SceneKC

Kansas City film reviews by Robert W. Butler, Dan Lybarger and Johnny Szlauderbach

“MIDWAY”

Air Machinist Mate Third Class Bruno Gaido (Nick Jonas) was a real-life war hero, though the derring-do he’s depicted as performing in Roland Emmerich’s Midway actually happened months before that battle.  Cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Alexander Ludwig, Aaron Eckhart, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas, Jake Weber, Tadanobu…

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“PAIN AND GLORY”: A life

Antonio Banderas Published November 3, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene My rating: B+ (Opens Nov. 8 at the Town Center) | 113 minutes | MPAA rating: R The dominant aural element of Pedro Almodovar’s “Pain & Glory” is a solo oboe exuding gentle melancholy. It’s the perfect soundtrack for one of this director’s best…

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“THE LIGHTHOUSE”: Mad, mad, mad, mad world

Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson Published November 3, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene My rating: B | 109 minutes | MPAA rating: R With Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse” we don’t so much watch a couple of men go crazy as experience that craziness with them. The film has been beautifully photographed, but beware…it is disconcerting,…

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“LAST CHRISTMAS”: Drowning by eggnog

Published November 7, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene My rating: C- (Opens wide on Nov. 8) | 102 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Despite my general hatred of seasonally-themed romantic comedies (like chugging a gallon of eggnog), there were reasons to think “Last Christmas” might be different. For starters, it was written…

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“LAST CHRISTMAS”

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson, Michelle Yeoh, Lydia Leonard, Boris Iskovic, Peter Mygind, Rob Delaney, Laura Evelyn, Ingrid Oliver | Director: Paul Feig | Rating: PG-13, for language and sexual content | Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes by DAN LYBARGER SPECIAL TO ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | November 8, 2019 at 1:47 a.m. Coming out more…

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“WESTERN STARS”: Hello Sunshine

Bruce Springsteen   “WESTERN STARS” My rating: A- (Now showing) |83 minutes | MPAA rating: PG Published October 31, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene As a Springsteen geek of longstanding (I reviewed  his first album for the Kansas City Star back in ’73) I approached the concert film “Western Stars” with some trepidation. In recent…

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“MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN”: Twitching and sleuthing”

Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Edward Norton   My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Nov. 1) | 144 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published October 31, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene It’s easy enough to understand why an actor of Edward Norton’s capabilities — or even an actor of lesser capabilities — would jump at…

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“Harriet”

Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’ straightforward film about the escaped slave’s transformation into an American hero who helped free hundreds from bondage. Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monáe, Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, Clarke Peters, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Vanessa Bell Calloway | Director: Kasi Lemmons | Rating: Rated PG-13 | Running time:…

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“Motherless Brooklyn”

Laura Rose (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Gabby Horowitz (Cherry Jones) are idealistic activists trying to stop a ruthless land developer — based on the real-life New York figure Robert Moses, who at one point held 12 public offices simultaneously despite never winning an election — from dominating the city in Motherless Brooklyn. Cast: Edward Norton, Bruce…

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“BLACK AND BLUE”

by DAN LYBARGER  | October 26, 2019 Originally Published at: https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=32939&reviewer=382 As he matures, producer-director Deon Taylor is slowly learning that storytelling can be a lot more suspenseful than borrowing jump scares from other movies. In his previous thriller The Intruder, Taylor practically broadcast the dangers to come so it wasn’t shocking that Dennis Quaid wasn’t…

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“THE CURRENT WAR”: a dim look at what should have been epic storytelling

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Thomas Edison in The Current War: The Director’s Cut, a film about the battle between Edison and George Westinghouse over whose electrical system would power the new century. by DAN LYBARGER SPECIAL TO ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | October 25, 2019 at 7:05 a.m. Director’s Cut | Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | Rating: PG-13,…

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“DOLEMITE IS MY NAME”: “And f**king motherf**kers is my game”

Eddy Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore“DOLEMITE IS MY NAME” My rating: B- (Debuts Oct. 25 on Netflix) 118 minutes | MPAA rating: R My rating: B- (Debuts Oct. 25 on Netflix) |118 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published October 24, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Aside from setting a cinema record for the number…

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“Maleficent”: Mistress of Evil Misnomer for CGI-Heavy Tale

Mistress of Evil Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) would rather not engage with puny humans but suffers them for her goddaughter’s sake in Disney’s latest live-action fairy tale. by DAN LYBARGER SPECIAL TO DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | October 18, 2019 at 1:47 a.m. Director: Joachim Ronning | Rating: PG, for intense sequences of fantasy action/ violence and brief scary…

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“Flannery”: Film probes O’Connor, her place in “Christ-haunted South”

Flannery O’Connor’s brief life and enduring career are examined in Flannery, a new documentary by Jesuit priest Mark Bosco and film scholar Elizabeth Coffman, that opens the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival tonight. by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | October 18, 2019 at 1:43 a.m. During her brief life, (Mary) Flannery O’Connor wrote…

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“Dolemite Is My Name”: Craig Brewer Hits Comeback Trail with Dolemite

by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | October 18, 2019 at 1:46 a.m. Memphis-based filmmaker Craig Brewer’s new Netflix film Dolemite Is My Name may be a bio-pic about Fort Smith-born comedian Rudy Ray Moore, but, in many ways, the director is making a movie about himself. Moore, played in Brewer’s film by Eddie Murphy,…

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“LORO”: Bunga bunga

Toni Servillo as Silvio Berlusconi “LORO” My rating: B (Opens Oct. 11 at the Screenland Armour)  151 minutes | No MPAA rating Published October 10, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Italian politico Silvio Berlusconi, the subject of Paolo Sorrentino’s hallucinatory “Loro,” is described by one of his cronies as the world’s greatest…

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“VILLAINS”: There’s bad, and then there’s BAD

Maika Monroe, Bill Skarsgard My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 11 at the Screenland Armour)  88 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published October 10, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene The ironically titled “Villains” makes audiences  root for a pair of truly stupid criminal lovers by providing antagonists who are infinitely worse. In Dan…

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Hot Springs Film Festival: Finding Sublime in the Mundane

If there is one theme that emerges from this year’s Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, it’s that all of the movies reveal hidden joys or hidden consequences of seemingly familiar subjects. For example, the opening night film Flannery not only recounts Flannery O’Connor’s influential stories, but it also probes how her Catholicism and her health problems influenced…

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“The Joker”

“Why couldn’t it have been The Smoker or The Midnight Toker?” by DAN LYBARGER ECritic | October 5, 2019 From watching his latest movie, I can tell that Todd Philips loves the movies Martin Scorsese made in the 1970s and 80s as much as I do. As much as I’d like to sit back with…

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“Judy”

Young Joey (Lewin Lloyd) and Lorna Luft (Bella Ramsey) live a peripatetic existence with their mother, Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger) in Rupert Goold’s biopic Judy. Director: Rupert Goold    Rating: PG-13, for substance abuse, thematic content, some strong language, and smoking Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette |…

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“JOKER”: Not fun…but unforgettable

My rating: B+ (Opens wide on Oct. 4)   121 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published October 2, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene If Ingmar Bergman and Lars von Trier teamed up to make a superhero movie, the result would be just like “Joker.” Less conventional comic book material than existential scream, Todd…

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“LOVE, ANTOSHA”: Renaissance kid

My rating: B+ (Opens Sept. 27 at the Screenland Tapcade) 93 minutes | No MPAA rating Published September 26, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene I knew who Anton Yeltsin was, of course.  I’d seen the young actor as Chekhov in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboots, and in a couple of other movies like…

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“JUDY”: Diva in decline

Rene Zellweger as Judy Garland My rating: B (Opens wide on Sept. 27) 118 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published September 26, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene One of the biggest thrills in moviegoing is seeing a familiar performer sink so completely into a character that you forget who  you’re watching. That’s the case…

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“Official Secrets”: Gavin Hood uses South African life to inform spy drama

Gavin Hood’s Official Secrets tells the true story of British whistleblower Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), who found herself facing a possible prison term after she leaked the contents of a scandalous U.S. memo. Ralph Fiennes (left) plays her barrister in the film. by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | September 27, 2019 It’s tempting…

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FILM REVIEW: “Abominable” is delightful, charming in a familiar way

Everest, a displaced yeti, is befriended by the young Yi (voice of Chloe Bennet) who tries to help the creature return to his Himalayan home in Abominable. by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | September 27, 2019 Director: Jill Culton, Todd Wilderman – Rating: PG, for some action and mild rude humor – Running…

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“AQUARELA”: H2O Wallpaper

My rating: (Opens Sept. 27 at the Studio 28) 89 minutes | MPAA rating: PG Published September 26, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Technically classified as a documentary, “Aquarela” might more accurately be described as slow-moving wallpaper. The subject of Viktor Kossakovsky’s film is water and its power. There is no narrator, no…

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“THE SOUND OF SILENCE”: Harmonic dissonance

Peter Sarsgaard My rating: C+ (Opens Sept. 27 at the Screenland Tapcade) 87 minutes | MPAA rating: Published September 26, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Before it goes off the philosophical rails and disappears up its own nether regions, “The Sound of Silence” casts an eerie spell. Our protagonist is acoustic specialist Peter…

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“THE DEATH OF DICK LONG”: Stupid is as stupid does

Daniel Scheitert, Andre Hyland, Michael Abbott Jr. My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 27 at the Alamo Draft House) 100 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published September 26, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Given that the combined IQs of the characters in “The Death of Dick Long” is about 45, it’s remarkable that Daniel…

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“BEFORE YOU KNOW IT”: Sisters

My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 27 at the Barrywoods 24)  98 minutes | No MPAA rating Published September 26, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene A family comedy with just enough edge, “Before You Know It” is the creation of Hannah Pearl Utt and Jen Tullock, who co-wrote the script and star as mutually…

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“DOWNTON ABBEY”: Happy gentility

My rating: B+  122 minutes | MPAA rating: PG Published September 24, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Feature film spinoffs of successful TV series have an iffy track record (“Sex and the City,” “Entourage,” “Absolutely Fabulous”), but the folks at “Downton Abbey” have done it right. The new “Downton Abbey” movie…

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“Ad Astra”

The emotionally devastated Maj. Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is sent into space on a mission that ultimately involves him confronting the father he long thought dead in James Gray’s Ad Astra. by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | September 20, 2019 Rating: PG-13, for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong…

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“Running With the Devil”

by DAN LYBAGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | September 20, 2019 Rating: R, for violence and disturbing images, drug use, strong sexual content, and language, Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes Despite featuring gunplay, nudity, illicit drugs and a setting that crosses two continents, Running With the Devil feels more like a leisurely, chemically enhanced stroll. Writer-director…

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“AD ASTRA”: Lost in space

Brad Pitt “AD ASTRA” My rating: B  124 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published September 19, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Equal parts “2001” and “Apocalypse Now,” James Gray’s “Ad Astra” is meditative journey to both outer and inner space punctuated with moments of high melodrama. The film is drop-dead beautiful…

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“HUSTLERS”: Ladies’ night

My rating: C+ (Opens wide on Sept. 13) – 109 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published September 12, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene “Hustlers” arrives on a wave of fest-generated hype: It’s one of the year’s best!!!  Jennifer Lopez is a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination!!! Uh, sorry, but I don’t see it. Writer/director…

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“OFFICIAL SECRETS”: Whistleblowing

My rating: B- (Opens wide on Sept. 13) – 111 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published September 12, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene There are moments when “Official Secrets” doesn’t seem to know just whose story it is telling; others when the dialogue sounds more like speechifying than regular conversation. Still, there’s something so…

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“FIDDLER: A MIRACLE OF MIRACLES”: “It’s so Japanese”

My rating: B (Opens Sept. 13 at the Studio 28) – 92 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published September 12, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Since it debuted on Broadway in 1964, not a day has passed when “Fiddler on the Roof” was not being performed somewhere on Earth. The universal appeal of this…

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“LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE”: Hit after hit

My rating: B+ (Opens Sept. 13 at the Glenwood Arts) 95 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published September 12, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene This seems to be the season for music documentaries (“Echo in the Canyon,” “David Crosby: Remember My Name”) but the hands-down winner when it comes to pure musical pleasure…

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“DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME”: Big ego. No brains.

“DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME” My rating: B- (Opens Sept. 6 at the Glenwood Arts) 95 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published September 5, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene As a founder of the Byrds and a long-standing member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,  David Crosby can claim to be rock ‘n’…

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“TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID”: Little warriors

“TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID” My rating: B (Opens Sept. 6 at the Screenland Armour) 83 minutes | No MPAA rating  Published September 5, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Combining the grittiness of Luis Bunuel’s 1950 landmark “Los Olivdados” with the psychological fantasy pioneered in recent years by Guillermo del Toro, “Tigers Are…

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“BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON”: Life lessons

“BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON” My rating: B (Opens Sept. 6 at the Glenwood Arts) 113 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published September 5, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene The title character of “Brittany Runs a Marathon” does indeed participate in the famous 26.2-mile run through New York’s five boroughs…but Paul Downs Colaizzo’s film isn’t…

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“ONE CHILD NATION”: Dead babies

“ONE CHILD NATION” My rating: B+ (Opens Sept. 30 at the Glenwood Arts) 90 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published August 29, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Americans — thoughtful ones, anyway — know all about collective guilt. After all, under our belts we’ve got 200 years of slavery, the decimation of the…

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“AFTER THE WEDDING”: Uphill battle

My rating: C+ (Opens Aug. 30 at the Barrywoods, Town Center and Glenwood Arts) 110 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published August 29, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene “After the Wedding” offers the spectacle of fine performances in an uphill battle against melodramatic drek. Written and directed by Bart Freundlich and based on…

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First woman: Re-discovering cinema pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché

Alice Guy-Blaché was, from 1896 to 1906, probably the only woman in the world who was making films. By the time her career ended prematurely in 1920, she had directed more than 1,000 films, some 150 of which survive, and 22 of which are feature-length. by DAN LYBARGER SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | Today August…

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Aboriginal actor brings freshness to “Nightingale”

by DAN LYBAGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | August 30 at 1:46 a.m. Baykali Ganambarr has been working to preserve the culture of Yolngu aborigines from the Northwest Territory in Australia. By himself and as a member of Djuki Mala dance troupe, he applies traditional moves to a hip hop beat, films the performance and…

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“Ready or Not”

by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | August 23, 2019 at 1:40 a.m. Ready or Not 82 Cast: Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’Brien, Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, Melanie Scrofano, Kristian Bruun, Nicky Guadagni, Eyse Levesque, John Ralston, Liam MacDonald, Ethan Tavares, Hanneke Talbot, Celine Tsai, Daniela Barbosa Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett Rating:…

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“THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON”

“THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON” My rating: B (Opens wide on Aug. 23) 93 minutes | PG-13 Published August 22, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene So adept are the makers of “The Peanut Butter Falcon” at provoking laughter and tears that it may take a few hours for the rosy glow to wear off,…

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“THE NIGHTINGALE”: Death Down Under

“THE NIGHTINGALE” My rating: B (Opens Aug. 23 at the Screenland Armour) 136 minutes | MPAA rating: R Published August 22, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene In the first 20 minutes of “The Nightingale” we witness three brutal rapes and two murders (one of the victims is an infant hurled against a wall)….

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“HOT AIR”: Bellicosity

“HOT AIR” My rating: C (Opens Aug. 23 at the Studio 28) 99 minutes | No MPAA rating Published August 15, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Given our current political climate you’d expect a movie about a right-wing radio pundit to have at least a little bite. “Hot Air,” though, is a…

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“Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache”

by DAN LYBARGER Published at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=32913&reviewer=382 If you can imagine a discussion of the Sistine Chapel without mentioning Michelangelo, then you know what it’s like to talk about the dawn of the movies without bringing up French writer-producer-director Alice Guy-Blaché, who made her first movie in 1896. She actually predates people like D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin,…

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CGI with heart: Andrew Stanton fuses faith, science and people

by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Democrat-Gazette | August 23, 2019 at 6:47 a.m. Andrew Stanton won a pair of Oscars for manipulating pixels to get us to suspend our disbelief in worlds where fish have conversations and robots tend a ravaged earth. Steve Jobs used to be his boss. But Stanton doesn’t think of…

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Good Boys

Max (Jacob Tremblay) and his buddies Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) ditch school to embark on a journey that involves accidentally stolen drugs, being hunted by teenage girls, and trying to make it to a party in the R-rated Good Boys Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Willliams, Brady Noon, Molly Gordon, Midori…

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“BLINDED BY THE LIGHT”: E Street transcendence

“BLINDED BY THE LIGHT” My rating: B+  (Opens wide on Aug. 14) 117 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published August 13, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene   “Blinded by the Light” is a valentine to Bruce Springsteen and his music. But it’s a whole lot more. Based on Sarfraz Manor’s memoir of growing…

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“MIKE WALLACE IS HERE”: Hard questions

“MIKE WALLACE IS HERE” My rating: B (Opens Aug. 16 at the Glenwood Arts) 90 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published August 15, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene Mike Wallace was the take-no-bullshit TV newsman who asked the questions that made his subjects — and sometimes his audience — squirm in discomfort. Early…

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Blinded By the Light

by DAN LYBARGER When Bruce Springsteen screams, “It’s a town full of losers, but I’m pulling out of here to win” at the end of “Thunder Road,” you don’t have to be New Jersey car enthusiast to relate. The Boss’ lyrics can mean something to you, no matter where you might be on the globe….

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Angry Birds 2

  The Angry Birds Movie 2 70 Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader, Rachel Bloom, Awkwafina, Sterling K. Brown, Eugenio Derbez, Tiffany Haddish, Danny McBride, Peter Dinklage, Pete Davidson, Zach Woods, Dove Cameron, Maya Rudolph Director: Thurop Van Orman Rating: PG, for rude humor and action Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes…

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FILM REVIEW: Dora trades the jungle for a classroom and stays true to her TV origins

by DAN LYBARGER Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette |From MovieStyle on 08/09/2019 August 9, 2019 at 6:52 a.m.   When my nephews were children, they frequently watched Dora the Explorer and not because they liked it but because they thought it hilarious to mock. They were just a little older than the Nickelodeon series’ target market,…

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“BRIAN BANKS”: Freedom

“BRIAN BANKS” My rating: B  99 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13 Published August 8, 2019 by Robert W. Butler at Butler’s Cinema Scene   With “Brian Banks” a familiar story is told in unfamiliar fashion. Tom Shadyak’s drama follows the true-life saga of Brian Banks, a promising football star who at age 16 was accused of rape,…

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REVIEW: ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,’ empire of the senseless

  When Steven Spielberg unleashed Jurassic Park exactly a quarter century ago, the wunderkind responsible for the ur-blockbuster finally synthesized the apex summer tentpole. The material was junk, but Spielberg transformed Michael Crichton’s schlocky, pseudoscientific tome into a featherweight behemoth of all-ages movie magic. Other, more interesting directors were considered; imagine the cruel splatter-fest Gremlins’s…

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REVIEW: ‘Hereditary,’ genetic disorder

  Psycho birthed the modern horror genre and, quite appropriately, fractured it in two: the shrewd and the artful. Shameless about their own junkiness, the former function explicitly as thrill rides (The Shining, The Conjuring); the latter harbor transcendent ambitions, couching their frights in atmosphere and metaphor (The Innocents, It Follows). There’s some crossover, of…

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REVIEW: ‘Isle of Dogs,’ elements of style

  It’s easy to read a kind of progression into each new Wes Anderson movie. The last two have seen Anderson retreat even further from a recognizable reality and deeper into his own obsessively appointed imagination while, for the first time, invoking something bigger than the emotional immaturity of privileged men.   The amorphousness of…

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REVIEW: ‘Ready Player One,’ sim city

    Reality is an ill fit for Steven Spielberg. The man is an adolescent boy at heart, perfectly suited to Ready Player One’s future where virtual reality has triumphed over the real thing. During the breathlessly expository opening, as teenage hero Wade Watts narrates a tour of an online simulation called the Oasis, one…

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Blade Runner

“Blade Runner 2049,” artificial intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

A Ghost Story is so spare that its main characters don’t even 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…

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‘Dunkirk,’ fog of war

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

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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‘Wonder Woman,’ Greek Goddess

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

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

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

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

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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REVIEW: ‘A Cure for Wellness,’ nightmare factory

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

  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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REVIEW: ‘Split,’ reverse psycholgy

M. Night Shyamalan has always been a better entertainer than artist. Despite an almost preternatural sense of staging and framing, he’s a showman at heart. Whatever he lacks in self-awareness, he makes up in self-seriousness and ego. Maybe that’s why his latest, “Split,” simultaneously looks like a return to form and an indication that this…

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REVIEW: ‘La La Land,’ nothing but stardust

There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, that after Jacques Demy turned in his first draft of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, its producers had three notes: make it in black and white, change the title, and cut the songs. They were wrong, of course, but it speaks to the movie’s power that it would’ve worked anyway; beneath…

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REVIEW: ‘Rogue One,’ imperial march

  The new Star Wars movie is dark, both figuratively and literally. Positioned by director Gareth Edwards as a corrective to The Force Awakens, the most expensive reunion special of all time, it eschews that movie’s giddy cynicism and big names in favor of obsessive, miscalculated seriousness. It belongs somewhere on the autism spectrum. Set…

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REVIEW: ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ loving its own reflection

Against the opening credits, nude women joyfully gyrate in slow motion. Their obese bodies surge and swell with the weight of ocean waves. One twirls a baton, others shake pompoms or hoist sparklers. Each is on her own stage, flanked by crimson-red curtains while patrons roam the gallery. Is it art or empty provocation? Susan…

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REVIEW: ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ boats against the current

  Kenneth Lonergan has made three movies in his 16-year-old career, all effortlessly profound. His first, You Can Count on Me, was a tiny masterpiece about two grown siblings who’ve grown apart and meet decades after their parents’ premature death. His second, Margaret, was about a young woman testing the kind of person she wants…

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REVIEW: “The Love Witch,” film fetish

The Love Witch is a fireworks display of movie ecstasy. As self-consciously retro as all of Tarantino, it’s stuck out of time. Any single frame might suggest an especially lavish-but-forgotten collaboration between C-grade horror maestros Roger Corman and Mario Bava, with a behind-the-scenes assist from sexploitation auteur Doris Wishman. (Its soundtrack, again besting Tarantino, is…

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REVIEW: Expectation and reality collide in “Rules Don’t Apply”

  Attempting to explain the fascination “movie people” have with Howard Hughes, David Thomson puts it best: “the daft wealth, the amazing fame, and the yearning to be nothing; the obsession with flying; the taste for hotels, Las Vegas, and bloodless food delivered in plastic bags—this is the little boy’s kingdom; the foolish resort to…

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REVIEW: ‘Allied,’ for the love of the movies

  1942. Occupied Casablanca. Champagne corks pop as a big band swings. A nightclub whirs with cigarette girls, refugees, burnouts, Nazi officers, Resistance fighters, and Vichy troops. A pair of well-dressed spies walks in. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world… Well, you know the rest. Sort of. For…

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REVIEW: ‘Loving’ brings history down to size

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

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

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’

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

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REVIEW: ‘Under the Shadow’ gets under the skin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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REVIEW: Clint Eastwood prints the legend with ‘Sully’

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

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

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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REVIEW: ‘Don’t Breathe’ is as nasty as it is crafty

The politics of working-class populism are thorny. On one hand, the American dream is careening out of reach. On the other, the cycle of poverty that inflicts so many urban communities seems just as unstoppable. It’s a nuanced issue that deserves immediate attention and careful consideration. With its inner-city Detroit setting and depiction of unending…

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REVIEW: ‘Hands of Stone’ coulda been a contender

With his swaggering, heel-popping stride and combustible intensity, Édgar Ramírez is one of the most interesting actors working today. He has an oily handsomeness that can switch from charming to dangerous at a moment’s notice. And as a terrorist-for-hire in Carlos—his best role so far—he demonstrated his Method chops with an eagerness to transform his…

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REVIEW: ‘Eat That Question’ offers a rambling, contrarian hagiography of Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was, if nothing else, an iconoclast who blurred the lines between high and low, pop and the underground. He was spiky interviewee and an outsized personality every bit as attention-grabbing as his art. Is there another person whom Paul McCartney, Jeff Buckley, and Pere Ubu all cite as an influence? Maybe Bob Dylan….

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REVIEW: ‘Southside with You’ is new kind of origin story

While prequels are nothing new—non-linear narratives date back to Homer—the origin story is a relatively recent development, and its increasing dominance as a storytelling device speaks to the overwhelming influence of comic books on movies. Origin stories spring from superhero mythology; thanks to the flood of ever-changing continuity inherent in serialization, comic books inevitably return…

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REVIEW: Old West meets new in the electric ‘Hell or High Water’

Hell or High Water shoots out of the gate and doesn’t ease up until the credits roll. In a single take, we follow a bank teller as she arrives for work, pulls into the empty parking lot, and fishes for her keys while two gunmen in ski masks lurk at the edge of the frame….

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REVIEW: ‘Indignation’ imagines Philip Roth as dime-store pulp

Philip Roth’s novels have been notoriously difficult to adapt to the big screen. And that’s not just because his work brims with sexual behavior that’s startling even in an age when stuff like Fifty Shades of Grey is considered blockbuster entertainment; despite his confessional style, his prose is steely stuff. It’s deeply literary, dense, and…

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REVIEW: ‘Jason Bourne’ is as reliably effective, pointless as Bourne himself

The Bourne Identity launched an entirely new kind of spy movie when it was released in June, 2002. It was sharp, serious, and critical of counterintelligence agencies without ever appearing outright subversive. Next to the Bond series—responsible for Die Another Day that same summer—Bourne seemed like a true 21st century superspy: stoic, solitary, and maybe a…

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REVIEW: ‘Café Society’ is an exuberantly bittersweet swansong

Café Society is, by my count, Woody Allen’s forty-sixth feature film. Allen is 80 years old, and his career is unprecedented in contemporary Hollywood moviemaking—he’s a true auteur, unmatched in sheer volume of movies that are distinctly his own. And with Café Society, he’s made the ultimate Woody Allen movie. Café Society has the tone…

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REVIEW: ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is warp-speed entertainment

Toward the end of Star Trek Beyond’s first act, the crew of the Enterprise docks at the colony Yorktown. It’s a spectacular place, straight out of M.C. Escher’s wildest imagination. Bridges of skyways and skylines twist and spin around each other in stationary orbit while ships pass through watery tunnels suspended in midair. As the…

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‘Star Trek’ and beyond: how Sulu’s sexuality explains an entire universe

Last week, the Internet combusted when John Cho revealed that Hikaru Sulu would have a husband in Star Trek Beyond. Almost immediately, George Takei announced his opposition to the reconfigured sexuality of the character he originated in 1966: he played the character as straight, and the reversal implies that his Sulu would now read as…

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REVIEW: New ‘Ghostbusters’ ain’t afraid of ghosts, gentrification

When Ghostbusters was released in 1984, Pauline Kael wondered why audiences were falling for it. Too rigid and overproduced for an anarchic comedy but too shaggy and shapeless for a blockbuster, it was big but not very funny. Still, it was a smash, and Kael pinpointed a reason audiences might’ve been eating it up: the…

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REVIEW: Goopy whimsy overwhelms Spielberg’s ‘The BFG’

A deeply gifted technician, Steven Spielberg is a source of almost bottomless cinematic ingenuity. Whether it’s a marvel camera move or a perfectly balanced frame, his movies overflow with easy innovation, and audiences never forget they’re in the hands of someone with a near-otherworldly command of technique. His movies are almost inhuman in their calculated…

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REVIEW: De Palma does De Palma in ‘De Palma’

Fittingly, De Palma opens with its subject gushing about Alfred Hitchcock and, in particular, Vertigo. “What’s so compelling about it is that he’s making a movie about what a director does, which is basically to create these romantic illusions. He makes you fall in love with it and then he kills it. Twice. And it’s…

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REVIEW: ‘Swiss Army Man’ is a deliriously kinetic trick

Within moments of its start, it’s clear that there’s some kind of sorcery at work in Swiss Army Man. It arrives riding a wave of buzz and a singular hook. That a movie so bizarre—and seemingly without anything resembling restraint or self-awareness—even exists is a feat in itself.  And for a few glorious hours, Swiss…

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REVIEW: “Free State of Jones” is a nervously shrill screed

Despite overwhelming evidence for the effectiveness of firearm bans similar to those in place across Europe and Australia, there’s a reason we’ll never see such legislation stateside: freedom and guns are as American as baseball and apple pie. Even a cursory glance at our bloody 250-year history reveals the singular role guns have played in…

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‘Warcraft’ is a baffling, near-perfect approximation of its source material

How do you talk about a movie like Warcraft? For the uninitiated, Warcraft is a series of medieval-fantasty computer games—part Tolkien, part Dungeons and Dragons, all nerdy—that helped ushered in the modern era of acronym-heavy gaming. Although it began life as an RTS (real-time strategy), it became part of the lexicon with the release of…

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REVIEW: In ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ the end is nowhere in sight

Just over fifteen years ago, Bryan Singer released his movie adaptation of X-Men and changed the course of superhero movies for a generation. That movie dared to take its spandex-clad mutants and their conflict seriously by replacing their Day-Glo uniforms for black-leather jumpsuits and injecting the CGI mayhem with a touch of metaphor. What if,…

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REVIEW: ‘The Nice Guys’ is cutting-edge retro

There isn’t much blood in blockbusters these days. That’s both figurative and literal: if Captain America falls from a high rise, rest assured he’ll walk it off without needing a Band Aid—much less a transfusion. When Mad Max: Fury Road exploded across screens last summer, few noticed its lack of the red stuff. Even fewer…

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Marvel slings a calibrated knockout with ‘Captain America: Civil War’

As justice-leagued avengers have seized the cultural landscape, entertainment options have narrowed tremendously. With Captain America: Civil War, Marvel launches Phase Three of its operation to reclaim the mono-culture, but it can’t escape the creeping sense that something is rotten in the state of the art. Six short weeks after releasing D.C.’s toxically dour dust-up Batman v…

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REVIEW: Overwhelmingly brutal and sharp, ‘Green Room’ is so close to fun it hurts

Coasting on fumes and drained by the road, a hardcore-punk band is on the verge of calling it quits. After a meager show and an even less successful interview, they’re ready to pack it up and call it tour. And one guesses that, when they return home, the experience has left them so embittered that…

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REVIEW: ‘Keanu’ is a fine diversion, but its stars deserve better

As an extended riff on action-movie tropes by a pair of sketch-comedy vets, Keanu’s most obvious point of reference is Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. Like that movie, Keanu plays it mostly straight: there’s no outright absurdity or slapstick farce. Instead, it’s an honest-to-goodness action movie, with the subplots replaced by what’re essentially half-baked bits of sketch…

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REVIEW: ‘The Invitation’ is an offer worth accepting

The Invitation is as tightly wound and volatile as an IED. It lulls viewers with a Molotov cocktail of fine wine, a hint of overdue reconciliation, and a healthy dose of festering paranoia. It’s bound to burst at any minute—No Exit by way of Taxi Driver. The setup is mannered in the best way. A…

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REVIEW: Richard Linklater turns back time with the regressive ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’

Set to the propulsive beat of “My Sharona,” Everybody Wants Some!! opens with its hero on the road, car packed with essentials: notably turntable and record collection. It’s 1980, and he’s en route to his freshman year of college on a baseball scholarship. In three days (and counting), class will begin. But before then, Jake…

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REVIEW: ‘The Jungle Book’ is a candy-colored trip to the heart of darkness

About a third of the way through Disney’s remake of The Jungle Book, an enormous python with the narcotically sexy voice of Scarlett Johansson appears out of the rainforest fog. She coils around pre-adolescent runaway Mowgli and describes his singularly destructive potential. He’s the lone human in a jungle populated by what’re basically alien creatures,…

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REVIEW: “Demolition” implodes by playing it safe

  Jake Gyllenhaal exudes a kind of toothy vacuousness that, in the right hands, could be volatile magic. His matinee-idol looks and shark-like grin suggest a devilishly vacant Jack Nicolson or Anthony Perkins on amphetamines. But that potential has gone untapped: Nightcrawler amplified his vacancy at the expense of impish dazzle; Zodiac made him a…

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REVIEW: “Midnight Special” an effortlessly transfixing whirl ride

Midnight Special, which expands to Kansas City theaters this weekend, moves like a bullet train. It’s at full speed out of the gate: a newscast announces an Amber Alert, and Roy (Michael Shannon, a reservoir of brutish empathy) is the subject of a statewide manhunt for kidnapping 10-year-old Alton. Roy has a partner who appears…

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REVIEW: “Batman V Superman” – Why So Serious?

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REVIEW: Christopher Plummer Fights Nazis and a Crumbling Mind in the Tricky “Remember”

Pitched somewhere between The Manchurian Candidate and Memento, Atom Egoyan’s Remember is sensational entertainment. More electric than any octogenarian Holocaust thriller has any right to be, it has the wicked, trashy appeal of Brian De Palma at his best, swapping that director’s lurid morality for equally dubious ethics. To frame genocide through the lens of…

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Panic Fest Tingles KC Spines This Weekend

If you experience a certain creeping sensation north of the river this weekend—symptoms include chills, rapid heartbeat, and general paranoia—try not to be alarmed. As the dead of winter arrives, so does the hysteria of Kansas City’s most berserk film festival, Panic Fest, which possesses the Screenland Armour Friday, February 5th through Sunday, February 7th. Dug…

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The Alamo Loves on “The Hateful Eight” with Tarantino Mini-Retrospective

“The 8th Film by Quentin Tarantino.” That’s what appears onscreen just before the title of the director’s latest behemoth, The Hateful Eight. Most movie nerds (and by extension, Tarantino fans) would guess the numerical designation refers to 8½, Federico Fellini’s seminal piece of pop autobiography. After La Dolce Vita had made him the world’s most…

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Review: “Dirty Grandpa” Is Dirty, Problematic Fun

I’m far from a qualified psychologist, but I doubt the experts would disagree: Robert De Niro exhibits acute workaholic tendencies. He worked steadily in Hollywood for over two decades when, in the mid-1990s, he became an entrepreneur. He made strides in the restaurant business, real estate, and hotels. Before long, he’d established his beloved Manhattan…

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Halloween Roundup

Urban legend has it that one of the first examples of a movie famously—and apocryphally—provoked mass panic when its audience thought the train would storm through the screen and barrel into the theater. Sitting in the dark, comforted and disturbed by the difference and similarity between watching and participating, there’s something inherently frightening in the…

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