Jordan Peele doubles the horror and doubles the fun in the expertly crafted Us

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You know you’re in the hands of a natural born filmmaker when you can feel yourself being tugged, as if by invisible forces, from one shot to the next, into a movie’s diabolical design. That’s the sensation provoked by Jordan Peele’s Us, which begins w…

Watch Sofia Boutella trip her ass off in this exclusive scene from Climax

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The ensemble cast of Gaspar Noé’s deranged new movie, Climax, is made up mostly of nonprofessional actors—of dancers playing dancers, pretending to have the world’s worst collective drug experience. The one exception is the film’s star ringer, Sofia Bo…

There are few signs of life in the curiously dour alien-occupation drama Captive State

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It’s really rather impressive, the extent to which Captive State sucks everything even potentially fun out of the alien-invasion genre. That includes, for the most part, the aliens themselves, who are spoken of much more often than they’re seen, words …

With Ash Is Purest White, one of the world’s greatest filmmakers cuts together his greatest hits

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Just shy of an hour into his new movie, Ash Is Purest White, the great Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke offers up a truly ingenious, discombobulating callback. The setting, momentarily, is 2006. On the deck of a ferry approaching the banks of the Yangtze …

A mystery is solved and a late master eulogized in the playful and humanistic 3 Faces

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“What if it’s a prank?” So asks Behnaz Jafari, the famous Iranian actress, in the opening minutes of 3 Faces. Jafari, who’s playing herself, is in the passenger seat of a car, hunched over a cell phone, her face illuminated by its glow. She’s watching …

AOC, Nathan Fielder, and Neil Armstrong were the stars of a typically eclectic True/False Film Festival

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There are no talking heads in Apollo 11, the remarkable new documentary about the first manned mission to the moon. Including hindsight recollections would have spoiled the manufactured present tense—the way director Todd Douglas Miller, working with a…

If the Step Up series took a drug trip to hell, it’d look a lot like the superb lunacy of Climax

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How does one classify a film as brilliantly deranged as Climax, Gaspar Noé’s latest all-out assault on the senses? It’s a shaggy, funny hangout movie that morphs, with scary speed, into a claustrophobic freak-out, a better Suspiria than the Suspiria re…

We’ll never see Steven Soderbergh’s Moneyball, but his High Flying Bird is in the same ballpark

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It takes guts, making a basketball movie with no basketball. Is there irony, too, in keeping players on the sideline of a story about returning power to the players? Steven Soderbergh has done both with his new low-fi Netflix drama High Flying Bird, wh…

The best films of Sundance 2019

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Every public Sundance screening begins with a short recap of the previous day’s festivities: red-carpet sound bytes, funny or inspirational remarks from Q&As, brief glimpses of the live special events the festival hosts on historic, bustling Ma…

It only took a new Steven Soderbergh movie to finally get us to Slamdance

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Every January, Park City plays host to a film festival for truly independent cinema. As you can probably guess, I’m not talking about Sundance, which tends to operate as much like another gear of the Hollywood machine as any kind of showcase for what’s…

Jake Gyllenhaal reunites with his Nightcrawler director for toothless horror satire Velvet Buzzsaw

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Watch a random few minutes from any of his movies and it becomes obvious that Dan Gilroy loves the cinema of the 1970s. It’s an obsession baked into the rhythm and downbeat trajectory of his work. Increasingly, though, one has to wonder: Have all of hi…

The new thriller from the director of The Babadook is a whole different kind of horrifying

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One thing I’ve learned in my years covering Sundance is that when a programmer gets up on stage and tells an audience that the movie they’re about to watch is “tough” or “not for the faint of heart,” you take them dead seriously. A few years ago, some…

Robert Redford takes a bow on an otherwise quiet opening night at Sundance

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Big news rumbled like an avalanche across the peaks and valleys of Park City, Utah yesterday afternoon. Robert Redford, beaming public face of the Sundance Film Festival, would be stepping away from the event he founded in 1978 and which has, for 35 of…

You don’t have to be a detective to get ahead of the nutty Matthew McConaughey thriller Serenity

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Nothing is ever as it seems in film noir, a genre built on hidden motives and delayed revelations. Serenity, a preposterous tropical-island thriller from writer-director Steven Knight, takes that principle to an absurd new extreme. To even describe the…

Two of the year’s best performances are being pushed for the wrong Oscar categories 

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When Debra Granik’s touching and truthful Leave No Trace premiered at the Sundance Film Festival one year ago today, a few writers and media outlets began loudly asking a leading question: Was Thomasin McKenzie, the film’s largely unknown 17-year-old s…

M. Night Shyamalan mashes up two past hits into the wacky superhero sequel Glass

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The first time Samuel L. Jackson appears in Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan’s majestically moody turn-of-the-century spin on the superhero origin story, he’s waxing rhapsodic about comic books, with all the command Jules Winnfield reserved for imaginar…

The disastrous Welcome To Marwen strands a fascinating true story in the uncanny valley

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Robert Zemeckis, the Hollywood fabulist who made Forrest Gump and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, remains a wizard of state-of-the-start spectacle—a filmmaker still perched, after three decades in the blockbuster trenches, on the cutting edge of motion-pictu…

Lars von Trier argues with himself in unpleasant serial-killer drama The House That Jack Built

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On paper, it sounds like the stuff of nightmares: Lars von Trier, the Danish maestro of suffering who made Breaking The Waves, Dancer In The Dark, and Antichrist, takes on the most grimly fascinating of real-life bogeymen, the serial killer. But The Ho…

Hey, at least this dopey new Robin Hood is a little more fun than the last one

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Say this and little else for the new Robin Hood movie: It’s less of a self-serious slog than the last Robin Hood movie. Ridley Scott’s 2010 take on the legendary bandit leeched all the spritely appeal from its centuries-old material, fashioning a dour …

Burning elevates a minimalist class-warfare mystery into one of the best movies of the year

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Burning simmers. For nearly two-and-a-half perfectly measured hours, it turns up the heat without boiling over: a drama becoming a thriller in slow motion, intensifying little by little minute by minute, until finally it reaches a shocking, powerful cr…