TIFF19 REVIEW: Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] [2019]

But we’re Christians. Director Alejandro Amenábar spoke very briefly before the screening of his latest film Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] and the main sentiment was this: “It could happen anywhere.” He doesn’t, however, just mean rebellion or uprising. He doesn’t mean a coup or military dictatorship either. What he and co-writer Alejandro Hernández share via the parallel journeys of Don Miguel de Unamuno (Karra Elejalde) and General Franco (Santi Prego) is that just fights always run the risk of becoming unjust very fast. This truth is ultimately…

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Realive [2017]

“He sacrificed a remarkable woman for an inadequate dream” It’s been humanity’s dream since the dawn of time to find the fountain of youth: immortality. To live forever is the ultimate success for humanity’s optimistic idealism. We witness the pain and suffering death creates, constantly trying to distance ourselves from it by forgetting how our lifespans’ brevity makes them special. It’s in death that we see who truly loves us and whom we hold closest. For someone like Marc Jarvis (Tom Hughes) death can even become a celebration. The sting…

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REVIEW: Amour [2012]

“Promise me one thing.” For someone as famously attuned to the intellectual thriller oftentimes leaning towards the hidden recesses of humanity’s darkest proclivities, seeing writer/director Michael Haneke‘s name attached to the universally lauded Amour was always a bit of a puzzle. Depicting the final months in the lives of two eighty-year old former music teachers—Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva)—after the lady of the house suffers a debilitating stroke, the film’s rather heartbreaking portrayal of sacrifice and unwavering adoration is without a doubt an aberration in the auteur’s oeuvre.…

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Top 50 Films of the Decade (2000–2009)

As always, I have not seen every film made in the decade, so this list is only complete as of posting. There are those diamonds in the rough I’ve yet to witness that could render this entire list obsolete. The ‘Naughts’, I believe an appropriate term being used for the decade spanning from 2000–2009, the years we feared wouldn’t come thanks to Y2K, brought with them some amazing films. Technological advancements aside, this time period contained a number of singular auteurs both continuing on already stellar careers and others beginning…

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TIFF09 RECAP: Connecting to Your World … and mine

Every year at the Toronto International Film Festival seems to get better and better. Is that due to the increase in films from six to eleven to fifteen? It very well might be. And I’ll just say now, watching fifteen films in less than four days may not be the healthiest thing in the world. Between the vendor sausage/chicken dogs/nitrates on a bun being easily accessible and a standard meal when going from one film to the next with barely enough time to catch your breath and the sheer fact…

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TIFF09 REVIEW: Agora [2009]

“I was forgiven, but now I can’t forgive” I will not deny the fact that Alejandro Amenábar is one of my favorite directors at the moment. With the eerily creepy The Others and the emotionally wrought Mar adentro, how could he not be? And why have I not seen Abre los ojos yet? Disgraceful I know. Well, you can imagine my immense excitement when finding out his new 4th century Egyptian epic Agora would be playing as a gala presentation in Toronto for TIFF. The trailer made it seem very…

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TIFF09 PREVIEW: For the Love of Film indeed …

September 10th is the day that friend/co-worker Chris Schobert and I head back up north for our third year at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). We’ve done the middle three days (2007) and the last three days (2008), so we thought, “What the hell?”, let’s try our luck with the opening four. Rolling out of bed, speeding down the QEW, and landing at the box office hours before our first film wouldn’t quite be effective for this year’s journey, however. Being in TO for FaneXpo last weekend meant we…

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REVIEW: El Orfanato [The Orphanage] [2007]

“One, two, three, knock on the wall” There is something to the marketing of foreign films and the way Hollywood tries its hardest to fool the public into thinking it is an English language movie. By not allowing any characters to speak in the trailers, giving away their secret with subtitles, someone like me, knowing it’s foreign, is able to get a glimpse at the style and tone without really learning anything about the plot to ruin my surprise upon sitting in the theatre. This aspect worked perfectly for Guillermo…

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REVIEW: Volver [2006]

“A vision of forgiveness beyond the grave” I now can say I have seen a Pedro Almodóvar film in the theatre. Sure I saw five of the eight films included in ¡Viva Pedro!, but those were dvd projections, while Volver was the real thing (as evidenced by it catching fire causing the six or so of us watching to wait a bit before seeing the final twenty minutes). I will admit, while enjoying Pedro’s lighter, earlier fare, it is the dramatic and dark films I really have an affinity for.…

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Top 25 Films of 2004

(short and sweet and to the point; culled from watching 130 releases. constantly updated as i catch up to those i missed. click poster for review if applicable) #25: Million Dollar Baby directed by Clint Eastwood. #24: The Dreamers directed byBernardo Bertolucci #23: The Brown Bunny directed by Vincent Gallo. #22: Hotel Rwanda directed by Terry George #21: Friday Night Lights directed by Peter Berg #20: Down to the Bone directed by Debra Granik #19: Sideways directed by Alexander Payne #18: Mysterious Skin directed by Gregg Araki #17: The Incredibles…

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Top 25 Films of 2001

(short and sweet and to the point; culled from watching 90 releases. constantly updated as i catch up to those i missed. click poster for review if applicable) #25: Monsters, Inc. directed by Pete Docter #24: Tape directed by Richard Linklater #23: Bandits directed by Barry Levinson #22: Session 9 directed by Brad Anderson. #21: Super Troopers directed byJay Chandrasekhar #20: Spy Game directed by Tony Scott. #19: Le Pacte des loups[Brotherhood of the Wolf] directed by Christophe Gans #18: AI: Artificial Intelligence directed by Steven Spielberg. #17: A Beautiful…

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