The 2018 novel, "The Woman in the Window," by author A.J. Finn, was a hot property in Hollywood and almost immediately after its release, was green-lit as a feature film. It attracted Oscar-caliber talent, like Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman, with an adapted screenplay by Tracy Letts and Scott Rudin. Esteemed director Joe Wright ("Darkest Hour," "Atonement") was brought on board and "The Woman in the Window" looked like a surefire hit.
That is, until disastrous test screenings with audiences sent the movie back into post-production and delayed it from its original October 2019 release date. The pandemic put it out even farther, and 20th Century Studios was more than happy to sell it off to Netflix, who purchased the rights to the film and then unceremoniously dumped it as a mid-May release (Netflix, a PR powerhouse, did little to promote it and doesn't seem to have much confidence in its performance).
It's never a good sign when a movie goes through so much, but even in knowing the film's journey, it still lands as a massive disappointment when it arrives and is ever worse than you expect. With Adams, Oldman, Moore and also featuring Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell and Anthony Mackie (the latter two of whom were recent co-stars in "The Falcon & The Winter Soldier"), you expect something great, and "The Woman in the Window" is not great...even if glimpsed through a window from across the street would one never reach that conclusion.
The "Saw" franchise is one of the most successful horror franchises of all-time, having grossed over a billion - with a "b" - since the first film hit theaters back in 2004. "Spiral: From the Book of Saw" is now the ninth film in the series and the first since the 2017 release, "Jigsaw."
The first two films in the series were fresh, unique and clever despite being labeled, perhaps correctly, as "torture porn." But the further we get away from that original pair of films, the more pointless the movies have become. Consequently "Spiral," feels like a copy of of a copy of a copy...an inauthentic wanna-be, much like the new killer it features who is yet again out for some twisted form of vengeance.
Zack Snyder has worked his way into the hearts of millions and is one of the most talked-about directors of the past year. The "Zack Snyder Cut" of "Justice League" that was recently released was well-received and dreamed into fruition by his fervent fan-base. But long before he ever took on The Caped Crusader and his Super-Friends, Snyder cut his teeth on a zombie movie...a George Romero zombie movie no less...the 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead." It was Snyder's first feature-film and he returns to world of the undead with his own original zombie tale, "Army of the Dead."
Yes, it's way too long (it is a Zack Snyder film after all), and it never quite lives up to its outstanding opening sequence. But sometimes it's nice to just rest one's brain, and that particular muscle is not at all needed to enjoy this one. "Army of the Dead" definitely pays tribute to the zombie genre, in that mindlessness is not only welcome, it's the main dish.
If only it didn't take itself so seriously.
"The Truffle Hunters," as the title suggests, features men - mostly over the age of 80 - who have made a living throughout the countryside of Italy hunting truffles...delicious and incredibly rare fungi that grow below the surface of the Earth and that have incredible value to high-end food connoisseurs.
What the title doesn't tell you, is that it is a movie for dog-lovers, and beneath its surface - just like truffles themselves - there is rich complexity. Also like truffles, this small documentary film is worth the search for what you'll gain in the act of the discovery.
Director Alexandra Aja has made a career out of horror. Films like "Crawl," "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Piranha 3D" clearly show his skill as a growing master of the genre. With his latest film, "Oxygen" ("Oxygéne" as it's known by it's original French title), he leans more heavily into science-fiction while still flexing his usual muscles.
The result is the most effective movie to date that deals with the isolation, desperation and claustrophobia associated with the recent pandemic, even though "Oxygen" has nothing to do directly with it.
Documentarian Alex Gibney has got his finger on the pulse of current issues facing Americans...and he also is clearly one of the fastest-moving filmmakers on the planet. It took him no time last year to kick out the pandemic-related "Totally Under Control" and his previous HBO documentary mini-series, "Agents of Chaos," took a deep-dive into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
His latest two-part effort - with Part One airing tonight on HBO with Part Two following on Tuesday, 5/11 - is called "The Crime of the Century" and is a stunning exploration of the Opioid Epidemic...and how it isn't just some accidental phenomenon, but yet another man-made disaster.
A totally bonkers Andrew Garfield and a solid performance from Maya Hawke (daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman) is not enough to save "Mainstream" from itself.
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: Interview with "Mainstream" director Gia Coppola
A scholarly documentary, "The Human Factor" walks us through the Middle East Peace Process, as told from the perspective of United States mediators under George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and beyond.
"Wrath of Man" is a tough-guy action-film featuring characters with names like Bullet, Hollow Bob and Boy Sweat Dave, who all talk in witty sound-bites and phrases typically found in movies but not in real life. In other words, of course it's directed by Guy Ritchie, the director of other like movies such as "Snatch," "RocknRolla," "Revolver" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."
But instead of simply existing as a stylized heist movie and finding comfort in that, the convoluted plot of "Wrath of Man" turns this into an over-long, shoot-em-up that devolves into mindlessness the further it goes along.
Granted, there are not too many films about grain entrapment to compare "Silo" to. But this tense, focused drama/thriller has enough uniqueness and intrigue to suck you in, if not overwhelm you, with sharply-drawn yet simplistic characters and a strange situation that benefits from the audience not knowing its dangers.
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