On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 4, 2018

The older Tom Cruise gets, the less time there is between his Mission: Impossible sequels. There was a mere four years between the first and second installments and it seemed that might be the end of things, but six years later when Tom Cruise needed a public face lift it was Ethan Hunt who was called on to come to the rescue. Five years passed and the series reinvigorated itself with Brad Bird's franchise-best, Ghost Protocol, and then four years passed before writer/director Christopher McQuarrie took over and teamed with Cruise to produce the worthy follow-up that was Rogue Nation. Now, only three years have passed between the last and what is now the sixth installment in this ever-expanding action franchise. I can only imagine that we'll have another Mission: Impossible movie by 2020 at which point Mr. Cruise will be fifty-eight years-old. It is not only Cruise's age that splinters the race against time these movies will become though, but also the fact the one-time biggest movie star on the planet is hard-pressed to find success elsewhere outside the franchise. This creates questions of what might Cruise do once he's no longer able to jump out of airplanes, scale mountains, or fly helicopters, but these are questions more curious than they are concerning. For now, audiences should simply revel in the fact Cruise can still accomplish what he has in order to bring FALLOUT to the biggest screen ever-which is where you should see it. Mission: Impossible - FALLOUT is the pinnacle of what it seems this entire series, knowing or unknowingly, has been leading to. It is McQuarrie's The Dark Knight, it is Cruise's commitment to celluloid that will define the middle act of his career, and it is by far one of the best action movies ever made. Yes, FALLOUT is everything a fan of the previous films could want in that it revolves around a convoluted plot of double crossings and inconspicuous baddies throwing obstacles at our beloved team of core heroes, but what elevates this latest entry above many of the others is the way in which it caps off this trilogy of sorts that began with Ghost Protocol where these movies weren't just using Cruise's Hunt as a conduit for action or trying to humanize him, but more discover the person Hunt actually is while detailing his journey to figure out who he truly wants to be. FALLOUT is as much a coming to terms and peace with who the character is for Ethan Hunt as it is a clarification on the haze that still tinged who Hunt was over the last few films. How this will affect future installments will remain to be seen, but as the core of FALLOUT it only adds substantial weight to a movie that excels in every other facet of the genre it is excited to exist within. Full review here. A

The NUN is the third in a line of spin-offs prompted by the success of James Wan's 2013 throwback horror flick, The Conjuring, which itself spawned a sequel in 2016. In between and since those films we have also received the likes of Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation neither of which I've had the privilege of viewing, but from what I hear I'm really (not) missing out. Of course, I didn't see Insidious: The Last Key either, so it seems there is something about these spin-offs of Wan initiated franchises that tend to either push me away or leave me feeling so uninterested I could care less whether I consume them or not (which is saying a lot for a guy who feels the needs to see and assess as many new releases as he can each year). While both Conjuring films had their merits and were, at the very least, well-constructed, the spin-offs featuring that demon-laden doll have had a go of one being bashed as outright terrible and the other being hailed as an effective genre exercise. Unfortunately, if the consensus is true, then The NUN as written by Conjuring-verse veteran Gary Dauberman (who, funnily enough, had nothing to do with either of The Conjuring films, but was one of the credited screenwriters on last year's IT, so I'll give him that) falls into the former category joining 2014's Annabelle as more an opportunity for revenue than a true creative endeavor. Dauberman wrote both Annabelle and last year's Annabelle: Creation though and so maybe, as much as we like to believe story is the most important thing, when it comes to the horror genre it is more about the way in which these ghost stories are constructed and conveyed that matters just a little bit more. Annabelle was directed by first time feature director and former cinematographer John R. Leonetti whereas Creation was directed by Lights Out filmmaker David F. Sandberg who was recognized for a short film he made then adapted into a feature. This is all to say that Sandberg likely has an inherent eye and skill for directing whereas Leonetti may have seen countless director's work over the years, but might not be able on his own to build a cohesive product having to manage several departments at once. This brings us to Corin Hardy who shares more in common with Sandberg in terms of experience and perspective, but whose film shares more in common with what Leonetti apparently crafted. Meaning, The NUN is a fine example of throwing shit against a wall for an hour and a half to see what sticks and then moving on leaving a mess in the wake of whoever has to come behind it and clean-up. I feel bad for whoever makes The NUN: Final Vows. Full review here. F

I liked Sausage Party. I feel like I should say that up front because I don't want to seem like I'm easily offended or that I can't take a dirty joke when I say that The Happytime Murders is a pile of shit. Also, while I haven't seen Peter Jackson's 1989 comedy/musical/parody Meet the Feebles which in and of itself seems to have been exactly what The Happytime Murders purports to be, I have seen Team America: World Police and after now having seen Brian Henson's (son of Jim and a director in his own right having made The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island) twist on what it might be like if the puppets he grew up with grew up with him I feel rather confident in saying that I don't need another example of how funny it can be when bedrocks of childhood suddenly come to possess the most adult of behaviors with the crudest of takes on those behaviors. I say this because 1) Team America accomplished as much in balancing tone, humor, substance, and conveying it all through these objects not typically intended to be taken seriously with the sly genius of it hidden in the fact it actually had something to say and 2) because The Happytime Murders is rarely if ever actually funny. And I mean that not in the way that there are a few chuckles to be had here and there throughout the slim ninety-minute runtime, but rather that I didn't laugh once the entire time. The most pleasure to come out of sitting through this one-note joke of a "movie" is the small, sporadic flourishes of creativity that comes in adapting these puppets who know they're puppets into the real world and the humorous ways in which Henson, his team, and screenwriter Todd Berger integrate them. That said, there are maybe two moments in which the creativity of such integrations are funny enough to garner a smirk, but beyond this The Happytime Murders functions as an uninteresting whodunit that doesn't attempt to add weight to its narrative or not-so-subtle allegory dealing in prejudice and discrimination as it hangs its hat solely on the joke of kid toys being dirty-except it isn't a funny joke. Full review here. F

Like Argo (and no doubt countless others I’m unaware of), but with nazis and without the elaborate facade. Of course, Argo was a well-respected and well-received film upon initial release and part of me has to wonder whether Operation Finale suffers from having so recently experienced such a similar and more charismatically executed version of this story or if I really do need to go back and watch Argo with fresh eyes. Has my taste really progressed and expanded that much in six years?

Besides causing some self-exploration though, Operation Finale is a perfectly competent thriller that lacks any sense of grandeur or artistry that makes it worth seeing on the big screen. The top-tier casting is here with Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley relishing in their testy dynamic, Nick Kroll shows off he’s very much interested in doing work as he gets a more prominent role here than he did in Loving while Mélanie Laurent is largely and unfortunately wasted. It also took me some time to recognize Joe Alwyn of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’s, but the young actor does a notable job of pulling the viewer into his charming character before realizing what side of the line he falls on (the kid is one to watch this fall too given he’s netted roles in Boy ErasedMary Queen of Scots, and The Favourite). The tension throughout the entirety of the third act is expertly crafted as well and there are some genuine white knuckle moments, but by the time the credits begin to roll there is a stern sense of appreciation without the film holding the stern sense of influence one might imagine to linger given the powerful true events the film is based on. C+

As someone who worked fast food for 6+ years this absolutely nails the hectic, non-stop barrage of random problems encountered in a single day, but more impressive is how Andrew Bujalski's screenplay and ultimate film are able to walk through this world and be both entertaining and engaging without relying on any kind of standard structure. Rather, Support the Girls becomes this lived-in, authentic slice-of-life dramedy that emphasizes the granularities of our existence and explores them with a sincerity you can't help but warm up to no matter how different or similar your own experiences.

Needless to say, I fully support the girls. B-

Equally effective if not as lofty as the similarly themed Boy Erased. The Miseducation of Cameron Post seeks to highlight the overwhelmingly negative effects gay conversion therapy has on those subjected to it-both mentally and physically. Unlike the Joel Edgerton film though, director Desiree Akhavan tends to underplay the heavy drama of it all and instead keeps the more serious, more dramatic elements of the story balanced with a surprisingly strong sense of humor and comedy. This isn't the heavy drama one might expect it to be given the subject matter, though it does go to pretty severe places, but instead of focusing solely on this aspect Akhavan and her actors are very clearly going for a rawness that favors a kind of broad honesty over precision of tone.

That isn't to say one film is better than the other-I actually liked them equally for very different reasons-but The Miseducation of Cameron Post certainly finds its distinction through the authenticity of its character's impulses it operates on and within. Whereas a film like Boy Erased finds a single aspect on this topic it's discussing and tells the story through that lens (a great way to make a movie, mind you) Cameron Post more desires to make this experience of a conversion therapy camp in 1993 something of a universal experience; fitting a topic not often discussed into the template of a coming-of-age film and therefore lending it a universality that will force a wider audience to acknowledge the cracks and hypocrisies in the system. B-

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