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Last year at San Diego Comic-Con, Peter Capaldi took a bow as Doctor Who at Hall H; this year, for the first time ever, members of BBC's "Doctor Who" appeared together in Hall H on Thursday to tease fans with the new season's secrets and explain the new possibilities with the first ever female "Doctor Who."

Peter Capaldi's Doctor Who, number 12, left this world by "cheating death" as all Time Lords have. His final words were: "Hate is always foolish. Love is always wise. Always try to be nice and never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn't tell anyone your name; no one would understand it anyway." And then, when fans finally saw the transformation during the end of the 2017 Christmas special, "Twice Upon a Time," the new Doctor was Jodie Whittaker. At the start of this year's panel which included Jodie Whittaker (Doctor Who), Tosin Cole (Ryan), Mandip Gill (Yasmin), Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens and was moderated by IGN's editorial manager Terri Schwartz, clips of fan reactions across the world for Lucky Thirteen (including Meryl Streep who said, "I think it's about time") flashed on the screen.

For 12 iterations, Doctor Who has always been a white male, ready to fight the Daleks and other monsters with his brain. Each has had a distinctive fashion style to the delight of Cosplayers—both male and female. Number 13 expresses what Cosplayers have always known: There is...

One of Roger Ebert's favorite filmmakers, Ingmar Bergman, will receive an essential collector's edition box set from the Criterion Collection in honor of his 100th birthday. "Ingmar Bergman's Cinema," scheduled for release on November 20th, spans six decades and 39 films, all of which will be restored on pristine Blu-rays. Accompanied by a 248-page book of essays, as well as by more than thirty hours of supplemental features, this set is structured like a film festival, presenting Bergman's extraordinary body of work as a multi-part screening series.

Serving as the opening night selection of the box set in 1955's "Smiles of a Summer Night," a film that "acted as an artistic and professional turning point" for the filmmaker, according to Ebert. In his Great Movies essay, Ebert detailed how the Swedish Film Institute took a gamble by spending $100,000 on the film (the largest ever for a Swedish movie up till that time), and it paid off spectacularly, becoming an international success and preventing the director from ever having to "scramble for financing" again in his career. The film also showcased Bergman's under-appreciated sense of humor. 

"We are meant to understand that everyone's sensibilities are erotically alert because it is one of those endless northern days where night is but a finger dragging the dusk between one day and the next," wrote Ebert. "What happens during the course of the long night involves smiles and a great deal more, including a providential bed that slides through...

Three critics participating in the IndieWire Critics Survey selecting the Best Biographical Documentaries Ever Made chose "Life Itself," Steve James' acclaimed documentary on the life and legacy of Roger Ebert, as their top pick: Mike McGranaghan of The Aisle Seat and Screen Rant; Ken Bakely of Film Pulse; and Danielle Solzman of Solzy at the Movies. In addition, Christopher Campbell of Nonfics, Film School Rejects and Thrillist, also named “Life Itself” as one of the top three biographical documentaries based on books, alongside Brett Morgen and Nanette BurstInein’s “The Kid Stays in the Picture” and James Marsh’s “Man on Wire.” The article, which was published on July 9th, can be read in its entirety here.

“I might be a little biased on this one because he was a personal hero of mine, but I’m going to choose ‘Life Itself,’ the documentary about Roger Ebert,” wrote Mike McGranaghan. “The film gets at everything that made Ebert so influential — his talent, his personality, his cinematic knowledge, the passion for film that drove his career. Most of all, it captures his indomitable spirit in the face of a devastating battle with cancer. When we talk about people who have done ‘great’ things, it’s usually doctors, scientists, or political/religious leaders who come to mind. Film critics are not high up on that list. Having said that, Roger Ebert inspired a generation of kids (myself included) to grow up wanting to pursue a career in...

It isn’t the costumes or the hours of waiting in line to see movie stars that define San Diego Comic-Con; it is the fans who are so passionate that they cheer for below-the-line talent with as much enthusiasm as they do for the actors who play The Avengers. The sixth annual presentation by the composers who score superhero movies and television shows was one of the first panels at SDCC this year, and the packed room cheered as the men came on stage. (Moderator Ray Costa responded to last year’s question about women composers by telling the crowd that wanted to include Pinar Toprak, but she is working on the score for “Captain Marvel.”)

Each of the composers talked about what they do to keep the music vibrant and exciting but always in support of the action and the storyline. Kurt Farquhar, who toured as a jazz musician in his 20’s and turned to writing scores only after he became homeless, has provided the music for nine series, including “Black Lightning.” “I wanted some interesting sounds to make you aware it is an African-American cast,” he said. “Not by putting a beat and going straight-up hip-hop, but there is a hip-hop beat under it, with the lower bass on drum and violins doing the top part. So it feels kind of urban without using urban sounds.” He called scoring “dancing with dialogue."

Blake Neely was the acknowledged MVP of the group, providing...

The arrangement between Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison and Netflix keeps rolling, resulting in this week’s “Father of the Year,” the kind of quickie comedy project that was clearly conceived, executed, and released in an incredibly small window of time. It’s not as abrasively awful as the worst of Netflix/Madison projects (“The Ridiculous Six” still holds the standard), it’s just forgettable. It’s akin to a mediocre sitcom you might catch on network TV on a Monday night. You won't hate the experience of watching it, but you’ll forget you saw it before it’s even over.

David Spade does what is basically a riff on his Joe Dirt character as a hard-drinking, not-too-bright guy named Wayne, father to a sweet kid named Ben (Joey Bragg). Ben has come home with his best buddy Larry (Matt Shively) and the two young men have one of those drunken conversations about whose dad would win in a fist fight. Larry’s dad Mardy (Nat Faxon) is the polar opposite of Wayne—he's a scientist who is so meek that he’s being bullied by his own eight-year-old. So it’s either the guy so dumb that he builds a makeshift pool in the flatbed of his neighbor’s truck or the one being owned by a third grader. When Wayne hears word that the guys think Mardy is the likely winner, he takes it as a personal affront and challenges the father of his son’s BFF to an...

“Blindspotting” is the third 2018 film to use Oakland, California as the jumping off point for the types of cinematic flights of fancy Hollywood rarely affords people of color. It is part of a trio that dares to violate an audience’s preconceived notions of what fates can befall Black and brown people onscreen, and how those outcomes are rendered. “Black Panther” made Oakland a sister city to the majestic fantasy that is Wakanda, achingly bridging the gap between Heaven and Earth. The more recent “Sorry to Bother You” presented an alternate reality Oakland where the struggle to survive veers sharply into science fiction.

By comparison, the plot of “Blindspotting” never delves into the surreal nor the fantastic; the film’s tone does this heavy lifting instead, shifting in unexpected ways that fracture reality while remaining stubbornly tethered to it. This movie swings between high drama and low comedy, and between terrifying danger and sweet moments of near-romance. Then it climaxes with an intense, brilliant monologue that is an almost otherworldly dare, a piece of performance art that some viewers are bound to question. Like all great movies, “Blindspotting” is a force to be reckoned with and wrestled with, and no matter where you land in your assessment, your expectations are guaranteed to be shattered.

Watching this film, I was reminded of a quote from Chester Himes, the African-American crime fiction writer whose work quite often bent its tone in ways “Blindspotting” emulates....

Lauren Greenfield’s 2012 documentary “The Queen Of Versailles” was in a sense a microcosmic portrait of everything that’s wrong with the world, and specifically with the perversion of what’s still called the American Dream. Greenfield, a superb photographer who began making film documentaries with 2006’s “THIN,” told the story of the Siegels—David, a timeshare millionaire and wife Jackie, a beauty pageant winner turned human cartoon character, and their quixotic quest to build the biggest domicile in the U.S., one modeled after, yes, Versailles. Their plans ran very much afoul of the 2008 financial crisis. If that had not happened, would the dream have been realized? Hard to say.

Greenfield’s new movie begins with Greenfield herself, discussing the beginnings of her career. Her first photojournalism assignment was to photograph a Mayan Indian village. She spent months there trying to acclimate herself, and then the story was killed. She realized, after reading Bret Easton EllisLess Than Zero, that she had more vital interests closer to home. As the daughter of parents just under the upper-middle-class ceiling and attendee of an exclusive L.A. high school, Greenfield envied her more affluent friends. As a photographer, she sought out people who either had ridiculous wealth or who were striving to get something like it.

How, Greenfield wonders, did the old All-American values of “hard work, frugality, and discretion,” mutate into the endless pursuit of MORE that’s exemplified by figures such as...

I'm torn: should I laugh or yell at the lousy anti-internet horror film "Unfriended: Dark Web?" 

Like its 2014 predecessor, "Unfriended: Dark Web" is a deeply misanthropic horror film that follows a group of hapless Millennials—through realistic-looking video footage of their computer screens—as they are cyber-terrorized by a mysterious group of internet trolls/killers. The biggest difference between the two films is that "Unfriended" is dynamic and cruel while "Unfriended: Dark Web" is unbelievably stupid and sadistic. Neither movie is especially smart or incisive about the Way We Live Now, but they don't really have to be. 

Still, "Unfriended" works because its creators capably lead viewers around by the nose. "Unfriended: Dark Web" doesn't because its makers have a bunch of ideas, but fail to synthesize them in any meaningful way. The result is an unbelievable social critique built on the back of a Rube Goldberg-esque series of unbelievable, cruel plot twists that will make even the most credulous moviegoer roll their eyes in disbelief. Maybe future viewers will get a kick out of this film's campy depiction of a vast internet-enabled conspiracy that's foisted onto Matias (Colin Woodell), his deaf girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), and their pals after Matias acquires a mysterious used laptop. But today—when most viewers probably don't know or care what the "dark web" is—"Unfriended: Dark Web" looks pretty desperate.

For starters: Matias's actions are so hatefully stupid that he made me appreciate the relatively advanced problem-solving skills of the sexually active protagonists from '80s slasher films. Unlike those kids, who were just horny in the wrong places, Matias seems to be allergic to logic. He impulsively opens more computer programs—which he has...

It’s unexpected and wonderful to see Hirokazu Kore-eda going through something of a career resurgence after winning the Palme d’Or for his upcoming “Shoplifters.” He’s quite simply one of the most important filmmakers in the world, and it’s so nice to see people talking about discovering his best works after hearing about the recent win—films like “Nobody Knows,” “Still Walking” and “After Life.” Even last year’s “After the Storm” qualifies as top-tier Kore-eda, and the Palme win will likely bring more people to it. In between that excellent movie and “Shoplifters” later this year, we get what could be called a bonus film, the legal procedural “The Third Murder,” which premiered at Venice last year and is getting a limited release this week. This distillation of the difference between law and justice was considered outside of the box for Kore-eda in that most of his films are about family dynamics, but one can still see Kore-eda’s brilliance with character and consideration of the human condition in this drama. It’s not as much of a genre leap if you consider the fact that Kore-eda is much more interested in the people than the specifics of the case.

He makes it clear that this will be a human-driven murder story from the very beginning by showing us the crime. There’s no mystery as to whether or not Misumi (the amazing Kōji Yakusho, most well-known for “13 Assassins” in the States)...

Your humble reviewer believes in full disclosure, so I must tell you I know nothing about fashion. Outside of what looks good on me, and what colors match, I am clueless. I know of very few fashion designers, and quite frankly, whenever I watch a fashion show, the only thought I usually have is “who the hell would wear that in public?” I said those exact words a lot during “McQueen,”—it’s in my notes exactly eight times—but I’m sure the filmmakers wouldn’t mind. Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui seem content to let us make up our own minds about their subject’s work. This documentary is as welcoming to intense fashionistas as it is to gauche fools like me.

If nothing else, “McQueen” is a staggeringly beautiful piece of filmmaking. Cinematographer Will Pugh fills the screen in all directions with the sometimes colorful and more often terrifying fashion creations of British designer Alexander McQueen. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to the artist than to have his visions impeccably framed and lovingly presented on a huge movie screen. Watching “McQueen” I wished it had been presented not only in IMAX but in 4DX, complete with a chair that shot water at me every time I wrote “who the hell would wear that in public?” in my notebook. I can’t stress enough how jaw-droppingly beautiful this feature is.

Jaw-dropping can also describe McQueen’s fashions. His shows...

The acclaimed and award winning writer Andrew Solomon (perhaps best known for his groundbreaking study of depression, The Noonday Demon) authored the book on which this movie, which shares its title, is based. Directed by Rachel Dretzin, this documentary makes Solomon one of its subjects.

The book and movie are about parents and children who wind up being terribly different from each other. By “terribly” I don’t necessarily mean “sadly.” Although that is sometimes the case. The movie opens with Solomon talking about himself, and the way that his discovery, as a child, that he was gay devastated his parents. And how cutting his mother was about it. Solomon also discusses the particularities of his personality growing up. He refused to be like anybody or everybody else, as the old Kinks song says—although Solomon wouldn’t know, since one of the particularities he mentions is a refusal to listen to rock and roll. “I was a weirdo,” he admits.

The film’s opening features soundbites from a number of differently abled individuals, all of whom we get to know more fully as the movie goes on. A man with dwarfism talks about how what are called “average” people will approach him, unsolicited, and tell him that if they had his condition they’d kill themselves. This pronouncement goes beyond a lack of empathy—it shows an almost sociopathic lack of emotional imagination. As the subjects of the movie go on to make...

Drake Doremus continues his dispiriting descent into dumb drama with his third deeply defeatist look at the deepening difficulties of finding love in the technological era in a row. It started with the bland “Equals,” got worse with the banal “Newness,” and now brings us to the baffling “Zoe,” a film premiering on Amazon Prime today. One only hopes the director of "Like Crazy" moves on to new subject matter now that his trilogy is mercifully over. Netflix has long been accused of burying their Original Programming with too little promotion and menus that make it hard to find the new stuff. Amazon may want to take a page from their competitor’s handbook and make “Zoe” a little hard to find.

“Zoe” opens with the title character, played by Léa Seydoux, being asked questions designed to find her the perfect partner. She says that she wouldn’t want a potential beau to know that she used to be heavy and pauses when asked if she would help a loved one take their own life if that’s what they wanted. Clearly, this is going to be one of those deep dives into how people have been trained by dating services and app culture to believe that there’s such a thing as a perfect match. It's a film both cynical about the systems we use to find love and the human need to find companionship at all costs.

Leading people to their mathematically determined...

Thumbnails is a roundup of brief excerpts to introduce you to articles from other websites that we found interesting and exciting. We provide links to the original sources for you to read in their entirety.—Chaz Ebert


"Why Bo Burnham's 'Eighth Grade' Gets It Right": At Indie Outlook, I share my thoughts on the best film I've seen thus far in 2018.

“Nothing angered me more as a teen than high school movies that failed to take my pain seriously. Despite its memorable soundtrack, ‘Grease’ was a sanitized nostalgic fantasy populated by adults with a troubling case of arrested development. Even films I adored, such as ‘Dead Poets Society,’ contained stereotypical nerds with thick glasses, ever-present allergies and zero social skills. ‘Eighth Grade’ doesn’t have an ounce of condescension, and the laughter that it generates—which is plentiful—arises out of recognition rather than ridicule. (Fisher’s under-the-breath delivery of ‘Who cares?’ while forcing a banana into her mouth is uproarious.) Burnham avoids any hackneyed melodramatic plot developments because he’s well aware that the life of a middle schooler is dramatic enough. Of course, no honest film about junior high could be made without it getting slapped with an R rating by the MPAA for—in this case—‘language and some sexual material.’ What the ratings board, in their famously limited wisdom, appear to have forgotten is that junior high itself is rated R. No parent, teacher or guardian can prevent a sixth grader from rapidly losing their innocence...

Hats off to the Japan Society's film programming team for assembling a remarkably strong line-up for this year's annual "Japan Cuts" program, a series of new and newly restored Japanese films by newcomers and  established filmmakers, like horror director Kiyoshi Kurosawa and documentarian Kazuo Hara. Over the years, Japan Society has cultivated a devoted cinephile audience, and given attendees rare opportunities to see under-seen works by masters like Koji Wakamatsu, Kureyoshi Kurahara, and Kon Ichikawa. This year's "Japan Cuts" continues that trend by highlighting "Hanagatami" (pictured above), a vital new historical drama by Nobuhiko Obayashi, the director of the trippy 1977 cult classic "Hausu." Japan Society also screened Obayashi's "Seven Weeks" back in 2015, the same year that they gave Obayashi a fairly comprehensive, richly deserved, and well-attended career retrospective.

"Hangatami"—a sprawling WWII drama that follows a group of childhood friends who struggle to remain optimistic in the months before they are conscripted and/or left behind by their loved ones—is a master surrealist's passion project (Obayashi has wanted to make "Hanagatami" for almost 40 years). But it simultaneously does and doesn't feel like a film made by an older artist. Obayashi consistently undercuts optimistic student Toshihiko's (Shunsuke Kubozuka) rose-colored memories of his loved ones by representing their interactions with tons of green-screen computer graphics, as well as a plethora of hyper in-camera effects, choppy zooms, and seemingly unmotivated camera pans and match cuts....


"Blue Valentine"
"Gone Baby Gone"
"Mary and the Witch's Flower"
"Scream 4"
"The Signal"
"The Spectacular Now"
"Spring Breakers"
"Under the Skin"


"Bull Durham" (Criterion)

Certain films find a way to capture all of the talents involved at just the right moment. Each major performer (and some of the minor) are exactly where they should be in their career to fit their characters, and the filmmakers are working at the top of their form. I've always thought "Bull Durham" had a little bit of that movie magic. Kevin Costner was at his most charming; Susan Sarandon was never sexier; Tim Robbins was perfectly gawky. All the pieces fit like a championship baseball team with a perfect lineup. "Bull Durham" is a perfect romantic comedy AND a great sports movie, and should be included in any conversation of the best in either category. And Criterion has completely loaded this '80s classic with archival and new special features, including old TV footage and new conversations. It's one of their best releases of the summer and can remind you of not only when baseball felt purer and more magical, but when movie stars did too.

Buy it here 

Special Features+
New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Ron Shelton
Alternate 5.1 surround...

If you loved the first “Mamma Mia!” movie back in 2008, well, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” offers even more—and even less.

The sequel (which is also a prequel) features a bigger cast, a longer running time, extra subplots and additional romantic entanglements. But it’s emptier than its predecessor and has even lower stakes. It’s less entertaining, and for all its frantic energy, it manages to go absolutely nowhere.

Once again inspired by the music of ABBA and set on a picturesque Greek island, the second “Mamma Mia!” is the lightest piece of Swedish pastry with the sweetest chunk of baklava on the side. And while that may sound delicious, it’s likely to give you a toothache (as well as a headache).

At one point, during a particularly clunky musical number, I wrote in my notes: “I am so uncomfortable right now.” But while the goofy imperfection of this song-and-dance extravaganza is partially the point—and theoretically, a source of its charm—it also grows repetitive and wearying pretty quickly.

No single moment reaches the infectious joy of Meryl Streep writhing around in a barn in overalls performing the title song in the original film, or the emotional depth of her singing “The Winner Takes It All” to Pierce Brosnan. Along those lines, if you’re looking forward to seeing Streep show off her playful, musical side again, you’re going to be disappointed. Despite her prominent presence in the movie’s marketing materials,...

Puke bags were handed out before Monday’s Fantasia screening of “Relaxer,” which couldn’t be more perfect of a viewing tool. Joel Potrykus’ slacker chamber piece doesn’t have the ability to make one throw up because of any specific image, but more because of its mise-en-scene: through its precise filmmaking and whirlwind script about one loser who never gets off the couch, it’s a magnetic, five-senses experience for slacker cinema. The movie just smells so fucking bad. 

The centerpiece of “Relaxer” is Abbie, a Sisyphus of shitheads in 1999 who sits shirt and pants-less on the couch. It’s fair to say that Abbie (Joshua Burdge, looking like a Todd Solondz character) hasn’t done much with his life. But if you listen to his domineering older brother Cam (David Dastmalchian, sometimes overheated) and what he barks at Abbie, maybe Abbie hasn’t accomplished anything at all. That’s especially the case with their intense, macho “challenges,” the first being Cam trying to make Abbie drink a whole gallon of milk in only so much time (guess what happens). In the movie’s many uncomfortable, vivid beats, the idea of a challenge is not a playful thing between brothers, but an order. 

“Relaxer” truly takes off when Cam gives Abbie an ultimate challenge: get to level 267 of Pac-Man, which was a Billy Mitchell challenge back in 1999. Abbie can't get off the couch until he gets it done. But “Relaxer” doesn’t pursue this goal with a regular arc; the rest of...

I had written previously about how the roster of Fantasia has a “Midnight Movie” vibe, and I realized this weekend that said vibe applies to the audience too. Every showing at Fantasia is full of people who are looking to embrace the movie in front of them: they hoot and holler for every wacky kill, applaud big rewarding moments from plot, and laugh extra hard when movies are at their silliest. This all being said, seeing the Korean arm-wrestling movie “Champion” put the Fantasia crowd on over-drive, in part because it's such damn fun. 

In the film from Yong-wan Kim, Dong Seok-ma ("Train to Busan") plays a Koreatown bouncer named Mark, who has a history of being an arm wrestling champion, but is otherwise the quietest person in the room. His buddy Jin-Ki (Kwon Yul) convinces him to come to Korea to compete, where Mark's mother abandoned him decades ago, causing him to grow up in Koreatown as an orphan. When Mark pushes himself to make a trip to see where his mother once lived, he finds out that he has a sister, and that's he an uncle to two cheery kids (scene-stealers in their own right). As it becomes more about a lonely man finding a family than just arm wrestling, "Champion" has an unexpected dramatic finesse too. Through sincere drama and disarming comedy, it explores his position as an imposing Korean man who is a total outsider in Korea. 

Given that it's an arm wrestling movie, of course the movie has a loving reference to “Over the Top,”...

Despite working in feature films for nearly 40 years, Denzel Washington has never until now appeared in a sequel to one of his films. Oh sure, he has done a number of films where one suspects that future installments might have been contemplated at some point but none have ever come to fruition. Now he has finally taken the sequel bait with “The Equalizer 2” and the only thing more baffling than the question of why none of his other movies got follow-ups is the question of why he would bring an end to that streak with something so completely useless.

Yes, the 2014 film, based on the mid-Eighties television show of the same name, was a box-office hit, but it was one of those hits that faded so quickly from the mind after it departed theaters that even those who professed to like it would be hard-pressed to actually remember anything about it. Luckily for them, that shouldn’t be a problem this time around because even the most easily satisfied fans of Washington will be unlikely to find much of anything in this sadistic, stupid and sloppy sequel.

The first film featured Washington as Robert McCall, a seemingly unassuming worker at a big box store who just happened to be an ex-CIA agent with a particular set of skills that he would deploy on anyone who crossed paths with himself or any of his vague acquaintances. At one point, I recall,...

Watching “Dark Tourist,” the latest Netflix Original Programming offering premiering in its entirety Friday, reminded me of two things. One, I felt a bit of a pang of sadness at the recent death of Anthony Bourdain, who really revolutionized the personality-driven travelogue through his TV series, in which he always felt like he was embracing the new and unusual around the world. While “Dark Tourist” may not quite be “No Reservations” yet, the best parts of it reflect that curiosity about life outside the bubble, and this is not just a culinary bubble but a safety one. Of course, I was also reminded of Netflix’s continued domination, and how well they’ve done lately in terms of buzz-building docu-series, such as “Wild Wild Country” and “Evil Genius.” Will this be their next “strange true story” hit?

If you don’t know the name David Farrier, you probably haven’t seen “Tickled.” It’s not the kind of movie that one forgets. Farrier was a New Zealand journalist who stumbled into the strangest story of his career when he went down a rabbit hole of tickle fetish videos, discovering a strange network of threatening personalities underneath them. It’s hard to say for sure if “Tickled,” which Farrier co-directed, spurred the filmmaker’s interest in the obscure and the unusual or the other way around, but “Dark Tourist” definitely shares some DNA with that hit doc. Just as that movie often came from a “Can you believe this?!?!”...