barry review

On Saturday Night Live, Bill Hader made his name as a ham. And a good one. As the show’s resident master of impressions (maybe the best the long-running series has ever seen), he was a key supporting player, the goofball who could conjure up an iconic figure with seemingly little effort, the wacky spice injected into any ordinary situation to get you giggling. Hader was always at his best when he was being silly.

So perhaps the most surprising thing about Hader’s new HBO series, Barry, is that he’s not silly at all. In fact, he’s downright withdrawn, playing a character so internalized, anxious and downbeat that the mere act of interacting with other human beings looks like a trial. The second most surprising thing about the show is that Hader’s Barry is an icy killer, a hitman who is ruthless and efficient and damn good at his job.

But what’s least surprising about all of of this is that Hader is terrific. He always is. We all knew he could be funny. What we didn’t know is that he could play the stone-faced straight man to a wacky universe of characters. It’s a thrilling, generous performance, one that lets the supporting cast shine at every opportunity.

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Unfriended: Dark Web Review

What is a franchise? Is it a series of movies that form a grand, ongoing, and connected narrative like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Or is it a series of movies made with similar stylistic intentions, connected by a familiar aesthetic like the Cloverfield films? That second definition feels like the wave of the future for small genre movies: sell audiences on a movie by slapping a familiar name on it, sort of a “If you liked that, you may also like this” label.

It’s hard to not think about Cloverfield, and that second definition of franchise, while watching writer/director Stephen Susco’s Unfriended: Dark Web. Here’s a horror sequel that looks an awful lot like the first film, but shares nothing with it beyond the fact that it’s told entirely though a computer screen. The threats couldn’t be more different and the tone is a hard left turn from the teen-friendly, popcorn-flavored jolts of Unfriended: Original Recipe. Instead, Dark Web is darker, meaner, and far more clever. It’s more polished, more in control of how to tell a story in this format. It’s a sequel in name only and it’s an improvement in every single way.

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A Quiet Place Movie Review - John Krasinski

When one sense goes, the others are more heightened. It’s the pretty simple foundation on which A Quiet Place is built, a largely dialogue-free film in which every sight, every texture, every movement lands harder than it would in a noisier picture. Director John Krasinski crafts a new and unusual monster movie, featuring creatures that are much gnarlier than you’re probably expecting from an intimate festival entry by the filmmaker behind Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.

Keep reading our full A Quiet Place movie review below. Read More »

The moment Pedro Pascal strutted on screen in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, he proved he was ready to be a bonafide movie star. The actor has been stealing scenes since he first appeared in Game of Thrones, going on to play a starring role in the Netflix series Narcos. Now, he will finally be the lead in a feature film.

Prospect, a science-fiction “space Western” from directors Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell, stars Pascal as a father who travels with his teen daughter (Sophie Thatcher) to mine for riches on a toxic alien planet. The film will premiere at the SXSW festival later this week. See the first Prospect trailer below.

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muppet guys talking trailer

What better way to pay homage to the legacy of Jim Henson than with the five original Muppets actors who knew him best?

Six years ago, five legendary voice actors/puppeteers sat down to speak about the early days of The Muppets, the beloved puppet show created by Henson. Last year, the lovely documentary Muppet Guys Talking depicting that conversation premiered at the South by Southwest Festival to rave reviews. But the movie wouldn’t see a wide release — until now.

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‘A Quiet Place’ Will Open the 2018 SXSW Film Festival

A QUIET PLACE trailer

The 2018 SXSW Film Festival kicks off in March and the first wave of movies that will be playing has been announced. A Quiet Place, the new horror film from director John Krasinski starring Emily Blunt, will be the opening night film. However, the programming runs the gamut from prestige dramas like Final Portrait to crude comedies like Blockers to TV shows like Krypton. But perhaps importantly (at least to me!), the fest will see the premiere of Jody Hill’s new movie, The Legacy of the Whitetail Deer Hunter.

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the disaster artist review

(This review originally ran during our coverage of the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year. The Disaster Artist opens in limited release today and expands next week.)

The most surprising thing about The Disaster Artist, James Franco‘s adaptation of Greg Sestero’s book of the same name, is that it doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in its body. Here’s a film about the making of The Room, one of the worst and most baffling movies to ever achieve cult infamy, told with sincerity, sweetness, and pure affection. Franco isn’t here to laugh at The Room – he’s here to laugh with it. The Disaster Artist has no scorn for its subject. Instead, it is fascinated by this impossible-to-believe tale and the impossible-to-believe movie it produced. No irony. No scorn. Only love.

And that makes a movie whose existence already feels impossible feel all the more unlikely and all the more wonderful.

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atomic blonde review

Note: This review originally ran following the world premiere of Atomic Blonde at the SXSW Film Festival. It is in theaters today.

In a nutshell: Atomic Blonde is about a badass, bisexual British secret agent who fights like John Wick and seduces like James Bond who travels to Germany days before the fall of the Berlin Wall to recover some stolen intelligence. She wears a number of amazing outfits, kills a whole bunch of bad guys, and just looks terrific as she struts through noisy nightclubs and desolate alleyways to a soundtrack of ’80s synth pop. It is excellent, two-fisted entertainment and further proof that Charlize Theron is one of our great modern action heroes.

In a smaller nutshell: Atomic Blonde is one of the most purely entertaining action movies coming out this year.

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Baby Driver Review

(This review originally ran following Baby Driver‘s world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. The film opens in theaters today.)

Edgar Wright makes movies for movie fans, first and foremost. Is there a wide audience for a zombie comedy that upends the genre while also delivering one of the most affecting horror tales of the 21st century? Maybe not at first, but Shaun of the Dead exists and it is spectacular. It took too many people too long to fall in love with a stylized rom-com martial arts adventure that appropriates video game language to provide commentary on how relationships evolve, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has rightfully become recognized as a one-of-a-kind pop masterpiece.

And speaking of pop masterpieces, Wright’s latest film, Baby Driver held its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival over the weekend and it’s remarkable for two reasons. First, Wright’s unique voice remains intact, even as he plunges into a genre that is new to him and a story that takes away some of his more familiar crutches. Second, he’s made a movie that feels like it has the capacity to win over the average moviegoer as quickly as it wins the hearts of his fellow cinephiles.

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2017 sxsw film festival in review

The 2017 SXSW Film Festival is over, and it was an exceptional year for an always exceptional film festival. It’s rare to attend a movie fest and leave every single screening with something to talk about, but even the movies that I didn’t love have stuck with me in some way or another. This year’s line-up was a lot of things, but boring was certainly not one of them.

So let’s recap everything we saw. Let’s run down the best films and the best performances, the movies that almost worked and the movies that barely missed the mark, the bad movies you should see for yourself and the bad movies you really have to see.

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