• TIFF19 REVIEW: The Rest of Us [2019]

    “Feels Inside Not Expressed” Despite death being a definitive end, there’s still a chance for new beginnings in the aftermath. Sometimes it’s by necessity and sometimes by choice. In the case of Craig, however, it’s inevitably both thanks to his leaving behind two families: his first and his second. While he left Cami (Heather Graham) […]

  • TIFF19 REVIEW: Knives Out [2019]

    “The cow and the shotgun” No stranger to a good mystery—noir (Brick) or comedy (The Brothers Bloom)—Knives Out sees Rian Johnson getting back to a wholly original property before returning to the world of Star Wars. From the stellar cast to its Clue-esque estate (even he couldn’t resist that joke), this whodunit has looked impeccably […]

  • TIFF19 REVIEW: Sound of Metal [2019]

    “Will it come back?” The film opens with Riz Ahmed‘s Ruben sitting at a drum kit while guitar distortions deafen us. Eventually Olivia Cooke‘s Lou starts screaming as his sticks connect for a steady beat until all hell breaks loose. We’re in this venue with them, the in-close camerawork proving Ahmed’s lessons paid off because […]

  • TIFF19 REVIEW: Håp [Hope] [2019]

    “What do we tell the kids?” Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård) was married with three children when Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) met him. She didn’t want to fall in love, but twenty years and three more kids later show that’s exactly what happened. When Anja raised their babies, Tomas worked—a lot. When it was time for her […]

  • TIFF19 REVIEW: Calm with Horses [2020]

    “That’s not you” To cross the Devers family is to earn retribution. This is a known fact to all in the rural Irish town of Glanbeigh. Some strangers arrive and overstep their bounds without knowing (as if getting involved with drug dealers was an act whose danger can be unknown), but most everyone knows everyone […]

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film reviews

REVIEW: Paradise Hills [2019]

“There’s always a way to get what you want” It’s Uma’s (Emma Roberts) wedding day and everyone is excited. She sings a song while her affluent guests clap and dance, the conversations surrounding her making mention of how much work she’s put into making this whole occasion possible. The idyllic scene’s ornate beauty and plastic […]

REVIEW: Gemini Man [2019]

“I just want some peace” It took twenty years, multiple rewrites, and a who’s who list of directors and stars, but Gemini Man finally made it to the big screen. And original scribe Darren Lemke kept his story and screenplay credits through everything. That says something considering these development hell miracles too often become abominations […]

REVIEW: Burning Cane [2019]

“It’s hard to dance with the Devil on your back” Helen Wayne (Karen Kaia Livers) can’t cure her dog of mange. Everyone tells her their surefire remedies and she attempts them all—one month with borax, another vegetable oil. Sometimes the dog gets better and other times he gets worse. She won’t give up on him, […]

REVIEW: Honeyland [2019]

“Now we’ll leave them half” Shot over three years about 20 km from the city directors Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska call home (Skopje), Honeyland looks at the delicate balance tenuously held between nature and mankind. The duo take us into an abandoned farming village to do so—a place where Hatidze Muratova continues to live […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: Online Billie [2019]

“It’s simple until it all gets complicated” Despite opening Online Billie with a glimpse of the titular camgirl (Valentine Payen-Wicaksono‘s Esther/”Billie”) engaged in a chat room session, she’s not the lead character. Director Lou Assous and co-writer Xavier Bazoge have very clearly created her as a hypothetical instead—a test with which their surrogate in the […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: Working Man [2019]

“It’s just something I need to do” The title Working Man only deals with one aspect of Robert Jury‘s film about the effects of a rust belt town’s last factory closing. Allery Parkes (Peter Gerety) is a “working man,” but his breaking-in to continue working without pay while his neighbors (also laid-off) think he’s gone […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: Foosballers [2019]

“It was truly like a religion” Sports documentaries are generally allowed to make some assumptions. Talk about baseball, football, basketball, hockey, or soccer can gloss over the structural details and rulebooks because those coming to watch a story about a certain player or team are already fans of the game itself. When you move into […]

REVIEW: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot [2019]

“Hollywood … Florida?” A lot happens in eighteen years. Look at Kevin Smith. While his daughter was born two years prior to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, fatherhood had only begun. Then he moved away from the View Askewniverse (with varying success), started a podcasting career (spawning his weirdest movie to-date, Tusk), and suffered […]

REVIEW: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back [2001]

“They don’t deserve their own movie” It’s easy to forget that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was supposed to be the View Askewniverse’s final chapter. Writer/director Kevin Smith had finally decided to grow up (a relative term) and leave the foul-mouthed, pot-dealing miscreants he and Jason Mewes brought to life in Clerks (before subsequently […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: Buffaloed [2020]

“Debt never dies” Leave it to an actual Buffalonian to write a screenplay set in the city without one mention or frame of snow. Only they know what else the Queen City has to offer above cheap jokes about blizzards and cold because they’ve grown up amongst the eccentric characters found in every corner bar […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: Clover [2020]

“You don’t kill your friends” It wasn’t wise to borrow money from local mobster Tony Davolio (Chazz Palminteri), but brothers Mickey (Jon Abrahams) and Jackie (Mark Webber) didn’t have a choice. Running a bar isn’t easy these days and the added pressure of trying to keep one afloat after generations of family ownership forces their […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: The True Adventures of Wolfboy [2020]

“That’s some … kind of beautiful” Denny (Chris Messina) tells his teenage son Paul (Jaeden Martell) to stand tall with dignity and never run away. Meant as inspiration with a sympathetic heart, these words fall flat because he’s trying to solve the wrong problem—his inability to truly understand Paul’s uniquely personal perspective leading him astray. […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: Crown Vic [2019]

“The world was dark when I got here” The title of writer/director Joel Souza‘s Crown Vic is a stand-in for “old school.” It’s a connection to a past that guys with twenty-five years on the job like Ray Mandel (Thomas Jane) feels fading away. And they’re correct. As new technologies arrive, oversight increases and a […]

BIFF19 REVIEW: Malaisia [2019]

“This side of the Mississippi” There’s a joke told about a third of the way through Mac Cappuccino‘s film Malaisia. It’s bad. Jay Schmidt is the one laying out the excessive amount of exposition while his compatriot (Kevin Guzewich) looks on in exasperation—at one point even interrupting his interminable drone with an interjection to break […]

REVIEW: Knock Down the House [2019]

“We’re running to win” Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election galvanized a lot of racists throughout America to let their bigotry rise to the surface (if it hadn’t already been unleashed) as though they now had permission to spew hate without recourse. It also woke up a legion of outsiders who realized the status […]