REVIEW: Sweet Smell of Success [1957]

“No. You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.” The hook is simple: Steve Dallas (Martin Milner) and Susan Hunsecker (Susan Harrison) are in love, but big brother J.J. (Burt Lancaster) doesn’t approve. He hasn’t supported her with penthouses and fur coats to watch a young guitarist whisk her away, but he can’t be caught stopping them […]

REVIEW: Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free [2016]

“Become who you are” There’s a great line spoken by an aged Lou Andreas-Salomé (Nicole Heesters) to new friend and potential biographer Ernst Pfeiffer (Matthias Lier) upon his praise-fueled declaration that the way she lived her life—her freedom—was a touchstone for modern feminism. Her reply is, “Nonsense. What’s changed for us women since then?” It’s […]

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 […]

REVIEW: An Ordinary Man [2018]

“I am myth” Despite being someone known for family friendly fare (Casper and A Series of Unfortunate Events), Brad Silberling was always the guy behind the under-rated Moonlight Mile to me. Beyond its sentimentality and contrivances, it cemented his name as one to follow. Besides 10 Items or Less, however, he career mostly shifted from […]

REVIEW: A Quiet Place [2018]

“I have always loved you” It’s always a risk going to a film on opening night—especially horror. The genre attracts a younger audience looking to giggle their way through the experience, oftentimes proving so obnoxiously overcompensating in their fear preparation during the preshow trailers and commercials that I wish I stayed home. So it was […]

REVIEW: Ayla [2018]

“You still see her sometimes, don’t you?” It doesn’t matter that it’s been thirty years since Elton’s (Nicholas Wilder) sister died at age four. He still sees her in the corner of his eyes, the shadows, and his mind. This sense of longing has taken hold of his actions many times throughout his life as […]

REVIEW: 大鱼海棠 [Dayu haitang] [Big Fish & Begonia] [2016]

“Without happiness, what’s the meaning of longevity?” In 2004, directors Xuan Liang and Chun Zhang created a Flash animation for an online contest. From there they would expand it into a feature length film steeped in Chinese supernatural legend. And despite some funding snags over its twelve-year production schedule, 大鱼海棠 [Dayu haitang] [Big Fish & […]

REVIEW: Fourplay [2018]

“We are victims of our own faults” It starts with the mixture of excitement and fear the result of a positive pregnancy test delivers before quickly moving into an impromptu hallway dance that ends with a crash of glass and a smack across the face. I’m not sure a better beginning to Dean Matthew Ronalds‘ […]

REVIEW: Aala Kaf Ifrit [Beauty and the Dogs] [2017]

“What law forbids a human being from seeing a doctor?” Fear should never be underestimated as a means for oppression or motivation because there are few emotions more potent. This is why totalitarian regimes use it as a weapon to silence those who dare find the courage to stand up for their rights. They sow […]

REVIEW: Medicine for Melancholy [2009]

“It’s funny cause it’s not funny” We meet Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Joanne (Tracey Heggins) without any context beyond the obvious fact that they slept together the night before. They’ve awakened in someone else’s bed, eventually taking turns in the bathroom to brush their teeth with their fingers. She seems embarrassed, covering up and staying […]

REVIEW: Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench [2010]

“Tell me what you think” I must have missed something. How does Damien Chazelle‘s debut feature Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench warrant any praise besides its context within La La Land‘s history? I say this as a Chazelle fan too. I think Whiplash was one of the best works of the decade and […]