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Jennifer Lawrence tweaks her action-heroine steeliness in the half-trashy Red Sparrow

“You must inure yourself to what you find repellent,” intones Charlotte Rampling, playing the unnamed stoic headmistress of what another character in Red Sparrow describes as “whore school.” Her lesson plans must look bonkers; many of them seem to involve forced sexual encounters, sometimes conducted from the front of…

The entertaining and ambitious Black Panther breaks from the Marvel formula

It’s taken a decade and 18 films, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has finally produced a superhero movie that feels like it was ripped from the pages of a comic book. Ditching the MCU’s familiar roster of heroes (they don’t get as much as a mention) along with many of the basics of the Marvel film formula, Ryan…

Skip Fifty Shades and spend Valentine Day’s with the kinky, hysterical Double Lover instead

When Fifty Shades Of Grey opened in France three years ago, it did so under the Gallic equivalent of a PG-13 rating. The message was amusingly, abundantly clear: Over there, our risqué bondage blockbusters are tame enough for middle-schoolers. As if to prove the point further, along comes François Ozon’s Double Lover,…

An experiment in stunt casting, The 15:17 To Paris is one of Clint Eastwood’s strangest films—and one of his worst

A failed experiment in stunt casting, Clint Eastwood’s The 15:17 To Paris recreates the thwarted 2015 Thalys terror attack—in which a gunman attempted to open fire on a French high-speed train, striking a man in the neck before being disarmed and subdued by a group that included two vacationing American…

Alex Ross Perry does Woody doing Bergman in the tedious art-house throwback Golden Exits

“People never make films about ordinary people who don’t really do anything,” Naomi (Emily Browning) clumsily laments to her new employer in the opening minutes of Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits. As an Australian university student who’s come all the way to New York for a job, Naomi can probably be forgiven for not…

Netflix’s sci-fi surprise release The Cloverfield Paradox isn’t as original as its marketing gimmick

Like characters in one of those zombie movies where no one says “zombie,” the crew of the Cloverfield space station—a big metal psilocybin mushroom orbiting near-future Earth—doesn’t know what it’s in for, having left our planet without ever having seen a single sci-fi horror movie: not Alien, not Event Horizon, and…

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The director of Pulse leads an invasion of the body snatchers in the goofy-creepy Before We Vanish

One of Japan’s premier gooseflesh provokers, Kiyoshi Kurosawa made an international name for himself in horror, specifically with 2001’s technophobic, ghost-in-the-machine creepfest Pulse. But he’s no genre monogamist; the director has applied his command of unnerving atmosphere—that ability to get skin crawling with…

The late, great Abbas Kiarostami ends his career on the vanguard with the adventurous 24 Frames

Losing any great filmmaker hurts, but the death of Abbas Kiarostami 18 months ago hit particularly hard. It wasn’t just that he was still doing great work nearly five decades into an illustrious career—one that almost singlehandedly put Iranian cinema on the world stage. No, what made Kiarostami’s loss so painful was…