REVIEW: Sweetgrass [2009]

“How can dogs like me if people don’t?” My first thought when John Ahern, Pat Connolly, and the rest of Lawrence Allested’s ranchers took off for the Montanan Absaroka-Beartooth mountains was: “There has to be a better way.” I know such a statement can be construed as demeaning to a way of life that existed since the nineteenth century for many Norwegian-Americans with grazing permits roaming the American West, but it’s less a response to the people as much as the endeavor’s extreme arduousness. You can’t help but respect these…

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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…

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REVIEW: Левиафан [Leviafan] [Leviathan] [2014]

“These animals are not the whole town” It doesn’t get much bleaker or more cynical than Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Левиафан [Leviathan]. He and cowriter Oleg Negin were inspired by many stories—”killdozer” rampage orchestrator Marvin Heemeyer, the Bible’s Job and King Ahab, and Heinrich von Kleist’s novella Michael Kohlhaas—all of which I know nothing about. Reading a little of Heemeyer’s tale, however, has me believing each dealt with the tragic circumstances befalling common man and the uphill climb necessary to overcome oppression. Whether met with economic, bureaucratic, or personal turmoil, there comes…

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Top Ten Films of 2013: A year in cinema to write home about

2013 has been a banner year for cinema with a slew of quality pictures that makes you wonder how only nine got enough first place votes to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Most of my favorites could have filled that elusive tenth spot for some added acclaim—whether having a chance to win or not. I hadn’t even seen a good chunk of these until the calendar flipped to 2014, the sheer amount of winners was too vast. And after only awarding three films a 10/10 rating last year,…

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Posterized Propaganda January 2014: The Top 10 Movie Posters of 2013

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Despite being another year of blockbusters and animated fare begging for bland character sheets and Photoshop montages, 2013′s movie posters were surprisingly creative artistically. A bunch of the following images…

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REVIEW: Leviathan [2013]

“It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.” To no one’s surprise, the end of Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel‘s documentary Leviathan does not contain the usual “no animals were harmed during the making of this film” since the piece itself is literally the harrowingly horrific depiction of North Atlantic sea creatures’ deaths. Whether decapitated fish being filleted and thrown in bins, sting rays de-winged before mid-sections are tossed aside, or a haul of clams/oysters cracked open before their empty shells can…

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Posterized Propaganda March 2013: ‘Stoker,’ ‘Place Beyond the Pines,’ ‘Spring Breakers’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. I’m honestly not sure if it is possible to cram more movies in one 31-day period (five Fridays!). Let’s just say the dump month doldrums have ceased and we’ve moved…

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