rocketman trailer

The tile caption for Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman is clear enough – “Taron Egerton is Elton John”. It’s a simple caption, indicating a performer who’s focused on bringing a role to life. The same of course could be said about Reginald Dwight, that slightly portly kid from England with an ear for music who had to reinvent himself decade after decade, inhabiting his larger-than-life persona as he conquered the world.

For many, the decades-long career of Sir Elton is easy enough to take for granted, but in the ’70s, particularly in the U.S., he was preposterously successful, claiming some 5% of the total global musical revenue. He made a fortune for himself and those around him, all while struggling with his own demons that can be traced to his childhood.

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see you yesterday review

Ever since Back to the Future hit theaters in 1985, time travel has become, for lack of a better phrase, old news. Time travel and all of its quirks and reality-altering consequences have become a part of the cultural language, with even the casual moviegoer knowing what happens if you step on a butterfly in the past. But See You Yesterday, which comes from Spike Lee protégé Stefon Bristol, adds a fresh and timely twist to the well-worn time travel movie.

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Bacurau Review

There’s an area of Brazil dubbed the sertão, the “backlands” of the North East far removed from the urban congestion of the megalopolises like Rio. The dry, deserted, desert land feels like it’s off the map, the kind of vista appropriate for a Leone or Ford film as anything. It’s all the more fitting that award-winning filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho, along with co-director Juliano Dornelles, sets up his latest film Bacurau, as a kind of neo-Western, near-future speculative fiction in these lands, finding in its isolation opportunity to show the power of community and the brutality of humans.

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burning cane review

Burning Cane is a movie that flows over you: It’s less a structured narrative than a series of arcane images, each more beguiling and haunting than the last. The film, which deservedly won the Founders Award for best narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival, is an incredible debut for a 19-year-old filmmaker just out of high school — Burning Cane feels like the product of decades lived, of tragedies untold. But Phillip Youmans, who made this film at the age of 17 with Benh Zeitlin of Beasts of the Southern Wild as executive producer, proves to be an assured director who beautifully delivers a sprawling, hypnotic Southern Gothic drama about the last gasp of a disappearing world.

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dog's journey review

We don’t deserve dogs. Lovable, loyal companions that want nothing more than to be by our side (and eat our food), dogs are too good for this cruel, stupid world. While we don’t deserve dogs, dogs definitely don’t deserve movies like A Dog’s Journey, the weepy, manipulative, upsetting sequel to the surprise hit A Dog’s Purpose. Once again, audiences will be forced to watch dog after dog roll over and play dead, all in the name of telling some sort of half-assed spiritual story about reincarnation. Are the pups on screen cute? They sure are. Is that enough to make this movie worth seeing? Absolutely not.

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The Unknown Saint Review

Getting the tone right of a black comedy is excruciatingly hard. Go off too far in one direction and it becomes a maudlin mess, too far the other and it feels churlish or mean, making light of a serious situation rather than maintaining that delicate balance that’s satiric rather than scornful. Add religion and faith into the mix and you’ve got pitfalls deep enough to fell even masters of the form. The fact that a first time filmmaker, Alaa Eddine Aljem, manages such a magic trick with his debut The Unknown Saint is thus all the more reason to worship this gem of a film.

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All That We Destroy Review

(Blumhouse Television and Hulu have partnered for a monthly horror anthology series titled Into The Dark, set to release a full holiday-themed feature the first Friday of every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

Chelsea Stardust’s All That We Destroy is the antithesis Mother’s Day feature to Troma’s splattery, schlocky exploitation (Mother’s Day) that once dominated May’s most honorable Sunday (for genre fans). Where Charles Kaufman favors shock and awe, Stardust brings method and layered trauma to this month’s Into The Dark segment. It’s a portrait of a serial killer under mama’s containment, but not in a mentor/trainee scenario. Screenwriters Sean Keller and Jim Agnew splice scientific reinvention, parent/child complications, and the unanswerable constants of human nature into a true crime podcast’s next subject. Making a murderer, Into The Dark style.

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The Dead Don't Die Review

The Dead Don’t Die is Jim Jarmusch’s love letter to George Romero. The iconoclastic indie director twists his usual sardonic gaze upon the common tropes of zombie films (the mantra is “kill the head” as a way of vanquishing the foes), and Jarmusch’s goal is to set a desiccating look at the underpinnings of undead mythology.

With an all-star cast that includes Jarmusch regulars and newcomers alike, including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, RZA, Sara Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Selena Gomez, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Danny Glover, Steve Buscemi, and (perhaps the most effective in the cast) Tom Waits. This is an incredible assemblage of talent all there to bring this vision to the fore, one where things are just a little bit quieter and the pace just a little bit slower than your usual ghoulish romp.

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The Sun is Also a Star Review

Educational value of its title aside, The Sun Is Also a Star is a fairly limp romantic drama that attempts (and fails) to tie its core relationship to The Way We Live Now. It might seem glib to look at this movie, in which two strangers meet by happenstance and fall in love while spending the day together in a big city, as Before Sunrise for the YA set. But then, the way this film leans on how U.S. immigration policies are actively cruel towards so many people who want to emigrate to the States is in and of itself glib, especially because it feels like an unnecessary crutch to a sappy coupling.

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goldie review

Goldie writer/director Sam de Jong comes from the world of music videos, and fittingly, the music video is both the driving narrative and visual inspiration of his debut feature film. But this is not some fairy-tale vision of New York: de Jong’s grainy, sun-kissed ode to the city of hustlers highlights the gritty, unforgiving world from which Slick Woods‘ titular Goldie is trying to break free. The result is a lively, kinetic film that dances between the natural and the fanciful, centered on a dynamo of a cinematic character played by the first-time actress.

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