REVIEW: A Private War [2018]

“I think fear comes later” American journalist Marie Colvin’s family’s lawyers say they have evidence proving the Bashar al-Assad-led government of Syria ordered her death in 2012. If that doesn’t express the power of a free press, I’m not sure what could. At a time when the US President is acting like an autocratic leader […]

TIFF18 REVIEW: Where Hands Touch [2018]

“I want her to be like everyone else: unremarkable” Now is not the time to make a film romanticizing Nazism or allowing anyone who donned the swastika during World War II a modicum of sympathy. I’d argue there could never be such a time—at least not for those who say they felt bad but still […]

REVIEW: 火垂るの墓 [Hotaru no haka] [Grave of the Fireflies] [1988]

“Please stay home with me” Everything I read and heard about Isao Takahata‘s Hotaru no haka [Grave of the Fireflies] appeared to want to prepare me for a solemnly tragic tale that couldn’t be completed without tears streaming down my face. I took this train of thought as a badge of honor—preparing its emotionality and […]

REVIEW: 12 Strong [2018]

“There are no right choices here” War films generally come in two varieties: a gray introspective look at its emotional and psychological cost and black and white jingoistic propaganda. The former is generally acclaimed as award worthy while the latter is dumped during winter months so its target audience of NRA-loving Republicans in American flag […]

REVIEW: この世界の片隅に [Kono sekai no katasumi ni] [In This Corner of the World] [2016]

“Was I always daydreaming?” It’s starts as a cutely surreal slice of life in 1930s Japan as Suzu (Non) and her flights of fancy take the spotlight. The young girl loves to draw and daydream—the latter often leaving her with time lost in a place unknown. At one point she even finds herself with a […]

REVIEW: This is Congo [2018]

“The one who should keep you safe is the one who can kill you” Documentarian Daniel McCabe wastes no time getting to the point of his film This is Congo with the words of DRC National Army Colonel Mamadou Ndala. This smiling dreamer of peace and unity speaks about his home like a philosopher as […]

REVIEW: Dunkirk [2017]

“He may never be himself again” War is often depicted as a quantifiable number of those who survived and those who did not. Many films choose this route, picking a battle to show the firefight’s chaos and cost. We remember the Battle of Gettysburg and D-Day as turning points, insane offensives that wrought heavy casualties […]

REVIEW: The Beguiled [2017]

“I didn’t want you to be misled” There’s a lot to like about Don Siegel‘s 1971 adaptation of Thomas Cullinan‘s A Painted Devil. Unfortunately, there’s just as much left wanting. It built towards a tense finale of malicious intent, the kind that’s able to turn what was a simple wartime drama into a metaphorical representation […]

REVIEW: The Beguiled [1971]

“Old enough for kisses” If you’ve ever wondered what would happen inside a Confederate girls seminary (boarding school) unwittingly thrust into the position of harboring a wounded Union soldier during the Civil War, Don Siegel‘s The Beguiled seeks to provide some dark answers. Based on Thomas Cullinan‘s novel A Painted Devil and adapted by Albert […]

REVIEW: Under sandet [Land of Mine] [2015]

“I’ll make it home” War is a horrific reality that forces people into doing terrible things. Everyone sees him/herself as being on the side of “good” and “righteous”—look at the discrepancies from one history book to another in how education systems describe certain events to shine one’s own nation in a rosier tint than it […]

REVIEW: Frantz [2016]

“I don’t want to forget him” Loosely inspired by Ernst Lubitsch‘s post-WWI-set film Broken Lullaby (itself an adaptation of Maurice Rostand‘s play), François Ozon‘s latest Frantz similarly deals with a French soldier searching for the family of a German casualty of war. It doesn’t, however, focus upon this foreign stranger entering the nation his army […]