REVIEW: JT LeRoy [2019]

I wouldn’t even exist without her. It really is a wild story. Laura Albert, in need of expressing her pain outside of her own identity, creates a fictional version of herself to write three novels as exorcism under “his” name. Who knows if she anticipated the type of acclaim they and “he” would receive, but Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy necessitated her performing multiple characters out of her San Francisco apartment with fake accents to speak with journalists, fans, and artists over the phone in order to keep the charade alive. Only…

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REVIEW: Aus dem Nichts [In The Fade] [2017]

“Don’t ever say that about my husband” Writer/director Fatih Akin makes sure we get a sense of the potentially volatile world he’s created (with co-writer Hark Bohm) from the first frame of Aus dem Nichts [In the Fade]. It starts with a handheld video recording of a wedding wherein the groom (Numan Acar‘s Nuri Sekerci) is receiving applause and hugs from friends and family—or so it seems. As he continues to move forward his surroundings take shape. Suddenly we see jail cell bars as the walkway culminates onto a room…

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REVIEW: Fathers and Daughters [2015]

“I have very self-destructive tendencies” The works of director Gabriele Muccino aren’t for everyone. I can’t speak on his Italian films, but the American ones are unavoidably cloying and sentimental in a way that must be accepted or ignored to find resonance. Despite being the one showered with praise, The Pursuit of Happyness didn’t quite do enough for me. I appreciated the story and performances, but felt the artifice. For Seven Pounds, however, I didn’t care. The entire film proved one giant manipulative contrivance yet it unexpectedly hit me with…

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REVIEW: The Better Angels [2014]

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” It only takes one look at a tree canopy from below in gorgeous black and white photography to know writer/director A.J. Edwards is a student of Terrence Malick. He’s actually been the auteur’s editor since To the Wonder after holding positions as editorial intern and key artistic consultant on The New World and The Tree of Life respectively. It’s hardly surprising Edwards’ own style would therefore mimic Malick’s poetic visuals and penchant for voiceover subtly inferring…

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REVIEW: Unknown [2011]

“And that’s where I first saw Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man” I have it on good authority from a friend that Jaume Collet-Serra’s Unknown, as well as Didier van Cauwelaert’s French-language novel it’s based on, is uncannily similar to Roman Polanski’s Frantic. Unfortunately, to my chagrin, I have no opinion on the accusation, having not seen the 1988 film, but I’d lie if I didn’t admit my view of the new release is a bit tainted now. The premise of both are definitely eerily similar and my friend knows what he’s talking…

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REVIEW: Joyeux Noël [Merry Christmas] [2005]

“No, you’re just not living the same war as me” Back in 1914, war wasn’t fought through technology and computers, missiles being sent to destroy lives as though a video game victory—no, it was battled in the trenches, feet away from the enemy, watching for the glimpse of an eye to shoot. Military leaders and propaganda brainwash young men into vilifying those on opposite sides, turning them to monsters without souls, without compassion, without humanity. But that’s an over simplification; just as you have a wife, children, and family back…

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REVIEW: Inglourious Basterds [2009]

“F*ck a duck!” I like to think that the sheer fact Inglourious Basterds got made means that Quentin Tarantino isn’t all talk. Maybe, just maybe, that Whole Bloody Affair DVD compilation of the Kill Bills will come out. For now though, we should all be happy QT is back to form after his, in my opinion, misstep with Death Proof. As with his previous feature films, Basterds is above genres, mixing so much cinematic history and style to become a beast all its own. Parts WWII drama, parts comedy of…

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REVIEW: The Hunting Party [2007]

“Don’t stare at the midget” Based on an article that was published in Esquire, The Hunting Party tells the story of three journalists—actually five as the end of the film will explain during its comical “what was true and what wasn’t” montage—who took it upon themselves to find the most wanted war criminal in the world, Bosnia’s “The Fox”. Brought to screen by Richard Shepard, this is a movie that keeps you highly enthralled throughout. It may not be as solid a film as his previous effort, the underrated comedy…

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REVIEW: National Treasure: Book of Secrets [2007]

“Oh look, a little golden man” National Treasure: Book of Secrets will always be known as the film that prevented Helen Mirren from meeting Queen Elizabeth after the success of The Queen. I mean really, I would have made the same choice, because this film is truly high art. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the first installment for its poor-man’s Indiana Jones feel mixed with glossy effects and convoluted plot lines (Bruckheimerisms as I like to call them) and for the most part had fun with this one. Well…

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