Three new reviews with two videos from Steve Pulaski of Influx Magazine



Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the sharpest decline in quality between Marvel sequels since The Avengers and Age of Ultron, only the case we have on our hands here is greater. The originalGuardians of the Galaxy was a lively affair that combined whiz-bang action with lovable misfit heroes that knew they wouldn’t get anywhere without their equally strange counterparts on which to lean. Following up such a self-referential, loose-strings picture is already tricky given the fact that audiences worry that the crew utilized all their tricks in order to get the project off the ground, leaving the looming question, “is there enough left to take flight?”


In times of racial divide and political upheaval, the movies are a refuge all their own. Roger Ebert referred to films themselves as “empathy machines” in such a lovely way, I won’t even try to create my own metaphor or even improve one so quaint. I simply know from watching nearly 3,000 over the course of my young life that the movies do something to your brain and it’s not turn it into liquid waste. Films like Sleight, in particular, the directorial debut by J.D. Dillard who might have two more films for us within the next year, do a great job of complicating the mind in a necessary, if sometimes uncomfortable, way.


Just a week ago in my college class on social theory, a number of students were lamenting the rise of social media, saying that they’ve either deleted their Facebook accounts or have largely ceased using them as prolifically as they once did. They said they’ve long-embraced it out of peer pressure, and the idea of constant connectivity was limiting their real-world relationships. Four years ago, this mindset wasn’t as present, but it’s becoming more common than we all think, especially as we’re bombarded with images and stereotypes of phone-addicted youngsters.

Don’t misunderstand me, smartphones and the overuse of them is still, by and large, commonplace, but James Ponsoldt’s The Circle would’ve been a more timely and alarming wake-up call had it come during the dawn of constant contact. The truth is, it actually did, as the film is based on a book by the film’s cowriter Dave Eggers, which was released in 2013 to rave reviews. How The Circle reads I cannot say, but I can say that it plays like most cyber-thrillers and dramas we’ve seen, such as The Net, The Truman Show, Feardotcom, and Cyberbully.



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