Sorry, Malaysian Tourism Industry!

No Escape feels like it was written by somebody who violently hates the entire Asian continent. Culled from every xenophobic stereotype, down to the eating of dogs, the film plays like a two hour anti-tourism ad. “Malaysia: You’ll Probably Die Here.” Setting aside the copious and disquieting amount of fairly naked anti-Asian sentiment, No Escape […]

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Minor Bloom

Iris Apfel is a fashion icon, still thriving in her 90s, who wears big sunglasses that are impossible not to describe as owlish. She is still building a world-renowned collection of eccentric clothing and oversized jewelry. She has a loving husband, too…and she leaves her Christmas decorations up for most of the year. That’s all […]

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Myopic Biopic

Biopics are lies. Oh, don’t get me wrong, all storytelling is fundamentally fibbing. But it seems somehow more disingenuous to airbrush actual human histories, to select which warts to ignore and which redemptive moments to exaggerate. Documentaries exist for a reason and, while they too require editing, at least the filmmaker has to show his […]

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Flash Without Flair

I fell for Ricki and the Flash’s embarrassingly enthusiastic advertising run—the poster of Meryl Streep in full rock star garb and numerous TV spots in which she praises her latest project. I fell, and I fell hard.  Ricki and the Flash should have been the ultimate Meryl Streep Movie.  In the three years since her […]

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Featherweight Flick

Southpaw is a boxing movie with, dare I say, far too much boxing in it. I realize that sounds strange, but director Antoine Fuqua’s new movie isn’t very interested in its extended training montages or improbable fight scenes—and that’s not entirely a dig. Unapologetically, Southpaw is a vehicle for star Jake Gyllenhaal to continue his […]

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Chap-Hazard

Die Antwoord, a South African rave-rap group composed of rappers Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er, are what some would call an “acquired taste” and others would call “Oh God, no! What is that? Kill it with fire.” If you haven’t seen images of the band, please tell those of us who have seen them what sleeping […]

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Cons, Vexing

Despite its title and the fact that Will Smith continually mouth-dumps exposition about how pulling a con requires attention to detail, Focus is hella sloppy. It’s not just that genuinely thrilling “who’s playing who” moments bump up against a holistically unbelievable romantic core, it’s that writers/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa never decided on the […]

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Quake and Stakes

Let’s get this clear up front: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s character, Ray, in San Andreas is stealthily one of the most morally bankrupt, narcissistic assholes to ever be called a “hero.” He’s introduced as having saved more than 600 lives during his many years with the Los Angeles Fire Department. By the film’s end, in […]

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50/50 = Zero

Sadly, Zero Motivation is the worst kind of mixed bag. Written and directed by Talya Lavie, the first woman to produce a film in Israel, Zero Motivation follows a pair of young women through three loosely connected stories about their two years of mandatory service in the Israeli military. The film is one of those […]

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