Locarno Film Review: ‘Vitalina Varela’

Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson […]

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Darq Review

I’m a coward when it comes to nightmares, so Darq’s premise of a psychological horror game set in a lucid dream was enough to make me uncomfortably squirm in my chair on its own. My brain already loves to put me through the wringer with restless dreams, so I was worried that Darq’s subject matter might be too much for me. But its somber monochromatic visuals and puzzles that bend the laws of physics were too alluring of a sirensong, and I’m glad they pulled me to play it because, even at its most bleak, Darq is beautiful.

Darq fixates on submerging you in a dreamscape and doesn’t elaborate much in the way of a backstory. There’s no initial title screen, even; instead, a decaying apartment with a boy quivering at the center. This is Darq’s protagonist, Lloyd. He’s at the mercy of his unconscious mind, desperate to wake up – but I only know even those few details from perusing Darq’s official website. The story is intentionally opaque to replicate that “fuzzy details” feeling when you try to recall a dream from memory – more thoughts and feelings, less plot and exposition – which works in its favor.

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Concert Review: In Trump’s Town, Barbra Streisand Delivers Biting Torch Song

Barbra Streisand’s Aug. 3 concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden was significant not just because it was her first time on the arena’s stage in 13 years, but, as she told an enraptured crowd of many thousands, because she spent some of her most formative time blocks away. Yes, these were “misty water-colored memories,” […]

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses Review

Before its resurgence in popularity on the 3DS handhelds, there was a time where the Fire Emblem series once lived on home consoles. Twelve years after Radiant Dawn on Wii, Fire Emblem: Three Houses has finally returned to the living room on the Switch, and it’s better than ever. With a vast and open base hub to explore, new ways to turn the tide of battle with your chosen band of colorful characters, and a story that’s as brutal as the choices you’ll have to make on the battlefield, Three Houses is everything I’ve ever wanted in a turn-based strategy game. Its grand adventure is filled with drama and intrigue across whichever of the titular three houses you choose to join, and each brings its own unique perspective. Following just one of these paths from humble beginnings to a full-blown war for dominance took me over 70 hours, and left me hungry for more.

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TV Review: ‘Another Life’

Netflix’s new series “Another Life” brings Katee Sackhoff back into space, a decade after the conclusion of “Battlestar Galactica,” the beloved series on which she starred. But her new series looks more like the rest of the fare on the SyFy network — it’s inelegantly made and operates less in the realm of ideas than […]

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Harley Quinn Series Premiere: “Pilot” Review

Note: this is a spoiler-free advance review of the series premiere of Harley Quinn, which screened at Comic-Con tonight. The series will debut on the DC Universe app in October.

DC Universe may not come close to rivaling Netflix or Amazon Prime Video in terms of the sheer amount of exclusive content, but there is quite a lot to be said for the “quality over quantity” approach. So far DCU’s selection ranges from solid (Titans) to excellent (Young Justice: Outsiders) to literally one of the best shows of 2019 (Doom Patrol). Harley Quinn keeps the hot streak going. It’s a far more slapstick and raunchy alternative to the rest of DC’s animated line, but one that also gets Harley in a way not every adaptation does.

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AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT – Review and Benchmarks

The day we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. We can fully reveal the performance of AMD’s next-gen 7nm Navi GPU(s), and you can find out if it’s worth switching camps from Nvidia, or upgrading your older GPU. As a quick catch-up, this is the first GPU for AMD that uses an all-new architecture called RDNA, and it’s also the first midrange consumer GPU built on a 7nm process, so it’s quite a big deal. A second-generation (or third?) variant of this chip will be powering both next-gen consoles, so all eyes are on AMD here.

Though AMD announced that its new GPU was indeed faster than the RTX 2070 when it was unveiled at Computex, perennial Clever Girl Nvidia just released the RTX 2070 Super less than a week ago in order to ruin AMD’s launch plans. The fallout from that was a last minute price drop for the Radeon cards, though the Radeon GM tweeted it was all a big setup on their part, as they inflated the prices initially and Nvidia took the bait. We’ll never know if that really was the plan all along, but either way the GPU wars are officially back on in a very big way.

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Google Pixel 3a Review

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Google used to rule the mid-range phone world with its affordable Nexus phones. However, since the company switched to its much more expensive, ‘self-made’ Pixel line and $ 1,000+ smartphones have become fashionable, Google seemingly abandoned the budget smartphone market. But that all changed when Google announced the Pixel 3a.

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ROCCAT Kova AIMO Gaming Mouse Review

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In the world of gaming peripherals, nothing screams “cool” like a barrage of rainbow colors burning your retinas throughout a midnight session of League or Apex. Looking to take RGB lighting to the next level, ROCCAT revisited its ambidextrous Kova mouse and said, “No, we can do better than basic LED lighting.” ROCCAT upgraded the mouse with the company’s new AIMO lighting system and raised the retail price from the Kova’s $ 49.99 to the Kova AIMO’s $ 59.99. So, what is AIMO, and does it live up to Roccat’s hype? Is this the gaming mouse you need to win friends through functionality and influence people with dazzling spectacle?

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Abou Leila’

It’s fitting that Amin Sidi-Boumédiène uses songs from drone metal band Asva’s “Presences of Absences” album in his feature debut, “Abou Leila,” given how the film feeds on ambiguous presences and unexplained absences. Designed to evoke the sense of violence both real and existential that permeated every part of Algeria during the bloody civil war […]

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TV Review: The New York Times’ ‘The Weekly’

It’s a tough time for the news business, with local publications having endured, or not, the collapse of the print-ad industry. The few truly national dailies, only slightly less beholden to changes in the wind, have had to adjust as well — seeking, in the short term, avenues towards financial stability and, in the slightly […]

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Hexagears Nova Gaming Keyboard Review

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When it comes to keyboard manufacturers, many have likely not heard the name Hexgears, yet they’ve been quietly striving to deliver quality parts for a more convenient price for some time now. The company has partnered with Kailh to offer its BOX switches in its lineup of unique keyboards, and Hexgears’ Nova keyboard is a semi-affordable all-metal mechanical tenkeyless keyboard (See it at Amazon).

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Observation Review

It would be obvious to refer to Observation as “2001: A Space Odyssey: The Game”. In fact, that’s how developer No Code has described it itself. But in truth, this sci-fi thriller melds so much more than that together: Alien’s constant sense of dread and labyrinth of claustrophobic corridors; Solaris’ emotional core and haunting ethereality; and Interstellar’s sheer desperation and explosive moments. All of these combine to create a gripping story that’s threaded around a series of cleverly designed puzzles to create a truly unique gaming experience.

Observation casts you as SAM (Systems Administration and Maintenance), the omnipresent AI of the titular space station. First impressions suggest that the station is abandoned apart from its lone occupant, Dr. Emma Fisher. It quickly becomes apparent something extraterrestrial has been at work, and figuring out what has happened is your first step. It’s a captivating setup, as you endeavour to find out how your mission has taken a turn for the worse.

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TV Review: George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’

Only television could contain “Catch-22.” Joseph Heller’s capacious World War II novel, stuffed with philosophical monologues, paradoxes, and a wide-ranging cast of expendable flyboys centered on the inertly gloomy Yossarian, provides little foothold for any potential reworking. A 1970 feature adaptation (Mike Nichols’ little-remembered third film, made after “The Graduate” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia […]

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Logitech G432 Gaming Headset Review

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Logitech has released an update to its headset line, and included in the new lineup is the updated G432 (See it on Amazon). It’s a replacement for the stalwart G430 that had been around for years, so it was high time for an update. While the looks have only seen minor changes, the significant enhancements have been where it counts: the drivers and the microphone.

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Lenovo Legion Y740 Gaming Laptop Review

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Over the past couple of months I’ve tested two laptops equipped with Nvidia new RTX GPUs; one with an RTX 2080, and one with an RTX 2060. These laptops were impressive, but I’ve been eager to get my hands on a laptop with the mid-tier RTX GPU, the RTX 2070, just to get an idea of how the three different GPUs stack up.

Luckily, I now have Lenovo’s Y740-15ICHg in-hand (See it at Lenovo) and it has an RTX 2070 Max-Q in tow. The particular unit I received is the top model on Lenovo’s site and the only model with an RTX 2070. The rest of the lineup features the RTX 2060, ranging in price from $ 1,679 to $ 1,919. The entire lineup is priced competitively when compared to the previous RTX-equipped laptops I’ve tested.

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Film Review: ‘Carmine Street Guitars’

“Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in […]

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Every IGN Mortal Kombat Review

Mortal Kombat has been gruesomely dismembering fighters since 1992 – four years before IGN was around. With the impending launch of Mortal Kombat 11 (which, shockingly, is not actually the 11th Mortal Kombat game) we’re looking back over all 30 reviews IGN has published. Interestingly, the series contains such a wide range of games that it’s one of the few that’s earned almost every score in the book, except the very highest and lowest available.

Which MK games stand out to you as the best and worst?

Dan Stapleton is IGN’s Reviews Editor. You can follow him on Twitter to hear gaming rants and lots of random old-school Simpsons references.

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Film Review: Childish Gambino’s ‘Guava Island’

Last summer, Donald Glover snuck off to Cuba to create something — a feature film collaboration, or so the rumors had it, based on scant information other than a photo of Glover and Rihanna posed up during production of their mysterious “Guava Island” project. Creation is what Glover does best, constantly redefining audiences’ ideas of […]

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Falcon Age Review

I never knew I wanted a pet bird, but Falcon Age made me care for its titular raptor like she were my own. Outerloop Games makes smart use of both gameplay and story to pull that off, despite running into some technical issues along the way. While this adventure is fully explorable on a good old-fashioned TV, it is absolutely more rewarding when experienced on PSVR thanks to a number of engaging interactions and control ideas.

Falcon Age’s frequently squawky sidekick is so handy it almost feels like a co-op game. You and your feathered friend explore a sparse but artistically striking desert landscape and take down refinery outposts of a colonizing power. With writing by 80 Days’ Meg Jayanth, Falcon Age explores a fascinating tale of reigniting a resistance that’s largely given up the fight. Rather than going big or grand with its events, the most intriguing moments come from small character interactions.

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Borderlands: Game of The Year Edition Review

With its distinctive hand-drawn cartoon art style, Borderlands is an odd candidate for a remaster because it’s look is frankly hard to improve upon. It looked great in 2009, and it still looks great nearly 10 years later as a slightly brighter experience with better, steadier framerate and a few minor tweaks. That’s both good and somewhat disappointing: On the one hand, it reconfirms that Borderlands still looks and plays the part a decade later. On the other, it means there’s little reason to return if you’ve already completed the first adventure on Pandora.

Those with keen eyes may be able to see a difference, but switching between Ultra and High settings on PC seemed like a wash to me. There’s unfortunately no HDR support here, but the console versions will have it (we haven’t gotten our hands on those yet), along with 4K on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. That might add vibrancy to the environments, structures, characters, and weapons, but the graphical style didn’t necessarily need a refresh anyway. Consoles do benefit from 60fps gameplay, though, and the PC version is a free upgrade for owners of the original.

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SXSW Film Review: ‘Pet Sematary’

In Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary,” the big-city Creed family moves to rural Maine, inadvertently buying a plot of land that includes an ancient Indian burial ground. If you inter a beloved feline correctly in the creepy pet cemetery behind their house, it’s liable to come back … different. Same goes for cadavers of the non-cat […]

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One Piece World Seeker Review

I love One Piece. I love its world, its characters, its and its sense of humor, all of which are wonderfully realized in One Piece World Seeker. As an original and interactive One Piece adventure, World Seeker actually delivers a respectable story with interesting new characters, written by Eiichiro Oda himself. Of course, in order to get to that story you have to first play One Piece World Seeker, which is about 20 hours of boring, repetitive, and at times downright infuriating open*world gameplay.

World Seeker drops you into the red vest, blue shorts, and flipflops of Monkey D. Luffy as he and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates arrive on Prison Island in search of treasure. As it turns out, the treasure was a lie, and the crew now find themselves split up and stranded on the island as a nefarious plot starts to unfold in the shadows, with the island’s warden, Isaac, at the center.

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Miami Film Review: ‘Breathe’

After receiving a call at work that her son has suffered a severe playground accident, a cash-strapped single mother in Sante Fe, Argentina, criss-crosses an unsympathetic city in search of the hospital where he’s been taken, all the while trying to keep her own surging asthma attack under control. A trim, taut second feature from […]

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Berlin Film Review: ‘Tremors’

“Love knows nothing improper,” chides a zealous preacher in “Tremors.” Ostensibly, she says it to an entire rapt church; more pointedly, she’s addressing mild-mannered family man Pablo, as he’s dragged through a terrestrial hell for the cardinal sin of falling in love with another man. What’s the greater impropriety, then: same-sex love or the victimization […]

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Metro Exodus Review

It turns out that what makes Metro – a series named and known for its dark, subterranean survival-horror atmosphere – work was never really dependent on being underground at all. The third game, Metro Exodus, successfully brings its lengthy single-player campaign to the post-apocalyptic surface without sacrificing any of the series’ signature tension.

In an era where most first-person shooters seem to be intent on constantly upping the tempo, Metro Exodus is refreshing in its demand that you take your time. This is not a run-and-gun experience; it’s a stay-low-and-go-slow crawl through some of the most atmospheric and detail-rich settings I’ve ever experienced in a story-driven shooter. With a storyline that sidesteps the supernatural themes of its predecessors in favour of focussing on a more affecting human experience, and level design that affords you significantly more freedom without giving you too much room to relax, Metro Exodus feels like the full realization of this series’ potential.

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Video Game Review: ‘Metro: Exodus’

At first glance, it might appear as if “Metro: Exodus” has lost touch with what made the “Metro” series special. The original game in the series, “Metro 2033,” was directly inspired and named after a Russian sci-fi novel, but, by “Exodus,” the Metro game series has shed the plot of the novels and gone its […]

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Grammys 2019 Fashion Review: Cardi B on the Half Shell, Michelle Obama on Stage

Typically, it’s awards season’s loudest red carpet. But Sunday night’s Grammys fashion was unusually quiet — and covered up.
Without Beyonce, Rihanna, Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande, who ditched the awards show after creative differences with producers but wore her Zac Posen gown on Instagram anyway, the diva quotient was down, with only Cardi B’s meme-generating vintage 1995 Thierry Mugler Venus-on-the-half-shell look, and Janelle Monae’s sharp-shouldered Jean Paul Gaultier couture mini dress to get armchair critics going.
Even Lady Gaga, who famously arrived at the 2011 Grammys in an Armani egg pod, played it relatively safe (she’s a movie star now, after all), wearing a silver, side-ruffle gown by Hedi Slimane for Celine (a no-brainer given that she attended his first women’s ready-to-wear show last October).
Long gone were the nearly nude looks of years past; instead of baring her naval in daring green Versace circa 2000, Jennifer Lopez went with a modest, crystal-embellished mint green Ralph and Russo column gown, and covered her face with a wide-brim hat; Miley Cyrus worked an oversized circa 2019 Mugler suit with a side of cleavage, and, as WWD reported, H.E.R. was outfitted in a custom Coach purple jacquard jumpsuit.
Aside from Joy Villa and Ricky Rebel’s

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Kingdom Hearts 3 Review

Some of my fondest childhood gaming memories are of being wowed by the first Kingdom Hearts and its recreation of Disney worlds I knew from my favorite animated movies and shows. But even viewed through the rose-tinted glasses of 17 years worth of nostalgia, those memories pale in comparison to Kingdom Hearts 3’s colorful, varied combat and huge, lovingly detailed levels. Square Enix’s long-awaited conclusion to its beloved action-RPG trilogy is so satisfying in its gameplay evolutions that it makes me feel like a kid again, even if its story resolutions don’t think far outside the toy box.

This new set of movie-quality Disney worlds are almost all delights to explore. The sheer amount of treasures to collect and hidden Mickey emblems to discover really highlights the scale and detail of each world. They also introduce some fun gameplay options, including the chance to control toy mechs and even pilot your own ship on the high seas.

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Marvel’s The Punisher: Season 2 Premiere Review

Note: this is a spoiler-free review of the first episode of The Punisher: Season 2. 

Here we are with what we’re probably all assuming is the last season premiere we’re ever going to get out of The Punisher. The knowledge that the show is almost certainly due for the chopping block in a week or two puts a real damper on the new season, but at least the show comes back strong. If the first episode is any indication, Season 2 looks to be addressing some of the biggest complaints about the first.

Judging from the premiere, it appears that showrunner Steven Lightfoot and his team are intent on making a clean break from the events of Season 1. That makes sense. Up till now, Frank’s story in the MCU has been defined by his vendetta against the military handlers who betrayed him and took his family from him. He got his vengeance and found some semblance of peace by the end of Season 1. The question now is whether Frank can find a new purpose in life. Can he truly leave his war behind? Is it possible for someone like Frank Castle to be normal again? Does he even want that?

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Critic’s Choice Awards Fashion Review: Brighter Times Ahead

Seeing so many all-white fashion looks on the Critic’s Choice Awards blue carpet Sunday night, you might have thought Hollywood was making another political statement, following last year’s all-black fashion action at the Golden Globes to protest gender inequality.
But the trend is just a trend, at least according to Allison Janney. “We’re all just feeling it,” she said, looking a bit like a superhero in a white Alberta Ferretti cape and pants look, piled high with Neil Lane diamonds.
“Perhaps it is a subconscious message of hope. Brighter times ahead,” added her stylist Tara Swennen.
Or perhaps Hollywood stars, like so many others this January, are obsessed with organization guru Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, “Tidying Up!” Whatever the reason, the fashion news of the night was a clean sweep. Emily Blunt seemed to get the memo, wearing a crystal-embroidered white silk Prada gown that her stylist Jessica Paster described as “fresh and simple.” Constance Wu romanced in Rodarte, and Lady Gaga in billowy blush Calvin Klein (though sadly, without hair colored to match this time).
Women wore the pants—a lot, with Julia Roberts choosing a deconstructed tuxedo by Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton and Claire Foy projecting power in a navy blue asymmetrical

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Film Review: ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’

A likable enough, Amblin-esque update to the classic Arthurian legend, “The Kid Who Would Be King” is hardly the first time a group of adolescents have saved England from supernatural harm in a Joe Cornish movie. That said, much of the attitude and originality that drew fans to the irreverent writer-director’s inner-city alien-invasion debut “Attack […]

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TV Review: ‘The Masked Singer’

At first glance, Fox’s “The Masked Singer” sure seems like confirmation that TV’s finally strayed too far from the eyes of God and may S/He have mercy on our souls. In the palpably strained words of host Nick Cannon, the competitive singing show’s “not just a whodunnit, it’s a who SUNG it.” Celebrities hide their identities […]

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Concert Review: Childish Gambino Takes L.A. to Church for ‘This Is America’ Tour Finale

Sunday night’s “This Is America” tour stop could have been seen as a funeral for Childish Gambino — the musical alter-ego Donald Glover has said he’s retiring after this tour and forthcoming album — but that doesn’t mean it was a somber occasion. On the contrary, Gambino put on a show at Los Angeles’ the […]

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TV Review: ‘Nightflyers’ on Syfy

“Nightflyers” begins with a compelling sequence taken from late in its story’s action, in which Dr. Agatha Matheson (Gretchen Mol) is fighting for her life on a space journey gone horribly wrong. She’s fleeing an assailant who seems compelled by something unearthly, and goes on to send a warning to whomever out there is listening […]

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IDFA Film Review: ‘Bellingcat – Truth in a Post-Truth World’

Remember when the words “breaking news” used to refer to the thrill of hearing about world events as they happened? These days, it has become the daily sport of autocrats and elected officials alike, who have realized that discrediting once-reputable journalistic sources — quite literally, attempting to break the news — is an effective strategy in […]

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Red Dead Redemption 2: When IGN’s Review Is Coming

In just two days, we’ll finally be able to leap back into Rockstar’s sprawling vision of the wild west 8 years after our adventures in Red Dead Redemption took us across the sand-swept deserts of a 1900s US and Mexico. And it can’t come a moment sooner. But what does come a moment sooner is our review of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Our own Luke Reilly over in Australia has spent at least 60 hours with the game in preparation for our review, which will hit October 25, 4am PST. Though it’ll be an early morning for us, we’re excited to finally share our thoughts.

We were able to bring you our experiences of the first four hours with the game, where we came away impressed with the extensive level of detail in Rockstar’s world. We hunted deer and stumbled on a broken-hearted boy that we decided to antagonize for some reason, but ultimately we could tell that we just scratched at the surface of the potential of this world in allowing us to interact with it in imaginative ways that in turn responded to us accordingly. We were at times devious and at times helpful. We pursued the main storyline, and yet took time to pursue one of the world’s many distractions, too. And though the world in Red Dead Redemption 2 felt like a living organism in its own right, it also felt lonely and cruel at times. And even surprised us in many ways.

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Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption Review

Everyone who’s played enough of the Dark Souls series and its contemporaries has probably asked themselves at least once, “wouldn’t this be better if you could just skip the levels and fight the bosses?” Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption, an indie “boss rush” Soulslike from developer Dark Star, explores that question, distilling the Soulslike experience into eight devilishly challenging duels.

Though it is not quite an airtight proof of concept, the ideas at its core make Sinner an interesting blueprint for a boss rush twist on the classic Dark Souls model. More than simple pattern recognition, learning the quirks in each of the long winded fights demands situational awareness and experimentation. Decoding the bosses is as important as being able to react to their attacks, and the process of figuring out what’s going on each phase of each fight binds an engaging intellectual exercise to the technical mastery (and muscle memory) that the genre generally demands.

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Daredevil Season 3 Premiere Review

This is a mostly spoiler-free review for the Daredevil Season 3 premiere. For more on Daredevil, check out the trailer that was released at the NYCC panel, revealing a major new villain for the season.

Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock — the OG of the Marvel Netflix universe — returns for a third season as Daredevil, though in this premiere episode there appears to be very little left of the Man Without Fear who we’ve followed for three previous seasons (including his team-up outing with the Defenders). And that change in Matt, True Believers, looks to be a good thing for the show if this episode is any indication.

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The Hate U Give Review

The expression “YA” has become synonymous, to some audiences, with allegorical tales of epic science fiction and fantasy, where young adults overcome adversity and become incredible heroes. But YA fiction need not be fantastical to tell a meaningful coming of age story. And so, in the great tradition of To Kill a Mockingbird and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry comes Angie Thomas’s bestselling novel The Hate U Give. It’s a story that’s epic in theme, intimate in character, and which translates powerfully to the big screen.

The Hate U Give stars Amandla Stenberg (The Darkest Minds) as Starr, a teenager who lives with her family in a crime-ridden black community, but whose parents Maverick (Russell Hornsby, Fences) and Lisa (Regina Hall, Girls Trip) work overtime to send her to an uppercrust, predominantly white private school. In her voice-over, Starr explains that there are two versions of herself: Version One lives in her community and embraces her culture, and Version Two goes to school and mutes her colloquialisms, and avoids discussing social issues. She lives in two separate worlds, and as her story begins she is reasonably comfortable in both. Both of Starr’s worlds fall apart when, in the midst of a traffic stop, a white police officer panics and shoots her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith, Detroit). At home her community is in mourning, at school she can’t talk about it without becoming an outsider. And if she testifies against the officer, she’ll open herself up to unwanted publicity, threats, and a complete collapse of both of her lives.

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San Sebastián Film Review: ‘Angelo’

Markus Schleinzer is a filmmaker who knows how to wait for a payoff: Take the dry in-joke, for example, of waiting seven years to follow his 2011 debut “Michael” with a film called “Angelo.” His tartly brilliant second feature is awash with slow-building irony, though as with his first, there’s precious little mirth in its […]

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FIFA 19 Switch Review

While the FIFA series has done impressive things on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC, the Switch version is still lagging behind. Despite notable upgrades from the very disappointing FIFA 18, including a glossy, Champions League makeover, inclusion of the enjoyable new House Rules modes, and the ability to now play online with friends, FIFA 19 on Switch is still a frustrating and unrewarding experience, especially on the pitch.

FIFA 19’s moment-to-moment gameplay remains, disappointingly, largely unchanged from last year’s under-par outing. Still running on EA’s Ignite engine (last used on the PS4/Xbox/PC version for FIFA 16), it simply can’t compete with the fluidity of movement and authentically animated players the Frostbite-powered versions display. Additionally, the tempo of play is all over the place, with some players boasting ludicrous speed that makes them almost impossible to track as a defender, to others who give the feeling they’re wading through tar as they attempt to turn with the ball.

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The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 2 Review

Halfway through the second episode of The Walking Dead’s final season, I found myself frustrated. I had been playing for about an hour but still struggled to care about any character other than Clementine or AJ, any actions I took, or any dialogue choice I was presented with. It all felt hollow and lifeless, a formulaic Mad Libs-esque construction in which story elements were strung together in a repetitive, predictable sequence. If anything can be said for Episode Two, it’s this: the seams of this series are showing, and they’re beginning to wear thin.

As in previous episodes and seasons of The Walking Dead, Clementine and her relationship with AJ continues to be the strongest and most compelling part of the story. After dealing with a particularly traumatic incident at the end of the previous episode, Clementine is left to put the pieces back together and teach AJ more difficult lessons about the subtleties and nuances of life from a time when manners and niceties were socially relevant.

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Toronto Film Review: ‘The Wind’

The doorway shot in John Ford’s “The Searchers” is one of the most influential cinematic frames of all time. But it’s not often we really parse the meaning of that iconic image, or seek to understand the way it has shaped our understanding of the western as an outdoorsy, masculine genre. Emma Tammi’s feature debut, […]

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TV Review: ‘I Feel Bad’

“Here’s what every woman knows,” Sarayu Blue says in a voice-over kicking off her new sitcom “I Feel Bad.” “We feel bad about something almost every day.” The show, airing a preview episode Sept. 19 before settling into a Thursday-night timeslot, sets its tone early—it differentiates Blue’s Emet from other sitcom moms by her vulnerable […]

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'Marvel's Spider-Man' review: An amazing story and spectacular combat

'Marvel's Spider-Man' review: An amazing story and spectacular combat‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ is exactly what fans of the character have always wanted in a game. Spider-Man is hands-down my favorite superhero. Sure, Superman is virtually a god, Batman is a goth with cool gadgets and Iron Man has more swagger than a billion Beyonces.



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Marvel’s Spider-Man PS4 Review

At its core, Insomniac Games’ new adventure strives to make you feel like Spider-Man. And, thankfully, Marvel’s Spider-Man on PS4 succeeds at nearly every swing across Manhattan’s rooftops. I was left delighted at nearly every step of its 15-hour adventure thanks to a surprisingly deep tale that mines the plights of both Spider-Man and Peter Parker to great emotional success. Underpinning that engrossing narrative is an excellent set of webswinging mechanics, which — combined with fun gadgets and plenty of puns — makes for thrilling action in both the massive setpieces and in the quiet, confined corridors of tense sequences. Insomniac’s first foray into the realm of Marvel superheroes is a continually exciting adventure whose open world and combat are only occasionally caught up in a web of overly familiar trappings.

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Venice Film Review: ‘Sunset’

Expectations were always going to be too high for “Sunset,” László Nemes’ follow-up to his extraordinary Oscar-winning “Son of Saul.” Given how his first feature re-invented the Holocaust film genre, jettisoning the usual sentimentality for a terrifyingly immersive plunge into hell, it was natural to think he’d take his next subject, Budapest on the brink […]

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Venice Film Review: ‘What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?’

Following his unsettling look at Louisiana down-and-outs in “The Other Side,” Roberto Minervini tackles an easier topic to get audiences behind: a community of African-Americans in New Orleans whose stories reflect the toxic effects of centuries-old racism. “What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?” is a natural direction for the Italian-born director to […]

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Donut County Review: Hole in One?

This year I’ve become an android, an exiled boy king, a vampire, a headless warrior, an anthropomorphic toadstool, the Grim Reaper, an adorable yarn creature, a pirate, an ex-yakuza, a monster hunter and, of course, the God of War. Such are the wonders of video games. And now, thanks to Donut County, I can add “ever-expanding sink-hole” to that list.

Yes, in Donut County you literally control a hole in the ground. You move it around, looking for slightly smaller prey, eating up donuts, bricks, and clumps of grass, feeding its insatiable appetite and expanding it, which then lets you swallow larger things – chairs, chickens, boulders, cars, houses. It’s a wonderfully alluring concept and, while Donut County’s running time is brief, it has a whole lot of fun with its central mechanic and with its world.

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Album Review: The Band’s ‘Music From Big Pink: 50th Anniversary Edition’

Some albums become life companions. The Band’s “Music From Big Pink,” which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its release on July 1 and gets a deluxe-reissue next Friday, is such a record. I haven’t been without a copy of “Big Pink” since the day I purchased it — good lord — a half a century […]

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Yakuza Kiwami 2 Review

By the time the credits had rolled on Yakuza Kiwami 2 I’d uncovered a plot to detonate a series of explosives around Tokyo, climbed my way through the ranks of an underground fight club buried in the bowels of a construction site, and partnered with a number of businesses in Osaka in an effort to boost my burgeoning cabaret club management career. I’d also beaten up a baby nursery full of full grown men clad in diapers, struck flirtatious poses for a snap-happy photographer who was wearing nothing but a Speedo and a smile, and drank can after can of vending machine coffee in order to make my bladder full enough to beat the high score in the interactive urinal-based minigame.

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Guacamelee! 2 Review

Guacamelee 2 often had me laughing out loud. And just as often, it had me gripping my controller and gritting my teeth, trying not to be too frustrated with myself as I learned the luchador skills needed to nail its most difficult platforming puzzles. But no matter what emotion it evoked, I loved nearly every minute of Drinkbox Studios’ fantastic follow-up, which offers a smart evolution of its revered predecessor that only briefly feels overly familiar.

Picking up with a helpful reminder of how Guacamelee ended (which I needed, because it was first released way back in 2013) the sequel returns with plenty of humor and a surprising but welcome bit of pathos at the start of its eight-hour adventure. I was surprised at how affected I was to see Juan enjoy a peaceful life at home with his wife, two kids, and a diet that has caused his fighting physique to be lost to time, only for his happiness — in every possible timeline imaginable — to be disrupted by a new evil, Salvador.

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Film Review: ‘Running for Grace’

It’s difficult to offer a detailed synopsis of “Running for Grace” without making it sound like something adapted from a young adult novel of recent vintage. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, you understand, but this pleasantly well-crafted period drama actually plays more like a throwback to youth-skewing entertainment of an earlier era. Imagine […]

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Film Review: ‘Madeline’s Madeline’

What’s the matter with Madeline? And just who is this tempestuous teenager with the blazing eyes and wild bramble of red-brown hair? “Madeline’s Madeline” is many things: an ambitious meta-exploration of identity through performance, a dizzying plunge into the imaginary psyche of a fictitious young actress (as played by once-in-a-lifetime discovery Helena Howard), an unnervingly […]

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Kings Review: Berry-Craig LA Riots Drama Fails

Kings is now available to own on Digital and comes to home video July 31.

Set in South Central LA circa 1992, Kings story centers on a foster parent named Millie (Halle Berry) and her desire to mother eight children. This is a daunting task given her current economic status – assuming she gets some form of government assistance, her only other means of income involves selling baked goods from the back of her car. Making sure the bills are paid is the least of Millie’s worries though. There’s also the threat of someone calling CPS whenever she leaves the kids alone/with her oldest son Jesse (Lamar Johnson) or when their rambunctious behavior spills out into the alley by their house. The struggle is real.

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The Banner Saga 3 Review

Stoic Games’ denouement to their beautifully animated, Viking-inspired epic contains, in heaping doses, more of everything that made the first two turn-based tactics games so strong. The Banner Saga 3 offers a bloody and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy with plenty of tough choices, challenging encounters, and vivid characters. At the same time, it also fails to address the series’ few weaknesses: Rote combat, an avalanche of side characters with little importance to the plot, and a short adventure. Still, it spins a good yarn and delivers immediate consequences to your decisions in such a way that I was left wanting more.

It is the little details that lend weight to the stakes facing this beautiful, hand-drawn world. The devastation beyond the darkness as Iver’s band travels further into the belly of the proverbial beast is unnerving, almost haunting. The fates of his band of Ravens felt as immediate as the grander mission, with simple tactical decisions as we plodded along carrying immediate life-or-death outcomes. I chose poorly more than once, but each time I did so it felt fair. Whether they were a result of ignoring the advice of a seasoned companion or just misreading a situation, in hindsight it was clear that the failures I suffered were mine alone.

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TV Review: Sacha Baron Cohen’s ‘Who Is America?’

Sacha Baron Cohen feels like the ultimate George W. Bush-era comedy star. The early-to-mid-2000s, after all, were when Baron Cohen enjoyed his high point of fame, when TV’s “Da Ali G Show” and the 2006 film “Borat,” a mocking journey through the heartland, made comic use of undercover documentation of what Americans are willing to […]

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Karlovy Vary Film Review: ‘Suleiman Mountain’

In the blue waiting room of an orphanage sits a Kyrgyz woman in a traditional head scarf, while in a nearby dormitory a young boy is awakened and told his mother has finally come to pick him up. As mother and son stride across the playground together, the other children envy his luck. But there’s […]

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U.K. Theater Review: ‘Dusty’

Ashes to ashes, Dusty to Dusty. Almost 20 years after her death, the loss of Dusty Springfield still stings on these shores. Sniffles ring out at the end of Jonathan Harvey’s jukebox musical “Dusty,” as footage of the iconic songstress’s funeral spills across the stage. So when actress Katherine Kingsley reappears for a final encore, […]

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Escape Plan 2: Hades Review

When it comes to action movies, I’m the genre’s number one fan. Like seriously. I aspire to own everything involving Jackie Chan, I think The Running Man is underrated and believe that Inception doesn’t get enough praise. I even enjoyed the terrible Transformers films, sans The Last Knight because I have standards. The point is, I’m the target audience for anything with random explosions, long drawn out fight scenes, and actors who were popular in the ’80s. And yet, I still can’t find a reason to recommend Escape Plan 2: Hades.

Directed by Steven C. Miller, Escape Plan 2 reconnects with Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) and his security firm years after his exploits in the first film. No longer looking to escape-proof maximum-security prisons, his company now specializes in private military ops around the globe. At least, that’s what I think they’re doing; the film doesn’t really clarify this point, but it does open with Ray’s team trying to rescue female hostages from a terrorist group. Despite a botched mission early on, the company seems to be in good spirits. That is until one of Ray’s newer recruits, Shu Ren (Huang Xiaoming), is kidnapped while trying to protect his tech giant of a cousin, Yusheng.

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Karlovy Vary Film Review: ‘Crystal Swan’

At a time when the U.S. borders are being made as hostile as possible to migrants, stories of hopeful outsiders betting the farm on the American Dream hit hard and true in the heart — even one as outwardly oddball as “Crystal Swan,” freshman helmer Darya Zhuk’s spirited, bittersweet comedy about a restless Belarusian DJ […]

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Film Review: ‘Every Act of Life’

Few if any living playwrights have been as successful for as long as Terrence McNally. “Every Act of Life” provides a predictably starry, rather standard, but satisfying overview of a prodigious career that is still going full-steam as the writer nears his ninth decade. It may require posterity to deliver a film that really weighs […]

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Film Review: Jon Hamm and Ed Helms in ‘Tag’

The game began when they were nine years old. Thirty-five years later, it’s still going strong as five lifelong friends dedicate one month each year to playing “tag,” the old grade-school classic most kids leave on the schoolyard— right around the time they stop believing that girls have “cooties.” If that sounds like the setup for […]

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Jurassic World Evolution Review

What could possibly go wrong when managing an island amusement park full of giant, man-eating monsters? Lots of things, though in this case they’re not the kind that lead to good gameplay. With so few interesting decisions and so much mundane busywork going on in Jurassic World Evolution, there is no need to, as Samuel L. Jackson once famously recommended, “hold onto your butts.”

Jeff Goldblum lends his recognizable-anywhere voice to some of the narration as Dr. Ian Malcolm, and he’s clearly having a lot of fun with the pronunciation of the islands’ names – just wait until you hear him say “Isla Matanceros” in the opening flyover cutscene – but otherwise it very much sounds like his first read-through of the script. Opposite him are a handful of Jurassic World actors, including Bryce Dallas Howard and B.D. Wong, and then there’s someone voicing Chris Pratt’s character who doesn’t even seem to be making an attempt at impersonating him.

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BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle Review

BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle brings together the worlds of BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth and RWBY in a surprisingly approachable alternative to each of the games that it borrows from. Introducing a unique, but easy to understand fighting system supported by innovative tag mechanics, great characters, and the usual ArcSys flair that makes its games so striking.

As the name implies, BlazBlue leads the charge in Cross Tag Battle, but make no mistake, this is not a new entry in the BlazBlue series. Cross Tag Battle carves out its own identity by putting the focus on its 2v2 tag mechanics and simplifying some of the complexity that ArcSys games are known for.

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Concert Review: Pink Reaches Full Altitude at Spectacular Forum Show

In the history of traveling pop music outings, there’s probably never been a better first 10 seconds of any tour than the opening of Pink’s current show. After a small eternity in which the audience is left gazing at a reddish curtain, increasingly indented as unknowable pieces of staging are pushed into place, it suddenly […]

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OnePlus 6 review: A killer smartphone at a killer price

OnePlus 6 review: A killer smartphone at a killer priceWhen it comes to Android smartphones, there’s Samsung’s Galaxy’s line of handsets, and a long list of also-rans. Take OnePlus, for example. For its latest trick, the OnePlus 6, OnePlus is pushing the envelope even further, stretching its phone’s display to a massive 6.3 inches, packing an improved camera and still maintaining OnePlus’s signature low price, $ 529 for a base model.



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Concert Review: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Gets Adoring Tribute at Hollywood Bowl

Is “Beauty and the Beast” dated? A little bit, if only when pitted against contemporary ethics. As the original, animated version of the film unspooled at the Hollywood Bowl Friday night in a combination of screening and all-star live musical performance, it was clear that a few of the moral lessons imparted in 1991 seem […]

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'Detroit: Become Human' review: Strong characters make your choices matter

'Detroit: Become Human' review: Strong characters make your choices matter“Detroit: Become Human” is a game that wants all of your choices to matter. From how you reply to other characters, to the split-second decisions you make during a scuffle, to whether you peer into an open doorway, nearly every action you make in “Detroit” feels as though it would impact the game’s narrative and, eventually, its final outcome. It’s not a perfect game — I had problems with the controls at times and quick-time events that felt overwhelming— but this is easily the best title to date from developer Quantic Dream.



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Dark Sous Remastered Review

When we first reviewed Dark Souls in 2011 we gave it a 9.0 for Amazing. Here’s what we said about it then:

If you take the time to get under Dark Souls’ Skin and understand its twisted mindset, what you’ll find is one of the most absorbing, deepest, hardcore gaming experiences in existence. But it’s also brutally unforgiving and inaccessible, especially at first. If you play games just to be entertained, then Dark Souls isn’t for you. But if you’re at all interested in just how far a video game can go, how singular and focused it can be in its vision, Dark Souls is unmissable.Read our original Dark Souls review.

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TV Review: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Bring Their Own Style to Royal Wedding

On a gloriously sunny day, an American actress became the first Duchess of Sussex and the wife of a Prince of England. Rachel Meghan Markle and Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales wed at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle before 600 guests, including Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, and Idris Elba. The […]

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Album Review: Parquet Courts’ ‘Wide Awake!’

Parquet Courts’ lead singer Andrew Savage, one-half of the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Texas band’s two-headed leadership, is mad as hell. While on the opposite side of the stage, bandmate Austin Brown is getting wistful. That yin-and-yang of punk and funk – as Savage notes in the opening track to “Wide Awake!,” “Total Football:” “Collectivism and autonomy are not […]

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Cannes Film Review: ‘Asako I & II” (Netetemo Sametemo)

In enigmatic romance “Asako I & II,” the willful heroine can’t choose between two lovers who look exactly the same. Japanese independent director Ryusuke Hamaguchi uses this rather unlikely premise to explore the mysteries of the heart. Catapulted straight to the main competition in Cannes without prior participation at other sections, the helmer’s ninth work […]

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Cannes Film Review: Marion Cotillard in ‘Angel Face’

Acting is pretending. Great acting is doing it in such a way that audiences forget the artifice and buy into the reality of the character completely. Not many are likely to mistake what Marion Cotillard does in “Angel Face” for great acting, as the glamorous French star gives a performance so phony it feels like […]

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Album Review: Beach House’s ‘7’

On their two 2015 albums “Depression Cherry” and “Thank Your Lucky Stars,” Baltimore-spawned duo Beach House had crafted their strain of dreampop to such perfection that it felt like there were few stones left to unturn. The duo felt that as well — they said of this album, “We wanted to rethink old methods and […]

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Film Review: ‘One Cut of the Dead’

Viewers get three films for the price of one in “One Cut for the Dead,” a terrific Japanese horror-comedy that proves there’s somewhere the zombie apocalypse movie hasn’t yet gone. Writer-director-editor Shinichiro Ueda’s cleverly conceived and executed debut feature opens with an unbroken 37-minute shot of monster mayhem before hitting the reset button and turning […]

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Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze on Switch Review

When we first reviewed Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on the Wii U in 2014, we gave it a 9.0, for Amazing. Here’s what we said about it then:

“Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a great platformer full of tense sequences and tough levels. Boss battles are a huge highlight, and it’s packed with hard-to-find secrets and collectibles. Multiplayer could use some improvement, but I found myself laughing whenever my teammate and I wiped out on some of these unforgiving setups. But a rewarding sense of accomplishment stuck with me each time I overcame a new obstacle, and that feeling kept me going all the way to the end.”

Read the full Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review.

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Film Review: ‘The Desert Bride’

It’s a wonderful thing to be proven wrong after declaring a little-known character actor to have had a once-in-a-career moment — when that unforeseen breakthrough merely paves the way for an unexpectedly fruitful career. So it is with Chile’s Paulina Garcia, whose vibrant late-career performance in 2013’s “Gloria” turned out to be a fixed bolt […]

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Chicago Theater Review: ‘Lettie’ at Victory Gardens Theater

“Lettie,” a family drama about a woman emerging from prison and addiction with a desire to reclaim the teenage kids who have barely seen her in seven years, is that rare play that manages to be both pessimistic and hopeful, with a central character simultaneously deeply sympathetic and infuriating.  Playwright Boo Killebrew, currently a writer […]

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Album Review: Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer’

In “Pynk,” a single from Janelle Monae’s third full-length, “Dirty Computer,” she sings, “Pink beyond forest and thighs/ Pink like the secrets you hide, maybe.” Its video a bold celebration of lady parts, the spacious, percolating pop anthem is the closest Monae has come to decoding ciphers about her sexuality. (To that end, she recently […]

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