The Latest Movie Reviews
M. Night Shyamalan Is The Name Above The Title, But James McAvoy Steals The Show In 'Split'
Production: Acting: 
Scary Factor: 
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) has made a career out of making unpredictable movies. So much so that audiences started to be able to predict how he would be unpredictable. However, a couple of years ago, he teamed up with uber-producer Jason Blum (from the Insidious and The Purge...

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'The Founder' Tells The Compelling Story Of The Man Who Stole McDonald's
Production: Acting: 
What if I told you that the man who truly "founded" McDonald's was actually named Ray Kroc? But when I say founded, I mean that he created the business side of McDonald's and had no hand in making the actual restaurant what it is. Few know the actual story behind McDonald's and that's for good reason. It also...

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A Talented Cast Shines Bright In '20th Century Women'
Production: Acting: 
Set in 1979 Santa Barbara, 20th Century Women revolves around the household of a woman named Dorothea (Annette Bening from Danny Collins) who is raising a son named Jamie (Sinister 2's Lucas Jade Zumann). Also living in the house is a hip young woman named Abbie (Greta Gerwig from Mistress America and Maggie's...

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As Hard As It Tries, 'The Bye Bye Man' Is Not Going To Be The Next Big Horror Icon
Production: Scary Factor: 
January is typically a dumping point for movies, particularly for the horror genre. This year's big dump is The Bye Bye Man. The Bye Bye Man is about a college student named Elliot (Ouija's Douglas Smith) who moves into a huge spooky house with his girlfriend, Sasha (Cressida Bonas from "Doctor Thorne"), and...

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Pedro Almodóvar Does His Best Hitchcock Impression With 'Julieta'
Production: Directing: 
Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar has a knack of making incredibly diverse movies while still managing to make them all look completely like Almodóvar films. His last two movies illustrate this phenomenon perfectly; in 2011, he made the macabre thriller The Skin I Live In, followed in 2013 by the flamboyantly...

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'Silence' Has A Story And A Message, If You Can Sit Still Long Enough To Find It
Production: Cinematography: 
It seems like every talented filmmaker who finds a bit of success tends to get overly indulgent with their films over time, as if it were their duty to produce three-hour historical epics for their fans. Steven Spielberg went from Duel to Lincoln. Brian De Palma went from Phantom of the Paradise to Black Dahlia....

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'Hidden Figures' Is Safe, Predictable...and Enjoyable
Production: Acting: 
Unconscious or not, there seems to be a proliferation of quality roles for African American actors in this year's Academy Awards races in response to the "Oscars So White" controversy of 2016. Frontrunners include movies like Moonlight, Loving, and Fences. Another title can be added to that pile with Hidden...

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'A Monster Calls' Is A Simple Story That Deals With Complex Emotions...And A Monster
Production: Special Effects: 
When a movie has the word "monster" in the title, it's usually one of two things. It can be a horror movie, like last year's The Monster, or it can be a children's movie, like Monsters, Inc. Or sometimes, it can be both. That's kind of the case with A Monster Calls. A Monster Calls is about a young boy named...

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'Lion' Mixes A True Story With Breathtaking Locations And A True Ensemble Cast
Production: Cinematography: 
When he was five years old, a young Indian boy named Saroo ended up getting lost on a series of trains, ending up on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from his home. When his family could not be located, Saroo was adopted by an Australian couple and given a pretty posh life of affluence and education....

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'Fences' Boasts Some Great Performances, If You Can Keep From Nodding Off
Production: Acting: 
There are two Denzel Washingtons. The first, the one that everyone knows and loves, is the actor who has proven his talent and range in movies as varied as Flight and The Magnificent Seven. Since Antwone Fisher, however, there has also been a Denzel Washington who has dabbled in directing, tossing a movie out...

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'Passengers' Dazzles The Eyes, But Disappoints The Brain
Production: Special Effects: 
Score & Soundtrack: 
On paper, Passengers looks like it can't fail. It's anchored by a couple of A-list actors in Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, American Hustle) and Chris Pratt (Jurassic World, The Magnificent Seven), it's got Oscar nominated director Mortem Tyldum (The Imitation Game) and hip sci-fi screenwriter Jon Spaihts...

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'Assassin's Creed' Will Satisfy Its Fans, But Casual Moviegoers Will Be Left Confused And Apathetic
Production: Action Sequences: 
While comic book movies are regularly breaking box office records and earning critical acclaim, the video game movie is still in its relative infancy. Films like Warcraft, Hitman, and Prince of Persia have sought to do for video game films what Iron Man and Spider-Man did for comic book adaptations, but thus far,...

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Natalie Portman Shines In 'Jackie' - A First-Hand Account Of The Collapse Of Camelot
Production: Acting: 
Cinematography: Score & Soundtrack: 
A typical biopic generally will cover the life of the subject, or at least the most interesting parts of it. But Jackie, the new movie about Jacqueline Kennedy from Chilean director Pablo Larraín (No, Neruda), is anything but a typical biopic. Jackie concerns itself with only a few days in the life of Jackie...

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'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Is A Memorable Trip Back In Time
Production: Action Sequences: 
Uniqueness: 
In 2015, audiences went into the future with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's time to venture into the past with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Rogue One), in what may be the saddest story ever told in a galaxy far, far away. Rogue One breaks from the normal Star Wars fare with its opening--there is no scrolling...

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Frame Of Mind

The Ninth ConfigurationLately, it seems almost as if Cinema Fearité has been more of a memorandum column for horror icons who have passed away than a weekly tribute to cool horror movies.  Well, it happened again; William Peter Blatty died last week of plasma cell myeloma at the age of 89.  Blatty will far and away always be remembered as the man who wrote The Exorcist, both the novel and the screenplay, but he had a healthy little moviemaking career outside of that one film as well.  In 1980, seven years after The Exorcist, Blatty was given the chance to direct a movie himself with The Ninth Configuration.

House (1977)If you ask a horror fan about the movie House, you’ll most likely hear about the 1986 campy cult-classic haunted house comedy that was directed by Steve Miner of Friday the 13th fame.  But every once in a while, you might get an earful about a crazy Japanese movie from 1977.

What's the Matter with Helen?A mere day after the great Carrie Fisher died last week, her mother, the equally great Debbie Reynolds, passed away.  Like Fisher, Reynolds was mainly known for a single role, that of Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain.  But, also like Fisher, Reynolds had a long and versatile list of credits to her name.  Since this is Cinema Fearité, you have probably guessed that she appeared in some horror movies.  Yes, faithful reader, she did.  In 1971, Reynolds starred in the musical mystery What’s the Matter with Helen?

Top Ten 2016Another year has come and gone, and with that…here are my Ten Favorite movies of the year, from Hollywood musicals to revisionist westerns, from supernatural horror to very real horror.

The 'BurbsThe science fiction world suffered a huge blow this week when Carrie Fisher died of a heart attack at the age of 60.  Of course, Fisher’s career-defining role was her portrayal of Princess Leia Organa, the leader of the rebel forces in the Star Wars movies, but she had a pretty lengthy resume of other work, including appearances in The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally…, and Hannah and Her Sisters.  She even played around a bit in the horror world, playing parts in a 1984 Showtime production of Frankenstein as well as small-but-pivotal roles in the Sorority Row remake and Scream 3 (where, in pure meta-Scream style, she plays a jaded version of herself).  However, aside from Star Wars, her most loved performance may well be her turn in the 1989 horror/comedy The ‘Burbs.

GleasonFormer New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason’s football career can be defined in a single play.  On September 25th, 2006, in the Saints’ first home game since their city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Gleason blocked a punt by the Atlanta Falcons that was returned for a touchdown, the first score of a game which the Saints would go on to win.  It was more than just a football play.  It was a symbol of resilience, a statement about the resurgence of a city that had been nearly destroyed.  Gleason provided a spark of hope which turned the city around.

Silent Night, Deadly NightWhen it comes to holiday horror movies, Christmas is second only to Halloween itself.  Since its humble inception five or so years ago, Cinema Fearité has covered Jack Frost, Don’t Open Till Christmas, Christmas Evil, To All a Good Night, and Black Christmas.  When most people think of Christmas horror movies, however, there’s one movie that comes to mind even before any of those – the 1984 Santa slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Savage StreetsRevenge movies had their heyday in the seventies with the release of high-profile innovators like The Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave as well as more underground imitators such as Death Weekend and Poor Pretty Eddie.  The eighties had their punks-gone-wild movies like Class of 1984, Tuff Turf, and Bad Boys.  In 1984, a movie called Savage Streets mashed these two exploitation subgenres together in the most magnificent way.

De PalmaWhether one considers him one of the freshest voices in modern cinema or just a hack Hitchcock imitator, there’s no doubt that Brian De Palma has made some of the most important movies of the last half century.  Now, fellow directors Noah Baumbach (Mistress America) and Jake Paltrow (“NYPD Blue”) turn the camera around on the iconic filmmaker in the simply titled documentary De Palma.

Cat PeopleWhen people think about B-movie producers, the names that come to mind are usually Roger Corman, William Castle, maybe even Ed Wood.  A good decade before those guys, however, there was Val Lewton, who owned the 1940s with movies like I Walked with a Zombie and The Ghost Ship, as well as his trio of Boris Karloff collaborations that included The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead, and Bedlam.  Arguably his best movie is his first, the 1942 creepy classic Cat People.

Jaws of SatanThe hits just keep on coming for 2016.  Over the holiday weekend, the entertainment world lost yet another legend when Fritz Weaver passed away at the age of 90.  Even if his name isn’t immediately recognizable, his face certainly was; Weaver appeared on every type of television show, from “All My Children” to “Wonder Woman.”  He guest starred in just about every horror show imaginable, anchoring episodes of “The Twilight Zone” (both the sixties and eighties versions), “Tales From the Darkside,” “The Outer Limits,” and even “Monsters” (remember that one?).  On the big screen, he shined in big budget adventure movies like The Marathon Man and Black Sunday, but he always had time for horror movies like Creepshow, Demon Seed, and this week’s Cinema Fearité offering – the 1981 shocker Jaws of Satan.

Command and ControlOn September 18, 1980, a technician at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas, dropped a tool that punctured the side of a missile, spraying rocket fuel into the silo.  That may sound like a minor mishap, but the fact that the missile contained a nuclear warhead that was 600 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima escalated the situation.  Long story short – the missile exploded, but the warhead did not, and although the incident was widely publicized, the full details were covered up.  Until now.

Manos: The Hands of FateLast week, an actor named Tom Neyman passed away at the age of 80.  Calling him an actor might be a bit of a stretch, since he only made one movie way back in 1966, but that one movie is legendary…for being one of the worst films of all time.  Well, since it’s Thanksgiving anyway, let’s take a look at that famous turkey - a little movie called Manos: The Hands of Fate.

Author: The JT LeRoy StoryJT LeRoy was a real-life Cinderella: an androgynous boy with a truck stop prostitute for a mother who lived a life of drug addiction and sexual abuse before becoming a literary phenomenon when his first autobiographical book, Sarah, was published in 1999.  JT LeRoy was also a fraud: an identity manufactured by writer Laura Albert as a way for Albert to write about taboo subjects that she normally wouldn’t dare approach.  Albert’s deception was exposed in 2005, and the entire drama is documented in the fascinating film Author: The JT LeRoy Story.

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