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Well-Meaning ‘THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING’ A Mostly Meh Modern Reimagining of Arthurian Lore 

Joe Cornish huffed and puffed and blew down the gates of Hollywood in summer 2011 with his critically-acclaimed inner-city alien invasion flick Attack the Block, blowing back the hair of sci-fi fans the world over in the process. In the intervening eight years, Cornish hasn’t had much on his platter, his solitary IMDB credit one of a small army of writers on Marvel’s Ant-Man (prior to that, he earned marks co-writing Tintin). After a long holiday away from the director’s chair, Cornish’s latest The Kid Who Would be King slashes into theaters in the midst of January’s dumping ground and despite being a somewhat imaginative PG-take on King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table plopped in 21st century London, this fails to feel like the brainchild of someone who’s been methodically tinkering away at a passion project in the many-year interim and seems more like a desperate last minute plea to not be forgotten to the annals of directorial history. In short, it’s just not that special. Read More

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The ‘GLASS’ is Half Empty in Laughably Bad Conclusion to Shyamalan Trilogy

The Unbreakable trilogy that started in 2000 at the peak of M. Night Shyamalan’s powers, then went subterranean during his dark ages (the brutal run of films that spanned Lady in the Water to After Earth), and stealthily re-emerged in the midst of his recent revival of sorts (the one-two punch of The Visit and Split re-ameliorating the Indian director with American audiences) has officially ended. Along with the hopes of a true Shyamalanasance (say that three times fast.) And folks, Glass concludes the promise of a 19-years-in-the-making unprecedented movie triptych in the worst way possibly imaginable.  Read More

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The Best Movies of 2018 You Never Saw

With my Top Ten Best Films of 2018 officially done and out of the way, it’s time to highlight a few other films that flew under the radar in 2018. This time around, I wanted to highlight movies that, for some reason or another, did not connect with audiences, that were shuffled off to the periphery, failed to perform at the box office, and, by and large, are met with responses of “Huh?” whenever you mention them to anyone outside of the inner circle of filmoholics. Read More

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Silver Screen Riot’s Top Ten Films Of 2018 

It’s that time of year again. The time to whittle down the 147 (as of writing) movies in 2018 I’ve seen into a somewhat arbitrary and totally non-definitive Top Ten list.  Each and every confounded year, us critics fold ourselves into pretzels to construct these things and year in and year out, usually end up regretting a number of the choices, particularly as time moves on. Hell, I’ll probably regret half this list once I hit the publish button.  I totally reserve the right to reverse these choices in the future so don’t hold my feet to the fire if my tastes have changed in 2021. Or 2020. Or January 4, 2019. But such is life and here we are, forced to complete arbitrary rankings in the hopes for improved SEO and reader’s delight. Read More

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‘MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS’ an Uneven but Politically Relevant Costume Drama 

Mary Queen of Scots is billed as a showdown between two hardened female monarchs, battling for title, supremacy, and future United Kingdom lineage. In truth, the film from first-time director Josie Rourke and screenwriter Beau Willimon (The Ides of March, House of Cards) is really only the story of the titular character, the rightful ruler of the Scottish throne, heir to the English and alleged uniter of countries and cultures. The focus centers less on the public rivalry and secret compassion shared between Mary and Queen Elizabeth I and much more on the battles Mary must fight within her inner male-dominated circle. Read More

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‘BEN IS BACK’ A Troubling Two-Hander You Should Never Trust 

Ben is Back, the father-son collaboration between writer-director Peter Hedges and actor son Lucas Hedges, plays out like a paperback page-turner with an inevitable conclusion. That the elder Hedges mostly succeeds in obscuring the histories of these characters and therefore where their paths will ultimately lead is a proverbial feather in his cap, the strongly-acted drama slinking suspiciously in narrative shadows in its earlier parts, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that we intrinsically know lead nowhere good. As Hedge’s script unspools the mystery behind Ben and his being back, the thriller-tinged drama loses a touch of its suspect pull, relying strictly on emboldened performances to see the journey through. The experience is far from pleasant.  Read More

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‘ROMA’ a Dreamy, Gorgeous Slice-of-Life Historical Fiction

Life is what happens when we’re not paying attention. Small, routine moments mark our transition through the world, often going ignored or unnoticed. We live in them, with them. It is here that Alfonso Cuarón sets his story – in the seeming mundanity of the life of a 1970’s  Mexico City housekeeper named Cleo. Her story is quaint, upon first brush. She tends to a middle-class family, lighter in skin tone than she but suffering their own afflictions nonetheless, and we’re invited to drop in, given visitation rights to observe the lulling normalcy of this chaotic collection of lives.  Read More

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‘THE FAVOURITE’ is the Cattiest Movie of the Year in the Best Way Humanly Possible 

Vying for the sole affection of Queen Anne – and all the status that comes with it – two cousins from different stations stoke a bitter rivalry in Yorgos Lanthimos exquisitely-mounted The Favourite. Scrumptiously rancorous,  Lanthimos’ foray into costume drama is a series of verbal death matches, its characters clawing at one another’s reputation, the performances from its perfectly-cast stars provide each and every syllable of Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara’s wonderfully cutting script a searing eclipse of clever-wit, cunning undercuts and good-humor that never second-guesses going straight for the jugular.  Read More

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‘CREED II’ a Heartfelt but Inferior Second Round  

The Cold War didn’t officially end until the early-90s with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and in that 40-odd years of looming nuclear holocaust, many a film has used this intercontentional tension to deliver quality motion pictures – see Dr. Strangelove, The Hunt for Red October, and The Lives of Others. And – of course – Rocky IV. In light of Trump’s presidential-defining ties to Russian interference and a newly ignited political rivalry with Putin’s Russia, the idea of a Creed sequel that played off USA/Russian relations seemed not only narratively apt but also incredibly timely; a fine point of entry for any inevitable sequel and one that could have more on its mind than a couple of meatheads whacking at each other for two-ish hours. Instead the movie is just a couple of meatheads whacking at each other for two-ish hours. Read More

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Winning ‘GREEN BOOK’ a Necessary Read

An old-fashioned racial mash-up of Driving Miss Daisy and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Green Book is an exceedingly pleasant two-hander that soars off the pinball chemistry of stars Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Mortensen plays Tony Lip, a Bronx-dwelling bullshit artist and Copa fixer hired to drive and serve as bodyguard for flamboyant piano aficionado Don Shirley (Ali) as he tours the American south. The stick in the proverbial spokes? Shirley is a black man and the year is 1962. Jim Crow lurks everywhere. Read More