REVIEW: 12 Years a Slave [2013]

“Stay safely” A label such as hero has lost its meaning of late. So ubiquitous today, it’s been rendered empty by being placed upon men and women who—while just, compassionate, and selfless—don’t quite reach the level of endured suffering for the word to earn its full weight. With America’s history possessing so much cowardice and hate, even some of its greatest legends can’t shake the damning facts which prove they’re less than the pristine pillars our books would like to tell. Yet in our darkest time—an era of unforgivable crimes…

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360|365FF10 REVIEW: Winter’s Bone [2010]

“Never ask for what ought to be offered” If you are going to adapt a novel by author Daniel Woodrell—the self-coined writer of “country noir”—you better make sure you get the look and feel of the Missouri Ozarks correct, no matter how dark, dirty, or devastating its hellish journey. I haven’t seen Ang Lee’s attempt to do just that with Ride with the Devil, but after catching Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone at the 360|365 George Eastman House Film Festival as well as listening to co-writer and producer Anne Rosellini afterwards,…

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TIFF09 REVIEW: The Road [2009]

“I don’t want to just survive” Why do the Weinsteins continue to do it? They buy and finance great stuff, they have an eye for talent, and yet they squander it so many times. When I first heard that the Cormac McCarthy adapted, John Hillcoat directed The Road was being pushed back from last year’s Oscar contention—yes, last year—I just shook my head wondering how those two brothers could ruin it. Was it post-production that needed extra time to complete or did the volatile big men hate the cut and…

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REVIEW: The Last House on the Left [2009]

“Always go for the gold” I don’t usually get disgusted or squeamish when it comes to horror and gore, but after viewing The Last House on the Left remake, one of the many old Wes Craven films getting reworked, I have to admit, it was pretty harrowing. Does making me tense up and await some scenes’ conclusions make it an effective suspense/thriller? I’m not so sure. The plotline is thin, the result obvious, so as far as what will happen, there is very little question or anticipation. That being said,…

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REVIEW: No Country for Old Men [2007]

“Got some hard bark on that one” The Coen Brothers are most definitely back in form. While No Country for Old Men is not a perfect film, it is masterfully crafted and orchestrated to brilliant effect. Miller’s Crossing remains the one and only masterpiece from them, in my opinion, but this new one ranks right below it with Barton Fink and Fargo. The Coens always did better when there was a little darkness lurking behind the dry wit and deadpan deliveries. I have not seen Intolerable Cruelty, but, along with…

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REVIEW: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [2007]

“Recapitulating the act of betrayal” The man, the myth, the legend, and the movie title. In what could be my favorite film name of all-time, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is much more than its superfluous moniker. From its bloated runtime to its slow, methodical pace, Andrew Dominik’s epic tale contains an inner beauty that allows for all the pretensions one seems to associate with it. Dominik is unrelenting on his quest to tell the story the way he wants it told, never compromising by…

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