REVIEW: The Night Clerk [2020]

Loneliness makes us do things. There’s a scene in Michael Cristofer‘s The Night Clerk where lead character Bart Bromley (Tye Sheridan) misreads a situation and kisses a woman. His Asperger’s kicks into overdrive, merging a contrite apology with verbal self-flagellation before promising to never do anything so misguided and potentially damaging again. Impulse conquered conditioning for a split second and he’s ready to retreat so far within himself that he’ll never go out in public again thanks to shame—something that wouldn’t be too difficult since he’s already exiled himself to…

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REVIEW: Dark Phoenix [2019]

What did you do to her? Hollywood franchise filmmaking really is a frustrating system insofar as allowing good source material room to breathe. That’s not to say it doesn’t sometimes work too, though. Look at Twentieth Century Fox’s cinematic X-Men saga for instance. After hitting a comic book high with X2, the desire for more bombast coupled by a much blunter director (Brett Ratner replaced Bryan Singer, who jumped ship from Marvel to DC) saw X-Men: The Last Stand seemingly destroy all hope of ever seeing this iteration of these…

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BIFF18 REVIEW: Age Out [Friday’s Child] [2019]

I don’t hurt people. The only thing worse than never getting your happy ending is having it within grasp and realizing you cannot accept it. To see salvation and turn around knowing it would be a lie is the type of heartbreaking choice we often have to make in order to keep on going. It’s the decision that separates man from monster: an admission of remorse, guilt, and regret. Our actions cause ripples that affect countless others we haven’t met yet or never will and while that truth allows some…

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REVIEW: Ready Player One [2018]

Ninjas don’t hug. You can’t help but drown within the pop culture vacuum of Ernest Cline‘s Ready Player One while reading. He throws references left and right—most often for no other reason than to namedrop as though he’s racking up geek-cred points within a nonexistent game. There becomes such an influx of information that you begin to see just how flimsy and redundant the plot behind the superficial artifice is in its reworking of common dystopian tropes utilized to bestselling success in the YA world. It’s a thin veil similar…

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REVIEW: X-Men: Apocalypse [2016]

“And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one” At a certain point Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) understands his pupils need more than just help controlling their powers in the X-Men universe. They must also learn to fight. He and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) had no choice but to battle forces of evil in X-Men: First Class and in Days of Future Past the real war was fought in the future with a team of soldiers already formed decades after a thus far unseen origin. Professor X,…

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REVIEW: Dark Places [2015]

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” If Gillian Flynn wasn’t the “It” author after the phenomenon that was Gone Girl the book, she surely was once David Fincher adapted it into a huge moneymaking win. What’s interesting, though, is that Gone Girl wasn’t the first of her novels to head into production cinematically. That honor goes to her sophomore effort Dark Places, which began shooting one month sooner in August 2013. Scripted and directed by Frenchman Gilles Paquet-Brenner, who last helmed the critically acclaimed Sarah’s Key,…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Joe [2014]

“Tell me something. You like funny faces?” Welcome back David Gordon Green. While it’s easy for me to say such a statement because I know his pedigree on paper, truth be told I’ve only ever seen one film of his before he dove into Hollywood comedies. It was his last before that period of his oeuvre began—Snow Angels—and it was a glorious drama with top-notch performances and weighty drama. I won’t lie and say I didn’t love Pineapple Express because it is a great flick. Your Highness and The Sitter…

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REVIEW: Mud [2013]

“Green beans never tasted so good” It’s a rarity to find a coming-of-age story set inside an adult-themed drama. Usually we’re made to watch adolescents caught inside the funny/awkward growing pains of puberty as lust and love and vanity and fear all mix into a pool of hormonal angst, embarrassment, and pratfall through comedy. Writer/director Jeff Nichols looked to create something in opposition to such cliché when he set off on the journey leading him to Mud more than a decade ago. He sought a way to capture the heaviness…

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REVIEW: The Tree of Life [2011]

“Why should I be good if you aren’t?” The above quote is spoken with auteur Terrence Malick’s trademarked voiceover, as is most of The Tree of Life when words are deemed appropriate enough to enhance the image-driven composition played out with orchestral precision. These words are meant as an internal question, young Jack frustrated with the life he’s trapped in and the hypocrisy ruling it. Whether directed towards his father—Mr. O’Brien—or to God, the absolute seriousness with which he speaks only proves his dissatisfaction and his faltering faith in both…

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