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: Ready Player One [2018]

“Ninjas don’t hug” You can’t help but drown within the pop culture vacuum of Ernest Cline‘s Ready Player One while reading. He throws references left and right—most often for no other reason than to namedrop as though he’s racking up geek-cred points within a nonexistent game. There becomes such an influx of information that you […]

REVIEW: The Death of Stalin [2017]

“I can’t remember who’s alive and who isn’t” The Russians may have taken umbrage with British director Armando Iannucci‘s The Death of Stalin—a tale of backstabbing governmental hilarity—but their successful quest to ban it domestically is a case of “doth protest too much.” The Soviet Union allied with Hitler’s Nazi regime before joining the winning […]

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: Unsane [2018]

“Your life slips away from you, you know?” The tagline to Steven Soderbergh‘s Unsane reads as follows: “Is she or isn’t she?” Its context stems from Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) being presented as an unreliable narrator. She’s picked up her life and moved it from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape the troubles of her past—namely […]

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 […]

REVIEW: Love, Simon [2018]

“You’re still you” There have been crazier premises for coming-of-age romantic comedies than having the lead fall in love via email with someone they’re afraid they’ll never meet. Unrequited love is nothing new to the genre and neither is an escalating series of mishaps and intentionally misleading manipulation on behalf of the lead towards his […]

REVIEW: Strong Island [2017]

“This house is made of bones” The 1992 murder of William Ford wasn’t a story when it happened. Outsiders might not even have known it occurred since the grand jury decided not to indict the man who admitted to firing the rifle that put a bullet in his chest. Anyone walking by would hear how […]

REVIEW: I Kill Giants [2018]

“We’re stronger than we think” While the main creative force behind I Kill Giants is unquestionably screenwriter Joe Kelly (whose limited comic series of the same name alongside artist J.M. Ken Niimura is the basis for his script), director Anders Walter‘s Oscar-winning short Helium shows he’s hardly a stranger to its subject matter. These two […]