REVIEW: Night Comes On [2018]

I don’t think you’re like him. When the parole board asks seventeen-year old Angel Lamere (Dominique Fishback) why she hasn’t seen her younger sister (Tatum Marilyn Hall‘s Abby) in two years despite only being incarcerated for one, her reply was an honest yet simplistic, “I wasn’t a good influence.” The fact that she is where she is proves this statement to be the truth, but we’re soon to discover there’s more to it than a flimsy sense of altruism. The decision was conversely a selfish one: necessary, but selfish. Angel…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: ペンギン・ハイウェイ [Pengin Haiwei] [Penguin Highway] [2018]

I might be too amazing for my own good. Adapted from Tomihiko Morimi‘s Nihon Science Fiction Taisho Award-winning novel from 2010, Penguin Highway takes us into a world barely unlike our own. Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida from Makoto Ueda‘s script, the film centers upon a Japanese fourth grader on the cusp of self-proclaimed greatness. With just under four thousand days until adulthood and his first Nobel Prize (he calculated it himself), nothing can peel Aoyama’s (Kana Kita) precocious interest from new, mysterious experimentations besides his crush: the town’s pretty dental…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Cam [2018]

I literally love you. There’s a moment in director Daniel Goldhaber‘s Cam where Alice (Madeline Brewer) is talking to her younger brother Jordan (Devin Druid) about the previous evening’s performance on web-cam site Free Live Girls. She moved past sex gimmicks towards the dark world of snuff film aesthetics and it worked to move her up more leaderboard spots in one session than she ever had before. He gives her a congratulatory fist-bump and asks whether she’s told their mother (Melora Walters‘ Lynne) what her new lucrative job actually is…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: 소공녀 [So-gong-nyeo] [Microhabitat] [2018]

Seems like you’re living a fantasy. What do you need to survive? It’s a common question we all ask ourselves—one that goes beyond the basic tenets of food, water, shelter, and human interaction. I’m talking about the things we cherish enough to put them before everything else. It could be freedom, hobbies, love, or art. It could be a feeling achieved by one specific song sung in one specific place. These are what we cling to and wrestle with when confronted by change because losing them is a sacrifice not…

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REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Fallout [2018]

We’re never free. The former leader of a group of rogue agents seeking to unite people against unchecked government oversight—a cause worthy of pause if not for the terrorist acts of genocide utilized to achieve this goal—speaks to the man who caught him with confidence about how he’s worked to ensure the price of that “hero’s” good intentions will soon be paid in full. We wonder how this is possible considering Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) was captured by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) two in-film years ago, spending every second since…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Pengabdi Setan [Satan’s Slaves] [2017]

Have pity on the children. It wasn’t until 2006 that cult Indonesian horror film Pengabdi Setan [Satan’s Slave] finally received a DVD pressing after accruing its mystique without subtitles courtesy of a Japanese VHS. The 1980 release from director Sisworo Gautama Putra has been called an unofficial remake of Don Coscarelli‘s Phantasm, its supernatural haunting steeped in Muslim beliefs and Indonesian folklore rather than the usual Christian trappings associated with the Devil. The pedigree it holds therefore made it unsurprising that Joko Anwar (who grew up on genre fare spanning…

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REVIEW: האופה-מברלין [Der Kuchenmacher] [The Cakemaker] [2017]

I’m not alone. A romantic drama wielding nationality, sexuality, and religion as crucial dramatic themes without giving into their rigidity atop a backdrop of delicious baked goods sounds more than ambitious—it sounds foolhardy. But writer/director Ofir Raul Graizer set out and accomplished exactly that with his acclaimed Der Kuchenmacher [The Cakemaker]. He travels between a quaint Berlin bakery to a strictly kosher Jerusalem neighborhood atop the shoulders of a man lost in love and feeling happier than his wildest dreams. Thomas (Tim Kalkhof) didn’t crave family or the desire for…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Nommer 37 [Number 37] [2018]

Even a one-legged beggar can lose his other leg. It was a calculated risk lock-picker Randal Hendricks (Irshaad Ally) was willing to make. Borrow twenty-five thousand dollars from a loan shark he’s known since childhood (Danny Ross‘ Emmie) and flip it to some gangsters willing to give him a deal on drugs. Sell the drugs at a mark-up and he should have enough to get himself and his girlfriend Pam (Monique Rockman) out of their rough Cape Town slum. Like Emmie warned, however, gangsters aren’t to be trusted. So when…

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REVIEW: Teen Titans GO! To the Movies [2018]

Crack an egg on it. Kah-KAW! Picture this: a popular 1980s comic by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez called The New Teen Titans puts a bunch of sidekicks together to fight one of their rank’s evil father. After a sixteen-year run come new titles to continue the legacy in print with differing line-ups before Cartoon Network developed the property into a television series from Glen Murakami entitled “Teen Titans”. This thing becomes a huge winner for CN with rabid fans and critical acclaim before moving past a planned four-season arc…

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REVIEW: #TheLateBatsby [2018]

Time is of the essence. Get those kids into the theater and sell some toys. That’s what the executives at Warner Bros. and DC Comics seem to have instilled as their mantra of late. And you can’t blame them. After their dark cinematic universe failed to do numbers on the big screen and its CW counterpart targets demographics well-beyond toy-buying age, why not pivot to Sunday morning cartoon aesthetic and cutesy irreverence towards their own intellectual properties? Why not take what (I assume) is a popular action figure franchise known…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか? 横から見るか? [Uchiage hanabi, shita kara miru ka? Yoko kara miru ka?] [Fireworks] [2017]

If … In a nation of repressed emotions, three young teens find themselves confronting their feelings at what might be their last opportunity to do so. Shy Norimichi (Masaki Suda) can’t stop himself from starring at Nazuna (Suzu Hirose) while his more confident best friend Yûsuke (Mamoru Miyano) admits to wanting to declare his love for her. The boys seek to deflect their obvious infatuations, falling over each other in embarrassment so that the other can win his prize regardless of how the object of their affection feels about either.…

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