REVIEW: Jonathan [2018]

I don’t want to take you with me. Something isn’t right. Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) is tired despite his routine bordering on monotony being the same for who knows how many years. He wakes at 7:00am without an alarm, goes for a morning run, and heads to work as a draftsman at an architecture firm run by a man he respects as a genius. He returns home, films a video message to his roommate about the details of his day and any interactions with mutual acquaintances, and goes to sleep ……

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TIFF REVIEW: Out of Blue [2019]

You can tell a lot by looking. It’s comforting to discover that the Martin Amis novel Carol Morley‘s Out of Blue adapts is considered a “comedic parody” because I couldn’t wrap my head around the blatant noir affectation she had her stellar cast provide. If Night Train was actually meant as a serious detective story, I’d almost have to agree with the hyperbolic response of one audience member upon leaving: “That was The Room level of awful.” I found the remark too harsh at the time and more so now,…

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REVIEW: The Bookshop [2017]

Where there’s life, there’s hope. Looks are deceiving with Isabel Coixet‘s The Bookshop, an adaptation of Penelope Fitzgerald‘s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel from 1978. What appears to be a run-of-the-mill drama that will surely fall into the usual clichés of perseverance and eventual victory about a woman standing up to a small town of bullies that sees her as an outsider is actually much more complex. Rather than be about an ever-increasing contingent of allies coming out of the woodwork to rally around her as she sticks it to the haughty…

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REVIEW: The Party [2017]

“Another announcement. Good God.” I admire what Sally Potter is trying to do with her black comedy The Party as experiment. She’s placed a group of friends with different political, economic, and romantic views into a single room, hanging a secret(s) over their heads with the potential to destroy their individual and communal identities. They’re provided the opportunity to come clean and be true to who they are despite what it might do to those around them, each embracing a desire to let their consistently over-inflated egos decide. Unfortunately that…

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REVIEW: Maze Runner: The Death Cure [2018]

“It’s about knowing when you’ve lost” Could you sacrifice a percentage of the population if it meant saving mankind in its entirety? What about if it merely gave you a chance at that salvation? These are the big questions we ask ourselves at the end of the world—ones that force us to face the reality of our inevitable demise. We can infer that we’ll reach this point because we made a wrong decision in the past. And if the whole reason we’re about to be lost forever is our fault,…

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REVIEW: Far From Heaven [2002]

“Here’s to being the only one” While Todd Haynes‘ Far From Heaven wears its “inspired by All That Heaven Allows” on its sleeves from aesthetic to subject matter to blatant homage, it’s so much more. He takes what Douglas Sirk brought to life and injects it with a healthy dose of complexity and jeopardy wherein the melodrama can’t simply be defused by laughter as true love conquers a town of self-centered lemmings slaving to adhere to the homogeneity of wealthy comfort. It’s not about the guilt of one woman swaying…

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REVIEW: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials [2015]

“Where did you come from? Where are you going? How can I profit?” Full disclosure: I haven’t yet read James Dashner‘s Maze Runner series so I’m not sure if his second installment is as hollow as the film version, but I hope it isn’t. Many people have told me that T.S. Nowlin‘s script virtually rewrites the entire thing—not always bad (see Insurgent bookending its tale correctly despite changing the middle to be more cinematic)—so I’m retaining my optimism the text lives up to the first story’s potential because what director…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: October Gale [2015]

“Sorry. I have to put my gum in your belly button for a second.” After enjoying Ruba Nadda‘s Inescapable and hearing a ton of praise for Cairo Time, I went into her latest effort October Gale with high expectations. Whether this fact tainted my experience or not, those hopes were not met. For whatever reason Nadda doesn’t seem quite certain about what she wants from her plot. Is it a Nicholas Sparks love triangle for the middle-aged between a still grieving widow (Patricia Clarkson‘s Helen), the memory of her husband…

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REVIEW: One Day [2011]

“Whatever happens tomorrow, we’ve had today” That quote could very well be the answer to the meaning of life. The future is a construct in a constant state of flux—it’s never known and our dreams are often never fully met. But the concept of today is something we can control. What we do at the present is at the mercy of our hearts’ content. Whatever may happen with the people we’re with should never have bearing on the love, fun, or absolute happiness we are experiencing right now, with or…

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REVIEW: Friends with Benefits [2011]

“Shut up Katherine Heigl, you stupid liar” I refuse to call it a romantic comedy. Yes, there are clichés, there’s love, some sex, and a little bit of heart, but Friends with Benefits is not just the sum of those parts. It is a raunchy buddy comedy that excels despite its genre’s limitations, a fun, witty, and smart tale of two damaged souls who find their best friend and successfully add a physical relationship to the equation. This tale weaves us through the delicate emotional turmoil of a couple twenty-somethings…

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REVIEW: The Station Agent [2003]

“Would you mind not looking at me right now?” Actor Thomas McCarthy is quite the paradox. The man has a face full of smugness and unchecked attitude, making him ideal for intelligent, arrogant jerks. Maybe jerk is too strong a word since he also has the capacity for remorse, but I do find it apt after just recently seeing him become one of the most amoral characters on the HBO series “The Wire”. What makes him a paradox, however, is his foray into writing and directing. For some reason—perhaps because…

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