Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
Written by Dan Hernandez & Benji Sami, Rob Letterman, and Derek Connolly
Directed by Rob Letterman
It was always a matter of time. It was 1996 when Pocket Monsters came to the United States in the form of Gameboy games and a collectible card game. I was in high school at the time and preferred to spend what little disposable income I had on comic books so I never really got caught up in the phenomenon. I think I played the card game once in college but wasn’t pulled in, I went and saw the first animated feature film in the theater due to a nearby dollar theater, and have played an hour or two of the Gameboy game. So I’m aware of the concept and can identify a few core Pokemon, but not a fan in any sense. That said, I was hoping that this live-action feature could maybe create a bridge between hardcore fans and the liminal audience that would make Pokemon appeal to the broadest audience possible.
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The House with a Clock in its Walls (2018)
Written by Eric Kripke
Directed by Eli Roth
The name Eli Roth is typically associated with, what I consider, mediocre horror films. He made Cabin Fever, the first two Hostel movies, among others. I’ve never clicked with the style and tone Roth goes for in his films, they feel like horror movies intent on undercutting any potential fear or creepiness, almost parodies of horror movies. I was a bit surprised when this was announced, an adaptation of a children’s fantasy novel written by John Bellairs in the 1970s. I feel like Roth hasn’t found his niche in the type of films he makes typically so I thought this could be a chance for him to make something I’d enjoy.
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Game of Thrones Season 8 (HBO)
Written by Dave Hill, Bryan Cogman, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Winter has come, and all the players are aligned for the final battle for Westeros. Daenerys Targaryen has arrived with dragons bringing her armies from the East. An alliance has been formed between the exiled monarch and the people of the North. The Wall has been breached and the Night King marches south to destroy anything in his path. Meanwhile, Queen Cersei Lannister has brokered deals with the Iron Islands and the Golden Company of Essos to serve as her protection against the inevitable battle with Targaryen. Jon Snow learns of his true parentage and how this could affect his relationship with the newly arrived leader. The table is set for a new age to begin in Westeros, but will it be any better than what has come before?
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The OA Season 2 (Netflix)
Written by Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij, Damien Ober, Nicki Paluga, Dominic Orlando, Henry Bean, and Claire Kiechel
Directed by Zal Batmanglij, Andrew Haigh, and Anna Rose Holmer
Private Karim Washington is visited at his houseboat by a distraught Vietnamese grandmother. She hands him a photo of her granddaughter Michelle and explains that she is missing. Washington begins searching San Francisco and following leads about a mysterious game that teens are playing and which Michelle was involved with. The threads of this investigation lead our detective to Nina Azarova, a wealthy Russian expatriate with ties to a secretive tech developer. Meanwhile, Prarie, the young woman with a fantastic story from season one finds herself transported to this new dimension and placed in the body of Nina, herself having lived out an entirely different set of circumstances. Prairie is immediately confronted with familiar faces who also found their way across the multiverse to this reality. More is revealed about the nature of Prarie’s powers and the structure of these webs of reality leading her towards another brush with death and a whole new world opening up.
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Written by Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf, & John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed by Ali Abbasi
Tina lives a secluded life, markedly different from everyone around her from a chromosomal abnormality compared to the humans that populate her world. She has a pronounced brow ridge and protruding teeth recalling images of long-extinct Neanderthals. What makes her valuable to people is her ability to smell guilt and shame making her a perfect customs agent at a Swedish port of entry. After years of ferreting out contraband, she eventually meets a man who shares her facial deformities and seems to be beyond her ability to detect evil. There is an attraction between them that develops and leads Tina to discover the truth about her past and the lies she has been told her whole life.
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Written & Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Without even realizing it, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has been every present in my adult life. Twenty years ago, this August, I saw The Sixth Sense on one of my first weekends at college, and it messed with my head. Many years later, having seen much darker and more horrific cinema, I don’t think it could affect me as profoundly, but it remains a good film. A year later I was in the theater seeing Unbreakable, a film that was everything I ever wanted in a superhero movie. I remember seeing Signs while I was staying with a friend for a month in Montgomery, Alabama. My first viewing of The Village was at the now shut down Springfield Cinema here in my hometown. I was living in Washington state when I went to the theater on my own the summer of 2006 and saw Lady in the Water. My last Shyamalan cinematic experience was watching The Happening at a theater in Puerto Rico with my then girlfriend (now wife). She yelled at the screen at one point due to how genuinely terrible that movie is. From then on I’ve only ever watched his films outside of theaters and entirely skipped After Earth due to The Last Airbender being so damn bad. Shyamalan is a filmmaker who continually has me wondering how everything went so wrong, how he could go from making something like Unbreakable which still holds up to giving us The Visit, a film that is so flawed and broken. So now, nineteen years after Unbreakable he finally gives us the closing chapter in that story.
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I Kill Giants (2018)
Written by Joe Kelly
Directed by Anders Walter
Barbara Thorson is a withdrawn teenager living on Long Island who spends her days traversing the nearby woods and setting traps. She is convinced that giants are real and are coming to attack her town. A new girl moves to town, Sophia, who wants to be Barbara’s friend but finds her caustic and unwelcoming. As she gets to know this intense young woman she learns about the giants hiding just beneath the surface of our reality and Barbara’s secret weapon, a massive hidden weapon called Coveleski. But as Sophia gets closer to Barbara, she learns more is going on in her life.
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