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'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Mixes Suspense And Surprises Into An Enjoyable - If Meandering - Popcorn Movie
Production: Action Sequences: 
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released a couple of years back, fans noted that the plot closely mirrored that of the original Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope). It should only be fitting that Star Wars: The Last Jedi would bear some similarities to Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars: The...

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James Franco's Masterpiece 'The Disaster Artist' Is The Spirit Of 'The Room' With Higher Production Values
Production: Acting: 
Comedy Factor: 
In 2003, an ambitious dreamer named Tommy Wiseau got frustrated with waiting for his big Hollywood break, so he made that break himself by writing, directing, and starring in The Room. Initially ridiculed, The Room has gone on to become the biggest cult film of the twenty-first century. Wiseau's partner in crime,...

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'The Shape Of Water' Brings Guillermo Del Toro Back To The Realm Of Monsters
Production: Directing: 
A few years back, rumors swelled that director Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, The Devil's Backbone) was developing a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon, possibly as an entry into the ill-fated Universal Dark Universe. That movie never materialized, but that hasn't stopped del Toro from turning his work...

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Woody Allen's 'Wonder Wheel' Just Spins And Spins Without Going Anywhere
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Given the filmmaker's controversial past, it would seem as if the last thing that the current Hollywood climate needs right now is a new movie from Woody Allen (Match Point, Blue Jasmine). But that's just what the world is getting with Wonder Wheel. Set sometime in the 1950s near Coney Island, Wonder Wheel...

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'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Twists And Turns Its Way Into One Of The Best Movies Of The Year
Production: Acting: 
Playwright Martin McDonagh has been making quite a name for himself in Hollywood. He burst onto the scene in 2008 with In Bruges and continued his success with 2012's Seven Psychopaths. Now, he's back with his best work yet, the masterful Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Three Billboards Outside...

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'Roman J. Israel, Esq.' Is The Movie Denzel Washington Fans Have Been Waiting For
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
For the last few years, Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington has been toiling away in either bland theatrical adaptations (Fences) or phone-in action films (The Magnificent Seven). The one constant has been that, no matter how bad the material is, Washington brings his A game to the screen, frequently elevating...

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'Justice League' Is A Messy Superhero Team-Up That Lacks Weight
Production: Writing: 
Action Sequences: 
At the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the DC Extended Universe put itself on a path with one inevitable destination. Now, that destination has arrived in the form of Justice League, the superhero team-up movie that would bring DC Comics' most iconic heroes together in one cinematic adventure. This...

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'Lady Bird' Shows That Greta Gerwig Can Literally Do It All
Production: Comedy Factor: 
In front of the camera, Greta Gerwig has proven herself to be a powerhouse of independent cinema with show-stopping and scene-stealing performances in movies like Mistress America, 20th Century Women, and Maggie's Plan. Now, audiences get to see what she can do behind the camera with her solo directorial debut...

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Nothing In 'Murder On The Orient Express' Is As Epic As Hercule Poirot's Moustache
Production: Acting: 
Costumes: 
Throughout the twentieth century, Agatha Christie wrote dozens of mystery novels. Many of those books have been turned into movies. And of all of the Agatha Christie works that have been made into movie, Murder on the Orient Express is one of them. Murder on the Orient Express sees superdetective Hercule Poirot...

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'Devil's Whisper' Is A Typical Possession Movie That Still Manages To Have A Bit Of Bite
Production: Scary Factor: 
Devil's Whisper is about a high school boy named Alex (Luca Oriel from "Shameless") who aspires to be a priest. His grandmother has just died, and her belongings were passed on to his mother, Lucia (Tessie Santiago from "Scandal"). While going through the items, Alex and his father, Marcos (Marcos A. Ferraez...

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Joe Lynch's 'Mayhem' Is The Executive Takedown That Subordinates Can Only Dream About
Production: Action Sequences: 
Scary Factor: 
Ever since the first episode of the seventh season of "The Walking Dead" (spoiler alert) killed off the character of Glenn Rhee, fans have been wondering what actor Steven Yeun has been doing. Rest assured, he's still been kicking tail in director Joe Lynch's Mayhem. Mayhem is set in a quasi-futuristic world...

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'Thor: Ragnarok' Is The God Of Thunder's Best Outing Yet
Production: Action Sequences: 
Say what you will about Thor: Ragnarok biting Guardians of the Galaxy's style or trying to reinvent the hero, what matters is whether a film works or it doesn't. And Marvel's third outing for the God of Thunder works in numerous ways. This is by far the best film with Thor as its main hero; it's funnier, more...

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'Wonderstruck' Doubles Down On The Slowly Unravelling Mysteries
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
From Velvet Goldmine to Carol, director Todd Haynes has proven himself to be both a competent and versatile filmmaker. Wonderstruck proves it even further. Wonderstruck tells the story of a young boy in 1977 Minnesota named Ben (Oakes Fegley from Pete's Dragon) who goes deaf after a freak accident. When his...

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'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer' Is Yorgos Lanthimos At The Top Of His Game
Production: Cinematography: 
Score & Soundtrack: Scary Factor: 
Between the disturbing Dogtooth and the quirky The Lobster, writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos has emerged as one of the most unique voices in independent film. And The Killing of a Sacred Deer may just be his masterpiece. The Killing of a Sacred Deer stars Colin Farrell (The Beguiled) as Dr. Steven Murphy, a...

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'Blade Of The Immortal' Bookends A Hero's Journey With Some Epic Battles
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Since his first film in 1991, Japanese director Takashi Miike (Audition, Ichi the Killer) has pumped out an average of almost four movies per year. A little quick and dirty math reveals that Blade of the Immortal is the filmmaker's 100th film. Blade of the Immortal is about a samurai warrior named Manji (Takuya...

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'Tragedy Girls' Is A Slick Modern Slasher That Combines A Retro-Kitsch Style With Pitch-Perfect Execution
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Scary Factor: 
What do you get when an up-and-coming writer-director team casts a couple of superhero movie (kinda) stars in a horror comedy? You get Tragedy Girls, that's what. Tragedy Girls is about a pair of high school girls named Sadie Cunningham (Brianna Hildebrand, better known as Deadpool's Negasonic Teenage Warhead)...

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'Suburbicon' Is A Twisting Parable That Succeeds More Than It Falters
Production: Writing: 
While the marketing for Suburbicon would have you believe that the movie is a revenge tale about a suburban father who tries to protect his family from nefarious characters, George Clooney's latest directorial effort is all about misdirection. Much like the idyllic suburban neighborhood that serves as the namesake...

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'All I See Is You' Is Not The Blake Lively Movie You Think It Is
Production: Cinematography: 
At first glance, All I See is You seems like it would be the triumph-of-the-will love story. Nothing could be further from the truth. All I See is You stars Blake Lively (The Shallows, The Age of Adaline) as Gina, an American woman living in Thailand who has been blind since a childhood car accident that took...

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'Geostorm' Is A Disaster Flick To Avoid
Production: Writing: 
Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Heat waves. Earthquakes. Cold fronts. Floods. A film about natural disasters and the effects of climate change on earth couldn't be more topical. And that's part of the draw with Geostorm: to see how/if mother nature can be controlled. Well, according to Geostorm, it won't take very much...

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Frame Of Mind

The Boogey ManLast weekend saw the passing of the influential filmmaker Ulli Lommel.  One of the freshest voices of the New German Cinema movement of the sixties and seventies, Lommel collaborated with both Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Tenderness of the Wolves) and Andy Warhol (Blank Generation) throughout his career, but he is best known by horror fans for his 1980 proto-slasher The Boogey Man.

EraserheadThere are movies that are hits from the start, and there are movies that fade away into obscurity.  And then there are movies that find their audience years later by playing to packed theaters at midnight to viewers who come back night after night, despite having seen the films several times over.  The ultimate midnight movie is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but movies like The Room and Night of the Living Dead have also brought people out in the middle of the night.  And so has the 1977 cult film Eraserhead.

Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter TribeDocumentaries about subcultures are usually fun because they give the viewer a glimpse into a world that they might otherwise have never even known existed.  The new film from Jon Manning, Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe does just that, and does it in a way that is both informative and entertaining.

Curse of the Faceless ManOne of the most pointless disaster films of the twenty-first century was Pompeii, the 2014 action vehicle for “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harrington.  But there’s a better Pompeii movie, and we’re not talking about any of the many interpretations of The Last Days of Pompeii.  This week, Cinema Fearité takes a look at the 1958 B-movie Curse of the Faceless Man.

RubyThe seventies gave the horror world a ton of classic movies.  Jaws scared people into not going into the water.  Halloween struck fear into the hearts of babysitters everywhere.  The Exorcist made people afraid of demonic possession.  But, for every Jaws, Halloween, or The Exorcist, there were a dozen other movies that fell along the wayside.  Made in 1977, Ruby is one of these movies.

 

ObitIn the rapidly declining world of print journalism, newspapers are known for their different sections.  There’s the news and politics section, the funny papers, the sports page…and the obituary column.  Obit takes a good look at the surprisingly lively writers who are responsible for producing the content for that last section.

Don't Answer the Phone!A while back, Cinema Fearité celebrated horror movies that urge audience to not do things, like Don’t Look in the Basement, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Don’t Look Now, and even Don’t Open Till Christmas.  This week, we’ve got another movie that’s bossing you around, this time with an exclamation point à la mother! and Bloodlust!, called Don’t Answer the Phone!

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the WorldAmerican rock and roll music is seen as a smorgasbord of musical influences, borrowing liberally from both European and African sources.  But the influence of the Native American culture on rock music has rarely been acknowledged.  Documentarian Catherine Bainbridge (who also explored Native Americans in Hollywood movies with Reel Injun) and cinematographer Alfonso Maiorana (who worked with Bainbridge on the TV series “Mohawk Girls”) explore the Indians that have had an impact on rock and roll in their fascinating new movie Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.

Let's Scare Jessica to DeathThe seventies were one of the coolest decades in horror history.  There were slashers, occult movies, vampire flicks, psychological thrillers, and old-fashioned ghost stories.  And sometimes, as in the 1971 classic Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, there’s a lot of subgenre overlap.

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane DocumentaryAfter getting his start in nonfiction television, documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld has carved out a nice little niche for himself in the music film world with his The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?).  Keeping up the momentum, he now explores the life of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane in his newest film, Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary.

FrenzyA few months back, Cinema Fearité waxed upon the confusion that sometimes can be inspired by horror movie titles when we compared Witchtrap to Witchboard.  But what happens when two movies from different decades share the same name?  We saw it with the non-Chucky Sidney Lumet movie Child’s Play.  We saw it with movies called The Hand and Maniac. And now, we’re going to see it again with the non-Hitchcock 1945 British movie Frenzy.

California TypewriterRevisiting old technologies can be fun.  The analog warmth of vinyl records sounds better than the harsh digital compression of CDs.  The feeling of flipping the pages of a good book in your hands beats the hell out of scrolling through that same book on a tablet.  And, as any avid movie collector will tell you, VHS tapes often have way cooler artwork than their DVD/Blu-ray counterparts.  But no one ever thinks about that other lost form of communication – the typewriter.  No one, that is, until music video director-turned-documentarian Doug Nichol made California Typewriter.

The Whip and the BodyWith the semi-ironic popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey movies, film fans everywhere are discovering the wonders of S&M and B&D.  Okay, not really, but the movie/book franchise has piqued the interest of “square” people and brought sexual domination to the pop culture forefront.  Of course, for horror fans, it was always there.  Way back in 1963, Italian uber-director Mario Bava (Hatchet for the Honeymoon, A Bay of Blood) played with the trend with the aptly named The Whip and the Body.

EscapesHampton Lansdon Fancher.  You may not recognize the name, but you are no doubt familiar with his work.  His biggest claim to fame is that he wrote the first drafts of the script for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, but he also had an extremely prolific career as a b-level character actor.  But even behind the scenes, Fancher has led a fascinating life.  So fascinating, in fact, that his filmmaker pal Michael Almereyda (Experimenter) made a movie about him.  That movie is called Escapes.

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