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Out in Theaters: ‘STRONGER’

Outside of the inclusion of a deadbeat protagonist, there’s not much to distinguish Stronger as a David Gordon Green effort. The director behind such mumblecore indie fare as Prince Avalanche and Joe (the former of which I detested, the later proved a borderline-excellent showcase for Nic Cage)  and comedy zingers the likes of Pineapple Express and the Kenny Powers-led Eastbound and Down (I’m a big enough fan of both) has decided to lens the Boston Marathon Bombing through the eyes of one of its victims and the result, though finely acted, is a mixed bag of emotional highs and lows at best and opportunistic at worst. Surely it’s not the shmuck bait of Charlie Sheen’s 9/11 but there is very little to justify its existence beyond Hollywood capitalizing on tragedy and you feel that in almost every second of Stronger.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE’ 

Decidedly less fun than its predecessor, Kingsman: The Golden Circle proves an all-around inferior sequel. Director Matthew Vaughn, responsible for fanboy favorites the likes of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, doubles down on the less successful elements of the first installment, championing poorly rendered CG over practical effects and eyebrow-raising one-liners over earnest emotion. What’s missing is the joy, replaced by shallow humor and hollow spectacle, as Vaughn delivers a super spy adventure that loads up on juvenile jokes and stylishly shot set pieces to the detriment of what made the first one so shamelessly good – a keen sense of heart and self.    Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THIRST STREET’ 

Look, I understand that Thirst Street, a Parisian-set drama-comedy-satire-horror-romance, is probably not on your radar but I’m here to explain why it ought to be and why you should see it immediately. Sure, this dingy little twist on foreign love gone wrong from Nathan Silver probably won’t get anything close to a wide release but if you’re looking for a hip AF cult flick to champion this fall, ready for an awkwardly charming and yet totally unnerving femme fatale and willing to receive the most demented “fuck dudes” obsession thriller this side of Gone Girl then Thirst Street has your name written all over it. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘IT’

Growing up in Maine, I’ve lived in the land of Steven King’s inspiration. I’ve suffered the bone-chattering winters. Lurked the dense, immutable forests, always so convincingly haunted whenever they needed to be. I’ve challenged forbidden historic landmarks in the twilight hours, suspecting authority, or something more sinister, at every dark fated turn. As a boy, I chomped through King’s preternatural catalogue of horror novels, perhaps because of my budding adoration of the genre, perhaps because he was quite simply the most famous guy from Maine I knew of. I’d taken down “The Shining”, “Carrie”, “Misery”, “The Green Mile”, “The Dead Zone”, “Cujo”, “The Mist”, “Needful Things”, “Pet Sematary”, “Christine”, “Firestarter”, “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”, “Gerald’s Game”, and “Thinner” by the time I was 12. But nothing in King’s oeuvre haunted me more than his 1986 classic “It”. That shit had me shivering in my rain boats.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘PATTI CAKE$’

If you’re going to see one movie about a plus-sized New Jersey female rapper this summer, you best make it Patti Cake$, the stunning feature debut from Geremy Jasper. Following in the tradition of Hustle and Flow, Patti Cake$ uses an untraditional hero, Patricia Dombrowski (stage name Killa P) played to unique perfection by newcomer Danielle Macdonald, to craft an unlikely (but entirely lovable) story of talent erupting from unexpected places. Jasper’s film is an independent musical fever dream stuffed to the brim with colorful, well-defined characters, a diverse and talented cast of unknown talent and a killer soundtrack that’ll force its expertly produced setlist of tunes to rattle around your skull for days to come. Like a filmic cocktail of Adderall and Prozac, this mic drop of a movie is certain to make you perk up, pay attention and leave plastered with a smile.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘INGRID GOES WEST’

Perfect paired with a few beers and a Xanax, Matt Spicer’s Ingrid Goes West is a psycho-stalker comedy that’s as unsettling and hilarious as a 12-year’s mexi-stache . Aubrey Plaza is devilishly weird as an Instagram-obsessed pariah, a Peeping Jane who turns to social Play-Doh to emulate those of higher social standing, but the role is more than meets the eye. Ingrid befriends up the ladder by copying the purchasing habits of her “friends”, buying the same designer bag or sharing the same favorite breakfast joint, phishing for likes, comments and follows but mostly on the hunt for a new #BFF. Though side-splitting funny, Ingrid Goes West dares to be more than a laugh, unleashing some powerful material essential to our conversations on social media and self-worth.  Read More

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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