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‘CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?’ Showcases a Maturing Melissa McCarthy, Not Much Else

Lee Israel is a washed up biographer, having once flown to the heights of the New York Best Sellers list only to plummet into obscurity, a flamed out Icarus of an author. Even her agent despises Lee’s pissy, ill-tempered approach to work and world, which makes selling her niche work ever the challenge. When Lee finds herself out of work, with debt piling up, and no sign of a book advance on the horizon, she turns to counterfeiting literary letters to make ends meet, making some new friends along the way.  Read More

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Dramatically Inert ‘BOY ERASED’ Afraid to Get Angry

Conversion therapy is torture. If you disagree, frankly, you can go fuck yourself. The archaic practice attempts to force heterosexuality (under the assumption that homosexuality is either a mental disorder, a disease, or a sin) via group counseling, spiritual intervention, and behavior modification. Past techniques for conversion therapy have included shock therapy, chemical castration, and partial lobotomies. For minors, the practice is outlawed in many progressive states and yet, despite a total lack of evidence that sexual orientation change efforts “work”, large swathes of the American South and Midwest continue this inhumane practice to this day. Read More

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‘SUSPIRIA’ Remake a Horrifyingly Inauspicious Chore

A pretentious bore posing as high art, Suspiria is a stuffy dance horror melodrama that manages to make a murderous coven of ballet witches boring as sin. At two-and-a-half grueling hours, the film from Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name) is the most masturbatory of remakes, one that painfully tacks a superfluous hour of runtime onto the original without any added content. By the time Suspiria finally reaches its blood-soaked conclusion, I stood at such an emotional distance, with a countenance of such bored apathy, as to not even enjoy its macabre platter of dark ritual and liberal gore.  Read More

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Pop Opera ‘BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY’ Will Rock You…Sorta

Fun fact: if you put enough liquor in me I will attempt to sing Queen. On a karaoke stage. In front of people. I’m probably better at ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ – that’s not to say I’m any good, period – but that doesn’t stop me from queuing up for the old 6-minute ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ every now and then. Queen’s hit rock opera ballad is impossible not to belt along to, then and now. A soaring frenzied assault of vocal prowess and unmatched musicianship,  ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ mixes fab-rock with the opera house to create what very well could be the best song of all time. Freddie Mercury hits notes few can. Certainly notes that I cannot.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HALLOWEEN’

The slasher subculture saw its heyday in the 1980s, with franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street accruing scores of harebrained sequels, spawning a pattern of rinse-repeat horror franchises that rarely held a candle to the greats in terms of turnover quality. Jason eventually went to outer space. Freddy Kruger broke the fourth wall. Michael Myers was revisioned as a force for utilitarian good, destined to kill all of Laurie’s family in order to save all of civilization. To say that these sequels haven’t always been so hot is quite the understatement. In 2018, director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) – of all people – has taken the governing principles of the slasher and given it new life through a winning combination of tasteful updates, tactful homage, and gleeful bloodletting and in doing so, he may have just perfected the slasher movie.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BEAUTIFUL BOY’

In the timeless words of Mr. Mackey, “Drugs are bad, mkay?” Beautiful Boy, an addiction drama starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, reiterates this point ad-nauseam without adding a lot more complexity to the topic than could a cartoon elementary school counselor. Adapted from Nicolas and David Sheff’s tell-all memoirs about a son’s personal struggles with addiction and his father’s battle to deal, Beautiful Boy struggles to add texture to the already established conversation about the horrors of addiction and the tolls it takes on its victims and their families. The product feels overtly telegraphed; a predictable series of ups and downs that lack distinction and uniqueness. As such, the overall impact of the film remains a bit muted. Like an ex-user’s nerve endings, it just can’t deliver the feels that one craves.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN’

There’s a timeless charm to The Old Man and the Gun, easily obsessed in the breezy chemistry of its two elegant stars. The sparkle dancing in Robert Redford’s eye reflects off the Golden Era glimmer of Sissy Spacek’s gentle curl of a smile. Their attraction is palpable, enchanting. Like sweet senior citizens slow dancing to a Sinatra classic. Imported from the height of 1970s quirk, this true story is cool in much the same way a stand-up bass is cool; it’s an old-timey classy caper, outdated though it may be, that serves as a fitting send-off for the always reliable Redford.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE HATE U GIVE’

The Hate U Give burns with a righteous anger. Director George Tillman Jr. and screenwriter Audrey Wells wrangle the searing social conscience and incisive melodrama of Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel into what is very likely the most meaningful film of 2018. Thought-provoking and morally challenging, beautifully acted and poignantly directed, THUG is a moving, necessary, and often hilarious, rarity; a mainstream, race-relations pop-art primal scream whose vital message is only intensified by its raw watchability.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘VENOM’

An aimless, awful embarrassment for everyone involved, Venom imagines a world where a dopey Peter Parker-type was instead bitten by a radioactive turd. Creatively bankrupt filmmaking from top to bottom, Venom bows under the weight of an insufferable script, flat-out strange performances, and a mishmash tone that tries to levy the darkness of a character that waxes about snacking on eyeballs and fingers and  livers in with scatalogical jokes that truly only the prepubescent in the audience would giggle along with. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘A STAR IS BORN’

“What is love if not a helpless acceptance of our lover’s shortcomings?” the powerful music drama A Star is Born asks. The tragic romance shared between career musician Jackson Maine and up-and-comer Ally at the center of A Star is Born is a refreshingly raw cinematic punch to the stomach. Seasoned with somber specificity, the film’s dramatic twists of the knife are fastened sharply to the beating hearts of its potent characters. We experience joy alongside them. We grieve with them. Their hardship pains us just as we celebrate their victories, small and large. From writing a song drunkenly on the sidewalk to belting it out live to a packed crowd, A Star is Born tends to the moments the define their characters’ lives, all the while holding its audience emotionally hostage to their often ill-conceived impulses.  Read More