Johnny Szlauderbach

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REVIEW: ‘Operation Avalanche’ fails to launch

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 30th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Found-footage movies are inherently impossible. The conceit—that we’re watching newly unearthed, raw recordings of extraordinary events—betrays itself with every single cut. (Who’s editing this stuff?) Film is a medium built on our brains’ reaction to seeing two images edited together, and a movie that loses credibility with every edit faces a steep curve. The makers…

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REVIEW: ‘Deepwater Horizon’ tests limits

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 30th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Of every conceivable genre, none is more nebulous and straightforward than the thriller; it simply has to elicit excitement. And while every description of Deepwater Horizon I’ve read classifies the movie as such, I’m not sure excitement is the emotion it evokes. Or more accurately, I’m not sure I want to admit to being excited.…

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REVIEW: ‘The Magnificent Seven’ rides again

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 22nd, 2016 / 2 Comments

John Sturges’s The Magnificent Seven occupies a unique space within the international back-and-forth of moviemaking. Although the 1960 version walks and talks like the kind of classically rousing, Cinemascope epics that MGM cranked out in the Eisenhower era, it was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai—itself deeply indebted to Hollywood Westerns. A year after…

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REVIEW: ‘Blair Witch’ is a cleverly effective jump-scare machine

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 15th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Blair Witch is a jump-scare machine. Built for maximum efficiency, it cranks out shocks with spooky precision. Wisely dispensing with any pretense to fan service—the franchise’s villain was always lame—director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett use every trick in the book to pound their audience into submission. It’s an exhausting experience. And it’s also…

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REVIEW: Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ is a gloriously messy return to form

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 15th, 2016 / 0 Comments
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REVIEW: Clint Eastwood prints the legend with ‘Sully’

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 9th, 2016 / 0 Comments

Ads for Sully promise an “untold story”—a stranger-than-fiction reveal. And its opening sequence delivers something like that. Within minutes, a passenger jet careens through Midtown Manhattan. It’s at a perilously low altitude before it drops out of the sky altogether and plows into a high-rise. Just as the airliner detonates in an eruption of mortar…

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REVIEW: ‘The Light Between Oceans’ squanders passion in favor of taste

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 2nd, 2016 / 0 Comments

Writer and director Derek Cianfrance blindsided audiences in 2010 when he released Blue Valentine. Announcing himself as a kind of sentimental hipster heir to John Cassavettes, Cianfrance concocted an emotionally raw and sexually frank experience that managed to find something like beauty in hopelessness. His follow up, The Place Beyond the Pines, was very much…

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REVIEW: Gus Van Sant’s ‘The Sea of Trees’ is a misguided, junky hoot

By Johnny Szlauderbach / September 2nd, 2016 / 0 Comments

Gus Van Sant’s career is one of the most unpredictable in contemporary Hollywood. He arrived from the Pacific Northwest just as “independent movie” became an unlikely genre of its own. Along with Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino, he was at the forefront of a sort of return-to-roots movement that rejected the formula and excess that…

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