REVIEW: Klaus [2019]

A true act of good will always sparks another. For a figure as ubiquitous as Santa Claus, the myriad ways in which his origin can be reborn, refashioned, and retrofitted seem infinite. Those seeking a new direction generally take the old and filter it through a contemporary generational lens wherein the jolly man’s title is passed down the line either by magic (The Santa Clause) or birthright (Arthur Christmas). Those choosing to start from scratch instead have therefore become a fascinating subsection of the Christmas genre simply by ensuring nothing…

Read More

TIFF REVIEW: The Front Runner [2018]

A lot can happen in three weeks. And so it began—sentiments that prove true only until the next example replaces it. We’re just two years removed from Donald Trump’s victory for president of the United States and already the art seeking answers about what went wrong and what went right have arrived. Much of it stems from finding a turning point to mark when the mainstream media started including tabloid fodder under the header of journalism, when politics shifted from the good of constituents and country to that of party…

Read More

REVIEW: La La Land [2016]

“Or one more dream that I cannot make true” Writer/director Damien Chazelle burst onto the scene in 2014 on the back of his Oscar-nominated and critical darling Whiplash. It took this jazz drummer time to finally breakthrough with his sophomore feature, time that saw actors and producers taking a risk on him that would ultimately pay off big creatively and financially. Well the spoils trickled down to the man behind the art too as a long gestating musical project from 2010 became a feasible follow-up. This effort would end up…

Read More

REVIEW: The Accountant [2016]

“You deserve wow” This is one of those cases where a film might have benefited from a smaller budget. Where you wish Warner Bros.’s independent shingle didn’t shutter in 2008. It’s not like $44 million is a huge sum of money—not by Hollywood standards anyway—but if you cut it in half, maybe lose the star power of Ben Affleck, and take things to a grittier, less-polished place, The Accountant could prove the kind of hit studios covet after John Wick took the box office by storm two years back. Bill…

Read More

REVIEW: Terminator Genisys [2015]

“If there was another way I would have taken it” Much of the success attributed to “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” stems from it using its time travel-centric mythology to erase the franchise’s failures—mainly Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. You’d think Terminator Salvation would have followed suit, but for whatever reason it held onto that sub-par entry if only through the character of Kate Brewster, otherwise known as Mr. Savior of Humanity John Connor’s wife. The real issue, however, was that it also retained a desire for big theatrics…

Read More

Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the bone by credits’ end. The best thing I can say about 2014 is that my top ten (heck, maybe my top twenty-five) could be re-organized and re-listed without making me too angry about what is…

Read More

Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

Read More

REVIEW: Whiplash [2014]

“I belong here” And here I naively thought the dinner sequence from The Riot Club would end up proving my favorite scene of the year despite the film itself leaving a lot to be desired. It just goes to show that you can never be sure until every prospective entry is counted because the final moments of Whiplash‘s tour de force assault on the senses by musical genius is honestly a transcendent piece of art in itself. From the performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons changing mentality, focus, and…

Read More

TIFF09 REVIEW: Up in the Air [2009]

“I’m like my mother, I stereotype—it’s faster” I’ll get it out right now: I have a soft spot for director Jason Reitman. I felt his debut Thank You for Smoking lived up to expectations and his sophomore effort Juno was my first ever screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, allowing me to experience something fresh and unique before becoming a breakout phenomenon. So, on the basis of nostalgia, as well as talent, my friend and I had to see if he could finish out the hat trick with Up…

Read More

TIFF09 REVIEW: Jennifer’s Body [2009]

“I’m a kicker; it says so in my chart” I’ll admit to not being very excited to see Jennifer’s Body on first look. Coming as a fast-tracked script, hot on the heels of Diablo Cody’s successful debut Juno, it just looked rushed, abused, and left for dead. After the production house Fox Atomic folded and dissolved back into its parent, the future did not look bright. However, being a teen horror flick starring Megan Fox had to all but assure it a theatrical release of some sort. And here it…

Read More

REVIEW: I Love You, Man [2009]

“You sound like a leprechaun” Hollywood comedy these days is just one giant extended family tree. Everyone—and I mean everyone—has a connection and brings their friends along wherever they go. The new film I Love You, Man is no exception. This is a very good thing, because if I were to go on writer Larry Levin’s previous work, (scripting the Dr. Dolittle remake saga), I would have stayed far, far away. But instead I saw the Apatow flair with Jason Segel and regular Paul Rudd mixed with a little NBC…

Read More