• Top 100 Films of the Decade: 2010-2019

    If you asked me in 2010 which studios’ films would be amongst my favorites over the next ten years, I probably would have answered two correctly: Fox Searchlight (11) and Sony Pictures Classics (7). Those are two independent shingles of big Hollywood names that have been pumping out quality pictures for decades. Next up would […]

  • Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2019

    Below is my December 26th ballot for the 23rd annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2019 calendar year. Group winners were announced on January 6th, 2020 and are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1Parasite #2Portrait of aLady on Fire #3Marriage Story #4Knives Out #5Us #6Uncut […]

  • REVIEW: Portrait de la jeune fille en feu [Portrait of a Lady on Fire] [2019]

    “Don’t regret. Remember.” An eighteenth century Italian countess (Valeria Golino) still residing at the French estate of her late husband has decided she’d like to return home. The best way to accomplish this is marrying off one of her daughters to an affluent Milanese suitor since doing so would secure both their futures while also […]

  • REVIEW: A Hidden Life [2019]

    “We lived above the clouds” With notoriously long post-production periods due to his uniquely poetic editing style, Terrence Malick‘s three-hour WWII romance A Hidden Life may have actually benefited from its three-year delay as far as thematic relevance to current events is concerned. As a rising tide of fascistic totalitarianism takes hold of world governments […]

  • REVIEW: Marriage Story [2019]

    “The pie was just a pie” It’s crazy how love changes the way we see things. Ambition can look like genius when we’re there as a supportive cheerleader and narcissism when we begin to recognize our sacrifices in seeing it get fulfilled. Success can be construed as a mutually beneficial byproduct of a union when […]

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film reviews

REVIEW: Daniel Isn’t Real [2019]

“Not insane. Awake!” The title truly says it all: Daniel Isn’t Real. So when a little boy takes his stuffed animal down the street to escape his parents’ screams only to walk by a gruesome murder scene marked by a bloodied body lifeless on the ground, we understand the significance of his also finding a […]

REVIEW: Ford v Ferrari [2019]

“I’ll have you home for meatloaf and gravy” The man at the center of James Mangold‘s Ford v Ferrari is Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), a former driver turned racecar designer forced into retirement by a heart condition exacerbated by the difficulties of his high-speed sport of choice. His narrative importance lies in being the connective […]

REVIEW: Feast of the Seven Fishes [2019]

“What the hell is nostalgia?” Titled after the Southern Italian tradition that made its way across the Atlantic to become a part of many Italian-American families’ Christmas Eve celebrations, Robert Tinnell‘s adaptation of his own graphic novel/recipe book Feast of the Seven Fishes does well to center itself upon its food even if the people […]

REVIEW: Bisbee ’17 [2018]

“Thank you for riding the deportation express” On the surface it appears to be an illegal deportation of anti-union Americans at the hands of newly deputized company loyalists in Bisbee, Arizona. Approximately 1,200 copper mining strikers and sympathizers were rounded up at gunpoint in 1917, ushered into cattle cars, and driven over the border to […]

REVIEW: Mickey and the Bear [2019]

“Sometimes you just lose track of time” Set in the small Montana town of Anaconda, writer/director Annabelle Attanasio‘s feature debut Mickey and the Bear takes pride in its authenticity. She was given a grant to conduct “ethnographic and visual research” into the community there so she could better understand its veteran population and close-knit history […]

OIFF19 REVIEW: סיבת המוות [Cause of Death] [2019]

“I can’t stop thinking about it” Director Ramy A Katz leaves three text cards at the end of his Cause of Death to share responses to the film that were supplied by the Israeli police department, Ministry of Health, and the medical examiner of Officer Salim Barakat’s body upon his death at the scene of […]

OIFF19 REVIEW: Mafak [Screwdriver] [2019]

“I didn’t even cry” You hate to think of the United States as a warzone and yet that’s exactly what it is in many respects. Whether a for-profit prison system leaving a largely Black population disenfranchised, unemployable, and haunted or caged children who crossed the Southern border for asylum only to be scarred by the […]

ANOMALY19 REVIEW: VFW [2019]

“Same mud” That co-writer Matthew McArdle remains shocked even after seeing the film he and Max Brallier wrote on the big screen shows how tough the accomplishment proves. Best friends since childhood, the two began their script for VFW with transparent intentions as far as harkening back to the no-holds-barred VHS gems they’d scour video […]

ANOMALY19 REVIEW: Bacurau [2019]

“A feast of fear and terror” It’s been awhile since Teresa (Bárbara Colen) last stepped foot in Bacurau, the small Brazilian village where she was born. Escape has proven the only way to become known outside of one’s neighbors since those who remain entrenched by choice (or necessity) are more or less the sole providers […]

REVIEW: Doctor Sleep [2019]

“We don’t end” I’m not going to lie: seeing Stephen King endorse Mike Flanagan‘s cinematic adaptation of his novel Doctor Sleep worried me. After being so vehemently vocal against Stanley Kubrick‘s changes to The Shining, the film version of the sequel would seemingly need to be religiously faithful to the text for him to laud […]

OIFF19 REVIEW: Advocate [2019]

“It’s always heavy” The crucial truth within Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaiche‘s documentary Advocate arrives courtesy of their subject Lea Tsemel. She explains how there will be no end to the violence between Israelis and Palestinians until a human understanding of the motives can be reached. Israel’s staunch stance as the unequivocal victim was […]

REVIEW: Dolor y gloria [Pain & Glory] [2019]

“Compassionate and controlled” A lot has been said about Pedro Almodóvar‘s latest film Dolor y gloria [Pain & Glory] being autofiction, but the director says it best himself when explaining that the character (Antonio Banderas‘ Salvador Mallo) “wasn’t me, but was inside me.” There’s power to that statement because it accepts the notion that everything […]

REVIEW: Harriet [2019]

“God showed me the way” Harriet Tubman is such an important heroic figure in American history that she was set to replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill next year (the 19th Amendment’s centennial anniversary). That she isn’t anymore (Hollywood producer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delayed the switch in a move most believe was […]

REVIEW: Cold Brook [2019]

“He needs to go home” I did a lengthy retrospective interview with William Fichtner back in 2015 as part of a local Buffalo, New York publication’s “film issue” due to his being raised in the suburb of Cheektowaga and forever holding a special place in his heart for the city wherever he goes. When talking […]

REVIEW: Motherless Brooklyn [2019]

“I’m chasing his footsteps” Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) was more than a boss to Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton). This man plucked him out of an orphanage wherein the nuns beat him because they believed his Tourette syndrome was a sign of wavering faith. Frank taught Lionel that anyone using God’s name to harm a child […]