Film

Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Unsane | Steven Soderbergh

March 22, 2018
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Unsane is a nifty little movie, a cheeky, intelligent thriller shot in secret on an iPhone and slipped into theaters in the space of a few months. That’s not to say that it’s anything other than another of Steven Soderbergh’s genre-infused larks. Claire Foy stars as Sawyer Valentini, a troubled young woman who finds herself involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, where she discovers that one of the nurses is the creep (Joshua Leonard) who previously stalked and threatened her. Or is it all…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Tomb Raider | Roar Uthaug

March 15, 2018
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What’s the use of rebooting a successful video game franchise if you can’t reboot the mediocre film series that it spawned? That appears to be the motivation behind the new Tomb Raider, which resembles nothing so much as a perfunctory early 2000s action programmer except that it has much nicer special effects. Alicia Vikander replaces Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft, heiress to an incredible fortune and daughter of Lord Richard (Dominic West), who disappeared on a treasure hunt seven years ago. When Croft discovers…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

A Wrinkle in Time | Ava DuVernay

March 9, 2018
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Madeline L’Engle’s beloved A Wrinkle In Time is, if you haven’t read it lately, short on incident and quite long on dialogue and metaphysics. L’Engle used her early iteration of YA fantasy as a foundation for a treatise on spirituality and self-actualization aimed at kids. So there’s a lot to root for with Disney handing a black female filmmaker an enormous budget for a movie version. Sadly, Ava DuVernay’s adaptation mostly replaces the book’s broad ideas with a stale “believe in…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Death Wish | Eli Roth

March 2, 2018
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There’s probably a good remake to be made of 1974’s Death Wish, a seminal bit of vigilante-themed violence porn from the late, great sleaze-peddler Michael Winner. The story of a wealthy white man (Charles Bronson in the original, Bruce Willis here) who takes the law into his own hands after a brutal crime committed against his wife and daughter would certainly take on a host of complicated dimensions in a climate of mass shootings, economic inequality, white/male privilege, sexual assault, and…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Annihilation | Alex Garland

February 22, 2018
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Annihilation practically sits up and begs to be regarded as high-minded genre cinema. But really, it’s a thuddingly literal handful of barely engaged ideas and dangling plot threads standing in for conceptual and narrative ambiguity. Extremely loosely based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, writer/director Alex Garland’s film streamlines a work of really haunting interiority and curiosity into a mostly straightforward soldiers-meet-monsters exercise, substituting melancholy uncertainty and a genuine sense of awe in the face of the inexplicable with expository backstory and…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Black Panther | Ryan Coogler

February 16, 2018
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Black Panther arrives with a lot of fanfare; it’s sure to generate discussion about its status as a genuinely progressive piece of representation, and it should — but it’s also a seriously entertaining pop confection, not-infrequently visually arresting, idiosyncratic, and loaded with engaged performances from a stacked cast. It has actual dramatic stakes, which are not usually encountered in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it snowballs into possibly the most satisfying crowd-pleaser the franchise has managed so far. The pop bliss on display isn’t…

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by Justin Stewart Film

Golden Exits | Alex Ross Perry

February 12, 2018
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Pivoting from the cerebral intensity of Queen of Earth — an Images, or Fassbinder, -like exteriorization of a woman’s mental breakdown — Alex Ross Perry’s latest is a mini-Magnolia, a threaded “network narrative” (to use a David Bordwell term) about a gaggle of 30 and 40-somethings in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn that might’ve been titled Desire by the Gowanus. Naomi (Emily Browning, all bee-stung lips and delicate hair wisps) is a young Aussie who arrives to assist Nick (Adam Horovitz), an…

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by InRO Staff Film Year in Review

Year in Review 2017 – Film

December 29, 2017
Film Feature

The finest films of 2017 simultaneously offered us a respite from, and a deeper reflection on, our fraught and fractured social and political realities. In sharp contrast to our unfortunate tendency to segregate ourselves with social media-fueled enclaves and ecosystems that do little more than reflect our own thoughts, opinions, and POVs back at us ad infinitum, these films cut through all that, artfully, and often provocatively, reminding us of the common humanity we share even with those who would seem to…

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Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Film

Star Wars: The Last Jedi | Rian Johnson

December 12, 2017
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Perhaps in answer to fans who complained that The Force Awakens was just a collection of rehashed elements and nostalgia with a shiny paint job, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, the might-be Empire Strikes Back of this new trilogy, is the most unusual and stealthily satisfying Star Wars-anything since at least 1983. It similarly opens on a breathless battle that could serve as a climax to any of these entries, but Empire‘s perfect romantic adventure has been replaced by a ramshackle narrative…

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by InRO Staff Festival Coverage Film

New York Film Festival 2017 – Dispatch 5

October 20, 2017
Did You Wonder

Our fifth and final dispatch from this year’s New York Film Festival (here’s one, two, three, and four) includes a couple of films about various forms of appreciation (or lack thereof) for the arts — Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning art world comedy The Square and Todd Haynes’s YA adaptation Wonderstruck — as well as Greta Gerwig’s sharp and funny coming-of-age film Lady Bird. There are also three features here from outside of NYFF’s main slate: Sara Driver’s Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Travis Wilkinson’s Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (both…

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by Matthew Lucas Film

Human Flow | Ai Weiwei

October 16, 2017
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Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei takes a powerful look at the global refugee crisis in his new documentary Human Flow. Whether the refugees come from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, or sub-Saharan Africa, Ai pulls back to examine their crises in the broadest possible context, recognizing the enormity of the problem while still managing to bear witness to the human toll of an era in which thousands are fleeing war and atrocity only to be turned away and demonized by people who will never experience…

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by InRO Staff Festival Coverage Film

New York Film Festival 2017 – Dispatch 4

October 14, 2017
Before We Vanish

Our fourth dispatch from this year’s New York Film Festival (here’s one, two, and three) includes the Chinese-American filmmaker Chloé Zhao’s docudrama The Rider, about South Dakotan rodeo culture; Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers/Starman hybrid Before We Vanish; and Ben Russell’s Good Luck, a relatively normal (for him), 2.5 documentary about Surinamese gold panners.…

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