As I write this review for Taylor Sheridan’s new film Wind River we’re experiencing some fairly remarkable meteorological theatrics in the Pacific Northwest. At night our moon is the color of a blood orange, while our sunrises and sunsets are a near supernatural hellfire red. The reason? Our atmosphere is currently congested with smoke from several wild fires tearing through the Canadian coastal ranges to the north, and the noxious haze has created an off-world prism on our horizon. We can only imagine the terrible price somebody’s paying for these gorgeous mutations in our sky down here. Read More
No need to beat around the bush, Annabelle: Creation is both significantly better than the 2014 Annabelle, a fast-money gambit courtesy of hack director John R. Leonetii, and not nearly as good as The Conjuring (or the surprisingly still terrifyingThe Conjuring 2 for that matter). There’s very little that might qualify as new in this prequel to a prequel and, as should serve as no real surprise, the scares are limited to the “things go bump in the night” variety. Nothing really dares to linger beyond curtains, aside from the fleeting memory of a few well-timed startles here and there, but David Sandberg, director of last year’s somewhat undeservedly well-liked Lights Out, does a good enough job orchestrating familiar horror cliches into playful tension. Read More
Matthew Heineman has made a name for himself over the past few years hawking visceral documentaries in some of the world’s most harrowing war zones. In 2015, he brought Cartel Land to the screen, a story about drug smuggling and vigilantism that put the documentary filmmaker in the midst of fire fights and in the bellies of meth labs and torture chambers. He’s since set his sights on ISIS and a group called RBSS (Raqqa is Being Slaughter Silently), a guerrilla band of civilian journalists committed to exposing the horrors that have taken place since ISIS seized their hometown and made it into their de-facto capital. City of Ghosts follows the members of RBSS as they flee the omnipresent threat of ISIS, contend with the reality of their family’s being tortured and killed and still continue to do all they can to rally support against the terrorist organization dead set on dismantling everything they care about. Read More
Gillian Robespierre took the independent film world by storm in 2014 with her breakout hit Obvious Child. A story about millennial maturity told through an abortion comedy, Obvious Child‘s blatant irreverancy was all the rage, making her an overnight name in many in-the-know film appreciation circles. Robespierre’s follow-up, a 90s set comedy about a family dealing with two separate instances of infidelity, may not have accrued the same cult following, nor is it likely to pock as many end of year favorites lists, but the dramedy has tonal and directorial elements similar of a budding Noah Baumbach, who has since gone on to great acclaim. Read More
On the night of July 25th, 1967 two factions coalesced on the Algiers Motel. A small contingent of African American men weathering the storm of Detroit’s 12th Street Riots, and a platoon of enraged white cops looking for the person/persons who fired a gun at their patrol from a window of the motel.
You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that David Leitch’s Atomic Blonde is something akin to John Wick’s younger, hotter sister. Leitch did, after all, cut his teeth in the film industry coordinating and performing stun twork – as did Chad Stehalski, Leitch’s co-director on John Wick. The two Hollywood cowboys are equally infatuated with style above all else, though in Atomic Blonde’s instance it feels less superficial, even while embracing maybe the most superficial time in history – the bitchin’ 80’s.
Those who hearken back to the golden Clintonian Summers of the 90’s might remember seeing The Fifth Element on the big screen during its maiden theatrical run. A blockbuster facing a mixed press at the time, but finding near cult status twenty years later. A defining moment for director Luc Besson. Or at least as defining as when he discovered Natalie Portman at a Pizza Hut and cast her in a hitman film with a coked-out Gary Oldman and Jean Reno. Or something like that. Read More
A visceral sensation from start to finish, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk delivers the experience that 3D has promised to for so many years. Immensely immersive, Dunkirk envelopes you in its perfectly orchestrated chaos from the very first moments, surrounding you with the sights and sounds of war-torn Dunkirk as soldiers scurry for safety, hugging you in a sickly embrace of unease while Hans Zimmers’ sublimely nerve-inducing score tears at your composure. Hypnotic in its ability to put you on edge and suck you headfirst into the screen, Nolan’s sure-to-be Oscar juggernaut forces you to scour every inch of the screen for danger and refuses to relent for but a moment. A layered triptych that integrates three disparate narratives, all working on their own timelines, Dunkirk is nothing short of a verifiable masterstroke of cinematic construction and the lauded director’s most artistic and impassioned vision yet. Read More
Perhaps the biggest breakout hit of this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Michael Showalter‘s The Big Sick. The semi-true love story of star and writer Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, The Big Sick tells an unfamiliar courtship saga that involves, you guessed it, hospitalization and, you probably didn’t guess it, Pakistani 9/11 terrorist jokes. Uncommonly earnest and full of unique cultural perspectives, this slice-of-life dramedy fits perfectly into producer Judd Apatow‘s wheelhouse with the personal touches courtesy of Kumail and Emily’s true story keeps it from fresh and funny throughout. Read More
Best known for her depiction of April Ludgate on NBC’s hit sitcom Parks and Recreations, Aubrey Plaza has found a niche in the tv and Hollywood stratosphere as the perpetually awkward, alarmingly tongue-in-cheek millennial type. Quick with a jab and quicker with an eye roll, Plaza has flexed her thespian muscles lately playing Lenny Busker on FX’s standout superhero series Legion and her resume shows no signs of slowing. Her most recent venture, playing an irreverent nun in Jeff Baena‘s subversive slice of per-Renassiance feminism The Little Hours may see the star angling in familiar waters but the fit is perfect nonetheless.