It’s been 37 years since audiences first discovered the enchanting world of Thra, a mystical land filled with magic, evil, and hope. In Jim Henson’s 1982 film, The Dark Crystal, Thra was a broken place, ravaged by genocide, drained nearly to the point of extinction by the greed of the Skeskis, vulture-like creatures who had misappropriated the power of the Crystal of Truth in their power-hungry quest for domination and immortality.
In the film, the Skesis had wiped out the Gelflings, an elf-like species, by using the Crystal to drain the creatures of their very life force, or essence, in a bid to obtain eternal life. But the Skesis are dying, their emperor collapses into a heap of ash, and the Crystal has turned a dark purple, polluted by the Skesis, and in turn, polluting much of Thra. Outside of the dark and twisted husk of the Crystal Castle, where the Skesis reside, the land is blackened and cracked, pulsing with surges of electricity.
But how did Thra really come to such a dark chapter in its history? That’s where The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance comes in, coloring in the vast background and history that led to the events of the 1982 film. With Age of Resistance, Thra comes to exquisite life, expanding far beyond the confines of the Skesis’ castle, introducing a lush and varied land akin to that of Westeros or Middle-Earth, populated by not just two Gelfling, but seven different clans: The Dousan, The Drenchen, The Grottan, The Sifa, The Spriton, The Stonewood, and the Vapra.
Naturally, major spoilers are ahead.
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The first time I heard the name David Berkowitz I was a bored pre-teen, tucked into an uncomfortable wooden pew at my parents’ church, mentally counting down the minutes until I could duck out into the sunshine and salvage a few minutes of my Sunday. Growing up a born-again Christian meant Sundays and several weeknights were dedicated to multiple church services, tedious affairs that lasted hours and whittled away at precious free time.
But on this particular Sunday, there was something slightly more interesting to do than flip through the tissue-paper thin pages of my bible until landing on some of the raunchier bits hidden in the poetic Song of Solomon verses. On that day, I was being given one of my first serial killers. With a catch, of course.
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It’s almost easy for modern audiences to forget just how tumultuous the 1960s were. In 1963, Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his own home. Months later, a bomb planted in Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church killed four young girls. That November, the President of the United States was assassinated in front of hundreds of people while driving through Dallas.
Fast forward to February 1965, when Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom. One month later, peaceful protesters marching for voting rights were violently attacked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Blood Sunday.” In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated just one month apart.
All the while, Vietnam raged, the body count climbing on both sides, scarring both the Southeast Asian landscape and the men who returned home broken in both mind and body. These are just some of the “highlights.”
There was a revolution in the streets and a revolution in the sheets. A generation disenchanted by the American Dream, eschewed “traditional” values, dabbled in drugs, grew out their hair, and espoused free love ideals. But the advent of television meant being unable to feign ignorance at the bodies piling up overseas and in segregated cities at home. And so, turn on, tune in, drop out.
But underneath it all, violence always simmered. In 1969, it finally boiled over.
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Another Tribeca Film Festival has come and gone, bringing a new slew of films you should look out for. This year’s festival was particularly jam-packed, with some incredible special events, including a 25th anniversary screening of Reservoir Dogs (using Quentin Tarantino’s personal 35mm copy) and cast panel, talks with industry legends such as Tom Hanks, Kathryn Bigelow and Dustin Hoffman, VR showcases, the premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale, and the literal godfather of all events, an all-day screening of The Godfather and The Godfather II with the cast and director Francis Ford Coppola assembled for a 45th anniversary retrospective panel and reunion to close out the festival.
Sandwiched in-between these star-studded events were some truly incredible films which I had the pleasure of screening and discovering during this sleepless stretch of two weeks. Here are the narrative titles that stood out, that shocked me, thrilled me and left me in dumbfounded awe by the end credits. Here are my Best of Tribeca 2017 films!
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I could simply begin and end this review with one simple phrase: what are you waiting for? But let me explain. The Endless isn’t just terrific – it’s poised to be that breakout genre hit that It Follows and The Babadook were in past years. This isn’t just hype. The film is sharply written, smart and funny. It’s tense and uncertain at moments, but it’s not overtly scary, which actually works in its favor. There’s no pressure to deliver big scares and there’s no let down when it doesn’t and it allows the film to just be really good.
The film opens with an H.P. Lovecraft quote: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” This sets the stage for The Endless, but in truth, it also speaks to why some of horror’s best offerings have endured for so long. While audiences love the shocking and terrifying reveals, they can be a mixed-bag that translate into cheap jump scares, laughably bad monsters or special effects that lose their effectiveness over time. But the films that embrace the unknown, that encourage our minds to run wild in an atmosphere of terror and fear often make a lasting impact. The Endless definitely slots into this category of filmmaking.
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It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what Manifesto really is. A collaborative art project? A chance to marvel at the majesty of Cate Blanchett for 90 minutes? A history lesson on the many movements that have swept through art and politics over the decades? This is all true. But is it unmissable? That’s where things get tricky. On the surface, it seems hard to see the appeal of the film outside of the festival circuit. Manifesto might play well to film and art geeks, but will average moviegoers be lured in by seeing Galadriel play dress-up for ninety minutes? It’s unlikely and yet, by digging deeper into just what Manifesto is trying to accomplish, there is room for the film to make a considerable impact on a generation slowly becoming more politically conscious and active with each passing day.
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Whether it’s trains, planes, or automobiles, speeding vehicles have made for some of the best nail-biting, jaw-dropping moments in cinematic history. Entire franchises have been built around car crashes and explosions that, while defying the laws of physics, have reinforced the magic of Hollywood. There’s probably no greater testament to this than the Fast and the Furious franchise, which never ceases to amaze when it comes to wonderfully ridiculous car-related stunts. I thought it would be impossible to top 2015’s Furious 7, which features the late Paul Walker and Vin Diesel crashing a red W Motors Lukan Hypersport through not one, not two, but three skyscrapers in Abu Dubai, but The Fate of the Furious could certainly unseat its predecessor.
In celebrating cinema’s love of fast cars and our love of the Fast and the Furious films, here are some of the best and the craziest car chases, jumps and stunts outside of that series.
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It’s not exactly a done deal just yet, but news that Joss Whedon is in talks to write, direct and produce a solo Batgirl film definitely took everyone by surprise late last week. Of course, Whedon is no stranger to superhero films, having already directed both The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this film would see Whedon crossing over to the other side of the comics aisle and would mark his first film in the DCEU. Beyond this, Whedon made his name helming the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, which just celebrated its twentieth anniversary, as well as the female-led series Dollhouse and the hugely popular and criminally short-lived Firefly. While many, including myself, paused at the idea of a man writing and directing such an important female character in the DC universe, Whedon does have a track record of success when it comes to portraying complex and strong female characters, which makes the news promising for fans.
But what comic book storylines could and should serve as influences on the new film’s story? That’s why I’m here today.
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(Welcome to Nostalgia Bomb, a series where we take a look back on beloved childhood favorites and discern whether or not they’re actually any good. In this edition, we revisit the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series.)
I have to admit, I somehow missed the whole Mighty Morphin Power Rangers phenomenon altogether. I was just shy of ten when the show premiered and I felt too old to care about teenagers turning into superheroes. Give me Ghostwriter mysteries or Zach Morris’ perfectly moussed coif on Saved by the Bell and keep the cheesy monster battles, thanks.
But with the Power Rangers movie looming (which even I admit, looks pretty cool), /Film editor Jacob Hall asked me if I might be interested in giving the original series a watch. Could someone who has zero knowledge of the Power Rangers universe find some charm in it or does it only hold nostalgic value? And most of all, in the age of Marvel blockbusters and Academy Award-winning superhero films, does it hold up at all?
So we both watched the first 10 episodes of the original series and convened to hash this whole thing out.
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“In space, no one can hear you scream.”
The often-quoted but terrifyingly true tagline for 1979’s Alien pretty much sums up how scary space is. Space isn’t just vast, it’s also completely hostile to human existence. While our best technology can get us into space, we’ve seen countless films explore what happens when that technology fails. We love to champion films like The Martian or Gravity, which reward viewers with human ingenuity overcoming scientifically improbable odds to survive, but the truth is space kills. A lot.
As Life, the latest film from Daniel Espinosa (Child 44, Safe House), rolls into theaters this weekend, we’re once again reminded that in space, all bets are off. The film’s trailer sets up what’s become a standard formula for space terror: astronauts living on a space station have discovered extraterrestrial life, which in turn discovers them. In this case, we see this alien life form take hold of one screaming scientist’s finger, setting us up for a truly gnarly death.
So, in the spirit of space and its many suffocating terrors, we put together ten of the worst space deaths we could find in film. From Tarkovsky to Corman, there’s something here for everyone.
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