Welcome to the Punch, Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXVII, West of Memphis 


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Welcome to the Punch (R)

IFC Films

At first glance, Welcome to the Punch looks like another stylized British gangster flick. And as much as I love those, there has been sort of a deluge of 'em in the past five years. I'm happy to report that Punch manages to rise above the bilge with great casting and an enthralling story that keeps even the most ardent vets of these movies on their toes. Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) is a master criminal who left London after his last heist, leaving detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) with a burning need for revenge. When Sternwood's son is hospitalized, it gives Lewinsky his chance at redemption, but, as he soon learns, things aren't what they seem and the twists and turns are genuinely surprising and original. Of course, you'd like to expect as much from a movie produced by Ridley Scott ... but this one is even better than his last effort, Prometheus. — Louis Fowler

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West of Memphis (R)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

West of Memphis is the second documentary in as many years, and the fourth overall, focused on the West Memphis Three. The case concerns three young men convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark. It's not exactly a dispassionate analysis: The film is produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, whose advocacy for the convicted men, along with that of celebrities like Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp, Henry Rollins and more, helped get the state of Arkansas to examine the facts of the case more closely. But director Amy Berg distills decades of tangled legal webs and the ever-evolving psychology of criminal justice in America in order to present with succinct clarity what amounts to a clusterfuck of injustice. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's venerable Paradise Lost trilogy is still the defining take on this case, but Memphis certainly holds its own. — Justin Strout

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Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXVII (NR)

Shout! Factory

Any time is the right time for Mystery Science Theater 3000, and thankfully, Shout! Factory didn't waste too much time getting the next volume of the beloved comedy series out for public consumption. We're now at Volume 27, and these guys still haven't hit the bottom of the barrel; if anything, they're still skimming the top. Here, we get either Mike or Joel and their bot companions hilariously lambasting some of the most notoriously cheesy flicks ever: The Slime People, about, natch, slime people; the Cold War snoozer Rocket Attack USA; The Deadly Mantis, wherein a prehistoric insect attacks our nation's capital; and, finally, the oversized-teenager party movie Village of the Giants, featuring a young Ron Howard as the inventor of the growth-goo. Make it a marathon and lock yourself up in a room for the weekend, blast the AC, and eat nothing but pizza. Extra cheese, of course. — Louis Fowler


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