Mandy, review: Horrible and ludicrous, this is an all-time-great Nicolas Cage wig-out


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Nicholas Cage is an interesting actor. When you least expect of him, he comes up with a winner.

Equal parts supernatural splatter horror and hypnotic gallery installation, Mandy unfolds in a doom-laden narcosis that is not quite like anything else around, although there are cinematic reference points everywhere, including musky top notes of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy, and the fluorescing giallo horror of Dario Argento. It often looks like an Iron Maiden album cover cartoon come to life – and there are three brief animated dream sequences which owe a stylistic debt to Heavy Metal, the science fiction magazine.

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Robbie Collin — The Telegraph

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No Sympathy for the Devil: ‘The Exorcist’ Director William Friedkin Looks Back


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Those stairs – and steps in general – are a defining metaphor in both The Exorcist and Friedkin’s latest film. When we walked through Georgetown, Friedkin kept pointing out stairways he shot – one in Healy Hall that Jason Miller’s character ascends to ask for the extension, one out front where Burstyn’s character led a student protest, another in a courtyard that led to the Jesuit residence, another outside where two priests discuss obtaining the Roman ritual of exorcism and then two minutes away those famous 75 steps that ended in a pool of blood. In The Devil and Father Amorth, Friedkin explains that the priest used to perform his exorcisms in the Scala Sancta atop a staircase – the Holy Stairs that lead to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate – that can only be climbed on one’s knees.

“It all represented the idea of ascension,” Friedkin says.

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Kory Grow — Rolling Stone

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‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Box Office: What Fueled the Movie’s Record Opening


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How does Disney do it so often?

For rival Hollywood studios, the debut of Avengers: Infinity War is another reminder of Disney’s domination and marketing prowess. The film studio, led by Alan Horn, now has bragging rights to nine of the 10 biggest domestic openings, not adjusted for inflation. The list is led by Infinity WarForce Awakens and The Last Jedi, and also includes Black Panther, the first two Avengers movies, Captain America: Civil WarBeauty and the Beast and Iron Man 3. The lone non-Disney title is Universal’s Jurassic World (No. 4).

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Pamela McClintock — The Hollywood Reporter

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Under the Hollywood Gaslight


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Rose McGowan.

McGowan can’t be separated from the reality of an activism hierarchy, which privileges certain women over others. “If you’re someone like Meryl Streep or Oprah Winfrey or someone like that, you are in a really good place to speak out,” says Zeisler. McGowan, whose relevance was waning as far back as ten years ago, is not. Add to that her anarchistic approach to the #MeToo movement as a whole— attacking not only abusers but celebrity activists like Alyssa Milano and Streep who don’t fit her narrative—and she becomes a precarious voice. After McGowan called out Time’s Up activists for not supporting her memoir or her TV series, Amanda Hess wrote in The New York Times, “in Hollywood, where product and cause are inextricable, it makes a kind of sense.”

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Soraya Roberts — Hazlitt

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Mind Games


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A detailed look on AI through the movie – Ex Machina.

Ex Machina presents us with a powerful picture of what it could mean, based on the behaviorist assumptions that undergird the classic Turing Test, to achieve a human-like consciousness in a robot. But just as Nathan objects to the narrow range of behaviors that the classic test examines as relevant to intelligence, so the movie may be suggesting that we wonder even at the richer repertoire of “outputs” that Nathan introduces in order to achieve “consciousness.” At the very least we can notice how his own selfish and destructive motives for creating AI are reflected in the behaviors he seeks to highlight as relevant to Ava’s achievement of consciousness. Escaping her “programming” means recognizing the consciousness of others, and yet she uses her empathy to deceive and manipulate them.

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Charles T. Rubin — The New Atlantis

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Why Casablanca is the ultimate film about refugees


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Still, Rick himself is above such abuse. “I don’t buy or sell human beings,” he informs Ferrari (Sydney Greenstreet), the city’s black-market kingpin. But as time goes by, Rick realises that turning a blind eye to the buying and selling is just as bad. There is a touching scene in which he rigs the café’s roulette wheel so that a Bulgarian newlywed (Joy Page) doesn’t have to sleep with Renault – thus bringing a tear to the eyes of Rick’s employees and to the audience alike. More moving still is the scene in which the café’s head waiter (SZ Sakall) has a brandy with two elderly Austrians who are about to leave for the US, and compliments them on their broken English. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the German director, declared that this humane little sequence boasts “one of the most beautiful pieces of dialogue in the history of film”.

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Nicholas Barber — BBC

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28 Days, 28 Films for Black History Month


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An essential list. Recommended by Ankit.

When African-Americans in Hollywood were not singing or dancing, they were often cast as maids, butlers, porters or other servile, peripheral figures. There are exceptions, including “Imitation of Life,” a 1930s melodrama with a storyline about a black character who “passes” for white, as well as “Intruder in the Dust,” a 1940s parable of white conscience. Both are worth viewing because of the power and integrity of their featured black actors — Louise Beavers, Fredi Washington and Juano Hernandez — who with the humanity of their performances challenge and movingly subvert the mainstream industry’s racism.

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Manhola Dargis & A.O.Scott — The New York Times

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