Wake Up!: Revisiting Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing Over 30 Years Later 1

Wake Up!: Revisiting Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing Over 30 Years Later

History is clearly repeating itself, and it appears little has changed when it comes to widespread police brutality. But if there’s one noticeable difference, it’s that today, everyone walks around with smartphones. With instant access to live streaming and video recording, the whole world is watching. The ripple effects are no longer constrained to riots in a single neighborhood; it has spread across the globe.  After revisiting “Do the Right Thing,” I found that there’s a lot we can learn from the film today, particularly in how we analyze and dissect these horrific incidents. Usually all we see is the incident itself, but the real problem runs much deeper than that. The event itself is merely the aftermath of a much bigger and more problematic issue. Over 30 years later, Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” remains more relevant than ever.  Lee’s filmography is composed of mostly independent films that address crucial contemporary issues such as racism, economic exploitation, police brutality, and multiculturalism. Despite the extensive political and social commentaries found in his work, Lee manages to both engage and appeal to popular audiences. Of all his work, “Do the Right Thing” is the most exemplary presentation of his seamless intertwining between unmistakable visual style and political philosophy. “Do the Right Thing” revolves around a single hot summer day in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Although the neighRead More…

The Beach House Review: A Beautifully Grotesque Slow-burn Body Horror Chiller 2

The Beach House Review: A Beautifully Grotesque Slow-burn Body Horror Chiller

Something’s in the water in Jeffrey A. Brown’s directorial debut The Beach House, a beautifully grotesque slow-burn body horror chiller that feels as sleek and contemporary as it does like a slight ode to 50s monster movies and the works of atmospheric horror greats. Unique and individually surreal as this low-budget Shudder feature may be, it’s best summed up as John Carpenter’s The Fog meets Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, with Lovecraft elements sprinkled in. Such specific comparisons aren’t to imply The Beach House isn’t something special – Brown proves he can craft moody ecological terror and create a lasting sense of dread. Although the ending leaves room for dissection, The Beach House is a hallucinatory and satisfyingly disturbing shore getaway.
The Beach House takes us to, wouldn’t you know it, a beach house in Cape Cod. College sweethearts Randall (Noah Le Gros) and Emily (Liana Liberato) head to Ramdall’s parent’s serene vacation home during the off-season for some privacy and a shot at rekindling their old flame. Randall recently dropped out of school, in addition to fading away from the relationship for a period. He’s lost, questioning education as a whole, and not in any rush to find purpose. RELATED: Shudder’s The Beach House Preview Is Creeping with Death [Exclusive]
Emily is on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of ambition. She’s just shy of earning her undergraduate degree in organic chemistry, and eagerly mapping out her plan to study astrobiology Read More…

The Old Guard Review: Charlize Theron Delivers an Immortal Beatdown 3

The Old Guard Review: Charlize Theron Delivers an Immortal Beatdown

Charlize Theron continues her streak as a bad-ass action star. She wracks up an impressive body count as an immortal warrior in The Old Guard; a film adaptation of the comic series by Greg Rucka and illustrator Leandro Fernández. It’s also the action debut of Love & Basketball director Gina Prince-Bythewood. She’s proof that a good filmmaker can excel in any genre. The Old Guard has an intriguing premise, but a rather obvious plot twist. The ending leaves quite a few unanswered questions. You’re left eagerly anticipating the sequel.
Four dear friends reunite for a clandestine meeting in Morocco. Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) haven’t seen their leader, Andy (Charlize Theron), for a year. She needed time away. She felt that they hadn’t accomplished any good in the world. Booker has brought her back for a desperate, time sensitive mission. An ex-CIA officer, Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofer), has the location of over a dozen girls kidnapped by extremists. They will be sold and trafficked if not rescued within hours. RELATED: Streaming This Weekend: The Old Guard, Palm Springs, Belzebuth and More
The Old Guard races to Sudan. What they find is an even bigger predicament. Their great secret has been exposed. They cannot be killed. Andy is a modern nickname for Andromache of Scythia. The oldest of the group, she’s lived for thousands of years. Andy and her compatriots hold the key to everlasting life. A ruthless pharma executive (HarrRead More…

Home Entertainment Guide: July 9, 2020 4

Home Entertainment Guide: July 9, 2020

Buy it here Special FeaturesNew 2K digital restoration by Mosfilm, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-rayNew interview with cinematographer Roger DeakinsNew interview with director Elem Klimov’s brother and frequent collaborator German KlimovFlaming Memory, a three-film documentary series from 1975–77 by filmmaker Viktor Dashuk featuring firsthand accounts of survivors of the genocide in Belorussia during World War IIInterview from 2001 with Elem KlimovInterviews from 2001 with actor Alexei Kravchenko and production designer Viktor PetrovHow “Come and See” Was Filmed, a 1985 short film about the making of the film featuring interviews with Elem Klimov, Kravchenko, and writer Ales AdamovichTheatrical rerelease trailerNew English subtitle translationPLUS: Essays by critic Mark Le Fanu and poet Valzhyna Mort
“Trolls World Tour”
The two films in this week’s HEG couldn’t be more different in every single way. Leave behind the Russian carnage for the candy-colored confections of “Trolls World Tour,” which is kind of what would happen if a bulk candy store came to life. Of course, this film has been available in some form on the home market for weeks, making waves as the first major theatrical released to transfer to an On Demand strategy after the pandemic paused the world. Now, it’s more widely available for rental costs and on physical media. You’d never know from looking at this release that Universal never dropped the movie in theaters, as they load Read More…

J.G. Quintel Wants You to Snuggle Up to HBO Max’s Close Enough 5

J.G. Quintel Wants You to Snuggle Up to HBO Max’s Close Enough

Quintel voices Josh, a third of a nuclear trio with wife Emily (Gabrielle Walsh) and their four-year-old daughter Candice (Jessica DiCicco). The family shares a duplex with divorced couple Alex (Jason Mantzoukas) and Bridgette (Kimiko Glenn). If it wasn’t animated and often insanely violent, one might mistake the set-up for a family sitcom on ABC on Friday nights. How can Josh and Emily navigate the waters of parenthood without losing their identities as young, happy, well-adjusted people? Each episode is technically two distinct episodes with Quintel again using the style he’s accustomed to in terms of running time. Almost every episode takes a simple, even clichéd premise—“Helping Candice with a school project,” “Being voted room parent at school,” “Trying to go out for a date night,” etc.”—and then explodes it with Quintel’s surreal sense of humor. For example, the quartet goes out clubbing but discovers that the hot spot they’ve stumbled upon literally sacrifices anyone over 30 to a swirling fan on the ceiling.Not every “bit” on “Close Enough” works, but even when it misses the mark with its broad sense of humor, I admired the commitment. For example, an episode about Emily getting stuck in a network sitcom after going to an open house feels long even at 12 minutes, but it certainly never feels lazy or easy. I wouldn’t recommend watching multiple episodes of “Close Enough” in a row, which I was forced to do for review, because theRead More…

Short Films in Focus: Netflix's Quarantine Compilation Film, Homemade 6

Short Films in Focus: Netflix’s Quarantine Compilation Film, Homemade

Many common threads are hard to miss here, which is inevitable given the project’s limitations. Many filmmakers employ their children to be themselves. And many take a documentary route about the experience of being shut in. My personal favorites are the films that go outside the parameters and find a way to tell a story that has little to do with the pandemic. Pablo Larrain’s “Last Call” is, thankfully, the only Zoom-based film (I guess “SNL” cornered the market on those), featuring an elderly man trying to get in touch with “the one that got away.” I wouldn’t dream of revealing this film’s punchline, but it certainly contains the biggest laugh of the bunch. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s effective and bittersweet sci-fi tale, “Penelope,” features a widowed farmer (Peter Sarsgaard, Gyllenhaal’s husband) coping with new gravitational forces, the result of a different kind of pandemic altogether. Director Antonio Campos takes a psychological horror approach in the creepy “Annex,” in which a family finds a mysterious, unconscious man on the beach, takes him home and tries to get the authorities to come out, which they never do.
My favorite pandemic-specific films are the aforementioned “Ride It Out,” as well as Naomi Kawase’s “No Border,” the least linear film of the bunch, and a beautiful meditation on isolation and the new global reality within. I also loved Johnny Ma’s letter to his estranged mother, who never accepted his new family and whoRead More…

Leave It All on the Dance Floor: Cristin Milioti on Palm Springs 7

Leave It All on the Dance Floor: Cristin Milioti on Palm Springs

Yes. Enormously. I really appreciate that. I do feel that way. I’m attracted to those things because I feel that way as a performer. I don’t want to be put in a box. I want to do every single possible thing I can. I want to do every type of role. I want to do every type of genre. I want to do it all. I think that possibly the things that I’m most attracted to as a viewer are in that realm as well. So that’s where my tastes lie.Would you say that the first thing that attracts you to a project is the overall project or your character?
Both. Usually the first thing that draws my eye is the character, but it depends. If there’s like incredible people involved then I’m always extra intrigued. The character and the people involved are all you can control. I’ve been a part of things where I loved the character and the people and, for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked. The things that I can control, the things where I do have a choice, those are the things that really drive me.
How did you get involved with this project?
This was a very blessed experience. I had a general meeting with Andy and Becky Sloviter, our incredible producer. It was a meeting about collaborating on something as a producer or as a writer. We weren’t really sure. It was supposed to be half an hour and the meeting ended up being three hours long. We talked about everything under the sun. Couldn’t stop gabbing. I left there feeling like I had spent a beautiful afternoon with wonderful people.Read More…

Greyhound Review: Tom Hanks Overcomes Lackluster CGI in WWII Thriller 8

Greyhound Review: Tom Hanks Overcomes Lackluster CGI in WWII Thriller

Tom Hanks takes command in Greyhound, an action-packed World War II naval thriller set during the Battle of the Atlantic. The film is adapted from C. S. Forester’s classic fifties novel, “The Good Shepherd.” Originally slated for a June 12th theatrical release, the estimated $50 million flick was sold by Sony Pictures to Apple TV+ because of the coronavirus pandemic. Greyhound marks the biggest acquisition yet for the fledgling streaming service. A strong lead performance from Hanks and crisp editing keeps the short runtime tense. The biggest drawbacks are the CGI visual effects. Greyhound often looks like a video game.
In the summer of 1942, the USS Keeling leads a convoy of thirty-seven Allied ships across the Atlantic. The destroyer has the call sign Greyhound. It is the first command for Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks), a career officer promoted after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The convoy has air support until reaching the Black Pit, the open sea where German submarines, U-boats, are waiting to strike. Krause wonders if he’s truly ready for the daunting mission. He relies on his stalwart Christian faith to guide him. RELATED: Tom Hanks Is Heartbroken That Greyhound Went Straight to Streaming
Sonar pings an enemy contact approaching underwater. Krause orders the Greyhound to advance and intercept. The destroyer rocks back and forth on the tumultuous, freezing sea. The men on board are nervous about their novice captain. First Officer Charlie Cole (Stephen Graham) keeps disciplRead More…

‘I Am Shiva, the God of Death’: On the Deserved Anger of Michael Clayton 9

‘I Am Shiva, the God of Death’: On the Deserved Anger of Michael Clayton

Until this altercation, Gilroy has shown us Clayton in half-measures. Handshakes with cops, stern words to associates. Outmatched by Arthur, but unthreatened by the man who committed the hit and run. The first time he spoke with Karen, back in Milwaukee, she refused to give any quarter, cutting off his defense of Arthur’s bizarre behavior with an “Excuse me, we pay for his time.” Everybody has a number in Karen’s mind, and they are worth no deeper consideration than what they will cost her. In this second tête-à-tête, though, we see the full onslaught of Michael Clayton, special counsel, and it is a frightening, livid display. Clooney starts out in Danny Ocean mode, all sly half-smiles and soft eyes, amused with himself as he asks Karen, “How’d it go in there?” And then the steeliness of “Syriana” CIA agent Bob Barnes comes through in Clooney’s clipped delivery, his lean forward as he intrudes on Karen’s personal space, how casually he mocks Karen for how out of her depth she clearly is. “I’m not the guy that you kill, I’m the guy that you buy … Don’t you know who I am? I’m a fixer, I’m a bagman,” Clayton says, leaning into every nasty thing he knows about himself, giving voice to every insult he’s ever weathered. Every line of Clayton’s is an offensive maneuver against Karen, building to the deeply satisfying one-two punch of “Do I look like I’m negotiating?” and “You’re so fucked.” The picture he takes of Karen’s sRead More…

Living Legends: A Salute to Norman Lear 10

Living Legends: A Salute to Norman Lear

3.”Cold Turkey”: Back in 1971, Roger awarded four stars to Lear’s scathing satire of the tobacco industry starring Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart.
“What we need are mean comedies, filled with mean and petty people who hate and envy each other, and exhibit the basest of human motives. Comedies like that canonized W. C. Fields, and it was Groucho Marx’s fundamental hatefulness that made his stuff so much more than slapstick. Lately, though, the movie comedy has fallen on hard times in America. Until the last couple of weeks. Now there are two new comedies that I can recommend to cynics and malcontents with little fear they’ll be disappointed: ‘A New Leaf,’ reviewed last week, and Norman Lear’s ‘Cold Turkey.’ Both of them assume as a matter of course that the human being is powered with unworthy motives, especially greed. ‘A New Leaf’ gets a little sentimental at the end, but not too much, and ‘Cold Turkey’ ends with the scoundrels being shot by their own cigarette lighter. The movie, as everybody knows by now, concerns an attempt by a small town in Iowa to qualify for a $25 million award by signing all its citizens to a 30-day no smoking pledge. That somehow doesn’t sound like the world’s greatest idea for a comedy, but Lear makes it work by a brilliant masterstroke: He gets the comedy, not out of people trying to stop smoking, but out of the people themselves. So instead of lots of scenes of characters sneaking puffs, you have them preening their vanity as naRead More…