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Silver Screen: Confidence Man: The Hugh DeNeal Story Is Stranger than Fiction
Silver Screen: 127 Hours ****
Silver Screen: 21 Jump Street ***
Silver Screen: A Good Day to Die Hard *
Silver Screen: A Million Ways to Die in the West *1/2
Silver Screen: A Most Wanted Man ***1/2
Silver Screen: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas ***
Silver Screen: A Walk Among the Tombstones ***
Silver Screen: A Walk in the Woods ***
Silver Screen: About Last Night ***1/2
Silver Screen: Admission ***1/2
Silver Screen: After Earth *
Silver Screen: All Is Lost ****
Silver Screen: American Hustle ****1/2
Silver Screen: American Reunion **1/2
Silver Screen: American Sniper ***1/2
Silver Screen: American Ultra **1/2
Silver Screen: Annabelle ***1/2
Silver Screen: Ant-Man ***1/2
Silver Screen: Argo **1/2
Silver Screen: As Above, so Below ***1/2
Silver Screen: August: Osage County ****
Silver Screen: Bad Teacher ***
Silver Screen: Bad Words **
Silver Screen: Battle: Los Angeles **
Silver Screen: Battleship *
Silver Screen: Beautiful Creatures *1/2
Silver Screen: Before Midnight ****1/2
Silver Screen: Begin Again ***1/2
Silver Screen: Bernie ****
Silver Screen: Big Eyes ***
Silver Screen: Big Hero Six ***
Silver Screen: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) ***1/2
Silver Screen: Black Mass ****
Silver Screen: Black Swan ****
Silver Screen: Blended **1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Jasmine ****1/2
Silver Screen: Blue Valentine ****
Silver Screen: Boyhood ****1/2
Silver Screen: Brave ***
Silver Screen: Breaking Dawn Part I *1/2
Silver Screen: Brick Mansions **
Silver Screen: Bridesmaids ****
Silver Screen: Bridge of Spies ***
Silver Screen: Broken City ***
Silver Screen: Bully **
Silver Screen: Captain America **
Silver Screen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier ***1/2
Silver Screen: Captain Phillips ****
Silver Screen: Carrie **
Silver Screen: Cars II *1/2
Silver Screen: Case Thirty-nine *
Silver Screen: Cedar Rapids ****
Silver Screen: Chappie *
Silver Screen: Chappie *
Silver Screen: Charlie Saint Cloud **
Silver Screen: Chef ****
Silver Screen: Chernobyl Diaries *
Silver Screen: Child Forty-four *1/2
Silver Screen: Chronicle ****
Silver Screen: Cloud Atlas ***
Silver Screen: Contagion ****1/2
Silver Screen: Contraband *
Silver Screen: Cowboys & Aliens ***
Silver Screen: Crazy, Stupid, Love **
Silver Screen: Creed ****1/2
Silver Screen: Crimson Peak ****1/2
Silver Screen: Dallas Buyers Club ****
Silver Screen: Dark Shadows *1/2
Silver Screen: Dark Skies **1/2
Silver Screen: David Wong’s John Dies at the End: A Local Author Sees His Novel Hit the Big Screen
Silver Screen: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ****1/2
Silver Screen: Dead Man Down 1/2*
Silver Screen: Deadpool ***1/2
Silver Screen: Deliver Us from Evil *
Silver Screen: Delivery Man ***
Silver Screen: Despicable Me **1/2
Silver Screen: Despicable Me II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Devil ***
Silver Screen: Dinner for Schmucks *1/2
Silver Screen: Director Rusty Nails Presents... Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero
Silver Screen: Divergent *1/2
Silver Screen: Django Unchained ****1/2
Silver Screen: Don Jon *
Silver Screen: Don't Be Afraid of the Dark **
Silver Screen: Dope ****
Silver Screen: Dracula Untold **1/2
Silver Screen: Draft Day *
Silver Screen: Dream House *1/2
Silver Screen: Dredd 3D *1/2
Silver Screen: Drive ****1/2
Silver Screen: Drive Angry 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Due Date ***1/2
Silver Screen: Dumb and Dumber To ***
Silver Screen: Easy A ***1/2
Silver Screen: Eat Pray Love ***
Silver Screen: Edge of Tomorrow ****
Silver Screen: Elysium **
Silver Screen: End of Watch ****
Silver Screen: Ender’s Game ***
Silver Screen: Entourage *
Silver Screen: Escape Plan ***
Silver Screen: Everest ***1/2
Silver Screen: Evil Dead ***
Silver Screen: Ex Machina ***1/2
Silver Screen: Exodus: Gods and Kings *1/2
Silver Screen: Fantastic Four 1/2*
Silver Screen: Fast and Furious VI **
Silver Screen: Fast Five **1/2
Silver Screen: Faster **1/2
Silver Screen: Fifty Shades of Grey 1/2*
Silver Screen: Fifty/Fifty ****
Silver Screen: Final Destination V **
Silver Screen: Flight ****
Silver Screen: Focus *
Silver Screen: Forty-two ***1/2
Silver Screen: Foxcatcher ***1/2
Silver Screen: Frances Ha ****1/2
Silver Screen: Friends with Benefits **
Silver Screen: Fright Night ***
Silver Screen: Fruitvale Station ****
Silver Screen: Furious Seven ****
Silver Screen: Fury ***
Silver Screen: G.I. Joe: Retaliation *
Silver Screen: Gangster Squad *1/2
Silver Screen: Get Hard *
Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***
Silver Screen: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 1/2*
Silver Screen: Godzilla **1/2
Silver Screen: Going the Distance ***
Silver Screen: Gone **1/2
Silver Screen: Gone Girl ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Gravity ****1/2
Silver Screen: Green Lantern *1/2
Silver Screen: Grown Ups *
Silver Screen: Grown Ups II zero stars
Silver Screen: Guardians of the Galaxy ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hail, Caesar! ****
Silver Screen: Hall Pass *1/2
Silver Screen: Hanna ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ****
Silver Screen: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I ***
Silver Screen: Haywire ***1/2
Silver Screen: Her ***1/2
Silver Screen: Hereafter *
Silver Screen: Hit and Run ***
Silver Screen: Homefront *1/2
Silver Screen: Hope Springs ***1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses **1/2
Silver Screen: Horrible Bosses II **1/2
Silver Screen: Hot Pursuit *
Silver Screen: Hot Tub Time Machine II 1/2*
Silver Screen: House at the End of the Street *
Silver Screen: How Do You Know ***
Silver Screen: How to Train Your Dragon II ***
Silver Screen: I Am Number Four *
Silver Screen: Identity Thief ***
Silver Screen: In the Heart of the Sea **1/2
Silver Screen: In Time **1/2
Silver Screen: Inception ****1/2
Silver Screen: Inside Llewyn Davis *****
Silver Screen: Inside Out ****1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious ***1/2
Silver Screen: Insidious: Chapter Two ***
Silver Screen: Insurgent 1/2*
Silver Screen: Interstellar ****
Silver Screen: Iron Man III **1/2
Silver Screen: It Follows ***1/2
Silver Screen: J. Edgar **
Silver Screen: Jack and Jill 1/2*
Silver Screen: Jack Reacher ***
Silver Screen: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ***
Silver Screen: Jackass 3D **1/2
Silver Screen: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa *1/2
Silver Screen: Jeff, Who Lives at Home ***1/2
Silver Screen: Jersey Boys **1/2
Silver Screen: Jobs **
Silver Screen: John Wick ***
Silver Screen: Jonah Hex *
Silver Screen: Josh Hyde’s Postcards and Love Letters
Silver Screen: Joy ***
Silver Screen: Jupiter Ascending 1/2*
Silver Screen: Jurassic World *1/2
Silver Screen: Just Go with It *
Silver Screen: Kick-Ass II zero stars
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killer Elite **
Silver Screen: Killing Them Softly **1/2
Silver Screen: Kingsman: The Secret Service **
Silver Screen: Knight and Day *1/2
Silver Screen: Krampus **1/2
Silver Screen: Kung Fu Panda II ***
Silver Screen: Larry Crowne *1/2
Silver Screen: Lawless ****
Silver Screen: Let Me In ***
Silver Screen: Let’s Be Cops ***1/2
Silver Screen: Life as We Know It *1/2
Silver Screen: Life of Pi **1/2
Silver Screen: Limitless ***
Silver Screen: Lincoln ****
Silver Screen: Lockout **
Silver Screen: Lone Survivor ***
Silver Screen: Looper ****
Silver Screen: Love and Mercy ****
Silver Screen: Love and Other Drugs *1/2
Silver Screen: Lucy ***
Silver Screen: Machete **
Silver Screen: Machete Kills **1/2
Silver Screen: Mad Max: Fury Road ****1/2
Silver Screen: Magic in the Moonlight **
Silver Screen: Mama **1/2
Silver Screen: Man of Steel *
Silver Screen: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials *1/2
Silver Screen: Megamind ***1/2
Silver Screen: Men in Black III *1/2
Silver Screen: Midnight in Paris ****
Silver Screen: Million Dollar Arm **1/2
Silver Screen: Minions **
Silver Screen: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation ****
Silver Screen: Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol ****
Silver Screen: Moneyball ***1/2
Silver Screen: Monsters University ***
Silver Screen: Moonrise Kingdom ****1/2
Silver Screen: Movie Forty-three zero stars
Silver Screen: My Soul to Take 3D 1/2*
Silver Screen: Nebraska ****1/2
Silver Screen: Need for Speed *
Silver Screen: Neighbors ***1/2
Silver Screen: New Year’s Eve *
Silver Screen: Nightcrawler ****
Silver Screen: No Escape *
Silver Screen: No Good Deed *
Silver Screen: No Strings Attached ***
Silver Screen: Noah 1/2*
Silver Screen: Non-Stop ***1/2
Silver Screen: Now You See Me 1/2*
Silver Screen: Oblivion ***1/2
Silver Screen: Oculus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Olympus Has Fallen zero stars
Silver Screen: One Day **
Silver Screen: Ouija *
Silver Screen: Our Idiot Brother ***
Silver Screen: Out of the Furnace *
Silver Screen: Oz the Great and Powerful **
Silver Screen: Pacific Rim ****
Silver Screen: Pain and Gain ***
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity II ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity III ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paranormal Activity IV *
Silver Screen: ParaNorman ***1/2
Silver Screen: Parker ***1/2
Silver Screen: Paul ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pawn Sacrifice ***
Silver Screen: Piranha 3D ***1/2
Silver Screen: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides *1/2
Silver Screen: Playing for Keeps 1/2*
Silver Screen: Poltergeist 1/2*
Silver Screen: Predators ***
Silver Screen: Premium Rush ***
Silver Screen: Priest 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prisoners ****
Silver Screen: Project Almanac **
Silver Screen: Project X 1/2*
Silver Screen: Prometheus ***1/2
Silver Screen: Real Steel *
Silver Screen: Red ***
Silver Screen: Red Dawn *
Silver Screen: Red Tails **
Silver Screen: Resident Evil: Retribution *
Silver Screen: Riddick ***
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Ride Along **1/2
Silver Screen: Rise of the Planet of the Apes ****
Silver Screen: RoboCop ***
Silver Screen: Run All Night ***1/2
Silver Screen: Runner Runner *1/2
Silver Screen: Rush ****
Silver Screen: Sabotage **
Silver Screen: Safe ***
Silver Screen: Safe Haven *1/2
Silver Screen: Safe House ***
Silver Screen: Saint Vincent ***
Silver Screen: Salt ***
Silver Screen: San Andreas **1/2
Silver Screen: Savages ***1/2
Silver Screen: Saw VII 3D Zero Stars
Silver Screen: Scott Pilgrim versus the World ***1/2
Silver Screen: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse *
Silver Screen: Scream IV *
Silver Screen: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World **1/2
Silver Screen: Self/less **
Silver Screen: Selma ****1/2
Silver Screen: Seven Psychopaths ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sex and the City II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sex Tape *
Silver Screen: Shaft and Coffy: Novotny Lawrence Discusses the Blaxploitation Movement
Silver Screen: Shark Night 3D 1/2* -- Apollo 18 **
Silver Screen: Sicario ***1/2
Silver Screen: Side Effects ****1/2
Silver Screen: Silent House **1/2
Silver Screen: Silver Linings Playbook ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 1/2*
Silver Screen: Sinister ***1/2
Silver Screen: Sinister II 1/2*
Silver Screen: Skyfall ****
Silver Screen: Skyline *
Silver Screen: Snitch ***
Silver Screen: Snow White and the Huntsman **1/2
Silver Screen: Soldiers Speak Out: Carbondale Oscar Winner Barb Trent’s Latest Film
Silver Screen: Something Borrowed *
Silver Screen: Source Code ****1/2
Silver Screen: Southpaw *1/2
Silver Screen: Spectre ***1/2
Silver Screen: Splice ****
Silver Screen: Spotlight ****1/2
Silver Screen: Spy ****
Silver Screen: Star Trek into Darkness ****
Silver Screen: Star Wars: The Force Awakens ***
Silver Screen: Steve Jobs ***1/2
Silver Screen: Straight Outta Compton ****
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Straw Dogs *1/2
Silver Screen: Super Eight ****
Silver Screen: Taken II **
Silver Screen: Taken III **
Silver Screen: Takers *1/2
Silver Screen: Tammy **1/2
Silver Screen: Ted ***1/2
Silver Screen: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles *
Silver Screen: Terminator: Genisys *1/2
Silver Screen: That Awkward Moment 1/2*
Silver Screen: That's My Boy *
Silver Screen: The A-Team **1/2
Silver Screen: The Academy Honors... The Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale
Silver Screen: The Adjustment Bureau *1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man **1/2
Silver Screen: The Amazing Spider-Man II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The American ****
Silver Screen: The Artist ****
Silver Screen: The Audubon Trilogy: Fugitive Narratives and the Drama of the Natural World
Silver Screen: The Avengers ***
Silver Screen: The Avengers ****
Silver Screen: The Big Muddy Film Festival
Silver Screen: The Big Short ****
Silver Screen: The Big Wedding *
Silver Screen: The Big Year *1/2
Silver Screen: The Book Thief **
Silver Screen: The Bourne Legacy ***
Silver Screen: The Boxtrolls ****
Silver Screen: The Boy ***
Silver Screen: The Boys and Girls Club Night at the Oscars
Silver Screen: The Butler ****
Silver Screen: The Call **1/2
Silver Screen: The Campaign ***
Silver Screen: The Company You Keep *1/2
Silver Screen: The Conjuring ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Counselor ****
Silver Screen: The D Train **1/2
Silver Screen: The Dark Knight Rises ***
Silver Screen: The Debt ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Descendants ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Dictator ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Dilemma *1/2
Silver Screen: The Drop ****1/2
Silver Screen: The DUFF ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Equalizer **
Silver Screen: The Expendables **1/2
Silver Screen: The Expendables II *1/2
Silver Screen: The Fault in Our Stars ****
Silver Screen: The Fifth Estate 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Fighter ****
Silver Screen: The Finest Hours ***
Silver Screen: The Five-Year Engagement ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Gift
Silver Screen: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo *
Silver Screen: The Giver ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Grand Budapest Hotel ****
Silver Screen: The Great Gatsby ****
Silver Screen: The Green Hornet **1/2
Silver Screen: The Green Inferno **1/2
Silver Screen: The Guilt Trip ***
Silver Screen: The Gunman **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part II **1/2
Silver Screen: The Hangover Part III *1/2
Silver Screen: The Hateful Eight ****
Silver Screen: The Heat **1/2
Silver Screen: The Host 1/2*
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games ***
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I ***
Silver Screen: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II *1/2
Silver Screen: The Ides of March ****
Silver Screen: The Imitation Game ****
Silver Screen: The Intern **1/2
Silver Screen: The Internship **1/2
Silver Screen: The Interview ****
Silver Screen: The Judge *1/2
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The Karate Kid ***
Silver Screen: The King's Speech ****
Silver Screen: The Last Airbender *
Silver Screen: The Last Exorcism ***
Silver Screen: The Last Stand ***
Silver Screen: The Lego Movie ***
Silver Screen: The Lincoln Lawyer ***
Silver Screen: The Lone Ranger ***
Silver Screen: The Longest Ride **1/2
Silver Screen: The Lucky One *1/2
Silver Screen: The Man with the Iron Fists **1/2
Silver Screen: The Martian ****
Silver Screen: The Master ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Maze Runner ***
Silver Screen: The Mechanic **1/2
Silver Screen: The Monuments Men ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Next Three Days ***
Silver Screen: The Night Before ***
Silver Screen: The November Man **
Silver Screen: The Other Guys ***
Silver Screen: The Overnight ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Peanuts Movie ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Perks of Being a Wallflower ****
Silver Screen: The Place Beyond the Pines ****1/2
Silver Screen: The Possession *
Silver Screen: The Purge *
Silver Screen: The Purge: Anarchy **1/2
Silver Screen: The Pyramid **1/2
Silver Screen: The Quiet Ones *
Silver Screen: The Raid II ***1/2
Silver Screen: The Raven *
Silver Screen: The Revenant **
Silver Screen: The Rite *
Silver Screen: The Roommate *1/2
Silver Screen: The Rover **
Silver Screen: The Rum Diary ***
Silver Screen: The Score Card , February 24, 2011 Edition
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The first great movie of 2016 is here. Okay, technically The Witch is a 2015 release that
Bryan Miller
Video Comentary
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The first great movie of 2016 is here.

Okay, technically The Witch is a 2015 release that only recently crept into theaters nationwide. That won’t be a concern when you’re sitting, stunned, through slow-burning tension that erupts in an audacious climax— without breaking the foreboding, hushed tone established during the opening frames.

First-time writer/director Robert Eggers asserts tremendous confidence with an abrupt prologue that spares the exposition but tells you all you need to know. In early seventeenth century New England, puritanical settler William (Ralph Ineson) stands unrepentant before a jury of his peers and the watchful eyes of his frightened family. He refuses to make an apology and agrees to banishment from the plantation. His presumed crime: Being somehow too pious for his exasperated, stone-faced Christian brethren, who appear relieved to be rid of him.

The family’s banishment to a solitary existence in the untamed American woods works as both microcosm and hyperbole. Their little sect is a representation in miniature of the pilgrims who set out across the sea for a risky, uncertain life, yet it’s also an extreme iteration of the journey— at least the folks back at the plantation have somebody to help them survive.

Eggers’s sparsely scored, long, mostly static shots establish an atmosphere of ominous isolation. He eschews jump scares in favor of a slow, deliberate knotting of your gut as the family’s fortunes tumble.

The most striking example is the rendering of the first calamity that befalls them. Budding young adult daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), the closest thing to the movie’s protagonist, plays peekaboo with her infant brother. The baby’s glittering eyes and adorable smile every time he’s startled by his sister’s “Boo!” plays like a gentle commentary on the audience’s love of being scared. Then, with nary a sound, it turns frightening. Thomasin opens her eyes and the baby is gone.

The disappearance of its youngest member is the first step toward the family’s ruin. Mother Katherine (Kate Dickie, Game of Thrones’ loony helicopter mom in the high castle) is despondent. Eldest son Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw) struggles to reconcile his father’s intense feelings of religious guilt with the presumption that the baby was taken because the family sinned.

Another suggestion dangles like rotted fruit: Perhaps the family is cursed by a witch who stole the baby.

Then there’s the matter of Black Phillip, a rowdy, pitch-colored horned goat who looks every bit the hooved emissary of Satan. The family’s wicked little toddler twins Mercy and Jonas (Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson) insist he speaks to them and urges them to do evil.

Ultimately the question of The Witch is the same one that bedevils the tortured William and his spiritually confused children: Does evil come from within or without?

Eggers is tantalizingly vague in his answers, teasing the rational brain with suggestions of mental illness while eschewing metaphor altogether in straightforward scenes of horror. The Witch seems at first like a horror film whose scares all come in the form of shadow and suggestion, but the director breaks this spell early with a terrifying, very literal vision of a twisted, wraithlike woman committing unspeakable atrocities in a wooded encampment. Removed from context, the images are intense and disturbing, but in the prim, painfully sober milieu Eggers first establishes, they land like a sucker punch.

As their lives crumble, the family members cling to the notion that their salvation lies in knowing how the seed of evil was planted. Was it the talking goat, William’s pride, or the nascent threat of Thomasin’s sexuality that invited devilry? We’re also invited to consider what none of the characters ever do, which is that William’s all-consuming obsession with sin and ruination becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that infects every member of his family.

Mass hysteria, supernatural encroachment, or good old-fashioned madness— Eggers explores all possibilities with equal credulity. The movie’s divisive ending only further presses the questions: What did you see, or what did you think you saw, and what does that say about you?

The Witch is a bona fide cult classic in the making. The early modern English dialogue, the handsomely simple aesthetic, the patient direction, and the restrained performances coalesce to create a plausible, immersive period setting that Eggers slyly barbs with contemporary ideas. He might be stingy with the explicit scenes of horror, but that handful of images invokes intense dread, as if Goya could have produced Baroque renderings of Lovecraft stories. They linger like a curse.

Eggers instantly establishes himself with this distinctive debut, which is absolutely compelling if not always especially fun to watch. It’s not exactly a damned good time, but it’s damnation done damn well.

 

Follow Bryan Miller on Twitter@bmillerComedy.