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Out in Theaters: ’12 STRONG’

12 Strong calls in the cavalry on Al-Qaeda in Nicolai Fuglsig’s “declassified true story of the horse soldiers”. Spurred by the 9/11 terror attacks, Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) leaves behind a safe, cushy military desk job to lead a team of special forces to the sandy front lines of the War on Terror. There, he must earn the trust of an Afghan warlord to take down a critical Taliban position. We’re told repeatedly that the fate of the War rests on this mission’s success and, well, we all know how that one turned out. Generic on most accounts, 12 Strong is an inoffensive American war movie relying on offensive war-mongering tactics. The semi-sturdy if mostly unremarkable acting and blasé set pieces lack the praise-worthy or memorable accents to set 12 Strong aside from the harras.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘PHANTOM THREAD’ 

Merriam Webster defines sumptuous as something that is “rich, luxurious, or magnificent” and I cannot think of a better application of the word than to describe Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest feature, Phantom Thread. A marvel of filmmaking, Phantom Thread as a piece of modern art is absolutely decadent – from the luscious cinematography to the snide and sneakily funny script, the nerve-racking sound design to the rich, textured performances.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HOSTILES’

I absolutely loathed Hostiles, the new Western film from Scott Cooper that proves once and for all why Westerns are so out of vogue. Starring Christian Bale as a dangerous and notorious Army captain who is forced to escort a dying Cheyenne chief, a former foe on the battlefield, equally notorious, through hostile territory back to his homeland as if on a mission from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The film is terrible; boring as sin, casually regressive, and perfectly pointless; a manifestation of why audiences have turned on the Western genre at large and a fine example of its backwards thinking mannerisms.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD’ 

I’ll never quite understand the arbitrary changes tacked onto movies that are “Based on a True Story”, a trend that is particularly odd in All the Money in the World. This true-to-life horror story about J. Paul Getty and the dastardly kidnapping of his grandson focuses on Getty’s uncooperativeness in hostage negotiations but jumbles the real life numbers in order to gain what I must assume to be added dramatic mileage. It’s an odd lie (hence my paragraph-long nitpick), one that’s not fundamentally different from a teenage boy inflating how many women he’s slept with,  that’s effectively there to emphasize just how much a misery bastard the infamous “Richest Man in the History of the World” truly was. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘CALL ME BY YOUR NAME’ 

Call Me By Your Name is that annual run-away critical darling that far too many are quick to call a modern “masterpiece” that has good odds to bore most general audiences to tears. Clocking in at 132 minutes, the film from Italian Luca Guadagnino is long-winded indeed, emphasizing its European cinematic roots by having its characters spend a good chunk of their screen time staring into the distance, ruminating internally, sighing deeply and smoking cigarettes. After all, what’s more European than smoking cigarettes and staring off into the great beyond?  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘DOWNSIZING’

The reach of possibilities that could unfurl within the world that director Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor have imagined in Downsizing – one where a small population of citizens have opted to shrink themselves to live a bigger, better life – is near limitless. At a microscopic size, everything fundmentally changes. You can get hammered off a thimble-full of wine. When traveling at sea in a tiny vessel, the threat of the most minor whitecap would pose tsunami-sized peril. A mosquito would be a winged monstrosity. And a daring cinematic spectacle. Even the humans who have not opted to go the way of the Shrinky Dink could wield awesome power over their minuscule counterparts, the most average citizen having the ability to go on a Godzilla-like rampage throughout the wee one’s shrunken cities if ever they decided to.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘DARKEST HOUR’

Darkest Hour is built like an antique grandfather clock. Each element a carefully placed necessity, working dutifully towards a larger schema; every cog, screw and dial essential to its almost impossibly precise workmanship. Ticking and tocking in a grand manner, Darkest Hour is an expertly paced and admirably assembled sample of good old fashion filmmaking gifted with a lead performance from Gary Oldman that will almost certainly not just be remembered come next year’s award’s season but is sure to be a well-endowed frontrunner. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI’ 

Star Wars is and always has been an underdog story. An action-packed intergalactic odyssey about small legions of rebels rising against seemingly insurmountable adversaries, Star Wars is rooted in an idea of hope against all odds, and you don’t need C3P0 on hand to butt in for that calculation. After the politically-charged prequels, The Force Awakens (and Rogue One) returned to this central conceit of a Sisyphusian struggle – toil in the face of utter improbability – depicting new characters taking their turn against a tyrannical empire, its limitless armada and impossibly supercharged firepower and with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, hope has never seemed so out of reach and victory so unachievable.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE DISASTER ARTIST’

There in perhaps no film in existence that better exemplifies “cult” status than Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. A titanic miff on every level imaginable, Wiseau’s self-produced “romantic drama” is often called the worst movie ever made. And rightfully so. Anyone who’s had the privilege of witnessing this filmic trainwreck is treated to a level of incompetence that is wholly endearing in its epic failure. If you however are among the many uninitiated, I would suggest you stop reading and run to your nearest video store (assuming it still exists) to grab a copy The Room. I guarantee they have one. Read More

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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