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February 2019 Digest

Features
TV TryOuts: Mr. Robot
TV TryOuts: Big Little Lies
Best Films of 2009 Redux

Movie Reviews (*** = PopCult Recommends)
Black Swan
Velvet Buzzsaw
Modern Romance ***
A Separation ***
Alps
Elena ***
Monsieur Lazhar
Shoplifters ***
Border ***
Oslo August 31st ***

Comic Book Reviews
Justice League International Volume 4
Justice League International Volume 5
Justice League International Volume 6
Mister Miracle by Tom King

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Movie Review – Us

Us (2019)
Written & Directed by Jordan Peele

Years ago young Adelaide was visiting the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with her parents when she became separated from them. Wandering inside a funhouse of mirrors the girl has an encounter that continues to haunt her into her adult years. Present day finds Adelaide, her husband Gabe and two children Zora and Jason are on the way to their lake house in Central California. Gabe has a new boat and their plans to meet up with some friends across the lake. When Adelaide finds out they are going to the beach, right off the boardwalk, she freaks out but eventually relents. Strange coincidences occur with a sense of impending doom coming for our protagonist, images harken back to her childhood trauma, and something she has repressed for so long begins to leak out. That night a strange family appears at the end of the lake house driveway which will lead to Adelaide and her family descending into hell.

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Movie Review – Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Written & Directed by David O. Russell

Pat Solitano’s mom picks him up from a mental hospital in Baltimore, despite the doctors saying he’s not ready yet. Eight months earlier, Pat came home to find his wife in the shower with a co-worker which sent Pat into a frenzy. He’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but believes he doesn’t need meds or a psychiatrist; Pat requires positive thinking. His dad, Pat Sr. shows all the signs of OCD and likely has some undiagnosed issues himself, and he thinks the time he devoted to the elder sibling is what led to his younger son becoming so volatile. Through an acquaintance, Pat meets Tiffany, a widow who has very similar challenges with social cues as Pat does. The duo verbally spars, and there is the spark of an attraction, but Pat is convinced he can get his wife back if he stays on his path of self-improvement. Tiffany sees his wife regularly and promises she’ll deliver a letter to her if Pat pledges to be her dance partner in an upcoming competition. This was an event her late husband would never do with her, and it has become Tiffany’s primary focus. Pat hesitantly agrees with hopes he’ll end up reunited with his former bride.

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Movie Review – An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn

An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn (2018)
Written by Jim Hosking and David Wike
Directed by Jim Hosking

Lulu Danger is stuck in an unsatisfying marriage to Shane, the manager at Bob’s Coffee. One day, while she lounges around watching television, a commercial comes across the screen for a magical evening with an enigmatic figure named Beverly Luff Linn. Lulu paws through a dresser drawer to uncover photographs of her and this Mr. Beverly from some time in her past. Meanwhile, Shane steals money from Lulu’s vegan cousin who in turn hires a drifter named Colin to retrieve the cash. Lulu uses this as an opportunity to run off with the money and Colin to the hotel where Beverly will be performing. She hopes to rekindle whatever old flames existed between the two of them. What she didn’t count on is Rodney von Donkensteiger, Beverly’s handler or the fact that Colin is falling in love with her.

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TV Review – Arrested Development Season 5 Part 2

Arrested Development Season 5 Part 2 (Netflix)
Written by Mitchell Hurwitz, Hallie Cantor, Richard Day, Evan Mann, Gareth Reynolds, Chris Marrs, and Jim Vallely
Directed by Troy Miller

In 2003 Arrested Development debuted on Fox and was a breath of fresh air in the television landscape. It combined elements of classic television like Soap and the banter of The Golden Girls (where Mitch Hurwitz cut his writing teeth). There was a labyrinthine plot that rivaled Lost and inspired just as many rewatches. Arrested was the first show where I saw callbacks to jokes that hadn’t happened yet. The primary example being all the foreshadowing about hands in season 2 that led up to Buster’s hand being eaten by a loose seal. The show was referencing an event that hadn’t happened yet, but these visual gags and pieces of dialogue would be heightened when fans went back to the episodes for a second time. It was some truly brilliant and inspiring television. Then we reach today.

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Movie Review – American Hustle

American Hustle (2013)
Written by Eric Warner Singer and David O. Russell
Directed by David O. Russell

Inspired by the FBI’s Abscam operation to take down organized crime and later public corruption, American Hustle shakes off the procedural to tell a more stylistic and fictionalized version of the events. Irving Rosenfeld is a con artist in New Jersey who has found a soulmate and partner in Sydney Prosser. The two are running an art scam, and some loan sharking but get caught by FBI agent Richie DiMaso who coerces them into using their skills and connections to start taking down bigger fish. Irving’s life is complicated by his irresponsible wife Rosalyn whose son he has adopted which causes him to refuse to leave her. DiMaso gets the pair embroiled with the mayor of Camden, New Jersey and on the ground floor of the mob-led rebuilding of Atlantic City. As expected the stakes crank up to a frenetic level and Irving finds himself deeper and more threatened than he ever wanted to be.

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Movie Review – The Hunt

The Hunt (2012)
Written by Tobias Lindholm & Thomas Vinterberg
Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Lucas has ended up at preschool after budget cuts to the high school. Despite the significant shift in students’ ages, Lucas has made the transition fairly smoothly, looking after the young children of many of his friends. One of those children is Klara, a five-year-old who develops a crush on the man. During playtime at the school, Klara kisses Lucas on the lips which stuns him. He quietly admonishes her and moves on. That evening Klara sits waiting for her mother to pick her up she strikes up a conversation with the headmistress of preschool. Jumbling together her embarrassment over Lucas and pornography she saw her brother and his friend looking at earlier she rattles off a story about Lucas showing her his genitals. This snowballs until multiple children in the town are also claiming to have been abused by Lucas, caught up in a mob mentality. Lucas’ standing in the community quickly crumbles to pieces as does his sanity.

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Movie Review – Frances Ha

Frances Ha (2012)
Written by Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach
Directed by Noah Baumbach

Frances is an apprentice in a New York dance company waiting for the day she’s given a place on the touring company. She spends her days cavorting through the city with her best friend Sophie, enjoying their youth and lack of serious adult responsibilities. Frances’ life is thrown into disarray when Sophie announces she’ll be moving to Tribeca for her dream apartment with someone else. What follows are a series of vignettes with Frances bouncing from place to place, finding herself losing the progress she’d felt that she had made. Never giving up her awkward and eclectic sensibilities, Frances keeps going, despite finding herself taking so many steps back, she ends up living in the dorms of her former college, pouring drinks for visiting donors.

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