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Out in Theaters: ‘THE SHAPE OF WATER’

Far and away the best of Guillermo del Toro’s English language features, The Shape of Water, like Dr. Frankenstein stitching together disparate appendages, conjoins the romanticism of the 1930s Classic Universal Monsters Movies, the conspiratorial grit of the 70s  Hammer Films and a splash of Max, Mon Amour to craft a truly one-of-a-kind, genre-bending splat of modern monster cinema. Breathtaking, adorable and fundamentally weird as hell, The Shape of Water is a slice of well-germinated fan fiction that’s so much more than its leaflet thin description of Deaf Girl falls for Fish Man could possibly describe. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI’ 

Star Wars is and always has been an underdog story. An action-packed intergalactic odyssey about small legions of rebels rising against seemingly insurmountable adversaries, Star Wars is rooted in an idea of hope against all odds, and you don’t need C3P0 on hand to butt in for that calculation. After the politically-charged prequels, The Force Awakens (and Rogue One) returned to this central conceit of a Sisyphusian struggle – toil in the face of utter improbability – depicting new characters taking their turn against a tyrannical empire, its limitless armada and impossibly supercharged firepower and with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, hope has never seemed so out of reach and victory so unachievable.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE POST’ 

The Post, a Steven Spielberg-directed drama about the Washington Post’s critical role in discriminating the notorious Pentagon Papers, has Very Important Movie Streep written all over it. A newspaper procedural starring awards giants Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, lit to resemble an Oscar winner by Janusz Kaminski and following a script from first-timer Liz Hannah and Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate, Spotlight) that touts the importance of its subject at every turn (sometimes in painfully obvious soliloquy), The Post is part important meditation on the unimpeachable import of the First Amendment, part desperate plea for Award’s attention and part Spielberg doing his Dramatic Spielberg thing.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE DISASTER ARTIST’

There in perhaps no film in existence that better exemplifies “cult” status than Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. A titanic miff on every level imaginable, Wiseau’s self-produced “romantic drama” is often called the worst movie ever made. And rightfully so. Anyone who’s had the privilege of witnessing this filmic trainwreck is treated to a level of incompetence that is wholly endearing in its epic failure. If you however are among the many uninitiated, I would suggest you stop reading and run to your nearest video store (assuming it still exists) to grab a copy The Room. I guarantee they have one. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ROMAN J. ISRAEL, ESQ.’ 

Writer/director Dan Gilroy burned up the screen with his rocking debut Nightcrawler, a deeply unnerving study of a social alien, scumbag nightly news journalism and unchecked professional ambition featuring one of Jake Gyllenhaal’s very finest onscreen performances. After a few years of anticipation, Gilroy returns with Roman J. Israel, Esq. a character-study-cum-legal-noir with the ever-reliable Denzel Washington decked out in an outdated plum-colored suit and a frizzly afro. Obviously, I was as game as a Michael Douglas in a David Fincher movie to see what Gilroy would deliver next. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘COCO’

Perhaps I am dead inside but I can’t scrub free the feeling that Coco hits all the right notes but still feels like the same old song. Pixar, the studio responsible for such masterpieces of modern animation as Wall-E, Toy Story, Up and Monsters Inc., appears more than ever to have sold out, peddling mediocre stories lathered in an admittedly marvelous coat of digital paint. We all knew this day was coming at some point, Disney’s acquisition of the once smallish, creatively independent studio renowned for delivering one stunner after another a warning sign of impending doom. I remember an age where I used to anticipate a new Pixar film just as much as a new Batman film. My how the times have changed. Pixar has quite simply become formulaic and Coco, while charming, loaded with delightful music and animated with the immaculate medium-pressing precision that Pixar is known for, just feels rote.

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Out in Theaters: ’JUSTICE LEAGUE’

For many DC comic fans, just the thought of a Justice League movie gets their panties all warmed up; finally seeing the Big Three (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) join forces with the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman on the big screen in a live-action super-blockbuster enough to produce a seizure-inducing nerdgasm. Well prayers have been answered and after many years of waiting, we can finally stop wondering what a feature film Justice League might look like because it is here in all its ridiculous glory. And the result, well it ain’t too pretty. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘LAST FLAG FLYING’ 

You might not know by first looking at it but Last Flag Flying is actually a much, much, much belated sequel to the 1973 Hal Ashby film The Last Detail. In a way. That Oscar-nominated, Jack Nicholson-starring film followed two Navy Men who escort an offending enlisted man to military prison but decide to show him a good time along the way. The film was loosely based on the 1970 novel of the same name from Darryl Ponicsan and in 2005, Ponicsan produced a follow-up called, you guessed it, Last Flag Flying. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS’

You can heave a sigh of relief everyone, Johnny Depp doesn’t make it far in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express.  An adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, Murder quickly dispenses with the weaselly superstar, here playing a slimy criminal who ends up a pin cushion the very night the titular Orient Express departs. The attention then turns to the patrons of a first-class coach traversing the snowy countryside, each of whom may have reason to want Johnny Depp dead. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI’ 

There are many words you can’t say on a billboard but in Martin McDonagh’s darkly comic and borderline brilliant Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri calling out the local sheriff for failing to bring to justice a rapist, arsonist and murderer is fair game. At least from a legal standpoint. This is the set-up for a crime saga unlike any other, McDonagh’s film a foul-mouthed mystery brimming with colorful characters, its jet-black tone and surprising emotionality capable of causing fits of laughter and bouts of urgent somberness in what is one of the best films of 2017. Read More