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Movie Review

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In “Halloween” (2018), America Finds Something On Which to Rely

What, in this era of declining faith in our national institutions, a world in which a 2018 Gallup poll reported that only 5% of the country reported that they had a “great deal” of confidence in Congress, can be relied on?  I mean really relied on, the way that Americans of yesteryear could rely on…

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“Bad Times at the El Royale” is as Ferociously Entertaining as it Is Long

Anyone could be forgiven for eyeing the 2 hour and 21 minute running time of “Bad Times at the El Royale” and being concerned that the film, a noir set almost entirely in a kitschy hotel one dark and stormy night in the late sixties, is going to be overlong and indulgent.  Nor would that…

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“The House with a Clock in its Walls” Shows a Kinder, Gentler, but Still Pretty Scary Eli Roth

Who, watching the climactic maimings of 2005’s torture-porn classic “Hostel” or the cannibal exploitation of the truly repugnant “The Green Inferno”, indeed, who could possibly have foreseen that the director of those paragons of good taste, Eli Roth, would end up making one of the warmest, most entertaining children’s films of 2018? Not me, that’s…

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“Sorry to Bother You” Was One of the Most Interesting Movies of 2018

Before I ever saw “Sorry to Bother You”, hip-hop artist-cum-filmmaker Boots Riley’s hilarious, transgressive satire, I had heard it compared to Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil”, which sounded great — “Brazil” is probably my favorite movie of all time.  I love how deftly it mixes dystopic satire with absurdism, tragedy with comedy. Its also interesting because director…

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“Christopher Robin” Urges You to Just Chill Out and Love the Pooh

“Christopher Robin” Urges You to Just Chill Out and Love the Pooh Somewhere on the other side of the Disney universe from Thanos and his galactic genocide, far from the patricide and limb removal of the “Star Wars” series, lies a quiet little corner called the Hundred Acre Wood.  In gentler times, when most of…

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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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