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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

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Out in Theaters: ‘ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD’ 

I’ll never quite understand the arbitrary changes tacked onto movies that are “Based on a True Story”, a trend that is particularly odd in All the Money in the World. This true-to-life horror story about J. Paul Getty and the dastardly kidnapping of his grandson focuses on Getty’s uncooperativeness in hostage negotiations but jumbles the real life numbers in order to gain what I must assume to be added dramatic mileage. It’s an odd lie (hence my paragraph-long nitpick), one that’s not fundamentally different from a teenage boy inflating how many women he’s slept with,  that’s effectively there to emphasize just how much a misery bastard the infamous “Richest Man in the History of the World” truly was. Read More

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Top Ten Movies of 2017

’Tis an annual (w)rite of passage for every film critic to force themselves into a pretzel declaring their top ten favorite films of the year. It’s a stressful, painful experience that almost always ends in regret. Looking back at Top Tens of years past, I always groan with certain inclusions – films that haven’t weathered quite so well – and lament other omissions – films that have grown on me like a fine wine or well-worn pair of slippers. But we toil on regardless, sure to churn out a list loaded with recency bias that we’ll look back on one, two, ten years from now, pockets loaded with exasperated groans. In short, it’s a pain rite of passage even though writing these passages is probably the most fundamental requirement for every critic and inevitably draw the most page views.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘CALL ME BY YOUR NAME’ 

Call Me By Your Name is that annual run-away critical darling that far too many are quick to call a modern “masterpiece” that has good odds to bore most general audiences to tears. Clocking in at 132 minutes, the film from Italian Luca Guadagnino is long-winded indeed, emphasizing its European cinematic roots by having its characters spend a good chunk of their screen time staring into the distance, ruminating internally, sighing deeply and smoking cigarettes. After all, what’s more European than smoking cigarettes and staring off into the great beyond?  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘DOWNSIZING’

The reach of possibilities that could unfurl within the world that director Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor have imagined in Downsizing – one where a small population of citizens have opted to shrink themselves to live a bigger, better life – is near limitless. At a microscopic size, everything fundmentally changes. You can get hammered off a thimble-full of wine. When traveling at sea in a tiny vessel, the threat of the most minor whitecap would pose tsunami-sized peril. A mosquito would be a winged monstrosity. And a daring cinematic spectacle. Even the humans who have not opted to go the way of the Shrinky Dink could wield awesome power over their minuscule counterparts, the most average citizen having the ability to go on a Godzilla-like rampage throughout the wee one’s shrunken cities if ever they decided to.  Read More