post

Politically Tinted ‘LONG SHOT’ a Rogen-Theron Rom-Com Hit

God bless Seth Rogen. The Canadian-born comedian and Freaks and Geeks alum has made a career playing lovably disheveled stoners, his public persona often aligning with the characters he plays, if reliably less successful. In Long Shot, Rogen’s third collaboration with director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Night Before), Rogen steps into familiarly stoney, snarky shoes as a left-leaning journalist named Fred Flarsky who rekindles a relationship with his old babysitter Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is currently running for president. Read More

post

Awesomely Poisonous ‘HER SMELL’ Turns Elisabeth Moss’ Punk-Rock Stardom into Horror Show

There’s a heartbeat cadence throbbing in the background of Her Smell. Racing like a speed addict’s BPM, undulating and omnipresence, it thrums. Maybe it’s the pulsing cry of the expectant crowd. Or the muted surge of an opening act bleeding through thick subterranean walls. But it’s there, subtly informing the uneasy tension and amplifying the sense that things could go desperately wrong at any given moment. With Becky Something, disaster – in the form of a looming overdose, public implosion, or full mental break – lurks in every corner. Read More

post

‘TEEN SPIRIT’ Gives MTV Spin to Tale as Old as Time

In Max Minghella’s flashy debut Teen Spirit, Elle Fanning plays a modern-day immigrant dreaming of a greater existence. Blessed with a ripping set of pipes but stuck in the dead-end-ville that is the Isle of Wight, Fanning’s Violet is a Polack living in the far reaches of the UK who embarks down a well-trod rags-to-riches road, one that makes a point of name-checking iconic humble-beginnings-princess Cinderella. There is little novel that defines Violet’s underdog arc but Fanning’s magnetic turn and a sensitive approach to character development make this poppy toe-tapper an irresistible power ballad, if one you’ve definitely heard play on repeat since the advent of film. Read More

post

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

post

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

post

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

post

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

post

‘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

post

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

post

‘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