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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 …

Oh my goodness, I love Ruben Östlund. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers. Not only for the way he shoots his films – the iconic cinematography, the music used throughout, the way he blocks his scenes – but also the way he tells such radical, hilarious, brutally honest stories about our society (and all the problems with it). I flipped for his last film Force Majeure, which I also caught at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. Östlund’s latest feature film is a brilliant satire called The Square, set around a modern art museum in Stockholm, Sweden. The film mocks not only modern art and the entire art world, but pretty much everything else in society, including our perceived notions of helpfulness, free speech, shameless publicity tactics, the internet and “going viral”, and our seemingly good intentions as people in this world. There’s so much commentary packed into this film that it’s hard to understand and interpret everything in …

I’ve never seen anything like this film before, and we may never see anything like it again. Okja is the latest feature from Korean writer/director Bong Joon Ho, and it’s another completely original story from his brilliant mind. Okja is a fascinating mix of many different things: it’s anti-capitalism, anti-meat, yet it’s also an animal rescue adventure film. It’s a satire, yet also a thriller; it’s playful, it’s weird, but lovable. At the center of it all is the story of a young Korean girl named Mija whose best friend is a big, mutant “super pig” that a corporation gave her uncle to raise for a competition. When they come to take it, she runs off to try and find and bring her home. If this film doesn’t make you a vegetarian by the end, I don’t know what will. I confess that I am a huge Bong Joon Ho fan, I love every last one of his films, even Snowpiercer. …

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? That boundless sense of wonder, that feeling that everything could be magical? Trips to museums or big cities were the most spectacular experiences, and even though sometimes things were tough at home, you had your friends to cheer you up. Wonderstruck, the latest film from Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven, I’m Not There, Carol), is about that sense of wonder that kids have. It is, in a way, a movie for kids, about kids, but it is still enjoyable for adults as well. Especially those adults who can still remember that kid inside of us, even if he’s hiding somewhere in a dark corner. The film interweaves two storylines following two deaf kids as they escape their homes and travel to New York City. Wonderstruck is a very ambitious film. Haynes takes on the especially unique challenge of combining two stories set in two different times – one in 1927, …

In 1977, director Ridley Scott made his feature debut with The Duelist, which won the Best First Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival. His next film, 1979’s Alien, catapulted Sigourney Weaver to stardom and would go on to be considered one of the best sci-fi films of all time. A thriller about an extraterrestrial organism that stalks the crew of a spaceship, Alien launched a mega-franchise of movies, novels, comic books, video games, and collectibles that remains a pop culture mainstay nearly 40 years later. In 2010, Scott decided to return to the universe he helped create with Prometheus, a prequel to Alien that would explore the origins of the franchise’s iconic Xenomorph creature, as well as the “space jockey”—the giant, elephantine extraterrestrial that briefly appears in the film as the deceased pilot of a derelict spaceship. Released in 2012, the film was polarizing to fans and critics alike. Prometheus is a collection of exquisite broad strokes, with stunning imagery …

In 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn introduced the world to a team of miscreants and misfits forced to come together and save the galaxy. To put it bluntly, they’re a bunch of a-holes. With the sequel, titled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the latest feature from Marvel Studios, the writer-director is tasked with delivering a story that not only continues the epic and irreverent adventures of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his gang of lovable weirdos, but furthers their evolution as characters as well. Set to the ’70s soft rock stylings of Awesome Mix Vol. 2, the sequel picks up a few months after the first film ended. After saving Xandar from Ronan the Accuser, the Guardians have become famous throughout the universe as world-class mercenaries, selling their services to the highest bidder. Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Great Gatsby), the high priestess of a genetically perfect alien race known as the Sovereign, …

It’s difficult to say which is sharper in Ben Wheatley’s latest film, Free Fire: the bullets being fired by the nefarious characters found within or the witty jabs those characters tend to fling at one another between the continual barrage of deadly gunplay. One may kill you, but the other may actually hurt your feelings. As with his previous films, Wheatley presents Free Fire with a gleefully dark sense of humor, the ridiculousness of events playing out made all the more senseless when you take into account where everyone’s mindset is at. That sense of humor – not to mention the aberrantly comical characters – washes the onslaught of violence down all the easier, though, and, with Free Fire, Wheatley once again proves to be a unique voice in the filmmaking world. A film about a gun deal in 1970s Boston gone wrong, Free Fire’s director moves his characters into play with stealth and precision. Two members of the IRA, Chris …

How much can you really analyze the films of The Fast and the Furious franchise at this point? They know what they are, and the fans of these movies definitely know what awaits them with each, new entry. The formula is evident: fast cars, silly dialogue, colorful but badass characters, and family, always family. The eighth and latest entry, The Fate (F8) of the Furious, is no different from the rest, and, though the film provides an endless slew of over-the-top and impressive stunts and a complete disregard for the laws of physics, it never recreates the feeling of excitement this franchise has delivered so many times before. The motor propelling The Fast and the Furious series may not be completely out of steam, but the check engine light has definitely come on. It’s amazing how well this action series has been able to redefine itself over the previous, seven films in the first place. What once began as a pseudo-Point …