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The Comic-Book Movie That’s Gotten Better With Age: Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (2009)

Review of The Director’s Cut of Watchmen, 2nd Viewing 

I don’t read a lot of comic books. The majority of ones that I have read were never vastly interesting to me. I have, however, read Watchmen, because the idea of a more politically complicated atmosphere in the superhero genre has always caught my attention significantly more than others (ex: The Incredibles, V for Vendetta, The Boys, etc.). Watchmen is a graphic novel that I somewhat “worship” and find to be one of the boldest pieces of fiction ever written. It’s genuinely as good and morally daring as folks make it out to be. 

So, naturally, Zack Snyder’s adaption of the infamous book has quite the burden to carry. 

Just from the opening credits that play Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’, which introduces the inception of Snyder’s taboo modification to the representative superhero adaptation, it was more than obvious that this Watchmen movie was going to piss fans off. Snyder loves to keep his stylistically extroverted and overemphasized style in check, and despite him being quite the sucker for Alan Moore’s story, there was, case and point, going to be a major change in presentation in this live-action retelling. Personally, I think these beginning few minutes are some of the most disturbingly resourceful in movie history and set the time period and setting of Watchmen towards total accuracy. Showing the death of The Comedian, graphic footage involving celebrity homophobia, a recreation of JFK’s brutal assassination, and repulsive genocides, it’s evident, like how Moore went into making his graphic novel, that Snyder didn’t want to hold back on the brutality and savage parallelism that could be made to 1980s humanity; that is if superheroes could’ve ever been actively involved in our history. 

The director’s cut’s bulky 3-hour runtime has allowed Snyder to give us enough comfortable room to develop our main characters to appropriate extents, with fascinating and often melancholy backstories that allow the cynical fixations of the characters’ beliefs to feel justified by the end of the picture. Rorschach, who is a personal favorite of mine, brings some arguably “emo” diary narration to the movie that is, nonetheless, partially amusing and partially genuine. He arguably also stars front and center in some of the most imposing scenes of the motion picture. The Comedian, even though killed off in the first couple of minutes, furthermore gets character reassurance as well, as Snyder attempts to visually interlink The Comedian’s history with other characters like Laurie and Sally Jupiter. Larry Fong’s cinematography is, for the most part, pretty badass and maybe sometimes a little too dark and reliantly filtered, but it fits the gritty, edged mood. In truth, it’s really hard not to complement Fong for making every shot look so specific in context and so spot-on to the images from its source material. Snyder obligates himself to cover so many various settings, and for the budget, he pulls it off impressively. Watchmen additionally has a crazy-good soundtrack that’s a little too overutilized but shouldn’t bother the contemporary too badly. Lastly, the visual effects still hold up reasonably well for a 2009 property.  

When it comes to Snyder’s constantly bloated methods, however, problems begin to arise in Watchmen—thankfully though, more so than a lot of his other movies. Some of the extras’ acting are painfully cringy. Even some of the main leads’ performances are questionably amateur in a few scenes, yet not enough to draw away from the partially intriguing dialogue that’s often extracted right from the comics. A lot of the scenes particularly involving Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II feel artificial—even if some of them are torn right from the comics; they don’t appear contextually deserved towards the actual structure of the film. The dialogue is sometimes rocky in certain spots as well, but also often very idiosyncratic—in a good way! Plus, there are distractingly cliché moments in Watchmen despite the fact that the movie usually has an overall noticeable eccentricity in storytelling.  Snyder’s interpretation furthermore shamefully neglects Ozymandias’s character development in this adaptation—which is a pity because he plays such a crucial and thematically important role in the Watchmen legacy. 

Even with these many blemishes in mind, we have to remember that Zack Synder had quite the shoes to fill in, and, you know what, I believe he pulled it off pretty triumphantly. The Watchmen novel is a gigantic, almost too-stuffed-to-adapt story, and for what it’s worth, this might be the best movie adaptation of Watchmen that we’ll ever get—hint, hint, make a TV show revamp instead, people. It’s unapologetically insensitive as is its source material. It succeeds as the needed yet evidently unwanted turning point in comic book quality that The Dark Knight also initiated. That’s that. It’s under-appreciated in my book. The controversial Watchmen is indisputably one of the greatest comic-book movies of all-time—I’d give it “top ten,” to be honest—in spite of its justly pointed out flaws. 

Verdict: B

The Superior Comic-Book Adaptations

“Watchmen” is now available to stream on YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, and Amazon Prime.

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The Five-Hour Motion Picture: Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982)

This is a review of the 5-hour television cut of Fanny and Alexander. Yep, I watched all 312 minutes of the film and it was totally worth it! 

Just from the first act of Ingmar Bergman’s desired-to-be final feature, we are already conferred with a hysterically hefty juxtaposition between the inquisitive youth, the hectic middle-aged, and the strung-up elderly. The voluminous opening presents an epic-long dissection of an enormous early-1900s family of wives, husbands, grandmas, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, sons, daughters, cousins, and siblings—pertaining to the convoluted details of what emotionally and psychologically goes on behind the scenes of a money-driven, depressed clan of lineage.

Yet, Fanny and Alexander doesn’t stop there. At its roots, the 5-act presentation is a diabolical autopsy on how the conjoining of two household lineages (the Ekdahls and the Vergeruses) provoked one, wrathful, unhealthy family. Where love should be guaranteed with such a gathering of soon to be, non-blood related relatives, Bergman epitomizes just how toxic it can be when you attempt to drag and disregard those around you for your own happiness. Specifically, the movie focuses on the children, nevertheless, and how the most important people in your life can mentally slip away just like that due to an initial comatose of parental egotism and delusional suspicions of your fictional loneliness. But in a series of unexpected events, Bergman does the impossible and transforms such a calamitous situation into one that can only lead to an unforeseen light, where terror has finally hit its utmost maximum, manufacturing the Ekdahls’ new-founded strength that was always needed to enhance the family. 

So inevitably, yes, Bergman’s dramatic chronicle does cover such stereotyped concepts as the saying “happiness always comes with the suffering of others” or formulates its trail amongst such timeworn stories as the “child’s battle between a wretchedly evil stepfather” with Jan Malmsjö playing the Hans Landa (from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds) of stepfathers—like sheesh, give the man an Oscar. The time-jumping, on top of that, results in a lot of necessity for exposition, and even for a five-hour movie, it hurts the believability of some of the character arcs. With that being said, Ingmar Bergman’s craft is so idiomatically intense that these moderate clichés somehow still come off as shocking within the film’s visually special execution of them.

Alexander Ekdahl’s “kids see ghosts” characteristic is definitely the inspirational creator of M Night Shyamalan’s premise for The Sixth Sense, except, unlike Shyamalan’s cult classic, the conversation of whether Alexander is actually seeing spirits or not is handled more cryptically than determinedly. Bergman’s motion picture utilizes quite the brain-ingraining depiction of the supernatural and Alexander’s “superpower” to spark up thematic conversations. From what I’ve withdrawn, the movie has a load to say when it comes to our distrust in higher powers, the existence and role of the dead, the pitiful philosophical extents of our self duties, why we give into belief so effortlessly, and the reasons why we choose to accept our reality out of unconscious fear. In a finale that implements some of the greatest binary editing between different events of all-time, the movie really throws out these themes considerably. They are oddly satisfying and partially perplexing moral conclusions as they are penetrating to our eternal psyches. 

And, I guess it was during the 1900s, but Emelie “simped” hard towards her questionable fiancée in this movie. Weirdly enough, between this and Night of the Hunter (1955), classics seem to be keen on sliding in underlying messages on why you shouldn’t marry priests or bishops. Hmmm…

Verdict: A

A Philosophical Detour (Ranked List)

“Fanny and Alexander” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and The Criterion Channel. 

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The Invisible Man is a Potentially Great and Poignant Movie Brought Down By Lethargic Plotting

There are 3 definitive things that all cultured citizens should consider before deciding on a movie to see:

1) Does the following movie have a reliable director and crew behind it? 

2) Does the following movie give off a challenging or distinctive personality?  

3) Does the following movie feature Elisabeth Moss playing someone who appears to be going bats*** crazy in it?

And yeah, that whole Elisabeth Moss aspect of this movie: brilliant. And blimey can Leigh Whannell direct a movie! After his knockout 2018 science-fiction action thriller Upgrade, it was no shock that The Invisible Man came as a sagaciously directed project. Whannell continues to impress with his sleek, clean-maneuvered camera motions and contrived framings that not only intensify the scenarios occurring on screen to rewarding degrees but also offer sharp formulations within its preoccupying action sequences. 

At the heart of what makes The Invisible Man a little more justifiable than the average, shlock horror picture, however, is its predominantly appropriate exploration of abusive relationships and the nauseating manipulation that often comes with it to its victims. The decision to make the leading character, played by Elisabeth Moss, Cecilia Kass’s experience that deals with this sort of misogynistic mishap almost came off as a perceptive metaphor for what it must actually feel like to be in an abusive relationship. Despite the movie’s storyline centering around a very fictionalized telling of an invisible ex-boyfriend haunting his ex-girlfriend, there is a great quantity of outlook to be wrung from the movie’s underlying memos. The movie’s material presentation of having you experience that constant feeling Cecilia obtains in always having an aggressor on your tail, judging and steering the wheel to every move you don’t yearn to make, justified a film that otherwise has flaws in its supplementary categories. Aside from the directing and obviously Elisabeth Moss and some of the other cast members, a majority of The Invisible Man’s themes appended a lot more substance that would’ve otherwise made the movie insufferably tedious. 

What boils down to the collapse of Blumhouse’s latest horror phenomena, nevertheless, where its preposterous habits in condoning its negligent plot writing and childish conveniences. How a movie so close to greatness can be solely jeopardized by immature narrative tactics baffles me. The Invisible Man suffers from the contagious “bread-crumb writing” (yes, I just made that saying up) where a certain action or incident is, without reason or logic, inserted into the sequence of events in order to have a certain turning event or following episode occur. Trying to keep it spoiler-free, of course, but the movie is repetitively accompanied by insufferable plot-holes and irrational character decisions that were fundamentally interjected to idly progress the story forward. The obnoxiously vapid and criminally ostentatious score didn’t help the staging of the movie feel any less distasteful when mingled with Leigh Whannell’s expert directing and some fine performances.  

I’m a little polarized by the conclusion to The Invisible Man, as well. It’s one of those endings that will please the stereotypical “cinephile” who thinks that any motion picture that leaves off ambiguously is instantaneously “high-art.” Truthfully, to me, it added nothing of nuance to the conversation and furthermore cloaked the strongest element of the movie’s motifs on the drawbacks of mistreatment. If anything, it makes the message seem more impractically obscured rather than solidified. There’s a sort of “petrifying empowerment” to the ending, sure, but it more so feels like a way to formulaically shrink the lessons that looked at the barriers of misogyny in a more psychologically down-to-earth and less theatrically stylized matter. It just appeared partially unsuitable to end a movie off vaguely when so much of the motion picture appeared quite strict on what it had to say thematically. 

I’m torn, to say the least. There’s a treasure of components to applaud when it comes to The Invisible Man, but the horrendous scripting is just something I am exhausted of seeing in Blumhouse’s reign of horror movies these days. It genuinely makes me consider whether or not Hollywood should even seek to hire out writers these days when they can get the same results if an A.I. wrote the film’s detailed plot layout. In this case, robot Travis Scott will probably be writing movies in no time! 

Verdict: C+ 

2020 Ranked 

“The Invisible Man” will be released in theaters on February 28, 2020.

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My Interpretations of the Underrated Masterpiece, Under the Skin (2013)

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

2nd Viewing, Screened at The Frida Cinema 

Best coming of age movie ever???

I’m still baffled to this day that Under the Skin is not considered a sci-fi masterpiece at the ranks of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You heard me correctly. I said it.

Then again, it did take Kubrick’s marvelous feat a tedious amount of time to become widely accepted as one of the greats. 

Couple theories on what exactly this movie could morally mean… 

One, the film is ultimately about introversion. It’s a metaphysical depiction of what it’s like to feel cut off from the world or what it’s like to be someone who doesn’t quite grasp humanity. There seems to be an ongoing disconnect between Laura and the people, and while she does begin to puzzle out the functions of humans and their relationships, she ends up detesting them by the end, as she, the pure creature, is powerless to fathom the cruelty of mankind. It’s the equivalent to people who rather stay enclosed than allow themselves to reckon with the harsher truths of the outside world. 

Two, this entire movie is a metaphor for an innocent girl coming to her senses about innate male sexual desires for females, and the trauma that comes with it. At the beginning of Under the Skin, when Laura is born, she almost instantaneously is programmed to seduce men into coming to her place to essentially be harvested by the aliens she works for—this alone could say a lot about the unacceptable role some women are raised to play. However, the film makes it thoroughly clear that she is unconscious of why the men want her, and more so, just numbly going through the motions of what she was made to do. Later in the movie, as she begins to understand humans, she, on multiple occasions, begins to supposedly apprehend the loneliness that comes with these men who want to have sex with her. This loneliness not only ties in with a parallel to her own situation, but it makes her begin to feel related to some of these men. At the end of the film, unfortunately, a man attempts to rape her, and it ends in her being burnt alive, almost mimicking the emotions she now has as to realizing what men would go through to be with someone else—something horrendous she herself, could never imagine doing to another being. It almost distresses her of her own desires to connect while vaguely indicating her hatred and inability to accept humanity’s way of solution. Thus, an early death is the way her species will always end up at as they roam Earth. 

Three, like my first theory, the movie is strictly about the feelings you get when you are lonely. From countless scenes that blurt the meaning in your face like the shot where the baby whose parents just died is seen crying on the beach alone. Or, from countless recurring sub-themes like the revulsion of physical ugliness that the deformed man received or Laura received at the very end of the film when her true form is exposed. These are evidential signals that can aid us at mastering what exactly Jonathon Glazer may be saying in Under the Skin on what he perceives the experience of loneliness can come from or mentally emote. 

Theories aside, I do furthermore find Under the Skin to be a technical wonder next to also being an ambiguous cinematic mind-challenge. Mica Levi’s recurring score theme is at a legendary level of petrifying. Scarlett Johansson is officially the most terrifying extraterrestrial ever, and that was a tricky maneuver to pull off considering she looks like Scarlett Johansson. Jonathon Glazer directed his entire soul into making every frame of this movie look like unconventional eye-candy; the opening to this movie is still an all-time favorite of mine that enhances Kubrick’s flair. Besides nitpicks, to me and hopefully to many more people in the future, Under the Skin is one of the greatest science-fiction films ever concocted. Please, cinephiles, give it the love and attention it deserves. 

Verdict: A 

All-Time Favorites, A24 Ranked

“Under the Skin” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.

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Sonic the Hedgehog is Abominable, Yet, Technically Not Nearly the Worst Movie You Could Watch With Friends or Family

It’s amusing how an almost strictly made for kids movie was so savagely pounced by a nostalgically spoiled group of internet-raving adults. Due to a poorly constructed “character design” back in the year 2019 that many reacted to as if it was a near end of the world scenario, Sega’s innocent project was pushed back four whole months; smh, as if children (the target audience) would actually give a damn about a CGI character design. However, in the midst of this state of affairs, the finalized product of this latest video game adaptation may either disappoint or alarmingly jolt fans who grew up with the classic Sega game due to its immature nature that perfectly reconciles the beats of watching a motion picture like a child again. 

However, as a movie, the blockbuster talk-about is an appropriate DVD rental snatch for your 5-year-old niece, and an unintentionally hilarious ball for you and your young adult/teenage friends to belly-laugh your butts off too. Despite the content of the blockbuster looking awfully unwatchable in its first few teasers, Sonic the Hedgehog turns out to be shockingly “meme-able” rather than just flat-out boring. So, like X-Men: Dark Phoenix, I enjoyed it in those regards. 

Jim Carrey is the only actor here who is admirably trying to give it his all, yet the atrocious screenplay Patrick Casey and Josh Miller have implemented here is so utterly awkward that it cannot competently mirror Carrey’s quirky acting abilities. The relationship between our main character’s Sonic and Tom is a prime example of “artificial chemistry” that is, might I add, side-splittingly counterfeit to a point of grave embarrassment. Jim Carry and his simp had more allure than these two underwritten dweebs. 

It’s a shame that, at least to me, all the intentional gags in Sonic the Hedgehog fell flat. Even the few kids and parents at my theater were dead silent the entire time. The iconic rendition of the character, Sonic is, unfortunately, one of the most obnoxious mends to the movie considering 75% of the jokes come out of his mouth. I also merely have the stomach to get into how generic this movie’s plot is and just how pathetic its endeavors to be “heartfelt” are—robots will definitely be writing our future projects if we keep this haphazardness up. The blockbuster is littered with dated movie references to keep the adult audience from falling fast asleep, which in of itself is just insulting. Sonic the Hedgehog additionally features possibly some of the most blatant uses of product placement in cinema that I’ve seen in a while. However, while they are blatant, they were god-tier leveled priceless in a sort of scornful manner. I mean, BEST OLIVE GARDEN ADS EVER. THEY WENT ON FOR SO LONG BUT I WAS ALMOST KILLED BY LAUGHTER BECAUSE OF THEM; BLESS YOU MOVIE

Sonic the Hedgehog is a film that could sincerely believe it to be competent and in-fashion, but deep down comes off as one of the biggest cinematic trolls of the century. It’s strictly “made” for kids and it does mean well, but then again, a 95 million dollar budget is enough to “save” more needing kids as an alternative…

Hey! But the CGI was pretty good though, and I’ve now discovered that I have a bottomless, driving passion for Olive Garden quips! 

Verdict: D

2020 Ranked

“Sonic the Hedgehog” will be playing in theaters on Valentine’s Day.

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In the Future, Portrait of a Lady on Fire Will Be Considered One of the Greatest Romances of This Century By Many

I guess I never told you, readers, what happened to me the day I went to go see Portrait of a Lady on Fire back in October. It seems like this would be an appropriate time to tell you, anyhow. So, if you don’t know, I went to see The Lighthouse that same day in the afternoon up in LA—an event that I ended up being late to too. Afterward, I had to get some 8mm film developed because when I’m in LA, I usually take advantage to use its awesome resources to get some of my movie work processed. 

Being the idiot I am, I completely lost track of time, and I realized it was around the start of late afternoon traffic. Ultimately, I drove for almost five hours from LA to San Diego for the film festival. In the process of this, I also scraped my car, not one, but TWO times on my drive there. I also ended up missing the first three minutes of the movie. Evidently, as you can imagine, I was extraordinarily grouchy going into seeing Portrait of a Lady on Fire. In a sense though, that in of itself is a compliment for the movie, considering despite my s**t attitude, I still ended up giving the movie a high grade of an A-. You rock, Céline. 

So yeah, yeah, I know I’m making excuses but I wanted to preface this review before I start discussing why I love this special film even more on rewatch. There’s a specific qualm from my original review that I’d favor to go over in which I’ve completely changed my mind on. In this previous review of the movie, I had claimed that the cinematography displayed in the film was “50/50.” Maybe my possible migraine caused me to nitpick the hell out of the cinematography or I was just being needlessly pissy that the movie wasn’t shot on film or something, but I openly admit that I was wrong. Witnessing the colorful ornamenting of Portrait of a Lady on Fire is like walking around in Candyland. I officially retract what I had said about the visual look of this movie from my original review. Okay; cool. 

I empathetically profess Céline Sciamma’s masterpiece to having virtually FLAWLESS dialogue that evokes the genuinest indications of desirability. Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel gave by far the best performances of 2019 alongside Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse—yet for very contrasting grounds. The two ladies’ subtle facial cues speak so essentially to the audience’s faith between these lovers. The execution of Sciamma’s feature-length, as I believe I had mentioned in my previous review, is arguably painted in perfection. 

I suppose the one argument somebody could make to discredit Portrait of a Lady on Fire is that from a “surface-level” point-of-view, the plot is foreseeable and accustomed. Even at that, it is the outstanding substance and contextual presentation of the actual movie that vindicates the debatably familiar structure—you don’t want your motion picture to be so heavy with thematic individualities that no viewers can possibly carry it. 

So yeah, if I could go back in time, I would definitely place Portrait of a Lady on Fire in the top 3 of my favorite movies of 2019 article. It’s frankly one of my all-time favorite romantic dramas amongst other cult classics such as Punch-Drunk Love or The Lobster—and in all fairness, it definitely has the best ending out of all of them too. F*****g fire film.

Verdict: A

2019 Ranked, All-Time Favorites, Favorite Romances 

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is now playing in select theaters. 

 

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Birds of Prey is a Harmless Comic-Book Movie That’s Currently Being Blown Out of Proportion

Warning: The following review is RATED R because some reckless movie reviewing asshole says an unnecessary amount of curse words to emphasize his point on this particular motion picture while also attempting to embody the raunchy stylistic directions of the film’s pizazz. 

Awwwwwww. A completely harmless comic-book half-pie-flick with a ton of blood, guts, and chaos starring a far from unlikable jumpsuit-wearing, sledge-hammering, and trouble-stirring ex-princess of the Clown of Crime, Harley Quinn. Cute! 

Wait, what was that? People are getting…heated…about this movie? What? But, why? Hold up a second, individuals are actually giving a shit that a by-the-numbers, forgettable DC movie has a minor, inconsequential social justice agenda…huh? By showing love or hatred through internet praise or protest? Aye-yai-yai. Hm. Let me take you fellas back to the very beginning from where this all started. 

Hi! My name is Evan Ambrose, but you can just call me Evan. I’m a moderately young writer/filmmaker from San Diego, California and I fancy talking about movies around the clock. But enough about me; that’s not why I brought you citizenries here to talk. I’m here because I want to dig at the roots of why Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is whipping up a wee pot of controversy. 

Back in the year of 2016, a DEVISTATINGLY hyped-up DCEU movie, also known as the movie that shall not be named, ended up being an utter DISASTER—don’t tell anyone I said this, but that wretched movie is called Suicide Squad. That poor, dear flick additionally happened to be the movie to introduce Margot Robbie’s spectacular interpretation of Harley Quinn, and the film was planned to set up the villainous world of the DC universe. Unfortunately, after the fact that countless had witnessed such a dumpster fire of a motion picture, nobody really desired a sequel or spin-off to the movie that shall not be namedwink wink, Suicide Squad. A couple years later, Birds of Prey was rumored amongst the internet as possibly being a “feminist movie”—GASP. And, as speculation causes, both men and women began not caring about what the actual cinematic (AKA, important) content of the follow-up was going to hopefully feature, but began either getting aggravated or preachy about the likes of a movie being feminist-oriented. 

Now, I have finally gotten to witness the movie myself (and you should too if you’re one of those low-lives who are currently criticizing or applauding a movie before it even comes out) and conclusively, while the movie does cover such topics as misogyny and female empowerment lightly, it is but only a sliver of the cake that feels more tacked onto the final product than it does appear fore-fronting—so quit your bitchin’ and whinin’ and enjoy or don’t enjoy the damn movie as a MOVIE. Okay, FABULOUS! Glad we understand one another now! 

Margot Robbie’s gracious return to the ferocious Harley Quinn character was effortlessly the greatest blessing of Birds of Prey. Unlike recent DC failures such as Suicide Squad and Justice Leauge, this new movie advantageously has a leading character that we can latch onto rather than subconsciously forget. The extroverted, cartoonish style of Birds of Prey is affectionately reminiscent of the zany Harley Quinn comic-books and not only added flavor to the movie’s presentation but will simultaneously please geeky accuracy fans as well. The violent, over-the-top, and creatively designed action sequences were also comically set-up to the point of recapturing the lampoon flair of Harley’s imaginative yet cuckoo world from the source material. Nevertheless, the questionable choreography of these battle scenes is sometimes iffy in its department. For newcomer to the blockbuster business director Cathy Yan, however, the work displayed in Birds of Prey’s colorful presentation is somewhat meritorious. Yipee! 

Sadly, my readers, that is around the extent of Birds of Prey’s value. What absolutely stings this flick in the ass, is, well, a number of things actually. Its aimlessly fucked-up timeline creates unnecessary confusion and degratification. The migraine-inducing attempts to flesh-out numerous characters (sidekicks, villains, officers of the law, etc.) into an hour and forty-nine minutes of screen-time felt very familiar to the defective realms of the clunky Suicide Squad. The plot is unbearably formulaic and uninspired with predictable character arcs, slothful writing, serendipity scattered throughout, and a distracting original soundtrack—so just about everything you’d come to expect from your run-of-the-mill DCEU blockbuster at this point! 

So you may be asking yourselves, does this all bum you out, Evan? The medicoreness of the picture, does it bother you? No. Frankly, I’m fine that this movie exists. I didn’t regret watching it nor did I enjoy watching it, it was just everything I’ve come to expect from team-up, comic-book blockbusters at this point, and I’m much too careless to get aggravated at another one of these second-rates existing. To the people though who are blowing this typical anti-hero flick out of proportion through political absurdity, as Ms. Harleen Frances Quinzel herself would suggest, get yourselves a nice, juicy, possibly expired breakfast sandwich down at your local corner store, and chill the hell-o out, okay? Marvelous! 

Verdict: C-

DCEU Ranked, 2019 Ranked 

“Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” will be released in theaters February 7, 2020.

 

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The Top 25 Movies of the Decade! (2010-2019)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, another decade has flashed by as well as a whole 10 years of movie releases. I won’t waste anymore time. You know exactly what that means…

25. Enemy (2013)

Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy is very dissimilar to anything in the artist’s filmography. It’s very small-scaled, concise, and abstract in its presentation. Villeneuve’s 2013 paragon is about a college professor played by Jake Gyllenhaal who discovers an actor that looks exactly like him. The results that dispute in this eye-catching storyline are potent, unexpected, and ultimately polarizing. But the more and more you think about what happened in Enemy, the more and more you begin to realize that it truly is a cinematic treasure. 

24. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

As of the moment, Moonrise Kingdom is my all-time favorite Wes Anderson film, and probably because I saw it during my adolescence when it first came out. Being the same age as the two main characters in this film gained so much value for me because I harshly related to what our leads were going through at that time. Now, gazing back at the film as an adult, I can furthermore appreciate just how perfectly it encapsulates young love. Moonrise Kingdom is endearing, spirited, and, in all likelihood, my favorite looking Wes Anderson movie as well. 

23. Moonlight (2016)

Sticking on target with movies that involve love and sexual awakenings, here we have Barry Jenkins’ directorial debut, Moonlight. This motion picture journey I would confidently describe as technically flawless. There’s literally nothing in terms of execution, directing, and visual presentation in this film that is anything below marvelous. Moonlight is the quintessential drama about someone growing up in a poor neighborhood and family while simultaneously dealing with a secret that isn’t necessarily accepted in society. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking three-part exploration. 

22. Snowpiercer (2013)

South Korean legend Bong Joon-ho made an American feature-length back in 2013 that was harshly criticized by audiences for its lack of “story-wise” plausibility. The thing is though, Snowpiercer isn’t trying to be quote on quote “realistic.” It’s trying to show you the ugly truth about human nature, which is, that no matter the absurd situation, social-class will always stay relevant. To me, Snowpiercer is a science-fiction cult classic that is brimmed with fantastic set pieces, memorable characters, and some of the coolest shot action sequences I’ve seen all decade. 

21. Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Tiimothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer exemplify one of the most realistic human connections that I’ve ever witnessed on screen in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. This adaptation is a natural, gorgeous progression in showing you two men who are in love during the 80s in Italy. There’s not a whole lot to it than just that, but the charm of the movie is just simply its down-to-earth presentation. Plus, it has one of my favorite endings to a romantic drama ever. Hopefully, the sequel doesn’t ruin it. 

20. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

If there’s any director out there that deserved to make a sequel to Ridley Scott’s science-fiction classic (and one of my favorite movies of all-time) Blade Runner, it had to be Denis Villeneuve. In full boldness, I can say that Blade Runner 2049 is the prettiest-looking movie in this history cinema. Roger Deakins is a god. Storywise, Blade Runner 2049 is also considerably powerful. Simple, yet powerful. This is far and beyond one of the best sequels ever made, purely because it is respectful of its predecessor and legitimately adds something worthwhile and needing to the story of its source material. 

19. Prisoners (2013)

Believe me, you’re going to see a good chunk of Denis Villeneuve films on this list, and that’s just because he’s the very definition of a modern master. Prisoners is one of the best David Fincher films not made by David Fincher. And, clearly, it’s not made by him because, all though, it follows a similar, gritty detective premise like a lot of Fincher movies, its execution and plot plays out a lot differently than a Fincher project. This movie puts you in such a terrifying, disrupting situation that you could hardly even fathom happening to you or your own family—and that’s why it works so well! This movie gets real deep under your skin, especially during its epic climax and haunting final sequence. 

18. Good Time (2017)

Good Time: the most moving (literally) or “always-on-the-run” motion picture ever, one of the most aesthetically pleasing projects in the visual department, and easily the most stressful movie I’ve ever had to sit down and watch. The Safdie Brothers are gems to the new world of stress-urging cinema, and Good Time is about as far-out you can possibly go in replicating the throbbing feelings of hysteria. I wish I could watch Good Time for the first time ever again, as it was an unforgettable experience that I had no clue what I was in for.

17. Django Unchained (2012)

Quentin Tarantino’s seventh feature-length is a twisted, stylized spin on the Spaghetti Western genre. Like most Tarantino major motion pictures, Django Unchained is an orgy of endless amusement that, all though, is often difficult to watch due to its touchy and disturbing subject matter, is the very embodiment of a dynamic take on the fictionalized history adventure/hero flick. The dialogue and performances are miles beyond extraordinary and the film has one of the goriest and most satisfying shootouts in the history of cinema. Yes, please! 

16. Her (2013)

Spike Jonze’s acclaimed Oscar-winning hit is both scary and beautiful. Scary because of its realism and profound insight into our very future with where technology is taking us and beautiful because it manages to make a human and robot (of artificial intelligence) relationship blossom into something that many would describe as true love. It genuinely takes a skillful cast and crew to make such an unorthodox and almost laughable premise function in such a down-to-earth and riveting manner. 

15. A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story isn’t necessarily a movie that’ll appeal to everyone, yet it’s certainly a movie that’s about all of us. It’s a hypnotic exploration of life and death. It’s almost like the elongated version of what we would most likely urge to see right before we died. Like Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is a compelling take on existentialism: what life really is and what it might be like if life were to cease. It’s so hard to compare the execution of A Ghost Story really to any other movie that’s ever been made. It’s holy original, addicting to look at, and truthfully a movie that I would consider severely overlooked. 

14. The Florida Project (2017)

If there were anything out there that could possibly (be prepared to hear something that will probably sound awkward and strange) make me feel like a child again, it would be The Florida Project: a movie about a group of kids living in an impoverished area. This entire film doesn’t even really feel like a film; it’s like you’re 100% looking in on the everyday life of some families who don’t have necessarily the most wealthy lives. Not only are the child performances in this movie hands-down the greatest child performances to ever be showcased on camera, but the atmosphere of the movie is hands-down one of the most genuine, heartfelt encapsulations of American poverty lifestyle in the existence of fictional storytelling. 

13. Incendies (2010)

“One plus one, does it make one?” is still one of the most effectively used quotes in the history of cinema—and if you don’t know the context of the scene, please don’t search up the scene on YouTube; go watch the whole movie! Overtime, I have grown to consider Incendies to be Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece. This is rightfully his most f****d up movie of his entire filmography as well as his most relevant feature-length to date. It’s a heart-wrenching magnum opus. 

12. Suspiria (2018)

Well, onto the most underrated horror movie of this entire decade. Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria is a downright serpentine of muddling intentions. It’s not a pretentious flick; it’s a scary flick—like how most horror movies should be. The majority of criticisms I’ve heard about this film are glaring reasons into why I think people have stopped appreciating what makes horror real horror. Is it real horror if the plot makes complete sense or gives you full closure—like what some people seem to want these days more than to be terrified of unblemished execution and editing techniques—or is it a movie that delivers eerie, unnerving confusion, imagery that burns directly into your eyes for all of eternity, and ear-wrecking music. Just saying. 

11. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)

Easily the most passionately crafted and emotional of the films on this list, It’s Such a Beautiful Day is an obnoxiously overlooked and underrated animated masterpiece that depressingly showcases life itself. Its narration is creative as hell and unlike anything else. Its themes are well progressed and relatable to nearly every living being on this planet—take your dog to see this one, I guess. Plus, the incredible soundtrack is used in the most constructive way I’ve seen used in an animated motion picture. It still blows my mind that Don Hertzfeldt made this movie with only a couple other people. It’s an artistic feat if I’d ever seen one. 

10. Inherent Vice (2014)

This may sound harsh, but the type of people who hate Inherent Vice are most likely the type of people who know their opinion on a movie the moment the movie ends. No wonder Inherent Vice has received such negative reception by audience members because this is not an easy movie to digest at first glance. Structurally it’s a clusterf*** of intentional dilemmas and the story, in essence, doesn’t really add up in a perfect little circle. But, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2014 hippie mystery noir is the type of film that only gets better the more you recollect the confusing and utterly unique experience of the poisonous hallucinations that the motion picture took you on. If drugs were a movie, it’d be Inherent Vice: a masterpiece in progressing cinema to new, undiscovered territories. 

9. Burning (2018)

Lee Chang-dong’s Burning has the most unsatisfying satisfying ending in the history of storytelling. This masterclass in slow-burning progression has possibly the evilest finale to accompany a motion picture ever—and I f*****g love it. It took me about a year to realize that this movie is evidently flawless. It also took me a year to realize that The Academy (AKA, the worst movie award show ever since The Golden Raspberry) doesn’t deserve this movie—especially after they decided to not even nominate this masterpiece for best foreign film, furthermore continuing the company’s racist trend of never nominating a South Korean flick in the show’s entire historical runtime. Hopefully, spot #7 will break that trend!

8. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Is it okay for me to say that this is the best action blockbuster ever made? Because it is. Mad Max: Fury Road is the grandest show-off movie of this entire century, meaning that it basically was made to make every other action movie in the world look like garbage. This is a flick of sheer, madcap craziness with practical effects shining left in right, colorful explosions imploding the screens, and a faultless return to the iconic Mad Max series. It’s literally a post-apocalyptic lover’s wet dream. 

7. Parasite (2019)

Now, I’ve already said plenty of things about Bong Joon-ho’s greatest achievement yet, so if you’re curious, I’ll link my full review of it. Otherwise, all you need to know about this movie is that it’s the most fun I’ve had in the theaters ever. Check out my review: CLICK HERE 

6. The Lighthouse (2019)

Yet another movie I’ve already said plenty about. It’s a TRIUMPH! It’s belly-achingly FUNNY! It’s quite HORNY! Check out my review: CLICK HERE 

5. The Lobster (2015)

Arguably the best romantic comedy of this entire century, Yorgo Lanthimos’s The Lobster is the most fitting depiction of dystopian relationships ever—even though people literally transform into animals in this movie. Despite the fact that this entire movie is “lore-wise” absurd and goofy, sprinkled with awkward, clunky dialogue, and kind of meant to just make you laugh or feel extremely uncomfortable, it has so many things to say about modern and future society. The Lobster artistically investigates our desperation for love and our hatred of the taboo. It’s a personal favorite of mine! 

4. The Social Network (2010)

It takes god-like talent to make a boring-ass story about the creation of Facebook into debatably the most interesting drama in living memory. So, it makes sense that both David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin were the leading minds behind The Social Network. There’s not a whole lot to be said about this movie that hasn’t already been preached about by critics. It’s witty, fast-paced, always investing, and constantly wrapped up in exploiting the modern-like rivalries between friends and foes. 

3. Under the Skin (2013)

The best way to describe Under the Skin is to pitch it as if 2001: A Space Odyssey took place primarily on Earth, and I swear to you, it is almost as good as Stanley Kubrick’s classic. It’s easily the most underrated movie of this entire decade; it hurts me that almost nobody talks about it despite its legendarily flawless and groundbreaking quality. If aliens actually came to Earth to try and take us over, this is how I imagine it would happen—in utter, traumatizing and psychologically unimaginable ways. 

2. Melancholia (2011)

Lars von Trier is a controversial director, sure, and this is most likely going to be a controversial choice. However, give me a chance to explain myself. Depression is something everybody goes through, right? It’s a natural asset of the human persona. Melancholia, as the title may suggest, is about depression, and as pretentious as it may sound, it is the artistic entity of depression. This is the #1 film, to me, that has most accurately depicted the bipolar disorder. Melancholia is a (hopefully soon-to-be) classic that is, on paper, about the end of mankind as we know it, but really, the perfect vetting of our misery. If aliens (yes, I’m using aliens as an example again to describe a movie; shut up) ever came to Earth after we were long gone and wanted to understand us and our symptoms of depression, all they would need to do is pop in a Blu-ray copy of Melancholia, and voila, they will learn! 

1. The Master (2012) 

The Master is the finest made movie of all-time. There I said it. Is it my favorite movie ever? No, second favorite actually—beaten by A Clockwork Orange. But, personally, I genuinely believe that The Master, in terms of filmmaking technicalities, is the most perfect movie ever—even more so than The Godfather, which most people often claim to be cinema’s best-made film. Paul Thomas Anderson’s greatest masterpiece is one that intricately observes manipulation, partnership/love, belief, leadership, purpose, and addiction all in a flawlessly balanced and persuasive manner that hasn’t been executed in such an uncanny fashion in the history of cinema as it has in this movie. Did I also mention that The Master is the best looking, best acted, and best-written film of all-time? Enough said. To the kiddos who say cinema isn’t nearly as good as it is now: s-h-u-t u-p. 

 

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All Movie Reviews Full-Fledged Film Reviews

Starting Off the Decade with Another Review of Raiders of the Lost Ark

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I don’t know why I wanted to rewatch it for the billionth time; it just felt right. I needed to start off this decade with a killer bang.

Remember back in the day when numerous characters in most blockbuster extravaganzas had special, distinct makes? Back when adventure films could have subtle, little moments that told you all you needed to know about certain individuals in order to conserve time? Back when even fun, action flicks had at least a creative, alert construction surrounding its foundation.

There’s a specific scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark that I always refer back to as the type of moment in blockbuster cinema that you rarely see today; this being when the perverted Belloq makes Marion put on a dress. It’s an ingenious sequence that takes its time to casually show Marion upping Belloq in a masculine tournament of drinking while she cleverly attempts to pick up a knife half-intoxicated. For the time being, we don’t know whether or not she’ll be able to escape using it—and ultimately, she doesn’t. But in the end, it didn’t matter, and sometimes it doesn’t need to matter; sometimes the events we see on screen only need to keep us invested, on-edge, and informed of the type of characters we’re dealing with regardless of its dismaying conclusions.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of those films I guess you could coin with the term “timeless.” It’s a movie that has—for the most part—aged like fine wine. It was established during a period when Spielberg, Lucas, Kaufman, and Kasdan where at the peak of their careers and their abilities seemed to be unstoppable. The first of the Indiana Jones flicks always stood as the metaphorical epitome of an adventure; the top-tier personification of one’s life at its most daring and most animated. This is another one of those early cinematic pieces that identified the paramount concept of an unforgettable journey and for the search of one of existence’s biggest mysteries.

And it can’t go without mentioning, again, but Marion Ravenwood is perhaps the most underrated side-kick character of all-time. She’s sassy, authoritative, sexy, caring, intelligent, a “productive” killer, and someone who’ll pridefully take on a dangerous crusade despite an unpleasant circumstance involving a haunted past of adolescence. I hate how David Koepp made her such a bland act in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It’s such a disservice to arguably the greatest performer of this entire franchise.

I still think (more than ever) that there are some distasteful technical and script-oriented flaws in a little more than the entire first half of Raiders, but yeah, everything after it: perfection—and duh.

Verdict Change: A+ —> A-

Spielberg Ranked

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” is now available to stream on Netflix, Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and iTunes.

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5 Reviews for the Holidays: It’s a Wonderful Life, Gremlins, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, and Black Christmas

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) 

I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with a heart quite the size of It’s A Wonderful Life’s. This is one of the most vibrant, hopeful, and spirited films I’ve ever laid witness to. I can sincerely understand why any cinephile would claim it to be one of the greatest films of all-time. Positivity rules! 

There are a couple reasons though that are plaguing me from quote on quote “loving” this Christmas classic. A majority of the dialogue does bring out good vibes, but some of it is just remorseless exposition or unappealingly cringy. The passage of time is handled pretty poorly as well. Also, as expected, this film has no shame in showcasing some of its cliché characters that seem more one-dimensional than…whatever sort of shape is one dimensional. Plus, I’m still a little iffy on the climax of the movie; it felt marginally far-fetched and overplayed. 

I definitely enjoyed this one by a great deal, nonetheless! And, best awkward first kiss scene EVER. 

Verdict: B

“It’s A Wonderful Like” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, and Sling TV.

 

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Gremlins (1984)

This movie is terrifying! And violent! 

But so darn CUTE! 

Gremlins is like the fun-size version of John Carpenter’s The Thing. There are tons of unforgettable practical prosthetics, robotics, and special effects that just make the film painless to commend. It’s also surprisingly shot very well too! This sort of oddball of a flick is definitely my cup of tea: a shamelessly twisted holiday/horror creature-feature with just the right amount of silliness in it.

And holy smokes! Jonathan Banks is in this movie! Mike from Breaking Bad! Way to go! 

Gizmo is a god, by the way. I just wanted to point that out. 

Verdict: B 

“Gremlins” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, and Sling TV.

 

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The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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MY CHILDHOOD. 

Awe, yes. The Nightmare Before Christmas: a timeless children’s essential, a ballad of sheer creativity, a pioneer in the popularization of the stop-motion art form, and indisputably one of the finest looking animated films of all-time. Henry Selick’s directorial debut was a class act during a time when Disney genuinely cared for crafting something revolutionary and holy original. 

It’s so bizarre realizing just how low-key edgy, dark, and “emo” A Nightmare Before Christmas is from the perspective of an adult. Jack Skeleton is the exaggeration of a depressed man going through an identity crisis and ultimately yearning for a radical change in his way of life. Sally is the epitome of the young, suicidal teenage girl who has an abusive, unmarried father-figure who doesn’t let her leave the boundaries of their house. Love it or hate it, this movie influenced the adolescent/young adult Hot Topic culture more than any gory, R-rated cult phenomena ever did. 

This movie never ceases to get tiresome. From its ferociously fast pace to its flawlessly unique visual design, I can’t imagine a soul out there who could possibly despise such a rebellious piece of animation. Thank you, Henry Selick, Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson, and all of Danny Elfman’s musical talents who not only exemplified what it takes to push some boundaries in the lore of film but also implanted these annoyingly catchy tunes in folks’ heads all across the world—MWAHAHAHA. A Nightmare Before Christmas truly is what cinema’s all about.  

Verdict: A-

My Favorite Animated Movies

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” is now available to stream on Disney+.

 

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Edward Scissorhands (1990)

2nd Viewing 

IT’S A CHRISTMAS MOVIE TO ME. SHUTUP.

Still, one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen—even if it’s not perfectly executed. I get so choked up by the ending; it’s obnoxious. Only a man like Tim Burton could make a cheesy-looking movie about a voiceless emo with scissors for hands touch my heart. I’m head over heels for these Burton movies that feel like David Lynch parodies of classic tales—Edwards Scissorhands appearing like one of Frankenstein

This movie is just so…high. Like, everybody in this story is clearly intoxicated ASF—it’s fantastic. There’s also something strangely beautiful about watching and introvert learn to be a part of a community, trim peoples’ bushes, go to school show-and-tells, become a guest on live talk shows, give out free haircuts, and fall in love. Until, though, you know, that sinister third act.

Looking back at this movie years later, there are admittedly some stupid occurrences in the film that I’ve picked up on. There are a few hilariously goofy and weak turning points in the film that are meant to be taken seriously but just come off as farcical.

But hot damn, Tim Burton makes super horny movies! Strange!

That moment though when the goth kid gets the girl and the jock doesn’t. Now, that’s what I call a victory. 

Verdict Change: A —> B 

“Edward Scissorhands” is now available to stream on Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, and iTunes.

 

Black Christmas - 1974

Black Christmas (1974) 

2nd Viewing 

“If this movie doesn’t make your skin crawl…IT’S ON TOO TIGHT!

Name a better horror movie slogan than THAT. I dare you! 

Rarely does this sort of thing happen. If you know me, I’m not the type of fella who rewatches movies all too often—unless they’re movies playing limitedly in theaters. Black Christmas, I only saw for the first time less than two months ago, and strangely enough, I was willing to watch it for a second time this holiday season. 

Look, I’ve never found slasher movies to be all that frightening, and maybe that’s why I watch so many of them. They’re just too “down-to-earth” and comprehensible. But, Black Christmas is damn well one of the most unsettling movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It already amplifies the movie enough considering it showcases the greatest slasher villain ever to appear on the big screen due to his mysterious yet realistic mentally-ill nature. However, Bob Clark’s boldly strung out directing and heinous decision to leave viewers frigid with so many unanswered questions are likely the reasons why I’d proudly declare Black Christmas to be an essential in the psychological horror department.  

Side comment: I forgot how funny this movie can be at times. For such a terrifying feature-length, this film never seemed afraid to add in a pleasant gag every once in a while. Gosh, I love this movie. 

Side comment two: Rarely do horror movies do this anymore, but every character in this movie actually has a special personality trait to them that makes them intriguing to watch. Somehow, just from the way Roy Moore writes certain characters to act, you can tell exactly how they are as people and what their backstories might be like. Jess, Peter, Barb, Mrs. Mac, Mr. Harrison, Clare, Sgt. Nash, and Lt. Ken Fuller all have such distinct characteristics that make them shine compared to the ordinary “horror victim.” Side comment to a side comment: The fact that the killer’s phone calls somewhat relate in subject matter to what Jess is going through in her personal life makes this movie a lot more frightening and sincere. And, no spoilers, everything involving Peter in this movie…very good job. 

Side comment three: This movie is REALLY good at cutting! 

I feel like I’m going to regret saying this later on in life, but it’s how I truly stand at the moment: “Black Christmas is the best slasher movie of all-time.” Yes, better than my beloved, 1979 Halloween. Never thought I’d say that.

And, no. The Thing does not count as a slasher movie. John Carpenter still wins! 

Verdict Change: A —> A+ 

My Top Favorites, The Best Horror Movies

“Black Christmas” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and Tubi.