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Lara Croft isn’t just one of the most recognizable female heroes in pop culture, she’s also easily one of the iconic video game characters of all time. Angelina Jolie brought the character to somewhat successful life in two prior Tomb Raider films, helping escalate her rise to an A-list starring actress. But after years of the character slowly fading into the video game history, Square Enix hit paydirt with their grounded and gritty reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise on modern game consoles that was just begging for a big screen adaptation.

“Romance is dead,” proclaims Blake Conway (Jessica Barden), a college senior and aspiring journalist who writes an anonymous romance column for the school’s paper. While committed to the idea that a journalist should know their subject and thus drawing heavily from her own experiences for her contributions, Blake’s editors are less than thrilled with her seemingly lackluster dating life, which offers little in the way of engagement for their readers. As Blake’s roommate (Hayley Law) points out, “you’re writing a sex column with no sex.”

Wobble Palace, premiering at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, is one of the most uncomfortable films I’ve ever sat through, an examination of a toxic relationship between two people who seem to be in direct competition to prove which one of them is the most repulsive character in this 86-minute offering from director¬†Eugene Kotlyarenko, who also stars in the film. There’s nothing remotely likable about either protagonist, and very little entertainment to be found in watching them behave like terrible people. But perhaps that’s the point?

Anguished screams can be heard emanating from the basement of a slaughterhouse in a small Finnish village, but it’s not the resident reindeer that are crying out – it’s Turo (Johannes Holopainen), lead singer of a metal band that he’s formed with his closest friends. Despite practicing religiously for more than a decade, the members have never played a single gig, have never written a song, and have never even decided on a name for themselves.

When we first meet Sidney Hall (Logan Lerman), he’s standing at the front of his English class, reciting an essay on the meaning of life, which in this case involves explicit masturbation fantasies about a popular cheerleader. His submission earns a few chuckles from star quarterback Brett (Blake Jenner) and a stern look from his instructor, who seems to be on the verge of issuing a failing grade. But to Sidney, the fault is not his own – he blames his teacher’s “limited definition” of 20th century writers.

As Netflix continues to expand its library of original content, the streaming network’s executive team seems uniquely focused on attracting top-tier Hollywood talent, oftentimes at the expense of quality. Regrettably, the latest sci-fi offering from writer and director Duncan Jones, a longtime passion project called Mute, is another example of Netflix relinquishing creative control to a filmmaker, only to have the end result fall short of whatever lofty aspirations might have been present at the outcome.

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