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Friday, May 20, 2022



In the aftermath of a personal tragedy, Harper retreats alone to the beautiful English countryside, hoping to find a place to heal. However, someone or something from the surrounding woods appears to be stalking her. What begins as simmering dread soon becomes a fully formed nightmare, inhabited by her darkest memories and fears.

Director: Alex Garland

Cast: Jessie Buckley, Rory Kinnear, Paapa Essiedu, Gayle Rankin

Release Date: May 20, 2022

Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Rated R for disturbing and violent content, graphic nudity, grisly images and language.

Runtime: 1h 40m


Alex Garland's third film, Men, is a stylish fever dream that takes broad strokes at it central theme.  The film establishes an unsettling atmosphere immediately juxtaposed with the lush beauty of the English countryside.  Flashbacks establish the central character's state of mind while dealing with increasingly nightmarish situation.  Each scene is a meticulously constructed and packed with subtle and overt thematic overtones as the tension increases as the film moves on.  Jessie Buckley carries the film with ease as the central woman in a vortex of menacing masculinity.  The script doesn't ask much from Buckley outside of being confused and terrified but she adds layers to the character that isn't on the page.  Its a fascinating performance that puts you in the character's skin and makes you feel every bit of terror as the film becomes increasingly disturbing and abstract.  Veteran British actor, Rory Kinnear is tasked with playing nearly every other character onscreen.  It's a dauting, disjointing task but Kinnear's talents are up to the task with each character feeling like a singular representation of masculinity.  Garland clearly has something to say and for the most part he accomplishes it even if the actual story is decidedly simplistic while he take big swing at bigger idea instead of character depth.  


Sunday, May 15, 2022



A couple desperately try to hide their daughter, Charlie, from a shadowy federal agency that wants to harness her unprecedented gift for turning fire into a weapon of mass destruction. Her father taught her how to defuse her power, but as Charlie turns 11, the fire becomes harder and harder to control. When a mysterious operative finally finds the family, he tries to seize Charlie once and for all -- but she has other plans.

Director: Keith Thomas

Cast: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Sydney Lemmon, Kurtwood Smith, John Beasley, Michael Greyeyes, Gloria Reuben

Release Date: May 13, 2022

Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rated R for violent content

Runtime: 1h 34m


Firestarter is the kind of remake that never makes it clear why it exist or is even necessary.  Keith Thomas directs the film with a blasé inertness that drains the entire proceedings of any sort of engaging energy or drama much less anything that resembles actual horror.  There's nary a trace of tension or visceral excitement for the film's mercifully short runtime as the cast goes through the motions with a uninspired script that's as generic as they come.  Zac Efron seems disinterested from the moment he shows up on screen, as if he'd be anywhere else but there.  Ryan Kiera Armstrong tries her best to exude a unnatural menace in her role as the titular Firestarter only occasionally succeeding.  Michael Greyeyes and Gloria Reuben play the primary villains with neither coming off as scary or threatening due to a silly script that doesn't give them anything to work with.  The lone bright spot in the entire affair is the film's distinctive score which was done by horror legend John Carpenter.  The score makes you think of far better 80s films and leaves you wishing Carpenter had come out of retirement and just directed this remake himself. 


Friday, May 6, 2022



Dr Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens a portal to the multiverse. However, a threat emerges that may be too big for his team to handle.

Director: Sam Raimi

Cast:  Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rachel McAdams

Release Date: May 6, 2022

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images and some language.

Runtime: 2h 6m


Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness is a Sam Raimi film from start to finish, it's bloody, outlandish but never boring even if the actual plot plays like a Rick and Morty episode.  Raimi takes very little time to put his stamp on his entry into the Marvel universe by throwing out monster and mayhem from the start.  People familiar with his filmography will pick up on nods to his past film with Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell being the most obvious inspirations.  Benedict Cumberbatch is surprisingly at ease amidst the general insanity that Raimi throws at him in the film.  He clearly comfortable in the role but you get the distinct sense that he'd relish a bit more depth to his character this far into his run as he throws out quips at the same pace as magic spells.  Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda is untethered, broken and  and she plays her with impressive intensity even though her backstory will requires some Disney+ homework for the uninitiated.  Olsen has the ability to display pain and loss with naturalistic ease and she does so with great effect even though some fans may not be happy with her character ultimate arch.  Rachel McAdams gets some time to shine in the backend of the film which makes you wish the film had made better use of her while Xochitl Gomez is given the task of being little more than a human McGuffin.  The multiverse conceit opens up worlds of possibilities and Raimi takes great pleasure in delivering fanboy moments especially when there aren't any real consequences to what happens.  Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness is one of the more jumbled entries in the Marvel franchise but it does overcome some of its story deficiencies by letting Raimi go nuts.  


Friday, April 22, 2022



Prince Amleth is on the verge of becoming a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy's mother. Two decades later, Amleth is now a Viking who raids Slavic villages. He soon meets a seeress who reminds him of his vow -- save his mother, kill his uncle, avenge his father.

Director: Robert Eggers

Cast:  Alexander Skarsgård; Nicole Kidman; Claes Bang; Anya Taylor-Joy; Ethan Hawke; Björk; Willem Dafoe

Release Date: April 22, 2022 

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, History, Thriller

Rated R for strong bloody violence, some sexual content and nudity

Runtime: 2h 16m


The Northman is a visually striking, blood soaked, revenge epic that's sure to leave an impression long after the film's finished.  Robert Eggers most expensive film to date is also his most accessible with a straightforward Viking Hamlet tome that still allows him to engage in his signature folklore flourishes.  Eggers peppers his film with paganistic mythology which pairs perfectly with the imposing Irish vistas subbing in for Iceland.  There's a brutishly beautiful tone set from the start and maintained for the duration which plays like a grimier Gladiator with sprinkles of Clash of the Titans and Excalibur.  Alexander Skarsgård is a hulking mass of revenge whose intensity screams through the screen the moment he appears.  Its not necessarily a challenging role since there's not much depth to his character, none of the characters in the film are, but Skarsgård still makes for a imposing and engaging figure.  Anya Taylor-Joy channels a more mature version of her character from The Witch which makes for a fascinating turn even if her and Skarsgård don't share much onscreen chemistry.  Ethan Hawke, Björk and Willem Dafoe have small supporting turns which adds texture to the film.  Nicole Kidman also has a small but pivotal role that gives her a scene that allows to flex her incredible talent.  The Northman may not have the thematic depth and reach of Robert Eggers first two films but that doesn't make it anymore impactful memorable due in large part to his creative vision.  


Friday, April 15, 2022



Professor Albus Dumbledore knows the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts magizoologist Newt Scamander to lead an intrepid team of wizards and witches. They soon encounter an array of old and new beasts as they clash with Grindelwald's growing legion of followers.

Director: David Yates

Cast:  Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Katherine Waterston, Mads Mikkelsen

Release Date: April 15, 2022 

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Rated PG-13 for some fantasy action/violence.

Runtime: 2h 22m


Fantastic Beast: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third entry in this prequel series, is lavishly directed and filled with strong turns from its string of A list stars.  None of which should come as a surprise, what is surprising is how this series made a sharp turn into more adult themes and tones.  David Yates, a veteran of the Potterverse, delivers another well crafted entry into the overall series.  His direction is methodical, allowing you appreciate the craftmanship of the production from the sets to wardrobe which makes the world feel real and lived in.  The action set pieces are impressively staged with the dinner escape sequence being a highlight in the film while a particularly gory sequence in a prison is likely to give some kids nightmares crabwalks aside.  The cast is equally committed with each member of the ensemble getting a moment to shine.  Eddie Redmayne, who was the original lead of the series, takes more a secondary role here as the focus shifts to Jude Law's Dumbledore.  Redmayne still manages to make to the most of his screen time especially when paired with his onscreen brother Callum Turner.  Jude Law gets a bigger spotlight here and his take on the character is thoughtful and measured with only a few fleeting moments early on really letting us in.  Mads Mikkelsen, who takes over for Johnny Depp, delivers a strong more menacing turn as the central villain. Mikkelsen can play these type of characters in his sleep so he's hardly flexing but that doesn't mean he's any less fun to watch.  Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler and Jessica Williams are the film's secret weapons by stealing every scene their in and infusing some life in a mostly dour affair.  There in lies the issue with the film, its a decidedly grim affair for the better part of its overlong runtime.  Additionally, this entry is steeped in mythology which might make it inaccessible to the casual fans.  Fantastic Beast: The Secrets of Dumbledore offers plenty to like and appreciate even if the story feels bloated and incomplete by design.  


Thursday, April 14, 2022



Unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, actor Nick Cage accepts a $1 million offer to attend a wealthy fan's birthday party. Things take a wildly unexpected turn when a CIA operative recruits Cage for an unusual mission. Taking on the role of a lifetime, he soon finds himself channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to save himself and his loved ones.

Director: Tom Gormican

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish

Release Date: April 15, 2022 

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime, Thriller

Rated R for language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and violence.

Runtime: 1h 45m


The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a treasure trove of Nicolas Cage career Easter Eggs and meta humor, packaged in fun self aware film.  Tom Gormican's film has a light tongue in cheek vibe to it from the start.  He takes a hands off approach by simply moving along the plot with very few visual flourish to distract from the performances on display.  He knows that Nicolas Cage is the central attraction who is more than game poking fun at his persona and career.  There are plenty of references to a bevy of his film's with some references being more overt while more subtle are peppered throughout the film.  Cage playing an outsized version of himself might sound like a lot but he plays it with a measured hand, a de-aged imaginary version of a Wild At Heart era Cage lets him really let loose, for the better part of the film.  The real treat here though is his chemistry with Pedro Pascal who steals multiple scenes throughout the film. Pascal is incredibly versatile actor and with this role he shows off another side of himself by playing a nebbish Cage fanboy who might also be a huge arms dealer. The bromance that grows between Cage and Pascal's characters make up the backbone of the film with both clearly having a ball playing off each other.  The script occasionally veers into super meta territory, you might be left wondering if any of the events in the film actually happened by the end, while never fully embracing it with more inspired flourishes like Cage's imaginary Cage.  As is, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is the kind of film that's easy to enjoy due to its stars and meta concept.


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