• REVIEW: Luce [2019]

    “I can’t be perfect” So much of who we are and what we become relies on perception. Race, gender, religion, sexuality, language, culture, education, and socio-economic standing all play a role because we’re perceived by those like us and those not. We therefore exist in a tenuous bubble of expectations wherein normalcy is a razor-thin […]

  • REVIEW: The Farewell [2019]

    “It’s a good lie” Billi (Awkwafina) heads to her parents’ home to clean laundry after discovering she’s now two months behind on her rent only to hear her father (Tzi Ma‘s Haiyan) is “asleep” … at 6pm. Her mother (Diana Lin‘s Jian) dismisses the time as a byproduct of them being very busy, but she […]

  • REVIEW: Toy Story 4 [2019]

    “She’ll be okay” It was said upon the release of Toy Story 3 that the franchise was done as far as Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear’s (Tim Allen) adventures were concerned. These sentiments made sense because it ended nicely on a logical breaking point wherein the boy whose name adorned their feet grew-up and […]

  • REVIEW: Napszállta [Sunset] [2018]

    “It’s starting all over again” I felt as though I was running circles throughout László Nemes‘ sophomore effort Napszállta [Sunset]. It doesn’t help that we’re often inches from Írisz Leiter’s (Juli Jakab) face—if not looking through her very eyes—as she winds her way through an unfamiliar and just out of focus Budapest, Hungary. I speak […]

  • Top 100 Albums of 2018

    Honorable Mention: #100: Mindset by Vacationer #99: Bruce Wayne by Fetty Wap #98: 7 by Beach House #97: Castles by Lissie #96: Shift by Henry Green #95: Kyoto by Tyga #94: White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood by of Montreal #93: Trickster Blues by RF Shannon #92: I can feel you creepinto my private life by Tune-Yards […]

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film reviews

FANTASIA19 REVIEW: Jade’s Asylum [2019]

“You’re the one who brought sand to the beach” We don’t get our bearings as far as locale and characters go until a little ways into Alexandre Carrière‘s Jade’s Asylum. While we’ve already met Jade (Morgan Kohan) and her boyfriend Toby (Kjartan Hewitt) in the midst of a fight wherein he blames his infidelity on […]

REVIEW: Echo In the Canyon [2019]

“You always brought your guitar” It started with Jacques Demy‘s Model Shop. Director Andrew Slater saw it, thought about the era depicted (it was released in 1968), and got that Laurel Canyon sound—where so many of the folk-to-rock transitional bands lived—stuck in his brain. This shouldn’t be surprising considering Demy recruited Spirit to create a […]

REVIEW: Moonrise [1948]

“Anyone can make a mistake” Danny Hawkins (Dane Clark) kills a man. This is indisputable. Was it self-defense? Maybe. While his victim (Lloyd Bridges‘ Jerry Sykes) picked up the rock that would be his own demise first, it’s Danny who restarts what was a fair fight after already being soundly defeated. So while Jerry raised […]

FANTASIA19 REVIEW: The Art of Self-Defense [2019]

“I want to be what intimidates me” There was definite trepidation upon learning writer/director Riley Stearns‘ follow-up to Faults would be a comedy. That’s not to say his debut wasn’t funny, however. It was. But where its humor arrived from the matter-of-fact nature of the characterizations he utilized to turn his tale of cult deprogramming […]

FANTASIA19 REVIEW: Sadako [2019]

“That new girl is creepy” Director Hideo Nakata brought novelist Kôji Suzuki‘s Ring series to the big screen two decades ago and spawned a laundry list of sequels, American remakes (one of which he helmed), comics, and television remakes that each put their own unique spin on central “monster” Sadako Yamamura’s history until fluidity of […]

REVIEW: Trespassers [2019]

“Sometimes you just can’t stop what’s coming” The film opens on an affluent white couple living close enough to the Mexican border for another character to later say, “You can’t open the door to strangers in today’s society.” They’re awoken by three men in masks made to look like MS-13 gang members, dragged out, and […]

REVIEW: Luz [2019]

“You see a girl and reveal your true self” It’s been years since a demonic entity has seen the woman it loves—she who conjured it to the surface before being driven out from the place in which she did. Tonight was a chance reunion wherein familiarity was quickly replaced by violence before a yet-unseen escape […]

REVIEW: Sword of Trust [2019]

“Is this ‘Antiques Roadshow’ for racists?” There’s a point in Lynn Shelton‘s Sword of Trust where the four principal characters are being led into a situation with as much chance of ending in their death as it does the payment of forty thousand dollars. Sitting there in that moment of uncertainty without any bearing as […]

REVIEW: Round of Your Life [2019]

“Nothing motivates like disappointment” Christian faith films are difficult to watch objectively because they generally end one of two ways: a miracle by the grace of God or a tragedy accepted as His will. So there’s not much wiggle room when it comes to drama. Whether or not the person in pain recovers often has […]

REVIEW: Midsommar [2019]

“No higher and no hotter” It must have been one helluva break-up since no run-of-the-mill, mutual uncoupling could inspire someone to pull a complete reversal like writer/director Ari Aster did. He initially turned down an idea that some Swedish producers brought him to bring to life. He didn’t see the purpose in creating some random […]

REVIEW: Spider-Man: Far From Home [2019]

“Please stop saying tingle” **There will obviously be Endgame spoilers.** It’s a post-“blip” world (the word humanity has agreed upon as a stand-in for the five-year period where half of world’s population disappeared at the snap of Thanos’ fingers) and the usual faces are gone. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) can no longer rely on […]

REVIEW: The Lion King [1994]

“Remember who you are” The sun rises at the screen’s bottom as Lebo M. is heard singing in Zulu. We take a look at the wide-open expanse of an African savannah before slowly honing in on herds of animals moving towards a single spot: Pride Rock. There we find Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Sarabi […]

REVIEW: Phil [2019]

“I never promised you a rose garden” We meet Phil McGuire (Greg Kinnear) exiting his parked car while still in traffic to climb up a bridge railing. It’s a one hundred-plus foot drop into the water and he imagines taking the plunge before a group of teens with cellphones outstretched jolt him from the morbid […]

REVIEW: Anastasia [1997]

“In the dark of the night she’ll be gone” In a fantasy world where royalty was adored as idyllically benevolent leaders thinking only about how to protect and serve their people, the Romanovs were betrayed by the evil Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd) who subsequently consorted with the Devil to wield dark magic powerful enough to curse […]

REVIEW: Last Night [1998]

“Would it hurt you to play along just once?” The cause might be unnamed, but the fact it’s still sunny at midnight guarantees the giant star at the center of our solar system is going supernova (whether or not physics deems it possible). Because all life on Earth will cease in a predetermined instant, you […]