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  • We Summon the Darkness

    We Summon the Darkness

    ★★

    A predictable and derivative Satanic-flavored horror title, made only marginally interesting by the ‘80s nostalgia and perhaps the presence of Alexandra Daddario who is always easy on the eyes. It is yet another one of those films about ritualistic murder—only this time, there is a slight twist for the unsuspecting audience. Unfortunately, anyone accustomed to the trappings of the genre can see the big surprise coming from miles away. And the poor attempt at comedy doesn't help matters either. This is disposable stuff. I would lump it in with the likes of the similarly styled and similarly unpleasant The Babysitter.

  • A Chinese Ghost Story II

    A Chinese Ghost Story II

    ★★★

    The sequel to the classic Hong Kong B-genre mashup finds the filmmakers doubling down on repetitive action scenes and overcomplicated plot machinations at the cost of character development and intimacy. There is far too much confusion in the story, resulting in a much watered down romance between Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong. Part of the first movie’s allure is the great but simple love shared by Ning and Nie, the bumbling tax collector and the ghostly beauty. The chaos here…

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  • Upstream Color

    Upstream Color

    ★★★★★

    Shane Carruth’s alluring Upstream Color is Invasion of the Body Snatchers for the art house crowd, with hogs replacing pods and identity crisis substituting for McCarthyism. That may be an awfully crude comparison but it’s the overall gist I got as I watched this beguiling, beautiful film. One thing’s for sure, the plot’s mind-control science fiction aspect plays only second fiddle to the transcendent yet universal overarching theme of emotional resonance in people in the vein of Henry David Thoreau’s…

  • Alps

    Alps

    ★★★★

    There is an unassuming moment in Alps, the latest offbeat puzzler by absurdist Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos, when the plot’s obscurity reaches its zenith, delineating that the story has taken a sudden dark, awkwardly humorous turn into surreal, Luis Buñuelian territory. A somber hospital nurse, played exceptionally well by Lanthimos’ muse Aggeliki Papoulia, brings bad tidings to a couple, reporting that their sixteen year old daughter has succumbed to her fatal car crash injuries and passed away. The couple sits…