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SIFF ’19: Zom-Com ’THE DEAD DON’T DIE’ Is Stiff Attempt at Satire

As if struck with rigor mortis, Jim Jarmusch’s take on zombies is a DOA satire of sorts, one that’s much too self-aware for its own good. Foregoing the traditional scares of an undead creeper, Jarmusch swings and misses trying to put the “dead” in deadpan comedy. Even his pairing of stars Adam Driver and Bill Murray remains something that sounds better on paper than actually works in this context, their synchronized low-energy, unfazed drift through the world of the undead unable to get much of a rise. Read More

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Every Generation Has a Legend in Trailer for ‘STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER’

Cue the John Williams’ drumroll please, as it’s finally here: some long-awaited details and a stunning first look at the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, now officially titled Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Directed by J.J. Abrams and starring Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong’o, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels and even Carrie Fischer (!!!) and Mark Hammill is the 11th overall Star Wars film and the third of the third trilogy, which is said to be the last dealing with the Skywalker legacy.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI’ 

Star Wars is and always has been an underdog story. An action-packed intergalactic odyssey about small legions of rebels rising against seemingly insurmountable adversaries, Star Wars is rooted in an idea of hope against all odds, and you don’t need C3P0 on hand to butt in for that calculation. After the politically-charged prequels, The Force Awakens (and Rogue One) returned to this central conceit of a Sisyphusian struggle – toil in the face of utter improbability – depicting new characters taking their turn against a tyrannical empire, its limitless armada and impossibly supercharged firepower and with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, hope has never seemed so out of reach and victory so unachievable.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘LOGAN LUCKY’

Following a four year stint in “retirement”, American auteur Steven Soderbergh returns to the multiplexes with the kind of snappy, crowd-pleasing, whizzbang fare that throttled him from indie delight to box office superstar. Assembling a sublimely cast trio of Magic Mike (Channing Tatum), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Bond, James Bond (Daniel Craig) in a delightful supporting role, Logan Lucky, much like the film that rocketed Soderbergh to success (Ocean’s Eleven), rides on the back of its stars’ natural well of charisma as well as a pithy screenplay (courtesy of maybe pseudonym Rebecca Blunt) that constantly waffles between sly, chuckle-inducing commentary and witty narrative sleight of hand.   Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘SILENCE’

I guess it follows that a movie titled Silence should lack a score. Marty’s latest meditation on faith (arguably his third after 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ and 1997’s Dalai Lama humdrum biopic Kundun) opens instead with the sound of crickets, a telling forecast of the level of excitement soon to be unleashed. It’s not that Silence lacks artistry, there’s no shortage of stunning shots (but it’s no accident that those that standout most are the various Christians gettin’ tortured scenes), but there’s so much dead air, so much *ahem* silence, that getting from one beat to the next feels like an endless crusade towards but a mirage. Accented only by crickets and cicadas. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘MIDNIGHT SPECIAL’

Jeff Nichols is very quickly solidifying himself as a distinct and essential American voice. The 37-year old Arkansas native blends the mystic nostalgia of Steven Spielberg’s great wonders with the romanticized bayou lyricism of a Mark Twain novel. The result is often staggering,  the heavy, heady crossroads of lock stock ultra violence and meaningfully sentimental morality plays. In 2012, Nichols’ snaggle-toothed fable Mud sounded the starting gun for the McConaissance, just as he basically introduced the world to Michael Shannon as a leading man in 2011’s Take Shelter. More than just a emcee for introducing (or reintroducing) us to new or reinvigorated talent,  Nichols has emerged as a bold writer/director willing to take big risks and reap big rewards and Midnight Special, a work of great wonder and beauty, is blinding evidence of this fact. Read More

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SXSW ’16 Review: ‘MIDNIGHT SPECIAL’

Jeff Nichols is very quickly solidifying himself as a distinct and essential American voice. The 37-year old Arkansas native blends the mystic nostalgia of Steven Spielberg’s great wonders with the romanticized bayou lyricism of a Mark Twain novel. The result is often staggering,  the heavy, heady crossroads of lock stock ultra violence and meaningfully sentimental morality plays. In 2012, Nichols’ snaggle-toothed fable Mud sounded the starting gun for the McConaissance, just as he basically introduced the world to Michael Shannon as a leading man in 2011’s Take Shelter. More than just a emcee for introducing (or reintroducing) us to new or reinvigorated talent,  Nichols has emerged as a bold writer/director willing to take big risks and reap big rewards and Midnight Special, a work of great wonder and beauty, is blinding evidence of this fact. Read More

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The Best and Worst Aspects of ‘STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS’

There has been an awakening. With a $238 million opening weekend, the box office roared to live, stoked by the Mustafar-sized conflagration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, quickly making this seventh Star Wars film the biggest opening of all time and putting it on track to dethrone the highest grossing films ever. But all money aside, the real question on everyone’s lips were, is it good? Thankfully, the answer was a resounding yes. With a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics and fans alike have rallied around the J.J. Abrams product like Ewoks on a post-Empire Endor. But that doesn’t mean that the film didn’t have its share of lows amongst the highs. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS’

A long time ago in 1977, Star Wars (back then there was no ‘A New Hope’ to it) struck a cultural nerve, resonating like a tuning fork to the farthest reaches of the known galaxy. A flurry of rabid fans stormed the theaters, salivating for a product that was by and large rejected at first glance (Fun Fact: Fox had to strong-arm theater programmers by withholding the right to screen The Other Side of Midnight unless they also screened Star Wars, a film 99 out of 100 people probably don’t recognize today.) If they only knew the power of this sci-fi behemoth, one that even today holds the record for second highest grossing film when adjusted for inflation, there is no doubt that they would have flooded their holy grounds  with screening after screening of the lauded space opera but history is a fickle thing. Just ask all those people caught on the news praising Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Read More

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Out in Theaters: WHILE WE’RE YOUNG

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Most men buy a cherry red Corvette when they hit their midlife crisis. They dye their hair back to black (speaking of, how has AC/DC never done a Clairol commercial?) and date 20-year old models (here’s looking at you Anthony Keidis). But not Noah Baumbach. The 46-year old independent filmmaker who hails from Brooklyn is all about taking his halfway point in the old game of life with a modest dose of thoughtful reflection. In his now trilogy of brusque analyses on postmodern youth, he has come to terms with the train of aging rather than running down the tracks from it.

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