Film Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Of the many—many, many—problems with Paramount’s 2014 reboot of ’90s childhood staple Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the most damning was the fact that it just plain didn’t know what it was or who it was for. It had all-too-rare glimmers of the goofiness that defined its source material paired with Michael Bay-esque action spectacle (Bay produced both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot films, and it shows) and a weirdly sexual vibe exemplified by a frankly horrifying moment where surfer bro turtle Michelangelo comments under his breath that April O’Neil gives him an erection.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows knows what it is, and what it is is stupid. So hey, kudos for settling on something.

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Film Review: The Nice Guys

After a detour in superhero-land with Iron Man 3, writer-director Shane Black returns to a more Kiss Kiss Bang Bang sort of milieu for his third directorial effort, The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a detective duo bumbling their way through 1970s Los Angeles. Gay Perry would hate them both. But doesn’t Gay Perry hate most everyone?

The meeting between Jackson Healy (Crowe) and Holland March (Gosling) is less than auspicious; Holland, who’s investigating the death of porn star Misty Mountains (Murielle Telio), gets his arm broken by Jackson, who’s been hired by a person of interest in Misty’s (Ms. Mountains’?) case to rough up that creepy guy who’s been following her around. As in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang—and, less recently, classic noirs and ’70s conspiracy thrillers—everything turns out to be connected, if in something of a convoluted fashion. I don’t think there were too many talking bees or strippers dressed like mermaids in any of those previous films, though. (Granted, it has been a while since I’ve seen Chinatown.)

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THE JUNGLE BOOK - (L-R) MOWGLI and BAGHEERA. ©2016 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Film Review: The Jungle Book

Ever since the billion dollar success of Alice in Wonderland back in 2010, Disney has gone back to their roots – and how.  FromDumbo to The Little Mermaid to Beauty and the Beast, just about every Disney classic (minus Song of the South – gulp) is being freed from the vault and given a 21st century, live-action update. Nestled in between last year’s Cinderella and this May’s Alice Through the Looking Glass comes Jon Favreau’s take on The Jungle Book, a collection of Rudyard Kipling adventure stories that first got the Disney treatment back in 1964. There’s a wider discussion to be had about whether Disney’s obsession with franchises, remakes and sequels over original properties is sustainable—certainly, their Marvel movies are starting to settle into a rut—but the most important question will always be “Yes, but are the movies good?”

The Jungle Book is very, very good.

Chalk one point up for knowing your strong points and sticking to them.

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Accepting The Invitation: Karyn Kusama bucks genre norms with her chilling latest

The Babadook. Goodnight, Mommy. The Witch. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The last few years have given us something of a Renaissance of thoughtful, intelligent independent horror films that rely more on ideas and artistry than splatter and jump scares. The latest film to enter that pantheon is Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation, about a man (Logan Marshall-Green) attending a dinner party hosted at his old house by his ex-wife (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband (Michiel Huisman).

Things start out bad—the air is thick with the shared loss that drove Will and Tammy apart in the first place, though their friends and Will’s new girlfriend (EmayatzyCorinealdi) try to keep things upbeat—and get worse. The atmosphere suffuses with dread, lensed for maximum anxiety-producing effect by DP Bobby Shore and augmented by a score from Theodore Shapiro, as Will comes to believe that everything is not as it appears. More than that, I can’t say. The Invitation is a film that you really shouldn’t know much about going in. That’s by design, explains Kusama: “We were playing with the idea of multiple outcomes, multiple realities that could seem possible… The audience is sort of asked to participate in what kind of movie it is they’re watching. Are they watching a drama? Are they watching a mystery thriller? Will it become a horror film? Is it supernatural?”

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Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Is… Oh Christ, You Know How My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Is

A follow-up to the 2002 indie smash hit that put comedian Nia Vardalos in the spotlight for all of two seconds before she tried to do a sitcom and everyone was likeeh, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the latest in a string of long-delayed sequels that the entertainment industry so loves churning out nowadays. Fuller House. Zoolander No. 2. Anchorman 2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. The upcoming Gilmore Girls revival. Big Fat Greek 2: Electric Boogaloo should have been made by Netflix for $5 and a plate of spanakopita, but somebody thought it was worth a theatrical release, so here we are.

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The Divergent Series: Allegiant Review: Would Someone Mercy Kill This Franchise Already?

Hi, I’m Rebecca. I’m writing a review of Allegiant, the third of four films in that YA franchise that tried to be the next Hunger Games, only no one gave a shit. No, notThe Mortal Instruments or Beautiful Creatures. This is the one that didn’t get cancelled. Divergent and Insurgent weren’t good. Allegiant is less good. Make it stahhhhhp.

I’m tempted to fill this review with pictures of paint drying. That is the extent to which Nobody Gives a Shit About The Divergent Series, a YA dystopia series based on books by Veronica Roth and oh my fucking God. No. No. I can’t. Are you even reading this? Why are you reading this? Why is anyone reading this? I’m pretty sure Veronica Roth’s own mother doesn’t care about the Divergent franchise at this point. I’m diggity damn sure Shailene Woodley doesn’t, because her energy level is at negative two throughout this entire movie. “What’s happened to my career?,” you can imagine her thinking. “I was going to be the next Jennifer Lawrence. People said I should have gotten an Oscar nomination for The Descendants. Why did the universe skip me and go right to Brie Larson? Was it the thing about sunbathing my vagina?”

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52 Films By Women: Ida Lupino’s Outrage

When Kristy, boss ass bitch who’s heading up Pajiba’s 52 Films by Women series, asked her fellow Overlords whether they’d like to contribute an essay or two, I knew immediately that I would be banging the Ida Lupino drum. (Not like that. Perverts.) There are a lot of female directors putting out a lot of great films nowadays, but back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, that just wasn’t the case. Between the ’40s and the ’60s, you have Ida Lupino and Dorothy Arzner and… that’s about it. It’s not that the talent wasn’t there—certainly, there were women working outside the Hollywood system, like experimental filmmaker Maya Deren—but Hollywood was exponentially more of a boy’s club than it is today, and there just weren’t many opportunities for women who wanted to direct.

Karina Longworth’s podcast You Must Remember This, which we’ve written about before, has a great episode on Ida Lupino: How she started out as an actress but always had a yearning to tell her own stories, ones that eschewed melodrama and spectacle for shining a light on the everyday struggles of real people. How it was a stroke of luck (good for her, bad for someone else) that got her her first gig: The director of a film she co-wrote and co-produced, Not Wanted, had a heart attack shortly before filming was set to begin. Lupino, who knew her way around a film set after a lifetime in the entertainment business, stepped in as his replacement, though she didn’t take a director’s credit. Though not well-known today, Not Wanted was financially successful when it came out in 1949, which meant that Lupino had the leverage she needed to helm her own projects.

And then there’s America’s great eccentric, Howard Hughes, with whom Lupino had been romantically involved in the past. A wannabe film tycoon, Hughes was on the hunt for low-budget movies to invest in that would appeal to audiences’ tastes for the salacious. Not Wanted was one—it’s about unwed mothers.

Outrage was, too.

It’s about rape.

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Left to right: Evan Jonigkeit plays Specialist Coughlin and Tina Fey plays Kim Baker in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot from Paramount Pictures and Broadway Video/Little Stranger Productions in theatres March 4, 2016.

Film Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The pun-lover in me wanted Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to be bad I would have the opportunity to work some sort of god-awful “WTF” pun into this review. Alas for lame-humor enthusiasts—but good for movie fans—the directing team of Glenn Ficarraand John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love.Focus) has crafted a quite solid war comedy about a deskbound journalist (Tina Fey) who attempts to get out of her personal and professional rut by traveling to Afghanistan as a war correspondent.

Fey plays Kim Baker, whose real-life inspiration, Kim Barker, wrote the book on whichWhiskey Tango Foxtrot is based. Once she sets down in Afghanistan, Kim meets fellow journo Tanya (Margot Robbie), a glamazon and Kim’s guide to Kabul’s extracurricular activities; General Hollanek (Billy Bob Thornton), a no-nonsense Marine who introduces Kim to the military side of things; Fahim (Christopher Abbott), her handler and expert on all things local; and brash Scottish photographer Iain, played by a charming Martin Freeman.

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Early American Evil: Robert Eggers debuts with arty horror story of Hawthornesque New England family

“The thing is, witches aren’t scary today. Witches are plastic Halloween decorations. They don’t do much.” Writer-director Robert Eggers has definitely brought a sense of terror back to the genre of witch movies, at least judging by the many attendees at last year’s Sundance Film Festival whom he sent into heart palpitations with his feature directorial debut, The Witch. The film garnered Eggers the coveted Best Director Award-Dramatic at the prestigious festival; over a year later, it’s hopped a broomstick to U.S. theatres to terrorize the wider moviegoing populace courtesy of A24 beginning Feb. 19.

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Review: Lena Headey Doesn’t Even Have a Fight Scene In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, So What Is The F*cking Point?

Pajibans: I know you, and you know me. (And none of us know 99% of the people who commented on Courtney’s Hillary Clinton post. NEVER FORGET.) I’m not going to bury the lede with you: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies casts Lena Headey as an “I’m here to kill zombies and do needlepoint, and I’m all out of needlepoint” version of notorious crotchety jackass Catherine de Bourgh, AND IT DOESN’T EVEN GIVE HER A SCENE WHERE SHE KICKS ZOMBIE ASS. And a “fuck you” right back in your general direction, director/screenwriter Burr Steers.


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