Review: A college student, Tree (Jessica Rothe), woke up in a random guy’s (Israel Broussard) dorm room before she went on and did what all mean girls should do: screwing everyone she encountered. There’s no stopping for her sinister behavior until she finally got herself into trouble: being killed by a masked killer, only to find herself waking up to the same room she woke up earlier and relived her final day again, again and again.
In short, Happy Death Day does Groundhog Day with teen-slasher tropes. Director Christopher Landon and writer Scott Lobdell utilize time-loop formula to showcase their references of old-school slasher films in creating tension. But, more to it, they also utilize the same formula to formulate a fun whodunit thriller with the victim as the center. It looks campy and a little generic, but it never stops bringing funride for its whole duration.
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Review: It’s year 2049—30 years following the events in the original Blade Runner (1982). A new story embarks as a next-gen ‘Replicant’, now working as a ‘Blade Runner’, retires an older ‘Replicant’ model and unravels a decade-long mystery in the process.
Blade Runner 2049 comes as a genre-bending late follow-up, which appears as a slow-burning detective story to reveal answers to both philosophical and ‘physical’ mystery presented in the premise. Denis Villeneuve’s cyberpunk sequel deliberately yet subtly mirrors Ridley Scott’s original in terms of plot and general elements, but confidently delves into a new territory at the same time. All of those are wrapped exquisitely in one of the most stunning 164 minutes in the history of life.
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Review: Taking up where the first film left, Kingsman: The Golden Circle revolves around the downtown-boy-turned-secret-agent, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), as he finally joins the rank of Kingsman. While the young agent calibrates into his new secret life—including living in his deceased mentor’s (Colin Firth) mansion and secretly dating a Swedish princess he once saved, the secret service is undergoing a massive attack from a colossal crime organization called The Golden Circle. To cope up with the attack, Eggsy must enlist the help of the Statesman a.k.a. Kingsman’s American counterpart.
Matthew Vaughn apparently got highly invested in making Kingsman that he finally made his first sequel. This time, Vaughn—along with his frequent collaborator, Jane Goldman—takes the liberty in expanding this globe-trotting espionage bravura. His passion can be seen from his eagerness to amplify what he achieved best in the first film into double-powered action panache. It’s bigger in scale and in duration (clocking in at 141 mins); but, is it more fun? Barely.
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Review: In Wind River, Taylor Sheridan again demonstrates a prowess he once showcased on writing tenure for Sicario and Hell or High Water. His painstaking flair for slick and immaculate script—with penchant to coherence and symmetrical storyline—is utterly exquisite. With Sheridan running for both writing and directing gigs, we finally get to see his full-creative-control mode; and, lucky you, it’s taut and clever as you might imagine.
The title refers to a snow-covered Native American reservation in Wyoming, which becomes the setting of this film. It’s the place where a hunter, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), resides. As he tracks a wild mountain lion who preys on local cattles, the all-white-camouflaged hunter accidentally finds a local girl’s body… dead and stark. For the case, FBI sends rookie Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), who immediately team up with Lambert to investigate it.
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Review: As timely and important than ever, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit makes an unsettling yet poignant film about racism-induced Afro-American uprising in Detroit circa 1967. While Bigelow presents downtown Detroit riot in Hurt Locker fashion where smoke soaring high and dusty ruins are practically adorning every corner of the city, it’s not the carnage which is highlighted; but, the root of it all: white’s oppression.
Combining real footage with sharp recreations of the event, Detroit immediately plunges into the warzone, displaying the horror and volatile circumstances. Without warning and proper exposition, pivotal characters—including racist cops, undervalued security guard, white girls among black, black ‘Nam veteran & black musicians—are introduced and lured into the climactic standoff patiently; while audiences are expected to draw the thread between them. Circumstances, characters and the film’s message culminate in robust one-location havoc in a place called Motel Algiers.
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Review: Teresa Palmer showcases a vigorously bold performance in Cate Shortland’s kidnapping drama, Berlin Syndrome. Adapting Melanie Joosten’s novel of the same title, Shortland creates a placid drama-thriller by devising sense of claustrophobic and two-person dynamic with Palmer as the center.
Portraying an aspiring Brisbane-based photographer named Clare, Palmer’s eyes unravel her character’s passionate spirit to find an adventure as a solo traveler in Berlin. It’s during her tenure in Berlin’s street that she meets a charismatic yet restrained schoolteacher, Andi (Max Riemelt, Sense8). There are some electric touches and reluctance before they finally engage in consent, non-commitment one-night stand. In the morning after, Clare wakes up to find that she is locked in Andi’s apartment, suggesting that the man simply forgets to leave the key for her. When the next morning she finds herself locked again, she finally realizes that Andi isn’t going to let her free. She’s simply kidnapped.
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Review: Love is a many-splendored thing again in The Big Sick, a highly relatable rom-com about multi-cultural relationship inspired by real-life story of its writers—Pakistani-American comedian, Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), and his wife, Emily V. Gordon.
This Judd Apatow-produced delight package grounds closely to reality and is utterly apprehensible in presenting a witty, sweet story. Some of the aspects are more digestible (also debatable) for people of Eastern culture than those of Western; but it’s never alienating. After all, this is a warm and honest cross-culture romance that attempts to bridge the differences. In short, it’s the kind of old loving-you-loving-your-family love story, which works in the heart of ‘modernity.’
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