• REVIEW: Leave No Trace [2018]

    “We can still think our own thoughts” It’s easy to depict PTSD-suffering war veterans as unstable, dangerous, and beyond help from inevitable tragedy. This depiction has sadly become the Hollywood norm to conjure volatile dramatics devoid of the empathy those struggling to combat their demons deserve. If anyone could supply the necessary humanity to portray […]

  • Top 100 Albums of 2017

    Honorable Mention: #100: Talking by Elderbrook #99: Carnival III:The Fall and Rise of a Refugee by Wyclef Jean #98: Somewhere in Between by VÉRITÉ #97: The World We Built by The Wild Reeds #96: Lines by Charlie Cunningham #95: Ti Amo by Phoenix #94: Confidently Lost by Sabrina Claudio #93: Last Place by Grandaddy #92: […]

  • REVIEW: Hereditary [2018]

    “Why are you afraid of me?” If anyone has the ability to dive into the deepest, darkest secrets of an otherwise normal looking suburban family, it’s the writer/director of The Strange Thing About the Johnsons. It’s been seven years since Ari Aster‘s viral short film about incest and sexual abuse came out and yet his […]

  • REVIEW: American Animals [2018]

    “Like what?” The more you hear about privileged white kids shooting-up schools because they’re under such “debilitating” pressure alienating them from the “cool” kids, turn “alt-right” with a projection of hatred that stems from a hatred in themselves courtesy of a false notion that they’re somehow “special,” and find themselves acting out of boredom in […]

  • REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story [2018]

    “You said never improvise” Nine movies into the cinematic world of George Lucas‘ Star Wars—three of which extend past his control over the franchise—and we remain tethered to the Skywalkers. It makes sense. In order for Disney to commoditize the property, they must first reconnect with old fans and familiarize the new. So they stuck […]

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film reviews

REVIEW: You Were Never Really Here [2018]

“I must do better, sir” An unparalleled exercise in economy, Lynne Ramsay‘s You Were Never Really Here cements her status as a cinematic master. This brutalist thriller runs a deliberate yet swift 89-minutes, its central character a man of few words with violence bubbling just beneath a too large heart for the hostile world that’s […]

REVIEW: Love After Love [2018]

“She was a person of real consequence” A father is sick and then he dies. There’s nothing too original in that progression of events or in how those left behind cope. Sometimes this type of tragedy makes people retreat within themselves and others see themselves lash out for attention. Sometimes it’s a foregone conclusion loved […]

REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time [2018]

“Love is the frequency” While waiting outside the bathrooms after A Wrinkle in Time finished, I saw a white couple with their two young, fair-haired daughters walking out of the theater. Mom and Dad were explaining to one how movies are interpretations. They were reminding her that she had an idea of what the characters […]

REVIEW: Lean on Pete [2018]

“I’d rather them never see me again than see me like this” Loneliness is a tough concept to cope with as a child, especially when it begins to seem as though you’re to blame. That’s hardly the case, though, since people who leave do so out of selfishness rather than “just cause.” You may think […]

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 […]

TFF18 REVIEW: Phantom Cowboys [2018]

“Give it hell. Turn left.” It would be easy to dismiss Nick Reyes, Larry Young, and Tyler Carpenter as three variations on the same thing: poor American youth. The simple fact their stories are combined within Daniel Patrick Carbone‘s poetic look at nature, nurture, opportunity, and struggle in rural areas of our country entitled Phantom […]

REVIEW: Oh Lucy! [2018]

“Meow. Meow. Smooch.” I saw Atsuko Hirayanagi‘s short film Oh Lucy! back in 2014 and thought it to be a bona fide charmer. It told the story of a lonely woman named Setsuko who does her niece a favor by recouping the cost of English classes the cash-strapped girl had decided quit. The American teacher […]

REVIEW: Sweet Smell of Success [1957]

“No. You’re dead, son. Get yourself buried.” The hook is simple: Steve Dallas (Martin Milner) and Susan Hunsecker (Susan Harrison) are in love, but big brother J.J. (Burt Lancaster) doesn’t approve. He hasn’t supported her with penthouses and fur coats to watch a young guitarist whisk her away, but he can’t be caught stopping them […]

REVIEW: Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free [2016]

“Become who you are” There’s a great line spoken by an aged Lou Andreas-Salomé (Nicole Heesters) to new friend and potential biographer Ernst Pfeiffer (Matthias Lier) upon his praise-fueled declaration that the way she lived her life—her freedom—was a touchstone for modern feminism. Her reply is, “Nonsense. What’s changed for us women since then?” It’s […]

TFF18 REVIEW: All These Small Moments [2018]

“And then, somehow over time, I stopped smiling” It’s called All These Small Moments for a reason—one that becomes clear with a final, out-of-nowhere moment of voiceover narration in case you hadn’t figured it out yourself by acknowledging how formative, complex, and emotionally draining each one of writer/director Melissa B. Miller-Costanzo‘s dense scenes prove. Whether […]

REVIEW: Incubo sulla città contaminata [Nightmare City] [1980]

“That sounds like science fiction” There’s a scene between Dean Miller (Hugo Stiglitz) and his wife Anna (Laura Trotter) about two-thirds of the way through Umberto Lenzi‘s Incubo sulla città contaminate [Nightmare City] where they speak about the perils of technology. After an hour of murder, death, and exposed breasts, suddenly the screenwriters decide to […]

REVIEW: Itzhak [2018]

“The more you have in your heart, the more you have to give” Documentarian Alison Chernick has made a career of profiling artists from Jeff Koons and Matthew Barney in features to Roy Lichtenstein and Rick Rubin in shorts. Her latest subject is renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman—a victim of polio as a child in Israel […]

REVIEW: An Ordinary Man [2018]

“I am myth” Despite being someone known for family friendly fare (Casper and A Series of Unfortunate Events), Brad Silberling was always the guy behind the under-rated Moonlight Mile to me. Beyond its sentimentality and contrivances, it cemented his name as one to follow. Besides 10 Items or Less, however, he career mostly shifted from […]

REVIEW: Rampage [2018]

“Even assholes deserve a second chance” To watch a play-through of Bally Midway’s 1986 arcade hit Rampage is to conjure thoughts of Wreck-It Ralph and his destructive path up a populated building to smash windows and grab bystanders. Instead of controlling a Fix-It Felix to subdue the trio of beasts wreaking havoc or a military […]

REVIEW: A Quiet Place [2018]

“I have always loved you” It’s always a risk going to a film on opening night—especially horror. The genre attracts a younger audience looking to giggle their way through the experience, oftentimes proving so obnoxiously overcompensating in their fear preparation during the preshow trailers and commercials that I wish I stayed home. So it was […]