Johnny Szlauderbach

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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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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