Category: Reviews

Call Me By Your Name is a Tender Romance Told Tenderly

Overview: A teen and a graduate student reckon with their surprising shared attraction during the former’s six week stay at the latter’s home in Northern Italy. 2017; Rated R; Sony Pictures Classics; 132 minutes. A Stranger’s Touch: It’s easy to become immune to the intimacy of touch. We’ve grown so used to making physical contact with those we’re close with that it doesn’t make much of an impact when it happens. And when we shake hands with someone, we’re expecting it, though maybe we’re taken a bit by the strength of the grip or the coarseness of the hand....

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The Punisher Drives a Sledgehammer into the Gut of American Deniability

“You want justice because you haven’t figured out there is no such thing yet.” Overview: Not long after Marine veteran Frank Castle believes he has hunted down those responsible for the death of his family, he finds himself caught in a government conspiracy with secrets that threaten to unravel American security, our policies on violence, and Frank’s very sense of self. 2017; Netflix; TV-MA; 13 episodes. Welcome Back, Frank: There’s no way that the Punisher, a character entrenched in gun violence, Reaganism, and ice-cold rage, could successfully tackle the systemic mishandling of justice, and the resulting violence from the...

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I’m Not There and Grace Through Change

Todd Haynes has never been a stickler to structure. His most conventional films still reveal characters who have a need to break free from their normal surroundings. Mundanity always threatens to burst through the frame and dive into the surreal. So when he takes hold of a biography of Bob Dylan—not a performer known for his mundanity—the experiment is the structure. Six different actors play six different iterations of the famous musician in I’m Not There. (2007). The actors (Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Christian Bale, Marcus Garl Franklin, and Ben Whishaw) depict wildly discontinuous versions of Dylan’s...

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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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What if Justice League had been made in the past?

Justice League is a long-gestating prospect and a movie that a decade ago no one ever expected to get made. Now we’re a few weeks away from seeing the League on the big screen and watching characters like Aquaman and Cyborg finally kick ass in the cinema. This got us thinking about what this movie would have looked like if it had been made in the past fifty years, so we gazed into our crystal ball (with some help from DC superfan Miles A. Harris) and found some AE coverage from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s to see...

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The Running Man at 30: Arnie vs. Fake News

On paper, The Running Man is a difficult thing to explain. The plot is simple and familiar: humans hunting other humans. The added twist in The Running Man is that the whole thing is filmed and broadcast as the most popular TV show in the country. The harder elements to comprehend are with the people involved in this movie. At the top, Arnold Schwarzenegger is easy to explain, and this is his kind of bread and butter movie: one-liners, gets the girl, “I’ll be back,” defies the odds, shows off his absurd strength, etc. But below Arnold, the creative...

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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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Amazon Prime Hidden Gems: Alps

Alps (2011) Director: Yorgos Lanthimos Genre: Drama Kino Lorber Yorgos Lanthimos makes you work. His films depict worlds that appear to be just like ours, ones where things work just a bit differently. Since Lanthimos doesn’t have any interest in exposition, it’s always on us to figure out not only the culture and rules that govern these worlds, but how and why his characters are interacting with the world and each other the way they are. In this sense, Alps is heavy lifting. The movie follows a small group of, um…let’s call them specialty grief counselors. Their business is...

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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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