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Entries in Reviews (633)

Thursday
Jun282018

Review: "Sicario: Day of the Soldado"

by Chris Feil

That crowdsourced “fan” remake of The Last Jedi that made the rounds in the past week? The one rooted in thinly veiled misogyny, white supremacy, and general ill-advised sentiment to tool with material that’s perfectly fine on its own? Put yourself in front of Sicario: Day of the Soldado, the new prequel to Denis Villeneuve’s layered 2015 film musing on the pervasive institutional evils of the War on Drugs, and you might be convinced that those fans got their hands on this narrative as well.

The warning signs make themselves known immediately, this time focusing on the more enigmatic men in the thick of the corruption: Josh Brolin’s task force leader Matt Graver and Benicio Del Toro’s patiently vengeful hitman Alejandro. Kicking the film off with a demonstratively labored Islamophobic sequence, the audience is served a video game brand of warfare as Graver and Alejandro initiate a kidnapping plot across the Mexican-American border. The kidnappee is Isabel Reyes (played by Isabela Moner, the film’s brightest spot), the daughter of a major cartel leader that may be linked to Alejandro’s past. As expected, the men's hubris is turned in on itself...

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Friday
Jun222018

Review: "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"

by Chris Feil

It should maybe be said upfront that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an improvement over its woebegone predecessor. If you are an optimist at heart (or just a realist, because the “original” World was truly THAT bad), you might have assumed so already. Why you might not have assumed is that Fallen Kingdom is hellbent on crushing that optimism to dust, and even moreso the hope at the heart of its own franchise.

Three years after the destruction of the Jurassic World theme park, a volatile volcano threatens the entire remaining species on Isla Nublar. While the world watches, mired in the ethical battle to let the dinosaurs die or make efforts to save these living creatures, Bryce Dallas Howard’s former park manager Claire Dearing is recruited to help a last-dash rescue mission. That means also reconciling with former lover and raptor herder Owen Grady, Chris Pratt’s wise ass hero. It’s a recipe for disaster that comes to its natural dire conclusion, resulting in the dinosaurs reaching civilization.

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Tuesday
Jun192018

Doc Corner: In the Shadow of Kubrick with 'Filmworker'

by Glenn Dunks

Sometimes you really can tell a book by its cover. Or in this case, a movie by its poster. The artwork for Tony Zierra’s Filmworker shows a photograph of Stanley Kubrick on set with his long-time yet little-known collaborator Leon Vitali hovering behind him. Kubrick, normally the focus of these sort of non-fiction works, is unusually blurred. Our eye naturally focuses on Vitali despite Kubrick’s appearance that can’t be entirely obscured no matter how hard they try.

It’s fitting for Filmworker, a documentary about Vitaly not Kubrick. Although, as was probably always inevitable about a film about the people around one of cinema’s most commanding and famous names, Kubrick remains a constant presence who is too hard to ignore...

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Monday
Jun182018

Stage Door: Anika Noni Rose Brings Raw Sensuality to "Carmen Jones" Off Broadwa

Stage Door is our intermittent theater column in which we often feature plays and musicals with film connections. Please welcome guest contributor Erica Mann...

The moment Carmen Jones walks onto the stage of Classic Stage Company, it’s like time completely stops. It’s not just because the character is played by the incomparable Anika Noni Rose whose illustrious career has spanned stage (a Tony win for Caroline or Change), TV (Bates Motel, The Good Wife), and film (Dreamgirls, For Colored Girls, The Princess and the Frog). Her presence as the namesake is that powerful from the moment she sets foot into the spotlight.

Oscar Hammerstein II's adaptation of Bizet's opera Carmen became a classic screen musical in 1954 starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte but has rarely been seen on the NY stage. CSC's production is the first major New York revival since the 1940s. Carmen Jones is the story of love, lust, betrayal and tragedy with the action moved to the 1940s in the American south. Corporal Joe, stationed at an army reserve and working in a parachute factory, falls in love with the stunning Carmen Jones. Aware of his feelings, Carmen convinces him to change his life trajectory in pursuit for a life in Chicago with her. Things change when those initial feelings become blurry and passion turns into jealousy...

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Thursday
Jun072018

Review: "Hereditary"

by Chris Feil

Hereditary gives so much: a bold lead performance from Toni Collette, genuine skin-crawling scares, and a stream of ominously manicured imagery to obsess over on multiple viewings. And yet its mightiest power is how and when it withholds. Layers revealed in its central family mystery only yield more questions and terrifying unreconciled implications on its descent into madness. You think at first the film is keeping you at arm’s length, when really it is picking you up by the shoulders and placing you down precisely where it knows it will unnerve you most. Letting it get its sadistic claws on you is simply one of the year’s essential cinematic experiences.

The feature debut of writer/director Ari Aster, Hereditary is uncommonly patient in delivering on its horrific promises. The film is less of a slow burn than an enticing bear trap, meditatively luring the audience with all of its pieces before suddenly closing its jaws on us with furious velocity. But that’s the thing about nightmares: rarely do they announce their punishment immediately. Hereditary is as wise and calculating as a demon ready to pounce.

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Friday
Jun012018

Review: "Adrift"

by Chris Feil

Adrift opens with one of the more terrifying examples of recent one-take fakeout shots - the camera weaves in and out of the water overtaking the cabin of a yacht, as a bloodied Shailene Woodley comes to. Frantically, we follow her above deck to see the half-sunken ship is as irrevocably damaged as we feared. But the panic really comes as the camera dizzyingly reveals nothing but empty steady ocean surrounding her.

The film abruptly flashes back, alternating between her story leading up to crisis and her struggle for survival at sea. Woodley is Tami, a young world traveler avoiding a tumultuous family history at home in America. She meets a handsome and similarly dispositioned Richard, played by Sam Claflin, and their romance is fast and escapist. A lucrative job sailing an older couple’s yacht across the Pacific sets them on a course for disaster, one that leaves Richard incapacitated and Tami left with minimal sailing skills, no tools for communication, and a ship barely capable of more than a steady drag towards an imprecise destination.

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