cherry review

Full of shifting aspect ratios, changing color palettes, abundant slow-motion, and all sorts of over-stylized hokum, Cherry is so showy that it borders on laughable. Scratch that – it goes beyond those laughable borders, into the land of the full-blown ridiculous. In their first post-Marvel Cinematic Universe effort, the Russo Brothers want us to know they’re very serious filmmakers. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have picked such a serious topic – a tale of disaffected youth, war, violence, bank robbery, drug addiction, and more. But nothing here feels as gritty as it should. There’s no stark realism, no raw honesty. Everything in Cherry is for show. Subtlety is for chumps. Instead, the Russos whip out a series of tricks that they seem to have picked up from music videos, Super Bowl commercials, and other, better movies. The end results are nothing short of disastrous.

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Flora and Ulysses review

Over the last 16 months, Disney+ has unleashed a slew of original films and TV shows, but few have felt like throwbacks to the days when Walt Disney Pictures released one low-budget, low-stakes comedy into theaters after another, in the hopes of translating into moderate box-office success. Though Disney+ has had a fair amount of new films, most of them – either because of the pandemic or through sheer luck – feel bigger than their streaming home. Flora & Ulysses, based on the graphic novel of the same name, is exactly the right size for Disney+, a cute and light film that manages to not be weighed down even by familial strife.

And that kind of strife is the backbone of the film. Flora (Matilda Lawler) is a young girl with comic books on her mind, not only because her dad George (Ben Schwartz) creates them for a living. When her dad and mom (Alyson Hannigan) separate for reasons that are less due to romance and more to professional frustrations, Flora is adrift until she encounters an odd squirrel named Ulysses, who seems to gain superpowers after a nasty run-in with a vacuum cleaner. Read More »

Into the Dark Tentacles 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 every month. Horror anthology expert Matt Donato will be tackling the series one-by-one, stacking up the entries as they become streamable.)

After a pandemic-forced hiatus, Blumhouse and Hulu’s Into The Dark series returns and, to quote Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale, “I miss the misery.” This February, Clara Aranovich’s Tentacles marks the first holiday horror feature-segment since July’s politically paranoid The Current Occupant. Into The Dark offers a tentacular Valentine’s Day tale of lust, mistrust, and rushing into romantic entanglement, written by Channel Zero scribe Alexandra Pechman with a co-story credit to Channel Zero and beyond’s Nick Antosca. So is it a welcome return to streamable monthly frights?

As I said, I miss the misery. Interpret accordingly.

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prime time review

Ever since Peter Finch stormed in front of the TV studio cameras to declare that he’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, people — fictional or otherwise — have held a kind of twisted fascination with the parasitic relationship between broadcast television and its viewers. The ghoulish appeal of capturing the attention of an easily distracted public on a live broadcast with some shocking message has sadly permeated reality in harrowing ways. But what if said messenger never got in front of the camera?

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marvelous and the black hole review

13 is a hard age. No longer a child, not yet an adult, and nowhere to channel that teen angst, which is even rawer for angry delinquent Sammy Ko (Miya Cech), who is struggling to overcome the grief over losing her mother. So Sammy breaks things at her school and tattoos little x’s on her thigh with a makeshift tattoo pen, until her father (Leonardo Nam) gets fed up and threatens her with military camp. If she can make it through one business class over the summer, then she doesn’t have to go.

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i was a simple man review

“Dying isn’t simple is it?”

Masao (Steve Iwamoto) is on his death bed, unwilling — or unable — to reckon with his debilitating sickness, even as his estranged children and grandchildren flit around and away from his bedside. The only presence that has stuck by his side the entire time he’s been bedbound is not a physical one: it’s the ghost of his long-dead wife, Grace (a beatific Constance Wu), who had arrived soon after the formerly robust, dynamic Masao had received his diagnosis, looming on the outskirts of his isolated house before finally being allowed entrance by her frightened husband. As Masao waits to die, his spectral wife guiding him through his final days, Christopher Makoto Yogi‘s elegiac family drama I Was A Simple Man crafts a haunting tapestry of a man’s life, interwoven with Hawaii’s own post-colonial landscape, highlighting and embracing the scars that are left behind by both.

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earwig and the witch review

There’s been a lot of trepidation heading into Studio Ghibli’s Earwig and the Witch. It is the studio’s first foray into CG animation, a technology it had used sparingly for high-octane action sequences in Spirited Away and Princess Miyazaki or for the clattering steampunk castle of Howl’s Moving Castle, but never to this extent and never for a feature film. And that trepidation only grew with subsequent trailers for Earwig and the Witch showing the film’s oddly stiff character animation and flat, untextured surfaces. It looked like an unfinished 3D-animated imitation of Ghibli’s classic warm, genial art style — a style that has mostly been instructed by the animation style of Hayao Miyazaki — but missing the soulfulness that typically characterizes the studio’s films.

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together together review

Together Together is a love story – kind of. This is not the typical romantic love story that Hollywood usually pumps out; it’s a story about platonic love. About finding a connection with another human being that isn’t based on seduction or romance. And that’s refreshing! More stories like this from the movies would be welcomed. Unfortunately, the film that’s built around that platonic love story is lacking, resulting in a film that’s sweet and kind but also kind of forgettable.

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Cusp Review

It’s never been harder to be a teenager than right now, an age when all the trials and tribulations of growing up follow you no matter where you go thanks to the smart phone that everyone has in their pockets or hands at all times. It’s even worse when there’s nothing to do, which is why teen girls Autumn, Brittney, and Aaloni often find themselves passing the time and escaping parents in their small Texas town by drinking, smoking, and hanging out with older dudes and gun-toting bros. And directors Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt follow them every step of the way in their verité documentary Cusp. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

The finale of The Expanse season 5 has arrived on Amazon, and wow, there’s a lot for fans to unpack from the last 10 episodes. If you haven’t watched the season in its entirety (and I do mean all 10 episodes, not just the first nine), check out our non-spoiler review

If you’ve finished this season, however, read on for a spoiler-filled take on some of the major events of season 5. We have a lot to discuss.

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