by Daniel Gorman

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The Other Side of the Wind, from Both Sides Now: Orson Welles Comes to Netflix

December 2, 2018
Orson

For Orson Welles aficionados, the director’s incomplete films have long been viewed as a kind of elusive dream — a parallel body of work to his official releases, which themselves have been distorted by various forces. Within this phantom oeuvre, Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind is the most tantalizing prospect. This is largely because Jonathan Rosenbaum and Peter Bogdanovich and Gary Graver and Joseph McBride have been talking about the film for so long that it’s come to…

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Outlaw King | David Mackenzie

November 15, 2018
Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 9.14.55 AM

Outlaw King cribs elements from every other medieval epic you’ve seen before — and that pandering is probably the point. It’s safe to assume that Netflix is backing this film in the first place because of the successes of Starz’s Outlander and HBO’s Game of Thrones; their algorithm must’ve crunched some numbers, cross-referenced demographic information, and — voila. What’s less obvious is why David Mackenzie would choose to helm this project.…

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You Were Never Really Here | Lynne Ramsay

November 9, 2018
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There’s nothing in You Were Never Really Here that you haven’t seen before — but as the saying goes, it’s not always what your story is that matters but how you tell it; we’ve never seen Lynne Ramsay tell this story, and her perspective gives it new dimensions. Ramsay’s conception of the damaged male psyche is on a continuum with The Searchers’ Ethan Edwards and Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle — like those anti-heroes, Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) has been shaped by conflict. But instead of violent colonization of the American…

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The Night Comes for Us | Timo Tjahjanto

October 29, 2018
Night Comes

Genre fans tend to experience a palpable delight the first time they lay their eyes on a new classic, getting them thinking about the first time they saw, say, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2, John Carpenter’s The Thing, John Woo’s holy trinity of A Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard Boiled, Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, or Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Timo Tjahjanto’s The Night Comes for Us may not be quite at that lofty level, but damned if it doesn’t feel like it gets close.…

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Halloween | David Gordon Green

October 25, 2018
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Whatever its flaws (and they are myriad), director David Gordon Green’s Halloween is certainly a good looking film: Cinematographer Michael Simmonds mimics John Carpenter’s 1978 original through subtle use of an autumnal palette, and by allowing slightly overcast and gray skies to appear without excessive color correction. Nighttime scenes have an almost chiaroscuro effect here — large swaths of black are punctuated, jarringly, by car headlights and flashing police sirens. The effect creates a pleasing contrast between warm yellows and cold…

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Apostle | Gareth Evans

October 24, 2018
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Gareth Evans made his name with martial arts films, but based on how shockingly violent The Raid and The Raid 2 are, it’s not surprising that he would direct his interest toward the horror genre — and its ample opportunities for gruesome viscera. Like a remake of The Wicker Man that transforms into a riff on Witchfinder General, Apostle follows Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) as he attempts to infiltrate an island of cultists who have kidnapped his sister.…

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Kin | Jonathan & Josh Baker

September 7, 2018
Kin

From a distance, Kin looked like a pretty promising mid-budget sci-fi. But if you can’t engage in Marvel-style big budget spectacle, you better have some ideas on deck to make up for it, and unfortunately, Kin doesn’t deliver on that front. The film starts off well enough, with troubled young Eli (Myles Truitt) finding an alien weapon while scavenging for copper wiring inside an abandoned building. He hides his discovery at home, while dealing with his stern…

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BlacKkKlansman | Spike Lee

August 21, 2018
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Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman tells the story of a black police officer in 1970s Colorado who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. But Lee is also telling the story of a current America that has not grown or progressed — not really — and forcing us to recognize that the film could have been released at virtually any point in the last few years and been just as timely, just as horrifically attuned to the zeitgeist. Trayvon Martin was shot over six years ago; the NFL…

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The First Purge | Gerard McMurray

July 9, 2018
The First Purge

Just in time for an ironic Independence Day release, The First Purge is another meaningless prequel that answers questions no one asked or needed answered. While it seems undeniably important that the film’s action/survival narrative revolves around an oppressed African-American population rising up against a government that is systematically and unapologetically eradicating them — and that it bothers to show how the ‘scientific’ basis of The Purge is immediately skewed by lack of a control group and confirmation bias…

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Hereditary | Ari Aster

June 15, 2018
hereditary

No other company right now is playing the is-it-or-isn’t-is-a-horror-film game quite like A24. Blumhouse has their straightforward genre thrills down pat, with the occasional Purge film to expand their scope and dabble in some totally unsubtle social messaging. But A24, whether working in horror with sci-fi elements or horror as historical drama or horror with apocalyptic, mankind-is-the-real-enemy overtones has collected a roster of polished, deliberately scary arthouse films…

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Tully | Jason Reitman

May 15, 2018
Tully

Too often Hollywood wants to project the idea of motherhood as an innately beautiful thing, all soft lighting and angelic babies cooing at their beatific mothers. Tully isn’t having any of that. Jason Reitman’s film instead begins by detailing the misery of motherhood in almost excruciating detail. It’s a bracingly realistic look at the exhaustion, the anger, the guilt and sheer exasperation of taking care of little human beings. Reitman is not a particularly…

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Ready Player One | Steven Spielberg

May 1, 2018
Ready Player One

Now that the dust has settled and the hype machine has moved on to newer, bigger spectacles, let’s examine the reception of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. Neither a runaway success nor a financial disaster, the film seems to have found the limits of a certain kind of nostalgia marketplace. The original novel has, by some accounts, had its popularity tarnished by the ensuing push-back against toxic masculinity in nerd culture — and that’s the biggest problem…

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