Feels Good Man Review

Legacy was an interesting sub-theme of this year’s True/False Festival. Several of the films in this year’s lineup consider the impact a person’s life and/or work have on family, fans and the world at large. Some of these movies, like Mucho Mucho Amor and Dick Johnson is Dead dealt with this topic in conjunction with the end of their subjects’ lives. Others, like Crip Camp considered the legacies of self-made communities, and the people that powered them.

Feels Good Man is also about legacy. It’s not nearly as loving as any of the above-named examples, however. Feels Good Man is, in some sense, a horror movie about the legacy of images, the ownership of images by their creators, and the lives they take on outside of the artists who make them. In particular, it’s a horror story about the life of one particular image: Pepe.

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bloodshot review

It takes Vin Diesel exactly 8 minutes to put on a white tank-top in Bloodshot. I’m tempted to end this review right here, since that’s probably all you need to know about the film. It’s designed to play to Diesel’s strengths, which are: Looking constipated and/or sleepy, punching things, and wearing tank-tops. By those standards, Bloodshot is a smashing success. By all other standards, though, Bloodshot misses the mark.

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the hunt review

How can a film this violent be so toothless? All bark and no bite, The Hunt rides a wave of faux-outrage into theaters, having been pulled from its original release in the wake of bad buzz and endless public shootings. And now that it’s here we can all see how utterly limp it really is. It’s a film that feels like it was designed to rile everyone up, but it ultimately has nothing to say about anything.

Had the movie opened during its original release date, we likely would’ve all forgotten about it by now. That’s not to say the rumors about the movie were untrue. Yes, it really is about liberal elites hunting MAGA-loving deplorables for sport. But rather than risk offending either side, The Hunt instead chooses to hang back and offer no real commentary. It’s a pulpy gore-fest that wants to shock, but ultimately fizzles.

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Welcome to Chechnya Review

Welcome to Chechnya was one of several movies at True/False to come to the festival straight from Sundance. The documentary by David France (How to Survive a Plague) is this year’s True Life Fund film, which raises proceeds to help the selected film’s subject. The organizers picked an important film to highlight, and a cause so immediate and directly beneficial that it was difficult not to empty the entire contents of my wallet into the donation bucket on the way out of the theater.

Welcome to Chechnya follows the work of the Russian LGBTQ Network, an activist group working to combat genocide in Chechnya. Since 2016, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has led a pogrom against the republic’s LGBTQ+ population, complete with sanctioned detainment, torture and execution. The network France follows has created a kind of underground railroad, fielding pleas for help from endangered Chechens, putting them up in safe houses, and finding ways to smuggle them out of the country. The network’s leader, David Isteev, also hopes to convince the Russian government to open an investigation. To do that, he needs a torture survivor to go public. Doing so would mean a lifetime of hiding for whoever is brave enough to speak up.

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Mucho Mucho Amor Review

Before the opening night screening of Mucho Mucho Amor at this year’s True/False festival, co-director Kareem Tabsch discussed the impact that the film’s subject, the late famed Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, had on his life growing up, and in helping him come out as gay to his parents. “If they loved Walter, they could love me,” Tabsch said, introducing the film alongside co-director Cristina Constantini and producer Alex Fumero.

The way Mercado’s flamboyance and message of self-acceptance empowered so many of his fans plays a large role in Mucho Mucho Amor, just as much as its chronicle of Mercado’s late-in-life resurgence in popularity. It’s a documentary about a larger-than-life figure, but also a story about legacy, and the ways our lives can impact not only those around us, but people we may never meet.

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With the airing of last night’s action-packed finale, HBO has delivered a gripping climax to its ten-episode Stephen King adaptation, The Outsider. Focusing on a community rocked by a gruesome child murder, the show, like the book, was something of a genre-buster, tipping from police procedural in its first half into full-blown supernatural horror in its second half. Given its steady ratings climb and the finale’s post-credits scene, it’s possible that HBO will go The Leftovers route with The Outsider and continue the series with new stories beyond the scope of King’s novel. The mythology at play in the narrative might even allow the network to anthologize it, adopting a new cast and setting in its second season, as AMC did last year with its Dan Simmons adaptation, The Terror.

For now, however, the dust is left to settle around a stellar first season with a top-of-the-line ensemble cast led by Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo. Developed by Richard Price — the author/co-screenwriter of Clockers and co-creator of The Night Of miniseries, among other things — the show adhered to many aspects of the book while also deviating from the source material in some notable ways. Price penned the majority of episodes, with executive producer Jessie Nickson-Lopez and novelist Dennis Lehane also picking up writing credits. Here, we’ll look back on the season as a whole and examine some of the changes they made in order to bring King’s vision to television.

Major spoilers lie ahead, of course.

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the way back review

It’s difficult to talk about The Way Back without mentioning Ben Affleck‘s personal life. The star has been a fixture of tabloid headlines since the very beginning of his career, his square jaw and all-American looks — coupled with his less-than savory dating life — making him the perfect tabloid fodder. Even as Affleck made his transition from generic leading man to prestigious director, his personal life remained a source of fascination for moviegoers. It’s a tragic symptom of the celebrity news cycle that Affleck’s recent struggles with divorce and alcoholism would come to eclipse his career successes. But after a short hiatus from making movies to attend to his personal well-being, Affleck makes a two-fold comeback with The Way Back.

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The Banker Review

The new based-on-a-true-story drama The Banker inspires a reference to the charming political-fantasy sitcom Parks and Recreation, and its line about something having “the cadence of a joke”. The Banker has the cadence of a movie. It’s 120 minutes long — ah yes, a standard feature-length runtime. Its stars are now best known for their work in franchise fare — OK, they’re taking a break from action movies! And there’s a social conflict at its core, showcasing the destructive capabilities of systemic American racism. Yet there’s something weirdly hollow and dry about this drama. Even if this film had been released as originally scheduled in the 2019 awards season, The Banker would still feel barely like a movie at all.

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the invisible man review 2020

Is this the first real horror movie of the #MeToo era? Leigh Whannell‘s nerve-jangling The Invisible Man bears almost no resemblance to the 1933 Universal pic starring Claude Rains, nor does it take much from the original H. G. Wells novel of the same name. About the only thing Whannell’s modern-day update has in common with those titles is that it involves a dangerous, and invisible, man. But with that basic set-up, Whannell has crafted a surprisingly timely tale of an abused, terrified woman fighting like hell to convince everyone around her she’s telling the truth.

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my hero academia heroes rising review

The longstanding problem with theatrical movies for popular ongoing anime shows is that they’ll inevitably end up being mostly okay. By their nature, they don’t — and can’t — affect the course of the series. Movies for shows like Pokémon, Naruto, Bleach, and others sit in the weird space of owing their existence to said series and of being essentially non-canonical, expensive pieces of fan-service.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising does little to break this mold. The second theatrical movie for the popular superhero anime series (the first, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, hit theaters in 2018), Heroes Rising is an impressive piece of fan-service with beautiful character work and some of the most inventive and dazzling fight sequences that the series has ever seen. But a recycled plot and villain threaten to doom the film to the lower echelons of forgettable anime movies. Luckily the character-driven drama and a summery slice-of-life premise, which takes Class 1-A of U.A. High School to a remote fishing island as part of a new temporary hero program, makes Heroes Rising a worthwhile watch for even the casual My Hero Academia fan.

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