New Releases

Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Knowing a Good Story When You Hear One

Bill Condon’s live-action remake of Disney’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast is such a wonderful experience, so much so that I think I’ve figured out once and for all why remakes have existed pretty much as long as movies have. It has nothing to do with running out of story ideas, despite what the small-minded cynics have been saying for decades; it works in much the same way as repeatedly telling the same bedtime story to children, the demand being so great because they know a good story when they hear one and long for its familiarity.
An Ape at War

Much has been made of the consensus, strengthened over the decades, that the original 1950s version of Godzilla symbolized the horrors of nuclear war. If we’re to take this at face value, then it shouldn’t be too hard to see the supposed intention of this year’s Kong: Skull Island, namely to serve as a metaphor for American involvement in the Vietnam War.
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The X-Man That Got an R

Logan is the second film of the X-Men series to receive an R rating, and the first involving characters introduced in Bryan Singer’s original 2000 film. Rest assured that it lives up to it; aside from containing a great deal more language, it’s quite noticeably more violent and gory, the title character using the knives in his hands to graphically sever limbs and heads.
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The Horror of Race Relations

Most horror movies are merely a sequence of events, a clothesline on which to hang pop-out scares, tense build-ups, gore effects, death scenes, or some combination of all of the above. Get Out is one of the rare horror movies that doesn’t leave it at the level of a technical exercise, that’s actually about something.
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Assembling Another Disappointment

I don’t know at what point an hour and a half of near constant hyperactivity suddenly qualified as storytelling, especially in regards to family films. But whenever it happened, the makers of 2014’s The Lego Movie, and now those of 2017’s The Lego Batman Movie, have hopped onto that bandwagon and are milking it for everything it’s worth.
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James Baldwin in His Own Words

Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which has secured an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature, is said to be based on an unfinished James Baldwin manuscript, namely for Remember This House, a memoir in which he was to have reminisced about his relationships with slain civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers.
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Please Tell Me This Isn't the Start of a Franchise

With Split, a thriller about the controversial mental illness known as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), writer/director M. Night Shyamalan rather unfortunately reveals that he doesn’t know the difference between a film that’s complicated and a film that’s confusing.
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Not Your Capraesque American Dream

On a visual level, Ben Affleck’s Live by Night has everything we want and have come to expect from Depression-era crime dramas: Seedy speakeasies; sultry Latin clubs; sweaty jazz musicians; gangsters with Tommy guns; explosions in bars; brutal, graphic mobster hits in full view of the public; beatings in dark alleys; men in suits and fedoras obscuring their faces in fogs of their own cigarette smoke; conversations between shady people in quiet backrooms.
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Real Life Lessons from a Fantasy Creature

The standards of American culture wouldn’t allow J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls to be considered a family film. Generally speaking, it’s assumed that our younger audiences, particularly adolescents, aren’t prepared for films about life and humanity unless they’re sanitized to some degree. The other assumption is that they wouldn’t be interested in such films at all, and so they’re instead condescendingly peddled nothing but comic book adaptations and action extravaganzas.
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Early, Early, Early Risers

Passengers, which isn’t to be confused with Rodrigo Garcia’s God-awful 2008 film of the same name, is a 3D, effects-laden science fiction drama that, like an underachieving high school student, doesn’t live up to the potential it so clearly had.
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From The Movie Vault Archives


Labyrinth (1986)
Henson's Puzzling Coming-of-Age Story

In 1982, Jim Henson made The Dark Crystal, a film brought to life with puppetry and yet was distant from the fun, lighthearted innocence of his previous Muppet films and TV shows. Now he has made Labyrinth, and while it once again relies on puppets that look and sound nothing like their Muppet cousins, it relies a lot on very Muppet-like moments of levity, from slapstick physicality to witty bits of dialogue, the latter undoubtedly because of a screenplay by Monty Python alum Terry Jones.
Knowing a Good Story When You Hear One
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An Ape at War
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The X-Man That Got an R
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The Horror of Race Relations
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Assembling Another Disappointment
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James Baldwin in His Own Words
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Please Tell Me This Isn't the Start of a Franchise
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Not Your Capraesque American Dream
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Real Life Lessons from a Fantasy Creature
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Early, Early, Early Risers
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Henson's Puzzling Coming-of-Age Story
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This Is Not a Muppet Movie
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The Tagline Is Absolutely Correct
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So Simple, It's Scary
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All Wrapped Up with No Place to Go
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The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again (2016)
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Why we should never judge a film, remake or otherwise, before actually seeing it
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San Diego's Biggest Convention as Seen Through the Eyes of The Massie Twins
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The reasoning behind my review of Act of Valor, supporting our troops, and the meaning of real patriotism
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Chris Pandolfi predicts the winners and shares his thoughts on the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Did your favorite make his list?
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