Author's posts

AMC’s Dispatches from Elsewhere Wants to Warp Your Mind

AMC’s “Dispatches from Elsewhere” is an ambitious, strange drama with eccentricities that often overwhelm what works about it. After four episodes, I have no idea what’s really happening, but I think that’s part of the point. It’s a show about people breaking out of their shells, and the idea is often that the break is what …

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Unflinching The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez Will Haunt You

Netflix’s new true crime six-part series “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” is one of the toughest things I’ve ever watched. It details graphically the horrendous abuse and death of a child by his mother and stepfather in ways that will make you sick to your stomach. These monsters made every day of an eight-year-old boy’s …

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The Night Clerk

Michael Cristofer’s first film since 2001’s “Original Sin” is supposed to be another sexy noir but it’s neither sexy nor does it provide anything in the way of intrigue. Inert to such a degree that one wonders if the film has been slowed down, “The Night Clerk” doesn’t really go anywhere, truly disappointing for how …

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Brahms: The Boy II

There has been an unexpected mini-trend lately in which horror sequels, not typically a strong subgenre, have been surprisingly strong creatively in films like “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and “Annabelle: Creation,” both better than the films that preceded them. Perhaps this is what led someone to believe that “Brahms: The Boy II” was a good …

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Home Entertainment Guide: February 20, 2020

5 NEW TO NETFLIX “A Bad Moms Christmas””The Ballad of Lefty Brown””By the Sea””Good Time””Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” 8 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD “21 Bridges” Chadwick Boseman stars in a relatively no-frills thriller of the kind of that Tony Scott might have made with Denzel Washington twenty years ago. The market for this kind of …

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Amazon Prime’s Hunters Embraces Grindhouse Style

“Have you had enough? Cause there’s more.” This line from episode five of Amazon’s “Hunters” is kind of the operating principle of the show, which may not be the best new drama of the year but it is certainly trying to be the most new drama. Executive produced by Jordan Peele and starring Logan Lerman …

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AMC’s Better Call Saul Returns as Confident as Ever

“Yesterday was bad. Today, I’m gonna fix it.” – Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) AMC’s brilliant “Better Call Saul” is about many things, but an undercurrent of trying to “fix yesterday” definitely courses through all five seasons of the show. Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) was first trying to fix the yesterday of his conman past, going …

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A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

To this longtime fan of the cheese-loving bachelor and his trusty dog, they will always be known as the company that gave the world the genius of Wallace & Gromit. But the legacy of Aardman has become more and more tied to another great character in the last decade, the wonderful Shaun the Sheep. A …

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Five Spike Lee Films Released on Blu-ray

Kino Lorber released five of Spike Lee’s films from the 1990s last week, some of them landing on Blu-ray for the very first time. The releases allow a look back at an incredible run, a series of films that only now feels like it’s really getting the attention it deserves. Of course, 1989’s “Do the …

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Home Entertainment Guide: February 6, 2020

10 NEW TO NETFLIX “Ali””Batman Begins””Blade Runner””The Dark Knight””Dirty Harry””A Little Princess””The Notebook””The Other Guys””The Pianist””Purple Rain” 8 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD “All About My Mother” (Criterion) As Pedro Almodovar goes through something of a critical renaiassance with the success of his wildly-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated “Pain and Glory,” there have been a number of people talking …

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Into the Dark: My Valentine

“Into the Dark: My Valentine” starts with some of the most interesting themes in the history of this monthly Hulu/Blumhouse series of original horror movies. It’s a film about true toxic masculinity, the kind that sees women not only as possessions but interchangeable ones at that. You know the kind of guy whose girlfriends all …

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Sundance 2020: Bloody Nose Empty Pockets, Time, Welcome to Chechnya

One of the most controversial films at Sundance 2020 was so by virtue of which program it premiered in. The Ross Brothers don’t make traditional documentaries, but their latest, “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” stretches the definition of the genre further than even what they’ve done before. I talked to a few people who felt like …

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Sundance 2020: The Nest, The Father

A pair of performance showcases landed in Park City this year, centering some of our best actors doing some of the best work of their careers. One also came with the added thrill of seeing the great Sean Durkin return to Sundance for the first time since his breakthrough, “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” and while …

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Sundance 2020: Nine Days, Minari, The Evening Hour

Edson Oda’s “Nine Days” is one of the most unexpected experiences I’ve had in almost a decade of going to Sundance. The description read like something that could be too precious with its high-concept, turning into little more than pretentious pondering on the meaning of life. But Oda and his team have delivered a knockout …

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Sundance 2020: Palm Springs, Zola

Two of the most buzzed and ridiculously fun films from Sundance 2020 came out of the U.S. Dramatic Competition program, a pair of movies that I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see. Neither are perfect, but both have that kinetic energy that gets people talking. It’s no surprise that one came …

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Hillary

There is no more divisive modern political figure than Hillary Clinton. She invokes more passionate defense and unbridled vitriol than anyone – yes, even him, as a lot of his defenders often couch their praise in caveats – and so it makes sense that a bio-doc of her life would be too big for a …

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Sundance 2020: Possessor, Surge, The Killing of Two Lovers

The Sundance Film Festival has a reputation as a showcase for dialogue-heavy, character-driven independent cinema, but it’s not all dramedies about people coming to terms with their family members. There’s room in this massive program for experimentation, most commonly in the NEXT and World Dramatic sections of the program, where one could find this trio …

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Sundance 2020: Relic, Amulet

My favorite horror movie of this year’s Sundance Film Festival is Natalie Erika James’ terrifying “Relic,” a slow burn genre pic that erupts in a climactic final act that had me fidgeting and squeezing my hands together with anxiety. This is a remarkable debut, a movie that deals with a common theme of Sundance 2020 …

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Lost Girls

Liz Garbus, the award-winning documentarian behind films like “What Happened, Miss Simone?,” makes her narrative directorial debut with the powerful “Lost Girls,” an emotional examination of one of the most famous unsolved cases of the modern era. When non-fiction filmmakers turn to directing actors, there’s often something lost in the process, but Garbus proves a …

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Sundance 2020: On the Record, Into the Deep, Assassins

Everyone at Sundance this year agreed that the non-fiction slate was one of the strongest in the history of a festival that has produced more than its fair share of beloved documentaries. As the festival gets into its midsection and the question of yearly favorites gets lobbed on every shuttle and in every theater lobby, …

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