Category: New Releases

Mudbound: Two Families, Bound and Separate

Overview: Two families with sons returning from war navigate hard times on a 1940s Mississippi farm. Elevated Films; 2017; Rated R; 134 minutes. More Alike Than Different: Mudbound follows two families who have a lot in common. Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) wants to find prosperity through owning farmland, so he moves his family from Memphis down to the Mississippi Delta. He brings his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), their children and his father Pappy (Jonathan Banks) along, while his younger brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) is off flying bombers over Europe in World War II. Hap Jackson (Rob Morgan) also dreams...

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Justice League is a Mostly Satisfying Endpoint and New Beginning

Overview: The death of Superman has left the world open to attack from an alien god looking to reshape the world in his image. To stop the invasion, Batman and Wonder Woman assemble a team of reluctant heroes who must rediscover hope within themselves and each other in order to save the world. 2017; Warner Bros; Rated PG-13; 120 minutes. One Year Later: The world doesn’t look like it did before. In terms of the space in which these fictional characters live and our real world, things have changed. There’s a psychological need for a bit more optimism, a...

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Vietnam Vets Hit The Road in Last Flag Flying

Overview: Three men reunite 40 years on from their service in Vietnam to bury a fallen son killed in the Iraq War. Amazon Studios; 2017; Rated R; 124 minutes. One Last Detail: The films of Richard Linklater have often focused on two themes: relationships and the passage of time. His latest effort, Last Flag Flying, is also interested in these things. It’s 2003, and Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) doesn’t have much—his wife, whom he describes as “slow,” passed away of breast cancer earlier in the year, and he lives a modest life in New Hampshire. He tracks down his...

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In The Florida Project, Magic Is Wherever You Find It

Overview: A struggling mother tries to provide for her young daughter as they navigate life from a cheap motel in Orlando, Florida. A24; Rated R; 111 minutes. A Whole New World: When Walt Disney was scouring the country for the location of his new theme park in the early 1960s, he settled on a section of Orlando, Florida which was, at the time, a blank slate. He needed space, and lots of it, because what he had in mind couldn’t exist in the regular world. He had to create an entire new one from scratch. Disney World thus became...

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Lady Bird Is A Stellar Debut

Overview: Entering her senior year, a free-spirited young Sacramento girl wades through icky home and personal relationships while hoping to get into an East Coast college. A24; 2017; Rated R; 93 Minutes. Call Me By My Name: Christine grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Sorry, that’s Lady Bird who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. That’s what Christine wants to be called, so that’s what people call her, even her parents. She wants to cross those tracks, not just to the other, nicer side of Sacramento but faraway, to a place “with culture.”...

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Murder On The Orient Express Delivers A Satisfying Remake And No More

 Overview: A passenger is murdered on board the Orient Express; everyone is a suspect, and only Hercule Poirot can crack the case. 20th Century Fox; 2017; Rated PG-13; 114 minutes. Whenever a treasured property is remade, regardless of language change, casting difference, or money spent, there is usually a common question. Why? More specifically, why now? It is likely that those same questions hang over Kenneth Branagh’s updated version of Murder on the Orient Express. This particular story, well known to some and recognized by practically everyone, has been produced many times, on film and television alike. The remake question...

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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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