Johnny Szlauderbach

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REVIEW: ‘Loving’ brings history down to size

By Johnny Szlauderbach / November 23rd, 2016 / 0 Comments

Jeff Nichols isn’t even 40, but in the past decade, he’s announced himself as one of our country’s most vital moviemakers. His grasp of quotidian Midwestern detail is unparalleled; he captures the red-state landscapes of Wal-mart Superstores and Ford pickups like no one else in contemporary Hollywood. Early works like Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter…

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REVIEW: ‘Arrival,’ and not a second too soon

By Johnny Szlauderbach / November 11th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Denis Villeneuve’s grip is so tight, his touch so icy, that I wouldn’t blame captive audiences for feeling short on oxygen. His movies are as chilly as their icepick titles (Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario). Cold without being cerebral, quick without necessarily being fun, gorgeous without being pretty, his movies feel as alive and human as…

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REVIEW: ‘Doctor Strange’ is an empty-headed head trip

By Johnny Szlauderbach / November 4th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Although Doctor Strange’s aesthetic cues run the cinematic gamut—mid-century sci-fi, grimy kung fu, Japanese New Wave horror—its blend of psychedelic, M.C. Escher-inspired optical illusion is most directly indebted to Stanley Kubrick and Christopher Nolan. That’s an especially icy pair, and those two only barely got away with their respective gambits. 2001 earned its bursting, psychedelic…

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REVIEW: Mel Gibson embraces the insanity with ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

By Johnny Szlauderbach / November 4th, 2016 / 0 Comments

A distinct blend of cornball sincerity and perverse ultra-violence, Hacksaw Ridge is the kind of thing that could only come from the mind of Mel Gibson. He’s a man out of time: inspired, square, and completely out of his mind. In form and content, movies like Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ manage to…

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REVIEW: ‘American Honey’ goes in search of America, takes the scenic route

By Johnny Szlauderbach / October 13th, 2016 / 0 Comments
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REVIEW: ‘Under the Shadow’ gets under the skin

By Johnny Szlauderbach / October 7th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Tehran, mid-1980s. In a rickety office, a man wearing a rumpled suit and the pursed face of a bureaucrat takes notes. He’s flanked by a photograph of Ayatollah Khomeini on one side and the tremendous expanse of Tehran’s skyline on the other. He barely looks up as a chador-wrapped woman named Shideh begs to return…

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REVIEW: ‘The Girl on the Train,’ blood on the tracks

By Johnny Szlauderbach / October 7th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Now recognized one of the best filmmakers to emerge from the Hollywood studio system, Alfred Hitchcock was largely dismissed by the critical establishment during his most fruitful period. Even after the radical critics-turned-filmmakers of the French New Wave suggested there was more to Hitchcock than his gimmicky marketing-genius persona, two decades passed before he was…

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REVIEW: ‘The Birth of a Nation,’ do-over

By Johnny Szlauderbach / October 7th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Discussing Nate Parker’s fall from grace touches so many hot-button issues that juggling a live grenade appears a more innocuous proposition. But separating art from its artist is a key component in the pact we make when approaching any text. It’s at the heart of the intentional fallacy, the suggestion that criticism shouldn’t resemble psychoanalysis.…

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