Casey Affleck

Should the spirit move you to see this movie, ignore it 

Casey Affleck plays a bed sheet clad ghost in A Ghost Story.

Boo! Sorry if I startled you, but such an opening seems appropriate for a review of A Ghost Story, writer/director David Lowery’s new film about, yes, a ghost – replete in Casper-esque white sheet with eyeholes and all. But this ghost isn’t exactly friendly; in fact, he’s sad. Bereft, even. And lost. He needs closure. And you will be yearning for it, too, if you choose to sit through this pretentious slog masquerading as a profound meditation on grief.
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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2016

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2016. Here is Carrie’s list, presented, unlike last year’s alphabetized list, in descending rank order. And you can check out Chad’s list here to see which one of us you agree with more!

10.) Nocturnal Animals

Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, middle) arrives at a possible crime scene with lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, r.).

Sometimes the story-within-the-story convention can be confusing or feel gimmicky, but in this visually stunning picture from fashion designer turned filmmaker Tom Ford, the technique works to terrific effect. Amy Adams, as a woman haunted by a decision she made years ago, reads a manuscript sent to her by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal), and that story comes alive on screen in the form of family man Tony (Gyllenhaal again) and his confrontation with some dangerous, deranged miscreants. Ford’s keen aesthetic vision and sharp performances by Adams, Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon as a tenacious lawman combine to make this brutally poetic but utterly captivating film one of the year’s most definitively unusual. (You can also read my full-length review here.)

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Film Review: Triple 9

by Carrie Kahn on February 26, 2016

Call in a 999 on this picture: Talented cast can’t save derivative crime story

Atlanta cops Chris (Casey Affleck, l.) and Marcus (Anthony Mackie, r.) are ready for action.

If you’re a fan of dark, atmospheric, incomprehensible crime thrillers, then wow, is today ever your lucky day. With Triple 9, Australian director John Hillcoat (The Road; Lawless) and first-time feature film screenwriter Matt Cook have crafted one of the darkest, moodiest, and totally nonsensical crime dramas in recent memory. As an added bonus, the film boasts a terrific cast, although they are mostly wasted as they gamely try to make their way through this puzzling, often dull, inchoate picture.

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Sundance Photo 3

With this third and final post, Spinning Platters completes its coverage of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which ended on Jan. 30th.  All the winners can be found here (and our other two posts about this year’s Festival can be found here and here).

Our coverage concludes with a look at four more feature films and two more documentaries. As a reminder, we are using our patented Viewing Priority Level (VPL) Guide to advise you accordingly: [read the whole post]


The dullest hours are spent with this rote seafaring rescue tale

Is Chris Pine screaming because of the CGI wave he’s encountering?  Or because he’s in this dismal movie? We’ll never know for sure.

T.S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” but, for the movie-going public, January is the harshest. The embarrassment of riches that is the late fall quality Oscar contender rush is now just a faint memory, and theaters are filled instead with middling fare that studios don’t know what to do with. Case in point is director Craig Gillespie’s The Finest Hours, which had two previously scheduled release dates before finally opening nationally today – never a good sign. A dull, paint-by-numbers mess, the picture’s suitability as a January wasteland offering makes perfect sense, but the fact that it boasts a wealth of talent both in front of and behind the camera is both puzzling and disappointing.

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I see the world / Feel the chill . . .

Woody Harrelson proves lollipops aren't just for kids as he menaces Casey Affleck in Out of the Furance.

Woody Harrelson sucking on a lollipop in Out of the Furnace just might be the most frightening thing you’ll see on screen this year.

With both the holidays and the cold weather upon us, now is a great time to go to the movies, but director Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace may not be the film to see on a family outing. A bleak, gritty look at life in rural Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the picture blends elements of Winter’s Bone and The Fighter, with dashes of The Deer Hunter and Fight Club tossed in for good measure. Although the film boasts some terrific performances, it feels recycled at best, and derivative at worst.  [read the whole post]