REVIEW: The Vast of Night [2020]

They don’t stay for long. The world that director Andrew Patterson and writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger put on-screen for their film The Vast of Night isn’t real. Rather than transport us to 1950s New Mexico, we’re put in front of a TV to watch the latest episode of “Paradox Theater”—a “Twilight Zone” riff promising unexplained wonders—set in 1950s New Mexico. It’s an interesting formal decision since we never interact with the place in which we reside. We can neither look around the living room beyond that television…

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REVIEW: Blood Machines [2020]

She’s between life and death. When a space vessel goes rogue, fleet commander Galdor (Walter Dickerson) tasks Captain Vascan (Anders Heinrichsen) and his co-pilot/mechanic Lago (Christian Erickson) with retrieving it. Shooting it down from space to crash land on an unknown planet proves this story’s beginning rather than its end as we discover the destination was hardly some random accident. No, it’s exactly where the ship was headed because it is the only place with inhabitants who know its plight. Unlike Vascan’s crude sadist who’s all too happy to destroy…

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HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Two Gods [2020]

That’s when I realized it was time for a change. Some are lucky enough to escape their circumstances. Others learn from those circumstances and discover ways to transform them and themselves in order to move forward and leave them behind. And then there are those whose circumstances defeat them whether or not they actively participate in that self-destruction or not. These are the three choices one has when confronted with the struggles of poverty, systemic racism, violence, and the psychological duress experienced as a result. Hanif Muhammad knows it all…

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REVIEW: End of Sentence [2020]

Don’t let the past control you. To look at Frank (John Hawkes) and Sean Fogle (Logan Lerman) is to see two very different men. The former is a loving husband with a perpetual smile and the latter is his surly, incarcerated son. If not for the woman connecting them, they’d have gone their separate ways long ago without any room for reconciliation. Nothing will therefore be left once the Fogle matriarch (Andrea Irvine‘s Anna) succumbs to cancer. Frank will become a widower trying (and faltering) to survive on his own…

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CHAT20 REVIEW: The Wanting Mare [2020]

The dream is what’s left. Paradise is the place humanity escaped with the bite of an apple and yet also what we aspire to find upon death. We want it until we have it and subsequently always want more. It’s a pursuit in which we’re inevitably corrupted as selfish greed consumes any shred of empathetic compassion we once possessed. Sometimes someone does come along to remind us—lover, child, etc.—to see through the veil of conquest and recognize the joy we’ve been conditioned to reject, but for how long? Too many…

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REVIEW: Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl [2020]

There’s nothing silly about being a teenage girl. While Amy Goldstein‘s documentary Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl obviously centers upon its British rockstar subject’s unorthodox trajectory from Myspace sensation to “GLOW” actress, it also serves as an invaluably informative account of what it means to be a twenty-first century musician thanks to the industry’s ever-changing landscape. The simple fact that Kate Nash‘s career began because she had enough social media followers to turn record label heads is a product of that moment of time, but so too is her courage…

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REVIEW: The Painter and the Thief [2020]

Because they were beautiful. Human connections are almost always random. Even in school when meeting new friends for the first time, the reasons that sparked our gravitation towards one another aren’t always clearly defined. Maybe one union was the result of common interests, but perhaps another was born from an indescribable feeling. Sometimes our best friends or romantic partners end up being the people we used to intentionally avoid. It therefore only takes a moment removed from our inherent preconceptions, prejudices, and jealousies to open up a world we would…

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REVIEW: Military Wives [2020]

Until we laugh again. Deployment day has arrived for the Flitcroft barracks. The soldiers are off to Afghanistan for a six-month stint while their spouses are left behind to raise families and attempt to stay sane. In a bid to help distract from the unavoidable worry, group activities are commonly brainstormed and executed for anyone interested in joining. And being the military, it should be no surprise that a rank-and-file hierarchy is adopted on that front too regardless of whether those forced into authority positions actually want them. As wife…

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REVIEW: Inheritance [2020]

The truth must stay buried. Simple questions rarely have simple answers. Take the one that’s posed to Lauren Monroe (Lily Collins) upon the death of her father Archer (Patrick Warburton): Are you loyal to your family or justice? Most would probably say both since they have it in their minds that their family is on justice’s side. Despite her desire to be one, however, Lauren isn’t that person. She partly worked to become District Attorney precisely because her family’s name was more aligned with money and murky morality than lawful…

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REVIEW: Driveways [2020]

Who has more fun than us, huh? Taking care of her estranged sister’s estate was supposed to be a means to an end for Kathy (Hong Chau). Drive down to a house she never visited (April was twelve years her senior and the two had a falling out when she refused to help care for their mother), clean things out with her eight-year old son Cody (Lucas Jaye), put it on the market, and use the money to help get things back on track and perhaps pay for nursing school.…

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REVIEW: Proximity [2020]

‘Cause that’s the kind of attention we want. There’s a lot left unsaid within visual effects artist Eric Demeusy‘s directorial debut Proximity. While initially thinking it was a means to create mystery around main character Isaac (Ryan Masson), I eventually saw it was a product of needing narrative context for what’s actually important instead. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you hide those loose threads in the background as the main thrust of your action is born from them, but doing so proves difficult when they’re specifically introduced as…

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