REVIEW: Hotel Mumbai [2019]

Remember, the whole world will be watching. An Indian man who’s risked his life helping to save wealthy guests at the posh hotel where he works as head chef (Anupam Kher‘s Oberoi) is imploring a group dead-set on venturing into bullet-riddled hallways to remain in the exclusive (and therefore hard to enter) club chambers where they currently reside. When they force his hand to let them go, he offers them prayers. We don’t know anything about this man besides his selflessness and courage—especially not his religion. But what does he…

Read More

REVIEW: On the Basis of Sex [2018]

Hooray for Mommy. Even if we weren’t mired in the middle of the Trump Administration with a constant tidal wave of sexist and xenophobic rhetoric masquerading as national emergencies, the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg defying the patriarchy where it came to archaic laws arbitrarily creating separate rights based on gender would be timely. Because while it’s fun to joke about giving the eighty-five year old Supreme Court justice a kidney so another GOP-sanctioned candidate doesn’t get shoved through without proper vetting, a line spoken by one of her husband…

Read More

Top Ten Films of 2017

We pretty much knew last year’s Best Picture Oscars race was coming down to La La Land and Moonlight right after the completion of the Toronto International Film Festival in September. But while there’s something to be said about the strength of films able to ascend to frontrunner position, I can’t help loving the idea of heading into March without a clue as to who might win. Ask ten different critics what their favorite of 2017 is and I’d estimate hearing at least eight unique titles. There’s a level of excitement to this reality…

Read More

REVIEW: Sorry to Bother You [2018]

More like apples and the Holocaust. If you’re still unsure about whether capitalism brought the United States to its current position with extreme political divisiveness and the fallacy of what’s left of the “American Dream,” rapper-turned-writer/director Boots Riley is here to break it down via a debut as satirically sound as it is insanely, absurdly surreal. The film is Sorry to Bother You and it was born from the artist’s own time as a telemarketer wherein success forced him to change who he was to earn higher sales. By putting…

Read More

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. Each category is ordered according to my preferential rankings. Group winners are labeled in red. (We were only allowed to vote for one nominee per category this year, but I ranked them all like previous years anyway.)

Read More

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 embracing his sexuality with the help of both a young woman his age and man a ten years older. The awkwardness, brazenness, and desire were all there along with the urge to never stop once…

Read More

REVIEW: Cars 3 [2017]

“I call you my senior project” I know I’m in the critical minority when admitting my enjoyment of the Cars franchise, but I honestly do. It’s not even that I am a “car guy” either—I’ve never seen the appeal of them beyond their utility as a transportation vehicle. So my enjoyment of the first film was solely on the level of its message and humor. It dealt with the theme of ego and humility as Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) discovered you simply cannot get through life on an island alone.…

Read More

REVIEW: Nocturnal Animals [2016]

“Sometimes it’s not good to change things so much” One movie stood out in 2009: fashion designer Tom Ford‘s unlikely directorial debut A Single Man. It had style to spare and amazing performances (Colin Firth‘s Oscar loss was vindicated a year later), but its emotionality was its greatest strength. Ford created this tragic whirlwind and found a glimmer of hope—a way out of the darkness to acknowledge there’s more life yet to live. That was the trait I looked forward to experiencing on a larger scale with his follow-up Nocturnal…

Read More

REVIEW: The Birth of a Nation [2016]

“I pray you sing to the Lord a new song” It’s impossible to watch Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation today without making note of the controversy surrounding him. Emotions have run high and the first-time director has met a backlash of calls for boycott stemming from a 1999 rape case of which he was acquitted. The victim later committed suicide and his public response upon discovering this news didn’t necessarily show remorse like many believed it should. It’s tough to say now whether he was innocent of wrongdoing—look…

Read More

TIFF16 REVIEW: Free Fire [2017]

“Talk about a fucking sledgehammer to crack a nut” TIFF’s Colin Geddes was correct when introducing Ben Wheatley‘s bottle episode of a film Free Fire with the words: “This will wake you up.” The gunfire alone risks perforating your eardrums as John Denver blares from a 1978-era van’s eight-track, but I think it’s the surprising wealth of comedy that ultimately gets the blood pumping and synapses triggering. Wheatley and wife/writer Amy Jump‘s latest isn’t for everyone—fair warning to Hardcore Henry detractors, Sharlto Copley refuses to quit—but those willing to break…

Read More

REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. [2015]

“Inside every Kraut is an American trying to get out” Writer/director Guy Ritchie is like that band all my friends dismiss because they think every song in their discography sounds the same to which I reply, “But I like that song.” With the exception of Swept Away—because I’ve never seen any reason to actually watch it—I’ve enjoyed all of the high-octane, visually kinetic action comedies he’s brought forth into this world. Whether an original Cockney tale like his earlier work or a Hollywood property adapted to his sensibilities of late,…

Read More