The Black Phone

Dead Line

The year is 1978, and a spate of child disappearances have rocked a suburban Ohio town.  The culprit is an unidentified figure (Ethan Hawke) nicknamed “the Grabber” by locals.  13-year-old Finney Shaw (Mason Thames) and his younger sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) are aware of the kidnappings, but have more pressing concerns in the form of vicious bullies and an abusive father (Jeremy Davies). 

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Hustle

Mentor Sandman

The 2010s weren’t the best decade for Adam Sandler.  He had settled into a comfortable niche starring in movies whose quality generally ranged from tolerable to dreadful, and his lack of interest only became more apparent in the movies he made under his lucrative Netflix contract.  But in 2019, his performance in Uncut Gems reminded us that he could be a compelling dramatic actor when he wanted to – although the release of Hubie Halloween less than one year later dampened hopes of a McConaughey-esque late career renaissance.  The Netflix sports drama Hustle sees Sandler back in more serious territory, to mixed results.

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Jurassic World Dominion

“Now eventually you do plan to have dinosaurs in your dinosaur movie, right?”

As the (alleged) finale of its franchise, Jurassic World Dominion clearly wants to be a bigger, better movie than its two predecessors.  It expands its scope by letting the dinosaurs run rampant across the globe, and what’s at stake is that reliable old chestnut, the survival of mankind.  But these attempts at escalation backfire, cheapening the dinosaurs as well as the plot.  By making the dinosaurs a part of everyday life, the movie robs them of their mystique; and by threatening us with an ending far too bleak for such a corporate piece of filmmaking, it renders the stakes non-existent. 

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