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“Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) Review

Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” is a top shelf whodunnit played out with crisp pace and crackles, thanks to a cache of intentionally opaque performances from a prestige cast including Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, Daisy Ridley and Josh Gad. Branagh has orchestrated the perfect actor/director vehicle for himself that finds the perfect tone between prestige and pulp cinema.

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“Murder on the Orient Express” (2017) Review
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Asgardians, Hulks and Space Bears, Oh My: "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Brigsby Bear" Reviewed

Waititi takes the characters in “Thor: Ragnarok” and makes them act in precisely the way he feels it’s worth his time in this sandbox. “Brigsby Bear” is literally about a guy taking the show that defined his young life (and ended on a cliff-hanger) and giving it the ending that he feels it deserved.

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Asgardians, Hulks and Space Bears, Oh My: "Thor: Ragnarok" and "Brigsby Bear" Reviewed
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"Black Panther" 2018 Review

“Black Panther” is an avalanche, a nexus for underrepresented voices to be thrust into the throne. The superhero genre grew up a decade ago, with the arrival of “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight”; and since then it’s rarely elevated out of an escapist arrested development.

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"Black Panther" 2018 Review
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18-52: The Good, The Bad and the Allegory - “The Shape of Water” (2017) and “Bright” (2017) Review

“The Shape of Water” is a sumptuous ode to movies, to love  and to monsters, or as Del Toro calls them, our “patron saints of imperfection.”  “Bright” is not a good film

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18-52: The Good, The Bad and the Allegory -  “The Shape of Water” (2017)  and “Bright” (2017) Review
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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017) Review

Jim & Andy is an experience that left me reeling. Carrey may have a touch of madness, but there’s no doubt that’s the burden of great genius. 

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Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond - Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (2017) Review
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18-52: Calm Like a Bomb - “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) & Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation (TV Movie) Review

Welcome to 18-52, a weekly review column that tackles two current releases on your cinema screen and in your stream. This week “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) & Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation (2018)

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18-52: Calm Like a Bomb -  “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (2017) & Dave Chappelle: Equanimity & The Bird Revelation (TV Movie) Review
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“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017) Review

“The Last Jedi” is absolutely the “Star Wars” film we deserved and didn’t expect. The prequels, stand alone “story” films and even the animated series considered canon are a frustratingly repetitious and revisionist cycle. “The Last Jedi” is not a crude predictable entry to the series; Rian Johnson has delivered a luminous spark that’s left the future of the franchise looking bright.

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“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017) Review
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“The Untamed” (2017) Review

“The Untamed” is a collision of Stanley Kubrick’s style and Pedro Almodovar’s contemporary social melodrama. The Kubrickian influences manifest in dizzying atmospherics, sensory deprivation and crashing waves of alien worlds weaved into the sound design. The Almodovar flair comes in the watching of this powder keg of intertwined relationships.

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 “The Untamed” (2017) Review
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“Horror Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare” (2017) Review

There’s a kind of rare documentary about a film that enhances and arguably eclipses its subject. “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse,” a behind the scenes look at the madness that forged the masterful “Apocalypse Now” was the primary example; until now.

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 “Horror Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare” (2017) Review
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"Kingsman: The Golden Circle" & "mother!" Reviewed

Let’s find out if the second fitting of the Kingsman’s self-aware spy garb still makes the cut; and discuss the harrowing, controversial and ambitious thriller from Darren Aronofsky starring Jennifer Lawrence.

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"Kingsman: The Golden Circle" & "mother!" Reviewed
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"Blade Runner 2049" Review

There’s not going to be a more stunningly composed film this year than “Blade Runner 2049”. Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins have crafted a remarkable, immersive, sensory experience that embraces you wholly. For the cast Ryan Gosling, Sylvia Hoeks, Harrison Ford and Jared Leto, each scene comes with mood altering atmosphere. The world of “Blade Runner 2049” doesn’t feel like a creation rather that it exists and Villeneuve and Deakins have created a viewing portal into a prospective future. 

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"Blade Runner 2049" Review
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“I Am Not Your Negro” (2016) Review

Raul Peck’s Oscar nominated documentary is a manifestation of the profound intellect of author and activist James Arthur Baldwin. “I Am Not Your Negro,” is possibly one of the most revelatory, insightful and prescient visual documents on civil rights and race that has ever been committed to screen. 

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“I Am Not Your Negro” (2016) Review
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“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (2017) Review

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” has one overwhelming positive going for it, and that’s the chemistry of the leads Reynolds and Jackson.

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“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (2017) Review
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“The Trip to Spain” (2017) Review

The delight of “The Trip to Spain” is getting back with these two gents who seem to relish a relaxing holiday, badgering one another about their different stages of an extended mid-life existential crisis. 

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“The Trip to Spain” (2017) Review
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“Baby Driver” (2017) Review

“Baby Driver” is not like any heist movie that you’ve ever seen before. Writer/director Edgar Wright’s meticulousness and mastery takes a keen eye on first viewing to get a hint at the level of fastidious planning that went into every aspect of the film. 

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“Baby Driver” (2017) Review
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Revisionist History and "Churchill" (2017) Review

“Churchill” is to its subject what the “The Green Berets” was to the Vietnam War. “Berets” attempted to make a World War Two heroic propaganda in the wrong war. “Churchill” wants to humanise the man and instead devolves into a blatantly misleading revisionist history.

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Revisionist History and "Churchill" (2017) Review
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“Song to Song” (2017) Sydney Film Festival Review

“Song to Song” feels like the memory Malick intended, if he suffered a traumatic brain injury.

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“Song to Song” (2017) Sydney Film Festival Review
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Ultim-APE-um: “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) Review

Reeves and Bomback may be playing with actors in leotards, and the incredible CGI transformation; but the pleasure of the entire Apes series is that they’re about something. They’re ultimately about the frightening consequence of the human impulse to innovate and explore. They place a fragile humanity in a position that requires empathy and diplomacy, in the face of a threatening circumstance

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Ultim-APE-um: “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) Review
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Being the Boogeyman -  “John Wick: Chapter Two” (2017) Review

Wick is the role that Reeves was born for; despite its dependence on the original, “John Wick: Chapter Two” is top shelf revenge as stylish as the protagonist.

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Being the Boogeyman -  “John Wick: Chapter Two” (2017) Review
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The Thin Line Between Malick and Spielberg - "Dunkirk" (2017)

Christopher Nolan’s latest film “Dunkirk” is a technical wonder. The jaw-dropping IMAX 70mm cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema (who lensed “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Her” and “Interstellar”), precision editing from Nolan’s regular collaborator Lee Smith and deafening and terrifying sound editing from Richard King et al create a staggering and immersive experience.

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The Thin Line Between Malick and Spielberg - "Dunkirk" (2017)
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“Happy End” (2017) Sydney Film Festival Review

Haneke’s “Happy End” is darkly funny, impeccably made and the performers relish being conducted by a master; however it doesn’t have as clear a drive or fervent punch of his other string of incredible works...

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 “Happy End” (2017) Sydney Film Festival Review
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“Ordinary People” (2016) Sydney Film Festival Review

One hopes desperately that this confronting film is an exaggeration - not the ‘ordinary’ experience in Manilla. “Ordinary People,” is not a neo-realist film about working class life, set in a culture of poverty, making a case for redistribution of wealth. The grim reality portrayed is horrific, the moral undertones make it mean. 

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“Ordinary People” (2016) Sydney Film Festival Review
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“The Wall” (2017) Sydney Film Festival Review

“The Wall” is a war movie, make no bones about it. Despite the slick premise, the refreshingly sound logic, the ‘real-time’ experience of the characters and the blistering pace, it presents the conflicted ethics and morality of the American war in Afghanistan.

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“The Wall” (2017) Sydney Film Festival Review