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The British writer-director behind the “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy – consisting of Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007), and The World’s End (2013) – and also the director behind 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Edgar Wright, is known for his unique, kinetic, energetic cinematic style. Unlike most comedy directors working today, Wright finds humor in the filmmaking, utilizing framing, lighting, mise-en-scène, camera movement, editing, and sound to pull as much comedy out of a scene as possible. With his latest film, Baby Driver, Wright has not only improved upon his signature style, but matured with it. Like David Fincher, Wright is honing his craft with every film he makes, relying less on his style and more on imbuing the style with substance. If his early works are similar to those of Fincher’s (Se7en, The Game, Fight Club), then Baby Driver is his Zodiac — a disciplined and elegantly orchestrated thriller that feels both effortless and impossibly intricate. It …

In less than 20 years, and with five feature films under her belt, filmmaker Sofia Coppola has amassed a rather small but powerful slate of motion pictures. Small though it is, her filmography is a charged batch of feminist expression that tells the world she isn’t ready to unleash her next expression until she is good and ready. So it is that we come to her sixth feature, The Beguiled, a remake of the 1971, Don Siegel-directed, Clint Eastwood-starring thriller about the dangers of misogyny in the days of the American Civil War. As with her previous works, it’s an immaculately crafted and powerful drama of human interaction and survival in this male-dominated world, and, once again just like her previous efforts, The Beguiled is a phenomenal film, an early candidate as one of the best films the year will offer. Based on the 1966 novel written by Thomas P. Cullinan, the film tells the story of John McBurney (Colin Farrell), …

The goal for many studios used to be the franchise, a series of films under the umbrella of a recognizable name with which to sell that franchise. Now, thanks in large part to the success Marvel is having, that concept of the franchise has morphed into a “cinematic universe” with any number of “franchises” coming together in a shared series of narratives to create something much larger. Some of these cinematic universes come together naturally over time, but some are forced together in order for the studio at hand to bank on an entire slate of motion picture releases. The latter tends to come off as just that, forced, and this is the area in which Universal and their idea for a “Dark Universe” seems to be residing. Their idea is to bring their classic movie monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monsters, Invisible Man, et al.) into the modern age to create an epic series of films beginning with the catalyst for …

Created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, Wonder Woman first appeared in 1941’s All Star Comics #8 published by DC. Marston, a Tufts University psychology professor, drew inspiration for the superhero demigoddess from early feminists like Ethel Byrne and Margaret Sanger, who founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The physical appearance of the character was influenced by Byrne’s daughter, Olive, who was Marston’s research assistant before becoming romantically involved with the polyamorous professor and his wife.* For more than 75 years since her introduction, Wonder Woman has been an enduring symbol of strength and equality. A press release issued by Marston in 1942 states, “Wonder Woman was conceived by Dr. Marston to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; and to combat the idea that women are inferior to men, and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations and professions …

This is what happens when there isn’t a single character worth caring about in a film – it’s not compelling. Good Time is the latest film from the Safdie Brothers, also known as Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, of the films Heaven Knows What and Daddy Longlegs previously. Set in contemporary New York City, this ultra-stylish crime thriller stars Robert Pattinson as a careless wannabe criminal known as Connie Nikas. Pattinson is pretty much the only reason this is worth watching, as he’s so incredibly good in this film, and does his best to make his unlikable character likable. But it doesn’t overcome that giant flaw, and although it’s somewhat interesting to see the story play out, there’s just nothing else that makes this film memorable. In an attempt to provide a better life for his mentally challenged brother, Connie convinces his brother Nick (played by Ben Safdie) to join him and rob a bank. While all goes as planned at …

Cannes saved the best for last. Lynne Ramsay’s new film You Were Never Really Here was the very last competition film to premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Rumor is that this played last because she was finishing it within the last week and just barely got it ready in time for the festival. The good news is that this film is pretty much perfect as is, and I hope she doesn’t change too much after the festival, because I really adore it. I went to see it twice during the festival because it’s lean and mean and pretty much perfect, there’s nothing she can cut from it, and everything about it is fantastic. Masterful filmmaking telling a story of a brutal, broken man who has a big heart. I wasn’t expecting this film to be so damn good, but it really is. You Were Never Really Here stars Joaquin Phoenix as a former marine with PTSD who now works …

As far as swashbuckling adventures on the high seas go, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – what a mouthful – is running on stagnant tides. It’s amazing to think a film series based off of an amusement park ride would get to its fifth entry in the first place, a much wilder notion being that that fifth time out of the gate may actually offer up something new and inventive. That isn’t to be the case, though, and this latest outing featuring the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow, still played by Johnny Depp and all of his crazy mannerisms, offers nothing special beyond the typical excitement to which we’ve been privy many times before. Dead Men Tell No Tales attempts to reenergize the Pirates franchise with fresh blood and a younger cast, but, without any creativity to back it up, it all ends up treading the same blockbuster waters. That younger cast includes newcomer Brenton Thwaites as Henry …

What an exhilarating experience. Tangerine director Sean Baker has premiered his latest film, titled The Florida Project, at the Cannes Film Festival and it’s truly worthy of the standing ovation it received. It contains some of the best performances I’ve seen on screen this year, from very young kids and the talented Willem Dafoe, with a drifting story about childhood and poverty in modern America. The title The Florida Project refers to Disney’s domain in Orlando. When Disney first started buying up land and planning Disney World, they referred to it as “The Florida Project.” The film is about the many “hidden homeless” living near Disney, and follows a wily group of very young kids living in motels who run around all day causing trouble. From the moment the film begins, you know you’re in for something very unique, very special. While there are adults, including the single mothers taking care of the children, The Florida Projects focuses entirely on the …

The master provocateur returns again and he’s definitely going to rattle some cages with this film, there’s no doubt about it. Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos has unveiled his latest film at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, titled The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and it’s some seriously creepy, unsettling stuff. I don’t want to give away too much, but the film is a Kubrickian psychological horror about a family which plays out in the most chilling, disturbing way. It will get under your skin, it will make you feel icky, it will upset you, and test your limits. Some people are going to hate this film, just hate it, while others are going to love it, and laugh with it, and enjoy every second of it. But that’s the skill of a great filmmaker – making you feel things that maybe you don’t want to feel, and challenging you to either accept or reject the ideas they’re presenting. The Killing of …

Sometimes there’s a film that is so delightful, so cheerful, full of so much optimism and happiness and joy, that it completely changes your mood. You can be upset, or tired, or whatever, and by the end of this film you’re so happy. Nothing will take that happiness away. Everything you just saw was perfect and wonderful. That’s how I felt with this film at the Cannes Film Festival, called Visages, Villages, which translates to Faces, Places in English. The film is a documentary made by 88-year-old filmmaker Agnès Varda and the 34-year-old French photographer known as “JR”. They not only directed it, but it’s about their unlikely friendship and collaboration on a road trip around France taking photos of people they meet along the way. Faces, Places is a simple film and that’s part of the joy of it. At some point, Agnès and JR met and became friends. He knew her films, she knew his photographs. Eventually they decided …