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LITTLE SISTER Review

Nothing like the dynamics of a dysfunctional family to provide for a plethora of opportunities regarding drama and/or comedy (or, more so, some combination of the two that usually runs in the vein of dark humor) in cinema; a familiar setting, due to its universality and its possibilities, and also the topic of writer/director Zach Clark’s Little Sister (co-written with frequent collaborator, Melodie Sisk), which provides itself plenty of chances to plumb the depths of familial dysfunction for drama and the personality quirks for comedy. However, the inclusion of an in-training nun as the protagonist skewers that familiarity and the expectations that come along with it.

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THE ACCOUNTANT Review

The Accountant has a lot of ideas without a lot of thought to back them up. There’s a ton of information provided in Bill Dubuque’s script, so much so that the film becomes a muddled mix of several different stories. All of the threads are presented as deeply meaningful by director Gavin O’Connor, but the various story elements cannibalize from each other instead of coalescing, messages and thrills lost in the over-serious jumble.

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COMING THROUGH THE RYE Review

The Catcher in the Rye has ascended to the upper echelons of American literature throughout its six decades of existence, yet J. D. Salinger, the book’s author, has been notorious for his reclusivity – he ceased writing for publishers in the 1960s and held steadfastly to his self-imposed retirement.

He would never grant an interview, respond to a query or consider licensing one of his works to be made into a play, a movie or anything else. Salinger never stopped writing altogether, but it seems that not even death itself has allowed his later works to see the light of day.

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THE ALCHEMIST COOKBOOK Review

Sporting a stylish new jacket with the word Dancers emblazoned on the back, Cortez visits his buddy Sean in a remote trailer in the middle of a lonely forest. He’s not there to stay; he’s just there for a supply drop that will help his friend in his alchemical pursuits. After a few fleeting moments of companionship, he leaves and Sean returns to his quest of creating gold. This is the basis of Joel Potrykus’s latest film, The Alchemist Cookbook.

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SILK TATTERS,”NEC SPE NEC METU”: BRIGADOON Review

It is remarkable, given the duration of Silk Tatters,“NEC SPE NEC METU”: Brigadoon (14 minutes), the sensory density Telaroli is able to achieve by layering sequence upon sequence from films previous on top of each other while their disembodied audios make entrances languidly and random. It can a bit overwhelming at times yet continuously mesmerizing, but even in the distorted imagery downpours there does appear to be some semblance of order operating underneath.

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TRAIN TO BUSAN Review

Before checking out Train to Busan, I thought that I wasn’t going to see another zombie movie that I cared for for at least a half a dozen years or so, due to the ridiculous zombie saturation we’ve had over the last several years. Maybe it’s that I actually watched this while traveling (on a plane to Iceland, not a train to Busan), which interestingly did add to the experience, but either way this one is worth your attention.

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CHOPPING MALL Blu-ray Review

I saw Jim Wynorski’s Chopping Mall for the first time just over three years ago and instantly fell in love with it, so I was tickled pink to find out that this was one of the first releases on the Vestron Collector’s Series. Rewatching it now for this review, I can attest that the movie is still awesome, and I still love it.

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BLOOD DINER Blu-ray Review

Of all the ’80s genre distribution companies that were born out of the home video market, Vestron Video is one of my personal favorites, so I was ecstatic when I found out that Lionsgate decided to reboot the brand and begin releasing new Blu-ray versions of some of Vestron’s classics. The first two releases to hit store shelves are 1986’s Chopping Mall and 1987’s Blood Diner, both of which I’m familiar, having covered the first on our Grindhouse Weekly feature and the second for my personal #52filmsbywomen challenge.

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BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS Criterion Blu-ray Review

Back in 2014 I wrote about the Russ Meyer-directed, Roger Ebert-written film Beyond The Valley of the Dolls for our Grindhouse Weekly feature. Now, the Criterion Collection has released a new, high-definition edition of the film on Blu-ray and packed it with features that together create the ultimate version of this bizarre musical/comedy/horror/sex romp.

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VALLEY OF THE DOLLS Criterion Blu-ray Review

Based on the hit book by Jacqueline Susann and directed by Mark Robson for 20th Century Fox, 1967’s Valley of the Dolls proved to be a success at the box office despite being panned by critics and seemingly shunned by the studio that produced it. Over the years, a cult following began to form, and the film became recognized as a camp classic but also as a strangely prophetic look at the lives of actors involved in the picture. Now the Criterion Collection has released a new 2K digital restoration of the film, along with its sort-of-but-not-really sequel, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.

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MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN Review

Here is a movie that feels like it is gasping for breath, telling its story in fits and starts. It runs up behind you and throws in another element, building up the plot at a frustratingly inconsistent speed. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is seemingly rather confused – it actively imagines and explores its canon, but it fails to sufficiently explain and utilize each aspect.

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DEEPWATER HORIZON Review

A real life disaster gets a pretty good disaster movie in Deepwater Horizon, an in-the-moment, thrilling recreation of the catastrophic 2010 drilling rig explosion off the coast of Louisiana. There’s corporate greed and blue collar heroism aplenty, but director Peter Berg, with material that’s a fine match for his handheld visual style, keeps the preaching to a minimum. The explosions, on the other hand, are huge, though not cartoonish, and don’t take away from the maddening and sobering facts of the story.

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MISS STEVENS Review

The introverted Billy (Timothée Chalamet) is explaining this peculiar band name to the prim and proper Margot (Lili Reinhart) as the song “Sister Golden Hair” plays on the car radio. They’re both high school students and, along with the flamboyantly gay Sam (Anthony Quintal), are headed to a weekend drama competition. Their school no longer formally funds such pursuits, so it’s been turned into an extracurricular field trip, and the kids are chaperoned and driven both ways by Rachel Stevens (Lily Rabe), a young English teacher.

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THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT Review

Many of us outsiders are absolutely captivated by North Korea and its regime of dictators – myself included. We hear one bizarre story after another, and things only seem to be getting weirder and more horrific as the years pass.

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OPERATION AVALANCHE Review

When I first saw Matt Johnson’s feature debut, The Dirties, at the Sarasota Film Festival way back in 2013, I realized that he had restored what little faith I had left in an already dying found-footage genre. By blending a strong technical presence, an unending and ever-entertaining comedic wit, and a gut-punch ending, The Dirties became one of my favorite films of the year and left me eagerly anticipating Johnson’s follow-up.