FANTASIA18 REVIEW: ルームロンダリング [Rûmu rondaringu] [Room Laundering] [2018]

“Don’t cry. Smile.” According to Kenji Katagiri‘s debut feature Rûmu rondaringu [Room Laundering]—and I have no reason to disbelieve him—Japan has a law stating that landlords must divulge whether a previous tenant died or suffered a violent crime within any newly vacated property to all prospective replacements. But while this rule makes sense considering people […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Lifechanger [2018]

“I’m not ready to die” To take Justin McConnell‘s horror film Lifechanger at face value is a mistake. You won’t understand this truth right away, though, because it starts out being exactly what you thought. Emily Roberts (Elitsa Bako) awakens covered in blood next to an emaciated corpse as a man’s (Bill Oberst Jr.) voiceover […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Blue My Mind [2018]

“I’m wasting my youth on trains” Adolescence is a metamorphosis from youth to adulthood—a time defined by its constant state of flux physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Puberty is the backbone to this period because of the changes it inflicts. It alters our hormones and appearance while also providing a moment with which to be reborn. […]

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 […]

TFF18 REVIEW: All These Small Moments [2018]

“And then, somehow over time, I stopped smiling” It’s called All These Small Moments for a reason—one that becomes clear with a final, out-of-nowhere moment of voiceover narration in case you hadn’t figured it out yourself by acknowledging how formative, complex, and emotionally draining each one of writer/director Melissa B. Miller-Costanzo‘s dense scenes prove. Whether […]

BERLINALE18 REVIEW: Les rois mongols [Cross My Heart] [2018]

“They’re good guys doing bad things” While you can debate the success of politically motivated events like 1970’s October Crisis in Quebec, Canada, you can’t question their danger removed from the cause. The media reports the carnage whether terrorist bombings or kidnappings and murder. They provide an objective account of what’s happening—in this case the […]

BERLINALE18 REVIEW: Cobain [2018]

“My little man” There’s a scene in Nanouk Leopold‘s Cobain where the titular fifteen year-old (Bas Keizer) tells his estranged, junkie mother Mia (Naomi Velissariou) that he wants to help. Her response is to ask whether she cares about what he does, the answer tragically understood before his mouth utters the word “No.” To watch […]

BIFF17 REVIEW: After the Sun Fell [2017]

“You have an empty space that you need to fill” Everyone’s family is crazy. Some may seem crazier than others, but that’s generally a byproduct of them being less self-conscious. The question we don’t ask ourselves—whether a part of the insanity or watching as an outsider—is why. Why does one member prove so gratingly obnoxious […]

BIFF17 REVIEW: Sunset Park [2017]

“With anger you can lose everything” When Duane Sarcione (Michael T. Weiss) finds himself in the hole with mobster ‘The Sledge’ (Sam Douglas), he has no choice but to run. It’s not a surprising move despite only knowing him for five minutes—gambling has a hold and he’s drowning under the weight of turmoil both in […]

BIFF17 REVIEW: The Sounding [2018]

“There has to be a reason” What is it about our quest to not simply help those in need, but solve what is supposedly ailing them? What in the history of mankind shifted focus from wanting to understand that which was different to assimilating (eradicating) it? Greed. Power. Sanctimony. Ego. There are an infinite number […]

BIFF17 REVIEW: Crash Pad [2017]

“You can’t outwit fun” Morgan (Christina Applegate) is drowning in a marriage on the rocks. Both her career and her husband’s (Thomas Haden Church‘s Grady) are booming—the time allotted to spend together often earmarked for something else. So they’ve drifted apart over the last fifteen years. Their sex life is non-existent and he’s away on […]