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Friday, April 19, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for April 19

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Abigail, The Beast, Hard Miles, Sasquatch Sunset and more
Abigail ** You can’t entirely blame filmmakers for the choices made by a studio marketing department, but at a certain point you have to ask, “Well, how else would they market it?” The Radio Silence team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (the recent Scream reboots) bring us the story of a group of kidnappers—including medic Joey (Melissa Barrera) and leader Frank (Dan Stevens)—whose target is 12-year-old Abigail (Alisha Weir). But the team soon realizes that Alisha’s father is a dangerous crime boss, and that they might be in far greater danger than Abigail.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for April 12

Civil War, Escape from Germany, Coup de Chance, Hundreds of Beavers, La Chimera, Sting
Arcadian **1/2 I suppose there are worse things on which to build a post-apocalyptic horror yarn than an utterly singular creature design; I just wish this one had been build on pretty much anything interesting in addition to that. It’s mostly set 15 years after humanity was decimated by the arrival of nocturnal murderous monsters—the exact origin of which is left intentionally sketchy—with Paul (Nicolas Cage) and his teenage sons Joseph (Jaeden Martell) and Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins) living on their remote plot of land as among the few survivors.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for April 5

Monkey Man, The First Omen, Wicked Little Letters, Girls State, Scoop, Exhuma
Exhuma **1/2 For a movie with not one but two killer ghosts in its narrative, Jang Jae-hyun’s supernatural horror tale winds up feeling kind of skimpy in the thrills department. It involves the collaboration between two experts in paranormal phenomenon—shaman Hwa-rim (Kim Go-eun) and “geomancer” Sang-deok (Choi Min-sik)—when it appears that a curse is afflicting a Korean family, and that the solution is exhuming the corpse of an ancestor.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for March 29

Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire, STEVE! (martin), Remembering Gene Wilder, Ennio, They Shot the Piano Player, Limbo
Ennio *** Many artist profiles are stymied by the artist’s inability to explain what he does; film composing legend Ennio Morricone is so good at it, that the other stuff in this documentary feels unnecessary. Director Giuseppe Tornatore—who collaborated with Morricone on his own films, including Cinema Paradiso—explores the composer’s entire career, as the conservatory-trained musician took a detour into writing music for films that became a 50-year body of unforgettable work, including his landmark collaborations with his old schoolmate, Sergio Leone.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for March 21-22

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Problemista, Immaculate, Road House, Uproar, Shirley, Late Night With the Devil
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire *** The main problem with 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, aside from digitally desecrating the corpse of Harold Ramis, was that it completely misunderstood the fact that Ghostbusters movies should be comedies that occasionally have supernatural action, rather than supernatural action movies that occasionally have comedy. Gil Kenan (who co-wrote Afterlife and takes over the directing duties here) pivots effectively in this follow-up, which finds the new blended Ghostbusting family—Gary (Paul Rudd), Callie (Carrie Coon), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace)—setting up shop in the old New York firehouse and tackling the threat of an ancient god.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for March 14-15

Love Lies Bleeding, Arthur the King, Knox Goes Away, One Life and more
The American Society of Magical Negroes *** Writer/director Kobi Libii concocts the kind of satirical premise that easily could have tipped over into pedantic self-importance, but emerges with a deft enough touch to end up both entertaining and urgent. The prospects for Aren Mbondo’s (Justice Smith) career as a visual artist appear to be vanishing, when he is approached by Roger (David Alan Grier) to join the titular secret society—a group of Black people dedicated to the proposition that solving White people’s problems and making them comfortable is the best way to keep their own lives safe.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for March 8

Kung Fu Panda 4, Damsel, Cabrini, Io Capitano, Imaginary, Ricky Stanicky
Cabrini ** Director Alejandro Monteverde’s previous film about a real person on a single-minded quest to save children—last year’s surprise hit Sound of Freedom—had to deal with some unpleasant revelations about its subject. At least that problem is unlikely to face this historical biopic about Francesca Cabrini (Cristiana Dell’Anna), which plods through the life of a literal saint, but with the same self-righteousness about its message as Sound of Freedom did.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for March 1, plus March special screenings

Dune Part Two, Spaceman
Dune: Part Two ***1/2 See feature review. Available March 1 in theaters.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for Feb. 23

Perfect Days, Drive-Away Dolls, Ordinary Angels, Tótem, Stopmotion, Red Right Hand
Drive-Away Dolls *** See feature review. Available Feb. 23 in theaters.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Film Reviews: New Releases for Feb. 14 - 16

Madame Web, Bob Marley: One Love, The Taste of Things, Oscar-nominated shorts and more
Adam the First ** There’s an important distinction between “what is this movie about” from a synopsis standpoint and “what is this movie about” from a thematic standpoint—and while I can certainly explain to you the former, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the latter. It’s the tale of Adam (Oakes Fegley), a 14-year-old raised off the grid in a remote forest, who—after the death of the man who raised him (David Duchovny)—sets out with a list of three names to find out which one of them is his biological father.

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