The Croods A New Age Review

2020 has been a year of incalculable oddities, and somewhere fairly high up on the list has to be the very existence of The Croods: A New Age. It’s been nearly eight years since the arrival of the first Croods film, which made a decent enough splash at the box office (primarily internationally) to spawn this long-gestating follow-up. But unlike the other DreamWorks Animation release from 2020, Trolls World Tour, you won’t be able to rent A New Age on VOD instantly. No, if you and the family are just jonesing for some new entertainment this holiday weekend, you’ll have to brave the theaters amidst skyrocketing cases in a still very real pandemic situation. Wonder Woman 1984? It’s going to be available on HBO Max this Christmas, the same day it’s in theaters. Soul? Just straight to streaming on Disney+.

But no, The Croods: A New Age is the one you can rush out to see in theaters. There’s not much reason why you should, though.

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run movie review

Sarah Paulson gives new meaning to the overprotective mother in Run, the latest from Searching director Aneesh Chaganty. In a thriller that seems at least partially inspired by the true story of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, Paulson plays Diane, a smothery mom from hell – a woman who will stop at nothing to keep her daughter from the outside world. That daughter is Chloe (Kiera Allen), a 17-year-old wheelchair user who suffers from a dictionary’s worth of ailments. Or so she’s been told. But Chloe has grown restless in her teen years, and she longs to finally leave home for college. Surely dear old mom can understand that, right?

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wolfwalkers review

Hand-drawn animation is a fast-disappearing art in a medium that has come to value mass appeal and mass production over the careful study of tradition. It’s a bittersweet reality that resonates strongly with Cartoon Saloon’s latest animation masterwork, Wolfwalkers. A dazzling, majestic love letter to the disappearing Irish folklore that was once so prevalent all over the country, and that once nestled in the hearts of all its people, Wolfwalkers is about that last gasp of a bygone era and the wonder that it still holds.

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freaky review

Filled with inventive kills, genuinely funny jokes, and a surprisingly warm heart, Freaky is one of the year’s most enjoyable films. It’s a blood-drenched horror-comedy that goes for big laughs, bigger gore, and wraps it all up in touching pathos that’s bound to catch more than a few viewers off guard. The original pitch for the film was Freaky Friday meets Friday the 13th, and if that isn’t enough to catch your attention, what is? A body-swap comedy crossed with a slasher flick, Freaky feels like it has something for everyone. It’s the best, and most inventive, slasher movie since Scream.

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mank review

“It isn’t enough to tell us what a man did. You’ve got to tell us who he was.” – Citizen Kane

Herman J. Mankiewicz, genius Hollywood screenwriter, has been sent away to Arizona. Broken – his leg is in a thick cast following a car accident – and eager to get drunk at the drop of a hat, Mank – as everyone calls him – has been tasked with hammering out a screenplay for Hollywood’s new golden boy, Orson Welles. And Mank has a whopper of an idea: he’s going to write about newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, one of the most powerful men in the country. It’s a subject Mank is well-versed in, having spent countless nights drunkenly cavorting at Hearst’s castle-like estate San Simeon. Mank knows Hearst. Knows the people in Hearst’s inner-circle. And with his clacking typewriter, he’s going to destroy them all – and possibly himself, in the process.

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Rarely is it a good sign when a feature film opens with a dictionary definition, especially when the word being defined is pretty familiar to most viewers. Perhaps the best that can be said about the new Norwegian-American thriller Mortal is that after defining the eponymous word, the film mostly avoids being quite so thuddingly obvious. (Did anyone out there need to be reminded what that word means?) But the disadvantage for a film such as this, attempting to deconstruct the superhero mythos in dark fashion, is that it arrives so late in the superhero craze that it adds nothing to the conversation that films such as Chronicle did nearly a decade ago.

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undine review

For such a romantic, Christian Petzold sure likes to keep his audience at arm’s length. The German director of alt-history star-crossed romances like the 2018 stunner Transit ventures into folklore with his latest cosmic romance Undine, a chilly, cryptic film that spends most of its runtime searching for a soul. Whether it finds it finds it or not is up for debate, but there’s no question that Undine is a lush, transporting affair whose enigmatic magic laps at your feet and slowly washes over you.

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Let Him Go Review

Kevin Costner has enjoyed a long career playing the father we all wish we had (and also once a fish-person). Great as our actual dads might be, they simply cannot compete with Costner. The guy perfectly hits all the right notes: honesty, dignity, quiet reserve, rugged Americana – all qualities we want in a hyperbolic father figure. Let Him Go exploits all this and reminds us of one other thing he’s good at: ass-kicking.

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tragic jungle review

“Unfortunate you, if you cannot understand the mysteries of the jungle…”

There’s a Mayan myth of the “Xtabay,” a female demon said to dwell in the forest who lures men to their deaths with her incomparable beauty. Described as having lustrous, shining black hair that falls to her ankles and wearing a white dress, the Xtabay is an intriguing figure in Mayan folklore who has been everything from prostitute with a heart of gold, to a vengeful spirit of a fallen woman, depending on the storyteller. In Yulene Olaizola‘s lush, sweaty Tragic Jungle she’s a slave on the run from her lustful white master and the enigmatic embodiment of the film’s ecological rage. Part feminist revenge film, part environmental cautionary tale, Tragic Jungle is a bloody fable that posits that the mysteries of women are as deep and impenetrable as the jungle…and just as deadly.

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Kindred Review

The terrors of pregnancy and horror make fine bedfellows. The genre lends itself beautifully to exploring our deepest and most vulnerable fears, digging into the parts of our collective lives that we would feel uncomfortable discussing in public. Rosemary’s Baby is, of course, the benchmark against which all others continue to be measured. But where that iconic film explored the fear of conspiracy to control the pregnant body alongside the paranoia of giving birth to something unnatural, Kindred instead takes a more realistic approach, shedding light on the horrors of pregnancy itself without the influence of cults or the Devil. 

A beautiful and elegiac film about the trauma of pregnancy, Kindred is better in theory than in execution. Though it’s full of compelling imagery and atmosphere befitting a Brontë novel, the plot, particularly in its final moments, feels thin and a little disappointing after such an evocative buildup.

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