• REVIEW: Destroyer [2018]

    “Let’s see if it’s your time” It’s billed as a down and dirty revenge flick with some calling it a redundant variation on a theme “better” films already delivered. That’s not how I see it, though. No, Karyn Kusama‘s latest is about guilt. Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) isn’t drowning herself in alcohol and pushing everyone […]

  • REVIEW: The Standoff at Sparrow Creek [2019]

    “One’s missing” The film begins in total silence to the point where you wonder if something went wrong with the sound. The camera pans through still trees until finding Gannon (James Badge Dale) on the ground with rifle ready to take out the deer we can assume is somewhere out of frame. It’s only when […]

  • Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2018

    Below is my December 27th ballot for the 22nd annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2018 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. (No option to abstain was supplied this year.) Best Picture #1If Beale StreetCould Talk #2You Were NeverReally Here #3Hereditary #4Eighth Grade […]

  • REVIEW: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse [2018]

    “It’s just puberty” You have to hand it to Sony for thinking outside the box. Not long ago they had the number one cinematic superhero property with Tobey Maguire donning the Spidey-suit to take on the Osborns. They tried to strike gold twice with a new “Amazing” iteration starring Andrew Garfield, but the results simply […]

  • REVIEW: We the Animals [2018]

    “We wanted more” There are a lot of hard truths within We the Animals. Describing patriarch Paps (Raúl Castillo) as “loving but unpredictable” in the press notes gets right to the heart of that complexity since a more apt description could be “abuser.” He’s a man with a hot temper who inflames his wife (Sheila […]

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film reviews

REVIEW: The House That Jack Built [2018]

“The choice is entirely yours” I can’t wait to discover what’s next for Lars von Trier‘s oeuvre. He followed his Dogme 95 phase with a period steeped in depression and now that one has seemingly just ended with [the blatantly autobiographical] film The House That Jack Built. At its center is the personification of this […]

REVIEW: リズと青い鳥 [Rizu to Aoi tori] [Liz and the Blue Bird] [2018]

“I hope that day never comes” The filmmakers behind リズと青い鳥 [Rizu to Aoi tori] [Liz and the Blue Bird] did a smart thing: they took an existing property (Ayano Takeda‘s novel series Sound! Euphonium which has subsequently become a manga, anime series, and film) and expanded upon two of its secondary characters by allowing them […]

REVIEW: The Mercy [2018]

“What if I tell them I’m here?” I had never heard of Donald Crowhurst before seeing James Marsh‘s film The Mercy. This is unsurprising since the British Sunday Times‘ Golden Globe Race of which he was a competitor occurred in 1968, not quite fifteen years before my birth. And if his would-be return-date to Teignmouth, […]

REVIEW: Green Book [2018]

“Does Betty like butter … er?” First things first: racism isn’t funny. It’s surprising that something so important can be forgotten so often, but here we are with another cinematic example of the opposite. What’s worse is that the story director/co-writer Peter Farrelly is bringing to the big screen with intentional beats rendering a wisecracking […]

REVIEW: Widows [2018]

“This isn’t your world” When the first trailer for Widows dropped, I thought, “Steve McQueen is branching out to genre fare now.” This wasn’t a slight, just an observation. I obviously wanted to see it, but thought I could wait before the notes out of TIFF declared it a must-see. Suddenly I needed to reevaluate […]

REVIEW: Ralph Breaks the Internet [2018]

“You said I was trenching!” I knew things weren’t going to go as hoped when the lack of a short film before Ralph Breaks the Internet brought a filmed introduction by three of its middle-aged, male creators instead. They pretend as though they’re personally beaming themselves into our theater to share their gratitude with fake […]

REVIEW: Creed II [2018]

“Gimme back my keys” There’s no better way to recognize what a filmmaker brings to the table than a sequel without him/her. This isn’t to say Ryan Coogler wasn’t involved in the making of Creed II—he is a producer on the project after all. No, it’s simply to point out how different Creed was to […]

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 […]

REVIEW: Manbiki kazoku [Shoplifters] [2018]

“Sounds fishy” When times are tough, you improvise. Look at the Shibata family for example. Osamu (Lily Franky) and Nobuyo (Sakura Andô) both work part-time jobs to bring home meager earnings that can be added to the pension Grandma Hatsue (Kirin Kiki) collects as a result of her husband’s passing. They also have her home […]

REVIEW: Madeline’s Madeline [2018]

“This is just a metaphor” One of the worst things you can be told as a child is how brilliant you are. Parents and mentors love to throw this sort of blanket praise out with promises that everything will work out for you without thinking about the ramifications of what such a falsely optimistic indoctrination […]

REVIEW: Write When You Get Work [2018]

“I’m friendly” We don’t ever discover why or when high school sweethearts Ruth Duffy (Rachel Keller) and Jonny Collins (Finn Wittrock) broke up during the course of Stacy Cochran‘s Write When You Get Work. All we know are certain circumstances and thus are left to assume the rest. Maybe they tried making things work after […]

REVIEW: Bohemian Rhapsody [2018]

“Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds.” There’s the story of Freddie Mercury and the story of his band Queen. One deals with complicated topics spanning fractured identity, the excess of fame, and AIDS while the other is apparently straightforward with little conflict besides creative squabbles that get ironed out before the argument is even finished. […]

REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald [2018]

“We mustn’t be what they say we are” Who is Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne)? This is an important question we have to ask while watching Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, one we didn’t during the entirety of Harry Potter’s adventures at Hogwarts and beyond. Back then we knew who our hero was because of […]

REVIEW: What They Had [2018]

“Is that my baby?” Norbert Eberhardt (Robert Forster) is a loving, generous man who literally swept the woman of his dreams (Blythe Danner‘s Ruth) off her feet to start a decades-long romance that produced two children (Hilary Swank‘s Bridget and Michael Shannon‘s Nick), two grandkids (Taissa Farmiga‘s Emma being one), and unforgettable memories … until […]

REVIEW: Marlina Si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak [Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts] [2017]

“This is my prisoner” Considering the seemingly endless number of Hollywood male directors tackling women empowerment films as a means to declare themselves feminists while also—wittingly or not—preserving their careers at the expense of the women they’re seemingly in solidarity with, you must give renowned Indonesian director Garin Nugroho credit for recognizing the treatment he […]