The Bachelors review

The majority of movies at film festivals don’t release trailers beforehand, so we often choose which films to see based on the filmmakers involved, the cast, and a brief description. Approaching a movie fresh is a hugely different experience than seeing one that’s strategically unveiled three trailers and a barrage of TV spots, and because so much about them is unknown, I find myself watching festival films with a different level of anticipation. Not only am I hoping the film turns out to be good (as I do with every movie I see), but in the back of my mind, I’m secretly hoping to see something revelatory. Something that moves me in a way that a huge studio project might not be able to. Something with an awards-worthy performance, or perhaps something that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in the world of independent film.

Most of the time, festival films don’t live up to those expectations. Sometimes, you just get a movie that’s fine, a middle-of-the-road piece of work that neither moves you nor insults your intelligence. Something competently made with respectable actors and a handful of pleasant moments, but you won’t ever give it a second thought. That may sound harsh or dismissive, but think about it: if you watch a lot of movies, doesn’t that accurately describe a large percentage of them? Such is the case with The Bachelors, Kurt Voelker’s exploration of grief, loneliness, and despair through the eyes of two men who have lost the most important woman in their lives. Read More »

Rough Night Trailer

The premise of Lucia Aniello’s Rough Night is fairly simple. Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is getting married, so for her bachelorette party, she and her best friends head out to Miami. There’s her college roommate, Alice (Jillian Bell); former item and now polar opposites, Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer); and Jess’s friend from her semester abroad in Australia, Pippa (Kate McKinnon), all ready to relive the old glory days. They get drunk, they get wild, and when a stripper ends up dead, they scramble to cover it up. If this sounds like the set-up of two different movies, that’s because it is; while there are parts of Rough Night that stand out for hitting the rough patches of friendship on the nose, there’s not enough in between them to quite hold it all together.

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Cars 3

The Cars movies have been the redheaded stepchildren of the Pixar filmography for just over a decade. While the films are a merchandising cash cow, the 2006 original and 2011 sequel are among Pixar’s weakest creative efforts, the latter being their outright worst. A more positive spin on Cars 3 might suggest that the studio has something to prove, that they wanted this movie to exist for reasons aside from selling toys. The good news is that Cars 3 is mercifully a step up from Cars 2; the less surprising news is that it’s not quite as good as the original.

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The Handmaid's Tale Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: the first season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.)

There’s no denying that The Handmaid’s Tale is powerful. Its story of a distinctly American dystopia in which women’s rights are oppressed and their bodily autonomy is stolen by a totalitarian government is gripping and timely, with more real-world implications by the minute. But it is a TV show, and “powerful” can only take a series so far.

The Hulu show inevitably had to make some deviations from the Margaret Atwood novel upon which its based, transforming The Handmaid’s Tale from a dismal cautionary tale into a more conventional, hopeful sci-fi thriller. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it presents a whole new host of problems for the show to deal with in its confirmed second season.

Spoilers ahead for the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale.

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house of cards season 5 spoiler review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: season 5 of Netflix’s flagship series House of Cards.)

Can we take a minute to bow down to Robin Wright? The Oscar-nominated actress was last seen as Antiope on the big screen annihilating a bunch of angry male villains donning a big ole smile and golden warrior gear like a badass in Wonder Woman. Though she was only in the movie (which, in case you haven’t heard, is now the biggest blockbuster from a woman director ever) for a few memorable scenes, her presence encapsulates everything that movie represents: strength, femininity, and command.

The same can be said of Wright’s performance in season 5 of House of Cards, now streaming on Netflix.

Spoilers begin right here.

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mummy

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy.)

Bad news: The Mummy has risen from the tomb, and it stinks! Universal Pictures bet big on the first film in their “Dark Universe” – a cinematic universe meant to capture the magic of the Marvel movies. The studio was hoping that the surest way to success was to take characters they already owned and fit them into an uninspired action movie formula. The results are stunningly inept. Just how did this film go so wrong? Let’s excavate this monster and get to the bottom of it all.

Spoilers ahead.

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The Hero review

The Hero centers on an aging movie star who’s best remembered for his performance in a beloved western forty years earlier. It’s a vehicle written specifically for actor Sam Elliott, who, of course, has his own storied history in that genre and has embraced that vibe as a key part of his acting persona, even in films as divergent as Ghost Rider and The Big Lebowski. While The Hero doesn’t offer any particularly insightful observations about what it means to get older in Hollywood, it’s still a pleasure to watch Elliott – a perennial ensemble player since his made-for-TV movie heyday of the ’80s and ’90s – do terrific work as the clear lead of a film that lasers in on his sensibilities as a performer.

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it comes at night spoiler review

Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes At Night opens today and while it’s not the movie being sold in the trailers, it’s an exceptional piece of work. Tense and unsettling and bleaker than bleak, it’s going to rattle nerves of audiences everywhere this weekend. And everyone who sees it is probably going to have a lot to talk about.

Alex Riviello and Jacob Hall certainly did. Unable to get the film out of their minds, the two of them sat down to talk about the movie in spoiler-filled detail.

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The Mummy review

Hubris, thy name is The Mummy.

What other word describes a film that kicks off a presumed franchise in the vein of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in spite of not gauging whether or not audiences want such a franchise? The ingredients for a compelling single movie exist within The Mummy, yet they never cohere into a genuinely exciting adventure. The pieces are here, but director Alex Kurtzman isn’t able to put them together; he’s too busy trying to make the so-called Dark Universe worth the effort.

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The Mummy Trailer

Last night brought the first round of press screenings for The Mummy, the first film in Universal’s ambitious Dark Universe franchise that will see remakes of classic monster movies from the studio’s history, including The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, as well as recently announced additions The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

With a lot riding on its shoulders, how does The Mummy fare not just as the start of a major franchise, but as a new vehicle for Tom Cruise? Well, the reviews don’t have many kind things to say, which doesn’t bode well for the Dark Universe, despite Universal’s confidence in the franchise.

Find out more in our The Mummy review round-up below. Read More »