The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Directed by The Coen Brothers

Review: A Private War

Starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Colvin

Review: Outlaw King

Starring Chris Pine

Review: Boy Erased

Starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe

Review: Overlord

The WWII Nazi Zombie Flick You've Been Waiting For

11/16/2018

Review: 'Ralph Breaks The Internet', Disney Sequel Explores Friendship In A Digital Wonderland


Like playing Donkey Kong in a game of Mario Kart, video game villain Ralph (John C. Reilly) became a good guy at the end of Wreck-It Ralph, and a hero to erratic Sugar Rush racer Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman). His "hero journey" complete, there never really seemed to be a reason to revisit Ralph, except to put his newfound friendship and sense of self to the test. And no place can ruin relationships and crush one's self-confidence better than the Internet, which is where Ralph Breaks the Internet takes us. Although the title might be more appropriately titled, The Internet Breaks Ralph.


The rare big-screen Disney Animation sequel (I'm not talking those straight-to-video sequels or anything Pixar), Ralph Breaks the Internet explores the friendship between Ralph and Vanellope, which has been going strong for six years. While Ralph is happy with his daily routine, it's Vanellope who has grown bored of the racing the same old tracks and knowing how everything will turn out. When Ralph's clumsy, ham-fisted attempts to cheer her up end with Sugar Rush getting a broken steering wheel, and kindly old Mr. Litvak threatening to unplug the arcade game for good, they venture off into the Internet to try and save it, literally by buying a replacement on eBay, or "E-Boy" as Ralph calls it.


For me, Wreck-It Ralph was nearly a perfect movie. It spoke to the '80s video game nerd in me, and all of the callbacks to the game characters of yesteryear were brilliant. That it managed to be nostalgic while telling an emotional, frequently hilarious story about Ralph's evolution was just one of its many accomplishments. So the idea of going into the Internet for a sequel was considerably less appealing. Do we need another critique of the dangers of social media? Or another anti-bullying movie? Turns out, when it's Ralph Breaks the Internet, yeah we definitely do need another one. Co-directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston have told a beautiful, funny, heartwarming story that embraces and skewers everything we know about the web. At the same time, it's also a surprisingly tender story about friendship, and whether it can withstand the vast opportunities afforded by going online.


If only the Internet looked the way Moore and Johnston envision it. The co-directors go absolutely nuts in visualizing the online realm, which resembles the avatar-based worlds of Ready Player One and Summer Wars. Mostly gone are the Q-Bert and Sonic references (the Street Fighter dudes still crack me up), replaced by jabs at Google (which looks like a giant monolith), Twitter (a tree surrounded by tweeting birds), Friendster, and the Dark Web which looks like a crime-filled back alley. Like the first movie, sight gags are where you'll find the biggest laughs, and there are so many it would be impossible to catch them all. Suffice it to say, the more of a techie you are the more gags you'll catch, and it makes me wonder if the humor is better suited to adults than kids. They'll be floored by the sheer volume of things happening on the screen at once, but doubtful a kid is going to get why an Internet joke about Al Gore ("Are you the Algorithm?") is supposed to be funny.


Of the many online landscapes to be explored, the most visceral is in the Grand Theft Auto/Twisted Metal-type game called Slaughter Race, where Vanellope makes a new friend in Shank (Gal Gadot). Shank's free-wheeling, edgy and unpredictable lifestyle is exactly what Vanellope wants for herself, but of course, Ralph wants to keep his friend around for himself. His entire persona, the hero he sees in himself, is dependent on Vanellope keeping him around, and he goes to rather extraordinary lengths to make sure nothing changes. Ralph's insecurity only grows as Vanellope becomes more independent, while she seems right at home. Vanellope takes more of a central role here, and she's right smack in the middle of the scene everyone has been talking about. Yes, the one with all of Disney's princesses, voiced by the original actresses (!!!) and gathered together like they're living on sorority row. It's by far the greatest highlight and a brilliant example of Disney poking fun at itself and celebrating the incredible legacy of female characters. Whoever thought to bring all of them together, in a Wreck-It Ralph sequel no less, deserves a pay raise. Don't think for a second it'll be the last we see of them together, either. I smell franchise.


For a giant corporate entity with a substantial digital footprint, it should be no surprise Disney paints a rosier-than-reality view of the online experience. Ralph and Vanellope have a mostly joyful experience, even when faced with Pop-Up ads and a major instability that threatens to destroy everything. However, the movie does break from their adventures for a brief bit of messaging when Ralph, who has suddenly become a viral superstar, dares to check out the stinky bathroom that is the comments section and is shocked (SHOCKED I tell you!) to discover everyone on the Internet isn't so nice. It's a well-meaning moment but it either needed to be longer, because it lasts for maybe a minute, or simply not be there at all. I found it distracting and on-the-nose when everything else has the spark of cleverness.


Having conquered the 8-bit days and the modern social media craze, it's unclear where Ralph will show up next. Maybe he'll get trapped inside an MMORPG?  Or go fully analog inside a board game? Let's hope it's not that last one. With the help of Reilly and Silverman's performances, Ralph Breaks the Internet brings more compassion than you're likely to see the next ten times you go online.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

2019 Indie Spirit Awards Nominations: 'Eighth Grade', 'First Reformed', 'We The Animals' Lead The Way


The Indie Spirit Awards got back to their roots finally in the reveal of their 2019 nominations, choosing films that are actually independent and not just less-expensive studio flicks.  And in so doing they've chosen some of my favorite movies of the year, so on a personal level this is shaping up to be an exciting show.  Tops on that list was Paul Schrader's amazing First Reformed, which earned four nominations including Best Feature, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Male Lead for star Ethan Hawke.

Also earning four nominations was the middle school drama Eighth Grade, which featured a breakout performance by Best Female Lead nominee Elsie Fisher. Leading the way with five nominations was director Jeremiah Zagar's stunning adaptation of We the Animals, including one for Best Feature.

There were tough categories all around, which led to some surprising snubs. Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman didn't get much love, other than a Best Supporting Male nomination for Adam Driver. Ironically, hes going against his BlacKkKlansman co-star John David Washington who is nominated for a different movie, Monsters and Men. The Best Male Lead field looks super competitive with Hawke joined by John Cho for Searching, Daveed Diggs for Blindspotting, Christian Malheiros for Sócrates and Joaquin Phoenix for You Were Never Really Here.  I was thrilled to see Regina Hall recognized for her performance in Support the Girls, and Glenn Close for The Wife, which may be the prelude to an Oscar win for her. Boots Riley's offbeat directorial debut Sorry to Bother You was perfect for the Indie Spirit crowd, and it managed to come away with two nominations for Best First Feature and Best Screenplay.

And I couldn't begin to tell you who is the frontrunner in the International Film category, where every single entry is more than deserving. Alfonso Cuaron's Roma, Hirokazu Koreeda's Cannes winner Shoplifters, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Favourite, and Lee Chang-dong's Burning could all be considered frontrunners.

The rest of the nominations are below. The Independent Spirit Awards will take place on February 23rd.

Best Feature

EIGHTH GRADE

FIRST REFORMED

IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

LEAVE NO TRACE

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Director

Debra Granik, LEAVE NO TRACE

Barry Jenkins, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE

Lynne Ramsay, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Paul Schrader, FIRST REFORMED

Best First Feature

HEREDITARY

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

THE TALE

WE THE ANIMALS

WILDLIFE


Best Female Lead

Glenn Close, THE WIFE

Toni Collette, HEREDITARY

Elsie Fisher, EIGHTH GRADE

Regina Hall, SUPPORT THE GIRLS

Helena Howard, MADELINE’S MADELINE

Carey Mulligan, WILDLIFE

Best Male Lead

John Cho, SEARCHING

Daveed Diggs, BLINDSPOTTING

Ethan Hawke, FIRST REFORMED

Christian Malheiros, SÓCRATES

Joaquin Phoenix, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Best Supporting Female

Kayli Carter, PRIVATE LIFE

Tyne Daly, A BREAD FACTORY

Regina King, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, LEAVE NO TRACE

J. Smith-Cameron, NANCY

Best Supporting Male

Raúl Castillo, WE THE ANIMALS

Adam Driver, BLACKKKLANSMAN

Richard E. Grant, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Josh Hamilton, EIGHTH GRADE

John David Washington, MONSTERS AND MEN

Best Screenplay

Richard Glatzer (Writer/Story By), Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Wash Westmoreland, COLETTE

Nicole Holofcener & Jeff Whitty, CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

Tamara Jenkins, PRIVATE LIFE

Boots Riley, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU

Paul Schrader FIRST REFORMED

Best First Screenplay

Bo Burnham, EIGHTH GRADE

Christina Choe, NANCY

Cory Finley, THOROUGHBREDS

Jennifer Fox, THE TALE

Quinn Shephard (Writer/Story By) and Laurie Shephard (Story By), BLAME

Best Cinematography

Ashley Connor, MADELINE’S MADELINE

Diego Garcia, WILDLIFE

Benjamin Loeb, MANDY

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, SUSPIRIA

Zak Mulligan, WE THE ANIMALS

Best Editing

Joe Bini, YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE

Keiko Deguchi, Brian A. Kates & Jeremiah Zagar, WE THE ANIMALS

Luke Dunkley, Nick Fenton, Chris Gill & Julian Hart, AMERICAN ANIMALS

Anne Fabini, Alex Hall and Gary Levy, THE TALE

Nick Houy, MID90S

John Cassavetes Award

A BREAD FACTORY

EN EL SÉPTIMO DÍA

NEVER GOIN’ BACK

SÓCRATES

THUNDER ROAD

Robert Altman Award

SUSPIRIA

Best Documentary

HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING

MINDING THE GAP

OF FATHERS AND SONS

ON HER SHOULDERS

SHIRKERS

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

Best International Film

BURNING (South Korea)

THE FAVOURITE (United Kingdom)

HAPPY AS LAZZARO (Italy)

ROMA (Mexico)

SHOPLIFTERS (Japan)

Piaget Producers Award

Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams

Gabrielle Nadig

Shrihari Sathe

Someone to Watch Award

Alex Moratto, SÓCRATES

Ioana Uricaru, LEMONADE

Jeremiah Zagar, WE THE ANIMALS

Truer Than Fiction Award

Alexandria Bombach, ON HER SHOULDERS

Bing Liu, MINDING THE GAP

RaMell Ross, HALE COUNTY THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING

Bonnie Award

Debra Granik

Tamara Jenkins

Karyn Kusama

Giveaway: Win Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 3 On Bluray!


We've got a special treat for our Pixar fans out there! You can enter to win a Bluray of the Pixar Short Film Collection Vol. 3! It brings together some of Pixar's best animated short films, including Bao, Partysaurus Rex, Piper, Sanjay's Super Team, Riley's First Date, Lava, and more!

SYNOPSIS: From Disney•Pixar and the creative minds who brought you The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Toy Story comes the studio’s latest collection of delightful and inspiring animated stories – Pixar Shorts: Volume 3.  Thirteen shorts including Oscar®-winner Piper (Best Animated Short, 2016) and nominees Sanjay’s Super Team (2015) and Lou (2017). With unforgettable characters, insightful bonus extras, and cutting-edge animation, it’s a must-own for any movie fan!

To enter, send an email to punchdrunktrav@gmail.com with your full name, mailing address, and favorite Pixar short film! Please include "PIXAR BLURAY CONTEST" in the subject line!  Winners will be selected on Monday, November 19th and notified by email. Good luck!


Pixar Short Films Collection Vol. 3 | Trailer

Oscar Isaac Says 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Was An "Excruciating" Experience


For us die-hard X-Men fans, watching Bryan Singer's X-Men: Apocalypse was painful as shit. It's a terrible movie, and Singer was justifiably booted from the franchise after that. But as horrible as it was for us to watch, it was much worse for poor Oscar Isaac, who was buried under a mountain of prosthetics to play the villain, En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse.

Speaking with GQ about his most iconic roles, Isaac called his time working on X-Men: Apocalypse "excruciating", although he went into it with the highest of hopes...

“I didn’t know when I said yes that that was what was going to be happening, that I was going to be encased in glue and latex, and then a 40 pound suit that I had to wear a cooling mechanism in at all times. I couldn’t really move my head ever …

I was like, ‘Oh I get to work with all of these actors I like so much!’ but I couldn’t even see them because I couldn’t move my head. I had to like sit on a specially designed saddle, because that’s the only thing I could really sit on, and I would be rolled into a cooling tank in between takes, so I just wouldn’t ever talk to anybody. I couldn’t really move, I was just kinda sitting and sweating inside the mask and the helmet.

And then I was also in high heels inside of a boot, so that was very difficult to move at all, and every time I moved it was like rubber and plastic squeaking, so everything I said had to be dubbed later as well. And then getting it off was the worst part, because they had to kinda scrape it off for hours and hours. So … that was X-Men: Apocalypse!”

Honestly, if you didn't already know Isaac was in it you'd never recognize him as Apocalypse. I'm sure he'd probably prefer it that way given how the movie turned out. Pretty sure we'll never see him back doing another X-Men movie, but Disney may have other ideas. He'd make an interesting Cyclops, just sayin'.

'The Informer' Trailer: Joel Kinnaman Goes Deep Cover For Rosamund Pike And Clive Owen


The Informer has an incredible, awards season-worthy cast that includes Rosamund Pike (a legit contender this year for A Private War), Clive Owen, Joel Kinnaman, Common, and Ana de Armas. So why aren't we hearing more about it? Well, this trailer might be an indication, as it looks like a generic crime thriller that, sadly, puts the spotlight on Kinnaman.

Not that Kinnaman is terrible, but when compared to Pike and Owen? It's not even close. Anyway, Kinnaman plays an ex-Special Forces agent and ex-convict who becomes an FBI informant to help take down one of New York's biggest crime bosses. When the case takes an unexpected turn, it puts him at odds with the FBI, the mob, and the NYPD.

This doesn't look like much, and director Andrea Di Stefano is an actor who only recently made the turn to directing with 2014's Escobar: Paradise Lost. We'll see if he can give his stellar cast enough room to elevate the material.

The Informer opens March 22nd 2019. Check out the trailer and synopsis below.



Honorably discharged Special Ops soldier Pete Koslow’s (Joel Kinnaman) world is turned upside-down when he is jailed after a fight to protect his wife (Ana de Armas). He’s given a chance for early release by becoming an informant for the FBI (Academy Award nominees Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen) and using his covert skills in an operation to take down The General, the most powerful crime boss in New York. But when the FBI sting meant to finally earn Koslow his freedom results in the death of an undercover NYPD cop, Koslow finds himself caught in the crossfire between the mob and the FBI. The General insists Koslow takes the heat and sends him back to prison to spearhead a drug operation from inside, and the FBI affirms that going back to jail to do The General’s bidding is the only way for Koslow to keep his deal with them alive. Caught in a world of impossible choices, Koslow must return to prison, where he formulates a plan to escape the clutches of three of New York City’s most powerful organizations – the mob, the NYPD and the FBI – in order to save himself and his family.

DC Readers: Win A Family 4-Pack Of Passes To Disney's 'Ralph Breaks The Internet'


We're happy to offer our DC families the chance to win a four-pack of passes to a free early screening of Disney's Ralph Breaks the Internet!

SYNOPSIS: In “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” video-game bad guy Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) leave the comforts of Litwak’s arcade in an attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush. Their quest takes them to the vast, uncharted world of the internet where they rely on the citizens of the internet—the Netizens—to help navigate their way. Lending a virtual hand are Yesss (voice of Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site “BuzzzTube,” and Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces—so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he’s ever had. 

The screening takes place on Monday, November 19th at 7:00pm at Regal Majestic in Silver Spring. If you'd like to enter, complete the Rafflecopter contest form below. Winners will be selected tomorrow, November 17th and notified by email. Good luck!

Ralph Breaks the Internet opens November 21st.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: 'Instant Family' Starring Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, And Isabela Moner


With the holiday season getting into full effect we are starting to see all types of family movie fare out in these theaters. This week we have some counter-programming for the folks who don’t want to see a magic Johnny Depp face magic Doctor Who. We have the Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne-headlined Instant Family. This movie is by Sean Anders, who co-wrote and directed based partially on his own personal life. The movie opens with Wahlberg’s Pete and Byrne’s Ellie showing Ellie’s sister around a torn down home they intend to flip and resell. During their talk, it leads them to think about having a family but instead of doing it the old-fashioned way the married couple decides to look into adoption. They end up going through the process of becoming Foster Parents and then taking a liking to a snarky 15-year-old girl named Lizzie (Isabella Moner) who they then find out is a package deal with her two young siblings. From there, hijinks ensue along with slapstick all over the place.

I think what stands out in this is just how full of heart is in this. All the comedy and drama comes from a very heartfelt place. Pete and Ellie are really earnest in this, some real go-getters that have their hearts in the right place but get overwhelmed quickly, which leads to a ton of comedy in Wahlberg and Byrne's performances. They do feel like characters they have played before. Byrne’s Ellie does feel a bit like her character from those Neighbors movies and Wahlberg is playing the good guy, like he does in Ted, rather than the tough guy. It doesn’t get boring because the kid actors are great. The younger actors are great in selling that right amount of cuteness and showing how parenting can go from 0 to 100 real quick. Isabella comes into this with previous performing chemistry with Walhberg from that last super-terrible transformers movie, The Last Knight. She’s able to bring all the teenage angst the couple needs to deal with on screen and be completely bewildered through most of the movie. All the other co-stars come in and play their role for the right hits for laughs with Tig Notaro and Octavia Spencer being one of the standouts as a great comedy duo of two social workers who help people become foster parents. Spencer gets all the great lines while Notaro is a fantastic dry straight-woman.

Despite laughs from the occasional baseball to the face and bad shopping experiences, Instant Family really is selling adoption's best virtues, which is a good thing we don't often see in movies.  There are a ton of movies that have terrible product placement or overbearing messages guilting the viewer into something. While this does feel like it is pushing this issue on us, it does so lightly and very entertainingly. With that, it makes it really enjoyable, worth watching and funny enough for repeat viewing. It’s not an instant classic but it is good for a family.

3.5 out of 5

'Leprechaun Returns' Trailer: The Irish Demon is After A Sorority's Pot Of Gold


I don't know if anybody really loves the Leprechaun franchise, but it's definitely long-lived and seems to be sticking around. After handing it over to the WWE for the reboot Leprechaun: Origins, which starred then-WWE superstar Hornswoggle, the franchise is going the Halloween route with Leprechaun Returns, a true sequel that ignores everything but the 1993 original.

The horror-comedy is back for the eighth time (!!!), which is just mind-boggling considering how bad ALL of these movies are. The early ones had some nostalgic charm with Warwick Davis playing the mythical baddie, but that is long over and so are any good ideas they might've had. I mean, Leprechaun has already been to space and twice to "tha hood".

This new film stars Linden Porco as Leprechaun, who is back and in search of a new pot of gold. Taylor Spreitler (Amityville: The Awakening) co-stars alongside Mark Holton, who reprises his role of Ozzie Jones from the first movie. Here is the synopsis:

The deadly, wisecracking Leprechaun is back in all his gory glory. When the sorority sisters of the Alpha Upsilon house decide to go green and use an old well as their water source, they unwittingly awaken a pint-sized, green-clad monster. The Leprechaun wants a pot of gold buried near the sorority house, but first he must recover his powers with a killing spree—and only the girls of AU can stop him.

Leprechaun Returns hits digital and VOD on December 11th.

11/15/2018

'Wonder Park' Trailer: Chimpanzombies Take Over A Dream Amusement Park


Okay, this is a much better trailer for Paramount and Nickelodeon's Wonder Park, after the first teaser was downright creepy. This is the first to feature an actual voice cast, and with it comes a deeper sense of the plot. A 12-year-old girl named June, who created an imaginary theme park with her mother, discovers that it somehow has become a reality, full of the amazing rides she loved when she was younger. Later, an older June discovers something deeply wrong with the park, and only reigniting her imagination can save it.  The chimpanzombies are kinda disturbing...

The voice cast includes Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, Brianna Denski, Sofia Mali, Ken Jeong, Matthew Broderick, Kenan Thompson, John Oliver, and more. One thing you won't find? A director. Mission: Impossible and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec penned the script, but original director Dylan Brown left the project and Paramount decided to go with a team effort rather than hiring his replacement. Interesting strategy. We'll see if it pans out on March 15th 2019.

If Wonder Park is a success, a Nickelodeon TV series will follow.

Ben Wheatley's 'Rebecca' Remake To Star Armie Hammer And Lily James


Ben Wheatley is the director of some of today's most unique films, but he's given himself quite the challenge by tackling an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's 1938 gothic novel, Rebecca. The film was adapted quite successfully in 1940 by the great Alfred Hitchcock, with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine as his stars. Wheatley doesn't have those two Hollywood legends to call upon, but his choice of Armie Hammer and Lily James isn't so bad. Still, the casting is weighted with irony, as is the entire project.


Rebecca centers on a newly-married wife who arrives at her husband's coastal home, only to find herself compared to and overshadowed by his previous wife's , who in Hitchcock's film is never actually seen. There's also a devious made, Mrs. Danvers, who takes on an adversarial role. Count on Wheatley's adaptation to be unfavorably compared to Hitchcock's Best Picture winner in much the same way, and that goes double for Hammer and James who have some pretty big shoes to fill. Personally, I dig them both and want to see what they can do in Wheatley's updated take on the material, which will have a script by Jane Goldman.

Next up for Hammer is the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic On the Basis of Sex. He previously starred in Wheatley's shoot 'em up, Free Fire.  James will be seen in Danny Boyle's untitled musical comedy due out next year.  [TheWrap]