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Punishing ’THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA’ Will Make You Cry Tears of Boredom

The Curse of La Llorona is why people say they don’t like horror movies. In an age of Us, Hereditary, The Babadook, The Witch, Get Out, Raw, It Follows and so so many more outstanding horror movies, it’s why some still think they don’t like the genre. Why they falsely assume it’s inferior cinema. Sure, this particular movie isn’t retroactively responsible for the distaste of scary movie avoidant moviegoers en masse but this brand of slick, soulless sludge is. With nothing more than an anorexic concept held loosely together with poorly-telegraphed jump scares, children constantly screaming and countless scenes of creeping through creaking casas in the dark, The Curse of La Llorona is the laziest pedigree of studio horror fare, coasting on brand familiarity and age-old genre tropes to pass the minutes by with nothing in the way of inspiration to lift it up or differentiate it from the pack. Read More

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Well-Acted ‘LITTLE WOODS’ a Dour Scene of Poverty-Inflicted Desperation 

Little Woods is the kind of movie that makes you wonder about the backstory of writer-director Nia DaCosta (who is signed on to direct the Jordan Peele produced Candyman remake), who enriches the film with down-home specificity that it feels like much more than just a facsimile of authenticity. Her’s is the kind of movie that feels written from personal experience, that pulls from the specifics of a life harshly lived, that doesn’t wallow in its poverty porn setting, and though dour and depressing, never compromises its optimistic, full-spirited edge and push towards the light. It’s a neo-western in construction – the story of a good person doing a bad thing for good reasons, and DaCosta teases out the drive for self-preservation by any means by focusing on character first and foremost. Read More

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Robert Pattinson Becomes An Astronaut Dad Aboard Spacey Psychosexual ‘HIGH LIFE’

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, United States prisoners became the victim of scientific research the country over. A new golden age of scientific progress demanded countless scores of human lab rats to test medications, creams, deodorants, etc. on and who better to experiment with than a captive population with rock bottom demands for their participation. The new film from French filmmaker Claire Denis is a response to the age of the Stanford Prison Experiment as High Life blasts a vessel loaded with death row criminals into the stratosphere to see what happens. But even that minimalist description can’t set the stage for what is in store with this hairy meditation on humanity and scientific progress.  Read More

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Goofy ‘MISSING LINK’ Cements Laika’s Legacy for Unwavering Quality 

Stop-motion has been around since nearly the invention of cinema itself, the first usage of the animation technique employed in the 1897 film The Humpty Dumpty Circus. The art of physically manipulating objects, photographing them through a series of tiny incremental changes as a means to express movement, has become incredibly sophisticated in the last century and one Portland-based animation studio can take credit for consistently pushing the medium to new extremes: Laika.  Read More

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‘PET SEMATARY’ A Gory B-Movie Scarefest That Flips The Script

For the forty years that Steven King’s novels have been translated to film, my home state of Maine has been his primary setting. Maine, as interpreted by King, is a land of many terrors: telekinetic prom queens, sewer-dwelling clowns, rabid Saint Bernards. Perhaps it’s the fact that ninety percent of the state is covered by forested land, amplifying that innate human fear of the unknown and unknowable wilderness, that makes Maine such a suitable setting for King’s horrors to unfold. There’s something inherently spooky about the woods that even as a kid, growing up on property that ran aground dense second-growth forest, I was able to tap into. I remember dragging my younger brother or helpless elementary-school friends deep into those woods, conjuring up faux-folklore about past peoples, haunting spirits and killer cryptids.  Read More

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DC Ditches Doom, Gloom, Goes Overboard With Silliness with ‘SHAZAM!’ 

Leaving behind the days of darkened cowls, killer Batmen, and gritty monochromatic realism, Shazam! continues DC’s newfound grove as the weirdo cousin of the superhero movie multiverse. Leaning full brunt into the bonkers aspect of a world where certain citizens are bulletproof, immortal, and/or can chat with sharks, this latest origin story from the DCEU steps out of the shadows of the Zack Snyder-era of Batman v. Superman, fully embracing the goofy prospect of heroes living among us and building it up one ridiculous costume at a time. This time out, it’s a kid donning said costume and this latest chapter in the ever-evolving DC world absolutely revels in the goof.  Read More

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Lynn Shelton’s ‘SWORD OF TRUST’ To Open 45th Seattle International Film Festival

In their 45th year, the Seattle International Film Festival continues their trend of picking up the scraps from SXSW declaring their opening night film to be Sword of Trust from Seattle native Lynn Shelton. The film received mostly positive marks at its Austin, TX debut where critics commented on its performances and timely political bent, though many rewarded the film with their approval rather than outright admiration. The full press release from the Seattle International Film Festival follows. Read More

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‘HOTEL MUMBAI’ Makes a Strong Case That Terror Attacks Are Scary

Book me a table at the Taj Mahal hotel restaurant, a dining experience where the “customer is god” and the servers are literally willing to put their lives in harm’s way to prove it. So goes the true story of the 2008 terror attacks in India as depicted in Hotel Mumbai, a dramatic thriller assembled with all the visceral horror of being trapped in a Jihad slaughterhouse that proves once and for all that terror attacks are super scary.  Read More

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Tim Burton’s Creatively Bankrupt ‘DUMBO’ Doesn’t Take Flight

As told by Tim Burton, Disney’s Dumbo is a glossy kiddo-approved spectacle piece sure to entertain the youngins in the audience while offering no reason for its existence beyond the plain-faced cry for box office chowder. Adapting the 1941 story of a circus elephant whose oversized ears enables him to fly, Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Ghost in the Shell) co-opt the basic premise of the original tale and fluff out the barebones story with a cast of uninteresting human characters and a corporate subplot that offers a kids a warning about bad employers and carefully reading contracts.  Read More

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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