Johnny Szlauderbach

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Blade Runner

“Blade Runner 2049,” artificial intelligence

By Johnny Szlauderbach / October 2nd, 2017 / 0 Comments

At last, there’s a sense of urgency in a Blade Runner movie. (That title, borrowed from Burroughs, evokes so much movement that grafting it onto Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie always felt like a bad joke.) The newest model, Blade Runner 2049, may not possess the fleet outline—four replicants, four set pieces—of the original or its…

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Battle of the Sexes

“Battle of the Sexes,” double fault

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 29th, 2017 / 0 Comments

In May 1973, Bobby Riggs challenged Margaret Court to a tennis match. Riggs was 55 and had been retired for 22 years. Margaret Court was 30 and the number-one ranked female player in the world. Riggs smashed Court, beating her 6-2 in game one and 6-1 in game 2. It was the height of the…

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“American Made,” cruise control

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 29th, 2017 / 0 Comments

Tom Cruise isn’t like other movie stars. Even without the personal baggage, he’d be an anomaly. There have always been outsized screen personalities—Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, Brad Pitt, George Clooney—but even they stretch themselves within their niches, test their artistic limitations. Outside of a few obvious departures (Magnolia, Eyes Wide Shut),…

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Mother!

“Mother!,” god complex

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 15th, 2017 / 0 Comments

Darren Aronofsky has never shied from ambition. His first movie, Pi, managed to present a unified theory of the universe despite its miniscule budget; Requiem for a Dream remains the loudest public service announcement ever made. Aronofsky’s follow-up was supposed to see Brad Pitt hop through 1,000 years of history in a quest for eternal…

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‘Detroit,’ domestic disturbance

By Johnny Szlauderbach / August 3rd, 2017 / 0 Comments

Director Kathryn Bigelow long ago abandoned the biker vampires and surfer cops that propelled her early work. She makes big, important movies now that start big, important conversations. The loudest so far was about Zero Dark Thirty and its alleged suggestion that “enhanced interrogation” provided key information in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. I don’t have…

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‘A Ghost Story,’ phantom pain

By Johnny Szlauderbach / July 26th, 2017 / 0 Comments

A Ghost Story is so spare that its main characters don’t have names. (The credits list Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as C and M, respectively.) Outwardly a love story, it’s phenomenally sincere stuff. And while the image of Affleck haunting his old stomping ground through a white sheet and two eyeholes is easily ridiculed,…

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‘Dunkirk,’ fog of war

By Johnny Szlauderbach / July 20th, 2017 / 1 Comment

Christopher Nolan is fascinated by mechanical precision—his movies radiate with the same formal fastidiousness and emotional remove that guided Kubrick. But he’s chillier than Kubrick; Nolan doesn’t make movies so much as he builds contraptions. And, as if he was unsure of his command of craft, Nolan demonstrates an uneasy reliance on razzle-dazzle chicanery over…

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‘The Beguiled,’ castration anxiety

By Johnny Szlauderbach / June 29th, 2017 / 1 Comment

The poster for The Beguiled radiates with the visages of its three stars: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning. Kidman, who channels Deborah Kerr here as much as she did in The Others and who looks as if she hasn’t aged a day in the 16 years since that movie’s release, plays Martha Farnsworth…

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