• Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2017

    Below is my December 24th ballot for the 21st annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2017 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. (We were only allowed to vote for one nominee per category this year, but I ranked them all like previous years […]

  • REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name [2017]

    “‘Cause I wanted you to know” It wasn’t until three-quarters of the way through Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me By Your Name that I finally began to understand the almost universal praise bestowed upon it since debuting at Sundance. Up until then it merely felt like a familiar coming-of-age film wherein the teenager in question was […]

  • REVIEW: The Work [2017]

    “Go inside to go outside” It’s one thing for a maximum-security prison full of violent offenders like Folsom to offer the type of in-depth therapy sessions it does, but it’s another to see the number of inmates with the courage and desire to attend. To be willing to leave your gang affiliations at the door […]

  • REVIEW: Unrest [2017]

    “I just thought I would have more time” You can tell a lot about someone with the question: “What are your thoughts on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)?” The answer is “Yes” or “No” and yet the latter has the potential of holding an infinite number of biases stemming from the likes […]

  • REVIEW: Coco [2017]

    “Seize your moment” Disney and Pixar have lately begun to tell more stories that aren’t intrinsically linked to their white male sensibilities (even if they have a tendency to push out voices that should be talking for their characters like Brenda Chapman on Brave). It’s definitely an evolutionary process—one that might actually be helped with […]

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film reviews

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 […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: L’insulte [The Insult] [2017]

“Because that’s what they are. Just stupid words.” Despite the fact that Ziad Doueiri‘s (a crew member on some of Quentin Tarantino‘s early works) latest film L’insulte [The Insult] is set in Lebanon, the ensuing drama can’t help but feel familiar to what’s currently happening in America. As our president says bad things are happening […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Borg/McEnroe [2017]

“Who am I? The gentleman or the rebel?” Juan Martin del Potro just ruined the match-up everyone wanted to see at the 2017 US Open—a semi-final pitting Rafa Nadal against Roger Federer. Despite both being in their thirties, their rivalry has never stopped. What’s intriguing, however, is how amiable it has always been (or seemed […]

REVIEW: It [2017]

“Welcome to the Losers’ Club” There was a lot said about the new cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s It when Cary Fukunaga signed on a few years ago. Enough about him as a rising auteur capable of infusing some magic into a story so intrinsically tied to the Tim Curry-starring miniseries from 1990 that his […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Svanurinn [The Swan] [2017]

“You were so good when you were little” What once was a traditional rite of passage for Icelandic children has now become punishment. Whereas her mother probably visited her Aunt Ólöf’s (Katla M. Þorgeirsdóttir) farmland to learn responsibility and work ethic away from the allure of her ocean-side city, young Sól (Gríma Valsdóttir) makes the […]