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'X-Men: Apocalypse' Delivers All The Superhero Action That Audiences Crave, And Little Else
Production: Special Effects: 
Action Sequences: 
With all of the buzz surrounding the upcoming The Justice League movie (built up by all of the guest appearances in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and the continuing saga of The Avengers (fed by all of the new heroes in Captain America: Civil War), it's easy to forget about the other superhero cash cow, the...

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Artsy And Surreal, 'The Lobster' Is The Most Fascinatingly Weird Comedy Of The Summer
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Comedy Factor: 
There are movies that are weird because they're trying to be weird, and then there are movies that make weirdness look effortless. The Lobster is the latter. The Lobster takes place in a near-future world where people are not allowed to be single. When David (Colin Farrell from Fright Night) is suddenly left...

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Greta Gerwig Shines...And Outshines...In 'Maggie's Plan'
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
I should open this review of Maggie's Plan by admitting that I am a big fan of Greta Gerwig. Last year, she starred in one of the best comedies of the year, Mistress America. A couple of years before that, she lit up the screen in Francis Ha. Heck, she was even one of my favorite things about Ti West's The...

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'The Nice Guys' Is A Smart & Hilarious Detective Story Anchored By Great Performances
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Although he doesn't have too many directorial efforts under his belt, Shane Black has proven himself to be a master wordsmith and storyteller. With films like Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Black demonstrates an understanding of how to surprise and entertain all at the same time. But those prior films were...

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'Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising' Expands the Gimmick to Great Effect
Production: Comedy Factor: 
The first Neighbors was an unexpected surprise for a comedy, a story that relied heavily on lowest common denominator jokes but still had its heart in the right place and some insightful things to say about parenthood and the fraternity. Its follow-up, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, builds on that same concept,...

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'A Bigger Splash' Reeks Of Wasted Potential And Missed Opportunity
Production: Cinematography: 
When a movie includes one Academy Award winner, another Academy Award nominee, and a pair of "rising stars" in its core cast, it's got to be good, right? Well, not necessarily. A Bigger Splash is proof of that. A Bigger Splash is the story of a world-famous rock singer named Marianne Lane (Oscar winner Tilda...

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'Love & Friendship' Is A Very Accessible Adaptation Of A Classic Jane Austen Tale
Production: Comedy Factor: 
After the debacle that turned her novel Pride and Prejudice into the horror film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, writer Jane Austen thought that she needed to get back to more honest interpretations of her stories. Or, at least, she would have thought that if she hadn't died two hundred years ago. Nevertheless,...

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'Money Monster' Subverts Expectations With A Formulaic Story
Production: Acting: 
Jodie Foster's Money Monster has no right being as entertaining as it is. With a plot this formulaic, in which a financial TV personality is held hostage by a disgruntled blue collar investor, few movies could have found a way to surprise, let alone entertain. And yet, Money Monster defies the odds and somehow...

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'High-Rise' Tosses Tom Hiddleston Into A Cold Concrete Metaphor For Modern Society
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
For years, there have been rumors and speculation flying around about a movie adaptation of J.G. Ballard's 1975 dystopian sci-fi novel High-Rise, with big names like Nicolas Roeg and Vincenzo Natali reportedly attached to direct. Well, British filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Kill List, A Field in England) has finally...

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'The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty' Is All Buildup And No Payoff...And Hardly Any Sleeping Beauty
Production: Scary Factor: 
Fairy tales seem to be in vogue right now. Whether with traditional tellings, such as Cinderella or Into the Woods, or using revisionist slants, like Snow White and the Huntsman or Maleficent, children's stories have been all over theaters and home video for the last couple of years. No matter how many of these...

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'Captain America: Civil War' Delivers A-Grade Action Alongside A Mature Superhero Story
Production: Action Sequences: 
Ever since Marvel announced plans to unite its characters within a cinematic universe (commonly referred to as the MCU), fans have been clamoring to see the films tackle the Civil War storyline. While it may not be the most successful Marvel arc (in terms of storytelling), Civil War is still one its most unique,...

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'Dough' Is An Improbable Stoner Comedy That Sounds Funnier Than It Is
Production: Comedy Factor: 
An old Jewish baker and a young Muslim drug dealer might seem like an improbable duo, but that's who's at the center of Dough. The old Jewish baker in Dough is named Nat Dayan (Jonathan Pryce from Something Wicked This Way Comes), and his kosher bakery in London is slowly being run out of business by his competition,...

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'Green Room' Rages With Punk Rock, Paranoia, And Patrick Stewart
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Scary Factor: 
A couple of years ago, writer/director Jeremy Saulnier caused quite a stir in the independent film community with his genre-bending revenge tale Blue Ruin. Now, he's riding that buzz with the equally impressive punk rock horror film Green Room. Green Room is about a punk band called The Ain't Rights who are...

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'The Meddler' Shows What Happens When Susan Sarandon Loves Rose Byrne Too Much
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Never one to shy away from controversy, actress Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, The Rocky Horror Picture Show) has been in the news a lot lately, taking stances on political issues and throwing her support behind underdog Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. But, amidst all of her politicking, everyone...

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'Louder Than Bombs' Is A Standard Tale Of Grief And Anger Told In A Non-Standard Way
Production: Directing: 
Louder Than Bombs takes place three years after the death of war photographer Isabelle Reed (Amour's Isabelle Huppert), who, after surviving the treachery of her career, was actually killed in an automobile accident shortly after retiring. Isabelle left behind a husband named Gene (Gabriel Byrne from The Usual...

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John Carney's 'Sing Street' Will Make Every Teenager Want To Form A Irish Pop Band
Production: Cinematography: 
Musical Numbers: 
Writer/director John Carney seems to have found his niche in the film industry by making enjoyable movies about musicians making music. Several years back he made a splash with his indie hit Once, and he parlayed that success a few years ago by rehashing a similar story into the Keira Knightley/Mark Ruffalo vehicle...

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'Elvis & Nixon' May Not Be A 'True' True Story, But It Should Be
Production: Acting: 
Score & Soundtrack: Comedy Factor: 
Everyone has seen the picture, the one with a fake-smiling Richard Nixon giving a half-hearted handshake to an Elvis Presley who looks like he'd rather be anywhere but there. That picture was taken in 1970 inside the Oval Office, and it's reportedly one of the most requested photographs in the National Archives....

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'The Invitation' Is Psychological Horror At Its Slow-Burning Best
Production: Scary Factor: 
I was recently discussing The Invitation with a couple of my fellow film critics who hadn't seen it, and as I was telling them what it was about one of them stopped me and said "you've said too much already." And he was absolutely right. It's best to go into a movie like The Invitation with as little prior knowledge...

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'Take Me To The River' Invites You To The Most Awkward And Uncomfortable Family Reunion Ever Thrown
Production: Directing: 
A couple of years ago, there was a great documentary about the Memphis music scene called Take Me to the River. If anyone who is looking for that movie accidentally stumbles across this Take Me to the River, they're going to be a little confused, and a lot surprised. Take Me to the River is about a young California...

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Frame Of Mind

Graduation DayIt’s graduation time, the point of the year where students switch the tassels over to the other side before tossing the whole cap into the air.  Cinema Fearité’s quest to remain timely is just as fervent as any recent grad's thirst for knowledge, so this week, we’ve got a movie that is both seminal and topical: the 1981 slasher Graduation Day.

First Man Into SpaceOn April 12, 1961, the Soviets put a man into space.  Twenty-three days later, the Americans repeated the feat.  Both events played a huge part in the so-called Space Race, but Hollywood beat them both to the punch, putting a human into space two years earlier in 1959 with the aptly-titled First Man Into Space.

Final ExamIn the world of slasher movies, there are two never-fail scenarios.  The first is the killer-in-the-woods, which Cinema Fearité has explored several times over the years with features about Madman, The Burning, The Final Terror, Sleepaway Camp, and Just Before Dawn.  The other is the university-kids-being-stalked motif, which we’ve covered with Terror Train and The Prowler.  Well, this week, we’re going back to college again with a buried gem from 1981 – Final Exam.

Strange Septembers: The Hill Abduction & The Exeter EncounterOn September 19, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were driving along a road in rural New Hampshire when they were reportedly abducted by extraterrestrials.  Four years later, on September 3, 1965, Norman Muscarello saw a UFO while hitchhiking near Exeter, NH, and reported it to police, which resulted in New Hampshire Police Officers Eugene Bertrand and David Hunt also observing the phenomenon.  These are two of the most compelling and controversial cases in the annals of UFO encounters, and they are examined in the new documentary Strange Septembers: The Hill Abduction & The Exeter Encounter.

BarracudaThis past weekend saw the untimely death of Wayne Crawford at the comparatively young age of 69.  Crawford is probably best known for producing such cult classics as Valley Girl and Night of the Comet, but he was also a talented writer, director, and actor.  And sometimes, he did it all in the same movie.  The 1978 low-budget horror classic Barracuda was one of those times.

White ZombieBetween the success of “The Walking Dead” on television and the campiness of any number of the “X vs. Zombies” movies in theaters (or, more likely, on VOD), zombies are literally everywhere, having invaded every last fiber of popular culture.  George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead is usually credited with inventing the modern zombie, but the horror trope goes back farther than that.  Low-budget movie moguls the Halperin brothers (Ex-Flame) made what most people consider to be the first feature length zombie movie thirty-five years earlier in 1932 when they came up with White Zombie.

Simon, King of the WitchesWhen most people think about witches, they automatically envision women.  Movies are no different; from the old classic The Witches to the modern masterpiece The Witch, the title characters are usually female.  But there are male witches – or warlocks, as they are known – in movies, and 1971’s Simon, King of the Witches is as good of an example of a witch-man movie as one is bound to find.

Hitchcock/TruffautIn 1962, burgeoning young filmmaker François Truffaut approached his idol, the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, about sitting down for an extended interview about his attitudes and methodologies towards cinema.  Truffaut, a critic as well as a filmmaker, asked all the right questions and Hitchcock affably gave all the right answers, and in 1966, the results were published in veritable bible of auteur film theory, a simply titled book called Hitchcock/Truffaut.  Now, “The Daily Show” writer Kent Jones has turned those conversations into a movie, the also simply titled Hitchcock/Truffaut.

Alice, Sweet AliceActors usually don’t just step into million-dollar roles, they most likely have had to work their way up.  Sometimes, they even have to start in horror movies.  Everyone knows how Johnny Depp began his career in A Nightmare on Elm Street and how Jennifer Aniston’s first movie was Leprechaun, but even the too-cute and equally talented Brooke Shields made her big screen debut in a horror movie way back in 1976 when she appeared in the cut-rate supernatural slasher Alice, Sweet Alice.

AngstAlthough it has a fairly rich cinematic history, most American filmgoers only know Austria as the birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger.  With its close proximity to (and shared language with) Germany, what few Austrian films that find their way to America are often mistaken for German productions.  The country is not usually thought of as a hotbed of horror, but last year’s dark horse thriller Goodnight Mommy was Austrian, as was Michael Haneke’s 1997 home invasion nightmare Funny Games (which was remade in English ten years later by Haneke himself for American audiences).  In 1983, another legendary Austrian horror film was made, the proto-psycho-slasher with the name that means “Fear” in English, Angst.

Dead of NightIn the mid-sixties, writer/director Dan Curtis successfully injected vampires into a soap opera with “Dark Shadows,” a show that not only ran for over twelve hundred episodes, but also spawned a number of tie-in movies, a nineties television reboot, and even a 2012 Tim Burton/Johnny Depp big-budget reboot-of-the-reboot.  Curtis was more than just “Dark Shadows,” however; he owned horror on the small screen, with TV movie titles like Scream of the Wolf and Dracula on his resume.  He also made a couple of the greatest television horror anthology movies ever – one was the 1975 classic Trilogy of Terror, and the other, the focus of this week’s Cinema Fearité, is the criminally underrated 1977 effort Dead of Night.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'After over a decade of waiting, even longer if you’ve wiped the three prequel’s from your mind, Star Wars is back in a big way. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Episode 7 in the franchise, has arrived, and brought with it a new direction. Like the original films, The Force Awakens is all about myth building and discovery, creating a mystique that slowly unravels as the 2-hour plus space tale unfolds. We see and hear the familiar sights and sounds of the galaxy far, far away, but it isn’t long before it becomes clear that this is Star Wars for the modern age, thanks in part to the gender and race blind casting.

The Earth Dies ScreamingThe horror and science fiction genres have always loved their end of the world movies.  From the original comet-crashing 1916 movie The End of the World to more modern dystopic films like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the end of mankind is a solid premise.  In 1964, the extinction of humanity by alien invasion was explored in the dramatically titled The Earth Dies Screaming.

InfernoOn March 10th, 2016, influential keyboardist/composer Keith Emerson died of an apparent suicide.  Emerson was best known as a founding member of the prog-rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer (or ELP for short), but the maestro also dabbled in film scoring.  Arguably, his most famous score was the soundtrack to legendary Italian filmmaker Dario Argento’s 1980 classic Inferno.

**Read more from Frame Of Mind and the News Section**
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