REVIEW: Measure of a Man [2018]

“This time I had something to prove” The coming of age dramedy is a crowded genre with many seminal works established in the 70s and 80s. It’s tough to therefore see any entries without comparing them to what came first. Some can still find their niche and win audiences over before earning a place besides those former greats, but oftentimes they simply feel too familiar to necessitate a second look. The latter category is a shame because familiarity isn’t always synonymous with “bad.” Take Jim Loach‘s Measure of a Man,…

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REVIEW: And Then I Go [2018]

“Ours is a group of two” The Columbine massacre happened in 1999. It’s crazy to think it’s been over twenty years because we seem to have a new school shooting every month now. And as they grew in prevalence, the conversation surrounding them shifted from tragedy to politicization. Gus Van Sant‘s Elephant arrived in 2003 as a poetic psychological display unconcerned with pretending to know answers. It documented the experience of this tragic event as an emotional confluence between troubled souls on both sides of the gun—the mundane taking on…

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REVIEW: The Longest Game [2018]

“These are elderly gentlemen. Some get very emotional very quickly.” When director Camille Thoman calls the octogenarians at the center of her documentary The Longest Game charming, she’s describing their initial, surface appeal. At a time when everyone’s aging parents and grandparents are proving how out of touch with the twenty-first century they are in politics, biases, and entitlement, these old friends still playing platform tennis every day after decades of competition on their Dorset, Vermont home’s courts reveal the opposite. Beyond their infectious personalities and razor-sharp sarcasm is a…

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REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War [2018]

“He’s never fought me twice” It’s been ten years since we met Tony Stark on the big screen. Ten years of serial storytelling with massive budgets, character crossovers, television offshoots, and Stan Lee cameos that took Hollywood and the box office by storm. Not even steward Kevin Feige could have predicted that type of longevity with twenty films by 2018’s completion, but here he and we are at the culmination of all those carefully laid plans. It’s been an enjoyable journey with origin tales, rights swapping, tonal shifts, and more…

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REVIEW: Super Troopers 2 [2018]

“Happiness in the household” To look at Broken Lizard is to see the ever-changing landscape of mid-range studio cinema at the turn of the century. These five guys (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske) formed a comedy troupe in college before taking their first film Puddle Cruiser on a campus tour. It allowed Super Troopers to become a reality with supporting players like Lynda Carter and the venerable Brian Cox. Fox Searchlight paid around three million after its Sundance debut, made twenty million in box…

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REVIEW: You Were Never Really Here [2018]

“I must do better, sir” An unparalleled exercise in economy, Lynne Ramsay‘s You Were Never Really Here cements her status as a cinematic master. This brutal thriller runs a deliberate yet swift 89-minutes, its central character a man of few words with violence bubbling just beneath a too large heart for the hostile world that’s forced him to retreat within. His job: going places the police can’t to save children in duress. It’s not something overtly explained, but neither are his motivations. Where dialogue might work in text (Ramsey’s script…

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REVIEW: Love After Love [2018]

“She was a person of real consequence” A father is sick and then he dies. There’s nothing too original in that progression of events or in how those left behind cope. Sometimes this type of tragedy makes people retreat within themselves and others see themselves lash out for attention. Sometimes it’s a foregone conclusion loved ones prepared for in order to be able to move on without too much struggle—viewing the sadness not as a thing to solve, but one to accept. Russell Harbaugh and his co-writer Eric Mendelsohn touch…

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REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time [2018]

“Love is the frequency” While waiting outside the bathrooms after A Wrinkle in Time finished, I saw a white couple with their two young, fair-haired daughters walking out of the theater. Mom and Dad were explaining to one how movies are interpretations. They were reminding her that she had an idea of what the characters looked like while reading and now Ava DuVernay showed hers onscreen. The girl looked up and said, “Yeah. Most of them were blonde in the book.” They went out of earshot soon after, just as…

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REVIEW: Lean on Pete [2018]

“I’d rather them never see me again than see me like this” Loneliness is a tough concept to cope with as a child, especially when it begins to seem as though you’re to blame. That’s hardly the case, though, since people who leave do so out of selfishness rather than “just cause.” You may think yourself cursed as a way to cope via laughter and many adults retain this mindset to turn jaded as a means of self-defense. But before that transition can occur, you’re another tragic adolescent left with…

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REVIEW: 火垂るの墓 [Hotaru no haka] [Grave of the Fireflies] [1988]

“Please stay home with me” Everything I read and heard about Isao Takahata‘s Hotaru no haka [Grave of the Fireflies] appeared to want to prepare me for a solemnly tragic tale that couldn’t be completed without tears streaming down my face. I took this train of thought as a badge of honor—preparing its emotionality and authenticity towards WWII’s futility and collateral damage. This is the reaction most war films hope to conjure with many going out of their way to manipulate the reception via story, score, or imagery. Reducing this…

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TFF18 REVIEW: Phantom Cowboys [2018]

“Give it hell. Turn left.” It would be easy to dismiss Nick Reyes, Larry Young, and Tyler Carpenter as three variations on the same thing: poor American youth. The simple fact their stories are combined within Daniel Patrick Carbone‘s poetic look at nature, nurture, opportunity, and struggle in rural areas of our country entitled Phantom Cowboys makes the case. But anyone who watches these parallel journeys will reveal this thought’s error. You’ll see how role models can improve one’s outlook on the future. You’ll see how the stigma placed upon…

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