REVIEW: Encanto [2021]

Make your family proud. Abuela Alma (María Cecilia Botero) was alone with her triplet babies when a miracle occurred. Her husband had just been lost trying to protect them from the rampant violence that has displaced thousands of Colombians. They would have been killed too if not for the magic that manifested a stone barrier protecting the four remaining Madrigal family members from the conflict. With it came a living house powered by the everlasting candle that ignited this impossible moment. Alma would return the favor by becoming its protector…

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REVIEW: Far from the Tree [2021]

Parent raccoon is off to find some food to eat for themself and their child. They peek out from under their rock cave, sniff the air for predators, and tell the youngster to stay behind before ambling a couple feet out into the sand to dig. Every time they look back, however, their offspring is nowhere to be seen. Natalie Nourigat‘s Far from the Tree is thus revealed as being a tried-and-true tale of curiosity and excitement inside the mind of an impressionable youth. Who could blame the little raccoon…

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REVIEW: The Eyes of Tammy Faye [2021]

God loves you. He really, really does. Director Michael Showalter‘s The Eyes of Tammy Faye is not about Tammy Faye Bakker. I wish it was. She’s quite the figure with a heart of gold only challenged in size by a wealth of naivete and trust. A televangelist alongside her husband Jim on a television network they built into the fourth most-watched channel in America, she seems to have truly wanted to shower every single soul put on this earth with her love. And success was her way to do it.…

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REVIEW: ドライブ・マイ・カー [Doraibu mai kâ] [Drive My Car] [2021]

Those who survive keep thinking about the dead. The film starts with Yûsuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and Oto Kafuku (Reika Kirishima) naked in bed, him half asleep and her relaying the latest lightning struck plot bouncing around her subconscious. It’s about a teenage girl who’s so infatuated with her crush that she breaks into his house when no one is there, taking small tokens amongst his possessions and leaving some of her own in the hopes that the transfer would somehow indelibly bond them. The next morning sees the couple in…

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REVIEW: Eternals [2021]

It’s almost time. With twenty-five films and a fully realized serial arc already released, I wonder how many viewers checked out of Chloé Zhao‘s singular Eternals before the preamble was even complete. Despite all that context and investment, we’re made to read about all-powerful beings called Celestials, God-like immortals who inspired the cultural epics and heroes we still teach our children today, and other-worldly malicious creatures known as Deviants who’ve threatened humanity’s salvation for millennia. It’s obviously a big ask. One that Kevin Feige and company couldn’t have even suggested…

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REVIEW: King Richard [2021]

We need to make two more kids. You couldn’t watch tennis in the mid-90s without hearing an opinion about Richard Williams lurking behind his camera in the stands while his daughters Venus and Serena took the American program and the sport itself by storm. Every commentator had something to say to simultaneously champion his efforts putting them on the road to superstardom and vilify his off-court persona via his parenting technique, self-promotion, and hijinks. At times he became the bigger story and thus a big distraction to what the Williams…

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REVIEW: Below the Fold [2021]

Nothing can be done. A sleepy Missouri newspaper is struggling to find stories besides puff pieces about local relations vying for the latest tractor pull championship. Having the ten-year anniversary of an unsolved disappearance case coming up shortly after the victim’s mother passed with a wish to keep her daughter’s memory alive is thus a blessing for the printed page since it means David Fremont (Davis DeRock) can knock on some doors and conduct some substantive interviews for once … even if he knows he probably won’t learn anything new.…

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REVIEW: A Cure for Wellness [2017]

You won’t come back. Capitalism has become pathological to the point where your work and the industry you work in doesn’t need to benefit society if it keeps your wallet full. It’s why the white working class is prone to vote against itself at elections under the false sense that they’re just one lucky break away from being a millionaire and thus shouldn’t shoot themselves in the foot now simply because they haven’t gotten there yet. It’s why the willfully oppressed can look upon someone gaming the tax system that…

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REVIEW: New York Ninja [2021]

This city owes me … justice. Taiwanese actor John Liu never made it to the big time in Hong Kong. Despite being known in the industry as having one of its “best kicks,” he would eventually create his own production company to write/direct/star in three actioners set in Paris and Mexico. While a fourth production entitled New York Ninja did finish principal photography, however, it was never completed before Liu retired from the business to begin teaching his own martial arts form known as Zen Kwan Do (which kept a…

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REVIEW: Dishonored [1931]

To love and excitement. Marie Kolverer (Marlene Dietrich) never asked to be a spy. The widow was merely mentioning to a police officer standing guard at the latest death-by-gas-asphyxiation suicide that she wouldn’t be following in the victim’s footsteps like he remarks most women will. She tells him that she’s not afraid of life before clarifying that she’s not afraid of death either. The sentiments catch the ears of the Austrian Secret Service Chief (Gustav von Seyffertitz) as those of someone with a strong enough constitution to recruit for an…

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REVIEW: The First Wave [2021]

You can never have a sigh of relief. I wonder when we’ll grow numb to movies about the COVID-19 crisis. Anyone saying they already have is either lying or living a life of privilege wherein the continued ebb and flow of hospitalization numbers has yet to personally impact them. They’re also the ones posing the biggest threat to those who’ve yet to take a breath because they’re the ones who care more about a “normal” that may never exist again than the health of a marginalized stranger who never experienced…

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