The Latest Movie Reviews
'A Cure For Wellness' Is A Heavy Genre Pick That's Too Weird For Its Own Good
Production: Directing: 
From its opening moments, it's hard to deny the allure of A Cure for Wellness. With an ominous score, foreboding cinematography, and subtle foreshadowing, the film teases its audience with a mystery that's layered, sophisticated, and, most importantly, worth unraveling. However, as the film progresses, it struggles...

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Anchored By Strong Performances, Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Earns Its Oscar Nomination
Production: Acting: 
One of the bigger stories coming out of this year's Oscar race has nothing to do with movies. Writer/director Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. With his home country of Iran falling under Trump's new visa ban, Farhadi has been denied entry into the U.S. for the ceremony....

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'The LEGO Batman Movie' Is A Smart, Family Friendly Comedy
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Picking up off the lead of The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie is the latest brick-based animated comedy to hit theaters. But where Emmet's adventure was a playful parody of LEGO toys combined with a genre-bending adventure, The LEGO Batman Movie is more traditional in its aims. There's still an underlying theme...

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'Rings' Just Rehashes 'The Ring' - And In The Worst Possible Way
Production: Scary Factor: 
There are certain clues that movie critics get when a film is going to be bad. The first is if the film's release keeps getting pushed back for weeks or even months. A second is if the early press screenings are held on the night of the film's opening. A third is if the review embargo doesn't lift until twelve...

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'The Comedian' Roars When It Stands Up, But Sputters When It Sits Down
Production: Acting: 
Score & Soundtrack: 
For such an accomplished actor, Robert De Niro has made some interesting choices with his more recent career. Sure, he started out with schlock like Bloody Mama, but he quickly graduated to a run of classics like Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, and Raging Bull, and that's not even mentioning The Godfather: Part...

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'Paterson' Is The Most Entertainingly Humdrum Feel-Good Movie Ever Made
Production: Acting: 
Sound: 
Adam Driver is living the dream. The actor was cast as the main villain in the newest batch of Star Wars movies, beginning with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He's a recurring character on the hit cable television show "Girls." He's gotten to work with Martin Scorsese on Silence, The Coen Brothers on Inside...

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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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Frame Of Mind

Pet SemataryLast week, Cinema Fearité celebrated Women in Horror Month by taking a look at Mary Harron’s American Psycho.  We’re continuing the party this week by featuring another classic fright flick directed by a member of the fairer sex – Mary Lambert’s 1989 Stephen King adaptation of Pet Sematary.

I Am Not Your NegroAs both a black man and a homosexual, writer James Baldwin’s work usually dealt with social injustice and inequality on some level.  When he died in 1987, he left behind an unfinished manuscript for a book called Remember This House that detailed his own memories of the civil rights struggle of the sixties.  This manuscript is the framework for I Am Not Your Negro.

American PsychoIn case you haven’t heard, February is Women in Horror Month.  Although generally underrepresented, female filmmakers have made some of the most important (and most enjoyable) horror movies in history, from classics like Amy Holden Jones’ The Slumber Party Massacre and Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark to more modern masterpieces such as Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook and Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation.  And then, there’s one of the greatest films, horror or not, of the 21st century – Mary Harron’s American Psycho.

2017 Oscar PreviewThe last few months have been packed with two-and-a-half hour epic movies loaded down with big stars, and you know what that means!  It’s Oscar season!  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released the list of nominees for the 89th Academy Awards, with the ceremony scheduled to take place on February 26, 2017.  If you follow other awards races, the 2017 Oscar nominees will hold few surprises, so the only drama of the night will be if there are a few upset wins.  Here’s a little look at the nominees, as well as some predictions for who might walk away with the statues.

 

1984Not to get overly political, but it’s all over the news that the events of the first week of the Trump administration reminded enough Americans of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four to rocket the 1949 book to the top of the bestsellers list again, almost seventy years after it was written.  For those who don’t like to read, the prophetic novel has been made into a movie not once, but twice.  The first time was in 1956, just a few years after its initial publication.  But, the definitive cinematic imagining of the story was the later one, both made in 1984 and entitled 1984.

The Night FlierJust last week we lamented the fact that Cinema Fearité was turning into a memorial column for legends who have recently passed away.  The bandwidth used to post that article had not even been calculated before another loss was suffered – Miguel Ferrer died of throat cancer at the age of 61.  Most recognizable to horror and cult movie fans from his supporting roles in “Twin Peaks” and Robocop, Ferrer was one of those actors whose face was more famous than his name.  In 1997, he took center stage as the lead in Stephen King’s The Night Flier.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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