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“Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a Pretty Good, If Improbable, Sequel

By Joe Shelton Sicario” (2015) was something very like a masterpiece, an ambitious tale of crime on the borderlands that sometimes felt like the progeny of a bloody-minded Western and an ethical inquiry disguised as a horror film, didn’t seem like it needed a sequel.  Its various threads were all resolved — or left conspicuously…

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It’s Time for a Hard Truth: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is Really Bad

by Joseph Shelton In these fraught times of fake news and other humbug, in which the truth seems to be losing its currency verisimilitude no longer equates verity, there are certain things that must be said.  And, more than said, taken to heart.  There are some balloons of falsehood that must be popped by the…

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“Damsel” is a Gorgeously Shot Anti-Western With A Few Surprises

By Joe Shelton “Damsel”, the new Western oddity from writer/director team the Zellner brothers, is a love it or hate it proposition.  You’ll love it if you appreciate its unorthodox take on the American western film, and you’ll hate it if you only go in for a certain kind of Western. All westerns are revisionist…

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The “Ash vs. The Evil Dead” Saga Comes to a Gory, Almost Moving End

By Joe Shelton Thirty-seven years ago a cheap, nasty little horror film called “The Evil Dead” splattered onto theater and drive-in screens across the country.  Cheap (or is it thrifty?), exploitative, and bizarre, “The Evil Dead” was nevertheless fiendishly creative in the way that it spent what little money it had in its budget.  It…

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You Were Never Really Here” Turns the Vigilante Thriller Inside Out

By Joe Shelton The great literary critic Leslie Fiedler (who once taught at MSU) wrote that American literature “as a whole seems a chamber of horrors disguised as an amusement park ‘fun house'”.  And if we extend his thesis to American films as well, or rather to films about America, I think you’ll find that…

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The almost fun Justice League is a lullaby for bombasts

by Joe Shelton                 Justice League resembles nothing so much as a less scary, more confusing Frankenstein’s monster. Only rather than an arm here and a leg there, it is put together out of bits and pieces left over from a survey of the last twenty years of big budget Hollywood.                 Far from the…

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New doc discusses Hitchcock’s most shocking scene

by Joseph Shelton                 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene is one of those film documentaries, like Room 237 or philosopher Slavov Zizek’s Pervert’s Guide to Cinema movies, that takes an wide view of a relatively narrow subject. In this case, the movie explores the iconic sequence in which Janet Leigh is murdered by Anthony Perkins as Norman…

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Baskets finds comedy & tragedy in the story of a sad rodeo clown

by Joseph Shelton                 The best comedy on tv, which places it fairly high in the running for best show of any kind, is about a sad man who lives in Bakersfield, California, though he’d rather be in France. He’s married to a woman who told him she’ll never love him. He’s lost and he…

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Low-budget shocker Mohawk tells a tale of historical horror

by Joseph Shelton                  Thank God for little blessings, like the laughter of children, the smell of rain, and independent sci-fi and horror films. Let everyone else have their The Greatest Showman (out now on DVD and Blu-Ray at Movie Lovers!) and their Avengers. I’m happy with my The Beast of Yucca Flat, or Yor:…

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Hellraiser: Judgement

by Joseph Shelton                 Watching certain movies reminds us why we should read more books.                 Pop quiz, hotshot: what 2018 film, the tenth in its series, not only has a bevy of references to Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities, Terry Gilliams’ masterpiece Brazil (your humble correspondent’s favorite movie),…

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