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Out in Theaters: ‘ANNIHILATION’

Alex Garland, the visionary writer-director behind Ex Machina, obsesses over ideas of what it means to be human. With Ex Machina, he explored the inception of A.I. and how true artificial intelligence blurs the line between human and “other” to dizzying, disorienting and apocalyptic result. In his writing effort Never Let Me Go, Garland posed similar – if less refined – questions, posing an analogous emotional experiment with clones as the test subject, begging his audience to work out what separates “us” from “them”. “If they feel, are they not too human?” was the central thrust and this idea has continue to haunt Garland’s films. Never Let Me Go was a lesser effort but came from a place of ripe ideology and artistic thoughtfulness, traits which Garland has never lacked and has gone on to define to great effect. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BLACK PANTHER’

Heavy hangs the crown in Black Panther, a Marvel movie whose real-life cultural and societal implications overshadow its storytelling prowess. The import and impact of Black Panther as a chapter in film history cannot be overstated. Although this isn’t Hollywood’s first attempt to turn a historically black superhero into the main event, headlining their own tentpole film – consider Wesley Snipes run as the vampire-hunter Blade, Halle Berry’s turn as Catwoman, Will Smith’s alcoholic anti-hero Hancock or even Shaquille O’Neal’s turn as Steel – this feels like a first in part because of how much effort has been poured into its making and, more importantly, how readily it embraces its fundamental blackness, from its colorful African settings to its tribally-influenced makeup, hairstyle, and costumes to its predominately black cast and crew, a verifiable assemblage of talent that’ll turn even the most skeptical of heads. Read More

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Sundance ’18 Review: ‘TIME SHARE’

Hell is a timeshare. A designated parcel of property allocated to your family for one immobile week each year. A curated escape, one characterized by pool floaties, crawfish-colored sunburns and frozen cocktails melting in plastic hurricane cups, that lives in a state of semi-stasis. There’s a kind of “Twilight Zone” quality to the whole notion of the billion dollar industry – this turnstile of the self-safe experience, pocked with undulating regret for much of its clientele. Anyone who’s ever attended one know that the only thing worse than being padlocked to an eternal timeshare is facing a sales rep at a timeshare pitch and Sebastián Hofmann’s film, the aptly named Time Share (Tiempo Compartido), captures the sheer horror of that corporate jockeying for one’s undying commitment. Read More

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2017 Silver Screen Riot Awards

With the announcement of the Academy Awards nominees, we’re finally in the race to the finale of this year’s award’s seasons. Seeing that Mr. Oscar tends to get it wrong so much of the time (although this year’s nominees were fairly great across the board), we have an annual tradition of issuing our own awards to recognize the best storytelling and performances throughout the year. Since we’re not tied to any silly number of nominees, we went ahead and listed every one that we thought deserving of a mention, even if the list well exceed more than 5 or 10. You won’t find a Best Picture category here as I think that is properly summarized by our Top Ten Films segment, which I would urge you to visit if you haven’t already. With that out of the way, the SSR Award goes to… Read More

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Out in Theaters: ’12 STRONG’

12 Strong calls in the cavalry on Al-Qaeda in Nicolai Fuglsig’s “declassified true story of the horse soldiers”. Spurred by the 9/11 terror attacks, Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) leaves behind a safe, cushy military desk job to lead a team of special forces to the sandy front lines of the War on Terror. There, he must earn the trust of an Afghan warlord to take down a critical Taliban position. We’re told repeatedly that the fate of the War rests on this mission’s success and, well, we all know how that one turned out. Generic on most accounts, 12 Strong is an inoffensive American war movie relying on offensive war-mongering tactics. The semi-sturdy if mostly unremarkable acting and blasé set pieces lack the praise-worthy or memorable accents to set 12 Strong aside from the harras.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘PHANTOM THREAD’ 

Merriam Webster defines sumptuous as something that is “rich, luxurious, or magnificent” and I cannot think of a better application of the word than to describe Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest feature, Phantom Thread. A marvel of filmmaking, Phantom Thread as a piece of modern art is absolutely decadent – from the luscious cinematography to the snide and sneakily funny script, the nerve-racking sound design to the rich, textured performances.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE COMMUTER’

Danny Glover’s Murtaugh famously opined in Richard Donner’s classic American buddy cop flick Lethal Weapon, “I’m too old for this shit.” He was 41 at the time. Liam Neeson, age 65 (full benefit retirement age for US citizens), is way too old for this shit. And in a humdrum action-thriller like The Commuter, it shows. Had this Taken on a Train redux a good shake more intelligence and a portion less generic action hero fisticuffs, casting Neeson as down-on-his-luck ex-cop turned insurance-hawking family man Michael MacCauley would make perfect sense. As it stands, The Commuter is just another forgettable notch in Neeson’s geriatric action movie phase defined by jarring editing and risible action that can’t strike a passable balance between taking itself seriously and being utterly ridiculous. Read More

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50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

Ahhh 2018. A year of promise. Of renewed hope. Of unlimited possibility. I advise you do your best to not  pay attention to the commander in chief’s tweets and bury your hand in the collective sand that is an unhealthy obsession with movies. Tis the very best medicine and nothing gets me more jazzed about covering the industry than looking at the year ahead and seeing just how many potential gems lay in wait. Each and every year I tell myself I’m not going to bother doing a Top 50 Most Anticipated Movies List. That someone else will do the work for me and I can just retweet it. And yet every year we get the same retreads, boring, blockbuter-loaded lists ad nauseam. Here goes my attempt to right that wrong.  Read More

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Worst 10 Movies of 2017

This time of year we’re usually busy piling praise on the best movies of the year. And for good reason. There’s a ton to celebrate. If push came to shove, I could crank out a list of 100 movies that I loved this year including everything from critical darling The Florida Project down to cinematic popcorn Kong: Skull Island and be entirely happy recommending each and every movie on that list. But the time for praise is over. I’ve published a Top Ten. The time for reckoning is upon us, the day for red penning this bitch is nigh. Let’s discuss the worst 10 movies of 2017.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HOSTILES’

I absolutely loathed Hostiles, the new Western film from Scott Cooper that proves once and for all why Westerns are so out of vogue. Starring Christian Bale as a dangerous and notorious Army captain who is forced to escort a dying Cheyenne chief, a former foe on the battlefield, equally notorious, through hostile territory back to his homeland as if on a mission from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The film is terrible; boring as sin, casually regressive, and perfectly pointless; a manifestation of why audiences have turned on the Western genre at large and a fine example of its backwards thinking mannerisms.  Read More