REVIEW: Extra Ordinary [2019]

The fragrant aroma of purity. When weird, unexplainable happenings occur—it’s probably a ghost. At least that’s what Vincent Dooley (Risteard Cooper) based a career of dealing with the paranormal upon. A producer of VHS tapes that taught audiences about these experiences as a group of phenomena he coined “Talents,” he also spoke with the dead. Alongside his young daughter Rose (who possessed the gifts necessary to deal with the more practical aspects such as incantations and guiding spirits into the afterlife), Vincent toured Ireland with the hope of helping those…

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REVIEW: Never Rarely Sometimes Always [2020]

A positive is always a positive. The title to Eliza Hittman‘s Never Rarely Sometimes Always has a specific meaning in that those are the choices a Planned Parenthood counselor (Kelly Chapman) provides seventeen-year old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) as answers to a difficult yet crucial line of questioning about her psychological and physical wellbeing. Hittman films the scene as a continuous take with the camera never leaving this teen girl’s face as each query hits home for us to interpret her tears as the unspoken truth of life experiences too many…

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REVIEW: La Gomera [The Whistlers] [2019]

The package arrived safely. A Romanian detective named Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) just landed on La Gomera in the Spanish Canary Islands. Because he’s unsure who’s supposed to meet him or where he’s going, he enters Kiko’s (Antonio Buíl) car with trepidation despite the man seemingly knowing everything about him. Only when they arrive at their destination to find Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) does Cristi relax since she’s the one who asked him to come and gave him the plane ticket. The reason is to teach him how to use an ancestral…

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REVIEW: Beach Rats [2017]

I don’t really know what I like. Frankie (Harris Dickinson) has a lot on his mind. His father (Neal Huff‘s Joe) is dying of cancer in his living room. His little sister (Nicole Flyus‘ Carla) just got her first boyfriend. And his mother (Kate Hodge‘s Donna) is struggling to keep everything from falling apart. It’s no wonder that Frankie finds himself stealing a few of his dad’s pain pills each night to get high on the boardwalk with a trio of friends (Frank Hakaj‘s Nick, David Ivanov‘s Alexei, and Anton…

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REVIEW: Slay the Dragon [2020]

The people did not want this. It’s been depressing to watch America fall so far since I have been able to vote. Every passing year has seen the issues grow partisan to the point of rendering debate impossible. We lean into screaming matches instead because neither side is willing to listen. They simply bide time until they can drive home their own parroted viewpoint as some sort of empirical fact despite it being nothing of the sort. People we’ve respected and trusted reveal themselves to be hypocrites and words used…

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REVIEW: We Summon the Darkness [2020]

Let the madness begin. A rash of 1980s-era satanic ritual killings puts Pastor John Henry Butler (Johnny Knoxville) front and center in rural America’s consciousness because his church is doing its very best to combat the disintegration of society with the word of God. Just as his increased television appearances rally the Bible Belt to his cause (treating rock music and other not quite “demonic” practices as sinful weapons destroying their children’s souls), however, they also work to embolden those he is forsaking. More than calling out the as yet…

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REVIEW: Saint Frances [2020]

I apologize. The grass is neither greener nor less green on the other side. Not at present. Whether you have money or not, own a house or not, have a family or not—everyone has problems. You might not be able to admit them to yourself yet (or admit they aren’t insurmountable), but they most definitely exist. So when a partygoer begins to tell Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) about a nightmare he had wherein everything he worked towards was gone, we know his smugly callous joke about committing fake suicide in response…

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REVIEW: The Other Lamb [2020]

Do you accept my grace? To be born into a world with set doctrines is to have no choice—often because you don’t realize one exists. That’s the power systemic modes of oppression hold over their victims. We’re told that fighting back makes things worse. Fighting for survival makes those in positions to help facilitate that survival less interested in helping. So we’re asked to remain quiet. Accept our fate and be grateful for what we have and grateful to those who give it with “grace” and not as a salve…

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REVIEW: Vivarium [2020]

Raise the child and be released We all like to believe that we have some semblance of control over our lives. Do we, though? How much of our identity is dictated by social conditioning? Maybe it’s explicit indoctrination like that taught by religion, politics, and culture as “superior” than others. Or maybe it’s implicit like the subliminal messaging possibilities of art appropriated by marketing. You might say to yourself that you’re too smart for advertising, but what do you do when confronted by four of the same product consisting of…

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REVIEW: El hoyo [The Platform] [2019]

Obviously. We say the same thing whenever a new dystopian vision is released: it couldn’t have come at a better time. It was said when Brazil bowed and again with Snowpiercer and High-Rise after. And now it’s director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia‘s turn as El hoyo [The Platform] hits the zeitgeist in the middle of a pandemic that’s revealed empires to be as naked as Hans Christian Andersen’s emperor. Will we band together in the face of widespread adversity and recognize—sometimes for the very first time—that we must protect the most vulnerable…

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REVIEW: Big Time Adolescence [2020]

You’re my Guillermo. Kate Harris (Emily Arlook) sums up Jason Orley‘s Big Time Adolescence perfectly when she tries to explain two simple facts to her ex-boyfriend Zeke (Pete Davidson) about his friendship with her younger brother Monroe (Griffin Gluck). The first is that Mo only hangs out with him because he wants to feel cool. When you’re a teenager with few friends who hangs out with a twenty-something that has access to alcohol and drugs, you puff out your chest in the idea that you’re somehow better than those your…

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