REVIEW: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner [1967]

You may be in for the greatest shock of your young life. Just because Stanley Kramer‘s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a product of its time doesn’t mean it’s any less relevant fifty years later. It was only four or so years ago that a friend and his wife were looking to sell their home when their real estate agent took a phone call and said how she was touring a “nice interracial couple” as if the descriptor was somehow crucial to an act that she completes multiple times…

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REVIEW: Torn Hearts [2022]

You weren’t welcome to begin with, dear. Keeping things in the family isn’t always easy—just as the Gallagher Brothers. Blood doesn’t mean anything once fame and fortune enter the fray because outside interests will begin to whisper and divide until the world discovers two halves aren’t quite as good as the whole. That’s not saying Noel’s High Flying Birds or Liam’s Beady Eye are bad. They’ve both created some good music post-break-up, but neither reached the heights Oasis had. The former’s music and latter’s voice built something that could only…

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REVIEW: Hold Your Fire [2022]

Lot of regrets. An “us versus them” mentality inherently possesses the type of drama many documentarians seek to bottle when telling their stories. They mine their topic for the message they aspire to share or take that message and search for a topic which speaks its truth—agenda and content always in concert. Like most issues in this increasingly volatile era of media consumption, however, choosing one or the other tends to alienate the audience that needs to hear what the resulting film is explaining. Stefan Forbes has therefore found himself…

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REVIEW: Cane Fire [2022]

Keep our land in Hawaiian hands. While director Anthony Banua-Simon uses the revelation as a sort of “gotcha” moment to end his documentary Cane Fire, hearing Kauai-native Larry Rivera—an entertainer who performed at the Coco Palms before it was destroyed in a hurricane and rubbed elbows with the likes of Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby—admit the only “Hawaiian legends” he knows are the ones his former boss Grace Guslander fabricated to awe tourists isn’t really a surprise. He and co-writer Michael Vass had set the table for that truth too…

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REVIEW: Firestarter [2022]

When you see her, you will understand. My initial impulse upon rewatching the original movie was to read the novel assuming something got lost in translation to make it feel so boring on-screen. Now that I’ve seen director Keith Thomas and screenwriter Scott Teems‘ latest adaptation of Stephen King‘s Firestarter, however, I’m beginning to wonder whether the source material is just dull. Because a lot has changed this go-round. The fact there’s only thirty minutes left by the time Andy (Zac Efron) and Charlie McGee (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) make it…

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REVIEW: Firestarter [1984]

You don’t need your gun. I haven’t read Stephen King‘s Firestarter, but I must believe it has more going for it than Mark L. Lester‘s adaptation. Why make it into a film at all if not? If I were to guess, the problem occurred when the producers hired Stanley Mann to create a new script that leaned more closely to the novel after Christine director John Carpenter had already commissioned two before exiting the project. There’s a difference between making a film version of a book and filming the book—something…

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REVIEW: Pleasure [2021]

It feels good to say yes. Right? Bella Cherry (Sofia Kappel) couldn’t have asked for a more inviting introduction to a porn set upon arriving in Los Angeles from Sweden. The filmmakers are courteous and sympathetic to her inexperience both when it comes to the “usual” pre-game hygienic rituals and a case of stage fright—genuinely seeming like they’re prepared to let her walk away if need be. Maybe it’s an act and they’re just coercing her into staying by being kind, but it works. Bella gets over her jitters, completes…

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REVIEW: De uskyldige [The Innocents] [2021]

Can I just listen? You’ve seen De uskyldige [The Innocents] before. Whether the telekinetic powers, battle between good and evil, or exploitation of neurodevelopmental disorders like Autism to supply a character a sense of power that contrasts preconceived prejudices, everything Eskil Vogt puts into his script is familiar in some way. What makes it so uniquely different in tone and expectation is therefore the choice to project those tropes onto children. His decision becomes an evolutionary progression forward from Max Landis and Josh Trank‘s Chronicle in that the sort of…

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REVIEW: Montana Story [2022]

There’s nothing left now. For anybody. Estranged family members returning home after a long absence to see the death of a parent through is hardly a unique premise, but it doesn’t have to be if the psychological and emotional toll expended from the reunion remains honest and authentic. Scott McGehee and David Siegel achieve exactly that with Montana Story, a script born from the necessity of another production’s COVID-driven postponement leading them to scale back and create under the industry’s newfound restrictions that didn’t allow for sprawling casts or excessive…

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REVIEW: The Defiant Ones [1958]

They’ll probably kill each other before they go five miles. Whether to satisfy his own desire to not sit in silence or earn the ire of the guards transporting him to jail, Noah Cullen (Sidney Poitier) is introduced at the back of a prison wagon singing W.C. Handy’s “Long Gone” to effectively achieve both. The cops aren’t alone in wishing he’d shut his mouth, though. The inmate chained to his wrist (Tony Curtis‘ John ‘Joker’ Jackson) wants to silence him too—if his size disadvantage would allow such an act of…

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REVIEW: L’événement [Happening] [2021]

What do I label it? I’m not saying you can’t create a film as unflinchingly raw as Audrey Diwan‘s L’événement [Happening] without having a true-to-life source, but the starting line is surely closer when you do. Not only did Diwan and co-writer Marcia Romano have Annie Ernaux‘s memoir of what happened forty years prior to draw upon, they also had the author herself to talk with and glean additional context to ensure the authenticity of a twenty-three-year-old literature student discovering she’s pregnant weeks before her final exams in 1963. This…

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