• REVIEW: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri [2017]

    “It’s hard to know what to do” It’s no coincidence that the dumbest character in Martin McDonagh‘s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri says the most revealing line of dialogue throughout the entire film: “Anger begets more anger.” I guess it’s because Penelope (Samara Weaving) isn’t dumb as much as she’s naïvely innocent and young. She’s […]

  • 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 […]

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film reviews

REVIEW: Papillon [1973]

“Blame is for God and small children” While Henri Charriere‘s account of his incarceration and escape from the penal colony known as French Guiana has a contentious history as far as it being an autobiography or novel of historical fiction, such debate is inconsequential to Franklin J. Schaffner‘s cinematic adaptation Papillon. Whether or not what […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Skyggenes Dal [Valley of Shadows] [2017]

“What we don’t understand scares us” Six year-old Aslak (Adam Ekeli) lives a quiet life with his single mother Astrid (Kathrine Fagerland) in a rural town adjacent to farmland and a mountaintop forest. He’s too young to understand all that’s happening around him—especially considering he’s generally told to keep away from the adults when they’re […]

REVIEW: Patty Cake$ [2017]

“Blood is thicker than Jäger” If you ever watched Hustle & Flow and wondered what it might look like rebranded for a younger audience, Geremy Jasper‘s Patti Cake$ has arrived—with a side of cultural appropriation. Admittedly this added “bonus” is a wild card attribute that has the potential of turning the whole very sour, very […]

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 […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: The Crescent [2017]

“Yeah, sweetie. Daddy got lost.” It starts by enveloping us in marbleizing paint—overlapping colors raked to warp dots into abstract patterns—and the loud aural pulses of a musical soundscape as heavy and permanent as those oils are fluidly malleable. We assume it’s merely a sensory aesthetic Seth A. Smith constructs to provide the tone for […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Du forsvinder [You Disappear] [2017]

“We just want to make sure you’re well enough” What if it was an established fact that free will as a concept was dictated by our body’s chemistry? Every decision we think we’re making is really made implicitly by our organs—more correctly, they are dictating to our brains what it is we want. That shopping […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Los Burritos [Cocaine Prison] [2017]

“If it doesn’t happen, what can I do?” If you’ve ever watched season three of “Prison Break” and wondered what was going on with Sona’s weird open air slum-like community barely watched by guards, know that the truth isn’t very far off. Just look at Bolivia’s San Sebastian Prison in Cochabamba, a small concrete establishment […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Cardinals [2017]

“Good to have me back” The big story surrounding Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley‘s feature debut Cardinals playing the Toronto International Film Festival stems from the fact that both men graduated from the city’s own Ryerson University. As a longtime festival venue/partner, this premiere will inevitably be treated as a homecoming. But don’t let that […]

REVIEW: Good Time [2017]

“Cross the room if you’ve ever felt lonely” The first person we meet in Josh and Benny Safdie‘s Good Time isn’t its lead Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson). Before he enters the picture to propel the film towards its kinetic search for ten grand, things begin much slower and much quieter with his brother Nick (played […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Black Kite [2017]

“For a drop of water I’ll tell you my whole story” With the world caught in a time and place allowing it to quickly judge so much on so little, tiny human stories like Black Kite prove to be their most potent. Ask Americans about the Taliban and some will probably say the term is […]

REVIEW: Bushwick [2017]

“We’ll make it one block at a time” The circumstances are horrific, but Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott‘s Bushwick couldn’t have picked a timelier week to hit limited theatrical release. We’re just barely ten days out from the tragic death of a counter-protestor by a white supremacist and the viral footage of so-called “alt-right” militias […]

REVIEW: Wind River [2017]

“Don’t steer away from the pain” After watching his first two spec scripts find homes with established directors—Denis Villeneuve and David Mackenzie bringing those words to life beautifully in neo-westerns Sicario and Hell or High Water respectively—actor turned screenwriter Taylor Sheridan finally steps behind the camera with his latest Wind River. While not as complex […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Verdwijnen [Disappearance] [2017]

“Until we all drown in it” Vignettes depicting a young girl playing the piano on a darkened concert stage come and go throughout Boudewijn Koole‘s Verdwijnen [Disappearance]. They provide bookends to the whole, his film seemingly a visual representation of the melody—both as this single chapter in Roos’ (Rifka Lodeizen) life and its entire duration […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Porcupine Lake [2017]

“Never ever squeal. That’s a rule.” Teenage Bea (Charlotte Salisbury) is in desperate need of an escape from her mundane, isolated life. We can assume Toronto’s big city living isn’t yet something she’s embraced due to her tendency for fainting spells whenever anxiety grows. Mom (Delphine Roussel‘s Ally) therefore keeps a tight leash, protecting her […]

REVIEW: Ingrid Goes West [2017]

“What’s your biggest emotional wound?” Many people are going to like Ingrid Goes West because its dark comedy seemingly mocks a culture they’ve wholeheartedly embraced. They’ll laugh because they see the titular lead (Aubrey Plaza‘s Ingrid Thorburn) as an exaggerated version of themselves: glued to social media, but letting it literally control her life. She’s […]