Releasing This Week in Theatres
'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Is Another Slick Spy Flick With Great Action
Production: Action Sequences: 
The first Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprise hit, a comedic riff on the James Bond formula with over-the-top violence, characters, and a sharp wit. Its follow-up, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, picks up where the first film left off and never misses a beat, delivering everything fans expect from a sequel. The action is bigger and more stylish, the cast is larger and more diverse, and, most importantly, the story fits the mold of a sequel - it ups the ante while exploring new corners of this comic book...

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Don't See 'Friend Request' Alone, But Not Because It's Too Scary
Production: Scary Factor: 
With technology advancing at the speed of light and social media becoming many people's main source of communication, it's no wonder that horror movies have embraced and explored the darker side of the phenomenon in movies like Unfriended, The Den, Open Windows, and Ratter. Well, you can add another technophobic movie to the list with Friend Request. Friend Request is about a popular college student named Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey from "Fear the Walking Dead") who suddenly receives a Facebook friend...

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'The Houses October Built 2' Continues A Story That Should Have Ended
Production: Scary Factor: 
A few years ago, The Houses October Built put a fun twist on the found footage trend by portraying a YouTube video-making, Halloween haunt-loving group of folks who happen upon the wrong haunt. Now, the gang is back for more in, yep, you guessed it, The Houses October Built 2. The Houses October Built 2 picks up where the first movie left off, with Brandy, the group's sole female, being dumped on the side of a road with the tapes from the last expedition after being buried alive for the night. With...

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Confusing And Surreal, 'mother!' Is A Beautiful Mess Of A Movie
Production: Cinematography: 
Sound: 
The promotional campaign for mother!, the newest film from Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), has been genius. It shows just enough to pique interest without giving audiences any idea of what the movie is about. And after seeing it, many viewers still won't have any idea what the movie is about. Mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, American Hustle) as a young woman who is restoring a huge house in the country while her poet husband (Javier Bardem from No...

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'American Assassin' Is A Passable B-Level Action Drama
Production: Action Sequences: 
American Assassin is the type of disposable action/drama that can be found historically throughout the month of September. The plot is fairly predictable, the characters and their motivations are very thin, and the action is serviceable if a bit generic. Though it may be based on a novel by Vince Flynn, what was likely an enjoyable casual read is translated into a decent casual watch. There is very little that's remarkable about American Assassin, but it's by no means a trainwreck. The basics of American...

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After 27 Years, 'IT' Is Back To Terrorize The Kids Of Derry Once More
Production: Chemistry: 
Scary Factor: 
In 1990, prolific horror novelist Stephen King's most ambitious book, the simply titled It, was made into a two-part television miniseries. The book, and miniseries, was about a clown who terrorized a New England town and kidnapped its children every twenty-seven years. Now, just like in the book, IT is back, twenty-seven years later. Set in the late eighties, IT is about a group of outcast kids who jokingly call themselves the Loser's Club and live in the town of Derry, Maine (a Stephen King staple)....

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'England Is Mine' Is Not The Smiths Movie Everyone Wants It To Be
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Pretty much any child of the eighties is familiar with The Smiths, the seminal alternative rock band from before alternative was a thing. And those same children of the eighties pretty much know that Morrissey was their singer. Well, England is Mine, the first feature film from director Mark Gill and his writing partner, William Thacker, tells the story of the pre-Smiths Morrissey. Set mostly in Manchester in the year 1976, England is Mine is about the young Steven Patrick Morrissey (Dunkirk's Jack...

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'Dave Made A Maze' Is The Most Endearingly Crazy Movie You're Bound To See This Year
Production: Production Design: 
Scary Factor: Uniqueness: 
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that is so quirky, so wacky, so bat-shit insane, that its entire existence is brought into question. Dave Made a Maze is one of those movies. Dave Made a Maze is about a downtrodden guy, Dave (Nick Thune), who builds a cardboard fort in the living room of his apartment. But this is no average, run-of-the-mill children's cardboard fort. Dave's fort is a masterpiece, a magical place with hundreds of rooms and hallways - a maze. Unfortunately, Dave gets lost in...

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'Annabelle: Creation' Is More Of The Same From The Creepy James Wan-Iverse - And That's A Good Thing
Production: Scary Factor: 
The biggest hurdle facing Annabelle: Creation is the fact that, at first glance, it seems to be an unnecessary movie; the first act of Annabelle already covered the origin of the demonic doll. Or so we thought. As it turns out, that was only half of the story. Annabelle: Creation goes back a little further in time to bring fans the other half. Set about 12 years before the events of its predecessor, Annabelle: Creation is about a dollmaker named Samuel Mullens (Anthony LaPaglia from Big Stone Gap) who,...

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Not Even Matthew McConaughey And Idris Elba Can Save 'The Dark Tower' From Itself
Production: Writing: 
Stephen King fans have been waiting a while for a movie adaptation of The Dark Tower. The first book in the series was written in 1982, but rumors of the film started up about ten years ago. Now that the movie is finally here, the question that begs to be answered is "is it worth the wait?" No. No, it's not. The Dark Tower is about a boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor from "Doctor Foster") who is plagued by dreams of a long-standing battle between a heroic Gunslinger (Idris Elba from Prometheus) and...

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'Lost In Paris' Turns A Rough Vacation Into A Comedic Showcase
Production: Comedy Factor: 
For the past ten years or so, filmmakers Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel have been making quirky little comedies like The Fairy, Rumba, and L'iceberg. The third member of their writing/directing trio, Bruno Romy, has left the fold, so now they are officially a duo. But that duo has not missed a beat with its newest movie Lost in Paris. Lost in Paris stars Gordon as a Canadian librarian named, well, Fiona, who gets a troubling letter from her Aunt Martha (the late Emmanuelle Riva from Amour and Skylab)...

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'Atomic Blonde' Is More Than Just The Female Version Of 'John Wick'
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Action Sequences: 
Set in 1989, right before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Atomic Blonde stars budding action star Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) as Lorraine Broughton, a British MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin to retrieve a list of double agents that was stolen when a fellow MI6 was murdered by a KGB thug. Once in Berlin, Lorraine and her contact, another agent named David Percival (Split's James McAvoy), navigate the criminal underworld to retrieve the list from the Russians, encountering helpful allies (Bill Skarsgard...

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'A Ghost Story' Executes Its Simple Concept Brilliantly
Production: Cinematography: 
Score & Soundtrack: Scary Factor: 
A few years back, director David Lowery hooked up with actors Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara for the critically acclaimed-yet-criminally underseen Ain't Them Bodies Saints. Since then, Lowery has made the reboot of Disney's Pete's Dragon, Affleck has won an Academy Award for Manchester by the Sea, and Mara has been nominated for one for Carol. Longing for simpler times, Lowery, Affleck, and Mara are all back together again, putting their big, ambitious projects aside for the very minimalistic indie A Ghost...

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For Better And For Worse, 'Dunkirk' Immerses Its Audience In The Horrors Of War
Production: Sound: 
In his career, director Christopher Nolan has dealt with superheroes (The Dark Knight trilogy), outer space (Interstellar), dreams (Inception), and even the selective human memory (Memento). Now, for something completely different, he takes on the historical war re-enactment subgenre with his new movie Dunkirk. Just as the name implies, Dunkirk deals with the World War II allied evacuation of Dunkirk, France. Hundreds of thousands of British and French soldiers had been driven to a beach at the northernmost...

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'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Is The Best Spidey Story Yet
Production: Action Sequences: 
No one would fault any moviegoer for saying that they have Spider-Man movie fatigue, with five films having been released in such a short span of time. And with Spider-Man: Homecoming hitting theaters this weekend, there's no doubt some will dismiss the latest comic book release simply because it features a familiar character. But to do so would be a huge mistake, as Spider-Man: Homecoming is easily one of the best Spider-Man stories put to film, functioning as both a great comic book action film and a coming...

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Edgar Wright's 'Baby Driver' Combines A Hot Soundtrack With Cool Car Chases In The Best Movie Of The Summer (So Far)
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Action Sequences: 
As a writer and a director, Edgar Wright has done a little of everything in his career. He took on horror with Shaun of the Dead, the buddy cop picture with Hot Fuzz, the slick graphic novel/video game adaptation with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and the apocalyptic adventure with The World's End, all the while mixing his own straight-man style of comedy into everything he's done. His new movie, Baby Driver, finds him putting his distinct stamp on the heist movie. Baby Driver is about a young car thief...

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Sofia Coppola's 'The Beguiled' Plays With Loyalty, Emotion...And Genre
Production: Cinematography: 
One of the big buzzes coming out of the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival was the fact that Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) won the Best Director award for The Beguiled, an award that had only once before been given to a woman (and that was way back in 1961 when Russian filmmaker Yuliya Solntseva took the honor for Chronicle of Flaming Years). Now, The Beguiled is being given a wide release, and audiences can see for themselves what all of the fuss is about. Set in 1864, three years into the Civil...

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'Moka' Takes The Revenge Film In A Different Direction
Production: Acting: 
Moka is about a woman named Diane Kramer (Emmanuelle Devos from Coco Before Chanel) whose son has been killed by a hit-and-run driver. Using witness accounts of the crash, she determines that the driver was a blonde woman in a mocha colored luxury sedan. With the help of a detective friend, she gets a list of matching cars and, after doing some legwork, determines that the guilty party is a makeup saleswoman named Marlène (Nathalie Baye from It's Only the End of the World). Reinventing herself as "Hélène,"...

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'The Exception' Is The Exception, Not The Rule
Production: Chemistry: 
Set during World War II, The Exception is about a German Captain with a checkered past named Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney from the Divergent movies) who is sent to protect exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II (screen legend Christopher Plummer from Beginners and Danny Collins) in the Netherlands from British spies that are rumored to be in the area. Brandt searches for clues while keeping an eye on the Kaiser, but his plan get complicated when he meets a housekeeper named Mieke de Jong (Lily James from Pride and Prejudice...

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Recently Released in Theatres
'ClownTown' Is A Generic Stalk-And-Siege Movie That Still Manages To Pack A Few Good Scares
Production: Scary Factor: 
The news has been full of sightings of creepy clowns lately, some trying to lure kids into the deep dark woods while others are content just to lurk and look. Well, as if ripped from today's headlines, ClownTown wonders what would happen if these jokers took it a little further. After a pre-credits scene that is as obvious of a tribute to John Carpenter's Halloween as one is bound to find in movies today (there's even a character named "Mr. Strode"), ClownTown ends up being about a group of young folks...

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'The Magnificent Seven' Is A Good Popcorn Action Movie - Nothing More, Nothing Less
Production: Score & Soundtrack: 
Action Sequences: 
While it may be hard to prove that Hollywood is truly out of original ideas, there hasn't been any recent shortage of remakes and reboots. This summer alone has provided moviegoers with re-imaginings of Ghostbusters and Pete's Dragon, as well as a Blair Witch movie that, let's face it, may as well be considered a remake rather than a sequel. Well, summer's got one more familiar property for audiences: a remake of the seminal 1960 western The Magnificent Seven. The Magnificent Seven takes place in a typical...

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'Operation Avalanche' Is Lo-Fi For Film Geeks And Conspiracy Theorists
Production: Cinematography: 
Taking place in 1967 right as the Space Race between the US and the USSR was heating up, Operation Avalanche is about a pair of CIA agents named Owen Williams and Matt Johnson who are sent into NASA to uncover a mole planted by the KGB to sabotage the Apollo moon landing program. Filmmakers themselves, Owen and Matt pose as documentary directors who are making a movie about the program, but their primary objective is to uncover and flush out the Russian spy. During their investigation, they learn that the...

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'Blair Witch' Has The Same Fun Spirit As The Original, With More Storyline...And More Scares
Production: Cinematography: 
Scary Factor: 
There can be little doubt that The Blair Witch Project has been one of the most legendary and influential movies of the modern era. The 1999 no-budget classic practically jump-started the "found footage" trend of filmmaking (whether it gets credit or blame is up to you, dear reader). A year later a sequel was made - Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 - which confounded and alienated most audiences. Now, more than fifteen years later, the direct sequel for which fans have been clamoring is here, simply entitled...

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'Snowden' Shows Off Oliver Stone At His Most Polarizing
Production: Cinematography: 
In recent history, few figures have been as polarizing as National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Some feel he is a patriot, while others consider him a traitor. In Snowden, writer/director Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July) makes it clear which side of the fence he is on. Snowden begins in 2013 with Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Looper and The Dark Knight Rises) meeting film director Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo from Prisoners and The Big Short), reporter Glenn...

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Despite All The White Powder, 'White Girl' Is As Bland As White Bread
Production: Writing: 
White Girl is about a young college student named Leah (McFarland, USA's Morgan Saylor) who, along with her best friend/roommate Katie (India Menuez from Something in the Air), moves into a new apartment in a seedy part of New York. Looking to score some marijuana in her new neighborhood, Leah boldly approaches a Hispanic man on the street named Blue (Nerve's Brian Marc) and asks if he's selling - and promptly starts dating him. Leah ends up latching onto Blue's world of drugs and thugs, and also ends up...

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'The Neon Dead' Has More Neon Demons Than 'The Neon Demon'
Production: Cinematography: 
Score & Soundtrack: Scary Factor: 
Earlier this year, Nicolas Winding Refn's strangely hypnotic The Neon Demon was released to receptive-yet-confused audiences. To add to the confusion, there is now a movie called The Neon Dead that has found its way to American horror fans. Luckily, the two movies could not be more different. The Neon Dead is about a recent college graduate named Allison Hillstead (Marie Barker from "Horror Hotel: The Webseries") who, while getting ready for a job interview, discovers a zombie woman living in her home....

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'Sully' Shows Another Side Of The 'Miracle On The Hudson'
Production: Acting: 
Most Americans know the story. On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 departed from LaGuardia Airport, bound for Charlotte, North Carolina. Just after takeoff, the plane ran into a flock of birds and both engines were disabled. The pilot, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, was forced to put the plane down in the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people on board. Well, finally, this incredible story has been made into a movie. But, Sully is not the movie that one might expect it to be. The...

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'Little Men' Is A Lighthearted Movie With A Powerful Undercurrent
Production: Directing: 
Coming-of-age movies usually deal with kids growing up. But sometimes, as Little Men shows, the adults go through some growing pains, too. Little Men is about a thirteen-year-old boy named Jake Jardine (Theo Taplitz in his first feature-length role) whose grandfather dies and leaves a Brooklyn building to Jake's father, Brian (Little Miss Sunshine's Greg Kinnear), and mother, Kathy (Jennifer Ehle from Fifty Shades of Grey). Since Brian is an under-employed actor, he decides to move the family from their...

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'Other People' Laughs And Cries With Raw, Genuine Emotion
Production: Comedy Factor: 
One of the most surprisingly funny movies to hit theaters last year was the festival darling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, in which "Saturday Night Live" alum Molly Shannon played the mother of the titular girl who spends the entirety of the film dying of cancer. Now, it's Shannon's turn to face the deadly disease in Other People. Other People is about a struggling television comedy writer named David (Jesse Plemons from Black Mass) who moves back in with his family in order to help care for his cancer-stricken...

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The Light Between Oceans Is High Drama With Top-Tier Acting
Production: Acting: 
The Light Between Oceans is a tearjerker. It's the type of movie where, if you aren't hearing sobs at least a few times throughout the film, then you are likely in an empty theater, or you're seated in a room full of soulless monsters. Director Derek Cianfrance has never been one to shy away from tough subject matters, but here he finds a delicate balance between the wistfully happy and the unbearably depressing. At times it may feel like the film is trying to force the audience with contrived plot points,...

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'Morgan' Disappoints With Its Sci-Fi Predictability
Production: Scary Factor: 
From the trailers and advertisements, Morgan looks like it could be a sequel to last year's Ex Machina. While Morgan does share some of the same themes and ideas as Alex Garland's robotic masterpiece, and even goes so far as to flaunt some similar imagery, Morgan is no Ex Machina. The title character in Morgan, played by hip horror It-girl Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), is a Hybrid Biological Organism, which means that she (or it, depending on who's talking) was manufactured with synthetic engineered DNA...

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Fede Alvarez's 'Don't Breathe' Is An Edge Of Your Seat, Fright-Filled Thrill Ride
Production: Sound: 
Scary Factor: 
A few years back, writer/director Fede Alvarez took on the unenviable task of remaking Sam Raimi's legendary cult classic The Evil Dead. He knocked it out of the park; Alvarez's Evil Dead, a dark and brutal interpretation of the tongue-in-cheek original, was one of 2013's best movies. Now, with Raimi behind him once again as a producer, Alvarez is back with his follow-up - the equally dark and brutal Don't Breathe. Set in the rundown slums of Detroit, Don't Breathe is about a trio of burglars - a young...

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'Killer Party' Is A Zombie Movie With A Refreshing Lack Of Zombies
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Scary Factor: 
For the better part of three years, first-time filmmaker Alex Drummond's The Shower has been toiling away in its various forms on the festival circuit. Finally, it will be available to audiences - only the name has been changed to Killer Party. Killer Party is about a group of Hollywood twenty-somethings who are attending a baby shower. In the middle of the party, there is an outbreak that turns ordinary people into murderous maniacs, resulting in widespread rioting across the city. The guests lock themselves...

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'Hell Or High Water' Feels Like A Lost Coen Brothers Faux-Western
Production: Writing: 
Between his prison drama Starred Up and his sci-fi romance Perfect Sense, director David Mackenzie has been simmering away in the independent filmmaking underground. With Hell or High Water, he is poised to break through. Hell or High Water follows the exploits of Toby and Tanner Howard (Star Trek's Chris Pine and Warcraft's Ben Foster, respectively), a pair of brothers who systematically rob banks all over West Texas. It also follows a cop named Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges from Crazy Heart) who, days...

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Fear Not - 'Pete's Dragon' Will Not Ruin Your Childhood
Production: Special Effects: 
Score & Soundtrack: 
In 1977, as a seven-year-old kid, I loved the original Pete's Dragon. The clever blend of animation and live action stuck me on the hook, and the catchy songs reeled me in. Not even the two-hour-plus running time discouraged my "Sesame Street" attention span. So, while everyone else was worrying about whether or not this year's Ghostbusters remake would ruin their childhood, I was quietly anticipating Pete's Dragon with a mixture of hope and apprehension. Hope won out. Pete's Dragon is about an orphan,...

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'Sausage Party' Is An R-Rated Toy Story, And It's Hilarious
Production: Comedy Factor: 
Imagine Toy Story, but instead of a talking cowboy doll and spaceman, the main characters were a talking hot dog and bun. And instead of the world of toys come to life, the world of food takes on a mind of its own. That's basically Sausage Party in a nutshell. Oh, and the food is raunchy, foul-mouthed, and borderline offensive at every turn. At its core, Sausage Party is about a grocery store filled with sentient food, all of which believe that being "chosen" by a human means they are moving on to some sort...

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'Suicide Squad' is a Messy Anti-Superhero Movie
Production: Action Sequences: 
What if Superman came down to Earth and, instead of helping the population, decided to enslave it? That's the question posed by Suicide Squad, director David Ayer's anti-Avengers, a movie where the bad guys unite under the flag of good, while at the same time consistently reminding us they are bad. It's a movie that, in principle, sounds intriguing, if for no other reason than we don't often see movies starring the bad guys. But unfortunately, outside of a few strong performances, Suicide Squad's concept is...

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Modern Action Movies Have Passed 'Jason Bourne' By
Production: Action Sequences: 
For all intents and purposes, the Bourne franchise has been batting 1.000 with Matt Damon in the lead role. The Bourne Identity came out with a surprise blend of espionage and gritty action, and its follow-ups, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, continued that legacy. Speaking of legacy, it's best to forget the Jeremy Renner-led spin-off The Bourne Legacy, which proved that it is Damon (and in part director Paul Greengrass) that makes the franchise tick. So then, with Damon and Greengrass back...

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'Macbeth' Is A High Production Value Adaptation That Lacks Purpose
Production: Acting: 
Like most of Shakespeare's plays, Macbeth is a story that has graced the silver screen its fair share of times. Some productions choose to play it in a modern context, others adapt Shakespeare's dialogue to a common tongue, and some simply play it straight. Justin Kurzel's Macbeth adapts Shakespeare as only a film could, putting the story into its correct setting and context, and preserving all of the sharp dialogue. It is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what Shakespeare fans will expect from a cinematic...

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The Whole Of 'The Danish Girl' Is Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts
Production: Acting: 
Sometimes, a movie will bring together a bunch of great elements, yet the movie itself will still be mediocre. The Danish Girl is one of those times.The Danish Girl is about a couple of married artists named Einar and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne from The Theory of Everything and Alicia Vikander from Ex Machina, respectively) living in Copenhagen in the 1920s. Einar is a successful and respected landscape painter, while Gerda is a talented-yet-struggling portrait artist. One afternoon, Gerda's model cancels...

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'The Wonders' Is A Confused Movie With No Real Story - But Lots Of Bees
Production: Directing: 
Every director dreams of making personal movies. The problem is that when a movie gets too personal it fails to connect with the majority of its audience. That's the main problem with the new movie from writer/director Alice Rohrwacher (Corpo celeste), Le meraviglie. Or, as it's known in English, The Wonders.The Wonders is about a family of beekeepers who lives in a crowded house in the Tuscan countryside in Italy. Although the mother, Angelica (the director's sister, Alba Rohrwacher from I Am Love), and...

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'Legend' Lacks Cinematic Punch, Despite A Solid Performance From Tom Hardy
Production: Acting: 
Legend seeks to tell the tale of Reggie and Ronnie Kray (Tom Hardy in dual roles), two East End London gangsters with a set of chips on their respective shoulders. Twin brothers with seemingly noble intentions despite criminal aspirations, the Krays are each a unique brand of gangster. Ronnie is a schizophrenic homosexual and prone to random bouts of violence or aggressive behavior; while Reggie is the more even keel brother, who wants nothing more than to control London through intimidation and a dapper look....

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'Victor Frankenstein' Is Not Your Grandfather's Frankenstein Movie
Production: Special Effects: 
Scary Factor: 
The first spoken line in Victor Frankenstein is "You know the story." And of course, everyone does. But it has never before been told like this.Shown from the point of view of the humble assistant Igor (played by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, who has also been making a name for himself in the horror world with movies like The Woman in Black and Horns), Victor Frankenstein begins at a circus where Igor performs as a hunchbacked clown. The deformed fool also has a very bright medical mind, and it...

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Wide Open and Brutally Honest, 'James White' Packs An Emotional Punch
Production: Acting: 
Borderline Films is the production company formed by film school pals Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, and Josh Mond. The three filmmakers alternate projects, with two producing while the third writes and directs. So far, the partnership has been fruitful, with Durkin helming Martha Marcy May Marlene and Campos coming up with both Afterschool and Simon Killer. Now, it's Mond's turn to take the wheel with James White.Played by Christopher Abbott (A Most Violent Year), the title character in James White is a...

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'Theeb' Is Part Coming-Of-Age Story And Part Incredible Journey Film, All Held Together By Beautiful Scenery
Production: Acting: 
Cinematography: 
In the Arabic language, the word Theeb means "Wolf." It is also the name of the title character of an Arabic movie.The eponymous Theeb is a young boy, played by Jacir Eid, who is growing up amongst his Bedouin people in Arabia during World War I. With the help of his older brother, Hussein (Hussein Salameh), Theeb is learning the ways of his nomadic tribe, mastering tasks like shooting rifles and killing goats, in order to become a man in the eyes of his people. One day, a British soldier named Edward (Jack...

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'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2' Provides A Fitting End To An Inconsistent Franchise
Production: Action Sequences: 
Like those of Twilight and Harry Potter before, the saga of The Hunger Games is coming to a close. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 signifies the fourth and final installment of the popular teen movie franchise. But does it go out with a bang or a whimper? Well, it kind of does both. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 picks up right where Mockingjay - Part 1 left off, with Katniss Everdeen (American Hustle's Jennifer Lawrence) as the Mockingjay - the public figurehead of...

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Bryan Cranston Takes The Hollywood Ten From The Blacklist To The Black Market In 'Trumbo'
Production: Acting: 
Cinematography: Score & Soundtrack: 
One of the most embarrassing times in American film history occurred just after World WarII when the country's politics and patriotism got the best of it. The House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC, was formed to uncover citizens with ties to the Nazi and Communist parties. In 1947, the committee turned its witchhunt towards the Hollywood motion picture industry, and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo got caught up in the middle of it. Trumbo is his story.Trumbo stars Bryan Cranston (Godzilla, "Breaking...

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'Brooklyn' Is Saoirse Ronan At Her Tired, Poor, Huddled Best
Production: Acting: 
Set in the 1950s, Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan (The Grand Budapest Hotel) as Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman who is excited to cross the Atlantic and start a new life in America. She says goodbye to her family and makes the journey, moving into a boarding house in Brooklyn, New York. At first, Eilis finds the city intimidating and gets extremely homesick. Eventually, however, Eilis discovers her place in New York, taking a job in a department store, going to night school to learn bookkeeping, and even...

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'The Night Before' Is A Modern Stoner Christmas Classic
Production: Comedy Factor: 
After tackling TV show heroes, the apocalypse, and even Kin Jong Un, it seemed only a matter of time before comedic writing duo Seth Rogen (Neighbors) and Evan Goldberg (This Is The End) took on the Christmas movie. However, after The Interview, it became clear that maybe giving Goldberg and Rogen unfettered control wasn't the best idea. So for The Night Before - Rogen & Co.'s send up of a Christmas movie (Home Alone, Die Hard, etc.) - the duo has enlisted some help. Rather than direct the movie themselves,...

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'Spotlight' Makes Heroes Out Of Reporters In A Surprisingly Suspenseful Pseudo-Mystery
Production: Acting: 
Set in Boston in the early 2000s, Spotlight is named after the four-person team of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the massive sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The movie is the true account of their investigation. Led by Walter 'Robby' Robinson (Birdman's Michael Keaton), the team of Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo from Infinitely Polar Bear), Sacha Pfeiffer (Aloha's Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d'Arcy James from Time Out of Mind) digs into allegations of child molestation in the...

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'By the Sea' Is The Cinematic Equivalent Of Vaguebooking
Production: Cinematography: 
Angelina Jolie (or Angelina Jolie Pitt, as she's now known) really wants to be a director. Her behind-the-camera debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, was a wreck. Her follow-up, Unbroken, still fell flat, despite the best efforts of a Coen Brothers script and a first-rate cast. Well, for her third foray into directing, the self-indulgent By the Sea, she brings along her husband, the one and only Brad Pitt (Fury, World War Z). Unfortunately, his presence doesn't help much. By...

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'Entertainment' Spends Some Quality Time With The Saddest Funnyman Around
Production: Acting: 
Comedy Factor: 
Entertainment is all about a bad stand-up comedian (Gregg Turkington, better known by his fictional comic alter-ego name Neil Hamburger) who is making his way to Los Angeles across the American southwest, doing gigs in crappy nightclubs and dive bars as he goes. Along the way, he calls his estranged daughter every chance he gets with the hope of reconnecting with her. He also meets colorful characters who help to enrich his touring experience. That's really all of a synopsis for...

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'Time Out of Mind' Lets The Audience Spy On The Life Of A Homeless Hero
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Time Out of Mind is a line from a Warren Zevon song and the title of an album by Bob Dylan. And now, it's a movie by writer/director Oren Moverman (Love & Mercy, The Quiet Ones). The film stars Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman) as a homeless man named George who wanders the streets looking for a phantom person named "Sheila." What George really wants is to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Maggie (Jena Malone from Sucker Punch), and he spends much of each of his days standing...

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'Time Out of Mind' Lets The Audience Spy On The Life Of A Homeless Hero
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Time Out of Mind is a line from a Warren Zevon song and the title of an album by Bob Dylan. And now, it's a movie by writer/director Oren Moverman (Love & Mercy, The Quiet Ones). The film stars Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman) as a homeless man named George who wanders the streets looking for a phantom person named "Sheila." What George really wants is to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Maggie (Jena Malone from Sucker Punch), and he spends much of each of his days standing...

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'The Hallow' Takes All The Usual Suspects And Turns Them Into A Creative Creature Feature
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Director Corin Hardy has been so mired in the entertainment news reports of the on-again/off-again status of his next project, the controversial remake of The Crow, that many people have forgotten how he's got a new movie to promote. Well, he does: the nifty little creature feature The Hallow. The Hallow is about a scientist named Adam Hitchens (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's Joseph Mawle) who moves his wife, Clare (Bojana Novakovic from Devil and Drag Me to Hell), and their infant son...

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'Suffragette' Is An Woefully Passionless Passion Project
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This year, there has been a surprising number of movies about civil disobedience. From the feel-good Jimmy's Hall to the god-awful Stonewall, theaters have been full of social activism and quests for political reform. There's one more to add to the pile: the British feminist movement movie Suffragette. Set in England in the year 1912, Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan (Inside Llewyn Davis) as Maud Watts, a young working-class mother who, through a co-worker named Violet Miller (Before I Go to Sleep's...

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'The Keeping Room' Serves Up A Heaping Helping Of Genre-Bending, Gender-Defying, Western-Revising Suspense
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Movies about the American Civil War usually focus on the soldiers, the men fighting on the front lines. There was another side to the war, one that is explored in The Keeping Room.Set in the South in 1965 right as the Civil War is winding down, The Keeping Room is about a trio of young women - Augusta (Brit Marling from Sound of My Voice), her younger sister Louise (The Homesman's Hailee Steinfeld), and a slave girl named Mad (Muna Otaru from "Whitechapel") - who have been left alone while the men of the...

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'Truth' Has A Message, But It Gets Lost In The Reporting
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Set just as George W. Bush was gearing up his bid for re-election in 2004, Truth stars Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) as Mary Mapes, a news producer who, fresh off her Peabody Award-winning breaking of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal, is looking for her next big scoop. She thinks she has found it when she receives a tip that suggests that Bush used his family connections to sneak into the Texas National Guard, thereby avoiding Vietnam. Mary assembles an investigative team which consists...

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'Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension' Answers The Questions That Should Be Left Unanswered
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When Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension was first announced, series producer Jason Blum promised that it would answer all of the questions that have been brought up by the first five movies. Well, considering the ambiguity of some of the franchise entries, that's a bold statement.Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension starts out promisingly enough, with a young man named Ryan Fleege (Chris J. Murray from Bad Roomies) moving into a new house with his wife, Emily (Brit Shaw from "Nashville"), and young...

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'Experimenter' Serves Up A Different Kind Of Mad Scientist Movie
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The subject of Experimenter, the new film from writer/director Michael Almereyda (Cymbeline), is psychologist Stanley Milgram (played in the film by Peter Sarsgaard from Black Mass), a researcher at Yale University in the early sixties who devises an experiment where one test subject quizes another on a series of word associations, and the tester is told to administer a painful shock to the other participant each time they get an answer wrong. The tester is told that the experiment is about memory retention...

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'Death Valley' Is A Brilliant Character Study With Idiotic Characters
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There has quite possibly never been a more appropriately titled movie than Death Valley; not only is it set in the desert area after which it is named, but there's plenty of death to be had in that breathtakingly cinematic valley.Death Valley is about a movie producer named Billy Rich (Freddy vs. Jason's Lochlyn Munro) and his actress fiancé Annie Gunn (Katrina Law from "Arrow") who, along with newlywed tourist couple Jamie and Roy Dillen (June's Victoria Pratt and Nick E. Tarabay from "Spartacus: War of...

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'Steve Jobs': A Portrait Of The Myth As A Broken Man
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Most know Steve Jobs as the mythic, silver-haired, bespectacled figure in the black turtleneck, who is best known for introducing the world to the Mac, iPod, and iPhone. However, few know the man behind the turtleneck; the brutal businessman, the impersonal inventor, and the selfish father who is synonymous with Apple. Danny Boyle's biopic Steve Jobs hopes to shed more light on that second figure, and does so with the help of a sharp script by Aaron Sorkin and a bold performance by Michael Fassbender. The...

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'Goosebumps' Serves Up All Of R.L. Stine's Monsters In One Bite-Sized Movie
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R.L. Stine has sold millions of copies of his Goosebumps series of children's books, and a successful Saturday morning television show has been spawned off of the property. So, when the time came to make a movie of the series, how did the filmmakers think of a story that hadn't already been done when all of the good books had been previously made into T.V. episodes? Goosebumps figured it all out. Goosebumps is about a teenage boy named Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette from Prisoners) who moves to Madison,...

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'Crimson Peak' Tries To Tell A Gothic Ghost Story Without Any Ghosts
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Between the action movie Pacific Rim and the superhero flick Hellboy, it's easy to forget that Guillermo del Toro has made horror movies like Cronos and The Devil's Backbone. The filmmaker would like to remind audiences of that fact with his latest movie, the gothic ghost story Crimson Peak. Crimson Peak is the story of a young aspiring author named Edith Cushing (Stoker's Mia Wasikowska) who meets a charming Englishman named Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston from The Avengers) who is seeking funding...

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