Nerve (2016)

It’s surprising how good “Nerve” is because it’s main centerpiece involves risky stunts that I worried would become the crutch for the film’s narrative. Instead it becomes a crucial element in helping to explore the characters that we’re introduced to during the course of the film. Feeling like a technological twist on David Fincher’s “The Game,” and while it has nothing new to say about the internet (everyone has phones! Everyone is always watching someone!), it still comes out a winner when the credits close.

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Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018) [4K/Blu-Ray/Digital]

After “Batman and Harley Quinn,” the cinematic adaptation of “Gotham By Gaslight” feels like a breath of fresh air. It brought me back to the time when Batman animation was mature and accessible, and we got entertainment like “Mask of the Phantasm” and “Return of the Joker.” Warner follows up with the aforementioned horrendous DC team up movie with what is a charming, creepy, and wholly creative twist on the Jack the Ripper legend that ponders on what would have happened if he and Batman were foes during the time he wrought havoc in the 1880’s.

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Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018)

It’ll take more than a bad movie to bring the “Suicide Squad” down. Deep down there’s still a great movie to be made with this concept. “Assault on Arkham” showed it, and “Hell to Pay” proves it. You don’t have to make this group the center of the DC Universe fighting massive gods. They can just be super powered thugs doing the slimy stuff like stealing Lex Luthor’s chunk of Kryptonite, or breaking in to Batman’s fortress to steal incriminating evidence he has to bring down Amanda Waller. Something neat in the same vein happens in “Hell to Pay” when the group are assigned to track down a maguffin that is both silly and clever.

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Death Wish (2018)

“Death Wish” was a silly movie in its time and it’s a ridiculous concept now. The mere fact that Eli Roth and Joe Carnahan are behind this only serves the film’s premise that it’s an immature, sophomoric male fantasy about solving all of life’s problems with a gun. Bruce Willis’s character Paul Kersey is able to breeze in and out of night clubs and crowded ghettos with only a black hood and shoots down people like it’s a hobby. “Death Wish” then tries to make it very sexual, as Paul begins as this somewhat impotent, pacifistic gentleman whose manhood slowly advances as he embraces the gun.

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Goodnight, Gracie (2017)

As a little girl reads in bed, she hears an ominous noise from outside her room. Going to investigate leads to a nasty surprise.

Written and directed by Stellan Kendrick, Goodnight, Gracie is a short film that clocks in under 5 minutes, giving itself just enough time to create a story and shock just a little bit, then leave a quick and effective impression. The film manages to attain its goals in that short period of time. The writing and direction show careful writing of the story and a good grasp of suspense and shock. The way this short is built gives its story maximum effect through the set-up discovery, and ending. It shows that sometimes less is indeed more and that not all stories need a two-hour runtime to be effective.

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