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Monday, June 18, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 232

Barbarella #7
by Butcher Billy

Batwoman #16
by Michael Cho

 Crude #3
by Garry Brown

Ether: Copper Golems #2
by Bill Sienkiewicz

 Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #1
by Mike Allred

Skyward #3
by Lee Garbett

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Monday, June 11, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 231

Dry County #4
by Rich Tommaso

Monstress #17
by Sana Takeda

Proxima Centauri #1
by Farel Dalrymple

Thor #1
by Christian Ward

The Dead Hand #3
by Stephen Mooney

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Friday, June 8, 2018

GeekRex Quick-Take: HOTEL ARTEMIS

The Buzz: Drew Pearce won a lot of good will with the critics after his collaboration with Shane Black, Iron Man 3, was a surprising delight and a huge hit, billion dollar hit. His next project was always going to be one that grabbed attention, and while he had a cup of coffee with various productions that either required script polishing or got significant rewrites after his participation, Hotel Artemis marks his first full-fledged return to the big screen since that 2013 smash. On top of that, its also his directorial debut. That additional wrinkle ratchets up the curiosity factor even moreso. After making its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival, this high concept/sci-fi actioner is debuting this weekend with an equally enticing cast. Sterling K. Brown, richly decorated in recent years for his excellent television work, is getting a much deserved spotlight here while being teamed with Jodie Foster (in a relatively rare recent on-screen appearance), the continually rising star that is Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Jenny Slate, the awesome Brian Tyree Henry, and Zachary Quinto.

With a cast like that, in a high concept bone-breaker, it's hard not to want to take a peek.

What's Great About This Movie: At the outset, Hotel Artemis has a cool sense of energy that reminds me less of the immediate comparison point, John Wick, and more of something like The Raid or maybe even more off-kilter influences like the work of Jeunet. And for about a third of its relatively brisk 90+ minute running time, Pearce is able to cost on that spirit of invention. There's a lot of fun toys to play with here, and around the corner a new one keeps popping up. It's central idea, a hospital for criminals in a high-rise hotel with an ever creeping riot edging ever-closer in future downtown Los Angeles is a great hook to hang your hat on. And Foster does especially strong work as the central figure by which the entire film rests. As the exhausted Jean Thomas, Foster wears a lot of years and mileage in a character inflected by a tragic past and now uses her gifts to help the worst of the worst. She's clearly having a lot of fun in a role that gives her more meat to chew on than something like this usually entails. Bautista, who plays her closest confidant, is once again a scene-stealer, this time going a bit more accented than usual and relying on his great comic timing and action chops.

What's Not-So-Great About this Movie: The struggle with the film is that you can only rely on "cool premise" for so long before you do anything with it. Pearce tries to pepper the script with twist after twist, to the point where they start to become deadening, including a what's meant to the be the emotionally cathartic turn of the entire enterprise that lands with an absolute thud. And this doesn't even register the plot lines that just don't go anywhere, such as one involving a pen that actually has little to no bearing on the narrative itself but occupies far too much of the lead protagonist's time. To wit, if you had told me that Sterling K. Brown was in a completely different film than the rest of the cast, I might believe you. Not only does he really only have a periphery role in the actual conflict within the hotel, but his own quagmire feeling so truncated left me wondering how much of this final cut left scenes in the editing bay. Hotel Artemis, frankly, runs out of gas before it even hits the halfway point, and by that time, it becomes a tedious watch that makes the final stretch...not quite unbearable...but if you find your mind wandering about, you'll have entered my headspace in regard to this cinematic experience. Also, Charlie Day is next-level awful.
Final VerdictHotel Artemis would have been a fascinating short, but even at 90 minutes, it wears out its welcome far too quickly.

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REVIEW: HEREDITARY haunts with grief, guilt, and ghosts

Movies and sitcoms often throw around the term “dysfunctional family” like a sort of cute tagline to describe a quirky, semi-likable bunch of characters who occasionally don’t get along; the relatable sort of family strife you can digest along with your dinner.  But Hereditary uses horror and the supernatural as a springboard for a more disturbing portrayal of dysfunction – favoritism, denial, inappropriate boundaries, manipulation –  and how a family unravels under the weight of decades of psychological abuse.

Hereditary lives and dies on Toni Collette’s performance as Annie Graham, a woman with children of her own who is navigating the complexities of life after the death of her mother, with whom she had a less than perfect relationship. Annie confronts feelings of relief, the guilt brought on by that relief, and grief in the days after her mother succumbs to cancer. She’s also largely unwilling to address the elephant in the room: how inappropriate and damaging her mother’s behavior was. Instead we get small glimpses in the form of miniatures she’s building for an art exhibit. Annie struggles to figure out how her family is processing the loss, as her son Peter (Alex Wolff) appears largely indifferent, while her daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) can barely cope and begins exhibiting strange behavior.

I think the most apt description of Hereditary is “upsetting.” It’s the kind of movie you’ll take home with you. It asks unsettling questions about family – how we inherit mental illness, how far the bonds of family can stretch, and the kind of horror that comes with not feeling safe in your own home. It’s got a handful of your typical jumps and shocks, but the psychological impact of the film reverberates further.

Writer/director Ari Aster seemingly comes out of nowhere with his debut. Hereditary is his first feature length film, having been previously known for a short released in 2011 called The Strange Thing About the Johnsons that garnered a cult following. Hereditary is a movie that unfolds numerous surprises, so I won’t say much abut the screenplay beyond the fact that I appreciated both its use and subversion of well worn genre tactics. One of the most unusual and distinctive elements of the film is the use of Annie’s job as an artist and her creepy, revealing miniature scenes, which provide wordless exposition and insight into Annie’s emotional state.

Beyond Aster’s unbelievable first go at a feature film, a lot has to be said for the casting and performances in Hereditary. As I mentioned earlier, the film’s success rests on Collette. But relative newcomer Milly Shapiro’s performance as Annie’s daughter, Charlie, is equally haunting. Shapiro perfects the art of wordless intensity as she effortlessly conjures a character that makes you feel as worried for her as you are for those around her.  I'd expect we'll see a lot more of her after this break-out performance. 

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Monday, June 4, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 230

The Curse of Brimstone #3
by Philip Tan

 Dazzler: X Song #1
by Elizabeth Torque

 Shade the Changing Woman #4
by Becky Cloonan

Black Science #36
by Brian Level

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Monday, May 28, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 229

The Realm #6
by Jeremy Haun

Saga #52
by Fiona Staples

 The Wilds #3
by Natasha Alterici

VS #4
by Esad Ribic

Blackwood #1
by Veronica Fish

Descender #30
by Dustin Nguyen

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 228

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2
by Dean Ormston

 Deadly Class #34
by Rory Hensley

 Elsewhere #7
by Sumeyye Kesgin

X-Files Case Files: Florida Man #2
by Christine Nodet

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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