TIFF19 REVIEW: Håp [Hope] [2019]

What do we tell the kids? Tomas (Stellan Skarsgård) was married with three children when Anja (Andrea Bræin Hovig) met him. She didn’t want to fall in love, but twenty years and three more kids later show that’s exactly what happened. When Anja raised their babies, Tomas worked—a lot. When it was time for her to go back to work, she did too—a lot. Both alternated their career-motivated traveling so one could stay home and watch the family, a promise to be present at night with the kids honored by…

Read More

REVIEW: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote [2019]

You think explaining explains anything? I’ve just finished watching it and yet I still can’t believe Terry Gilliam actually completed The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. If you told me I had dreamt it all I would give pause because it’s been over twenty years in the making and its cursed production schedules have become something I relied upon. First he wanted to do a straight adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes‘ novel only to have it fall through. Then came the flash flood and insurance nightmare documented in Keith Fulton…

Read More

TIFF17 REVIEW: Borg/McEnroe [2017]

“Who am I? The gentleman or the rebel?” Juan Martin del Potro just ruined the match-up everyone wanted to see at the 2017 US Open—a semi-final pitting Rafa Nadal against Roger Federer. Despite both being in their thirties, their rivalry has never stopped. What’s intriguing, however, is how amiable it has always been (or seemed to be). With the quieter Pete Sampras and emotional Andre Agassi a generation earlier, the same was true despite their differing personalities and server versus returner billing. You could call the former a product of…

Read More

REVIEW: Our Kind of Traitor [2016]

“What am I doing here?” We received two John le Carré adaptations this year, each delivering high production value, effective performances, and somewhat weak plotting. Susanne Bier‘s The Night Manager provides a “hero” between worlds—not a bona fide spy as in A Most Wanted Man or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, not a regular man at his rope’s end willing to do whatever’s necessary a la The Constant Gardener. Surface appearances presume to be the latter except for the fact he has military training and a penchant for killing despite a…

Read More

REVIEW: Cinderella [2015]

“Have courage and be kind” For anyone who cannot stand singing, Disney’s latest iteration of the timeless Cinderella is catered to you. I know Chris Weitz and the other screenwriters on the project before him poured through the fairy tale’s vast lineage for every detail they could cull together into what they surely believe to be the definitive version, but what I saw onscreen is the same thing I saw as a child in cartoon form. Just without the sing-songy “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boos”. There are a couple spoken ones for…

Read More

REVIEW: Nymphomaniac: Vol. II [2014]

“I’m a virgin. I’m innocent.” I had heard there was a drop off in quality with Nymphomaniac: Vol. II compared to the first half, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how far. A much crueler portion of the tale, the second part of Lars von Trier‘s sex epic is also more outlandish as new characters are introduced with cartoonish demeanors and old ones proven to seemingly evolve against everything we had already learned about them for no reason other than the filmmaker’s attempt to sensationalize. What makes this so unfortunate…

Read More

REVIEW: Nymphomaniac: Vol. I [2014]

“Mea Vulva. Mea Maxima Vulva.” I don’t intend it to be a smirk at those who think otherwise, but Lars von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac: Vol. I is much tamer than I expected. I’m not sure why I thought it would simply be gratuitous sex from start to finish—I guess I let the hype surrounding it taint what I knew and loved about the auteur’s work. There is sex, don’t get me wrong, enough even to be considered straight porn if it were 90-minutes in length. But this installment is almost twice…

Read More

REVIEW: Thor: The Dark World [2013]

“I’ll just stay here and say ‘sea bass’ alone” There was something off with Thor in 2011 besides its horrid post-conversion 3D. While many believe Iron Man 2 was nothing but an evolutionary bridge for its hero to move closer towards what The Avengers needed, it was actually the Norse God of thunder who provided the most obvious bit of prequel exposition by introducing himself, extraterrestrial life, and that forthcoming blockbuster’s main villain, Loki. Captain America: The First Avenger also brought us a new character’s origin, but his story—like Tony…

Read More

REVIEW: The Avengers [2012]

“In the end you’ll always kneel” It’s hard to believe the new Marvel cinematic canon began just four years ago—if anything just for the simple fact these actors have been contractually obligated to continuously work in the world for its duration. The new The Incredible Hulk released with much less poetic atmosphere and more action-based aesthetic akin to the universe the studio now wished to portray than Ang Lee‘s foray from 2003 and a comic tone was cemented in arguably the series’ best entry, Iron Man. Subsequently followed by Thor,…

Read More

REVIEW: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [2011]

“It’s how we’re taught about strangers” If Stieg Larsson had lived long enough to see his The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo become an international sensation worthy of two cinematic adaptations in less than two years, I wonder which he would have approved of more. It’s easy to disregard David Fincher‘s remake as nothing more than an Americanized version of a top-notch mystery thriller already wowing audiences across the globe and much harder to praise it alongside its predecessor. While I’ll admit to finding the telepathic translation device turning everything…

Read More

TIFF11 REVIEW: Melancholia [2011]

“Two million and six beans” Director Lars von Trier has never been easily accessible. Part of his genius is the ability to go places others might not dare, shoot imagery no one else could even fathom, and push his actors into authentic performances that risk sending them into the same psychological tailspin as their characters. So you can just imagine how unique his vision of the apocalypse would be. It would portray emotionally unstable people as they near their end. It would expose the underbelly of familial strife. Portray the…

Read More