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Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Stephen King is the preeminent American storyteller.

Apologies for my broken-recordness on the subject, but it always bears repeating – there is no one in American letters over the past half-century who has managed to be as prolific and as culturally relevant as Stephen King.

And there’s a reason the zeitgeist is awash with King-inspired and -adjacent properties. Not only have the majority of his iconic earlier works withstood the test of time, but his late-career renaissance puts on display a King who has evolved while still maintaining an unprecedented degree of narrative skillfulness.

Oh yeah – and his stuff is still REALLY scary.

King’s latest is “The Outsider” (Scribner, $30), a pulpy, propulsive tale reminiscent of some of his earlier highlights. Yet even as he elicits memories of his own creepy stylings from 30 years ago, he infuses that throwback thriller with pointed references to the present. The end result is a book that is somehow both Now and Then, where early King and late King combine with an eerie smoothness. It is dark and creepy and thought-provoking and engrossing – everything you hope for from Stephen King.

Published in Buzz
Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:53

One bad mother – ‘Breaking In’

While it hasn’t reached the apex of home invasion movies, the subgenre of panic room thrillers has its place in the cinematic firmament. The notion of being (relatively) safe, yet still being trapped by the bad guys – usually with something to lose – is a resonant one and can make for some engaging, albeit fairly predictable, fare.

The new movie “Breaking In” attempts to subvert that basic structure. This time, the bad guys are the ones in the safe space and it’s up to our protagonist to find their way in and save the day. It’s not bad as ideas go – in the hands of really capable filmmakers, you could imagine this working quite well.

Alas, these filmmakers don’t appear to have that kind of capability. What we actually get is a poorly-paced ramble that never bothers to justify or explain the actions, events and decisions that play out on the screen. Gabrielle Union (“The Public”) does her level best in the lead – and gives a performance far better than this movie deserves – but that’s just not enough to overcome the jumbled blandness of literally everything else.

Published in Movies

One could make the argument that we’re currently in the midst of a horror movie renaissance. While the genre still offers up its share of misfires, horror has provided fertile ground for filmmakers looking to explore ideas big and small in sophisticated ways. It’s an arena where chances can still be taken. And when those risks pay off, you get some pretty great movies.

Movies like “A Quiet Place.”

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 27 March 2018 15:42

‘Unsane’ in the brain

Remember when Steven Soderbergh said he wasn’t going to make movies anymore?

Published in Movies

Bohjalian’s twist-laden mystery an energetic and exciting read

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 09:52

There’s nothing cool about ‘The Snowman’

Thriller utterly lacking in any redeeming qualities

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 04 October 2017 10:28

‘Flatliners’ dead on arrival

Hollywood’s current tendency toward remakes and reboots of preexisting properties isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, the right filmmaking team can take an older idea and breathe new life into it, creating something that both honors the source material and brings something uniquely its own to the table. The end result can be a really enjoyable movie.

Other times, a filmmaking team can completely miss whatever it was that made a property engaging in the first place and create something that is utterly devoid of anything remotely resembling value – entertainment or otherwise. That end result can be a truly terrible movie.

A movie like “Flatliners.”

Published in Movies
Thursday, 28 September 2017 11:37

'Gerald's Game' well worth playing

We’re in the midst of a Stephen King moment.

If it seems like the master of horror has achieved a sort of pop culture ubiquity recently, well … that’s because he has. Big-screen cinematic projects (“IT,” “The Dark Tower”) and television series (“Mr. Mercedes,” “11/22/63,” “The Mist,” “Under the Dome”) have been abundant over the past couple of years, but the latest new offering lands somewhere in the middle.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 09:42

One novel, 10 authors – ‘Indigo’

Multiple writers bring supernatural mystery to life.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 09:22

Shark weak – ‘47 Meters Down’

Bland, boring thriller is dud in the water.

Published in Movies
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