Category: New Releases

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Tells An Unexpected Story

Overview: A documentary on the life and accomplishments of actor and inventor Hedy Lamarr. Zeitgeist Films; 2017; Not Rated; 90 minutes. The Basics: From a series of interviews with Hedy Lamarr’s children, friends, and interspersed clips of an extended interview with Hedy herself, we learn the unusual story of a beautiful and intelligent woman who, though she had an active and inventive mind, found her intelligence valued far less than her beauty. Lamarr was born in Austria-Hungary and first gained recognition for the controversial film Ecstasy (1933), in which she briefly appeared nude. The same year, she married her...

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Soldiers Struggle on the Homefront in Thank You For Your Service

Overview: A group of U.S. soldiers return from a tour in Iraq and struggle to adapt back into civilian life. DreamWorks Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 109 minutes. We are so grateful: In a recent episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, a veteran of the war in the Middle East introduces himself to a group of people. The first few all shake his hand and say, “Thank you for your service.” Larry David—ever the curmudgeon—offers up a mere “Nice to meet you.” After an awkward pause, everyone starts to scold David for not saying what he should have. David responds...

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A Bad Moms Christmas Misses Its Comedic Potential

Overview: Three best friend moms, Amy, Kiki, and Carla, are intent on giving their kids the best Christmas ever – until their own moms show up and ruin everything. STX Entertainment; 2017; Rated R; 104 minutes. The Moms Are Back For More: A Bad Moms Christmas follows the mild success of Bad Moms, released only last year. The Christmas version reunites the characters played by Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn as three moms with wildly different personalities and parenting strategies who all have one trait in common: the desire to be bad. From getting food court drunk...

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Suburbicon Is A Mixed Bag

Overview: A tight-knit American family is caught in the center of a cycle of prejudice, racism, and violence in the 1950s. Paramount Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 105 minutes. Anywhere, USA: Based on an original script penned by the Coen Brothers in 1986 shortly after the theatrical release of their debut film Blood Simple, Suburbicon was shelved for just shy of 20 years before George Clooney was approached to star in and direct the movie in 2005. Eventually, more Coen regulars joined the cast of the feature length production—namely lead actors Matt Damon and Julianne Moore—while Clooney turned his full...

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Geostorm is a Brain Dead but Efficient Disaster

Overview: Gerard Butler and Jim Sturgess fight satellites that control the weather. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 109 minutes. Geostorms? In this economy?: I am a man of simple tastes. I like my Gerard Butler-starring action movies to be dumb and efficient, even if others think they’re a waste of time. I’ll go watch Gerard Butler starring in problematic action movies as long as he stabs a dude in the head at some point. The manner of making it doesn’t influence my reaction as much as what is in front of me. All things considered, there is no logical...

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Stranger Things 2 Finds Middling Success in an Old Formula

Overview: One year after the events of the first season, the residents of Hawkins struggle with lingering trauma and new terrors from the Upside Down. Netflix; TV-MA; 9 episodes. The Three Pillars: I never expected to like Stranger Things as much as I did. I’m generally allergic to ‘80s nostalgia, with its desperate worship of disposable aesthetic values and misunderstanding of what makes the decade’s best art so good. But the first season of the Netflix original put me on my heels. Rather than simply imitating the imagery of its creators’ pop culture childhoods, it remixed and reconstructed them....

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Jigsaw Falls Prey to Familiar Traps

Overview: The legacy of the Jigsaw killer continues. Again. Lionsgate Films; 2017; Rated R; 91 minutes. Playing the Same Game: Jigsaw doesn’t present anything noteworthy for a return of the tortuous franchise, lacking the staying power of the better sequels. However, it may prove to be enjoyable enough for fans of the series looking for nothing other than cheap kills with cheap thrills. When a singular series of films is boxed in with specific low budget gimmicks, there are only so many directions the film can take. It’s been an issue with the series since the first sequel. Innocent victims are...

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Mansfield 66/67 Is An Odd Bio With Glitter In Its Veins

Overview: A lurid, candy-coated look into the tumultuous life, death, and legacy of Hollywood starlet, sex symbol, and rumored Satanist Jayne Mansfield. Gunpowder & Sky; 2017; Not Yet Rated; 84 minutes. A Photo is Worth a Thousand Side-eyes: It’s one of the most famous photos in Hollywood history. At a 1957 Paramount dinner party honoring Italian film star Sophia Loren, Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield sits down next to the guest of honor, gazes over at the camera, and flashes her million-watt smile, all the while oblivious to two things. First, that her right nipple had fallen out of her...

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1922 is Slow Creeping Horror

Overview: A farmer decides to murder his wife to gain her inheritance. Netflix; 2017; rated TV-MA; 101 mins Intimate King: It’s been a great year for King adaptations. It, Gerald’s Game, and, now, 1922 are a great showcase for how King’s horror can be transported to the screen. Moreso than any of those previously listed films, 1922 is not a big, grand horror movie. It is made up of small, slow moments that show the cost upon a person’s conscience and well-being of doing a terrible deed. The movie begins with Wilfred James, played by Thomas Jane, sitting in...

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Only The Brave and the Hope of a Detoxified Masculinity

Overview: Based on the tragic deaths of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots during the June 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire, Only the Brave follows several elite Arizona firefighters in their last year of service before dying in the line of duty. Columbia Pictures; 2017; PG-13; 133 minutes. Playing With the Boys: Joseph Kosinski’s Only the Brave drapes itself in the trappings of Hawksian male camaraderie and machismo. The members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots—a group of twenty elite Arizona firefighters who serve on the front-line of forest fires—all posture and preen like the meatheads we’ve come to expect...

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The Snowman Falls in A Hole and Never Recovers

Overview: Detective Harry Hole tracks a serial killer with only the help of a handwritten note and his young partner. Universal Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 119 minutes. Missed Opportunities: There is nothing easy about making movies. There is no formula to the making of a good movie, or of any other piece of art, for that matter. You cannot simply plug in the right pieces and expect greatness to be the output. A truly great film is usually more than the sum of its parts, it provides something wonderful and unexpected. The Snowman is neither a great a movie...

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Marshall Sets a Precedent with a Powerhouse Performance

Overview: In this biopic, NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall takes on a complicated case in Connecticut: Strubing vs. Spell. Open Road Films; 2017; PG-13; 118 minutes. SVU:​ ​Connecticut: Marshall is a biopic but not the kind of biopic that the trailer might lead you to believe it is. Instead of covering the entire life of Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman), or even the most widely-known aspects of his career, it focuses on a portion of Thurgood Marshall’s time as an NAACP lawyer sent to Connecticut to defend black chauffeur Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown) in 1940. The headlines surrounding socialite Eleanor...

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VIFF: Tragedy Girls is Destined for Sleepover Stardom

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: Two girls bent on becoming horror legends use the work of a serial killer to project their burgeoning hobby into a career. It’s The Comeback Kids; 2017; Rated R; 98 minutes. Get Off My Lawn: Back in the ’90s and early-aughts sleepover classics like Heathers, Jawbreaker, and Idle Hands reigned supreme. These dark horror-comedies played perfectly for angsty, giggly teens the...

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VIFF: Thelma Is a Striking Story of Self-Realization

Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 13, 2017. Screening films from more than 70 countries on nine screens, VIFF’s program includes the pick of the world’s top film fests and many undiscovered gems.  Overview: A young woman experiences a sexual and supernatural awakening. Snowglobe Films; 2017; Not Rated; 116 minutes. Sad Girl: There’s something wrong with Thelma. She’s six-years-old, standing in the forest, her breath coming in plumes as she stares down the wild doe. Her father stands behind her, his rifle pointed securely at the back of her head and then, a breath, and...

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