Charlie Cox as Daredevil and Jon Bernthal as The Punisher review 

DAREDEVIL (Season 2) – Punishingly Entertaining

In Season 2 of the standout Netflix/Marvel superhero drama, Daredevil, both the show and its titular hero begin to get comfortable with themselves, for better and for worse. Matt Murdock is tougher, more cocky, and is noticeably beginning to actually enjoy his violent escapades. Gone is the doubt and self reflection that plagued him in Season 1, which simultaneously makes him a more powerful hero and an insufferable know-it-all. What he’s gained in street cred, he’s lost in his ability to connect to others. Matt’s misguided descent in the world of his alter-ego is a crucial and purposeful part of his arc this season, but what’s interesting is that these same qualities extend to the show as a whole.

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Up - Russel's Missing Assisting the Elderly Badge top 25 

UP – “We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges”

[Full spoilers for Up follow]

[For the love of God, if you haven’t seen Up, please go watch it right now]

Pixar’s UP (2009) is one of my favorite films of all time. A masterpiece of smart storytelling decisions amount to what may be one of the most dense and tightly paced narratives in existence. Within 96 minutes the film effortlessly blends comedy, tragedy, adventure, and one of the most meaningful examinations of the human condition yet committed to celluloid. And in a format accessible to all ages! In its first 11 minutes, Up exhibits a more thoughtful, true, and heartbreaking love story than most films manage in their entire runtimes. It has to, because while Up is a film about Love, it’s equally about Loss. While these elements to the film are in the text, they’re also supported by an incredibly deep, yet seemingly effortless symbolism that perfectly represents the effect of loss on human Identity.

Up is all about badges.

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John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in 10 Cloverfield Lane review 

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE – A Masterpiece With Manipulative Marketing

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is not a sequel, prequel, sidequel, or any other “quel” to Cloverfield. Director Dan Trachtenberg, (whose only previous credentials were the direction of a Portal fan film,) called the film a “blood relative” of Cloverfield before his movie’s release, and Producer J.J. “Mystery Box” Abrams has since clarified that they were never meant to exist in the same universe. The current comparison is that they are as similar as one episode of The Twilight Zone to another. The title is meant to promise a weird, suspenseful, and possibly apocalyptic tale, and nothing more.

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Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator top 25 

THE GREAT DICTATOR – Bringing a Voice To the Silent

Charlie Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) is one of my favorite films of all time. This has little to do with the distinction of being his first full fledged “talkie,” and more to do with its audacity in having the gall to satirize Adolph Hitler during his rise to power. The film came about a year after the start of WWII, and a year before the Pearl Harbor attack, when the U.S. finally deigned to dirty it’s hands in the matter. But production started before all that in 1938, the year that Germany annexed Austria. This was a year before the start of WWII and during a period when American censors and businessman were still either defending Hitler, or at least adamantly insisting that nobody piss him off. Even United Artists, the production company that Chaplin co-founded urged him to avoid the subject, worried about Hays Code censors and the possibility that the film would never be allowed in theaters.

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Mei Ren Yu - The Mermaid - Police Sketch review 

MEI REN YU (THE MERMAID) – Better Than an All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry

MEI REN YU (THE MERMAID) is one of the best Comedies I’ve seen in a while and is a serious contender for my top films of 2016. Chinese comedy director Steven Chow (Shaolin SoccerKung Fu Hustle) is rare breed of artist who actually directs comedically. His use of the frame, of motion, and in perfectly landing beats in the edit are flawless to a degree of mastery that is rivaled only by Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson. But nobody does slapstick like Chow.

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The Witch - Anya Taylor-Joy review 

THE WITCH – This Film Weighs the Same as a Duck

In an interview with Birth.Movies.Death,* Writer/Director Robert Eggers described what was special about his runaway Sundance hit, THE In an interview with Birth.Movies.Death,* Writer/Director Robert Eggers described what was special about his runaway Sundance hit, THE VVITCH, “I was trying to do my best interpretation of what I thought a lay family from 1630 in New England might have experienced if their beliefs were real.” THE VVITCH is psychological horror for a patient and discerning audience. It doesn’t rely (exclusively, at least) on musical queues, jump scares, and boogeymen to ensure a feeling of persistent dread. It expects its audience to come hither, rather than appealing to what demographics say you’re already into.

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George Clooney in Hail Caesar review 

HAIL, CAESAR! – “Divine Presence to Be Shot”

Why the hell would any sane person work in the film industry? This is the core question in HAIL, CAESAR!, a the day-in-the-life examination of the combination tenacity, talent, and madness it takes to be a successful Producer. It’s 1951. The Golden Era of film is coming to an end. The period showcases everything grand and absurd about the film business, and it’s in the balance of grandness and absurdity that the Coen brothers shine. Like much of their best work, the film is brilliantly precise and laugh-out-loud funny, with a nihilistic bite to the humor that makes you wish it didn’t feel so true. 

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Riley's+emotions+viewing+a+memory review 

INSIDE OUT – Pixar Delves Deeper

INSIDE OUT is one of Pixar’s finest films, and there is little higher praise I could give a film than that. Though I still prefer UP for its deep symbolism and mature message, and the Toy Stories have a more iconic cast, I believe that the argument could be made that INSIDE OUT is Pixar’s most meaningful and skillfully crafted film yet. It approaches a premise and message as convoluted and complex as the human mind, and somehow, effortlessly streamlines it into a narrative so simple and human that any…

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Max+dragging+his+chains+as+the+wives+look+on,+terrified review 

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – An Unexpected Masterpiece of Adrenaline

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is metal as fuck. It’s the purest and one of the best straight action films I’ve seen. While the film rarely takes a breath during its two hour runtime, the little snippets of characterization provide compelling reasons to root for the heroes, and even sympathize with its villains. Also, while I don’t know if you could call it a “feminist piece”, it handles a surprising wealth of female characters with incredible grace, never falling prey to the genre’s most common failings of damseling its women or…

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Interviewing Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina review 

EX MACHINA – Digital Humanity

First things first. You need to see EX MACHINA! It’s one of those thrillers that can’t easily be summed up in a trailer, (and its trailers will, in fact, spoil the movie for you). A description of the plot may also seem shrug-worthy, though the simplest synopsis is that the Turing Test is performed. (*a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior or indistinguishable from, that of a human.) The film makes the absolute most of its premise, and ultimately asks the most important question a story can, “What…

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