TIFF19 REVIEW: Sound of Metal [2020]

Will it come back? The film opens with Riz Ahmed‘s Ruben sitting at a drum kit while guitar distortions deafen us. Eventually Olivia Cooke‘s Lou starts screaming as his sticks connect for a steady beat until all hell breaks loose. We’re in this venue with them, the in-close camerawork proving Ahmed’s lessons paid off because he is in a groove and rocking out (not that he needed help on the second part considering his rap career as Riz MC and one half of Swet Shop Boys). With line drawn tattoos…

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REVIEW: The Sisters Brothers [2018]

Are you going to watch? Many assumptions can be made during the opening scene of Jacques Audiard‘s The Sisters Brothers. It’s here where we meet the titular siblings (John C. Reilly‘s Eli and Joaquin Phoenix‘s Charlie Sisters) approaching a ranch with a clear warning of only wanting the man they’ve come to kill. A firefight ensues with gun blasts and light flashes in the distance until the camera pushes in on the two men storming the door to take care of those still struggling to breathe inside. They hear someone…

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REVIEW: Venom [2018]

Have a nice life. If you really think about it, Venom was never going to be R-rated. I don’t care what director Ruben Fleischer alluded to in an interview before production began or that star Tom Hardy currently believes the best forty minutes of the film were cut. As soon as Sony decided to move ahead with this long-gestating spin-off title despite Spider-Man himself making his way to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and seemingly rendering it impossible to ever put the two onscreen together), the reality was cemented for Eddie…

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REVIEW: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story [2016]

“Rebellions are built on hope” George Lucas used to say years ago that the original Star Wars trilogy was but three chapters of an epic nine-part saga. It dealt with the Skywalker family, beginning in the middle to introduce a passing of the “Force” from father to son. Lucas would eventually make the first three chapters as a prequel series used to tell the tale of Anakin Skywalker’s descent towards the Dark Side for exposition into the stunning reveal his becoming Luke and Leia’s formidable foe in A New Hope…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: City of Tiny Lights [2017]

“Death weighs heavier than heartbreak” Small-time private detective Tommy Akhtar (Riz Ahmed) has all the swagger of a hard-boiled snoop: leather jacket on his shoulders and cigarette in his mouth, leaning against London architecture in the darkened night. His office resides above some shops, he makes friendly with local convenience store owner Mrs. Elbaz (Myriam Acharki), and asks new clients where they found him because he’s not advertising in the paper. But while he’s good at his work and enjoys the struggle if only to get out of his father’s…

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REVIEW: Jason Bourne [2016]

“And I heard you got hacked” In the nine years since Matt Damon last played amnesiac black ops assassin Jason Bourne, (eleven movie years considering the character exclaims he’s been running for three in The Bourne Ultimatum after The Bourne Identity bowed in 2002), there’s been a lot of chatter about making a reunion work only to have the actor and director Paul Greengrass emphatically say, “No.” It was with good reason too because they knew throwing a sequel together without a quality story that did justice to the original…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Nightcrawler [2014]

“If you want to win the lottery you have to have the money to buy a ticket” There are some huge ebbs and flows in Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler. At times I loved it, others I felt bad for laughing, and some instances made me wonder what exactly it was I was watching. In the end, however, I can unequivocally say it’s a gem of a lean, mean film that never let’s its foot off the gas pedal with an iconic antihero in Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Lou Bloom who might currently be…

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REVIEW: Closed Circuit [2013]

“The judicial process in this country is and will remain fair and transparent” Director John Crowley is a man with good luck picking screenplays. His feature film debut Intermission is a fun Irish romp while drama Boy A is in my opinion criminally underrated and ignored. So, seeing him sign onto a project written by the man behind Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises—Steven Knight—was an exciting discovery, especially after finding the thriller’s trailer to be intriguing enough without spoiling too much of its conspiratorial plot. And everything does work…

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REVIEW: Black Gold [Day of the Falcon] [2011]

“God hates what we do in his name” The “new” film Day of the Falcon has had an odd trajectory to American theatres. Originally titled Black Gold, Jean-Jacques Annaud‘s contemporary epic in sand debuted at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar and released in the director’s homeland of France way back in 2011. Kicked around the Middle East and Europe throughout 2012, critical acclaim was never earned as it for all intents and purposes got lost before being renamed and packaged for a United States audience that probably won’t…

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REVIEW: Four Lions [2010]

“I can’t even get them to stir their tea without smashing a window” Is it too soon to mock Jihadist extremists by not only showing them as idiotic adults with frat house sensibilities, but also as scared men talking the talk before realizing their want of life overshadows any dreams of heaven? Well, British writers Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain, and Christopher Morris don’t think so. Their film—also directed by Morris—Four Lions, is a look into the activities of four Islamic Brits trying hard to join Allah’s mission of destroying the…

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REVIEW: Centurion [2010]

“A man without his word is no better than a beast” Writer/director Neil Marshall has style and hopefully will continue to bring it forth on cinema screens for years to come, if he decides to travel back to America or not. Many lesser auteurs would have taken that Hollywood payday and looked for another to follow. Marshall, however, hot on the success of his spelunking horror/thriller The Descent, made Doomsday with US money only to see it falter out of the starting gate. Perhaps he had deals to remain stateside,…

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