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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — TOM CRUISE IS REALLY GOOD AT RUNNING

The newest Mission: Impossible movie lives up to its title with action scenes that are so spectacular—and preposterous—that it’s hard to know which ones to take seriously. Two highlights are an extended, white-knuckle car chase on the streets of Paris and much later, a helicopter pursuit. Yet Mission remains a piece of sheer escapism, even turning a lethal terrorist into just another movie bad-guy. With Tom Cruise in the lead and all the moviemaking knowhow on display, how can you go wrong? Here’s how: you can have too much of a good thing. That’s the problem with this fast-and-furious sequel written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Tom Cruise is fierce and charming as the occasion demands; he also performs death-defying stunts. And boy, can that…

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WHITNEY

This post is a part of our New Voices Section. Written by Dalin Rowell.  For most, the image of the late Whitney Houston is either one of two variations – a sparkly, bright eyed singer with magic pouring from her, or a thin, raspy voiced individual that got into trouble no matter which direction she went. But in the documentary Whitney, director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) adjusts audiences to a different “lens” of sorts – one in which we don’t see the iconic vocal legend, but instead a New Jersey born “Dorothy”, trying to find her way back from a destructive Oz. Sure, you could say that statement comes from a scene in which Macdonald shows Houston singing the ballad “Home” –…

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FADE TO BLACK

This post is a part of our New Voices Section. Written by Julia Marchese. Released in 1980, Fade to Black is a fantastic and under seen horror film with a killer premise. Directed by Vernon Zimmerman and starring one of my favorites, Dennis Christopher, as Eric Binford. Eric is a shy young man living with his shrewish, wheel chair bound aunt in a cramped Venice apartment. She hovers over him and criticizes his every move. Things aren’t much better at work, where both his co-workers and boss love to yell at him. Eric’s only escape is film. In an era long before streaming, or even home VCR’s, Eric watches his films on his OG 16mm projector in his darkened bedroom, covered floor to ceiling with…

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STAGECOACH

This post is a part of our New Voices Section. Written by Jusef Conesa.  Stagecoach marks the birth of one of the most successful partnerships Hollywood has ever seen. John Ford had won his first Academy Award for Best Director in 1936 for his crime-drama “The Informer” and three-years later he was ready to jump back into the genre that arguably helped him shape the best films of his catalog, westerns. Ford had his eyes set on a young ex-football player turned extra/stunt-double, John Wayne. Ford saw in him what nobody else saw; a star in the making. After making fourteen films together and Wayne becoming an icon within Hollywood it’s hard to say that Ford was wrong in viewing their partnership as something worth…

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SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

This post is a part of our New Voices Section. Written by Anisa Khalifa.  Sorry to Bother You is a brilliant, dizzying satire which at once feels impossibly out-there and far too close for comfort. It stars Lakeith Stanfield as Cash, unemployed, broke, and living in his uncle’s garage with artist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson, who is excellent as always). He gets a job at a call center to pay his bills, but his previously undiscovered talents soon embroil him in corporate corruption beyond his wildest imaginings.  The film centers around ordinary people of color struggling to get through their days with terrible jobs and unlikely dreams. Detroit is fiercely unapologetic about pursuing her provoking, thoughtful art, while Cash’s coworker Squeeze (Steven Yeun) resists the capitalist…

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LOVE, CECIL

I’ve known Cecil Beaton’s name ever since I saw Gigi as a kid and enjoyed his exquisite costume and production design. I later learned that he was a celebrated artist and photographer as well as a social gadfly, but I still didn’t know much about him. That has been fully remedied by Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s absorbing new documentary Love, Cecil. Much of the story is told by Beaton himself, in a series of vintage television interviews, and while there are other notable “talking heads,” he is perhaps his own best chronicler. A precocious talent with a gift for making influential friends and losing them just as easily, Beaton’s gifts as an illustrator, designer, diarist and photographer earned him success on both sides of the Atlantic,…

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MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN—INDEED!

I can’t think of another recent movie title that serves as its own review. If you say it just right, you’ll get the idea: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Mind you, I enjoyed the screen adaptation of the ABBA show Mamma Mia! It had a highly attractive cast, representing two generations, a cornucopia of infectious songs, all imaginatively staged against a backdrop of gorgeous Greek scenery. It may not have been innovative or intellectual but it certainly was fun. This one is a sequel/prequel, or more specifically a clone, with everything those words represent: repetition (both good and bad), an expanded younger cast and all the “mature” performers we saw last time around. Like so many screen follow-ups, this one coasts on the good…

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