• REVIEW: Blade Runner 2049 [2017]

    “Because you’ve never seen a miracle” Survival is a selfish endeavor, but not necessarily one driven by ego. On the contrary, survival is often a selfless means to place community ahead of the individual. Look at our country’s current, abhorrent divisions along lines we should have erased decades ago or never created in the first […]

  • REVIEW: The Florida Project [2017]

    “What are you playing?” It’s hard not to think about another A24 produced film while watching Sean Baker‘s The Florida Project. The themes it presents due its impoverished central characters barely scrapping by financially on a day-to-day basis are identical to Andrea Arnold‘s American Honey and its band of twenty-somethings traveling the countryside to scam […]

  • TIFF17 REVIEW: Princesita [2018]

    “The darker the night, the brighter the stars” Miguel (Marcelo Alonso) compares God to a fire when explaining how the ones our religions’ sacred books describe aren’t quite right. Our creator is simpler than those iterations. He has the power to turn wood into ash and water into steam. He has the power to transform. […]

  • TIFF17 REVIEW: Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] [2018]

    “Which of you is the bigger liar?” It didn’t win the Oscar for best live action short in 2014, but Xavier Legrand’s Just Before Losing Everything was by far my favorite nominee. Discovering his debut feature Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] was constructed as an expansion of that story therefore made it a must-see. The short […]

  • REVIEW: De sidste mænd i Aleppo [Last Men in Aleppo] [2017]

    “If I leave, it will be to the cemetery” It’s a shame that those who need to watch Last Men in Aleppo are those who won’t. I’m talking the brainwashed masses quick to call a liberal media “fake news” while they help facilitate legitimate fake news fabricated by enemy regimes hoping to plant dissent. They […]

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film reviews

REVIEW: Columbus [2017]

“You grow up around something and it feels like nothing” I’m not sure there’s a better art form than architecture to really let first-time writer/director Kogonada feel at home behind the camera. The man who made his name with video “supercuts” showing aesthetic through-lines of auteurs like Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, and Yasujirô […]

REVIEW: mother! [2017]

“His words are yours” Paramount has taken pains to ensure you know as little about Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! as possible. I know this because they’ve made it very difficult to find any images with which to populate this review. Their press site has no entry. The Toronto International Film Festival site contains no stills. And […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: A Worthy Companion [2017]

“You don’t deserve any of it” Capturing the complexity of abuse is tough to accomplish when mainstream audiences clamor for black and white delineations between predator and prey. Some go the horror route for metaphorical terror focusing on the pursuer while others go dramatic for the helplessness of a victim unable to break free. Writer/directors […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: The Breadwinner [2017]

“Everything changes. That’s what stories tell us.” In the Taliban-controlled Afghan city of Kabul, Nora Twomey‘s debut film as sole director (she co-helmed Oscar nominee The Secret of Kells) depicts an eleven-year old girl facing the futility her future inevitably holds. Adapted by Anita Doron from the award-winning novel by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner delivers […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: The Current War [2017]

“Star in a jar” The title is The Current War, but it’s subject is truly more history than battle. It’s flashier to think about our modern day electrical system as a conflict between two geniuses fighting for their vision’s victory, but the truth is more complex. Michael Mitnick‘s script understands this (mostly) despite the title […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Brad’s Status [2017]

“Why are you competing at all?” Brad’s (Ben Stiller) son is about to embark on college. It’s the type of auspicious life marker to make anyone look back and question the journey they’ve taken thus far. Has Brad done enough? Lived up to the potential he felt he possessed? Or was he passed by? All […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood [2018]

“Get what I mean?” If the phrase “tell-all” hadn’t been coined before 2012, Scotty Bowers‘ memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars would have done the job. Here’s a Marine Corps veteran of World War II born in Illinois who decided to land in Hollywood upon his […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] [2018]

“Which of you is the bigger liar?” It didn’t win the Oscar for best live action short in 2014, but Xavier Legrand’s Just Before Losing Everything was by far my favorite nominee. Discovering his debut feature Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] was constructed as an expansion of that story therefore made it a must-see. The short […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women [2017]

“Fantasy is possibility” Many probably don’t know about the man who created Wonder Woman. It’s not a surprise considering the decades it took to finally bring the character to the big screen despite a popularity that rivals her male Justice League counterparts. He wasn’t just some writer cashing in on the superhero craze spawned by […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Stronger [2017]

“I’m a hero for standing there and getting my legs blown off?” Peter Berg‘s take on unsung heroes Patriots Day is barely a year old and here we are with another Boston Marathon bombing film in David Gordon Green‘s Stronger. Rather than focus on the event itself, however, John Pollono‘s script turns focus squarely onto […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Verónica [2017]

“You have to do right what you did wrong” The story goes that the police were dispatched to a Madrid residence in June of 1991 only to find a teenage girl screaming from what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds. Strange phenomena was seen/found throughout the apartment, so much that the detective assigned the case could […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: The Lodgers [2017]

“Our curse is to live” A family’s shame marks them forever—their fate sealed by birth, bound by a poem’s rules. They must be locked in their rooms by midnight, never let a stranger through the door, and remain together or else the one who stays dies. Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) have lived […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: On Chesil Beach [2018]

“I wasn’t my family. I was me.” It’s 1962. Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) have just been married. She’s from a wealthy family and he a provincial one; her desire to be active in world affairs beyond her status’ ambivalence and his hope to be accepted as an intellectual with the […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Le sens de la fête [C’est la vie!] [2017]

“Can you repeat the options?” I went into Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano‘s latest film Le sens de la fête [C’est la vie!] knowing nothing about it. My assumption from their two previous works Intouchables and Samba was that it would prove a charmingly funny dramedy tinged with relevant politics and racial complexity. Boy was […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Papillon [2018]

“I have trouble seeing hope in hopelessness” It’s amazing how some tweaking can turn a decent film showing its age into a worthwhile project that earns its upgrade four decades later. To watch Franklin J. Schaffner‘s original Papillon adaptation is to see an arduous series of harrowing ordeals strung together for no reason other than […]