Screened Out – Alice Through the Looking Glass

By : Stephen Miller
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Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Anne Hathaway, Alan Rickman

It’s the same complaint as the first Alice – the last one directed by Tim Burton, this one produced by him. Lewis Carroll’s original characters are always so much more interesting – and much, much more absurd – than this. To use such colorful personalities to tell such a dour, boring story is a crime.

Off with their heads!

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Screened Out – Black Mass

By : Stephen Miller
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Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll

In Catholic parlance, a Black Mass is a satanic inversion of the Holy Mass, where one sacrificed others instead of oneself, and no good can come of it. The metaphor fits this dark, slow, unforgiving film – a mob biopic about James “Whitey” Bulger. It’s a cold, methodical, violent piece about a cold, methodical, violent character.

With this as a theme, Black Mass is watchable, but it never illuminates Bulger to us – specifically, why he does what he does. He’s one note: just pure evil. People are loyal to him and we never find out why except for fear.

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Screened Out – Into the Woods

By : Stephen Miller
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Meryl Streep, James Corden, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, Christine Baranski, Tracy Ulman, Lucy Punch, Tammy Blanchard, Mackenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen

If Stephen Sondheim’s famous, complex musical teaches anything, it’s to be careful what you wish for.

Sondheim fans have wanted a movie version of this show for a long time. Into the Woods gets the Disney treatment, with Chicago director Rob Marshall at the helm. It sounds like it could either be a fairy tale or a nightmare. It’s mostly successful – a charmer, with amazing performances, a lush score, rich lyrics, and a fantastical world. The actors seem to be having a blast, and many audiences will, too.

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