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The Best Films of 2018 (So Far)

The Best Films of 2018 (So Far)
Although the back half of the year is inevitably loaded with ambitious awards contenders and treasures from Sundance and Cannes (audiences have such festival breakouts as “Blindspotting” and “BlacKkKlansman” still to look forward to), 2018 has already brought a wealth of great movies, covering a wide range of genres and styles. Variety chief critics Owen Gleiberman and Peter Debruge look back at the most remarkable releases from the past six months, championing everything from well-meaning micro-indies to a pair of exceptionally well-made superhero tentpoles, to reveal that 2018 is off to a great start. How many of these cinematic marvels have you seen?

Annihilation Paramount Pictures

Dressed like Ghostbusters, Natalie Portman and a brave quartet of women venture deep into an area infected by some kind of mutant extraterrestrial lifeform in a science-fiction thriller that Paramount (rightly) assumed was too cerebral for average moviegoers. Rather than hatching a more creative marketing campaign to support this tense,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Jim McKay on Directing ‘Realist Films About People of Color’ For 20 Years

Jim McKay on Directing ‘Realist Films About People of Color’ For 20 Years
At first blush, Jim McKay may not seem like the poster child for diverse filmmaking: He’s a white guy who has spent the bulk of his career directing other people’s TV shows, from “Law & Order” to “The Good Wife.” But the New York filmmaker has consistently delivered astute dramas about the daily lives of underrepresented Americans long before widespread calls for inclusivity hit Hollywood. His new feature, the low budget crowdpleaser “En El Séptimo Día,” is just the latest example.

After his 1996 debut “Girls Town,” McKay won acclaim at Sundance for 2000’s “Our Song,” a Brooklyn-set coming-of-age story starring a young Kerry Washington and others as members of a community marching band in a low-income neighborhood. For his next projects, McKay went straight to television long before the era of Netflix Originals, directing the working class ensemble piece “Everyday People” and the social worker drama “Angel Rodriguez” for HBO.
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On The Seventh Day (En El Septimo Dia) Movie Review

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On The Seventh Day (En El Septimo Dia) Movie Review
En El SÉPTIMO DÍA (On the Seventh Day) Cinema Guild Reviewed by: Harvey Karten Director: Jim McKay Screenwriter: Jim McKay Cast: Fernando Cardona, Gilberto Jimenez Núñez, Abel Perez, Genoel Ramírez, Alfonso Velazquez Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 5/29/18 Opens: June 8, 2018 On the seventh day God rested, never worrying that a boss would tell […]

The post On The Seventh Day (En El Septimo Dia) Movie Review appeared first on Shockya.com.
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Official Trailer for Jim McKay's 'En El Séptimo Día' About Immigrants

"You're in a very tough situation, José." Cinema Guild has debuted an official trailer for an indie drama film titled En El Séptimo Día, which translates to On the Seventh Day. The latest film by Jim McKay, this indie drama is a compelling look at immigrants in America and the work they do for us. The film follows a group of undocumented Mexican immigrants who work long hours six days a week, and then savor their day of rest on Sundays on the soccer fields of Brooklyn. It has been described in reviews as "an ode to those who fight for that glimmer of hope this country claims," giving us a look at the lives of these immigrants and how hard they work for the chance to have the most basic lives, with their brief freedom to play soccer bringing them the most joy. Fernando Cardona stars as José. This
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‘En El Séptimo Día’ Trailer: Jim McKay Examines The Immigrant Experience In His First Film In A Decade

In a time when there are powerful people spewing dangerous and hateful words about immigrants and building walls, it’s important to remember what their lives are really like. Enter Jim McKay’s latest film, “En El Séptimo Día” (On the Seventh Day). For his first feature in over a decade, McKay wrote and directed a story about the everyday lives of a group of undocumented immigrants living in New York.
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First Trailer for Jim McKay’s ‘En el Séptimo Día’ Captures Immigrant Life in Brooklyn

“En la comunidad hay poder. En los números hay fuerza.” Translated to English, this line means “There’s power in community. There’s strength in numbers.” Spoken in first trailer for En el Séptimo Día, this sentiment embodies the essence of Jim McKay’s newest film. Having spent the past few years directing various high-profile television shows like The Good Wife and Mr. Robot, McKay has finally returned to independent filmmaking for the first time since 2005 – and what better time than now to craft a film that speaks to the importance of community within minority groups.

En el Séptimo Día tells the story of a group of undocumented immigrants as they navigate their full-time jobs throughout the week – ultimately leading to Sunday, the day they spend together playing soccer in Sunset Park. When team captain José (Fernando Cardona) is scheduled to work on the upcoming championship Sunday, both he and
See full article at The Film Stage »

‘En El Séptimo Dia’ Trailer: Jim McKay’s Return to Indie Cinema Is a Timely Immigrant Story — Watch

‘En El Séptimo Dia’ Trailer: Jim McKay’s Return to Indie Cinema Is a Timely Immigrant Story — Watch
Jim McKay’s first feature film in over a decade takes a slice of life approach to a timely subject: the lives, hopes, dreams, and daily existences of undocumented immigrants in Brooklyn, all playing out over the course of seven days. “En El Séptimo Dia” (“On the Seventh Day”) follows a group of bicycle delivery guys, construction workers, dishwashers, deli workers, and cotton candy vendors, all of whom work six days a week and look forward to their seventh day — a Sunday spent on the soccer fields of Sunset Park.

McKay’s film centers on team captain José, whose initial joy over getting into the final round of a big tournament is thrown for a loop when his boss tells him he needs to work on that pivotal Sunday. It’s a no-win situation, and McKay and his cast handle it with grace and generosity. Shot in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park,
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Rooftop Films Summer Slate 2018: Robert Pattinson in ‘Damsel,’ ‘American Animals,’ ‘Skate Kitchen,’ and More

Rooftop Films released the first round of titles screening in its popular summer series, including Robert Pattinson in David and Nathan Zellner’s “Damsel,” which will make its New York premiere in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood cemetery. The series features a slew of the year’s most highly-anticipated festival favorites, including Bart Layton’s “American Animals,” and Crystal Moselle’s “Skate Kitchen,” and a sneak preview of Carlos López Estrada’s “Blindspotting,” starring “Hamilton” actor Daveed Diggs.

“Rooftop Films is famous for creating fun, custom-curated, large-scale events that augment the

experience of watching our favorite new films,” said Dan Nuxoll, Artistic Director of Rooftop Films. “This year we have put extra effort into adding exciting components to every event, including a performance from the vivacious Arkansas drag queens from Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher’s ‘The Gospel of Eureka.'”

Rooftop is introducing two new venues this year: Brooklyn Army Terminal and Green-Wood Cemetery,
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Cinema Guild Buys ‘En el Séptimo Día,’ Drama About Undocumented Immigrants (Exclusive)

Cinema Guild Buys ‘En el Séptimo Día,’ Drama About Undocumented Immigrants (Exclusive)
Cinema Guild has acquired “En el Séptimo Día,” Jim McKay’s acclaimed examination of the lives of undocumented Mexican immigrants. The title translates to “On the Seventh Day” and is a reference to the punishing hours its central characters work as dishwashers, deli workers, and cotton candy vendors. After laboring for six days, they have a day of rest on Sundays — it is a reprieve spent on the soccer fields of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

“En el Séptimo Día” will open in New York on June 8 at IFC Center and Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rose Cinemas. It’s McKay’s fifth feature after a 13-year absence from the big screen. His other credits include “Our Song” and “Girls Town,” and McKay has used his hiatus working on television shows such as “The Wire” and “The Good Wife.”

The film premiered as the centerpiece selection at BAMcinemaFest 2017 and made its overseas
See full article at Variety - Film News »

4 American Independent Films That Played Well For European Audiences In 2017

4 American Independent Films That Played Well For European Audiences In 2017
The following essay was produced as part of the 2017 Locarno Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film critics that took place during the 70th edition of the Locarno Film Festival.

The term “independent film” is vaguer than ever, but film festivals are the best place to look for its evolving definition. While American independent film has developed a unique identity thanks to Sundance and other North American showcases, it takes on a very different profile when these films travel abroad.

The Locarno Film Festival has developed something of a reputation for enabling European festival-goers to discover the best of American independent film, its visitors relying on the festival’s programmers to delve through the material sold as independent to find the films that deserve the label. Here’s a look at four highlights from this year’s lineup that were well-received by the festival’s audiences.

Good Time

Though it
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Locarno Festival 2017 Lineup: The Best Summer Movie Counterprogramming You Could Ask For

Locarno Festival 2017 Lineup: The Best Summer Movie Counterprogramming You Could Ask For
The summer movie season may start winding down by early August, but for cinephiles, that’s when the real fun begins. While the fall season festivals — epitomized by the trio of awards season influencers Telluride, Toronto and New York — are a massive platform for major prestige titles at the end of the year, the Locarno Film Festival has the jump on all of them, and provides the most diverse range of cinema you’ll see anywhere in the world.

The 70th edition, announced this week, provides the latest example. No festival embodies the “something for everyone” philosophy better than Locarno, which complements its cinephile-oriented sections with another one exclusively designed for wider audiences. That would be the Piazza Grande, where 16 features screen outdoors for an audience of 8,000 people. But rather than simply showcasing the same summer blockbusters that have dominated the box office, the Piazza features international efforts well suited to pleasing massive crowds,
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Locarno 2017. Lineup

Ben & Joshua Safdie's Good TimeThe lineup for the 2017 festival has been revealed, including new films by Wang Bing, Radu Jude, Raúl Ruiz and others, alongside retrospectives and tributes dedicated to Jean-Marie Straub, Jacques Tourneur and much more.Piazza GRANDEAmori che non sonno stare al mondo (Francesca Comencini, Italy)Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, USA)Chien (Samuel Benchetrit, France/Belgium)Demain et tous les autres jours (Noémie Lvovsky, France)Drei Zinnen (Jan Zabeil, Germany/Italy)Good Time (Ben & Joshua Safdie, USA)Gotthard - One Life, One Soul (Kevin Merz, Switzerland)I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, USA)Iceman (Felix Randau, Germany/Italy/Austria)Laissez bronzer les cadavres (Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Belgium/France)Lola Pater (Nadir Moknèche, France/Belgium)Sicilia! (Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, Italy/France/Germany)Sparring (Samuel Jouy, France)The Big Sick (Michael Showalter, USA)The Song of Scorpions (Anup Singh, Switzerland/France/Singapore)What Happed to Monday (Tommy Wirkola,
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Locarno: Isabelle Huppert as ‘Madame Hyde,’ Fanny Ardant as a Transgender Woman

Locarno: Isabelle Huppert as ‘Madame Hyde,’ Fanny Ardant as a Transgender Woman
Rome – The Locarno Film Festival has unveiled a rich mix of titles spanning many genres for its 70th edition, marked by a strong French presence that will include Isabelle Huppert playing a physics teacher who undergoes a major personality shift in “Madame Hyde” and Fanny Ardant playing a man who has had gender-reassignment surgery in “Lola Pater” (pictured).

Focus Features’ spy pic “Atomic Blonde” with Charlize Theron and Netflix’s sci-fi thriller “What Happened to Monday?” will also screen in Locarno’s open-air, 8,000-seat Piazza Grande, though without talent in tow.

As in past editions, the lineup of the Swiss fest dedicated to indie cinema combines potential discoveries with new works by known festival auteurs such as Noemie Lvovsky, Anup Singh, F.J. Ossang, Wang Bing, Annemarie Jacir, and a posthumous pic by Raul Ruiz. The official competition comprises 14 world premieres, four of which are films by first-time directors.

Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow and Thereafter,” a
See full article at Variety - Film News »

'En el Septimo Dia': Film Review

'En el Septimo Dia': Film Review
Back at the indie helm after a decade-plus of directing gigs for high-profile TV dramas, Jim McKay demonstrates with En el Septimo Día (On the Seventh Day) that his gifts as a filmmaker are as vital as ever. As with Girls Town and Our Song (which marked the feature debut of Kerry Washington), the day-to-day lives of working-class New Yorkers are the writer-director's concern, but this time he turns his focus from teen girls to a thoroughly engaging group of men, immigrants from Mexico who work six days a week and hit the soccer field Sundays. They're played by a...
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Jim McKay on His Return to Feature Filmmaking, the Soccer-Themed Drama, En el Séptimo Día

Jim McKay, whose early, mid ’90s/early-aughts features (Girls Town, Our Song, Everyday People and Angel) were empathetic and involving New York dramas suffused with a love of neighborhood and feeling for community, makes a welcome return to feature filmmaking with the Brooklyn-set En el Séptimo Día (“On the Seventh Day”), which premiered last week to strong notices at BAMcinemafest. With a fresh cast of mostly Spanish-speaking newcomers, McKay tells the story of Jose (a soulful Fernando Cardona), an undocumented Mexican immigrant who, weekdays plus Saturdays, does deliveries at an upscale Carroll Gardens restaurant while, on Sundays, playing as the star […]
See full article at Filmmaker Magazine »

‘Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press’ Review: Hulk Hogan’s Gawker Trial Gets a Big, Scary Context

‘Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press’ Review: Hulk Hogan’s Gawker Trial Gets a Big, Scary Context
Well, let me tell you something, brother: Hulk Hogan always goes over in the end. The result of last year’s tabloid-friendly trial between Hogan (real name Terry Bollea, as Jenny Slate kindly reminded us in “Obvious Child”) and Gawker may have been less surprising to pro-wrestling fans than it was to everyone else, but its long-term impact will likely be even more consequential than the Hulkster body-slamming Andre the Giant in front of 93,000 screaming Hulkamaniacs.

Read More: ‘Nobody Speak’ Trailer: Hulk Hogan and Gawker Go to War in the Court Room

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press” isn’t as indulgent with wrestling references as that last paragraph, which is probably to its credit. Brian Knappenberger’s documentary is compelling and slickly produced in the way that timely Sundance documentaries often are, with no shortage of talking heads and trial footage assuring us that there’s nothing normal about the new normal in which we all find ourselves. Also like a lot of similar movies, the subject itself is more engaging than the filmmaking.

The plaintiff in the trial was a lifelong showman whose fame and fortune are a direct result of his ability work an audience, whether it be in an open-air arena or an intimate courtroom; one of the defendants made a massively ill-advised joke about child sex tapes. To say that Hogan acquitted himself well and his opponent did not would be an understatement.

But however self-inflicted Gawker’s wounds may have been — they chose a questionable hill to die on, and die they did — the implications of that trial are troubling, to say the least. What other casualties might follow suit in the future? This concern is put best by a First Amendment attorney interviewed here: “The reason to save Gawker is not because Gawker was worth saving,” he says. “The reason to save it is that we don’t pick and choose what sort of publications are permissible, because once we do, it empowers the government to limit speech in a way that ought to be impermissible.”

The reading of the verdict and $140 million in damages comes halfway through the film, and it’s then that “Nobody Speak” pivots to its ultimate focus: Peter Thiel and other billionaires who seek to muzzle the press. Lawyers are expensive, and litigants with deep war chests tend to win. Knappenberger presents his case with all the passion of a trial lawyer who knows that his case be unwinnable but presses on anyway.

Read More: Netflix Close to Acquiring Hulk Hogan Doc ‘Nobody Speak’ — Sundance 2017

It was Thiel who financed Hogan’s lawsuit and considered doing so a philanthropic act. He’d been outed by Gawker nearly a decade earlier. The potential danger is obvious: Other millionaires and billionaires could follow suit and use their vast financial resources to sue journalistic outlets they don’t like as a means of score-settling.

Knappenberger links this to Donald Trump’s promise to “open up libel laws” and his rabid supporters’ violent threats toward journalists at rallies, not least because Thiel was an early supporter of then-candidate Trump. These conclusions are persuasive, frightening and (one hopes) a little alarmist — surging background music and other theatrics have a tendency to detract from the film’s arguments rather than enhancing it. A film about the vital importance of speaking truth to power needn’t be so concerned with dressing up its own frightful truths, but “Nobody Speak” still compels as an opening statement on journalism’s dubious future.

Grade: B-

“Nobody Speak” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s available to stream on Netflix as of June 23.

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Related stories'Transformers: The Last Knight' Review: Here's the Most Ridiculous Hollywood Movie of the YearJ. Hoberman's Best Movies of the 21st Century'En El Séptimo Dia' Review: Jim McKay's First Movie in a Decade is the Summer's Surprise Crowdpleaser
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BAMcinemaFest Review: ‘En el Séptimo Día’ is a Compassionate Portrait of the Immigrant Experience

Discussing the ways in which fiction films shift between their linear, wholly narrative impulses and something approaching ethnography is among the most illuminating aspects of movies so deeply tied to a specific time and milieu. En el Séptimo Día, written and directed by Jim McKay, is particularly upfront about this. Near the beginning of the film, a set of onscreen text locates the events of the narrative as Sunset Park, Brooklyn in the summer of 2016, discretely divided into the days of a single week (beginning on Sunday) and the following Monday. With the sole exception of one shot — a cybercafé in Mexico — the movie never leaves this setting, exploring the seemingly endless maze of streets and the establishments and restaurants just off the beaten path with careful detail and an almost unerring eye.

The viewer’s guide and focal character is José (Fernando Cardona), a Mexican immigrant and avid soccer player who, over the course of the week, attempts to juggle his responsibility as captain of his football team, which is due to play in their league’s finals on Sunday, and his job as a bicycle delivery-person for a somewhat upscale Mexican restaurant. This latter occupation forms much of the backbone of En el Séptimo Día, as a good deal of time is spent observing José as he pedals around the borough making deliveries, often waiting for lackadaisical customers or various other impediments – one day prominently features torrential rain which he must fend off using only a poncho.

Through all of this, there is a certain veneer of repeated indignities inflicted upon him due to his social status as a lower-class worker, primarily – but not solely – by his boss, the most prominent non-Spanish speaker in the film (all English dialogue is also subtitled in Spanish as well, in an intriguing bit of alignment with the viewpoint of the immigrants). José is never discriminated against specifically because of his race per se, but there is an undeniable and continual feeling of uncaring disdain that emanates from almost every character that isn’t friends with him, and indeed they exist on a certain continuum of helpfulness or unhelpfulness that McKay manages to conjure without ever creating a straw-man that can be simply tossed aside.

The idea of Mexican heritage and community as being worthy of celebration in spite of the surrounding culture is repeatedly emphasized, both in the soccer league – at one point it is remarked that only people of Mexican descent can play in the league, and José’s team seems to be named after Puebla F.C. – and in the more “important,” mundane concerns. Much of the central conflict lies in the choice that José must make between working on Sunday, and therefore missing the final that his team will likely lose without his skill, or playing and thus losing his job. An additional wrinkle is thrown in by the imminent birth of his daughter: unless he keeps his job, he cannot go on vacation in a month to bring his wife to America so that his child can obtain U.S. citizenship.

It is to McKay’s credit that these weighty concerns only rarely dominate En el Séptimo Día, which derives much more of its interest from the small, tossed-off interactions of a Skype call, or the banter between the teammates that share a cramped apartment. Even the technical aspects have a lightness to them, as almost all of the film is conveyed through shot/reverse-shot and quick, clean pans, deploying handheld on only a few occasions. In a way, this reflects a certain ethos on the part of the cast and crew: En el Séptimo Día aims not for a glorified, glamorized version of an existence only slightly above poverty nor an excessive grittiness with pretenses towards “realism.” Rather, it seeks to portray a certain way of life with compassion, vitality, and above all fidelity, aims that are deeply felt and executed throughout this remarkable, vigorous film.

En el Séptimo Día premiered at BAMcinemaFest.
See full article at The Film Stage »

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Review: Here’s the Most Ridiculous Hollywood Movie of the Year

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Review: Here’s the Most Ridiculous Hollywood Movie of the Year
Transformers: The Last Knight” opens in medieval times with a drunken Merlin (Stanley Tucci) and closes with a futuristic man-versus-aliens showdown set in Stonehenge. In between those ludicrous scenarios, director Michael Bay’s fifth entry in the most overproduced movie franchise of the 21st century stuffs in a new love interest for Mark Wahlberg, a deep space journey to a robotic villainess intent on destroying mankind, and a robotic British butler with martial arts skills operating at the whims of Anthony Hopkins. It’s an unabashed freewheeling mess of CGI explosions, fast-talking strategies and shiny metal monstrosities clashing in epic battles. And it’s actually kind of fun, in an infuriating sort of way, to watch the most ridiculous Hollywood movie of the year do its thing.

Here’s the thing about the “Transformers” movies. Bay managed to drag a nostalgia-laden franchise best known for the toys it inspired into the 21st century in part by not taking the premise too seriously. That changed after the success of the first live action installment 10 years ago; “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” turned the playfulness of the earlier entries into a gleaming mass of commercial showmanship; each runs well over two and a half hours, and “The Last Knight” is no exception.

But the craziest thing about the movie is that it practically dares audiences to grow anxious while watching its restless, bloated contents, and keeps tossing out shiny nuggets of entertainment to cloak from the overwhelming ridiculousness in spectacle. The closest thing in American movies to an epic, Bollywood-style genre mashup, “The Last Knight” continues the trend of the series in borrowing liberally from every filmic tradition possible in the quest to crush all competition and leave viewers with the sense that they don’t need to see anything else, ever. That underlying implication is made all the more infuriating because Bay excels at the aesthetic of distraction, with the masculine intensity of a jock and the soothing words of a hypnotist: Sit back, relax, and enjoy the stupid ride. What, you don’t like fun movies?

Bay’s craftsmanship is impeccable, but per usual, the real stars of the show remain the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic responsible for the range of special effects. The degree of visual information crammed into every frame never ceases to amaze, particularly when enjoyed on an IMAX screen capable of conveying the full scale. It helps that the ongoing story has gotten to the point where Transformers have blossomed around the globe, providing an excuse to unleash so many dazzling images the brain can’t possibly process them all at once.

At the end of the third movie, Transformers leader Optimus Prime left Earth for a mysterious journey back to his home planet, leaving Earth at odds with the remaining Transformers inhabitants as they hid from the law while defending the planet from an onslaught of Decepticons. In other words, we’ve gone beyond the “Age of Extinction” singled out in the 2014 movie and headed into post-apocalyptic territory: Since defending Transformers has been outlawed, rascally inventor Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) hides out in a junkyard with the usual motley gang of tower-sized defenders, including the ever-endearing Bumblebee (still eager to find a new voice box).

Bay’s mastered the art of showcasing these beings and their colorful personalities so well that he could easily craft a digitally-enhanced comedy about passive-aggressive Transformers with roommate problems and call it a day. But bigger things are at stake! Or, at least, more plot is necessary to drive the ongoing perception that this giant mass of moving images deserves your 20 bucks.

Summarizing a Transformers movie is a good way to fall prey to its traps, but here goes: At some point while running from the law, Cade is kidnapped by the mysterious Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins, doing a kooky riff on his “Westworld” character), who maintains a group of aging robots stretching back millennia and belongs to a secret society of humans who have protected the secret of the Transformers’ existence. (These include Da Vinci, Shakespeare and Harriet Tubman, all of whom might have provided more ambitious fodder for a framing device than Tucci’s Merlin, but hey, there’s plenty of time for more sequels.)

In any case, Cade saved a medieval Transformer space traveler who gifted the human with a protective amulet dating back to Merlin’s days, so now the inventor’s a genuine superhero. He’s paired with spicy British academic Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock), a Merlin descendant whose knowledge of the lore informs her understanding of Wahlberg’s qualifications to save Merlin’s magical wand from an incoming alien invasion. Bay’s flimsy capacity for directing substantial women roles gets especially dicey here, with a cardboard cutout version of a brainy academic who ultimately melts into Wahlberg’s arms. Make no mistake: These movies are the most sensationalistic illustrations of the male gaze in history.

They’re also terribly reductive. When Cade and Vivian aren’t scrambling, “Indiana Jones”-style, to comprehend an Arthurian legend, a neurotic scientist played by “Veep” funnyman Tony Hale urges the government to do something about the invaders from space. As if this watered-down “Independence Day” scenario weren’t enough, the movie keeps veering off in jagged directions. At one point, we meet a range of Decepticon villains released from jail to take down the Transformers, a robotic Suicide Squad with names like Nitro Zeus and Dread bot who vanish almost as quickly as they’re introduced.

But, you know, who cares? It’s a “Transformers” movie! More coherent than “Age of Extinction,” the third act of which took place in Beijing for no other apparent reason than to outsource the production to China, “The Last Night” lands a lot of good laughs with its cartoonish robots and equally over-the-top chemistry between its two leads. Hopkins’ character is even helped along by a senile robot named Cogman, an unapologetic C-3Po ripoff whose very existence proves that Bay thinks nothing is sacred in his plundering of cinematic traditions. In these transparent times, when the ills of capitalism are no longer hidden under the guise of moral superiority, the sheer absurd cash grab of “The Last Knight” feels like more than just a commercial coup. It’s the zeitgeist. Just go with it.

Or don’t. In 2007, audiences keen on “Transformers” counterprogramming went to see “The Hurt Locker.” This time, “Transformers: The Last Knight” opens the same weekend as “The Big Sick,” a smart and intimate romcom that transforms those formulaic traditions into a more personal story about the travails of an interracial couple. As summer crowdpleasers go, it’s a lot more credible than “The Last Knight” — and the contrast between the two movies couldn’t be more extreme. One carries the implication that the modern world is a complex place in which the process of discovering new people and ideas leads to bountiful rewards. The other rejects all that and implores you to settle for a flashier version of the same old thing.

Grade: C

Transformers: The Last Knight” opens nationwide on June 20, 2017.

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J. Hoberman’s Best Movies of the 21st Century

There have been a lot of lists about the best films of the 21st century. IndieWire has been digging through the last two decades one genre at a time; meanwhile, the New York Times’ top movie critics provided their own takes. J. Hoberman, the longtime Village Voice film critic who now works as a freelancer, decided to join the fray. Here’s his take, also available at his site, and republished here with permission.

People have been asking me, so I thought I might as well join (or crash) the party initiated by the New York Times and put in my two cents regarding the 25 Best Films of the 21st Century (so far). I don’t see “everything” anymore and I haven’t been to Cannes since 2011.

There is some overlap but this is not the same as the proposed 21-film syllabus of 21st Century cinema included in my book “Film After Film.” Those were all in their way pedagogical choices. Begging the question of what “best” means, these are all movies that I really like, that I’m happy to see multiple times, that are strongly of their moment and that I think will stand the test of time.

My single “best” film-object is followed by a list of 11 filmmakers and one academic production company (in order of “best-ness”) responsible for two or more “best films,” these followed by another eight individual movies (again in order) and finally four more tentatively advanced films (these alphabetical). I’m sure I’m forgetting some but that’s the nature of the beast.

Christian Marclay: “The Clock

Lars von Trier: “Dogville” & “Melancholia” (and none of his others)

Hou Hsiao Hsien: “The Assassin” & “Flight of the Red Balloon

Jean-Luc Godard: “In Praise of Love” & “Goodbye to Language”

David Cronenberg: “Spider,” “A History of Violence,” “Eastern Promises,” & “A Dangerous Method

David Lynch: “Mulholland Drive” & “Inland Empire

Ken Jacobs: “Seeking the Monkey King,” “The Guests” (and more)

Cristi Puiu: “The Death of Mr Lazarescu” & “Aurora

Chantal Akerman: “No Home Movie” & “La Captive” (assuming that 2000 is part of the 21st Century)

Paul Thomas Anderson: “The Master” & “There Will Be Blood

Kathryn Bigelow: “The Hurt Locker” & “Zero Dark Thirty

Alfonso Cuarón: “Gravity” & “Children of Men

Sensory Ethnology Lab: “Leviathan,” “Manakamana,” & “People’s Park”

“The Strange Case of Angelica” — Manoel de Oliviera

“Corpus Callosum” — Michael Snow

“West of the Tracks” — Wang Bing

“Carlos” — Olivier Assayas

“Che” — Steven Soderbergh

“Ten” — Abbas Kariostami

“Russian Ark” — Aleksandr Sokurov

“The World” — Jia Zhangke

Citizenfour” — Laura Poitras

Day Night Day Night” — Julia Loktev

“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” — Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Wall-e” — Andrew Stanton

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‘En El Séptimo Dia’ Review: Jim McKay’s First Movie in a Decade is the Summer’s Surprise Crowdpleaser

‘En El Séptimo Dia’ Review: Jim McKay’s First Movie in a Decade is the Summer’s Surprise Crowdpleaser
The most satisfying aspect of “En El Séptimo Dia” (“On the Seventh Day”), Jim McKay’s first feature in 12 years, stems from the way it combines a simple premise with profound concerns. Set across one week in the life of a Mexican immigrant in Brooklyn, it harkens back to classic neorealist traditions by providing a window into the everyday challenges of a lower-class existence all too often ignored in mainstream cinema. At the same time, it positions the drama as a feel-good crowdpleaser, a rousing sports movie about characters trapped by their surroundings and galvanized by their communal spirit.

It doesn’t take long to establish the plight of José (Fernando Cardona, a non-professional newcomer like the rest of the cast), who works a bland job as the deliveryman at a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens when he’s not leading his soccer team to a championship in
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