REVIEW: O Menino e o Mundo [Boy & the World] [2014]

Writer/director Alê Abreu‘s O Menino e o Mundo [Boy & the World] is nothing if not a breath of fresh air against the animation medium’s otherwise stagnant aesthetic of glossy computerized fare. Not only does he dive back into a traditional hand-drawn style, he does so with an un-polished rough-edged crayon texture to make it appear as if a drawing on a piece of paper has come to life. The way he makes environments disappear so his titular boy Cuca is left with nothing but a white void and the…

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REVIEW: Poison [1991]

“I’ve just captured the sex drive” Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Todd Haynes‘ directorial debut Poison is a wild, outside-the-box ride. It reminded me of David Lynch‘s Eraserhead with a surreally experimental aesthetic and odd relationships sparked between over-the-top and perhaps parodied “freaks” standing-in as metaphors for humanity’s intolerance towards the “different”. It’s three unrelated stories about sexuality told in three different styles: “Hero” as a garish TV docu-mystery; “Homo” as a gritty thriller intercut with vibrant, warped fantasy flashbacks; and “Horror” as a B-movie sci-fi flick…

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REVIEW: Fear and Desire [1953]

“Rafts always float” I love that legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick began his career with a dud so misguided he was rumored to have tried to destroy every print in existence. In his words it was a “bumbling amateur film exercise” and he’s not wrong. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering he was a twenty-five year old recently quit photographer from Look magazine with two short films under his belt. Unlike Quentin Tarantino‘s My Best Friend’s Birthday, however, Fear and Desire wasn’t some movie made on a whim. Kubrick…

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REVIEW: How to Change the World [2015]

“Ecology is flow” Using the unplanned creation of Greenpeace by a group of hippie ecologists in the 1970s trying to stop nuclear bomb testing in Alaska as its backdrop, Jerry Rothwell‘s documentary How to Change the World shows us the trials, tribulations, fame, ego, and success of doing exactly that. It’s a savvy mix of media manipulation, contagious public speaking, and the passion to do something good amidst centuries of human-led destruction. It’s about fighting the good fight against real predatory forces working outside the ecology system and those by…

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REVIEW: The Runaround Club [2016]

“What exactly is your father capable of doing up there?” Directed by Matt Rindini and written Andrew Gleeson, The Runaround Club shows a lot of promise. The former has a good visual sense and paces the dramatic thriller well; the latter weaves a web of complex characters crossing paths and interacting in ways conventional thinking wouldn’t automatically presume. Unfortunately, the story itself loses coherency in that complexity due to there not being enough time to truly know each player’s motivation let alone what’s happening. It’s one thing to throw two…

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REVIEW: Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage [Faust] [1926]

“The greatest miracle of all is man’s freedom to choose between good and evil” Director F.W. Murnau left Germany with a bang thanks to his big budget visual masterpiece Faust. Adapted like so many other versions from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe‘s classic take (Gerhart Hauptmann and Hans Kyser provide the titles), this rendition sets itself against the Black Plague and mankind’s hope for salvation. A massive trial to overcome, the disease becomes a cleansing of sorts weeding out the righteous with faith to carry them through. If any Earthly man…

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REVIEW: Last Day of Freedom [2015]

“And then one day it came knocking on my door” Directors Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman have quite the story on their hands thanks to the bravery of Bill Babbitt to allow his catharsis to be captured in a public forum such as film. A religious and loving man who watched his younger brother Manny leave for Vietnam after a troubled adolescence, Bill always saw hope. With two tours, myriad injuries, and a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia later, however, Manny’s trouble had just begun. He was coping with this new…

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REVIEW: Chau, Beyond the Lines [2015]

“I’m starting to get the confidence” Agent Orange still affects the Vietnamese population four decades after its dispersal because it’s taken that long to find a mode with which to begin destroying its remnants. South Vietnam with American help sprayed the herbicide (US Air Force’s own initiative Operation Ranch Hand later continued) looking to take out enemy crops and jungle camouflage. It also contaminated water supplies and food sources for the entire nation so that some estimates are as high as five million dead as a result. The number grows…

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REVIEW: Velvet Goldmine [1998]

“It’s funny how beautiful people look when they’re walking out the door” What if Citizen Kane wasn’t about Charlie’s Foster Kane but instead the interviewer tasked with speaking to those in Kane’s life, mining for the meaning of “Rosebud”? This is sort of where director Todd Haynes (co-written with James Lyons) begins his fictional account of Brit glam rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Velvet Goldmine deals with this enigma of a star and his tumultuous life before fading completely out of the public consciousness following a misguided stunt. (Or…

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REVIEW: Army of Darkness [1993]

“Well hello, Mr. Fancy Pants” Only Sam Raimi knows how you travel from The Evil Dead‘s straight low-budget horror to the campy “ultimate experience of medieval horror” ten years later, but it’s obviously worked for him considering the series jump-started his promising career to the heights of Hollywood’s Spider-Man. Even so, that original trilogy is a curious case in cinematic history switching genres and mythology on the fly to get weirder and weirder and more loved as a result. Ask ten people and nine will probably say the cheese ball…

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REVIEW: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness [2015]

“Because they had sworn on the Quran, I had no fear in my heart” When you read that Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy‘s documentary short A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness concerns a Pakistani girl shot and left for dead who survived to become a beacon of strength and bravery, do not simply dismiss it as “just like Malala Yousafzai.” While similarities do exist, the two couldn’t be farther apart in their contextual meaning above serving as two examples that prove women are treated as worse than second-lass citizens around…

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