Johnny Szlauderbach

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‘Wonder Woman,’ Greek Goddess

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

Wonder Woman (a.k.a. Diana Prince) emerged in the lull between the 19th Ammendment and the sexual revolution. In the character’s embrace of sexuality, femininity, and agency, she’s almost like a vision from the future: a proto-third-waver who never suffered the indignities of the postwar era. That kind of liberated earnestness drives Wonder Woman’s perversely old-fashioned…

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REVIEW: ‘Alien: Covenant,’ religious fanaticism

By Johnny Szlauderbach / May 11th, 2017 / 0 Comments

Those of us who adore the 1979 movie Alien do so because we “admire its purity.” That line is spoken by undercover android Ash when he encounters the extraterrestrial specimen—he’s a sucker for efficiency—but it applies equally to the movie’s conceptual backbone. Alien combined creaky haunted house tropes and a slasher-movie literalism with a working-class view…

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REVIEW: ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ gorilla warfare

By Johnny Szlauderbach / March 8th, 2017 / 0 Comments

Kong, giant ape and eighth wonder of the world, might as well be a stand-in for the whole enterprise known as blockbuster filmmaking. He’s a six-foot gorilla blown up to gigantic proportions; for Kong, the life-sized is spectacle. And on the practical end, he seems to pop up onscreen around forward leaps in special effects.…

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REVIEW: ‘Get Out,’ radical injustice

By Johnny Szlauderbach / February 23rd, 2017 / 0 Comments

Horror movies are the medium’s most express conduit into our collective anxieties. Nuclear annihilation, creeping Soviet subversion, and anti-communist hysteria loomed over Eisenhower-era cinema; race and Vietnam flow through Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; and the resurgent conservativism of the Reagan years spawned a slew of teenage slasher flicks. Even…

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REVIEW: ‘Dark Night,’ movie violence

By Johnny Szlauderbach / February 18th, 2017 / 0 Comments

In silent, extreme close-up, we see a face. The expression is rapt, the makeup-caked eyes wide and unblinking. Light flickers, bouncing off her visage in rapid fire, and we get the sense that she’s surrounded by darkness. Just when we’re oriented—this must be a movie theater—the light abruptly switches to blue long enough for us…

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Kansas City theater will participate in Reel Film Day, screen 35mm prints of ‘Kill Bill’

By Johnny Szlauderbach / February 17th, 2017 / 0 Comments

In a move sure to inspire much rejoicing (and, from your less-cinephilic friends, much shrugging), Alamo Drafthouse has just announced that March 5 will henceforth be known as “Reel Film Day,” a national celebration of 35mm celluloid. (Written cardinally, March 5 is 3.5—get it?) Partnering with Kodak, the theater chain will ring in the holiday…

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REVIEW: ‘A Cure for Wellness,’ nightmare factory

By Johnny Szlauderbach / February 16th, 2017 / 0 Comments

The whole reboot craze could, arguably, be traced back to a movie that wasn’t even a reboot. Pirates of the Caribbean took a familiar piece of intellectual property and built a juggernaut blockbuster out of its spare parts. And like all fads, there’s always something to the original that explains the allure. Sure, Pirates (and,…

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REVIEW: ‘Julieta,’ ordinary spectacle

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

  After three decades, Pedro Almodóvar remains among contemporary cinema’s key iconoclasts. A flamboyant stylist bursting with outsized empathy, he ushered the international queer movement into the mainstream with proudly gaudy excess, refining his trademark fixation on women over a career unlike any other. While stateside contemporaries like Todd Haynes and Gus Van Sant lead with…

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