Brain on Fire Trailer

Chloe Grace Moretz has grown up quite a bit since her early acting days. Her early years found her taking on supporting child star roles in the likes of The Amityville Horror and Big Momma’s House 2. Thankfully, she graduated to better adolescent roles in (500) Days of Summer, Kick-Ass and Hugo. Now she’s talking on full-fledged adult roles, and her (nearly) latest turn is coming to Netflix.

Brain on Fire adapts the true story of a New York Post journalist named Susannah Cahalan, who suddenly found herself hearing voices, having seizures, and losing parts of her memory. Doctors had no idea what was causing these catastrophic developments in her mind and body. It sounds like a medical nightmare. Read More »

lean on pete review

(This review originally ran during our coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival. Lean on Pete is in theaters today.)

Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete is a social realist drama of the highest order, combining the gentle pastoral touch of David Lynch’s The Straight Story with a probing sympathy for individuals on the edge of society recalling the best of the Dardenne brothers. There’s no armchair sociology here, just rich character observation steeped in a spirit of compassion. Haigh never veers into grandstanding “issues movie” territory or troubled youth drama. It’s just the story of an adolescent boy in need of the tiniest bit of permanence and security.

That boy is 15-year-old Charley Thompson, played by Charlie Plummer, a pure but restless soul hitched to the fortunes of his good-natured single father Ray (Travis Fimmel). When the film starts, the two are just getting settled into a new home in Portland, and Charley clearly has the routine down. He unpacks his trophies, goes for a run around unfamiliar streets to acquaint himself with the area and puts his Cap’n Crunch in the refrigerator to avoid the roaches. Charley is no hopeless, despairing victim – he’s just stuck in a situation beyond his control. From a young age, he has already learned not to get sentimental and accept nothing as permanent.

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Kodachrome Trailer

Another day, another trailer for one of the 700-plus movies and TV shows coming to Netflix this year. Except this selection from the Toronto International Film Festival looks better than the usual Netflix original movie.

Kodachrome premiered at TIFF last year to mostly warm reactions, and now the road trip dramedy starring Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris and Elizabeth Olsen has a full trailer to entice you to watch this one from the comfort of your couch. Read More »

Chappaquiddick Trailer

It’s no secret that the Kennedy family has been stricken with grief on numerous occasions, so much that Ted Kennedy, the youngest brother of John F. Kennedy, once wondered if there was some kind of curse that hung over his name. Now, audiences will see a dramatization of the tragedy that led to this heartbreaking conclusion.

Chappaquiddick takes us back to 1969 when Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) was the last hope at continuing the Kennedy family bloodline. During a celebration for a group of women known as the Boiler Room Girls (who worked on his brother Bobby’s ill-fated presidential campaign the year before), he went off for a night drive with one of the female campaign workers, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara). Little did he know that there was another tragedy in his future. You can find out what we’re talking about in the Chappaquiddick trailer below. Read More »

Marrowbone Trailer

Director J.A. Bayona brought some chills and thrills with The Orphanage back in 2007, but he had some help from screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez. Now the scribe is behind both the script and the camera for a new rural haunted house thriller executive produced by Bayona.

Marrowbone follows a family who has escaped from an abusive father in Britain to the safe harbor of a small cottage in America known as the old Marrowbone house. After tragedy befalls the mother, the four children (George McKay, Mia Goth, Charlie Heaton and Mattthew Stagg) must fend for themselves while not letting anyone else in the vicinity know about their family’s loss. But as the Marrowbone trailer shows, the family has another more pressing concern as the kids learn they’re not the only ones living in the old house. Read More »

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Submergence Trailer

Alicia Vikander and James McAvoy are both part of blockbuster franchises. While Vikander has Tomb Raider coming up, she also appeared in Jason Bourne not too long ago. Meanwhile, McAvoy will play Professor X for the fourth time in the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix and he’s also reprising his role as The Horde in Glass, a sequel to both Split and Unbreakable. But the two took time out of their schedule to make a more quiet, subdued film from director Wim Wenders.

Submergence follows Danielle Flinders (Vikander) and James More (McAvoy) as they meet in a Normandy hotel, falling for each other romantically before they go off on two very different missions. The distance between them will be great (there’s a literal ocean between them), but their love may be enough to keep them going. Read More »

Suburbicon Review

(This review originally ran during our coverage of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Suburbicon is in theaters today.)

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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let the corpses tan

Anyone who can bear to stare directly into Let the Corpses Tan may walk away with the sensation that their eyelids are burning, almost as if someone seared them with a scalding hot poker. That’s by design. And for those who don’t mind the pain, the embrace of directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani will provide a masochistic thrill.

This isn’t just gross-out, go-for-broke genre cinema. Let the Corpses Tan begins with a jarring gunshot, from which Cattet and Forzani proceed to fire on all cylinders, deploying a full arsenal of cinematic techniques to induce the visceral response they seek. Color, framing, montage – you name it, they’re using it at full throttle. Edited at the zippy speed of a sleek commercial, this is 90 minutes of pure cinematic sensory assault.

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foxtrot review

Comedy and tragedy are usually treated as two wildly different emotions – the Golden Globes even consider them so different as to break up their film awards into two tracks on those lines. But for a writer/director like Samuel Maoz, the dichotomy is not so clear-cut. His new film Foxtrot, the stealth sensation of 2017’s fall festival season, evinces how these two experiences are not opposites, but rather two sides of the same coin. Maoz, in just his second narrative feature, repeatedly demonstrates the way hilarity and calamity are never far removed from one another. Just one break in the other direction can produce a wild twist of fate.

With the absurdist deadpan of Swedish master Roy Andersson, Foxtrot captures a unique look at how young men respond to both the banality and boredom of war, as well as how adults absorb the trauma of death. It’s best to let the strange whims of life in the film guide the viewing journey; go in as blind as possible. As he charts the impact of a calamitous development, Maoz responds to a full range of human reactions. They’re never treated as separate gears to operate. Instead, pain and humor are complementary forces that overlap and bleed into each other.

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unicorn store review

“The most grown-up thing you can do is fail at things you really care about,” imparts Joan Cusack’s Gladys to her daughter, Brie Larson’s Kit, towards the close of Unicorn Store. It’s the perfect nugget of wisdom for a tale of stilted, prolonged adolescence. But the film, Larson’s debut behind the camera, is a world away from the Seth Rogen-style manchild so prevalent in the past decade of comedy.

Kit, like many millennials, struggles to adapt to a corporate environment and bristles at the drabness of office life. She’s an artist by training with an instinct to color outside the lines, a proclivity received unkindly by her stern professor. Kit snags a temporary gig at PR&R PR, where she finds herself unsure of how to reconcile her well-nurtured passion for individual expression with the mandate to be a productive, contributing member of society. At this sterile company, suit-clad men envision selling products on their purpose alone. Kit wants to set her imagination free to convey how those same products make her feel.

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