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Before Ready Player One was first published in 2011, the film rights to Ernest Cline’s geek-themed fantasy epic had already been purchased by Warner Bros. – a bold move, but one that bore fruit as the novel rode a wave of positive reviews right onto the New York Times bestseller list. Despite its built-in audience, the mind-boggling number of pop culture references littered throughout Ready Player One’s narrative (many of them crucial to the plot) seemed to pose a logistical conundrum: how could a film adaptation successfully bring together so many different properties from so many different creators and owners…

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.

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