<b>Voodoo Doll</b>

Voodoo Doll

Annabelle: Creation is the latest horror franchise entry to rely more on cheap jump scares than atmosphere
Annabelle: Creation might be the first ever prequel to a prequel. The bulk of the film takes place 12 years before the events of Annabelle (2014), which was itself a prelude to the goings-on in 2013's The Conjuring, and it fills a bunch of the gaps in the origin story of that creepy porcelain doll.

Cinematic Wasteland

Stephen King's magnum opus finally comes to the screen: The Dark Tower will likely confuse neophytes and disappoint fans
So there's this tower at the center of our universe, and it's so tall that it seems to shoot up into the sky forever. It is, according to The Dark Tower's opening text, the only thing protecting the human race from decimation by the forces of evil, though we're also told that "the mind of a child can bring it down."

Survive the Night

Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit takes an unflinching look at police brutality and injustice in America
After earning near-universal acclaim for her depictions of modern warfare in the Middle East with The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow has turned her directorial eye to American soil. But don't be fooled by the red, white and blue setting: Detroit is also a war movie.

Out, Damned Spot!

Lady Macbeth is a tale of murder, adultery and betrayal, with the look of a period piece and the ruthlessness of a horror film
Despite its title, Lady Macbeth is not another screen adaptation of a Shakespeare classic. It is, in fact, based on a racy 1865 novella by the Russian author Nikolai Leskov, previously filmed in 1962 by the late Polish master Andrzej Wajda, and this time his story of doomed romance and revenge has been transplanted to 19th-century England.

Existential Fear

A Ghost Story manages to turn a bedsheet ghost into vivid, moving drama
A Ghost Story is only a horror movie inasmuch as life itself is a horror movie. Death is coming for you.

Bright Lights, Big City

Luc Besson's newest sci-fi swashbuckler is overflowing with visual invention, even if it's dumb as a brick
There's a lot to look at in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, and almost nothing to think about. The film's primary concern is to wow us with the enormity of its own vision, as if it's constantly challenging itself to be the single most elaborate sci-fi bauble ever made, and it certainly succeeds as sheer spectacle.

Battle Scarred

Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk delivers an unrelenting vision of the horrors of war
War is hell. Dunkirk was purgatory.

A Sketchy Portrait

In exploring the life and work of a beloved artist, Maudie only half succeeds
Maudie doesn't start out like your typical biopic, so it's disappointing when it finally begins behaving like one. It chronicles the life and career of Canadian painter Maud Lewis, prolific despite suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, and its first half is structured like a two-person character study of Lewis and her husband Everett.

Human Nature

Themes, characters in latest Planet of the Apes as sophisticated and detailed as its special effects
There isn't much battle action in War for the Planet of the Apes, but it still feels like a war movie — a World War II movie, specifically, set largely in a wintry prison camp, with some captives collaborating with the enemy in the vain hope of postponing their own deaths while others make escape plans. It's a melancholy film, but a hopeful one, with a combination of technical wizardry and soulful acting that's nothing less than extraordinary.

Down with the Sickness

Big-hearted and laughter-packed, The Big Sick is a contagious romantic comedy in all the right ways
There's a moment early in The Big Sick where Kumail insists that his new girlfriend Emily watch one of his favorite B-horror movies. She's willing to slog through the schlock, but not before calling out what he's really doing: trying to test her on her tastes.

Back to School

Spider-Man's first stand-alone film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a smart, funny and grounded summer blockbuster
Some superhero movies have subtitles referring to the dramatic events or villains featured therein: Apocalypse; Age of Ultron; Civil War; The Last Stand. Then there's Spider-Man: Homecoming, which refers to a dance at Peter Parker's high school.

Southern Discomfort

The Beguiled revels in Gothic romanticism at the expense of substance
Few modern directors can match Sofia Coppola's sense of style. Unlike many of her stylist peers, her direction creates ever-present moods that hang over each shot, without the flashy bravado or quirky flair that can sometimes make others' films fall dangerously close to the realm of egotistical self-parody.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Baby Driver slams the gas pedal for a nonstop thrill ride
For decades, the best fast-paced cinematic action has been lazily labeled a byproduct of the MTV generation, likened to the endless streams of music videos that conditioned audiences for short snippets of quick-cutting visuals. So perhaps it's appropriate that Edgar Wright's Baby Driver — a heist movie where the protagonist literally scores his own action scenes to make them into real-life music videos — would be the film to push things to the next level.

Culture Shock

Neither Wolf Nor Dog is a celebration of Native American history and iconography, seen through the eyes of a white interloper
The old Lakota man known simply as Dan lives in a modest two-room house on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, miles away from civilization. He has no indoor plumbing, no running water.

Dinner Theater

The dark social comedy Beatriz at Dinner mines racial and cultural discomfort for satire, mostly with mixed results
I've seen a lot of plays that start like this. A group of characters, either friends or casual acquaintances or business associates, meet for what they expect will be an uneventful evening of pleasant conversation over drinks.

Hardly a Page-Turner

The Book of Henry, Colin Trevorrow's follow-up to Jurassic World, is almost fascinatingly awful
Sometimes you see a movie that's so bad, so confounding, so thoroughly misguided in every way, you almost want to recommend it to people, simply because they'll never see anything quite like it. The Book of Henry is a movie like that.


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Archangels Thunderbird, Dapper Devils, Sulphur Banks

Archangels Thunderbird, Dapper Devils, Sulphur Banks @ The Observatory

Fri., Aug. 18, 9 p.m.

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