REVIEW: Onward [2020]

Be Like Dad. It’s Ian Lightfoot’s (Tom Holland) sixteenth birthday and he’s hoping to make it count. He’s not about to go on a rager with friends, though. He’s way too introverted for that. Ian therefore merely seeks to conquer a few baby steps towards mild extroversion by putting on his late father’s college sweatshirt to boost confidence and check off some boxes on a list he wrote to change himself into the man he wishes he might become. That means standing up for himself when others treat him like…

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REVIEW: Playdate with Destiny [2020]

If you didn’t know Disney bought Fox yet, you will after watching Playdate with Destiny—a new Simpsons short playing before Pixar’s latest, Onward. The bookends are overt brand management with a “Disney presents” at the start and a silhouette of Mickey sitting amongst Gracie Film’s usual patrons during its post-credits bumper. It’s an undeniably smart move to pair properties in such a visible fashion and I have to imagine it won’t be the last time it happens (just wait until Simpsons characters become Easter eggs alongside the usual stable of…

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REVIEW: Greed [2020]

Nod your head and shake my hand. What’s that Greek word? Hubris. The question is asked and answered by people who know all too well what drives Sir Richard McCreadie (Steve Coogan) because they’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of being the target of his ire whenever they’ve done something that might damage his international reputation in the slightest (even if they acted on his command). Do they really care, though? Do they care that being berated by “Greedy” McCreadie is a daily certainty rather than possibility? Not when he’s paying…

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REVIEW: Hope Gap [2020]

Nobody looked back. One person’s optimal drama isn’t universal. Just because you might like the explosiveness of Marriage Story and its emotional outrage doesn’t mean your friend won’t find its histrionics akin to an improv theater class. And just because they might like the more nuanced Hope Gap and its stiff British upper lip doesn’t mean you won’t be bored by what you believe to be generic characters rendered milquetoast to ensure neither comes off as a bigger villain. We all live different lives and we’re all affected by triggering…

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REVIEW: Swallow [2020]

I did something unexpected today. Hunter (Haley Bennett) has never had control over her life. She’s tried her hardest to claim some, however, by giving away her love. She gave it to a mother who treated her like an afterthought compared to her siblings, a career in art that always found itself to be just out of reach, and the man (Austin Stowell‘s Richie) she walked down a matrimonial aisle towards despite his only ever seeing her as a prize—a possession for a shelf of conquests someone in his socio-economic…

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REVIEW: Blood on Her Name [2020]

It doesn’t put the skin back on the cat. A lot happens during the course of director Matthew Pope and co-writer Don M. Thompson‘s Blood on Her Name … too much. This can prove problematic for what starts as a simple plot before things start turning convoluted real quick thanks to new revelations shedding light upon secrets and lies. Surprisingly, however, that perpetually escalating noise is justified. The reason stems from the fact that Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) isn’t a murderer. Well that’s not entirely true. Technically she is…

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REVIEW: Wendy [2020]

Dreams change. When Angela Darling’s (Shay Walker) kids ask what she dreamt about at their age, she smiles and answers: “the rodeo.” When they ask about her dreams today, she turns and says: “To not screw up raising you three.” Douglas (Gage Naquin) and James’ (Gavin Naquin) youth wrongly interprets that drastic shift in focus as quitting. They don’t know what it’s like to become a parent and reclaim your immortality through the boundless opportunity of your child’s future. Wendy (Devin France) doesn’t either, but their dismissal makes her angry…

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BERLINALE20 REVIEW: La déesse des mouches à feu [Goddess of the Fireflies] [2020]

I feel like I’m wasting my life. Die-hard grunge fan (and drug dealer) Fred (Noah Parker) tells Catherine (Kelly Depeault) she can’t play her Hole cd because Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain. It’s a remark that was probably half joke and half memorial that leads into Keven (Robin L’Houmeau) dropping the necessary wisdom of knowing Love wouldn’t have been able to stop him if she tried. Cobain wasn’t a victim. He lived hard and walked a road of his own making to an end he ultimately embraced enough to pull…

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REVIEW: Standing Up, Falling Down [2020]

Regret is real. Sometimes your dream isn’t much of a dream at all. Maybe reality sets in after you’re already well along the path taken in error. Perhaps the epiphany arrives before you’ve sacrificed the correct choice in order to choose wrong. Ask Scott Rollins (Ben Schwartz) and he’ll probably tell you it can even be both at once if you happen to have two dreams vying for your attention. For him it was a career in stand-up comedy and the woman (Eloise Mumford‘s Becky) he saw himself building a…

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REVIEW: Sonic the Hedgehog [2020]

Gotta go fast. While a Nintendo kid growing up with Mario forever winning the mascot war against Sega in my mind, relatives did have a Genesis and played Sonic often enough for me to have watched the little blue guy somersault around loop de loops before losing his golden rings after hitting enemies or spikes. I honestly never sought it out beyond that because the game always seemed to play too fast when compared with the straightforward Mushroom Kingdom and Mega Man platforms. I guess that was the point. Speed…

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REVIEW: The Night Clerk [2020]

Loneliness makes us do things. There’s a scene in Michael Cristofer‘s The Night Clerk where lead character Bart Bromley (Tye Sheridan) misreads a situation and kisses a woman. His Asperger’s kicks into overdrive, merging a contrite apology with verbal self-flagellation before promising to never do anything so misguided and potentially damaging again. Impulse conquered conditioning for a split second and he’s ready to retreat so far within himself that he’ll never go out in public again thanks to shame—something that wouldn’t be too difficult since he’s already exiled himself to…

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