REVIEW: Mickey and the Bear [2019]

Sometimes you just lose track of time. Set in the small Montana town of Anaconda, writer/director Annabelle Attanasio‘s feature debut Mickey and the Bear takes pride in its authenticity. She was given a grant to conduct “ethnographic and visual research” into the community there so she could better understand its veteran population and close-knit history of helping each other cope with re-assimilation under increased financial, emotional, and psychological duress. Everybody knows everybody—a fact Attanasio uses to create a complex situational bubble around her lead character Mickey Peck (Camila Morrone). This…

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REVIEW: Little Woods [2019]

Your choices are only as good as your options. There’s a great documentary about what life is like in the fracking boomtowns of North Dakota entitled The Overnighters. In it we witness an example of humanity at its simultaneous best and worst. Desperate men seeking an escape from troubles back home arrive to find a different sort of struggle that they may never overcome despite promises sold. Angels prove themselves to be demons and vice versa as director Jesse Moss collects candid interviews that reveal just how bad things are…

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REVIEW: The Standoff at Sparrow Creek [2019]

One’s missing. The film begins in total silence to the point where you wonder if something went wrong with the sound. The camera pans through still trees until finding Gannon (James Badge Dale) on the ground with rifle ready to take out the deer we can assume is somewhere out of frame. It’s only when we hear the pop of guns in the distance that we realize first-time writer/director Henry Dunham has been meticulously ensuring that we process exactly what he needs us to before heading towards the solitary locale…

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REVIEW: Only the Brave [2017]

Decide what you live for and what you can live without. Interagency Hotshot Crews are twenty person teams of Type 1 firefighters that exceed all experience, training, and fitness requirements of that designation. Originated in the 1940s to combat wildfires on a national level, these groups move all over the country to suppress flames and save cities in need. They’re to firefighters what Navy SEALs are to the military. You call them to get the big jobs done and as such are formed for that specific purpose on a federal…

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REVIEW: The Walk [2015]

“The carrots are cooked” I’ve yet to watch the Oscar-winning documentary Man on Wire, but it’s hard not to get swept up in its daredevil intrigue. Depicting the “artistic crime of the century,” Frenchman Philippe Petit illegally hung a wire between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and walked across multiple times to the dismay of New York City police officers on either side begging him to stop. Nik Wallenda may be the latest wire-walker to make international headlines—a man whose family has seen tragedy befall those taking up the…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Parkland [2013]

“It’s my story too” We all know the story of President John F Kennedy’s assassination. It’s an event that has been ingrained into our culture, spawned a myriad of conspiracy theories, and remains a hotly contested moment in time that changed the fabric of an entire nation. But what about the people this tragedy affected on a personal level beyond victim and perpetrator? What about the trauma surgeons and nurses who watched as the president’s heartbeat flat-lined? What about the giddy business owner excitedly filming the motorcade on his lunch…

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REVIEW: The Lone Ranger [2013]

“A fairly sinister jar of pickles at the bar” To sum up Disney’s big budget reboot of Fran Striker and George W. Trendle’s radio show turned television hit The Lone Ranger in one word conjures “silly”. It’s silly to read how Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio’s original script involved werewolves—John Reid’s outlaw does use silver bullets after all. It’s silly—and offensive—that the producers cast a movie star like Johnny Depp in the role of Tonto when so many Native American actors could have performed the role effectively. (And yes, the…

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REVIEW: Flight [2012]

“Say, ‘I love you, Trevor’” I’m going to chalk Flight‘s failure up to Robert Zemeckis being away from live action dramas too long. Manipulation works in children’s cartoons like his The Polar Express and A Christmas Carol because you’re supposed to be preaching some sort of morality lesson on the impressionable through a fun, heartwarming tale. For adults, however, more intrigue than a cool concept left neutered in lieu of showcasing its leading man’s inner turmoil is necessary. Yes, much of the blame lays in the hands of screenwriter John…

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REVIEW: The Grey [2012]

“Live and die on this day” Struggling to find meaning in a life of solitude by punishing himself to self-exile in a desolate world caught between the pristine white backdrop of untouched snow and the turbulent mass of flesh populating it as a refuge from decent society, Ottway (Liam Neeson) wonders if the time has come to retire. Writing a note to the woman he loves but can no longer see except in memory, he recalls a poem from his childhood and wonders if his fight has led him to…

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TIFF11 REVIEW: Shame [2011]

“Blue or green?” Three years after their first collaboration—and the director’s debut film—Steve McQueen and star Michael Fassbender return with the viscerally intense Shame. To call a movie assured to receive an NC-17 rating more mainstream than their previous Hunger is insane, but it’s true. Whereas that film took a more formal approach to the medium, leaving us in a visually stunning world without introducing the lead character until about a third of the way in, Shame definitely has more of a narrative voice. With that said, however, McQueen’s improved…

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TIFF10 REVIEW: The Conspirator [2010]

“Why did I fight for the Union if my rights aren’t assured?” The aftermath of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination hasn’t really been the subject of many films that I know of. Of course there is the whole Steven Spielberg Lincoln project that has been pushed back every year since its announcement, a starting date nowhere near close at hand, but while watching a depiction of his life should be interesting, the subject of his death is more so. Here was the first murder of a President, an event no one…

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