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Out in Theaters: ‘BRIGSBY BEAR’

An acquired taste for sure, Kyle Mooney made a name for himself being an ass. From checking into kickers inside So-Cal to playing a definitely-on-the-spectrum sports reporter who’s totally out of his league, Mooney has capitalized on mocking mainstream culture, championing a keen ability to satirize entire populations by being the very dumbest version of such. Mostly by making an ass of himself. So imagine my surprise when Mooney’s brainchild Brigsby Bear (written by and starring Mooney and directed by comedy collective Good Neighbor compatriot Dave McCary) is such an earnest and heartfelt affair, if a bit simple-minded, saccharine sweet and stubbornly sunny.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘LOGAN LUCKY’

Following a four year stint in “retirement”, American auteur Steven Soderbergh returns to the multiplexes with the kind of snappy, crowd-pleasing, whizzbang fare that throttled him from indie delight to box office superstar. Assembling a sublimely cast trio of Magic Mike (Channing Tatum), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Bond, James Bond (Daniel Craig) in a delightful supporting role, Logan Lucky, much like the film that rocketed Soderbergh to success (Ocean’s Eleven), rides on the back of its stars’ natural well of charisma as well as a pithy screenplay (courtesy of maybe pseudonym Rebecca Blunt) that constantly waffles between sly, chuckle-inducing commentary and witty narrative sleight of hand.   Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘WIND RIVER’

 

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘ANNABELLE: CREATION’

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘DETROIT’

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.

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Out in Theaters: ‘ATOMIC BLONDE’

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.

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Out in Theaters: ‘VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS’

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

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Out in Theaters: ‘SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING’

Tom Holland may be the third Spider-Man to crawl across our cineplexes in the last decade but, as a much younger version of Peter Parker than his predecessors, he and director Jon Watts have presented a new enough spin on an old classic. That’s not to say that everything that Watts and company do to give Spiderman: Homecoming a fresh coat of paint works but, for the most part, the freshly minted union between Marvel and Sony have produced an acceptable enough product, incorporating yet another super-powered hero into their increasingly unwieldy lineup and laying the groundwork for a solo series involving the fresh-faced webslinger. That being said, the sting of superhero fatigue is real and even when Watts and his spray of screenwriters (there’s a sinister six of them) avoid familiar Spider-Man tropes (the fated spider bite, the iconic “with great power comes great responsibly” lesson, Uncle Ben’s untimely demise), this is still a character we’ve seen onscreen a whopping 7 times in the last 15 years. That’s not to say that Spider-Man: Homecoming isn’t a fun, splashy, perfectly acceptable mid-July popcorn spectacle, because it is just that. But is it really anything more than that? Not exactly.

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Out in Theaters: ‘WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES’

Let’s not split hairs – though with the sublime mane work the necromancers at WETA have accomplished here, splitting hairs is definitely within the realm of possibilities – War for the Planet of the Apes is a remarkable achievement on nearly any rubric. A narratively pulsating, emotionally turbulent survival epic complete with near-miraculous FX work and sumptuous production design, War sets itself so far apart from the average summer blockbuster that it risks being undefinable. As bleak as anything I’ve personally witnessed in a PG-13 effects-driven escape movie about apes, War for the Planet of the Apes is the Joseph Conrad-penned Schindler’s List of Apes movies. Dealing in genocide, slavery, exodus and death, War also finds room among its Old Testament adversity for growth, heroism and hope to take root. Perfectly culminating Caesar’s prequel trilogy and tying into the 1968 Charlton Heston-led original, War is everything fans of the franchise could hope for and more. And boy is it a breathtaking journey to be a part of.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BABY DRIVER’

It’s been a hot minute since Edgar Wright has graced us with his genius. The man responsible for such perfect fare as Shaun of the Dead andHot Fuzz, Wright has long been a pioneer of the Trojan horse comedy, trafficking highbrow laughs in with genre trappings. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Wright is known for his masterful command of visual language, finding laugh-out loud moments in sharp editing, frame composition, camera operation and a great ear for music that amplifies the deadpan, pun-happy, tongue-in-cheek writing gushing from the page. As the mainstream moves more and more toward studio comedies disemboweled by flat visual palettes that fail to embolden jokes with any discernible directorial decisions, Wright has further articulated and championed his particular filmmaking flavour and the world of cinephiles has been the more fortunate for it. Which takes us to Baby Driver. Read More