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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘COME, TOGETHER’

A potent familial eye-opener probing the fierce competitiveness in various corners of Korean life, Come, Together from Shin Dong-il circles a nuclear family on the brink of collapse; company man Beom-gu has just been fired from his job of 18 years; credit card saleswoman Mi-young battles an esteemed and spoiled co-worker for a prized family vacation to Thailand; and daughter Han-na hovers on the waitlist for a prestigious college, her entire self-worth caught up in her admittance. All second-guess themselves and their place in their family and the world at large in this humanist drama that’s sympathetic, revealing and rather depressing; one that delicately paints an emotionally distressing portrait of the trials and tribulations of one shell-shocked middle class Korean family contending with rather mundane hardship. (B) Read More

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘THE OATH’

A father and doctor recounts the story of his daughter’s premature birth in Baltasar Kormákur’s latest thriller, detailing how he would have done anything, anything, to save her. Finnur (Kormákur) is given the chance to do so when her fiendish, drug dealing new beau (Gísli Örn Garðarsson) sucks Anna (Hera Hilmar) into a world of crime. The respected heart surgeon, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, his bicycle and a rock solid alibi, launches into action. A jet black and brutal subversion of the Taken formula, Kormákur’s bleak vision of a father going the distance is an emotionally complex and viscerally engrossing portrait of sacrifice and vengeance, loaded with harrowing, hold-your-breathe thrills and nuanced character work. (B)

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE SURVIVALIST’

Survival’s a bitch. Especially without food. The Survivalist‘s is a world of starvation. Between puffs on a harmonica and longing gazes at a photograph of a mysterious woman, our nameless protagonist, a wild-eyed, wilder-haired feral cat of a farmer, struggles to make do in a land where human populations have flamed out, spiraling after the crash of oil production, leaving in their wake a scourge of scavengers desperate for food and willing to go any lengths to get it.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ALIEN: COVENANT’

One thing’s for certain, Alien: Covenant is a Prometheus sequel. Ridley Scott doubles down on the 2012 prequel’s cerebral but ultimately sloppy storytelling, reveling in yet another cast of characters who make stupid decision after stupid decision in a misguided attempt to hoist ideology above character. In essence a film about discovering meaning, Prometheus failed to define its own, collapsing under the weight of its admirable ambition by throwing too much at the screen and having too little stick. By the end of that venture, everything remained a bit of a head-scratcher but Scott, for what it’s worth, attempts to make up for such here in Alien: Covenant. For its faults, Covenant brings the message of this deeply intertwined prequel series into focus here and its irreverent thesis is far darker than we might have anticipated: creation is nasty business. Our makers can be monsters. Gods and Devils are one and the same. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD’

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starts with elephants the size of castles and ends with snakes the size of rivers and there isn’t much sandwiched in between that’s any less ridiculous. A monochromatic mess replete with sketchy, video game-esque CGI and an often out of focus, mangled 3D conversion, Guy Ritchie’s bonkers fantasy film ditches the legend of the sword in the stone of yore for something that feels equally indebted to Heavy Metal and Shadow of Mordor cut scenes Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2’

Like the US government, the big whigs at Marvel have a sordid history of interventionism. Professed “creative differences” drove visionary Edgar Wright from Ant-Man, ran Patty Jenkins off Thor: The Dark World and kept Ava DuVernay at bay from Black Panther. The films in the MCU are larger than any standalone film; they must click and connect in complicated corporate webs, webs that have given us material such as the infamous Thor in a sauna scene in the widely forgotten Avengers: Age of Ultron. Which makes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a film written and directed by one man, James Gunn, such a wildly fresh breathe of air.
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The 5 SIFF ’17 Good to Great Movies We’ve Already Seen

It’s nothing short of ironic that the 5 films featured in SIFF ’17 that I’ve already seen, I haven’t actually written anything about yet. So, in hopes of getting you all up to speed on as many of the SIFF features as possible, I’ll fill you in on the likes of those that I’ve already digested, complete with grades because, this is 2017 and you won’t tolerate a lack of grades. Spoiler alert: they’re all good. Also be sure to check out The 8 SIFF ’17 Films We’re Dying to See. Read More

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The 8 SIFF ’17 Films We’re Dying to See

As is always the case, gazing upon the list of 400 entires to the Seattle International Film Festival can be daunting for even the most knowledgable of cinephiles. Cutting through that list to cull a selection of desirables is an unwieldy task that demands more research than should be dedicated to a pleasure activity but to simplify the process for you dear reader, we’re trimmed that list of 400 down to a mere 8 films at SIFF ’17  (a clean 2% of their offerings) that we’re dying to see.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ANOTHER EVIL’

Anyone who ever found themselves wishing for a cross section between The Cable Guy and The Exorcism, rejoice in thy ancient cursed tongues. Carson D. Mell’s supernaturally awkward brom-dram is a conjoined twin of ghost tale hula-hoops and male acquaintanceship hoopla. A batty genre-defying lark to its close, Another Evil deals with the clumsy delicacies of fledgling friendships weighed against the silly absurdities of cloven hoofs and blessed needles. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BELOW HER MOUTH’

Inept romantic drama Below Her Mouth is awesomely bad. This next level cinematic scourge is a perfect confluence of ineptitude, a wholly pitiful effort defined by horrendous acting, terrible scripting and amateur direction that inspires any captive audience member to gawk in horror at its epic multitude of failures. In more ways than one, Below Her Mouth, which contains a whopping seven fully nude sex scenes in its first hour, finds pace with classic movie dumpster fire The Room in that it’s undeniably awful and yet you can’t look away from the cinematic implosion onscreen.   Read More