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‘Silence 6-9’ Review: An Enigmatic, Allegorical, Slow-Burn Romance That Wonders If Love Can Live in Limbo

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Sodium streetlights buzz. Antennas hum. Insects chirrup — or is that the bleeping of some faraway, half-dreamt electronic machine? The world of Christos Passalis’ sensitive, surreal, slow-reveal “Silence 6-9” is quiet, but its silences are full of strange, prophetic noise, if you just listen hard enough. After a beginning unmistakably located deep within the familiarly bizarro, alien reaches of the Greek Weird Wave aesthetic, Passalis’ solo directorial debut gradually distinguishes itself by moving to a more human and humane place, where the singing in the wires and the voices calling through the whine make pining Wichita linemen out of all its lonesome, liminal inhabitants.

A stranger arrives in a very strange town. It’s just after nightfall, in those glimmering, fading few hours between dusk and midnight that best suit Giorgos Karvelas’s clinical yet crepuscular cinematography. Aris — played by Passalis himself — is walking down a deserted, unkempt highway when two things happen, in the way most things happen here: slowly, dispassionately and with maximum cryptic mileage. He glances up to see a pair of hotel chambermaids looking down on him from an overpass. Then, turning away from them, he encounters a dying bird, which he is checking out when a woman materializes at his elbow.

Anna (played by the indispensable Angeliki Papoulia, in a reunion with “Dogtooth” co-star Passalis) is another newcomer to this faintly sinister town, and the only other guest in its shuttered, shadowy hotel (just one of the elements here that is reminiscent of the excellent second season of “The Leftovers”). There’s an instant undercurrent of fellowship between the two strangers, and they walk together, in what will become a regular nighttime ritual, as neither is much good at sleeping.

Aris is in town for a job maintaining the local antenna array, which is designed to pick up fuzzy fragmentary messages from people who have inexplicably disappeared from their loved ones’ lives. Between the hours of six and nine, the town mandates silence, to reduce interference as these crackly pleas and pledges from beyond are recorded onto cassette tapes – Márton Ágh’s clever production design makes a coherent if willfully illogical alternate reality out of such analog tech.

Anna is also here for work, though hers is odder still. She is hired to double as one bereft, melodica-playing man’s disappeared wife — studying her cassettes, learning her mannerisms — and then to perform as her at a show, alongside other such doubles. It’s little bit art installation, a little bit theatre piece and a whole lot peep show, complete with moaning men masturbating joylessly to these uncanny-valley facsimiles of their vanished partners.

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These men are trapped in a limbo of never letting go, of putting their lives on hold awaiting the miraculous return the tapes so often promise. Consequently, there’s a rising wave of rebellion against the whole system, led by a mayoral candidate running a scrappy campaign on a “No More Cassettes” platform. Aris and Anna are first amused and then intrigued by the local politics. But they are also distracted by their growing closeness, which is cradled in the atonal, synthy melancholy of Yiannis Loukos and Antonis Georgou’s score, and beautifully played by both actors as a practically tangible ache. Passalis’ script, co-written with Eleni Vergeti, is terse, yet there are whole dialogues of chemistry going on in the exchanges between his kind, crinkling eyes and her open, anxious gaze.

Despite the convincing, rather touching love story, there is a torpor to these early stretches which can get a little frustrating — and a limit to how much unmoored oddness one can take. But at just that limit, a few little clues are dropped, hinting at the film’s wider universe and accounting for, if never explaining, some of its echoing absurdities. In the resemblance of a nurse’s uniform to that of a hotel maid, or in the spontaneous appearance of a cut on Anna’s chapped lip, or in the more uncanny clicks and burrs introduced into Nikos Exarhos, Persefoni Miliou and Kostas Varympopiotis’s superbly evocative soundscape, this peculiar, hermetic world is suddenly connected to a much more recognizable one.

Still, Passalis has wisdom enough to let his mystery remain somewhat mysterious, with many allusions and darkly comic details existing — appropriately for a film that hovers between wakefulness and dream — at the very edge of comprehension. A serious comment elicits an inappropriate giggle. A patient’s breathing changes and a hotel bedroom fills with dirt. It’s as though there’s been a short circuit in the wires connecting stimulus to response, like synapses firing erratically, mixing dream with myth and memory. Just like those plaintive messages that have to travel great distances and pass through impassable barriers, thoughts and ideas get garbled through transmission. “Silence 6-9″‘s affecting, romantic conclusion wants us to believe that love, if strong and patient and true enough, has a hope of surviving the journey intact.

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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