REVIEW: Indignation [2016]

“You be greater than your feelings.” If I’ve seen a bleaker, more pessimistic film in the past ten years than Indignation I find myself absolutely stumped trying to think of it. Adapted from Philip Roth‘s 2008 novel by writer/director James Schamus, this look at a Korean War-era America full of fear, anxiety, sexual repression, and attempted solace through religion supplies a gut-punch at every turn in plot. There’s no hope to be found when the one possible glimmer of love that’s provided is riddled with constant missteps and tragic circumstances…

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REVIEW: Yoga Hosers [2016]

“It looks like a Vancouver hockey riot in here” You can’t fault Kevin Smith for having his heart in the right place. We can only blame his financiers for letting this True North trilogy crusade continue on with Yoga Hosers despite a short turnaround from script-to-screen neglecting the step of weighing its viability and worth against its vanity project underpinnings. Because that’s what it ultimately is: an excuse for the Depps and Smiths to have fun. We thought Tusk provided their escape, but that was merely the appetizer. The main…

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REVIEW: The Light Between Oceans [2016]

“There’s always something to fix” Writer/director Derek Cianfrance isn’t done with cinematic tapestries of emotion quite yet as The Light Between Oceans fits his still burgeoning oeuvre perfectly. Based on M.L. Stedman‘s debut novel, the structure delivers a similar duality as both Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines before it. We spend so much time with lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) and his wife Isabel (Alicia Vikander) that it proves a jarring switch to suddenly shift towards heartbroken widow Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz), especially knowing her place…

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REVIEW: 부산행 [Busanhaeng] [Train to Busan] [2016]

“Until we meet again” There’s an abundance of sentimentality in Sang-ho Yeon‘s 부산행 [Busanhaeng] [Train to Busan], a trait you don’t necessarily attribute to a zombie action thriller. That’s not to say “The Walking Dead” doesn’t touch upon familial relationships and catharsis too, but the level of personal and emotional growth on display in these two-hours is somewhat astounding. Zombies wreaking havoc hardly prove the main impetus to the story as they originate in the fringes. Our focus is instead a broken home led by Seok-woo’s (Yoo Gong) fund manager,…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: City of Tiny Lights [2017]

“Death weighs heavier than heartbreak” Small-time private detective Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed) has all the swagger of a hard-boiled snoop: leather jacket on his shoulders and cigarette in his mouth, leaning against London architecture in the darkened night. His office resides above some shops, he makes friendly with local convenience store owner Mrs. Elbaz (Myriam Acharki), and asks new clients where they found him because he’s not advertising in the paper. But while he’s good at his work and enjoys the struggle if only to get out of his father’s…

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REVIEW: London Road [2015]

“It was a complete nightmare” For anyone who believes cinema currently languishes in a rut of remakes, rehashes, sequels, and been-there-done-thats: you aren’t looking hard enough. Those works are what the media force-feeds because they’re the ones making big money come opening weekend, but there’s more out there if you’re willing. Some financiers like BBC Films still gravitate towards unique visions that may or may not end up successes but definitely will spark conversation and in turn possibly advance the medium into places it has yet seen. This is what…

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REVIEW: Demon [2015]

“Goodbye, Python. Hello, Piotr.” Nothing’s allowed to derail the guests of a Polish wedding from having fun, not even the groom’s epileptic seizure. You just pick him up and cart him out. Send the ambulance away so it won’t scare the crowd, pump him full of meds to even him out, and simply bring out more vodka to spike the punch and confuse everyone’s equilibrium when the revelers start spreading rumors that he’s been possessed by a Jewish demon. We aren’t celebrating the union of man and wife after all,…

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REVIEW: Captain Fantastic [2016]

“Your mother is dead” When you look at the poster for Captain Fantastic—especially the bright red suit worn by Cash family patriarch Ben (Viggo Mortensen)—you can’t help conjure twee thoughts of Wes Anderson quirk and yet Matt Ross‘ sophomore feature is anything but. This film is instead rooted in a very strong sense of reality. Just because it may not be your reality doesn’t lessen the events occurring or decisions made. If anything they’re strengthened because you notice the choices your parents made and you’ve made as parents in this…

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REVIEW: Braindead [Dead Alive] [1992]

“Your mother ate my dog!” I knew I’d seen Peter Jackson‘s seminal gorefest Braindead (I’ve also read it described as “splatstick” horror and find it apt). I was pretty sure I had. It’s tough to think about its insane cult stature with lines a sold out crowd twenty-five years later still scream back at the screen and wonder how I wasn’t certain, though. My horrible memory ends up being an unwitting slight on the film as a result because it should have been impossible to forget a house party that’s…

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REVIEW: How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change [2016]

“I needed to find the people that had no choice” With a title like How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change, documentarian Josh Fox dancing over the opening credits looks a bit incongruous. Here’s a film filling us with the dread of reality and all that’s happened since a planet temperature increase of one degree Celsius (and what will happen when it goes to two degrees and onto four), yet the narrator leading the journey over six continents to see the damage…

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REVIEW: Mia madre [2015]

“You don’t know how you hurt the ones you love” Life is a struggle right now for Margherita (Margherita Buy), an exacting film director who’s discovered she’s lost her grip on reality. She’s an artist with vision that seeks perfection in everyone, including herself. Do the work and good things happen. Figure out the problem and fix it. If the driver meant to pick up the star of her new movie from the airport can’t do it, she’ll get in her car and retrieve him herself because she solves problems.…

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