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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL’

Rodrigo Grande’s devilish Argentine caper pits a paraplegic engineer against a malevolent troop of thieves burrowing beneath his house to rob a nearby vault. Nail-biting and pitch black in tenor, At the End of the Tunnel employs star Leonardo Sbaraglia’s dramatic chops to create a complicated protagonist, even if his villainous counterparts are at times cartoonishly evil. Drawing inspiration from the likes of David Fincher’s Panic Room, Grande’s is a worthwhile pursuit for those who want a little slice of dark Hollywood sheen to their foreign language dishes. (B-)

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘CITY OF GHOSTS’

A stirring tribute to the journalistic heroes of ‘Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered’, City of Ghosts takes us into the epicenter of Syria’s ISIS occupation where a troop of citizen journalists seek to expose the true horror tearing their world to pieces. Matthew Heineman’s immersive filmmaking peels back the curtain, crafting a definitive take on one of the world’s most horrific war zones. The personal sacrifice each of the subjects must endure – some are killed, others see their families killed in their place – is unspeakably heartbreaking but Heineman’s powerful documentary never exploits their pain for political means. Must-see investigative journalism, City of Ghosts is a terrifying vision of hell on earth. (B+) Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BAYWATCH’

What to say about Baywatch, the new movie from Paramount and Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon, that can’t simply be assumed? R-rated by virtue of scatalogical humor – penii, both of the flaccid and majorly erect variety, crowd the screen; jaws dangle, gawking at flopping mammaries;  – and frivolous vulgarities, Baywatch fails to insert much conviction into its raunch and lacks even more in the originality department.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES’

In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, we find the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow in a drunken stupor. Washed up and officially deadbeat, even the price on Jack’s head has sunk to a paltry pound. It’s a strange parallel to Johnny Depp’s public persona of late, having slipped from the good grace of the hoi polloi  after reports of his abusing wife Amber Heard made waves, followed by news of widespread financial woes and a slew of middling to poor films floundering at the box office. With Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, both Sparrow and Depp pray for a comeback.    Read More

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘COME, TOGETHER’

A potent familial eye-opener probing the fierce competitiveness in various corners of Korean life, Come, Together from Shin Dong-il circles a nuclear family on the brink of collapse; company man Beom-gu has just been fired from his job of 18 years; credit card saleswoman Mi-young battles an esteemed and spoiled co-worker for a prized family vacation to Thailand; and daughter Han-na hovers on the waitlist for a prestigious college, her entire self-worth caught up in her admittance. All second-guess themselves and their place in their family and the world at large in this humanist drama that’s sympathetic, revealing and rather depressing; one that delicately paints an emotionally distressing portrait of the trials and tribulations of one shell-shocked middle class Korean family contending with rather mundane hardship. (B) Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ALIEN: COVENANT’

One thing’s for certain, Alien: Covenant is a Prometheus sequel. Ridley Scott doubles down on the 2012 prequel’s cerebral but ultimately sloppy storytelling, reveling in yet another cast of characters who make stupid decision after stupid decision in a misguided attempt to hoist ideology above character. In essence a film about discovering meaning, Prometheus failed to define its own, collapsing under the weight of its admirable ambition by throwing too much at the screen and having too little stick. By the end of that venture, everything remained a bit of a head-scratcher but Scott, for what it’s worth, attempts to make up for such here in Alien: Covenant. For its faults, Covenant brings the message of this deeply intertwined prequel series into focus here and its irreverent thesis is far darker than we might have anticipated: creation is nasty business. Our makers can be monsters. Gods and Devils are one and the same. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD’

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword starts with elephants the size of castles and ends with snakes the size of rivers and there isn’t much sandwiched in between that’s any less ridiculous. A monochromatic mess replete with sketchy, video game-esque CGI and an often out of focus, mangled 3D conversion, Guy Ritchie’s bonkers fantasy film ditches the legend of the sword in the stone of yore for something that feels equally indebted to Heavy Metal and Shadow of Mordor cut scenes Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘ANOTHER EVIL’

Anyone who ever found themselves wishing for a cross section between The Cable Guy and The Exorcism, rejoice in thy ancient cursed tongues. Carson D. Mell’s supernaturally awkward brom-dram is a conjoined twin of ghost tale hula-hoops and male acquaintanceship hoopla. A batty genre-defying lark to its close, Another Evil deals with the clumsy delicacies of fledgling friendships weighed against the silly absurdities of cloven hoofs and blessed needles. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BELOW HER MOUTH’

Inept romantic drama Below Her Mouth is awesomely bad. This next level cinematic scourge is a perfect confluence of ineptitude, a wholly pitiful effort defined by horrendous acting, terrible scripting and amateur direction that inspires any captive audience member to gawk in horror at its epic multitude of failures. In more ways than one, Below Her Mouth, which contains a whopping seven fully nude sex scenes in its first hour, finds pace with classic movie dumpster fire The Room in that it’s undeniably awful and yet you can’t look away from the cinematic implosion onscreen.   Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘GHOST IN THE SHELL’

Controversy has plagued Ghost in the Shell since the day Hollywood “It” girl Scarlett Johansson was cast in the pole position. Adapted from a serialized Japanese manga of the same name, Ghost in the Shell tells the story of Major, a Japanese cybernetic counter-terrorist agent. Before anyone starts yelling “Whitewashing!”, it’s easy enough to see the problem lurking. Even those without a ton of processing power may be thinking to themselves, “Hey, but Scarlett Johansson isn’t Japanese…what gives?” Indeed, what gives? Johansson being the most bankable actress in the world, teeing her up to lead an effects driven potential franchise starter makes perfect sense. From a financial perspective, the move is logical. But… Read More