REVIEW: Ghost in the Shell [2017]

“I give my consent” **Spoilers included** The backlash against Rupert Sanders‘ Ghost in the Shell remake has been fierce and constant—for good reason considering it’s inarguably racist. Is that racism intentional? Not necessarily, but it exists just the same due to choices made. While hyperbolic declarations about it being “the reverse Get Out” are exaggerated on an intellectual scale, they aren’t on an emotional one. You cannot decry people of color for getting incensed when a property very specifically connected to a race other than white is usurped by white…

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: テラフォーマーズ [Tera Fōmāzu] [Terra Formars] [2016]

“Johj!” It’s the tail end of the twenty-first century and Earth has nearly overstayed its welcome with dwindling resources and over-population. Scientists believe they can release the CO2 pockets underneath Mars’ surface and move the Red Planet from -50 degrees Celsius into a human-friendly temperature and atmosphere. So mankind sends rockets of moss and cockroaches to commence the process, a half-century passing before a team of colonists can finally journey forth. Everything should be ready for this hand-selected group under Ko Honda’s (Shun Oguri) supervision: go to Mars, kill the…

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REVIEW: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter [2015]

“Solitude? Just fancy loneliness.” It’s easy to assume Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter will be a humorous adventure of cultural dissonance upon reading its synopsis. The conceit is ripe for comedy and David and Nathan Zellner do mine that arena throughout their drama when it suits the story, but it’s a nuanced tragedy that’s ultimately delivered. How could the tale of a twenty-nine year old Japanese office worker stumbling upon a hidden VHS copy of Fargo, thinking it a treasure map to a suitcase full of cash, be tragic? Quite easily—even…

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REVIEW: 47 Ronin [2013]

“Now know the depth of my lord’s honor” There have been numerous iterations of Japan’s unofficial, national legend about forty-seven ronin who avenged their master’s death at the start of the eighteenth century spanning movies, ballets, television productions, operas, bunraku, and kabuki plays. Known as Chūshingura, the true story has been embellished over the centuries to ensure each new generation told about these brave warriors understood the themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and honor being a Japanese citizen entailed. Whether or not the first account some fifty years after the actual…

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REVIEW: Pacific Rim [2013]

“She’s starting to chase the rabbit” After watching two spec scripts get sold and ultimately fall through, Clash of the Titans scribe Travis Beacham finally breaks into Hollywood with an original vision in Pacific Rim. A futuristic look at our world on the cusp of annihilation by the claws of an alien species entering our realm via a wormhole over an underwater rift in our Earth’s crust, his tale is as close to a live action anime as we’re likely to get—complete with kaiju and mecha warriors fighting to rule…

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TIFF10 REVIEW: ノルウェイの森 [Norwegian Wood] [2010]

“I don’t go out of my way to make friends” The hugely popular Japanese novel by Haruki Murakami, ノルウェイの森 [Norwegian Wood], has made the leap to the big screen via director Anh Hung Tran, its North American Premiere held at the Toronto International Film Festival. A coming of age tale about a late-teen boy named Toru Watanabe, we are shown the unpredictable world of the 1960s amidst school, protest, love, and loss. What probably resonates much more through the written word, the film adaptation finds itself to be insanely depressing,…

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TIFF08 REVIEW: The Brothers Bloom [2008]

“An unwritten life” After seeing the masterpiece that is Rian Johnson’s debut film Brick, I could not wait to see what he had up his sleeve. When I heard his follow-up would be a con artist film featuring Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel Weisz, I couldn’t hold in my excitement. Yet upon viewing the trailer, my expectations fizzled ever so slightly, the short clip showing me what looked to be a generic ho-hum story that lacked the originality his first film held in abundance. But let me tell you,…

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REVIEW: Babel [2006]

“The brightest lights on the darkest nights” The final piece to Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo Arriaga’s unofficial trilogy has finally reached theatres. Babel is a sprawling tale spanning multiple countries and languages as a lone gunshot leaves reverberations throughout the world, interfering with the lives of many people who at first glance are seemingly unrelated. These two men, director and writer respectively, have crafted two previous masterpieces with themes of love and sorrow, pain and redemption. From Amores Perros and 21 Grams, we are shown a steady progression of…

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