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  • Domino

    Domino

    ★★★½

    Only Brian De Palma would make a terrorism thriller in which he's most interested in their filmmaking methods. Hugely entertaining in spurts (mostly setpieces and high melodrama), if noticeably compromised elsewhere (transitional scenes and standard crime drama machinations). Another bombastic Pino Donaggio score layering nearly every moment and José Luis Alcaine's cinematography is a peculiar mix of buoyantly colorful and DTV-esque flatness. An I-can't-believe-he-did-this banger of an ending.

  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

    The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

    ★★★

    Throughout his career as a director, Terry Gilliam has aimed to portray the outlandish and disorderly in imaginative, transportive ways. His greatest achievements are less about narrative coherence than an emotional attachment to a character’s eccentric journey through various stages of bewilderment. His long-burning passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote–finally seeing the light of day some 30 years later–clearly aims to be an epic descent into chaos, but the adventure often has trouble conveying a sense of entertaining spectacle to go along with the frivolous bafflement.

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  • Missing Link

    Missing Link

    ★★★

    The years between Laika releases–in which our eyes are exposed to hours of unimaginative, cookie-cutter Hollywood animation–always seems to be just enough time to desperately crave a new visually inventive world from the studio. Missing Link, the fifth feature film from the company, is another wondrously detailed animation feat and certainly their most epic outing with its globe-trotting story of mythic proportions–even as the script leaves something to be desired.

    Written and directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman), the journey of…

  • Captive State

    Captive State

    ★★

    Captive State could very well be set in an alternate timeline of Arrival, one where the communication tactics of Louise Banks (Amy Adams) failed and the aliens stayed put to govern over humans. While this has happened worldwide, Rupert Wyatt’s grounded new sci-fi thriller specifically hones in on Chicago, where top government officials work with the alien forces in hopes of eventually getting off the “dying rock” that is Earth. Meanwhile, nearly-eradicated factions of the resistance aim to hold on…

  • Them That Follow

    Them That Follow

    ★½

    Snakes have long been fodder for cinematic nightmares, but combine them with oppressive Christian conservatism and you have an even more harrowing scenario. This sets the stakes for Them That Follow, which tells the tale of Pentecostal snake handlers in the outskirts of the Appalachian mountains and the faith-testing consequences they are faced with when one in their isolated circle commits a “sin.” Intended to be a character-focused, grounded look at this way of life, the drama can’t help but feel like it’s stuck in first gear until an over-the-top finale, when it’s far too little, too late.

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  • Big Time Adolescence

    Big Time Adolescence

    ★★★

    Everyone knows that one person from high school who is still living vicariously through the memories of a better past, perpetually talking about how they are “almost” going to follow through with the few dreams they may have, but instead giving into the vices carried through from their “prime.” In his first leading role that fits better than Cinderella’s glass slipper, Pete Davidson plays the ultimate version of this burnout character. Taking the scene-stealing supporting role of Zeke, Big Time…

  • Clemency

    Clemency

    ★★★

    From Escape from Alcatraz to Cool Hand Luke to The Shawshank Redemption, cinema is rich with not only prison films focused on the plight of the prisoner, but also depicting wardens in an evil light. Clemency, winner of the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, flips the script in both ways, both turning the spotlight on a warden and painting her in an empathetic, complicated light. Led by Alfre Woodard, she gives a riveting, emotional performance as the…

  • Fighting with My Family

    Fighting with My Family

    ★★★

    A crowdpleaser down to its bones, Fighting with My Family shows the importance of bringing an entertaining perspective to a true story. This tale of a British underdog with major wrestling dreams is thoroughly elevated by the participation of writer-director Stephen Merchant. His brand of dry, off-kilter comedy surges through what is an otherwise inspiring, but by-the-numbers tale of childhood aspirations come true.

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  • American Factory

    American Factory

    ★★★★

    When the Rust Belt was hit hard in the financial crisis of 2008, the blue-collar workers of Dayton, Ohio found a savior in a Chinese billionaire. Six years after the lifeblood that was a General Motors plant was shut down, the car-glass manufacturers Fuyao opened up their first American factory in the town, meaning thousands of new job opportunities. The promise of a steady income lifts the spirits of the workers, but an East vs. West clash of working methods…

  • Sweetheart

    Sweetheart

    ★★★

    When Tom Hanks was stranded on an island alone in Cast Away, he got the better end of the deal than what Keirsey Clemons faces in Sweetheart. Not only must she try to survive with limited resources on a deserted island, but her character of Jen must also fight for her life against a cruel, otherworldly creature. Perhaps just a touch too minimalistic as it proceeds, Sweetheart can feel held back in taking its limited conceit to more daring places,…

  • Wounds

    Wounds

    ★★★

    If one wants to watch a sweaty, disturbed Armie Hammer wander around New Orleans as he’s haunted by a malevolent spiritual force, Wounds satisfies on those pleasurable, if undemanding expectations with its engrossing build-up. However, for those hoping that Babak Anvari’s follow-up to Under the Shadow would contain a little more substance in its frights–especially as the third act nuttiness ramps up–prepare for disappointment.

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  • Little Monsters

    Little Monsters

    ★★½

    From her break-out performance in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o hasn’t found much time to let loose with genre fun in her admittedly still-young career. However, this year should change that with the forthcoming Us and, premiering in Sundance’s Midnight section, the zombie comedy Little Monsters. Australia’s answer to Shaun of the Dead, writer-director Abe Forsythe doesn’t quite have the wit or visual inventiveness of Edgar Wright, but the raunchy punches he throws pack an entertaining-enough bite.

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