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6:00 PM on 07.23.2014

Review: Kill Team

The war in Afghanistan is the longest military conflict in which the United States has been involved. The operation is nowhere near as successful as hoped, which is part of the reality of fighting a war in Afghanistan, a less...

Hubert Vigilla




Review: Deliver Us From Evil photo
Review: Deliver Us From Evil
by Mike Cosimano

In all my years seeing movies, I don’t think I’ve seen a collective shrug quite like the one my theater experienced upon leaving Deliver Us From Evil. A passive gesture of that magnitude could only have been triggered by a film destined to fall into obscurity the instant Wal-Mart removes it from the featured DVD rack.

You will not hate Deliver Us From Evil, but I’ll bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that you won’t remember it long after you’ve left the theater. (Unless clinging on to memories of sub-par movies is part of your job, in which case, you have my sympathies.)

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Review: Tammy photo
Review: Tammy
by Matthew Razak

Tammy is a film you really want to be good. An almost entirely female led cast in a raunchy comedy is still a rarity despite Bridesmaids showing us all it can be done successfully. This is the kind of movie we need to diversify the comedy scene and give us something else than Judd Apatow and Wayans brothers films.

That is it would be the kind of movie if it was any good at all. Unfortunately Tammy is a complete and total mess of a film devoid of much humor and suffering from even less character development. If you name your film after its lead character she better be damn interesting and Tammy is not. 

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Review: Particle Fever photo
Review: Particle Fever
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I like physics. I probably have as good a grasp of the field as any film critic, and I frequently read articles about things like the Large Hadron Collider and the revelation of the mass of the Higgs Boson and how that revelation has impacted supersymmetry theory.

You've probably heard of the Large Hadron Collider (possibly as that thing that didn't actually destroy the world) and the Higgs Boson (sometimes called the God particle), but it's less likely that you know what supersymmetry (affectionately called SUSY) is. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, much of the science in Particle Fever is going to fly right over your head. 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't see it. Because Particle Fever succeeds not because of its discussion of this particular science, but that of what science means and why it matters.

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NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju photo
NYAFF Recommendation: Han Gong-Ju
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Han Gong-Ju is incredible. It's easily the best film I've seen at the New York Asian Film Festival thus far and among the best I've seen in a long time.

It's also extremely depressing, to the point where I'm not sure I can really write about it. But I can't in good conscience not give it my sincerest recommendation. If you're in New York, it's playing at MoMA for the next week. Tickets can be bought here.

Whether we end up with a full review or not, go see Han Gong-Ju.

[For the next month, we will be covering the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival and the Japan-centric Japan Cuts. Click here for more information, and check back here and here for all of the Asian film coverage you can shake a stick at.]

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Review: Begin Again photo
Review: Begin Again
by Matthew Razak

Director/Writer John Carney is establishing a little nitch for himself in the film industry. A modern take on the backstage musical except now the stage is the studio and the music is far less grandiose. With Once, his academy award winning film, he nailed the sort of real world drama musical and he returns to that new genre again with Begin Again except this time he has big name stars and an American budget.

Carney is clearly a talented and emotional musician and returning to this form allows him to flex those muscles once again. Can he have the same impact as he did on his debut feature film or does upping the ante in almost every department mean a bit of soul is lost? In a film about finding the soul of art and yourself it's a bit ironic what the answer to that question is. 

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Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction photo
Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction
by Matthew Razak

I'm going to tear this movie apart. It's coming right below the jump. Just be ready for it. Because of that I want to open with this: Optimus Prime riding Grimlock into battle in Hong Kong is frickin' awesome. There's just no denying how cool Transformers can be and that Michael Bay can pull off some awesome stuff. There are parts of this film that will blow you away.

It's just that the rest of it is so bad it isn't worth it.

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Review: Snowpiercer photo
Review: Snowpiercer
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Snowpiercer has been among my most anticipated films for the past several years. Every time we did a preview of what's upcoming, Snowpiercer has been on there in some capacity. When it got its Korean release last year, I was convinced a US release was imminent. I mean, it stars Captain America! How could it possibly be delayed?

But, of course, it was. The Weinstein Company took on distribution rights, but they wanted to cut it and Bong Joon-Ho refused to let them do so. So now the release is finally upon us, the full film as it was intended, but only a limited release.

I'm still annoyed at The Weinstein Company for trying to mess with the film in the first place... but I have to admit that I kind of understand why.

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Review: Nothing Bad Can Happen photo
Review: Nothing Bad Can Happen
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

The German title of Nothing Bad Can Happen is "Tore Dances," something I knew from the beginning thanks to the multiple attempts I have made at learning German in my life. It's one of the few things I remember, but I'm glad it's something I knew from the outset, because while a name like "Nothing Bad Can Happen" is immediately off-putting, "Tore Dances" is not. No movie called Nothing Bad Is Going to Happen is going to end well. I mean, seriously. Right off the bat, you see that and you call bullshit. "Tore Dances," on the other hand, leaves a bit more to the imagination. It's also a bit less marketable (people are definitely more interested in seeing something bad happen than watching Tore dance), so I can understand why the change was made.

But let's talk about why Tore dances.

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Review: Coherence photo
Review: Coherence
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Coherence is part of a genre that will be heretofore referred to as "subtle sci-fi." Mention sci-fi to anyone and they'll think of Star Wars or Star Trek first. And they'll think of those films because that's what we've been bred to believe sci-fi is. These are worlds unlike our own, whether they're far in the future or a way in the past. They may feature people who look like us, but their characters don't really live like us. They're surrounded by robots and aliens and guns that shoot lasers. They're the things we imagine our technology will be capable of.

What people won't think of is Coherence, even though it's firmly entrenched in that genre. They won't think about it because the world of Coherence is the same one you and I am writing in and the same one you are reading in. There's no special technology, nothing that distinguishes their world from ours. Everything feels real not just on a dramatic level but on a visceral level. You believe that these people are in this position, and you wonder if maybejust maybeit could happen to you.

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Review: 22 Jump Street photo
Review: 22 Jump Street
by Matthew Razak

Despite being proven horribly wrong when 21 Jump Street film came out and it turned out to be hilarious instead of horrible I was once again a doubter when news hit that 22 Jump Street was coming along. The first one worked and here comes the obligatory sequel that will just recap all the old jokes and ruin it was my line of thinking.

Sometimes it's good to be wrong... twice. I suppose I shouldn't have been so suspect with basically the entire creative team returning for the film, but how was I supposed to know they'd actually make a comedy sequel that was both different from the original and smart in its own way. It's not something movie studios usually do, but both Jump Street films have proven that the series (please let there be more) is all about pointing out or expectations and then destroying them.

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Review: Edge of Tomorrow photo
Review: Edge of Tomorrow
by Matthew Razak

With Jupiter Ascending getting pushed back to February Edge of the Tomorrow might be the last of the original summer action movies left standing. Yes, it's an adaptation of a short Japanese novel, but that is still more original than the majority of sequels and and remakes taking up the rest of the summer. As such it had me very interested for it despite the lack of buzz.

It's also an insanely interesting concept. Basically you're getting Groundhog Day, but with mechs, aliens, Tom Cruise and Emily blunt. Throw in the underrated Doug Liman as director and you've got a movie that ten years ago would have been a tent pole, but instead is struggling for relevance. It shouldn't be because other than one tragic flaw it's an absolute blast. 

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Review: Million Dollar Arm photo
Review: Million Dollar Arm
by Matthew Razak

A feel good sports movie from Disney? I don't think anyone was expecting anything to earth shattering from Million Dollar Arm. Life lessons will be learned. Sports will be played. People will change. It's the kind of thing that Disney has become a pro at, and your enjoyment on Million Dollar Arm will rest entirely on whether or not you're tired of sports movie cliches.

Also, John Hamm is just a damn charming man. Damn charming.

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Review: Godzilla photo
Review: Godzilla
by Matthew Razak

When that first roar hits you know they did this thing right. There's a chill that will go down your spine if you're a Godzilla fan. As he moves you'll wonder at how they found that perfect balance between rubber suit and actual monster. This is Godzilla.

Godzilla's previous American outing was a sin against all things good in the world, but this one, this one knows what's up. Well, at least when it comes to giant monsters knocking the sh*t out of each other in the middle of cities. That's what really matters, right?

There's plenty to be said about the new film, and it isn't all positive, but in the crucial aspects -- the ones that have always made Godzilla fun -- it succeeds. 

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Reviews: Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves photo
Reviews: Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I like film festivals for a lot of reasons, but one of the best is the way films are forced into context with a number of other, entirely unrelated films. The act of watching multiple films in a day alone creates all sorts of weird unintentional connections and relationships, and doing that day after day after day makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish one film from another when it comes time to buckle down and think about what each film did well, didn't do well, and what it all meant. When two films play within 24 hours of each other that highlight the successes and failings of the other, looking at them individually seems silly.

Such was the case with Whitewash and Big Bad Wolves. In execution, the films could hardly be more different, but they are both black comedies that made me seriously consider the role of humor in gravely serious situations. Like any good student of George Carlin, I believe people can joke about anything. But those jokes, while I support their right to exist, may be tasteless or insensitive or flat-out horrifying.

Whitewash understands this. Big Bad Wolves does not.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. It is being reposted to coincide with Whitewash's VOD release.]

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Review: The Other Woman photo
Review: The Other Woman
by Matthew Razak

The Other Woman is a raunchy comedy that wants to be taken emotionally seriously while promoting the fact that woman are awesome and can easily take the lead in any kind of film. It basically wants to be Bridesmaids, but unlike that modern comedy classic it instead comes off as crass and completely insulting to the very female characters it wants to glorify. Falling quickly into tropes, stereotypes and comic cliches it veers dangerously into trouble as its attempt at female empowerment turns into the worst case of justice porn this side of a serial killer getting killed at the end of a horror film. 

It's a despicable film that clearly has no idea what it's doing as it contradicts its own themes constantly throughout its entire run, eventually landing in a big puddle of false feminism that would set the movement back years if anyone actually cared about the movie. Oh, and there's a pooping scene. Because when you're not actually funny you always run to poop. 

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Review: Soft in the Head photo
Review: Soft in the Head
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

Every once in a while, I see a movie that feels truly unique, and when that happens I tend to obsess over the process instead of the result. For better or worse, some films are just different, and while I definitely appreciate that difference, sometimes I really just have to wonder why.

Soft in the Head is different, and I spent much of the film wondering. I never found an answer.

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2:00 PM on 04.15.2014

New Releases, week of 4/19/14: Ride Wit Me Edition

Looks like we've finally left the Oscar season as this week's home video releases range from interesting to, well, Ride Along. First off, there's Philomena, Wrong Cops, and The Secret Life of Papa John's KFC's Cinnabon's...

Nick Valdez

3:00 PM on 04.08.2014

New Releases, week of 4/12/14: Smog County Edition

This week's new releases have every audience covered. The big releases include The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (which I'll never see), August: Osage County (which my mom wants to see), Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones...

Nick Valdez



Review: Sabotage photo
Review: Sabotage
by Matthew Razak

I've been hyping Sabotage since I first heard about it. I'm a huge Arnold Schwarzenegger fan and a huge David Ayers (End of Watch) fan so the two together sounds like sweet, sweet cop action bliss. Ayers is great and melding action and drama while developing actual characters and Schwarzenegger is great at... well... being in action movies. Things looked pretty good.

It was easy to get excited to because the supporting cast was really solid and the trailers actually advertised the film in the right way. Heading in I was certain I was going to have a good time at this movie. You know what? I did. 

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Review: Noah photo
Review: Noah
by Matthew Razak

To preface this review I'd like to point you towards this article, which explains how I, as a DC film critic, finally got to see Noah ahead of time. Basically, Paramount for some reason thought it would be grand to screen the film for only religious critics, and when they got called on their crap threw the company that does the screenings under the bus. On the plus side they did arrange a screening so I got to see Noah ahead of time for this review (which was embargoed until today despite opening last night).

But that really has nothing to do with Darren Aronofky's biggest movie yet. At $130 million dollars this isn't the small budget fare we're use to seeing from him. Instead it is an epic in the most biblical sense of the word. It's a daunting task to retell a story about faith in a increasingly secular industry, and the way Aronofsky goes about that is very interesting.

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1:00 PM on 03.25.2014

New Releases, week of 3/29/14: Dances With Wall Street Edition

The Wolf of Wall Street releases on home video this week. I'm especially curious about it since I labeled it my "Top Film of 2013," and I can't wait to see if it holds up. Other big titles: Chinese Zodiac, starring Jackie Cha...

Nick Valdez