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Out in Theaters: ‘THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI’ 

There are many words you can’t say on a billboard but in Martin McDonagh’s darkly comic and borderline brilliant Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri calling out the local sheriff for failing to bring to justice a rapist, arsonist and murderer is fair game. At least from a legal standpoint. This is the set-up for a crime saga unlike any other, McDonagh’s film a foul-mouthed mystery brimming with colorful characters, its jet-black tone and surprising emotionality capable of causing fits of laughter and bouts of urgent somberness in what is one of the best films of 2017. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE BOSS’

Melissa McCarthy extols virtues of bullying as hardball go-getter in The Boss. McCarthy’s latest, a rags to riches to rags to brownie empress saga, is a decidedly un-PC yet still paint-by-numbers comedy-cum-drama, written and directed by husband Ben Falcone. Falcone and McCarthy last collaborated as writer/director and star/writer on the critically reviled Tammy and if anything can be said of The Boss, it’s that the duo has still not perfected the formula. A gaffe-a-minute affair puckered with sequin turtlenecks, trite physical gags and the occasional guffaw-worthy ribbing, The Boss continues Hollywood’s trend of planting the theoretically funny McCarthy in mostly lame-brained, decidedly derivative and narratively bankrupt outings. If not entirely without laughs, The Boss is still poor enough in them to qualify for unemployment.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: PIXELS

Adam Sandler has been candid about his lack of effort in projects of late. Last year on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he admitted that he chooses projects based primarily on location. Meaning, he takes his paycheck and his vacation and all he’s gotta do is tug on the lever that makes the Happy Madison assembly line run. A nerd joke here, a woman joke there. A dash of silly voices. Fat man slamming into something. Voilà! You’ve got yourself a Sandler movie. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST’

The X-Men franchise has always confronted big themes: tolerance, shame, homosexuality, even genocide. At its greatest hours, the series has relied on ideas of deontological ethics and ideologies of self-worth winning over flashy spectacle – although the vast display of superpowers were always welcome icing on the cake. Even the much derided Last Stand shoulders a message of coming together to defeat a greater enemy – about differences paling under the looming shadow of fascism – but that’s hardly something new to a series that juggles laser sight in with race extermination. Days of Future Past takes its place in the crossroads between bold ideas and blockbuster pageantry and though maybe it’s not the most outright fun X-Men film to date (that honor goes to First Class), it might be the most important. Read More

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X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Gets First Trailer

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X-Men: Days of Future Past
is not only one of the most anticipated superhero movies in the foreseeable future, it’s also an experiment in what’s to come for world building cinematic universes. Marvel had hopes that The Avengers would soar financially but even they failed to see just how successful their franchise would become. After essentially using their standalone films to promote an eventual team-up movie, interest in seeing separate films eventually come together is a market essentially untapped. Since the one-piece-at-a-time tactic has not been the explicit approach for Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer and Fox Studios are living in a bit of a Petri dish for all to see if their approach to building a cinematic universe on the fly is a box-office success or a flop. If this first trailer, and the internet’s stunned reaction, is any indication, I’d say we’re looking at a winner.

Although this first look is notably light on action set pieces, it properly outlines the very basics of the plot – a time traveling Wolverine must warn 1970s versions of Magneto and Professor X of a coming disaster involving mutant slaying robots. But instead of selling us on the spectacle, it mostly functioning on an emotional, nostalgic level. Stirring our nerdy desire to see the characters from the past six X-Men films share the screen, Days of Future Past looks to fulfill that promise of culmination, or, at the very least, suggest that we have lift off. 

One narrative issue that the trailer suggests is that characters of the future and the past may not share many physical scenes. At least, that appears to be the case for the time being. If that approach is doubled in the film, with each set of characters condoned off into their own “present,” thusly not interacting together as a whole X-Men collective, then the promise of team-ups could come off as deceptive and insincere.

The more likely scenario is that Fox and its constituents are not going to blow that revelatory reunion moment on this first run of a trailer. If anything, it’s a trial run to gauge reaction to the concept. But if the film does end up jumping between narratives of past and present, us audience members might not be getting quite what we want. While keeping the stories largely separate could just work, it does set up a potentially disjointed narrative while also squandering the excitement of having all these actors share the same screen. If Wolverine proves to be the only connective tissue between the two subsets of X-folk, the whole trend towards character acceleration – the propulsion towards more, more, more – may prove to be too little, too late. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past is directed by Bryan Singer and stars Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Anna Paquin, Shaun Ashmore, Omar Sy and Evan Peters. It hits theaters on May 23, 2014.