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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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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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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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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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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georgetown review

With Georgetown, Christoph Waltz joins the steady stream of actors making their transition behind the camera to make their highly anticipated directorial debuts. And indeed, the two-time Oscar winner seems like the perfect candidate to make that leap: a character actor with a keen eye for a riveting script and larger-than-life characters. But unfortunately, despite the talent that he frontloads into his debut film and despite the sordid real-life story upon which it’s based, Georgetown is a snooze.

Based on a real-life couple that was memorialized in The New York Times’ attention-grabbing article “The Worst Marriage in Georgetown,” the scandal at the center of Georgetown seems better suited for the D.C. gossip magazines or whispered furtively among the city’s elites at black tie parties. But in Georgetown, the story is given the same dramatic weight as a film about the president of the United States. And as electrifying as Waltz is to watch onscreen, his Ulrich Mott is no Richard Nixon.

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charlie says review

In the 50 years since the Manson Family committed the brutal murders that shook the nation, the cult and its infamous leader Charles Manson has never really left the public consciousness. And this year, the number of movies attempting to decrypt the notorious Manson and his all-consuming influence has ramped up, with everything from shockingly offensive horror films to star-studded Quentin Tarantino dramas taking on the cult leader. But what about the women who were under Manson’s thrall?

Charlie Says attempts to answer that question, examining the horrific Manson Family murders through the perspective of three of Manson’s most devout followers: Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón), and Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon). But despite the three women bringing this story to life from behind the camera — American Psycho‘s Mary Harron helms while frequent Harron collaborator Guinevere Turner wrote the script, and Dana Guerin produced — the film’s purported female gaze feels partially obscured.

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plus one review

Thirty years ago, When Harry Met Sally posed the question: Can men and women really be friends? While it never quite provided an answer, it did prove one satisfying thing — friendship may be forever, but watching friends fall in love is timeless.

Plus One, which follows two jaded college buddies Ben and Alice (Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine) who make a pact to be each other’s plus ones during a summer of endless weddings, pays appropriate homage to its lauded predecessor, but takes that delightful push-pull dynamic that When Harry Met Sally perfected to another level. Pen15 writers Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer unite with Erskine, the star and co-creator of the acclaimed Hulu series, to make their feature debut with this sharp, raunchy, and altogether winning film that is poised to be the rom-com of the summer.

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buffaloed review

Zoey Deutch is poised to be the next movie star. The actress showed signs of potential in the workplace rom-com Set It Up, but in Buffaloed, her natural breezy charisma is put on full blast. With director Tanya Wexler lending the crime dramedy a zippy, irreverent flair, Buffaloed becomes the vehicle for which Deutch can finally show off her chops.

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