NOC Review: ‘Malignant’ is a Bloody Bonkers B-Movie Blast

Recently during a roundtable discussion with director James Wan, Wan went on the record to say he thought Malignant would be polarizing. And if you were to take into account the films Wan has done post-Insidious, as well as the marketing campaigns that have been released for the film, it’s clear to see why he’d think that. Based on trailers and the past 10 years of Wan’s filmography, you’d think you were walking into a creepy jump-scare fueled haunted house film. But that’s not the film Wan wanted to create, nor is it the one he created.

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‘Language Lessons’ Is A Lesson To Behold

Two people from across different continents use webcams to build a beautiful friendship rooted in understanding each other, both linguistically and emotionally in Language Lessons. Natalie Morales directs, co-writes, and stars alongside Mark Duplass in a film that is both incredibly simple in production execution and completely captivating through its narrative and strong performances.

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NOC Review: ‘Dune’ is Decent

Sometimes there are movies that just come into your life, and live rent free in your brain days or weeks after you’ve seen them. That’s how you know you generally love them, and they make a profound impact on you. Either you replay or relive scenes that made you smile or blew you away. Furthermore, when you see them again, you still smile, or laugh, or get goosebumps. The Matrix in 1999. The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. The Dark Knight in 2008. The Avengers in 2012 and Endgame in 2019.

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‘12 Minutes’ Wasn’t Long Enough to Be Compelling

It has been four days, eight hours, fifty minutes and twenty-nine seconds since I played 12 Minutes and I’ve been perplexed as to how to write this review. Normally, this would be kind of a good thing. The moment of reflection that comes after seeing something that feels profound, provoking an introspection as to why it resonated so much doesn’t happen with 12 Minutes.

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‘War for Wakanda’ is Proof Black Panther Needs His Own Game Already

War for Wakanda — Marvel’s Avengers free expansion — dropped last week, and T’Challa’s exploits defending his homeland from the likes of A.I.M. and Ulysses Klaue revitalize the game in considerable ways. When Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics announced their All-Access weekend ahead of the expansion on July 31, their player count spiked to over 10,000 gamers through the weekend, well above the game’s average of around 800 since its release last September.

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NOC Review: ‘Shang-Chi’ is Spectacular

Whether it’s an overall sense of fatigue from mainstream audiences who aren’t into comic book films, or perhaps a general sense of pandemic malaise from folks unsatisfied with the state of entertainment these days, it seems like the momentum and good will the MCU has cultivated the past 12 years has turned to mixed sentiment for most of this year.

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‘Americanish’ Shines a Heartwarming Light on its Community

Iman Zahawry provides a refreshing and heartwarming romantic comedy centered in a community that is so often ignored in media. What might feel like a run of the mill indie film straight from the early 2010s, the films sets itself apart and elevates itself with its likable characters and message of trying to find one’s independence and what it means to be Americanish.

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‘Unapologetic’ is an Unflinching Exploration of Activism

“What is this helping?” is one of the first sentences uttered by a white restaurant patron unsettled in Unapologetic’s first scene, where protestors express the reality of the recent deaths of Black residents in their community to unsuspecting people eating brunch at restaurants. The scene perfectly encompasses the themes and motives of this documentary: a large and triumphant call to arms to make a more honest and equal world while people sit quietly trying to ignore not only the performance, but the actual knowledge of those who are destroyed and subjugated by these injustices.

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‘Nebulous Dark’ Can’t Time Travel Enough to Be a Strong Movie

A nightmare-fueled time-traveling plot unravels in Shahin Sean Solimon’s new film, Nebulous Dark, a sci-fi movie about the world’s last human man as he wakes from deep sleep to find the Earth has been conquered by aliens. This sounds pretty straight forward for a plot, but this is only how I could fully understand the film after watching it and reading the synopsis again. If you were to watch Nebulous Dark after only seeing the trailer, as I did, you would find an almost surreal, nihilist nightmare of a film that I can’t tell if it’s poorly edited and poorly written, or if it’s actively trying to attack the viewer on a subconscious level. What I was left with was an art piece that genuinely intrigues me and is unintentionally funny, by a film that takes itself incredibly seriously.

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‘The Beauty President’ is a Beauty to Behold

As I watched the Pride flag waving as the credits ran at the end of The Beauty President, I remembered growing up in the early 2000s and how I knew nothing about what that flag meant then. That 20 years later, I can see it at my city’s town hall flying next to the United States flag. Director Whitney Skauge and the film’s subject, Terrance Alan Smith, bring a beautiful historical moment in LGBTQ+ history to the forefront with an air of grace and love that I hope everyone could see. 

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‘Reservation Dogs’ Brings Humor and Realness from Indigenous Perspectives

Just in time for International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, FX on Hulu’s new comedy series, Reservation Dogs, officially premiered yesterday. Created by Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo, the show is centered on four teenagers living on a reservation in Oklahoma. They spend their days finding the easiest avenues to make money — even if it means committing theft — in order to leave for California. However, when a new gang arrives in town and one of the teens starts to have a change of heart about their motivations, things start to get a little interesting.

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NOC Review: ‘What If’ Recontextualizes the MCU

I’m going to do something a bit different for this one. You see, unlike the past three MCU shows we’ve been treated to (wow, I can’t believe we live in a world where I get to say something like that that!), What If takes more of an anthology approach ala Black Mirror and Twilight Zone. And that, essentially, was the spirit of the original comic book series.

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NOC Review: ‘Free Guy’ is The Biggest Surprise of the Summer

There was a little bit of buzz surrounding the original Ryan Reynolds vehicle, Free Guy ever since it was supposed to debut back in July of 2020. It was, of course, sadly delayed two more times due to the pandemic, as all movies we’ve seen this year were. And in that timeframe, as anticipated, big blockbuster franchises from F9 to Black Widow, and A Quiet Place to The Suicide Squad, seemingly overshadowed the buzz for this one with star power and dedicated fanbases, hungry for explosive action. But after seeing it for myself, all I can say is we should have never let this one fall off our radars.

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‘Bring Your Own Brigade’ Burns Bright

Two cites, two fires, and rising temperatures flare up in Bring Your Own Brigade, an American documentary film by Lucy Walker, following the aftermath of the 2018 California Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire that destroyed Paradise and Malibu, California.

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NOC Review: ‘The Suicide Squad’ is Pure Comic Book Punk Rock

You’ll have to forgive me for geeking out just a bit here. But I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this insane movie twice now, and I still want more. I cannot begin to describe to you all how much I enjoyed this movie the first time, and even how much more I enjoyed it the second time around. The Suicide Squad is James Gunn off the leash! And I think comic book movies will be better for it!

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‘Mundaun’ is a Haunting First-Person Horror Game with a Dark Story

The first-person, single-player horror game Mundaun is out now for Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC platforms. It’s a hand-drawn tale of a grandson returning to his hometown for his grandfather’s funeral but upon arriving makes a grisly discovery.

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NOC Review: ‘Jungle Cruise’ is a Big Screen Must-See E-Ticket Ride

As a kid of the ’90s who loved going to Disneyland, never missed The Rock laying the Smackdown Thursday nights on WWE, and who was majorly obsessed with action adventures like The Mummy, this movie may have been made for me. Disney’s Jungle Cruise is a return to form for big movies with lots of heart, laughter, and a mighty dose of action-adventure that needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

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NOC Review: ‘Snake Eyes’ is a Win for the ‘G.I. Joe’ Franchise

Disclaimer: I would like to apologize in advance to everyone out there who is a huge G.I. Joe fan, because you’re about to read a review from someone who isn’t a hardcore fan. I have heard mixed things about the film from a hardcore fan perspective, and I know some of the fans aren’t happy the mythology was changed. I would like you to know that if that’s the case, I’ve been there.

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‘Frankie Quinones: Superhomies’ is a Must-Watch Comedy Special Experiment

Internet sensation Frankie Quinones arrives in a low rider with two of his most well known characters Creeper and Juanita in his first sketch and stand up comedy special on HBO in Entre Nos Presents: Frankie Quinones: Superhomies. Frankie takes us through musings and anecdotes of his life, his family, and the community he grew up in with a lovely celebration of how far he has come; however, he has a hard time withstanding the weight of sharing the stage with three strong personas. 

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NOC Review: This ‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ is Unfortunately Bland

If there were two words I would use to describe Gunpowder Milkshake it would be “wasted talent.”

I really wanted to like this one. These are some of the finest actresses ever to grace the screen. Karen Gillan is a badass. Lena Headey is incredible. Angela Bassett is a talent powerhouse. Carla Gugino has always been one of the most underrated character actresses ever. And Michelle Yeoh is simply a legend. But unfortunately the awkward direction of this movie fails them hard in a film that should absolutely be better than it actually is.

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‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ is For the Children (and Pop Culture Fanatics)

It was only 25 years ago when a major movie studio decided to take the world’s greatest athlete and put him in the world of Looney Tunes. Back in 1996, Space Jam was a phenomenon that sprung action figures, merchandise, comics, and video games.

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Ray Fawkes’ ‘One Line’ is a Visual Symphony

There’s something oracular about Ray Fawkes’ One Line — the whole One Soul series, frankly — but this book particularly stretches the boundaries of sequential art and meta-comics, and reading it gives me the sense that as I turn the pages, the book is also reading me. You don’t need to have read One Soul or The People Inside to enjoy One Line, though it helps in appreciating the journey of the series’ experimental, multilinear form.

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Los Angeles Theatre Review: ‘An Octoroon’

During intermission while watching An Octoroon (written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Judith Moreland) at the Fountain Theatre, an old white woman randomly came up to me and asked what I found so amusing in this play. First, I had to get over the shock that a live human being was touching me (without permission) and getting up in my face to ask this question because after all, this was my first time watching a play with a live audience (albeit in an outdoor theater) in 16 months. Second, what WAS I and primarily all the other POC audience members laughing about?

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