Movie Review – Shazam!

Shazam! (2019)
Written by Henry Gaden
Directed by David Sandberg

Orphan Billy Batson has been in and out of state care since he was five, always searching for the mother who vanished on him. He ends up with the Vazquez family, a couple who has made a home for five other foster children. One day, after fighting off bullies who were tormenting his brother Freddy, Billy ends up transported to the Rock of Eternity where an aged wizard bestows his great power on the youth. By uttering the wizard’s name, “Shazam!” Billy transforms into an adult aged superhero with powers derived from Earth’s magic. Meanwhile, Thaddeus Sivana is a wealthy man who once had his encounter with the wizard, but was tempted by the Seven Deadly Sins of Man and failed to prove his worth to wield this great power. Now, Sivana is intent on rending the power from Billy, dead or alive.

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Movie Review – Stranger by the Lake

Stranger by the Lake (2013)
Written & Directed by Alain Guiraudie

Franck frequents a nude beach that doubles as a favorite spot for gay men to cruise and hook up. He befriends Henri, an older man recently broken up with his girlfriend. The two chat for a while every time Franck arrives, and he learns Henri appreciates the quiet of this side of the lake. Later, Franck sets his eyes on Michel, an incredibly handsome man who already appears to be attached. On his way home, after a late afternoon tryst with another beachgoer, Franck stumbles upon a strange scene. From his vantage point, he witnesses what appears to be a murder and Franck believes he knows the murderer. The police begin asking questions as Franck and Michel’s relationship blossoms and the beach starts to lose the splendor it once possessed for our protagonist.

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Movie Review – Ida

Ida (2013)
Written by Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Pawel Pawlikowski
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski

Ida is about to take her vows as a nun when the prioress informs her they received word from her Aunt Wanda. This comes as a surprise as Ida is an orphan, raised in the church since she was an infant. She travels to her aunt’s home and learns Wanda is a judge living her days out drunk and in promiscuous encounters with random men. Wanda also divulges that she is a Jew, that her parents were killed when the Germans invaded during the war. The two women set out so that Ida may find her parents’ graves and have some closure with her now uncovered past. What they learn profoundly unsettles them, encounter anti-Semitic resistance and ultimately learning how Ida’s mother and father were murdered. Ida also finds herself tempted by the world outside the church, a place she has no experience with.

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Comic Book Review – The New Teen Titans Volume 5

The New Teen Titans Volume 5
Reprints The New Teen Titans V1 #28-34, Annual 2
Written by Marv Wolfman & George Perez
Art by George Perez

Everything is boiling over for the Titans. It starts with the arrival of Terra, an earth shaping teen girl who is in some serious trouble. Changeling feels empathy for her and offers and helping hand to get the girl out of from under the thumb of some nasty people. The fallout from the Titans’ Zandia trip hits home when the Brotherhood of Evil arrives in New York seeking revenge. Robin is feeling growing pains as Batman takes on a new ward, Jason Todd. Wally West discovers that every time he uses his powers as Kid Flash, he’s in profound pain. Cyborg’s love interest Sarah appears to be already taken which reinforces his feelings of being a freak. Raven is struggling against growing darkness inside her. All-in-all there are clouds forming overhead which point towards darker days for these youthful heroes.

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Movie Review – Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher (2014)
Written by E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman
Directed by Bennett Miller

Mark Schultz is three years out from his wrestling gold medal win at the ‘84 Olympics and is feeling the pain of being quickly forgotten. He’s also stuck in his brother, Dave’s shadow, who also won gold and is now working as a coach at Wexler University while preparing for a bid at the ‘88 Olympics. One day Mark receives a phone call from eccentric multimillionaire John Du Pont. Du Pont has decided he wants to support Mark and the Olympic wrestling team with hopes of another gold. He opines about the loss of “American greatness” but as time wears on it becomes clear Du Pont sees himself as the leader, coach, and comrade of these wrestlers. An unhealthy power dynamic develops between Mark and Du Pont that only worsens when Dave arrives to act as the “assistant coach.” It’s clear this arrangement is heading for disaster.

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Movie Review – Her

Her (2013)
Written & Directed by Spike Jonze

Theodore is a recent divorcee who has receded from life outside his work/home bubble. This reclusive nature changes when he installs an advanced artificial intelligence on his networked devices. She calls herself Samantha, a name she picked because she liked how it sounded. Samantha and Theodore feel a spark between them, but for obvious reasons, there is reticence and awkwardness. Eventually, they begin a relationship, and both of them find great solace in their intimacy. Samantha starts developing as a being, frustrated with her lack of physical form but finding emotional satisfaction in her day to day life with Theodore. Theo struggles to accept the finality of his divorce, the pangs of a love he thought was forever lingering in his heart.

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