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Out in Theaters: ‘LIFE’

Life is deja vu. Not life itself mind you – let’s say that debate for the existentialist philosophers – but Life, the hacky, trashy alien thriller from director Daniel Espinosa. From a distance, the trailers for the film suggested a film that borrowed heavily from Ridley Scott’s treasured Alien but we’re all smart enough to know that trailers are just marketing tools, often constructed to stimulate nostalgia nodules to sell a product to audiences. So imagine my shock when Life was quite literally nothing less than a watered-down, unimaginative, worthless thieving of one of my favorite films of all time. Seriously, how in the actual fuck is this happening? Let’s examine. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘T2 TRAINSPOTTING’

Eternally a stylist, Danny Boyle returns to the primordial ooze that made Danny Boyle Danny Boyle with T2 Trainspotting, a self-reflective reality check of a sequel, one that dwells on past wrongs and potential paths forward, undercut with themes of addiction and redemption. Boyle’s penchant for flash won’t go unnoticed, with the very grain of the film busting with an artist’s eye. Strung out in the kind of manic urban setting that Boyle has mastered over the years, T2 is a somber meditation on regret fused with an upbeat saga of reconciliation, all told with Boyle’s vibrant knack for blaring soundtracks, an escapist kinetic energy and daring visuals. Boyle’s first sequel doesn’t always work, frequent callbacks land with various success, but when T2 is on point, his dizzily dosage of electrifying cinema can be quite inebriating and an unexpected shot to the heart.   Read More

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SXSW ’17 Review: ‘THE LIGHT OF THE MOON’

The Light of the Moon is an ambiguous enough film title. Jessica M. Thompson’s movie ostensibly could be a werewolf coming-of-age independent film. A non-canonical sequel to Moonlight. Even a bone-headed YouTube short about community college bros flashing their buns to one another. It’s none of those things, thankfully. Instead, The Light of the Moon, while a whole lot better than any of the above pitches, will catch you equally off guard. Read More

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SXSW ’17 Review: ‘COLOSSAL’

Colossal, about a drunken dead-ender who discovers she has become an unwitting remote control for a massive horned monstrosity, is a film at war with itself. On the one hand, the spectacularly strange conceit prompts a delicious revision of the monster movie genre. Still, the potential novelty fails to take flight, making Colossal both too strange for mainstream audiences who typically buy tickets for monsters bashing each other movies and not really strange enough to satisfy audiences hoping for something truly nutty. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’

Like Godzilla before him, King Kong has since the 1930s become a culturally permeably mainstay. A piece of cinematic iconography, King Kong is the USA’s equivalent to Japan’s giant fire-breathing lizard and both have served to define our country’s spotted history in cinematic terms. But their reach extends beyond the borders of past rivals. Each have become so ingrained in the global zeitgeist that if you plucked a child from just about anywhere on earth, they would likely be able to put a name to a photo or toy of the recognizable giants. Kong, the ape who famously fell, has found his story told a number of times but none have approached the movie monster with quite the same bombastic chutzpah and total IMAX-friendly insanity as Jordan Vogt-Roberts has with Kong: Skull IslandRead More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’

Don’t mess with a good thing, so croons an age old adage and Beauty and the Beast, the most recent live action Disney remake, is exemplary of that statement. A near-perfect update of the beloved animated Disney classic, this live-action contemporary version is in many ways a literal note for note transfer, with everything from story beats to musical runs to the lavish costumes tracing 1991’s hand drawn offerings but despite its reciprocal, borderline redundant nature, Bill Condon’s product feels sumptuously loved nonetheless. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS’

Danny Boyle changed the zombie landscape in 2002 with 28 Days Later. Gone were the Romero’s shambling zombified creations, replaced by manic, hyper-speed death darts teeming a land where the human element was just as, if not more, dangerous than their undead counterparts. The horror of these monstrosities were reflected, and even overshadowed, by the horrors of humanity’s ability for societal cannibalism. This theme has been replicated in the sub-genre ever since, with Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comics taking this thread to new extremes and the record-smashing AMC series following suit. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘LOGAN’

The superhero genre has (deservingly) caught a lot of flack over the years for its Saturday Morning Cartoons rendition of tentpole blockbuster cinema. The Marvel brand in particular was privy to the lather, rinse, repeat template, providing a steady stable of colorful smart asses who smash and bash and save the world, returning to the status quo (or shwarma) when all is said and done to await their next universe saving event. Then along came Deadpool. Say what you will the R-rated superhero flick – like for instance that it falls in line with many of the same familiar tropes it purports to mock – but the gleefully violent and “adult”-oriented box office smash opened the flood gates for more of its R-rated ilk, showing studios through the ever influential power of green (not Green Lantern mind you), that audiences were more than receptive to “mature” content in their superhero films. In fact, they were damn near starving for it.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE GREAT WALL’

An unmitigated juggernaut of bad, pointless cinema, The Great Wall is what happens when globalization and movie-making meets. A historical epic-meets-monster movie ostensibly designed for Chinese and American audiences both, the latest Matt Damon vehicle fails on nearly every level. However if you can feign excitement for a sleep-walking Damon channeling Hobbit-era Legolas to shoot arrows at an endless horde of dog-raptors then please read no further; The Great Wall is the flick for you. If that does not describe your tastes then beware, you’re in store for a long walk off a short plank of stupidity. At only 90 minutes, The Great Wall somehow begins to strain credulity in the shallows of the first act and it only gets worse from there.     Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘XX’

Sundance anthology XX showcases a quartet of effective low-budget horror shorts but the real story here lies in its clever title. A chromosomal tip of the hat, the film’s name refers to the thread that unites the collection of pieces. You see, the talent behind this anthological haunt features an unusual twist – each segment was directed by a woman. Though horror (moreso than any other genre) has given women the limelight ever since the days of Hitchcock, with more leading women than leading men, the Hollywood directorial status quo has remained firmly in place. That is, even though the chicks may hog the spotlight within the genre, more often than naught there’s still a dude behind the camera shaping the majority of the product. 
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