Scott Tobias

In a hospital in the late 1950s, the wheeze and ca-chunk of the respirators sound like the inside of an Industrial Age factory, only the product being churned out is another few seconds of life. Compared to the elegant organism that is the healthy human body, the inflation and collapse of the pump is a tired accordion, and the hose connecting the machine to the patient's neck is bandaged and ungainly.

The Sundance-winning documentary Dina is a tale of two movies, sometimes at odds with each other: One is a quirky indie rom-com about two people on the autism spectrum who are getting ready to tie the knot. The other is an unvarnished verité about the difficulties they have with sexual intimacy. Directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles structure and frame the film so carefully that it almost seems like the staging of a script, rather than real life unfolding before the camera.

The first time we meet Zach and Josh, two high-schoolers and best friends who gets tangled up in violence, guilt, and psychosis in Super Dark Times, they're hanging out in the basement, assessing photos of girls in the yearbook and watching softcore porn through the bars on a blocked cable channel. The year is 1995, but it's little details like this that make the time stamp unnecessary.

There's one extraordinarily beautiful shot in Stronger that helps account for why this inspirational drama, about a man who lost both his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing, stands out from other films of its kind. As the city of Boston processes this traumatic event and the manhunt that followed, Jeff Bauman, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, braces himself for the agony of having the dressing removed from his amputated limbs for the first time.

In the best Stephen King adaptations — and the best Stephen King novels, for that matter — there's precious little daylight between the psychic stress of the characters and the supernatural forces that torment them. Carrie, The Shining, The Dead Zone, Christine: All are defined by the frightening intimacy of terrors that come from within, rather than external forces that can be vanquished like a priest exorcising a demon or ghosts expelled from a haunted house.

The first words uttered by Frankie, the sexually confused teenager at the center of Eliza Hittman's Beach Rats, are a lie: "I don't really know what I like."

Based on Jeannette Walls' memoir, The Glass Castle refers to the fanciful home an impoverished father intends for his family, one with glass walls that welcome natural light during the day and, at night, become a window to the stars. The structure never gets built, but it's the Burj Khalifa of metaphors, a symbol of big dreams and broken promises that rises majestically to the heavens. At one point in Destin Daniel Cretton's leaden adaptation, a young Walls and her three siblings help their father actually dig the foundation. Later, the foundation is filled with garbage.

When Martin Scorsese directed the nervy black comedy After Hours in 1985, it was both a catharsis and a reckoning, a means to reenergize himself after The King of Comedy flopped and address the hang-ups with women that united many of his characters. Instead of the jealous brutes in Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull, that film follows an ineffectual office drone, played by Griffin Dunne, as a hoped-for sexual liaison turns into a luckless, surreal night in New York City.

Set in the days leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, Atomic Blonde takes place in an underworld where the Cold War is over but the conflict continues, like the throbbing of a vestigial limb. In that respect—and perhaps that respect only—it belongs to the tradition of post-war thrillers like Carol Reed's The Third Man or Andrzej Wajda's Ashes and Diamonds, where danger and intrigue exist where they shouldn't and the players involved are enmeshed in self-doubt and crippling mission drift.

Among the four stars of Girls Trip — the third and funniest summer comedy about hard-partying women in trouble, following Snatched and Rough Night — Tiffany Haddish is the least well-known, having bounced around in minor roles on film and television before landing a spot as a series regular on The Carmichael Show. All that stands to change overnight. As Dina, a pleasure-seeker of unapologetic, bull-in-a-china-shop relentlessness, Haddish is so incandescently filthy that a new ratings system should be developed to accommodate her.

Early in To the Bone, writer-director Marti Noxon's harrowing yet utterly approachable drama about eating disorders, Ellen (Lily Collins) considers a plate of food her stepmother has optimistically plopped in front of her. She runs down the calorie count: 280 for the pork, 350 for the buttered noodles, 150 for the roll, and 75 for butter.

In the prestigious New Zealand drama school where much of Alison Maclean's The Rehearsal takes place, young thespians search within and without for an authenticity that's not so easily achieved. The program's director, played with ferocious wit by the veteran Kiwi actress Kerry Fox (An Angel at My Table), demands that students earn her respect, which is not freely or easily given. Even when acting exercises leave them feeling immensely vulnerable in front of their classmates, she breaks them down like J.K.

The premiere of John Cage's famous/notorious composition "4'33"" in Woodstock, New York in 1952 stirred some measure of the outrage that greeted Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," only here the audience was upset by the notes they didn't hear, instead of the ones they did. The first of three movements started with the pianist opening the keyboard lid and ended with him closing it; that same pattern was repeated for the next two.

Kate McKinnon plays an Australian in Rough Night, a shrewd gender-reversal of sloppy-drunk bro comedies like Bachelor Party, Very Bad Things, and The Hangover. There's no particular reason for her to play an Australian, beyond a thin running joke about cultural insensitivity of failing to distinguish between Aussies and Kiwis. And yet it's funny. McKinnon merrily swishes her dialogue around the accent and makes her character's jet lag and fish-out-of-water misunderstanding to keep her a beat behind the action, like the caboose of the comedy train.

In search of an answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that choo-choo-ing money train where all the cars are linked together, Universal Pictures has been trying to revive its classic monster movies from the '30s and '40s, in the hope that Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man will do for it what Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America have done for Marvel.

Princess Diana of Themyscira was sculpted from clay by her mother, Queen Hippolyta, brought to life by Aphrodite and bequeathed her superhuman powers by the Greek gods. Over the 75 years she has been kept off the big screen, her fitful appearances on the small screen, most notably in the Lynda Carter TV series and on animated shows like Super Friends and Justice League, have made it easy to forget that Wonder Woman is not one of us.

Afghanistan has been dubbed the "graveyard of empires" for punishing the hubris of powerful invaders, but eight years after the 9/11 attacks lured American forces to Afghanistan, it had become more like a purgatory. With anything like a clear-cut victory long off the table and the "coalition of the willing" whittled down to half-hearted, qualified commitments from U.S. partners abroad, the mission had lapsed into dangerous inertia. The new President, Barack Obama, was looking to draw down troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but ending the war completely was never a viable option.

Based on Nicola Yoon's YA novel, Everything, Everything is about an 18-year-old girl who suffers from severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a condition that's kept her inside the same house her entire life, due to potentially fatal vulnerabilities to allergens, viruses, and other infections. SCID is a real disease — David Vetter, the famous "bubble boy," died due to complications after a bone marrow transplant in 1984 — but for Yoon's purposes, and the film's, it's mostly a romantic obstacle, a thin but impenetrable barrier between the girl and whatever her heart desires.

Set in the middle of the Iraqi desert in 2007, after the "Mission Accomplished" banner was hung and the war was "officially" over, Doug Liman's The Wall belongs to a small subset of real-time thrillers, like Phone Booth and Buried, where the hero is pinned down in a single location for the entire film. And unlike the others, which violate the conceit with flashbacks and other scenes away from the action, The Wall offers no relief from a desperate and seemingly impossible situation.

The screen version of Edward Albee's play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a acknowledged classic, a subtly stylized and beautifully acted drama about two couples going through a booze-soaked dark-night-of-the-soul. Would it be improved by flashbacks to the couples' stormy past? Would it be improved by flashbacks to some needlessly obfuscated criminal incident? Would it be improved by allusions to Gettysburg? Of course not.

What it is like to be married in Hollywood? We have a good idea about what it's like to be divorced in Hollywood, we've seen famous couples run aground by egos and scandal, and we're well-versed in the ups-and-downs of a lifestyle where fortunes vary and relationship are jostled like luggage on a turbulent flight.

There are no sure things in the volatile world of indie film distribution, but food documentaries have become reliable winners — the amuse-bouche of dinner-and-a-movie date nights, the pornography of Netflix. Half of them warn of all the terrible things in food—genetically modified organisms! high-fructose corn syrup!

Tucked deep into the Bolivian jungle — through swarms of disease-carrying mosquitoes, a river flush with voracious piranha, and hidden gauntlets of hostile natives — the elusive civilization in The Lost City of Z sounds like El Dorado or The Fountain of Youth, one of those mythical paradises that conquistadors slaughtered many to seek.

Among its many virtues, the bittersweet 1979 caper comedy Going in Style has a distinct tone, located at the obscure intersection of irreverence and melancholy. As three retirees from Queens who rob a bank in Groucho Marx masks, George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg are both figures of fun and men who can't bear the thought of drearily cashing Social Security checks and feeding the pigeons until the sun finally sinks under the horizon.

Knives are the weapon of choice in the dread-soaked horror film The Blackcoat's Daughter, and for debut director Osgood Perkins, that's a prime example of steering into the skid. Perkins' father is the late Anthony Perkins, who wielded the most famous knife in film history as Norman Bates in Psycho, and he seems determined to carry that same horror classicism into the 21st century.

To fully understand the dollar-store appeal of Power Rangers, the first big-screen iteration of the media and action-figure line in two decades, one must sit through at least one or two of the five Michael Bay-directed Transformers movies, which is by no means an advisable experience. The two franchises are more or less the same — a busy assemblage of thinly wrought characters, unforgivably dense mythology, and barely comprehensible action sequences, all in service of gleaming battlebots for kids to smash together in the sandbox.

The opening minutes of Danny Boyle's Trainspotting stand as a defining pop salvo in the movies, akin to The Beatles dashing away from screaming fans in A Hard Day's Night or Rosie Perez shadow-boxing her way through Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" in the opening credits of Do the Right Thing.

As a lascivious man of the cloth in Brimstone, a rigorously unpleasant revisionist Western, Guy Pearce resembles a cross between Robert Mitchum's sinister preacher in The Night of the Hunter and Judge Holden in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. He's a figure of Old Testament wrath, an almost supernatural being who shapes and symbolizes this new world, mainly by committing atrocities under the banner of Protestant righteousness.

Fifteen years ago, director Jeffrey Blitz kicked off his career with the hit documentary Spellbound, which brought audiences into the high-stakes world of spelling bees, following eight competitors on the road to the 1999 National Spelling Bee. The kids were all outcasts, products of hard-driving parents who pushed them to memorize words like "hellebore" and "seguidilla" and study their lingual roots like thickly bespectacled Talmudic scholars.

The 1987 comedy Three O'Clock High, about the showdown between a nerdy school reporter and a bully who looked like a 30-year-old ex-con, has gained a cult reputation over the years for cutting against the grain of the typical '80s high school fare. Stylishly directed by first-timer Phil Joanou, who made a name for himself doing music videos for U2, the film worked as a teenage twist on Martin Scorsese's After Hours, another black comedy about a hapless weakling being put through the wringer.

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