Review: 'Southside With You' turns the Obamas' first date into something larger
Credit: Miramax
B+

Review: 'Southside With You' turns the Obamas' first date into something larger

Quietly romantic, this is a subtle gem worth seeing

First dates aren’t easy.

There are so many variables that go into determining whether or not something is a “good” date that it’s impossible to control. If I’ve learned anything about dating during my 46 years on Earth (and that is debatable), I have learned that you have to give yourself up to it if it’s going to work at all. You cannot force a good date. You can only go into it open to whatever experience you’re going to have, and to whoever the person is that you’re spending that time with.

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Director Doug Liman drops 'Gambit' to jump into DC's 'Dark Universe'
Credit: DC Entertainment/Warner Home Video

Director Doug Liman drops 'Gambit' to jump into DC's 'Dark Universe'

Looks like this one is still happening

It’s starting to feel like there’s something very wrong with the Gambit movie.

Is that fair? The thing’s gone through a number of different directors at this point, and it doesn’t feel like it’s any closer to actually happening. I’ve talked to directors who got close and then backed away, and I have yet to be able to pin down exactly what’s going on here. Considering this is a major release for Fox, it’s got Channing Tatum attached, and anything X-Men related is given pretty much any resources they need, it is shocking that it’s this hard to get a filmmaker to say yes to the job.

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What the BBC's list of the top 100 films of the 21st century means about movies
Credit: Indomina Releasing

What the BBC's list of the top 100 films of the 21st century means about movies

We participated gladly, and for a very specific reason

When I was approached about contributing to the BBC’s list of the top hundred films of the 21st century, I was excited to participate precisely because I have such conflicting feelings about lists in general.

Personal lists make sense to me. If I’m making a list of my ten favorite films of last year or my twenty favorite films of all time or the best movies of the 2000s or, if I ever felt really ambitious, my 1000 favorite films ever made, that makes sense because it’s a personal point of view. Ranking films side by side is, when you really look at it, a crazy endeavor. How can you compare two things as profoundly different in intent, execution, and voice as Enter The Void and The Incredibles or Mulholland Drive and Bridesmaids or whatever head-to-head you want to name, and honestly say that one is “better” than the other in some sort of declarative, official sense?

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Has spoiler culture spoiled pop culture completely at this point?
Credit: Marvel Studios

Has spoiler culture spoiled pop culture completely at this point?

That's how it feels as the rumor mill once more ruins a major movie surprise

There is a constant push and pull in this business about what to report and when, and I think more often than not, media outlets fail both their audiences and the filmmakers they’re covering.

A perfect example happened at the end of the week when it was reported that Zendaya will be playing Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Now, casting news in general isn’t really a spoiler unless you’re the sort of fan who doesn’t even want to know which characters are in the movie you’re about to watch. I’m not sure why you’d be reading movie news if you’re that much of a spoiler purist, but let’s assume that particular Venn diagram of people exists. In the case of this Spider-Man news, though, it isn’t just a piece of casting news.

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Looks like Thor might be searching for a strange doctor in 'Thor: Ragnarok'
Credit: Daley Pearson/Twitter

Looks like Thor might be searching for a strange doctor in 'Thor: Ragnarok'

Either that, or Marvel's having some fun with fandom today

Thor’s making a house call for a very specific Marvel Universe doctor.

Doctor Strange, that is.

Actually, we don’t know that for sure, but it looks like that’s at least a strong possibility. Daley Pearson, a writer for shows like The Strange Calls and 7 Days Later, is based in Australia where Thor Ragnarok is shooting, and he posted some photos from the set of the film.

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Gaten Matarazzo's vocal chops are the real monster on the 'Stranger Things' set
Credit: Netflix

Gaten Matarazzo's vocal chops are the real monster on the 'Stranger Things' set

Holy cow, you don't need teeth to sing!

There are few people more opposed to nostalgia-as-a-fetish than I am, but even I’m not such a joyless Grinch that I have to smack people for enjoying the “can you name the influence for this scene?” jigsaw puzzle that is Stranger Things on Netflix.

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Review: 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is a gorgeous and somber stop-motion fantasy
Credit: Focus Feature/Laika Studios
A

Review: 'Kubo and the Two Strings' is a gorgeous and somber stop-motion fantasy

Laika's latest is their best film to-date

While I think all animation is a magic trick that remains just as impressive now as the first time I saw it as a child, there are certainly levels of difficulty, and stop-motion animation is a special kind of lunacy. I’ve visited enough stop-motion sets to be awed by the skill set it requires for someone to effectively bring a character to life using such a difficult and painstaking method. It is sincerely meant then as praise when I say that I can’t imagine the single-minded pursuit of vision it took to bring Kubo and the Two Strings to life, and Travis Knight is, indeed, a madman.

Travis Knight is, like Megan Ellison, a rich kid doing something profoundly interesting with the position of privilege they found themselves in. Ellison has fascinating taste as a producer, and she’s become a sort of life raft for filmmakers who might otherwise not find a willing patron in today’s commercial climate. Knight’s lifelong fascination with stop-motion animation led him to Laika, a company that has built a very strange and lovely filmography over the course of their first decade. Coraline is a film I adore, even as I acknowledge that it is absolutely terrifying to children. You can’t call that a movie for kids because most kids can’t make it through the thing. It is pure nightmare machine to them. I really like Paranorman, a film that feels like the kind of scary that is just scary enough for young audiences, smart without pulling any punches. I’m not crazy about The Boxtrolls, but it is technically just as dazzling as their other work.

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SHELF LIFE: 'The Final Terror' is as forgettable as slasher fare gets
Credit: Scream Factory

SHELF LIFE: 'The Final Terror' is as forgettable as slasher fare gets

Lots of talented people at the start of their careers show no promise at all in this one

What is Shelf Life? I recently moved into a new apartment, which means I had to box my entire movie collection. Now I’m trying to figure out how much of my physical media actually fits here.

Each and every title is now up for grabs, new or old, and it’s time to decide what goes on the shelf and what just plain goes.

TITLE: The Final Terror
YEAR: 1983
DIRECTOR: Andrew Davis
SCREENWRITER: Jon George & Neill D. Hicks and Ronald Shusett
FORMAT: Blu-ray/DVD combo pack
PURCHASED OR SENT: Sent.

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SHELF LIFE: John Carney outdoes his own previous best with 'Sing Street'
Credit: The Weinstein Company

SHELF LIFE: John Carney outdoes his own previous best with 'Sing Street'

Another ode to the beauty of songwriting from the director of 'Once'

What is Shelf Life? I recently moved into a new apartment, which means I had to box my entire movie collection. Now I’m trying to figure out how much of my physical media actually fits here.

Each and every title is now up for grabs, new or old, and it’s time to decide what goes on the shelf and what just plain goes.

TITLE: Sing Street
YEAR: 2016
DIRECTOR: John Carney
SCREENWRITER: John Carney
FORMAT: Blu-ray
PURCHASED OR SENT: Sent

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A new 'In Theory' asks how Eleven is related to the Monster in 'Stranger Things'
Credit: Netflix

A new 'In Theory' asks how Eleven is related to the Monster in 'Stranger Things'

Could they be one and the same?

In Theory is a new recurring video feature here at Woven where we bring a fan theory to life in order to explore it. One thing to remember is that we don’t necessarily think every one of these theories is correct or a full explanation of things, but that’s not the point. The point is to use them as a jumping-off point for a conversation about something that is worth that conversation.

You know… something like Stranger Things, the summer smash from Netflix.

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