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Out in Theaters: ‘XX’

Sundance anthology XX showcases a quartet of effective low-budget horror shorts but the real story here lies in its clever title. A chromosomal tip of the hat, the film’s name refers to the thread that unites the collection of pieces. You see, the talent behind this anthological haunt features an unusual twist – each segment was directed by a woman. Though horror (moreso than any other genre) has given women the limelight ever since the days of Hitchcock, with more leading women than leading men, the Hollywood directorial status quo has remained firmly in place. That is, even though the chicks may hog the spotlight within the genre, more often than naught there’s still a dude behind the camera shaping the majority of the product. 
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Out in Theaters: ‘JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2’

At its core John Wick is pornography. Grade-A, uncut violence porn. Cinematic gun-fu meant to boner pop action junkies looking to get off at the theater. And that’s not a dig against the film. Many lesser films strive to achieve the kind of simple-minded, clear-eyed, uncluttered glory that defines John Wick and get caught up in unnecessary twists or lamebrained character subplots. John Wick proved the power of just shooting a shit load of bad guys in the head in the name of vengeance and it did so gleefully. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE’

A visual sugar rush, The Lego Batman is Bayhem for 5-year olds. A skittle-colored collision of kid-friendly set pieces and jokes that never manage to be as clever or irreverent as its predecessor, even when peppered with good-natured and adult-oriented laughs throughout, this overactive spinoff hosts a collection of pop culture friendly winks and nods with references spanning the last 60 years of cinema but the overabundance of side characters and endless maze of action sequences leaves the animated film feeling dizzying, muddled, overwrought and headache-inducing. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘A CURE FOR WELLNESS’

Part screeching psychological thriller, part squealing body horror (and part total insanity), Gore Verbisnki‘s A Cure for Wellness pairs David Cronenberg to Shutter Island, adding a dash of Looney Toons to cherry-top this fantastical madcap chamber piece. Weighing in at a whooping 146 minutes, the big budget horror-thriller penned by Justin Haythe shifts a deliberately-paced creeper into a balls-to-the-walls sadistic sleeper hit, cranking its bat-shit absurdity high enough to break off the dial and cackling like a madman as it does so.  

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE SPACE BETWEEN US’

Let’s save the hemming and hawing, The Space Between Us is terrible. No need to add much else to the sentiment, it is a bad film that you will have a bad time watching. Period. Simply dreadful from start to finish, this lazy sci-fi tinged romance clunker falsely assumes charisma-vacuum Asa Butterfield can carry a film but the Hugo star is having none of it. The London-born actor appears as bored as any audience forced to endure such a burden of a wanna-be blockbuster as this action-, drama- and excitement-bereft potboiler ambles from forgettable moment to forgettable moment, nipping in little melodramatic twists that would be comfortable on any daytime soap opera. Writing more than 100 words about the turd is almost as much a waste of time as seeing the damn thing so I’ll save everyone the trouble and advise forgetting this thing exists altogether. STX certainly did. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘WAR ON EVERYONE’

John Michael McDonagh stepped out from the shadows of filmmaker young brother Martin McDonagh, who’s crafted such cult modern classics as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, in 2011 when he debuted The Guard. That film went on to mild box office success (overseas) and general critical adoration, though I’ll admit the deadpan acidic humor never quite reached me the way that it had so many others. McDonagh’s latest, and his first film set on American soil, is War On Everyone and represents a clear, though offbeat, progression of the director’s interests. Within, he declares war on traditional narrative constructs of law and lawless, cops and robbers, good and evil, giving a grand total of zero fucks along the way. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE’

X done gave it to us. Behold, in all its knuckle-headed glory: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, a gratuitous bukake of bullets, boobies and brain death. Frequently crass, totally illogical, unapologetically misogynistic and dumb beyond compare, xXx is breathtaking event entertainment that works for almost every single utterly retarded beat. Like a locomotive fueled purely by cocaine and the X Games, this revitalized franchise exists as if within the wet dream of a 13-year old American boy. A slick tshit-nami of dumb dumb dumb, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is nonetheless perfectly stupid in almost every way imaginable.  
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Out in Theaters: ‘SPLIT’

In 2015, M. Night Shyamalan executed the biggest twist of all. Following a slew of critical and commercial disasters, Shyamalan produced…a hit. The Visit, a found footage old people horror-comedy, connected with critics and audiences, turning its paltry 5 million dollar budget to a whopping near-100 million international haul. More importantly, it signaled the return of one of the most unique voices in the genre: the king of  the twist. And Split, a thriller about an abductor with a fractured personality, proves that he’s here to stay.   Read More

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Out in Theaters: ’20TH CENTURY WOMEN’

Mike Mills’ 3rd feature film takes him to the tail end of the groovy seventies where a pubescent boy is raised by a freewheeling mother and two other women whose help she enlists. Though nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy, 20th Century Women is a loose-lipped drama first and foremost; an exploration of youth and young manhood through the lens of budding feminism. That it hedges in a good lick of ha ha’s only sweetens the experience. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘PATRIOT’S DAY’

Michael Bay catches a lot of flack for his bombastic tendencies behind the camera. The portmanteau Bayhem refers to the distinctly American director’s excessive inclinations behind the camera; his impulsive need to aggrandize nothingness through dynamic camera movement and, of course, ‘splosions. It makes for busy filmmaking the equivalent of a massively oversized pair of fake breasts bouncing up and down in front of your face, whacking you in the nose with each rise and fall. There’s so much happening at any given moment and from one scene to the next that there is little to no contrast. Just a constant thwacking of the noggin. Everything is turned up to 11 so that even the legitimately intense moments are overshadowed by other elevated humdrum. Read More