Tom of Finland

Drama ‐ October 13, 2017
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How to describe the art of Touko Valio Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland? Shall I compare thee to a Village People wet dream? No, that’s not quite it. His depictions of gay masculinity, to my eye, are kind of a gender inversion of the iconography of, say, a female bombshell like Jayne Mansfield. The men who sprang from the imagination of Tom of Finland are perfectly chiseled, bubble-butted, well-endowed boys who can’t help it. Their emotional range runs the gamut from friendly (there are some big smiles) to intimidating (there are more impassive-to-frownlike expressions, often camouflaged by thick mustaches). Heterosexual …

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Goodbye Christopher Robin

Family, History ‐ October 13, 2017
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The PG-rated literary biopic “Goodbye Christopher Robin” might sound like a perfectly fine choice for family night at the movies, given that it is in large part an origin tale about that beloved ursine superstar Winnie-the-Pooh. For anyone who has read aloud A.A. Milne’s sing-song wordplay to sleepy tykes at bedtime, the film’s title likely summons visions of a honey-craving bear, a sweet-natured piglet, a sullen donkey and an energetic tiger bouncing alongside their pint-size human pal—inspired by the author’s own son—as they share adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.

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Blood Money

Thriller ‐ October 13, 2017
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Blood Money

For an hour, Lucky McKee’s “Blood Money” is aggressively annoying, the kind of film with no likable or believable characters, and one of those cheap VOD flicks in which it feels like everyone was there purely for the paycheck. The final 20 minutes of this B-movie reveal why a few talented people were interested in making it, but it’s too little too late by that point, especially since most people who watch this at home will have moved on to something else anyway. Victor (Ellar Coltrane of “Boyhood”), Jeff (Jacob Artist) and Lynn (Willa Fitzgerald) are going on a rafting …

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Happy Death Day

Horror, Mystery, Thriller ‐ October 13, 2017
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“Happy Death Day,” a horror riff on the “Groundhog Day” model, opens with the Universal logo stopping and restarting, just as the company name is circling the globe. It’s a clever riff on the fact that audiences know what they’re coming to see—a film in which the same events repeat over and over again. It’s also the filmmaking team recognizing the audience’s awareness of the goofiness for which they have willingly plunked down money. “Happy Death Day” won’t really be that playful again, and that’s the film’s biggest problem. It doesn’t seem to enjoy its own ridiculous concept enough, and yet …

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The Foreigner

Action, Thriller ‐ October 13, 2017
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The Foreigner

The turgid revenge thriller “The Foreigner” is an all-around lousy movie. For starters: Jackie Chan, an action star who is struggling to find age-appropriate roles in his sixties, is barely in “The Foreigner,” an adaptation of Stephen Leather’s source novel. This is especially disappointing since Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media production company is prominently foregrounded in the film’s opening credits, and he’s featured prominently in the film’s marketing. Then again, maybe Chan’s absence is for the best given how unconvincing his performance is as grieving 61-year-old ex-military man Quan. 

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