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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 a character-study-cum-legal-noir with the ever-reliable Denzel Washington decked out in an outdated plum-colored suit and a frizzly afro.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: ’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: ‘LADY BIRD’ 

Indie darling Greta Gerwig breathes life into directorial “debut” (she co-directed Nights and Weekends in 2008) Lady Bird with passion and pathos. Gerwig’s strong freshman feature strikes a balance between the mumblecore sensibilities of frequent collaborators Joe Swanberg and Noah Baumbach while bringing a refreshingly anarchical female voice into the choir. Lady Bird as a character and film manages both tenderness and lawlessness; caught in the confuddling mix of teenage hormones and perceived oppressive parenting; rebelling against the grain, oft to her own detriment; Gerwig’s capable filmmaking expertly capturing that claustrophobic  feeling of teenage angst and insurgency; Saorsie Ronan performing the hell out of the role.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THOR: RAGNAROK’

Candy-colored Thor: Ragnarok is a retro, dimension-hopping hoot. Rambunctious, joyous and just plain fun to watch, Ragnarok is shellacked with vintage Taika Waititi style, the critical darling director behind such rollicking Rotten Tomatoes-adored comedy-adventures as Hunt for the Wilderpeople, What We Do in the Shadows and Boy retaining his idiomatic filmmaking tactics even under the watchful eye of notoriously handsy Marvel producers. The best of the Thor films (and this coming from someone who actually admits to enjoying the previous two), Ragnarok employs Taika’s signature witty, irreverent approach to comedy and his knack for building genuine camaraderie among squirelly outcasts to craft the funniest blockbuster of the year, one that doubles as a hell of an odd-couple intergalactic road trip, even if it still barely breaks the lather-rinse-repeat nature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe mold.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND’

Indelicate slow-burn thriller, Most Beautiful Island is a tragic immigrant story married to a Polanski-esque social horror film. Star, writer and director Ana Asensio filters the angst, hostility and debasement of the American immigrant experience through a seedy thriller film where pressure mounts impossibly minute by minute until it’s unleashed in a jaw-dropping finale, the less said about the better.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘SUBURBICON’

A Beaver Clever-era, suburbia-set take on the Fargo formula, Suburbicon manages to tack onto its strange plot plagiarism a tone deaf racial integration backdrop and a slew of characters unable to pass as either likable or interesting. It’s an oddly comfortless misfire from director George Clooney, one that seems promising on paper but never is able to click once the tape starts rolling. Snooze-inducing if stylish, Suburbicon takes a host of talent in front of and behind the camera and squanders it in on an effort that, while never outright stupid, is almost unbearably not as smart, clever or funny as it seems to think it is.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE SNOWMAN

The Snowman, Tomas Alfredson’s (Let the Right One In) adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s Norwegian best-seller of the same name, is an icy cold movie. Frigid to the touch, there is no spark of life to be found in this desolate frozen tundra of a film nor is there anything resembling a mere flicker of intelligence. A detective joint that cannot stand up under the slightest bit of scrutiny, this mindless slog tries to follows in the footsteps of films like Seven or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, what with its random explosions of grizzly violence and salty procedural backbone, though nothing of that sort ever comes to pass. Instead we’re victim to a mopey, faux-edgy, pseudo-gritty, sulking, snow-blasted post-mortem noir impersonating smarter, sexier, more engaging entries from the often beloved genre. To call it freezing cold garbage is only the icing on this frosty cake of shite. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE FLORIDA PROJECT’ 

The Florida Project, a.k.a. Someone Call Child Protection Service: The Movie, is a brusquely effecting, blisteringly real portrait of quiet, destitute tragedy, bursting with one of the most authentic child performances I’ve ever seen. A bristly, bruising display of white trash voyuerism that earnestly examines and dissects what occurs behind closed doors in this destitute swatch of Florida slums, Sean Baker’s film manages a stoic, unjudging, curtain-drawn-back quality that escapes most storytellers, even if the narrative propelling the story is often secondary to the characters operating within it. 
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