REVIEW: Jurassic Park III [2001]

No force on Earth or Heaven could get me on that island. It’s almost ironic to discover David Koepp—screenwriter of the franchise’s previous two installments—was the one to think up the “simpler” story concept that Peter Buchman (with revisions by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor) ultimately built upon for Jurassic Park III. The man responsible for adapting The Lost World into an overstuffed cash-grab of a bloated sequel swooped in just weeks before another fully storyboarded and ready-to-go draft went into production with the advice to condense its focus. You…

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REVIEW: The Commuter [2018]

“One little thing” If the timeline is to be believed, the fourth meet-up between director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson entitled The Commuter was the result of the latter rather than the former. Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi‘s story went through the hands of at least two other stewards as well as a rewrite by Ryan Engle before finally going in front of the cameras. So one could hypothesize Collet-Serra was brought in as someone familiar with the genre, tropes, and especially the lead actor to bring things home.…

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REVIEW: Sweet Country [2018]

“What chance have we got?” Director Warwick Thornton immediately connected to childhood friend and co-writer David Tranter‘s (with Steven McGregor) script because it provided an authentic context for the historical treatment of their indigenous Central Australian tribes. Based on stories passed down by Tranter’s grandfather as well as Wilaberta Jack’s true life 1920s self-defense killing case, Sweet Country presents a complex look back at a time not quite so long ago filled with men who aren’t quite so different than those living today. Racism still abounds and the law remains…

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REVIEW: Tommy’s Honour [2017]

“A man’s got to use every club he has” I’ve never been one for golf—playing or watching. I know many who feel the same and many of those who found themselves becoming fans during Tiger Woods’ heyday anyway. You can’t blame them for it either. Celebrity, national pride, and the excitement surrounding both are tough to combat. The draw therefore became peoples’ desire to see what Tiger did: which tournaments he won, who he beat, and by what margin. Golf became secondary to this hero’s allure like many other sports…

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REVIEW: Hunt for the Wilderpeople [2016]

“Find water. Go to high ground. And don’t get naked.” A Māori boy and a Pākehā man go forth into the New Zealand bush. It sounds like the start to a joke. But while Taika Waititi‘s latest Hunt for the Wilderpeople is hilarious, it’s far from being a trivial lark. There’s some weighty emotion involved as its two loners who never believed they’d truly have anyone in their lives to rely upon gradually bond as family on an impromptu adventure of survival into the unknown. They’re lost boys scooped up…

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REVIEW: Possession [1981]

“There is nothing to fear except God. Whatever that means to you.” It’s the early 1980s in West Berlin and graffiti everywhere screams for the wall to be taken down. Mysterious figures linger on the other side not quite hidden from view, watching with binoculars and always seemingly looking directly in our direction. Tensions are high, psychosis runs rampant, and people begin to start disappearing. There’s a palpable sense of paranoia setting in that cannot be combatted except by our personal allowance to embrace an unpredictably chaotic side of ourselves.…

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REVIEW: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box [2014]

“Faithfulness will be your shield” There will never be a lack of literary fantasy adventures for ages 12 and up to transfer from page to screen. The question becomes whether the property is given access to a wealthy studio’s clout or one more reliant on word-of-mouth and existing fanbase to ease the transition. For Entertainment Motion Pictures, their grab at franchise caliber fiction comes courtesy of a trilogy written by British author G.P. Taylor that unfortunately secures little of those things. It appears the author’s first novel Shadowmancer is the…

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REVIEW: Jurassic Park [1993]

“Spared no expense” Dinosaurs have captivated us for centuries—their bones dug up and reassembled in museums and theories about whether they’re descendants of reptiles or birds ebbing and flowing with technological improvement and scientific expansion. So it’s no surprise techno-thriller author Michael Crichton eventually put them at the center of one of his novels, using their appeal and mystique to help craft a cautionary tale about genetic manipulation and the hubristic nature of man. Optioned for adaptation before it was even published, Steven Spielberg looked to bring the giant beasts…

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TIFF11 INTERVIEW: Willem Dafoe (actor) and Daniel Nettheim (director), of The Hunter

On press duty for their new film The Hunter at the Toronto International Film Festival, director Daniel Nettheim and Willem Dafoe have been discussing Tasmania, Julia Leigh’s source material, and their cinematic sensibilities. It’s a character-driven piece that showcases its star’s craft while also the exotic environment his job of capturing the last Tasmanian tiger brings. My review can be read here. Sitting down as part of a roundtable interview with two fellow Americans, an Italian, a Spaniard, a Chilean, and a German, the two were quite forthcoming and conversational…

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TIFF11 REVIEW: The Hunter [2011]

“GO HOME GREENIE” The Australian takeover in cineplexes worldwide continues at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. With more and more work finding distribution to travel off the island, one woman is writing her chapter in the movement. A novelist of two acclaimed works, Julia Leigh has already found her way into Cannes with an original film of sexual desire—Sleeping Beauty. And while the buzz is high, another film sporting her name in the credits deserves just as much notice. Directed by Daniel Nettheim from a screenplay by Alice…

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TIFF09 RECAP: Connecting to Your World … and mine

Every year at the Toronto International Film Festival seems to get better and better. Is that due to the increase in films from six to eleven to fifteen? It very well might be. And I’ll just say now, watching fifteen films in less than four days may not be the healthiest thing in the world. Between the vendor sausage/chicken dogs/nitrates on a bun being easily accessible and a standard meal when going from one film to the next with barely enough time to catch your breath and the sheer fact…

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