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The January doldrums continue: “The Boy”

January 31, 2016

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Well, it’s still January, and Hollywood is making damn well sure know it by continuing to make us suffer for the unpardonable crime of wanting to see a movie a month after the holiday season. The latest instrument of punishment is The Boy, which, while not a terrible movie, is still pretty bad. And that’s before it becomes outright, pants-crappingly stupid. Wanna hear about it? Oh yes you do…
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Criminally Overlooked: “He Never Died”

January 30, 2016

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When you come across a movie with a title like He Never Died, which stars Henry Rollins, and features a poster with Rollins bellowing like a Trump supporter at a feminist poetry-slam, well, you gotta start sharpening the knives. I mean…you read that last sentence, right? Okay, so I don’t have to explain the tremendous potential for mockery. Except, holy shit, He Never Died—clunky title aside—is actually a really good little movie. And what makes it so enjoyable is a perfectly modulated action-comic performance by Rollins, who shows off some fairly sophisticated acting chops. Throw in some moody direction by first time-ish director Jason Krawczyk, and you got precisely the kind of under-the-radar gem that gives B-movies a good name.
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Criminally Overlooked: “Last Man Standing”

January 23, 2016

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New Line Cinemas might have been forgiven for thinking they had a sure-fire hit—or at least a modest box office winner—with Last Man Standing. After all, here was a bang-bang-shoot-‘em-up action film headlined by a still-hot Bruce Willis just two years after the monster success of Pulp Fiction, and directed by action-film maestro Water Hill. Unfortunately, Last Man Standing sunk like a Russian submarine at the box office when it opened in 1996, and while Bruce Willis’s reputation emerged unscathed (as it would continue to for the next fifteen of mostly terrible films), it hastened Walter Hill’s descent into Hollywood obsolescence. Twenty years later it’s worth taking a second look.
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The alien invasion is really lame: “The 5th Wave”

January 22, 2016

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At some point in the past ten years, Young Adult novels stopped being about young female protagonists falling in love with various supernatural creatures (who then compete for her affections) and started being about young female protagonists killing people (while a couple dudes she doesn’t kill compete for her affections). This is, I guess, a form of progress–it’s better to have an active protagonist after all—and I suppose as long as we’re telling adolescent girls that all the world’s a sausage-party, it’s the responsible thing to also tell them that they’ll have to kill a few people to get past the velvet rope. The new YA adaptation The 5th Wave has its protagonist shoot a dude in the face in its first scene, so you can’t say it doesn’t get down to business.
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All the better to KILL you with, my dear: “The Visit”

January 10, 2016

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Ordinarily, a new movie from M. Night Shyamalan is met with the anticipation reserved for a meteor hurtling toward your home, or the digestion of two day-old sushi. Sure, the spectacle of the carnage to come will no doubt be fascinating, but it’s also probably going to hurt a lot. I’ve already gone into detail about the implosion of Shyamalan’s career, and frankly, so has everyone else. In fact, M. Night Shyamalan’s name is about as synonymous with bad movie as Ed Wood’s. That’s why it’s such a pleasant surprise that his latest film, The Visit, is not only an effective little thriller, but also quite a good movie.
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Feeling the January-movie blues: “The Forest”

January 9, 2016

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Well, it’s January. Know how I can tell (aside from, you know, being cognizant of the date)? It’s because the new releases in the cinema is stuff like The Forest. Yeah, January is when Hollywood basically says to us, “What? You don’t want to rewatch all the great movies we released for the last two months? You can see The Force Awakens for a fifth time, right? No? Well, fuck it. We shot our load, so here’s a ghost movie with a Game of Thrones actor.” And that’s how movies like The Forest get a theatrical release.
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Criminally Overlooked: “Blackhat”

January 7, 2016

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As an avowed fan of Michael Mann, release of his 2015 film Blackhat was a somewhat bittersweet affair. Mann isn’t a prolific filmmaker, so any new film he makes is cause for excitement. But Blackhat was preceded by bad buzz, and its January release date wasn’t exactly a blinding display of confidence on the part of the producers and distributors. Unsurprisingly, the movie slipped into and out of theaters as stealthily as one of Mann’s protagonists robs a bank, only with a lot less to show for it in the end. And that’s too bad because while Blackhat might be minor-Mann and content to mostly recycle tropes better deployed in earlier films, it’s still a solid, if unremarkable, thriller.

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