Cinema

Schumer Explores the Beauty Myth in “I Feel Pretty”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 25th, 2018

Longtime writing partners Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein make their joint directorial debut but don’t quite get everything right in “I Feel Pretty,” an Amy Schumer vehicle that jettisons the hard-R ribaldry of “Trainwreck” and “Snatched” for the potentially wider-appeal territory of PG-13 content. Schumer, who has long been the target of relentless trolls on platforms including Reddit, plays Renee, a woman -- according to the official film website -- “who struggles with…

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​“Truth or Dare” Tries to Scare Up More Blumhouse Magic

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 18th, 2018

Leveraging whatever name-brand clout it might carry with the target demographic, “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” -- the onscreen title for the pre and post-credit sequences -- won’t make the kind of impact previously enjoyed by “Get Out” or, for that matter, the “Purge” series. Even so, the Jeff Wadlow-directed horror feature should draw teen viewers intrigued by the “And Then There Were None”-style trailer. Populated by a cast of young actors with plenty of television…

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Anderson Comments on Resistance in Controversial “Isle of Dogs”

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 4th, 2018

Wes Anderson returns to animation with “Isle of Dogs,” a showcase of expectedly eye-popping production design and art direction that partially obscures a pricklier, flintier corner of the world than the one adapted from Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” in 2009. Writing the screenplay from a story credited to himself, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Konichi Nomura (who also performs in the film as Mayor Kobayashi), the particular auteur embarks on an often melancholy…

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​“You Were Never Really Here”: Ramsay and Phoenix team for instant cult classic

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | March 28th, 2018

Only Lynne Ramsay knows the details behind her departures on a couple of movies, but we have been fully rewarded by her picky, methodical project choices. With just a trio of previous features, all undeniably brilliant, the Scottish filmmaker delivers an instant cult classic with her fourth, the visceral “You Were Never Really Here.”

Once upon a time, Ramsay circled “The Lovely Bones,” “Jane Got a Gun,” and a long-rumored sci-fi “Moby-Dick” without completing any of them.…

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​‘Sami Blood’ named best narrative feature at FFF18

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | March 14th, 2018

A captivating lead performance by Lene Cecilia Sparrok anchors the stout and handsome “Sami Blood,” winner of the award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2018 Fargo Film Festival.

Set principally in the 1930s, director Amanda Kernell’s inaugural feature film identifies fiercely and intimately with Sparrok’s teenage Elle-Marja, who plots to leave her family and way of life for a different future in the city.

A member of the indigenous Scandinavian people known as the Sami,…

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​‘Seeing Allred’: Sundance doc on iconic attorney now on Netflix

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | March 7th, 2018

Attorney Gloria AllredIconic feminist and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred is the subject of Sophie Sartain and Roberta Grossman’s “Seeing Allred,” now on Netflix Instant Watch following its debut at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. documentary competition.

The veteran filmmakers craft an unapologetically worshipful highlight reel of Allred’s life and career, successfully recontextualizing the widespread public and media perception of the lawyer as a publicity-seeking celebrity…

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​‘Annihilation’: Garland steps inside the Shimmer

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 28th, 2018

Considerably less accessible than his directorial debut “Ex Machina,” veteran writer Alex Garland’s “Annihilation” very loosely adapts Jeff VanderMeer’s novel into a demanding thought experiment bound to frustrate viewers counting on some of the trailer’s promise and premise.

As multiple critics have pointed out, the new film owes a thematic debt to Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Stalker,” a movie that Alissa Wilkinson suggests is, like “Annihilation,” about the…

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​Oscar-nominated ‘On Body and Soul’ streaming on Netflix

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 21st, 2018

Hungarian filmmaker Ildiko Enyedi, whose 1989 debut "My Twentieth Century" won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, achieved another career highlight recently with an Oscar nomination for her most recent feature. "On Body and Soul"has been selected to compete for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. The movie is currently available to view on Netflix.

Despite the bloody immediacy of the film’s slaughterhouse setting, "On Body and Soul" is an often ethereal…

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​Fogel’s “Icarus” scores surprising Oscar nomination

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 14th, 2018

Given the film’s somewhat odd marriage of style -- the personality-driven presence of chatty neophyte documentarian Bryan Fogel -- and substance -- the ugly realities of the longtime Russian doping program for Olympic competitors -- the inclusion of “Icarus” as one of the five Oscar-nominated nonfiction features came as something of a surprise.

But as the winter games get underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea on February 9, coverage of the Russians continues to dominate headlines in…

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​‘The Shape of Water’: Del Toro’s monster madness and movie magic

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 7th, 2018

Of the great designs in the history of movie monsters, there are few as satisfying as Universal’s stunning Gill-man. First envisioned by William Alland by way of Gabriel Figueroa’s Amazonian campfire story, the look of the Creature from the Black Lagoon belongs principally to Milicent Patrick. Christened “The Beauty Who Created the Beast” for a promotional tour, Patrick’s contributions to cinema iconography were unfairly squashed by jealous makeup artist Bud Westmore, who…

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