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A FAMILY AFFAIR Review

I went into A Family Affair cold, not knowing what to expect other than what was in the trailer. This movie, as it turns out, is essentially a portrait of a 95-year-old woman told by her 30-year-old grandson. But what differentiates this from any old home video is most certainly the filmmaker Tom Fassaert’s cinematography and at least one major secret that his grandmother is hiding.

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SNOWDEN Review

Edward Snowden is a very intelligent man, he had a very interesting government job, and he did something historic by releasing thousands of classified documents to the press. We know that going into Snowden, and that’s pretty much all we know coming out of it, too.

While it’s somewhat refreshing that noted cinematic rabble-rouser Oliver Stone focuses mostly on the man and not his famous act, there’s a disconnect between the portrait painted and the motivations for informing the American public that their government is spying on them. Contextualization is elusive as the director and co-writer (with Kieran Fitzgerald) takes us through a series of events in a perfunctory manner. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a steady performance – and his voice isn’t nearly as distracting as the trailers suggest, but we never get a sense of what really makes this guy tick.

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BLAIR WITCH Review

The words “found” and “footage” appear in the opening text of The Blair Witch Project and the film that follows ushered in a subgenre that’s been omnipresent ever since. Sure it wasn’t the first, but the 1999 flick brought the technique to the mainstream and most found footage movies since have faltered with justifying the style and/or using it effectively. For every [REC] and Cloverfield there are seemingly dozens of indistinguishable queasy-cam snoozers. Blair Witch, the sequel to the granddaddy of modern pseudo-documentary horror, belongs with the indistinguishables.

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OTHER PEOPLE Review

If you’ve been around long enough, you have inevitably been in a stressful, overwhelming situation. And at some point you realize that your prior belief in regards to such stressful, overwhelming situations – that this kind of scenario, whatever it may be, only happens to “other people” – is undeniably false. Bad things happen to everyone, and you and your loved ones are no exception. It’s a hard truth, but it’s one everybody picks up on sooner or later.

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SULLY Review

A nonstop flight from New York City to Charlotte, North Carolina, will take about two hours. It’s a very common route, flown multiple times every day by multiple airlines. US Airways Flight 1549 was one of just a number of aircraft to make the voyage on January 15, 2009. Yet it’s a flight that has gained specific notability, of course, because of what happened after only a small fraction of those two hours had elapsed.

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KICKS Review

While some people can’t wrap their heads around the idea of sneaker culture or the concept of becoming a sneakerhead, I myself have flirted with the hobby and even supported the idea floating around that sneakers should be officially added as one of the core elements of hip hop. In Justin Tipping’s feature debut Kicks, he effectively injects this culture into a wonderfully scripted coming-of-age story about a teen trying to get back his stolen Air Jordans.

Southside with You poster 7.5

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU Review

In Southside with You, Barack Obama (Parker Sawyers) isn’t the future President of the United States and Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter) isn’t the future First Lady. They are simply two people, a lawyer and an associate at the same firm, who spend an afternoon together in Chicago during the summer of 1989.

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THE INTERVENTION Review

After the so-called mumblecore movement broke into the mainstream with directors like Joe Swanberg and the Duplass brothers gaining bigger budgets and more well-known actors, a groundswell of dramatic comedies started coming out. Movies focusing on the bittersweet intricacies of family, relationships and accepting the transition between one’s 20s and 30s have been cropping up left and right recently, and Clea DuVall’s feature directorial debut, The Intervention, is no exception.

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UNCLE KENT 2 Review

Back in 2011, director Joe Swanberg created a little indie film called Uncle Kent, which took a semi-biographical look at the life of Kent Osborne, a writer and animator for such shows as Adventure Time and Spongebob Squarepants.

Mia Madre 6.5

MIA MADRE Review

There are two fairly compelling stories in Mia Madre. The first is of Margherita (Margherita Buy), an Italian film director who is faced with the unenviable task of shooting a movie about a union strike at a factory in an economic environment where the subject matter hits too close to home. On top of that, she also has to deal with the manic personality of Barry Huggins (John Tuturro), an eccentric Hollywood actor who has been brought on to a play a supporting role in the film. He struggles with his Italian and often slides off into melodramatic rants, retelling embellished story after embellished story whilst growing progressively more frustrated and bringing down everyone’s stamina.

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DON’T BREATHE Review

Fede Alvarez confidently took on the challenge of updating Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead in 2013, splattering the screen with practical gore and filling the movie with a unique sense of dread. Though that film didn’t completely work, his feature debut showed a huge amount of promise. That potential is realized in the extraordinarily tense Don’t Breathe, a home invasion thriller that works as a stylish genre exercise while also skillfully playing with expectations and genuinely surprising us.

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MORRIS FROM AMERICA Review

In essence, Morris from America is a straightforward coming-of-age story, which uses a handful of recognizable tropes in depicting its 13-year-old protagonist as he begins to discover himself. There are run-ins with the “establishment” authority, impromptu adventures in the big city and, of course, girls.

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HELL OR HIGH WATER Review

The dusty wilds of West Texas have proven a fine setting for crime dramas (see No Country for Old Men), and Hell or High Water uses the locale wonderfully to tell its character-driven caper. The modern Western also folds the socioeconomic realities of the present into the classic tale of cops and outlaws.

collunc 7.5

COLLECTIVE:UNCONSCIOUS Review

Even though, most of the categorical aspects of the films differ in one way or another there does reside a main thread through all five of the films; there is a darkness within them, each one containing some pessimistic-slanted vision of the world (the grade of which varies but slanted still). We are ushered through a dystopian landscape where sleep isn’t the cousin of death but it’s identical twin to the audio of the incarcerated to the end of the world onto a demented game show incorrectly titled Everybody Dies! (because white kids get cookies while black kids get shoved into the abyss) before finally settling into the interpretive dance of motherhood downsides.

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ALIENS: THE SET PHOTOGRAPHY Book Review

Since I was a youngster, the Alien film series has been my all-time favorite, despite it scaring the snot out of me. The first entry caused me many sleepless nights, imagining a xenomorph was gestating inside my chest cavity.