if beale street could talk review

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins returns with If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of the novel by James Baldwin. Romantic and tragic, Beale Street is gorgeous and emotionally stirring – the type of movie that only comes along every so often.

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Slice Trailer

You can see what the filmmakers are going for. In fact, it’s so clear that it makes it all the more frustrating that writer/director Austin Vesely’s feature debut, Slice, keep missing the mark even as it bombards us at every turn with characters, story turns, jokes, and horror movie tropes, all arranged by someone who has watched hundreds — maybe thousands — of scary movies and not much else.

The result is a work that is whole-heartedly ambitious in terms of its scope — a pizza place built atop a gateway to hells is admittedly a wonderful idea — but so many other elements (character development, creatively conceived special effects, pacing) are left so far out of the mix that the film slogs along, feeling uninspired and overlong, which is tough to do with a film that barely crosses the 80-minute mark.

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Everybody Knows Review

Iranian writer and director Asghar Farhadi is a true master of character motivation. He understands that when people talk, they are rarely telling the truth, instead offering a lie wrapped in equivocation. His filmography evinces a nearly single-minded focus on watching how quickly lives can unravel when the falsehoods once which they rest become exposed.

Everybody Knows, Farhadi’s latest work, is the filmmaker distilled into an essence. The lie at the heart of the film, however, is of a different variety than his usual ones. The open secret makes for Farhadi’s fiction of choice here. Everybody Knows could easily bear the subtitle “…but no one acknowledges.” The film’s characters are all aware of an unpleasant truth, one that they have all chosen to ignore, deny or dismiss. Read More »

wildlife review

Early on in Paul Dano’s Wildlife, the movie’s 14-year-old protagonist, Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould), takes an after-school job at a photo lab. It’s a plot point that also serves as a mission statement for the film, which tells the story of a family’s dissolution in early-1960s Montana. A spare, deeply empathetic piece of work, Wildlife also works as a sort of photo essay on the lives of its characters, presenting evolving snapshots of its central family’s members as they experience varying stages of exasperation, damaged pride, desperation and disappointment.

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mid90s review

Jonah Hill has struck gold in his first feature film as director. mid90s is a heartfelt coming-of-age story made with real wisdom and insight into what makes young men tick. Though highly specific to Hill’s own milieu growing up in Clinton-era Los Angeles skateboarding culture, his incisive portrayal of how adolescents forge social bonds carries a wide-ranging resonance that transcends the particulars of the situation.

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Let’s be real. You’ve probably made up your mind about seeing Scott Mann’s Final Score based on the trailer, so nothing I say will likely convince you either way. It does what it says on the tin. Distributed by Saban in the United States, it’s the next in a long line of “Die Hard, but in a _______” movies (see also: Skyscraper, AKA Die Hard in a building), proving that while nobody can do it better than Die Hard, damn near everyone is going to try. In that regard, it sort of defies traditional review (In this economy? HA!) given how its entire basis is transposing familiar beats to a new setting — not the beats of a genre, mind you, but the beats of a single film.

Spoiler alert: It’s fun! It’s not everyone’s kind of fun, but if “Dave Bautista bike chase through a football (err, soccer) stadium” sounds like your way of unwinding with a glass of wine, then by all means, read on.

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Climax trailer

Whenever any cinematic movement occurs with a noticeable sense of purpose on screen, critics commonly employ the trope of reaching into the language of dance. It’s not just walking, it’s a filmic ballet. It’s not just blocking, it’s choreography. Maybe it says something more about the scattershot cinematography of a screen-saturated culture where images are captured with little acknowledgement of the relationship between the subject and cameraperson, but when the two are in complete symbiosis, it stands out.

French writer, director and provocateur Gaspar Noé makes a more literal connection between dance and camera blocking in his latest film, Climax. The story, insomuch as there is one, follows a group of dancers as their drug-laced sangria sends their rehearsal careening off the rails and straight into hell. Not unlike in his psychedelic Enter the Void, Noé explores the possibilities of his camera with cinematographer Benoît Debie to mimic a sensation. Here, it’s the ecstasy and agony of a body in motion, controlled and compelled by a force deep within beyond their command.

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iron fist season 2 trailer

The second season of Iron Fist has most of its characters struggling to figure out who they are and what their purpose in life should be. I, after watching all ten episodes of the season, went through a similar process. It was a journey, but at the end – like some of the show’s characters – I have realized who I truly am: I am a person who wants to watch more Iron Fist.

It’s shocking, I know. I still don’t really believe it myself. It took time to get there — to the end of the eighth episode, “Citadel on the Edge of Violence,” in fact.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Below is an overview of what makes this season better than the last (The Good), what isn’t so great (The Bad) and what makes me excited to see what’s next in store for these characters (The Crazy).

Warning: spoilers abound.

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white boy rick review

White Boy Rick has a potentially great story to tell, but decides to take a far too familiar approach. The end result is a by-the-numbers true crime film the likes of which we’ve seen dozens of times before.

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first man review

Damien Chazelle‘s Neil Armstrong biopic First Man features exciting sequences and wonderful performances from Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. But this space adventure never really gets off the ground.

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