There comes a time where that one role can boost the career of an actor, projecting them into superstardom. For Tom Cruise it was Maverick in Top Gun. For Jennifer Lawrence it was Ree in Winter’s Bone. Or for Leonardo DiCaprio it was Jack Dawson in Titanic. And for Zoey Deutch, I believe that film is Flower. The daughter of Leah Thompson (Back to the Future) and director Howard Deutch (Pretty in Pink director) came onto the acting scene as the sparkle-eyed love interest in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! and proved her leading star ability in the high school romance drama Before I Fall. Flower, is a coming-of-age dark comedy, where she plays Erica, a 17-year old who uses her sex appeal to extort money from dimwitted men, in hopes make enough money to bail her father out of prison. That at least was the plan, until her mother’s boyfriend moves in with his son Luke (Joey Morgan) and mixes things up. Flower is the perfect ve
What will be repeated over and over, till you’re sick of hearing it, is that Steven Soderbergh’s newest thriller Unsane was shot on an iPhone. Unlike Sean Baker’s game-changing drama Tangerine, which was also shot with that Apple device, this newest use of the technology from Soderbergh feels like something beyond just the slick use of a different type of camera. Unsane is constantly unsettling, arriving at the right time, and combing new technology with a master technician like Soderbergh. Claire Foy stars as a woman who involuntarily commits herself to a mental facility, turning her life around, and psychologically bending what is real or potentially inside her head. Unsane is a claustrophobic drama, twisting our fears and emotions around, or for Steven Soderbergh, just another example of his diverse greatness.
During these disturbing times of political discourse I was sure that comedy was dead, especially political humor. It’s hard to laugh, not to mention, we are living in a period where stupidity has become acceptable. A time where the president of the United States doesn’t know the difference between ‘their’ and ‘there’, or that Alec Baldwin’s name isn’t Alex, or that our eyes can clearly see that one inauguration crowd size is bigger than the other. The things we typically would find funny are now just extremely sad. And then Veep writer/director Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin made its way into my life. This is a laugh-out-loud satire, ironically about one of the most brutal dictators in history- Joseph Stalin, and the collection of cronies that surrounded him in the survival for political power. It may be early, but The Death of Stalin is easily the funniest movie of the year.
It is important to be loved. From the time we are born to the time we die, love is something that shapes us. The central focus of Andrey Zvyagntsev’s Loveless is a Russian family of three; mother, father, and son, and if they had a bit more love maybe we could save them from all the pain. This story is a tragedy, a dark snapshot of how toxic a family can be when love fails to flow at all. Zhenya (Maryana Spivak) and Boris (Aleksey Rozin) are in the process of a divorce and the collateral damage is young Alyosha (Matvey Novikov), who much like his parents relationship, is receiving no love at all. It is a continuing cycle, where parents fail to love their child because their parents before failed to love them and what remains is a painful result because of it. Loveless is a dark and difficult film, highlighting how pain is inflicted on the innocent. Love is a necessary need for survival.
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”- Albert Einstein
That quote from Albert Einstein sums up Annihilation. The beauty of Alex Garland’s sci-fi film lies deep beneath its mysterious roots, covering every inch of the screen, and burrowing deep into the mind of the viewer. Rarely does a sci-fi film this good come along, drawing influence from classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while also fitting perfectly in place after Denis Villeneuve’s recent futuristic works Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. Following the success of his spectacular first film Ex Machina, Garland proves he was just getting started, making a film that dares the audience to go along without asking questions. It’s best to no very little going in, because Annihilation took my mind on a gorgeous, psychedelic adventure, filled with a passion for the obscure, creating a cinematic experience that I will never forget.
t takes multiple animators to make a stop-motion animated feature and I never tire from seeing the meticulous, highly detailed work, that it takes to make these clay worlds come to life. Early Man is the newest installment from Aardman Animations, one of the few animation studios to make stop-motion films a reality. They have been in direct competition with Laika (the team that made ParaNorman, Coraline, and more) and brought various classics to reality, such as Wallace & Grommet, Shaun the Sheep, and Chicken Run. Right off the bat, I already praise their films, because it is a long commitment to have a finished narrative, but unfortunately, I was a tad underwhelmed with Early Man. The story is about a rag-tag group of cave people, who must try to win a soccer match against the wealthy team of highly skilled players from Bronze Age City. It is all in an effort to claim their land back from the arrogant and evil Lord Nooth. Visually Early Man is a feast for our eyes, but the story boils down to typical cliches of the underdogs working together to defeat the superior athletes, with not enough laughs. Long story short, I was expecting more.