REVIEW: 江湖儿女 [Jiang hu er nü] [Ash Is Purest White] [2018]

“Armed men tend to die first” The genesis of Zhangke Jia‘s Jiang hu er nü [Ash is Purest White] is intriguing. After thinking about cut scenes from two of his earlier films starring now wife Tao Zhao (Unknown Pleasures and Still Life), he found himself merging her characters into one. He saw this woman having […]

REVIEW: Rafiki [2018]

“We’re going to be something real” Some will dismiss Wanuri Kahiu‘s Rafiki as derivative simply because they refuse to see what makes it so special. They’ll mention its Romeo and Juliet parallel as far as having the children of opposing political candidates fall in love. They’ll compare it to generic love stories—and generic gay love […]

REVIEW: Aladdin [1992]

“We’ve all got swords” I forgot how refreshingly simple Aladdin is. Disney and Pixar utilize such elaborate narrative set-ups today that their films don’t rely on charm and fun alone anymore. That’s not to say this one does since its ability to put its hero and heroine on equal footing rather than blindly relegating the […]

REVIEW: Gloria Bell [2019]

“We could all die tomorrow” I hate the argument that remakes of foreign films allow English-speakers to invest more in the story and performance because they aren’t dividing attention between dialogue and imagery, but I can’t deny some validity to the thought. There’s more to it than just what you hear, though, because a new […]

REVIEW: Gloria [2013]

“Are you always this happy?” While sitting next to her ex-husband (Alejandro Goic‘s Gabriel) at their adult son’s birthday party, Gloria (Paulina García) peers at old wedding photos and comments about how naïve they were. He of course tries shifting those sentiments by exclaiming they were in love, but she just smiles and repeats “naïve” […]

REVIEW: Van Wilder [2002]

“Write that down” Twenty-four years after Tim Matheson‘s Eric “Otter” Stratton fast-talked his way towards saving a fraternity in National Lampoon’s Animal House, the torch was passed onto former “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” star Ryan Reynolds. The timing isn’t surprising since American Pie and its sequel earned box office success while […]

REVIEW: Finding Steve McQueen [2019]

“It’s like an alphabet soup enema” The Dinsio Brothers and their accomplices stole around nine million dollars from four hundred-plus safety deposit boxes inside the United California Bank of Laguna Niguel. To read Amil Dinsio’s website is to learn of his self-proclaimed “master” exploits and how the FBI sought to frame him for the job […]

REVIEW: Sombra City [2019]

“I said I don’t trust you, but—” It’s 2037 and the world looks similar to ours but for certain societal changes. The main alteration at the center of Elias Plagianos‘ Sombra City is the legality of murder if done with a bounty hunting purpose. Think a duel, but farmed out to trained assassins. As long […]

REVIEW: Zimna wojna [Cold War] [2018]

“Time doesn’t matter when you are in love” It’s critical to know that writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski loosely based his main characters in Zimna wojna [Cold War] on their namesakes: his parents. To know he acknowledges the fact that they were destructive together and lovesick apart makes the way in which the fictional Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) […]

REVIEW: Write When You Get Work [2018]

“I’m friendly” We don’t ever discover why or when high school sweethearts Ruth Duffy (Rachel Keller) and Jonny Collins (Finn Wittrock) broke up during the course of Stacy Cochran‘s Write When You Get Work. All we know are certain circumstances and thus are left to assume the rest. Maybe they tried making things work after […]

REVIEW: Daughters of the Dust [1991]

“I ain’t got no more dreams, cousin” The voice we hear is of the unborn child (Kai-Lynn Warren) growing inside Eula Peazant (Alva Rogers). She speaks about the events onscreen from a future that ensures her birth if not her residence—the lynchpin to the entirety of Julie Dash‘s Daughters of the Dust who metaphorically and […]