Tully Trailer - Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron is one of the great living actresses, and Tully is the latest proof. Theron’s ability to fully embody and transform into her characters is already well-documented, from her Oscar-winning work in Monster to the fierce Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. Prior to Tully, one of Theron’s better, more acidic performances came in the Diablo Cody-written, Jason Reitman-directed Young Adult. Now, the actress, writer, and director have come together for a film that’s perhaps slightly less biting but far more resonant in its depiction of the struggles of modern middle-class parenting.

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all about nina review

Movies about comedians are usually a gamble. Often they’re too self-indulgent, or mawkish, or overly mean-spirited. Rarely do they balance the high drama of comedians’ inherent insecurities and the, you know, comedy. But the few that do succeed because they strike a personal chord — one that mirrors the self-deprecating performance and painfully real revelations of a good stand-up set.

All About Nina is as personal as you can get. Written and directed by Eva VivesAll About Nina is a searing, semi-autobiographical portrait of a troubled young woman trying to make her big break in the comedy scene. Played with an intoxicating swagger by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Nina is an abrasive stand-up comedian who never shies away from provoking people on and off-stage, but hides a dark past of her own.

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Song of Back and Neck review

Do we really need another sad middle-age white guy comedy? Probably not, but if we have to have them, at least let them be more like Paul Lieberstein’s Song of Back and Neck. The artist best known to audiences as Toby from TV’s The Office makes his first step behind the camera for feature filmmaking to largely positive results, handling some slightly morose material with equal parts sincerity and dry humor.

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maine review

If you see Maine features a woman hiking a trail alone and assume you’re in for a retread of Wild, think again. In upstart director Matthew Brown’s sophomore feature, we see people fleeing the burdens of their life in the great outdoors in search of escape and fulfillment – but ultimately finding neither. The answers to life’s problems do not simply appear out of thin air in the woods, as much as the film’s two hikers might try to will them into existence. And yet, there’s catharsis in the film’s complete lack of cathartic moments, just as there’s deep feeling in the emotional reserve and an intense connection with characters who can never get outside of themselves to connect to each other.

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braid review

I’ve never robotripped, ingested geltabs of acid or licked stimulant toad excretions, but if I did, I’d imagine the experience to resemble Mitzi Peirone’s Braid. Style over substance just had a new league invented by this hallucinogenic rabbit’s hole, laced with uppers and light on explanations. Keeping up isn’t an option here – audiences are better served soaking in sugar plum scenic drenches than trying to rationalize character motivations. Peirone marches to the beat of her own drum, that’s part of a massive in-tune band, performing on her own made-up holiday. Hold onto something and try not to lose your mind…there’s no Mad Hatter to save you this time.

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the seagull review

Put Annette Bening, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, and Corey Stoll in a room, and you’ve got yourself one of the most talented, charismatic rooms in Hollywood. It’s too bad that The SeagullMichael Mayer‘s plodding, histrionic adaptation of the Anton Chekhov play of the same name, puts that talent to waste.

Mayer and screenwriter Stephen Karam enthusiastically try to modernize an 1896 romantic drama that is steeped in the subtext and social environment of Chekov’s Russia. And while the camera swings with lively verve and the lush, picturesque setting lends a dreamy quality to the film, the many colorful characters are still stuck in a story that feels like it’s over 100 years old. At the end of the day, Bening and Ronan can only do so much, and The Seagull becomes a comedy of errors without the comedy.

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post Review

A teen fidgets nervously with the pages of a Bible.

This is the first image glimpsed in Desiree Akhavan’s sophomore effort, an equal parts melancholy-and-optimistic gay conversion drama. The antsy teen sits alongside several Bible Study peers – including high-schoolers Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Coley (Quinn Shephard), whose budding, secret romance the film keeps flashing back to – as a pastor bellows about the evils lurking within all children their age. The world sees these queer kids as ugly, but The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a joyous rebuke despite the darkness it portrays.

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avengers infinity war 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: Avengers: Infinity War.)

Everything dies, baby that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.

– Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City”

Does Avengers: Infinity War live up to the hype? That depends. If you wanted nothing more than to see the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters up on the screen together, then yes, Infinity War delivers. If you were hoping for something deeper, you might find yourself wanting more. Ultimately, Infinity War is a magic trick of a movie, full of deception and misdirection. It entertains, sure – but when the smoke clears, we can’t help but see the obvious way the trick was designed.

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to dust review

Death makes fools of us all because it exposes the limitations of human knowledge. We may have strong beliefs about what happens after our final breath, but none among us truly knows what happens. That uncertainty can gnaw away at those left behind with little more than the memory and the body of the recently departed.

In To Dust, first-time feature director Shawn Snyder locates the tragedy in pining for such answers but also digs a little deeper for a truly revelatory find. Because of – and remarkably, not in spite of – the weighty material he deals with, he finds the comedy in the situation. The lengths to which devastated widower Shmuel (Géza Röhrig) goes to achieve the sense of finality that he cannot locate within his religious community eventually reaches the point of absurdity. We don’t laugh at him; we laugh with him because the Grim Reaper could come knocking at one of our own loved ones’ doors someday soon.

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little woods review

The Western has wholly transformed since the days when John Wayne first drew his pistols. No longer is it a glamorous validation of rugged individualism, or a sweeping ode to Americana. No, the times, they are a-changin’ — and with it, one of cinema’s oldest genres.

Nia DaCosta‘s haunting directorial debut, Little Woods, is the latest incarnation of the Western, a potent slow-burning thriller that taps into the economic devastation that has wracked middle America for the past few decades. And anchored by two incredible performances by stars Tessa Thompson and Lily JamesLittle Woods becomes an intimate and painfully now film that gives us a glimpse of the evolution of a genre primarily populated by hypermasculine men.

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