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I’m not sure when exactly “family-friendly” became code for “condescending and/or milquetoast,” but that’s pretty much where we are as far as Hollywood is concerned. The truth is that there are plenty of ways to make a movie for younger audiences that engages with them in a manner that treats them with respect – folks like Steven Spielberg did it all the time in the 1980s.

So when word of “The House with a Clock in its Walls” came out, I was cautiously optimistic. The original source material – a 1973 YA magic mystery by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey that was the first of a dozen in the series – had the requisite spookiness. Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment production company is prominently involved. The cast – led by Jack Black and Cate Blanchett – is strong.

But there were questions – and the biggest involved the man sitting in the director’s chair. Eli Roth built his career on brutal, bloody genre fare – the choice to hand what is essentially a movie for kids over to the dude who made “Hostel” is an odd one. It seemed like a jarring, unconventional marriage unlikely to succeed.

Instead, it turned out to be an ideal pairing, with Roth bringing his visceral sensibility to the PG-realm with nary a hiccup, resulting in a children’s movie that isn’t afraid to spend some time in the shadows and bring genuine scares to the screen.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:31

18 films for fall 2018: A Fall Movie Preview

Labor Day has come and gone, so the time has arrived for us to offer up our annual Fall Movie Preview.

2018 doesn’t have quite the luster that some past years have had – at least in terms of sheer box office appeal. There are movies that will make plenty of money, of course, but there aren’t really any of the big franchise tentpoles that we’ve seen in year’s past. There’s no MCU offering, no “Star Wars” movie.

And that’s OK.

There are some big-budget extravaganzas and some franchise sequels, as well as some original works and even a few early Oscar possibilities. Comedy and drama, sci-fi and fantasy, horror flicks and family fare – there’s something for everyone this fall.

Check it out.

Published in Cover Story

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