Movie review: “Atomic Blonde” (2017)

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“I chose this life, and some day it’s going to get me killed…but not today.”

The subtle tension between two recurring, prevailing images provides the brutal spy thriller Atomic Blonde with both its spine and sense of purpose. Long range tracking shots trace the cool, confident, runway-ready stride of statuesque stunner Lorraine Broughton through the mad, pulsating streets of 1989 Berlin. Wrapped in a sleek trenchcoat, armored by sunglasses and a slight, possibly wry, otherwise impenetrable smile, hands buried in deep front pockets, her focus willful and unbroken, the gorgeous MI6 agent walks with easy purpose through a riot of humanity toward a destination that is only ever clear to her. In her most private moments, when the armor finally comes off, Broughton’s bare skin is far from the tantalizing perfection that might be expected, not cliched delicate porcelain so much as cracked china, shocking in its physical compromises and worn from overuse. Continue reading “Movie review: “Atomic Blonde” (2017)”

Movie review: “Kong: Skull Island” (2017)

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“You heard of the U.S.S. Lautmann? Neither did the public. Out of a thousand young men on that ship, I was the only survivor. They told my family she was sunk in battle, but I know what I saw. It had no conscience. No reasoning. It just…destroyed. I’ve spent the last thirty years trying to prove the truth of what I learned that day. This planet doesn’t belong to us.”

King Kong’s rugged origins as oversized simian emperor of the lush, forbidding, prehistoric death trap Skull Island constitute an archetypal adventure story that has rarely ever shared the screen to the degree it deserved, despite being a prominent aspect of almost all the big ape’s previous cinematic incarnations. It’s a straightforward though hydra-headed equation that can set forth with confidence in most any direction a fairly competent, fairly ambitious director might choose: Man against monster; monster against monster; man against the unknown; monster against monsters (squee!); man against the elements; man against nature (however unfairly extra-natural the island’s odds often seem); even man against man, assuming it doesn’t slow things up too much. Continue reading “Movie review: “Kong: Skull Island” (2017)”