Summer is the time when Hollywood unleashes its annual swarm of massive tentpole blockbusters; movies full of epic-scale action, dashing heroics, and grandiose exploits. Maybe it’s not always be the most delicate, intellectually stimulating fare, but there’s usually big entertaining popcorn fun to be found. This year, not so much.
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
As a franchise, The Purge is steeped in the low-budget exploitation fare of previous generations. The first film was a rote home invasion yarn with a dystopian sci-fi twist thrown in for good measure. A year later, The Purge: Anarchy was a grim, nasty throwback revenge thriller. Produced on the cheap, both were wildly profitable, and two years later we have The Purge: Election Year, which escalates the saga to an absurdist, (il)logical (hopefully) conclusion.
Phenomenally beautiful to look at in that effortless, stunning way Steven Spielberg does so much better than everyone else and that appears so easy and natural, The BFG is as dull as a pile of sopping wet cardboard.
Monday, June 27, 2016
We’re just a few weeks away from Star Trek Beyond, which feels strange to say as there’s been a noticeable lack of hype surrounding the film—at least aside from the backlash stirred up by the first trailer. Maybe Paramount is still shell-shocked by the hatred for Star Trek Into Darkness (which, despite its reputation for being critically panned, has an 86% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes). But there is a new “final” trailer to check out, and it’s a total downer.
Independence Day: Resurgence, the long-awaited (at least in years, I’m not sure if anyone has actually been waiting 20 years for this) sequel to Roland Emmerich’s 1996 alien invasion disaster flick, is nonsensical shit garbage. But it’s nonsensical shit garbage that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
The original Mechanic—the 1972, Michael Winner-directed, Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent-starring original, not the 2011 remake—is one of my all-time favorites. While the Jason Statham-fronted update doesn’t live up to that, it’s a fun enough DTV-style actioner, the kind that only comes to theaters when Statham takes the lead. It was apparently successful enough to warrant a sequel, and Mechanic: Resurrection just dropped a first trailer.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
At this stage of the game, it’s damn near impossible to tell a good, unique zombie story. Even when there are gems, you have to dig through fields of shit to get there, but there may be some hope on the horizon. While it doesn’t appear to be super groundbreaking (this is definitely a child of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later), The Girl With All The Gifts, could breathe a bit of new life into the genre. Check out the first trailer after the jump.
Monday, June 20, 2016
Well, this is an interesting turn of events. A while back, the news hit that the duo behind Big Bad Wolves, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, were going to direct a remake of DeathWish starring Bruce Willis. Citing the ubiquitious “creative differences,” those two dropped out, but now it’s being reported that Eli Roth will direct Bruce Willis in a remake of Death Wish. That’s…intriguing.
When you think of international horror, Turkey may not be the first name that pops up, but lately there has been a terrifying wave of crazy-ass genre fare from the Eurasian nation that’s made many aficionados take notice. Watch Baskin, just do it. You may not know Alper Mestçi yet, but you may want to take notice and check out the trailer for the director’s latest, Üç Harfliler 3.
Friday, June 17, 2016
South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho is the mastermind behind one of the greatest modern creature features, The Host. So when we heard he’s returning to monster movie territory with the upcoming Okja, we were understandably stoked. Then he put together an incredible international cast along the same lines as Snowpiercer, and we started drooling. Now some new details have slithered out, and we may or may not have started dancing around the office with glee.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
To this day, I still maintain that Hard Target, yes, the one with Jean-Claude Van Damme sporting that Jheri curl mullet, is John Woo’s best American film. If nothing else, it’s the most similar to the classics he built his reputation on, like Hard Boiled, The Killer, and A Better Tomorrow. Talk of Hard Target 2 swirled around last year, and apparently that was more than internet hearsay, as it just dropped a trailer. And against all odds, it looks awesome.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Documentary collage as autobiography is an intriguing narrative premise. In Cameraperson, Kirsten Johnson uses footage from the acclaimed films she’s photographed over the years (including Citizenfour, The Invisible War, The Oath, and many more) to construct a cinematic memoir.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Yesterday the Seattle International Film Festival announced its award winners, both those selected by a jury and those voted on by the audience. I’m sure they’re lovely movies, but as usual, I have little interest in watching most of them. My tastes tend to run in different directions, and with that in mind, here are my favorites of SIFF 2016, in no particular order except that in which they occurred to me. They’re all excellent and you should check out every last one when you have the chance.
Friday, June 10, 2016
As if living in a war-torn city in the aftermath of an uprising and having to regularly head to the basement because bombs are dropping all around isn’t terrifying enough, what do you do when a mysterious evil haunts you and your child? That sucks, and it’s also what happens to Shideh (Narges Rashidi) and her young daughter, Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), in Babak Anvaris’ excellent new Iranian horror film Under the Shadow, which just screened at SIFF.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
My understanding is that Duncan Jones’ Warcraft is based not directly on Blizzard’s massive online role playing game World of Warcraft, but on the lore from that world that precedes the playable action. The fact that it’s a prelude makes a great deal of sense, as this may be the most blatant attempt by Legendary and Universal to launch a franchise that I’ve ever encountered. I’m all for an epic, ambitious, weird new fantasy saga, but from what we get here, not this one.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Okay, we get it, James Wan, your last movie made a billion-plus dollars and your next one probably will, too. You can do anything you want. And I dig that what you want to do is make creepy-as-shit, mid-budget horror movies. That’s an impulse I can certainly get behind 110%. And you’re good at it, you understand the genre like few other filmmakers working right now. As you become a massive blockbuster director, please feel free to continue dabbling in horror from time to time. But damn, dude, why did TheConjuring 2 need to be 133 minutes long?
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
From the very first frame, writer/director Jason Bagnacki’s neo-giallo Mark of the Witch (formerly titled Another) sets a dark mood and an atmosphere fraught with tension. When you start your movie with a bunch of creepy dudes in black robes performing an occult ritual on a baby in a cave, this sort of thing is bound to happen. Spooky imagery, slow motion shots, an ominous drone, and many more tools of the trade pile layer upon layer of pressure on top of you as you watch. One scene even slows and well-known pop song ever so slightly just in order to disconcert you in a new and different way.
Richard Ramirez was a terrifying serial killer who raped and murdered his way through the mid-1980s and was fond of talking about Satan, evil, and the like. In writer/director Megan Griffiths’ new movie, The Night Stalker, Lou Diamond Phillips turns in a decently skin-crawling version of notorious killer, but the rest of movie is shrug worthy at best.
Monday, June 6, 2016
I have a soft spot for skate rats on film, and it doesn’t hurt when the surrounding movie is as good as Steven Caple Jr.’s directorial debut, The Land.
Before he dives deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor: Ragnarok, director Taika Waititi is back at SIFF with the off-kilter, hilarious, and heartwarming Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Friday, June 3, 2016
Though he doesn’t get the same press as his South Korean compatriots Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker), Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the Devil, A Bittersweet Life), or Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer), Na Hong-jin has done nothing but turn out some of the best dark, gritty thrillers in recent memory. Following crime dramas The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, it’s been six years since the director’s last movie, but he’s back with the supernatural horror The Wailing (Goksung). Though it’s uncharted genre territory for the filmmaker, it looks like he may start getting the recognition he deserves.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
2014’s big screen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot was not a great movie. I don’t hate it with the fiery scorn of many, but at best it’s a bland, unnecessary rehash of something done better a number times. But it made boatloads of cash, so a sequel was green-lit opening weekend, and now Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is here.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
A documentary about a rag-tag group of comedians, actresses, writers, and other women playing in a Los Angeles recreational basketball league sounds like a lark, right? Like it may be an entertaining momentary distraction, but not much more. While director Brent Hodge’s (A Brony Tale, I Am Chris Farley) The Pistol Shrimps is very much that, it’s also sweet and heartfelt, in addition to being funny as shit.