REVIEW: Ophelia [2019]

“Why do the hens peck at you?” A lover distraught and driven to madness after her father’s murder at the hand of the man she loves, himself destined to die by order of his uncle: Denmark’s unjust and power-hungry king. This is Ophelia’s fate within William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a woman used to mourn and incite […]

REVIEW: Vice [2018]

“What do we believe?” It’s still weird thinking the guy who joked around with Will Ferrell for years is an Oscar winner, but that’s exactly what Adam McKay is. Weirder still is my being firmly in the camp that believes it was deserved. What he did with The Big Short was the equivalent of too-smart […]

REVIEW: The Glass Castle [2017]

“You learn from living. Everything else is a damn lie.” It’s easy to dismiss films like Destin Daniel Cretton‘s The Glass Castle for losing their bite upon reaching a conclusion nobody can deny is melodramatically sentimental. You’ve watched Jeannette Walls’ (Brie Larson) decades-long journey of psychological pain and suffering wrought during her upbringing and ever-present […]

REVIEW: The Book of Henry [2017]

“I want to see the sky” There’s a lot of backlash against director Colin Trevorrow for reasons he didn’t necessarily earn. Most of the vitriol stems from his being scooped up by the Hollywood studio machine after helming just one indie film. That debut was the Sundance award-winning Safety Not Guaranteed, a small-scale sci-fi written […]

REVIEW: Chuck [2017]

“That guy could take a punch” Who is Chuck Wepner? It’s a legitimate question. I didn’t know—not that I’ve ever followed pugilism in my life. So when his story received the cinematic treatment from director Philippe Falardeau with the title The Bleeder, I honestly assumed fiction. Here comes another boxing movie about what’s assumedly a […]

REVIEW: Demolition [2016]

“She always said I didn’t pay attention” Sometimes we can’t realize we’ve taken the easy road until it’s too late. It’s crass to say, but Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal) was lucky to have been abruptly slapped awake when he was. The unfortunate side effect of his rebirth from the doldrums of routine and convenience: the […]

TIFF15 REVIEW: About Ray [2015]

“I’m proud of you” I hate to be the guy to judge a book by its cover, but I admittedly did just that with Gaby Dellal‘s About Ray. It depicts the “unconventional” family of three generations with Susan Sarandon‘s Dodo, Naomi Watts as her daughter Maggie, and Elle Fanning‘s transitioning grandson/son respectfully named Ray (formerly […]

REVIEW: Stay [2005]

“Your troubles will cease and fortune will smile upon you” **POTENTIAL SPOILERS** I remember my head spinning about Stay after leaving the theatre. Not because David Benioff‘s script or Marc Forster‘s direction proved nuanced enough to shield the “reality” of what’s going on for any authentic surprise, but due to its visceral impact. The Guess […]

REVIEW: While We’re Young [2015]

“She is a mess. And an ugly eater.” I hated While We’re Young—a fact that actually increases my already healthy dose of respect for writer/director Noah Baumbach. He’s a filmmaker with the type of style, tone, and air of not quite tongue-in-cheek pretension you could pick out from across the room as his and his […]

REVIEW: Insurgent [2015]

“You have to forgive yourself” I don’t know which of the three writers credited (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback) on Insurgent is responsible for the complete overhaul of Veronica Roth‘s source novel, but I applaud him. If not for the retention of its characters’ arcs, one could argue the majority of this cinematic […]

REVIEW: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [2014]

“The truth is always interesting” It’s true what the film’s Times‘ theater critic (Lindsay Duncan) says: an artist should bleed for his craft. Physically, spiritually, metaphorically—blood must be spilt so the world knows he was here, selflessly (selfishly?) making us laugh, cry, and reflect on lives well lived and squandered. This is why those who […]