Quick and Cheap Reviews of Quick and Cheap Movies

Or, a quick fix of slick flicks.Devil's Pass: Found-footage Dyatlov Pass Incident investigation. Some fun Russian scenery; very nice twist at the end.Kill List: An aging contract killer goes in for One Last Job and things predictably go haywire. An unexpectedly emotional film; you can feel the regret and confusion of the characters, and their relationships are sharply-drawn. Also very twisty in the back half, with the final twist an especially nasty one. Much better than it had to be, … [Read more...]

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“Haunted Hollywood”: I watch “Maps to the Stars”

for AmSpec: Part of the reason David Cronenberg’s new Maps to the Stars is so engrossing is that it’s two kinds of movie at once. The surface is all brutal Hollywood satire, the child star who only eats red Skittles and the washed-up actress demanding that her assistant fetch her Xanax and Kozy Shack pudding. This stuff is breathtaking: the massage therapist who helps his scantily-clad clients work through child abuse (“I’m going to press on a personal history point now”), the hateful cheek-kis … [Read more...]

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The Hidden History of “Gremlins”: An Interview with Joe Dante

at Film Comment: ...On Gremlins, it did become a problem, though, when Steven [Spielberg] had to sign off on everything. We had to get him to make up his mind. For example, we had a lot of different designs for Gizmo, and Steven always found fault with whatever they were. We were getting to the point where we really had to lock this down, or we weren’t going to make our dates. So we came up with the idea of giving Gizmo the color of Steven’s cocker spaniel, so that he would be happier with the d … [Read more...]

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“This Town Is Dead at Night”: I watch that Iranian-Californian vampire flick

for AmCon: When I heard there was an Iranian-Californian vampire movie where a lady vampire skateboards through a deserted town under the streetlights and the palm trees, her chador blowing out behind her like Dracula’s cape, I thought, That’s awesome!But by the time we actually reached the skateboard scene in “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” all I could think was, That’s terrifying!“A Girl” is a totally effective piece of atmosphere: dreamlike, black and white, with a phenomenal sound … [Read more...]

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“Ghost Stories for Christmas”: Kindertrauma

makes some solid recommendations: I’ll be watching both Black Christmases this holiday season along with assorted Silent Nights but I decided to take a break as far as posting about them. I feel that anyone who has done a “Help Mrs. Mac Find Her Hidden Hooch” puzzle has done their due. After seven years the idea of writing about the usual horror Christmas flicks made me want to hang myself like a stocking and that’s not very Christmas-y at all (unless you consider the statistics.) Unfortunately … [Read more...]

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“The Mother and the Monster”: I review “The Babadook”

for AmCon. Should've decided in advance how spoilerous I wanted to be; if you haven't seen it yet, I'd definitely recommend either skipping this review or stopping after the first couple paragraphs. One of the year’s most widely-praised horror movies, Australia’s “The Babadook,” methodically chews through a list of terrifying questions: What happens when you can’t protect your child from tragedy and grief? When you can’t protect him from the people around him? From himself? From yourself? … [Read more...]

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Small Screens: Several Very Short Movie Reviews

What I've been watching.Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Actually pretty fun, once you get past the narcissism and abuse of women.EDIT: I should say that the latter two elements aren't things I wish they'd left out of the movie. They add texture to what could have been a plasticky, "drugs R fun!", self-consciously edgy cliche. F&LILV manages to be neither a cautionary tale nor an ad for addiction.Whiplash: Miles Teller is a super actor. This is not the movie to see him in. It's a … [Read more...]

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