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Miss Sharon Jones! documentary review: get up, get on back up

29 July 2016 10:57 AM, PDT

Cheer-worthy portrait of a singer for whom overcoming adversity has been a mainstay, and a testament to the power of music and family to keep a gal going. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for movies about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

You may never have heard of Sharon Jones or her band, the Dap Kings. They are not stars; they are the very embodiment of working musicians: they don’t have hit songs — their brand of funk-soul, reviving the sounds of the 1960s and 70s, may be too niche for that — but they tour like crazy, and audiences adore them. And just at the moment when, in late 2013, their music was starting to get a taste of mainstream success and a little bit of media recognition, disaster strikes: Jones is diagnosed with stage-two pancreatic cancer, and »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Into the Forest movie review: end of the world, not as we’ve known it

29 July 2016 7:46 AM, PDT

An atypical disaster movie, less about the failure of technology than the failure — and perhaps the resurgence — of the human spirit in the face of that. I’m “biast” (pro): I’m desperate for stories about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It wouldn’t take much to destroy civilization: just shut off the power, everywhere, for months on end. That scenario as depicted in Into the Forest is nowhere near as apocalyptic as it could be; read the terrifying novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen for a taste of that [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] [iTunes U.S.] [iTunes Canada] [iTunes U.K.]. But it’s still pretty grim.

Sisters Nell (Ellen Page: Freeheld) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood: Strange Magic) and their dad (Callum Keith Rennie: Warcraft) are pretty comfortable at first in their smart house up in the woods of »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Jason Bourne movie review: Bourne again, but why?

26 July 2016 6:19 AM, PDT

Everything looks great on paper here: Damon’s brawny presence; the smartly staged action, etc. And it’s not unfun. But it feels less black ops than old hat. I’m “biast” (pro): big fan of the Bourne series

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It’s been nine years since we last saw Matt Damon racing around the world and beating people up as brainwashed assassin Jason Bourne… and the weight of those interim years rests heavily upon this fourth installment. Oh, it’s not that Damon (The Martian, Interstellar), now 46 years old, isn’t up to the physical demands of the role. In fact, his Bourne is significantly beefier here: bigger, more intimidating, just plain more dangerous in an all-muscle kind of way. (Bourne appears to have been scraping out a meager living since we last saw him »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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new and ongoing dvd & streaming releases, Us/Can/UK, from Jul 25-26

26 July 2016 5:05 AM, PDT

A simple listing, duplicated from the homepage, of new releases and other stuff currently available, for the benefit of those playing along by RSS or keeping up via the Daily Digest emails (sign up here).

new Us/Can Jul 26    streaming only Wiener-Dog The Childhood of a Leader God’s Not Dead 2 Into the Forest    dvd/streaming Sing Street The Boss Hardcore Henry Listening Barbershop: The Next Cut Criminal new UK Jul 25    streaming only Eddie the Eagle Fat Stonewall    dvd/streaming The End of the Tour Mirror (Zerkalo) 10 Cloverfield Lane Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) Risen Disorder (aka Maryland) Rock the Kasbah The Violators

more recent releases Us/Can    streaming only Boom Bust Boom The Brainwashing of My Dad Department Q: The Absent One Department Q: A Conspiracy of Faith Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes Difret Dukhtar The Invitation The Lobster Love Between the Covers Raiders!: The Story of the »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Disorder (aka Maryland) movie review: security blank

25 July 2016 12:16 PM, PDT

Moments of genuine tension are few in this would-be suspenseful thriller, which can’t settle on a state of mind for its protagonist, or for its own story. I’m “biast” (pro): love Matthias Schoenaerts and Diane Kruger

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

And I was so looking forward to this! I’ll watch Matthias Schoenaerts (and Diane Kruger) in anything, and director Alice Winocour wrote the amazing Mustang, so I imagined Disorder would be a slam dunk. But it just doesn’t work on any level. Oh, Schoenaerts (The Danish Girl) brings all the smoldering intensity we love him for as Vincent, a soldier suffering from Ptsd who takes a side job doing security for Jessie (Kruger: Fathers & Daughters), the wife of a Lebanese businessman, guarding her and the couple’s palatial French Riveria estate, called Maryland, while »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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