‘Annihilation’ horrifically demolishes old boundaries

“Annihilation” – Nobody. Nobody comes back. Nobody comes back after entering The Shimmer. Actually one person does come back, and now, Lena (Natalie Portman), a doctor – who also spent seven years in the United States Army – feels compelled to enter it.  In doing so, she takes movie audiences on a sometimes beautiful, but mostly a deeply unsettling, nightmarish journey in writer/director Alex Garland’s (“Ex Machina” (2014)) visionary science fiction stunner. The Shimmer is a bizarre phenomenon, a growing permeable force field, created by a meteor that landed near an…

‘Black Panther’ cinematically and culturally advances the Marvel Universe

“Black Panther” – “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” – Dorothy (Judy Garland), “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) Well, if Dorothy sat down and watched the latest Marvel installment, “Black Panther”, she would exclaim that Oz could not hold a candle to Wakanda, and Kansas has become a very distant memory. Over the last 10 years, Marvel Studios has expanded wonder and broadened sci-fi horizons for comic book-movie audiences everywhere, especially with “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) and “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017).  These stories, however, were seeded…

‘The 15:17 to Paris’, a less than ordinary trip about an extraordinary story

“The 15:17 to Paris” – “Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary.” – Gerard Way Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler are 20-something Americans.  Friends since childhood, the three decided to travel to Europe on a semi-impromptu whim, but they never thought that their lives would be forever-changed during a Thalys train ride from Amsterdam to Paris. Specifically, the 15:17 on Aug. 21, 2015. Director Clint Eastwood tells Spencer’s, Alek’s and Anthony’s story on this particular train ride, but also their personal tales outside of the 15:17 in…

Hall’s performance gives us ‘Permission’ to appreciate this relationship drama

“Permission” – The definition of permission is consent; authorization; an official document giving authorization. For Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens), a happy, New York City couple in their early 30s, they have been together forever and own solid plans for their future.   They are not yet engaged, but a permanent commitment is a foregone conclusion, as they live in a nice apartment, while also renovating a spacious brownstone, presumably to house a number of kids someday.  Anna is finishing up her academic work and Will owns a lucrative…

‘The Insult’ offers more than words

“The Insult” – “Lebanon is a peculiar place, so bicultural, it goes along with you.  There is a Western influence, an Eastern influence.  Most people are fluctuating between those identities.” – Director Ziad Doueiri Tony (Adel Karam) and Yasser (Kamel El Basha) productively work and fruitfully live within the vibrant heartbeats of Beruit, Lebanon.   Tony owns a busy auto repair shop and enjoys his happy marriage with Shirine (Rita Hayek), who is pregnant with their first child.  Yasser is a hardworking construction company foreman and meticulously hones his chosen profession…