Screened Out – La La Land

By : Stephen Miller
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Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone

Do-It-Yourself indie films and high-polish Hollywood musicals don’t seem to fit together. And if fact, there are some brief points in La La Land that don’t quite sing. Yet, as a whole, this small, modern throwback to Hollywood’s heyday is delightful. It reminds us that miracles can still happen, even in the simplest films.

And it doesn’t hurt that La La Land has the imitable and immutable charm of Gosling and Stone together in another love story (after the cute Crazy Stupid Love and the duller Gangster Land). Their singing may be a little windy and wispy – no full-throated Merman-like belting here. However, their chemistry is undeniable.

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Screened Out – Disney’s Moana

By : Stephen Miller
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Voices of Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, Jermaine Clemente, Nicole Scherzinger

Pacific Islander folklore meets Broadway-style tunes and 3D computer animation – could it possibly work? Yes, it can!

Disney does what they do best, breaking ground and making merchandise. But this time, a plucky heroine and a goofy demigod challenge the typical template. And then great vocal talent, snappy tunes, and scene after scene of absolutely breathtaking scenery bring Moana to life.

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Gay director Xavier Dolan takes on family and death in latest film “It’s Only the End of the World”

By : Jeremy Williams
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its-only-the-end-of-the-worldXavier Dolan is only 27 years old, but the French-Canadian actor/writer/director is making a name for himself in Hollywood.

Dolan has written and directed six feature films, he was also the director of Adele’s smash hit music video “Hello” and he is even the voice of Ron Weasley in the French dubbed versions of the Harry Potter films.

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Screened Out – Arrival

By : Stephen Miller
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Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forrest Whitaker

If the careful, beautiful film Arrival finds a wide audience, it says more people want well-made intellectual mind-benders. This is smart science fiction, built for deep discussion. Finally, it shows us something about the power of learning someone else’s language.

Is that courage to explore completely foreign viewpoints something Americans need to hear right now, where anyone “alien” to us is considered a threat? I’ll leave that decision up to you.

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Screened Out – Dr. Strange

By : Stephen Miller
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Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen

Movies area visual medium, and few movies take full, beautiful advantage of that like Dr. Strange. It’s a spacy, hallucinogenic head-trip worthy of repeated viewing just to take it all in. This new Marvel comic movie also boasts some great actors truly committing to their characters.

However, what it lacks – and it seems a shame to complain about this in a comic book movie – is real emotional punch. When an arrogant man loses his career and, quite possibly, the love of his life, we should feel more. We should feel his devastation. Though this man searches for redemption in the spiritual arts, Dr. Strange doesn’t really have a lot of spirit.

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Screened Out – Jack Reacher: Never Look Back

By : Stephen Miller
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Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh

Jack Reacher 2 is sort of lifeless, silly, uneven, and rote; one wonders why Hollywood felt the need to waste their time. Don’t waste yours, too. Because even streaming services offer better. I almost want to call this Never Look

It mean, we have enough espionage operative characters, both good and bad: Jason Bourne, Statham’s Transporter, Liam Neeson’s Taken, that awful Accountant… In fact, Cruise already has the funny and fun Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible films. The Reacher franchise tamps down his crazed charisma (possibly the only thing working for Cruise these days).

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Screened Out – Ouija: Origin of Evil

By : Stephen Miller
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Elizabeth Reaser, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Henry Thomas, Parker Mack

Looking for something to go bump in the night? Look no further.

The first Ouija film was pretty terrible. So it’s amazing how much this prequel repairs. This demon possession flick may not be the next Exorcist, but for those old-fashioned Halloween shivers, this’ll definitely do!

Don’t do Ouija alone, don’t do it in a graveyard, and always say good-bye. Yes, all three of those dire rules are going to get broken before the end of this tragic tale!

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Screened Out – The Accountant

By : Stephen Miller
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Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, JK Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, Jean Smart

A number of people may love the espionage thriller The Accountant; that number doesn’t include me.

In fact, it’d be zero stars, if not for the acting and actions sequences. How does Hollywood turn out something this stupid and offensive?

Thrillers like this are all about the plot. Great acting – and this flawed Accountant has it – can add a lot. However, a hideously damaged premise and some fairly noticeable plot holes are major subtractions.

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Screened Out – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

By : Stephen Miller
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Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Terrence Stamp

Tim Burton peddles in peculiar stuff like Miss Peregrine. So it is no wonder he opted to film Ransom Riggs’s famous YA story (or a version thereof – this expands the first book significantly). It’s a tale of gifted, perpetual children and the bird-women who protect them from extinction.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children presents a fascinating and wondrous world. It also introduces intriguing characters. Finally, there is no shortage of that brilliant Tim Burton visual style. And yet what it often lacks is something that hollows out many other Burton films: storytelling cohesiveness.

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Screened Out – Morris from America

By : Stephen Miller
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Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Lina Keller, Carla Juri

Coming-of-age stories are nothing new. But when you can do something charming, authentic, and unique with the genre, then it’s worth noting. Morris from America is a small, quiet, and a little flimsy on plot, but it’s still delightful.

Writer/director Chad Hartigan puts Morris Gentry (Christmas) in the most awkward of situations. Morris is 13 years old – a difficult age anywhere, but especially difficult for a black teenager. Furthermore, Morris is stuck in Germany, having followed his dad Curtis (Robinson) for a job. There aren’t a lot of black teenagers in Heidelberg; Morris sticks out like a sore thumb as he tries to make new friends.

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LGBT festival canceled in Haiti amid threats, government order

By : Wire Report
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Organizers of a cultural festival in Haiti celebrating the Afro-Caribbean LGBTQ community said Sept. 27 that it has been called off due to numerous threats of violence and a subsequent prohibition by a government commissioner.

The four-day Massimadi film, art and performance event was supposed to start Sept. 27 in the capital, Port-au-Prince, but organizers said it had to be postponed after a prominent Haitian cultural institution known as FOKAL and other co-hosts were threatened with arson and other attacks.

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Screened Out – The Magnificent Seven

By : Stephen Miller
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Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard

Westerns are pure American mythology, you’d think… The Magnificent Seven is based on a classic Akira Kurosawa film, Seven Samurai. Talented director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) tries to update the story with a multi-ethnic cast and some clever lines. But this is just amore violent, shallower copy.

“I seek righteousness, but I’ll take revenge,” says Emma Cullen (Bennett) after her husband is killed in cold blood.

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