darkest secret.

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Free Fire review

The third-act shootout is a staple of a certain kind of film, but in Ben Wheatley‘s Free Fire it’s essentially the entire movie. Against all odds, it works. Wheatley stages a never-ending knock-down-drag-out fight, trapping one woman and about a dozen men in an abandoned warehouse and then inviting us to sit back and watch as the bullets and the jokes ricochet off one another. The result is a furiously entertaining exercise that left me buzzing with energy long after I’d left the theater.  Read More »

The Bad Batch

Two years ago, Ana Lily Amirpour came seemingly out of nowhere with her singular first feature, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The black-and-white feminist Iranian vampire Western felt like nothing we’d seen before — heck, just the description “black-and-white feminist Iranian vampire Western” sounds like nothing we’ve seen before. Now all eyes are on her as she debuts her second film, The Bad Batch.

In concept and style, The Bad Batch is every bit as dazzlingly unique as Amirpour’s last film. It’s set in a dusty dystopian landscape that looks like Venice Beach by way of Mad Max, with some Burning Man and Electric Daisy Carnival thrown in for good measure. Our main characters are Miami Man, a hulking cannibal played by Jason Momoa, and Arlen, a tough bit of prey played by Suki Waterhouse, and the story follows their unexpected collision. But despite a promising start, The Bad Batch runs out of gas about halfway through, and spends the rest of its time meandering through a halfhearted narrative.  Read More »

Headshot Trailer - Iko Uwais

Two of the very best action films of the past decade are undoubtedly The Raid and The Raid 2: Berandal. The films deliver some of the most fast-paced, hard-hitting, perfectly choreographed action in recent memory, and while director Gareth Evans is responsible for bringing it all together, leading man Iko Uwais deserves plenty of credit for pulling off his own fight scenes and stunts. And now he’s back in what promises to be another brutal action flick, albeit with a derivative story.

Headshot is premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, and the first trailer for the Indonesian action flick has just arrived online. If you loved the action in The Raid franchise, then you’ll definitely want to check this one out. Watch the Headshot trailer after the jump. Read More »

City of Tiny Lights clip - Riz Ahmed

The Night Of may be over and done, but the year of Riz Ahmed continues. Following his supporting role in Jason Bourne and ahead of his blockbuster turn in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the British actor has not one but two films premiering next month at TIFF. Today we’ve got an intriguing look at one of them, City of Tiny Lights from Dredd director Pete Travis.

The neo-noir thriller puts Ahmed back into the criminal justice system, this time from the other end. His Tommy is a private eye investigating a missing persons case in London. As he digs deeper into the mystery, however, he finds himself facing dark secrets from his past. The first City of Lights clip has Tommy visiting a certain key figure from his history, an ex-girlfriend played by Billie Piper. Watch the City of Tiny Lights clip below.  Read More »

arrival first look

UPDATE: Fantastic Fest has unveiled the second wave of films in this year’s line-up, including Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden, and Sadako vs Kayako (which finds the monsters from The Ring and The Grudge battling it out). We have added the complete list of second wave films to the bottom of this post.

Fantastic Fest, the Austin, Texas-based film festival built around showcasing genre movies from the around the world, has announced its first wave of programming and it’s a doozy. Sure, the biggest news here is a red carpet screening of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, but that’s just the bait. The real appeal of Fantastic Fest, and the real appeal of this first wave announcement, is the collection of odd and unusual films that accompany the headliners. Come for the Tim Burton movie, but stay for the latest from Werner Herzog, Andrea Arnold, Don Coscarelli, and a number of the most unusual filmmakers working on the international stage at the moment.

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Southside With You

Note: With Southside With You in limited release this weekend, we’re re-running our review from the Sundance Film Festival.

Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise has sparked dozens of imitations, some better than others, but Southside With You is almost certainly the first time it’s inspired a biopic based on a sitting U.S. president. Written and directed by Richard Tanne, the gentle indie romance chronicles the charmed first date of Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers), then a summer associate at a Chicago law firm, and Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter), then a second-year associate and his mentor at the same firm.  Read More »

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24x36 trailer

We live in an interesting age for movie posters. While actual film studios and the marketing people they employ continue to line multiplex walls with generic, heavily photoshopped work that generally relies on giant floating heads and/or random debris particles filling in every inch of negative space, pop culture art has undergone a revolution. Companies like Mondo, the Bottleneck Gallery, and Hero Complex have embraced movie buffs’ desire to line their walls with tremendous art representing films that are important to them. The movie poster has been reinvented.

The new documentary 24X36: A Movie About Movie Posters looks to explore how the beautiful movie posters from decades past gave way to the generic designs of today and how third parties and inspired artists have resurrected the form. And yes, you can watch the trailer below.

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