REVIEW: Becoming Jane [2007]

“Are there no other women in Hampshire?” I had never seen Julian Jarrold‘s Becoming Jane before today and yet my constantly being hit with a sense of familiarity while watching made me question that truth. The reason stems from the fact that screenwriters Kevin Hood and Sarah Williams crafted their tale of young Jane Austen fifteen years before her first novel (Sense and Sensibility) was published to unfold as though it was Pride and Prejudice. They’ve based this reading of Austen’s life on letters written to her sister Cassandra about…

Read More

REVIEW: Havoc [2005]

“There is a monetary zone of geography which we’re not allowed to pass” I can’t help wondering what Havoc might have been if Jessica Kaplan had the means to make it herself in the 90s like today’s aspiring filmmakers can thanks to affordable technology. She was seventeen when she sold her script “The Powers That Be” based on what she experienced growing up in West Los Angeles. It appears she was more or less the role Matt O’Leary plays (Eric)—an observer trying to understand why these rich white kids are…

Read More

REVIEW: A Star Is Born [2018]

“I love the way she sees them” It began with Hollywood as William A. Wellman and Robert Carson won an Oscar for their story about a young actress dreaming of super stardom in 1937. From there it went the way of the movie musical thanks to Judy Garland taking the lead before earning six nominations in 1954. Next came Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson to shift things to the music world with its aging rock star and hopeful songstress adding a 1976 Best Song to the awards cabinet. Now—almost a…

Read More

REVIEW: Miller’s Crossing [1990]

“I’ll think about it” The mob is a business like any other. Leadership must be strong and decisive, employees must be loyal to a fault, and every once in a while you have to cut someone you like loose in order to not anger someone you might like less but definitely need more. Despite everything we learn as kids that ends up being useless, the concept of “choosing the lesser of two evils” will forever prove as useful as breathing and yet we have trouble reconciling such dilemmas due to…

Read More

REVIEW: Blaze [2018]

“Never stand in the way of true love” You have to respect the way Ethan Hawke approached his latest film Blaze and its central character Blaze Foley. He’d never heard the artist’s name or music until being stopped in his tracks upon listening to John Prine cover “Clay Pigeons.” That sparked an interest for research and eventually a door to Foley’s tumultuous life was opened. As luck would have it, Hawke’s friend Louis Black knew both Blaze and Townes Van Zandt (an important figure in this tragic country blues singer’s…

Read More

REVIEW: Smallfoot [2018]

“True your aim” Would it be hyperbolic to call Smallfoot the most dangerous film of the year? Definitely … and yet it wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. Yes there’s a wholesome message at the back of what Karey Kirkpatrick (who co-directed with Jason Reisig and co-wrote with Clare Sera from a previous script that itself was based on Sergio Pablos‘ book Yeti Tracks) has put onscreen, but it’s not difficult to misconstrue its meaning if you’re motivated to do so. Ask him and he’ll say it’s a story about not lying…

Read More

TIFF18 REVIEW: Retrospekt [2018]

“Every Wednesday and … coffee” I can’t think of a better term to describe Esther Rots‘ Retrospekt than her own: “sensory cinema.” We get a feeling for what this means during the opening scene as Dan Geesin‘s score and Bas Kuijlenburg’s boomingly operatic baritone drowns out the action onscreen with English lyrics telling a story of which we’re not yet certain is even worth our attention. We don’t know these characters beyond visible traits: a pregnant woman, her husband, and their young girl packed up in an RV heading to…

Read More

TIFF18 REVIEW: Hjertelandet [Heartbound] [2018]

“I can sell my body if it helps my family” A film ten years in the making, anthropologist Sine Plambech and her director husband Janus Metz‘s open a door with Hjertelandet [Heartbound] onto an intriguing humanist story dealing with the complexities of life, love, and survival that spans almost nine thousand kilometers from Thailand to Denmark. The logline is simple: over 900 Thai women have moved to Jutland in order to marry Danes and carve out a better life than is available back home. The motivations for this decision, however,…

Read More

TIFF18 REVIEW: The Third Wife [2018]

“One day you’ll like it for real” It’s 19th century Vietnam and fourteen-year old May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My) has just been married to a wealthy landowner named Hung (Long Le Vu). She wears a genuine smile on her face, this next chapter in life as hopeful as it is scary. She has two other women to help steer her through womanhood, motherhood, and sexual pleasure (Nu Yên-Khê Tran‘s first wife Ha and Mai Thu Huong Maya‘s second wife Xuan) and a future of comfort awaiting her with but one…

Read More

TIFF18 REVIEW: Las niñas bien [The Good Girls] [2018]

“So happy. We’re so happy.” Sofía Hernandez (Ilse Salas) has everything: three children she can ignore, servants and maids to take care of her every whim, and a husband (Flavio Medina‘s Fernando) who inherited his wealth from his father and still has yet to really work for it thanks to Uncle Javier (Diego Jáuregui) managing things like he always had. Theirs is a charmed life of opulence and excess wherein they can afford to treat aristocratic etiquette and tradition as sacrosanct while “new money” commoners try to enter their social…

Read More

TIFF18 REVIEW: Posledice [Consequences] [2018]

“I am what I am” Andrej (Matej Zemljic) is an eighteen-year old abuser. He’s stopped going to school, started getting into fights, disrespects his parents, and most recently hit a teen after she berated him for his not wanting sex. It’s an escalating series of incidents that no one is willing to deal with anymore, so they decide to let a judge handle him instead. The verdict: a detention center for troubled youths with 24/7 security, education, workshops, and free weekends (if you don’t do something to lose those days…

Read More