Missing Link (Chris Butler, 2019)

Sir Lionel Frost has been doggedly pursuing countless mythical creatures in an attempt to join a society of great men led by his rival, Lord Piggot-Dunceby. His last attempt at discovering the Loch Ness Monster resulted in a resounding failure, for his camera was shattered by the creature. With nothing to show for their endeavor and nearly having been eaten by the monster, Frost’s investigative partner quits. While considering his next course of action, Frost discovers a letter from somebody claiming they have irrefutable proof of Sasquatch’s existence, asking him to come to the state of Washington.  He then makes a deal with Piggot-Dunceby that would allow him to join the society if he can prove the creature is real.

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High Life (Claire Denis, 2018)

Monte is the sole survivor of a crew onboard a space vessel that has long since left the Solar System. The only other contact he has with another form of human life is a baby he named Willow. His crew was a group of death row inmates sent to find a source of alternative energy in the far reaches of space. Their goal is to extract energy from a black hole. As Monte disposes of the corpses, he reflects on the events that brought him here.

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First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)

Ernst Toller is a Reverend of the First Reformed Church in Snowbridge, New York. Toller is also a former military captain who struggles to come to grips with the death of his son, Joseph. Worst of all, he himself had encouraged his son to enlist. Partially to ease his guilt, he has made the decision to write down his thoughts in a journal for a year, intending to destroy it once he is finished. First Reformed has existed for 250 years and was once a stop for the Underground Railroad. Its attendance has been dwindling over the years, and it now primarily serves as a tourist attraction owned by a megachurch named Abundant Life.

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Three Outlaw Samurai (Hideo Gosha, 1964)

A wandering ronin, Sakon Shiba, has stumbled upon a disturbing scene. A group of peasants have kidnapped a young, well-dressed woman, tying her up to a post in a mill. However, things aren’t quite as they seem. They have no intention of harming her as long as her father listens to their words. The woman’s father is a corrupt magistrate by the name of Matsushita, and he has made life a living nightmare for the people living under his rule. Sympathetic to the peasants’ plight and in need of a place to stay, Shiba decides to aid their cause.

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A Rebuttal to Paul Schrader: Learn to Respect Your Audience

Fresh off his latest acclaimed film, First Reformed, veteran director Paul Schrader was interviewed on the online magazine Deadline Hollywood about his take on the current state of cinema. I myself have always found the discussion of what decade could be said to be the high point of a given medium fascinating. Are the consensuses guided by nostalgia or did the masters of old really have something the current generation doesn’t possess? If one were to look at any given list of the greatest films ever made, one would get the impression the 1970s in particular was an exemplary decade for the medium.

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The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012)

Nick Fury, the director of espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., along with his lieutenant Maria Hill, arrive at a remote research facility. There, Dr. Erik Selvig is leading an investigation on an object of great power known as the Tesseract. Agent Phil Coulson explains to them that it has been radiating a strange energy as of late. The Tesseract suddenly opens a wormhole from which a being of unknown origin emerges. He identifies himself as Loki, the Asgardian god of deceit and trickery from Norse mythology. Arriving to subjugate the planet Earth and the humans who dwell upon it, Loki seizes the Tesseract and uses his scepter to enslave Dr. Selvig and various agents, including the expert marksman Clint Barton. Realizing the threat Loki poses, Fury activates a defense plan seventeen years in the making: the Avengers Initiative.

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Shazam! (David F. Sandberg, 2019)

In 1974, a boy rode in the backseat of a car driven by his father. He didn’t have a good relationship with his family. His older brother would bully him, and his father refused to help, scornful of his younger son crying to others. Before he knew it, his father and brother vanished from sight, and he found himself in another world. The ancient wizard Shazam had summoned the young boy in a centuries-old search to find a champion pure of heart. His old champion turned evil, and unleashed the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world. Millions perished before the Sins could be contained once more. The wizard tested the boy, but he was unable to resist the Sins’ temptation. Time is not on the wizard’s side, but he will not give up until he finds the one destined to inherit his powers.

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The Mustang (Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, 2019)

Roman Coleman is a convict who has served twelve years in prison. The crime that resulted in his lengthy sentence was the result of his severe anger issues. In a heated argument, he beat his wife, leaving her permanently brain damaged. Feeling himself to be a lost cause, he has resisted every opportunity to be reintegrated into society. In an effort to rehabilitate him, he is placed in a program run by a rancher named Myles. Their goal is to train wild mustangs so they may eventually be auctioned off.

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Pet Sematary (Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer, 2019)

A doctor from Boston, Massachusetts named Louis Creed has just moved to the small town of Ludlow, Maine. He is married to a woman named Rachel, and they have two children: Ellie and Gage. They also have a pet cat named Church – named after Winston Churchill. Though the town seems to be a picturesque countryside, something about it seems off. A group of children are seen taking a dead dog to a pet cemetery – or “sematary” as it’s spelled on the sign. An older man named Jud Crandall warns his new neighbors not to venture in the woods alone. It seems like a strange warning, but the Creeds will learn all too well what he meant when they realize the sematary lies on their property.

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Us (Jordan Peele, 2019)

Many years ago in 1986, a young girl named Adelaide Thomas went with her family on a vacation to Santa Cruz. While wandering along the beach, she entered a funhouse. It was adorned with mirrors and fake monsters that popped out when she drew near. Though startled by the props, she was deeply traumatized when one of the reflections turned out to be a perfect doppelgänger. The parents found their child, but were distressed when she refused to talk about the experience. In the present day, Adelaide heads for Santa Cruz with her family. She is now married to a man named Gabe Wilson and has two kids: Zora and Jason. Little does she know that this innocuous vacation will force her to confront her past.

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