REVIEW: In the Absence [2019]

I should have told her to escape quickly. This is what happens when your government leaders are inept, indifferent, and opportunistic. This is what happens when people are given jobs well above their abilities and thus become expected to make decisions rather than follow them. Not only was everyone holding a seat of power in the South Korean Coast Guard unwilling to act as they reported situations to bosses in the hopes of passing the buck, those paid to be heroes when called upon weren’t experienced enough to fulfill that…

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REVIEW: Hair Love [2019]

A little bit of work and a whole lotta love. The producer list for Matthew A. Cherry‘s short film Hair Love is insane. Jordan Peele. Peter Ramsey. Gabourey Sidibe. Gabrielle Union. Dwayne Wade. And those are just the ones I recognize. With hundreds of Kickstarter backers and co-directors Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith also attached, the project would ultimately land at Sony, garner huge buzz online, and earn an Oscar nomination. That’s quite the journey for a children’s book that only dropped in May itself. With Vashti Harrison‘s…

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REVIEW: The Neighbors’ Window [2019]

They need to order some drapes. Everyone wants for more and often for that which they cannot have. That’s when our desire grows largest because we remember what was, regret what wasn’t, and lament how that which we have might never be enough. This goes beyond careers or finances or location. I’m talking about love, family, and joy. Is that a silly thought to have when you’re married with three kids and comfortably situated within a life together that you built with intent and purpose? Sure. But it’s also very…

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SLAM20 REVIEW: Film About a Father Who [2020]

He doesn’t lie. He just doesn’t tell you what’s going on. While director Lynne Sachs admits her latest documentary Film About a Father Who could be superficially construed as a portrait (the title alludes to and the content revolves around her father Ira), she labels it a reckoning instead. With thirty-five years of footage shot across varied formats and devices to cull through and piece together, the result becomes less about providing a clear picture of who this man is and more about understanding the cost of his actions. Whether…

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REVIEW: Fantastic Fungi [2019]

We brought life to Earth. Scientific study has recently shown that trees “talk” to each other. Suzanne Simard explains the process during the course of Louie Schwartzberg‘s documentary Fantastic Fungi as being the result of communication via mushroom. Much like the neural pathways in our brains, fungi in the ground (mycelium) create a network upon which carbon can travel. Trees can therefore stay connected with their “offspring.” They can protect them. And they can warn other plants in the forest of danger. It should therefore come as no surprise that…

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REVIEW: The Wave [2020]

Reality’s a choice, maaaan. The first thing you need to know when entering director Gille Klabin and writer Carl W. Lucas‘ The Wave is that it takes a lot of liberties. The second thing is that doing so doesn’t have to be a problem. So much of what happens on-screen is born from convenience and ultimately has no explanation (if it even needs one) before playing its long-term role within Frank’s (Justin Long) hallucinogenic nightmare of an adventure. Just because he might get a handle on what’s happening to manipulate…

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REVIEW: Synonymes [Synonyms] [2019]

Do not look up. Israel has no future in Yaov’s (Tom Mercier) mind. It’s dead and he refuses to die with it even if he just risked dying for it to earn a silver star in the military. Why? Because his country won’t admit its failures or mistakes. They are victors. That’s it. They are owners of their land and the righteous keepers of their religion against any so-called “terrorists” displaced as though they were animals running wild to be shooed away. One could say Israel is therefore a destroyer…

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REVIEW: Three Christs [2020]

I can attest. Two decades after publishing his study The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, Milton Rokeach came to the realization that his methods were both manipulative and unethical. He included an afterword in a re-release of the book to that effect—something surely helped by the supposed fact his research assistants questioned his morality while it was still being conducted. Rokeach’s goal was to cure three patients who independently believed themselves the one-and-only reincarnation of Jesus by placing them together in a controlled environment to confront the absurdity of their claims.…

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REVIEW: Greener Grass [2019]

We’re supposed to tell people. Two of the most recognizable inhabitants of any plastic suburban nightmare you’ll come across are the “people-pleasers” and the “coveters.” The former will do whatever is necessary to ensure everyone is happy because they want to be appreciated as the type of person that can help make such happiness occur. The latter craves that happiness as though it’s a drug, gravitating towards possessing each subsequent example they see since their wanting can’t cease when every newly acquired type of happiness wasn’t born from them. Both…

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REVIEW: The Last Black Man in San Francisco [2019]

You don’t get to hate it unless you love it. One of the casualties of gentrification in San Francisco over the past half century was the Victorian home that Jimmie Fails’ (Jimmie Fails) grandfather built in the Fillmore District circa 1946. He feels its effect every single day too—enough that he and best friend Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors) take the bus to visit it when they know the new owners will be out. While Mont sits across the street to sketch its exterior, Jimmie walks through the gate to touch-up…

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REVIEW: Jumanji: The Next Level [2019]

Wherever they may be. The first cinematic adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg‘s Jumanji brought the board game’s wild jungle environment to its players’ quiet suburbia for a crazy survival adventure. Jake Kasdan and company could have easily done the exact same thing again with their reboot/sequel hybrid Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle due to over twenty years having past since its predecessor’s release, but they chose to breathe new life into the property instead. And it worked beautifully to earn critical, creative, and financial success. They revamped board and dice…

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