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Angry Cop Heist ‘DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE’ is Criminally Long ‘Reservoir Dogs’ Redux

Mel Gibson steps back into the limelight after what seemed like an eternity in Hollywood jail to embody Brett Ridgeman, a salty cop peddling on both sides of the law in S. Craig Zahler’s crime-drama Dragged Across Cement. Sure, Gibson’s popped up in a few higher profile studio releases over the past decade but it’s been since the 2011 Jodie Foster-directed The Beaver that he’s been in the pole position leading a film. And, unfortunately, Dragged Across Concrete hardly gives us a chance to celebrate the return of the veteran actor with a troubled history. Read More

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‘US’ a Superfly Flurry of Inventive Horror-Comedy World Building

Comedy and horror exist in harmonious marriage to one another. Even the grimmest horror exploits regularly squeeze uncomfortable laughs from packed crowds, too hopped up on their own nerves not to giggle with anticipation or great relief after a big scare. Screams and laughs are the wine and cheese of any good horror movie, a perfect pairing, and Jordan Peele’s uncompromisingly cool Us comes boasting a delicious vintage of both.  Read More

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The Steep Price of Legacy in ‘THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT’

Commerce is a wheel beneath which much is crushed. And once that wheel is in motion, there is no stopping it. Not for epistemological discourse. Not for environmental factors. Not even for late-stage stomach cancer. In Kim Nguyen’s unorthodox The Hummingbird Project, there simply ain’t no mountain high enough, no river wide enough to keep the Zaleski cousins from installing a direct line of high-speed fiber cable from New York City to Kansas. The wheels of commerce roll on and they intend to be its primary highway.  Read More

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Julianne Moore Discovers Inner Strength in A24’s Humanist Romance ‘GLORIA BELL’

Come for Julianne Moore’s effortlessly jubilant performance, stay for the complicated middle-aged tryst in Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria Bell. A remake of the director’s own 2013 Spanish-language film Gloria, Chile’s submission for Best Foreign Language film at the 2014 Academy Awards, the film is distributed by indie giant A24 and carries the mark of quality that is commonly associated with their auteur brand, though it would be hard to mistake the competent, if hard to swoon for, drama for one of the distribution company’s finest outputs.  Read More

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‘CAPTAIN MARVEL’ Punches Through the Glass Ceiling With Style

True to its name, Captain Marvel is pure Marvel. That’s not to say that it’s necessarily a top-tier entry to the now twenty-one film franchise (it is however a worthy middle entry) but the film perfectly sums up what the Marvel brand is: a family-friendly blend of sci-fi and action adventure, led by postured heroes in colorful spandex, lit up by busy, expensive CGI and regularly relieved with whip-snap jokes. It’s an origin story of somewhat common degree, one familiar with the storytelling roots of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America before it, that encapsulates the highs and lows of the superhero series in equal measure.  Read More

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Gaspar Noé Hosts World’s Worst Acid Dance Party in ‘CLIMAX’

Climax is a movie only Gaspar Noé could – and would – make. The French provocateur has long embedded hallucinatory imagery into his pictures – his 2009 feature Enter the Void is a literal out-of-body experience adopting the POV of a slain drug dealer – but takes his flirtation with on-screen drug use to new levels with his latest experimental feature, which follows an acid-dosed troop of dancers over the events of an increasingly unhinged night. The journey is a dark and delirious jaw-dropping mindfuck for sure, but one of horrifying technical marksmanship that is sure to burrow under your skin and peck at one’s brain. Like blood in the carpet, these psychological stains won’t wash out easily.  Read More

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‘HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD’ Doesn’t Manage to Fly Higher

If looks could kill, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World would engulf audiences in a deathly conflagration of dragon fire. The animated second sequel looks absolutely brilliant on the big screen, roaring to life in luscious detail. From the crystal-clear scale of its big set pieces to the minutia of the movement of sand and water, Dreamwork’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World splashes every penny of its 129 million dollar budget up on the screen for audiences to behold. If only they could have dumped equally as much energy and effort into the story mechanics, which are far and away the weakest of the three HTTYD films.  Read More

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All’s Quiet on the Front in Brutally Hard-Fought Survival Saga ‘ARCTIC’

A marooned man’s survival in the Arctic gets much more complicated when a helicopter crashes attempting to rescue him. He decides to save the lone survivor, taking her life into his hands and, in doing so, igniting anew his purpose to live. The measured survivalist story Arctic is as cold and quiet as the frigid tundra for which it is named, its protagonist Overgård (played with silent ferocity of will by the ever-reliable Mads Mikkelsen) is a man of few words but powerful convictions, convictions which bleed through the veteran actor’s pores, adding soul and pathos to this testament of the human spirit in times of great adversity. Read More

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Inferior ‘THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART’ Still Relentlessly Catchy

Five years after The Lego Movie stormed theaters and unexpectedly blew back the hair of critics and moviegoers alike (only to be shut out of the Oscars animated film contest entirely), the world is a very different place. The White House is occupied by a hot Cheeto-colored p*ssy-grabber. White nationalists march the streets with tiki torches. The world’s climate is going haywire, meaning raging summers of fire and winters of blistering cold. Basic civility has sunk to dwell with Davey Jones locker. Everything is decidedly not awesome. Even the toys know so.  Read More

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‘THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT’ Fulfills Title’s Promise with Medium Fanfare

Decidedly less pulpy and more sobering than its grindhouse name implies, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot stuffs existential drama into a B-movie premise to mixed results. Sam Elliot plays Calvin Barr, a stony tracker who must sit on the fact that he assassinated Adolf Hitler half a lifetime ago. Nowadays, Calvin haunts a local dive, drinking two fingers of cheap whiskey, bending the ear of George the bartender.  Read More