REVIEW: Спутник [Sputnik] [2020]

Victors are not judged. Heroism comes at a cost, but rarely is it the hero’s to bear. They reap the benefits, bathe in praise, and maybe even start believing they’ve earned it regardless of whether the title was bestowed upon them for saving lives or simply being a “pioneer.” Those who suffer are the families left behind who compete for this hero’s time and those faceless strangers the hero trampled upon with a sense of entitlement and lack of remorse. A hero exists for what could be while that which…

Read More

REVIEW: Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo [2020]

My number was B948. I’ve always been fascinated by Danny Trejo‘s story because the first thing you discover after seeing him in a movie is that he’s a reformed criminal who served hard time for armed robbery. He went from a stint in San Quentin and pretty much every other prison in the greater Los Angeles region to giggling alongside children on the set of Robert Rodriguez‘s family-friendly adventure Spy Kids. How is that possible? In this America? As a formidable Chicano? You ask anyone and they’ll say it isn’t.…

Read More

REVIEW: The Tax Collector [2020]

Family is sacred. I often wonder how writer/director David Ayer‘s films will hold up considering so many of them deal with race relations on the streets and dirty cops. I have to believe Fury (my favorite of his) will stand up best, but what about Harsh Times? What about End of Watch? What about the script that vaulted him up the Hollywood depth chart, Training Day? I’m afraid to find out since I loved each one of them upon their release. I therefore hoped The Tax Collector would help me…

Read More

REVIEW: Ut og stjæle hester [Out Stealing Horses] [2019]

I’ll be damned. Tragedy strikes forty years after moving to Sweden and the loss is so profound that Trond (Stellan Skarsgård) discovers it difficult to continue on as before. When your life is changed so fully and abruptly, a desire to “pick up the pieces” very often pales in comparison to simply leaving them behind. Gone was his tether to the city and connection to his possessions. Gone was his sense of home itself. So he decides to leave and find another in the desolate countryside of Norway. Trond escapes…

Read More

REVIEW: Lake Michigan Monster [2020]

I’m docking your pay. Charm goes a long way for some films—particularly those of the DIY variety where it becomes crucial as a means of deflecting the work’s obvious shortcomings. By leaning into those deficiencies to make them a purposeful part of the aesthetic rather than an unavoidable casualty, you turn them to your advantage. This winking intent also provides a blank canvas with which to free your imagination because “bad” has suddenly transformed into “good.” Whereas a serious film has to consider authenticity, an absurd oddity declares itself allergic…

Read More

REVIEW: She Dies Tomorrow [2020]

I want to be useful in death. Do you feel that? The despair in and anxiety for a future as uncertain as it has ever been with civil unrest, genocide, climate disasters, global pandemics, and the ability to inject each of those horrors into our veins via technological progress that’s systematically hijacked by propagandists, charlatans, and malicious operators with no ambition other than sowing animosity and confusion? The futility in a present torn asunder by rich white men screaming at each other across a political divide while leveraging the lives…

Read More

REVIEW: Sun Don’t Shine [2013]

We’ve got to take a route that don’t make sense. This is what it’s like to be in over your head. The incessant talking to distract from what you’ve done and are doing. The rising frustrations as you try to reconcile your actions, justifying how you got here and where you must still go. You think love is enough—that a desire to protect someone might cleanse your soul of what that protection entails—but it will ultimately become another excuse to keep you traveling towards a conclusion without any escape. Maybe…

Read More

REVIEW: 1BR [2020]

Do you want to be a part of this community? It’s been said many times throughout the COVID-19 lockdown (and subsequently too-early re-opening that threatens an even worse lockdown because Americans are entitled brats who can’t be bothered to do what’s right if it inconveniences them): We must stick together. The only way we’re going to survive this, protect innocent lives, and save the economy is by working in tandem. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay home. Believe that you—yes you—are Patient Zero because, unless you’re showing symptoms right now,…

Read More

REVIEW: Summerland [2020]

Stories have to come from somewhere. The above quote is a big part of playwright Jessica Swale‘s feature directorial debut Summerland because of its lead Alice Lamb’s (Gemma Arterton) vocation. She writes academic theses about folklore wherein she dissects the scientific and anthropological reasons behind both the supernatural and impossible characters/settings/phenomena within myths. It’s also a rather all-encompassing statement considering how little we know about the character herself. Where did she come from? What events transpired to render her reclusive and ultimately reviled by the nearby townsfolk of Kent? What…

Read More

REVIEW: The Fight [2020]

If I’m not a civil rights lawyer at this moment in time … then when? Anyone who cares about injustices committed by the Trump administration towards immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community, and other at-risk groups guaranteed civil liberties under the Constitution already knows about the court battles waged during the course of Eli B. Despres, Josh Kriegman, and Elyse Steinberg‘s documentary The Fight. Anyone who doesn’t believe injustices have been committed—or worse, believe the White House’s actions were a response to injustices committed upon “true white Americans”—isn’t going to spend…

Read More

REVIEW: Amulet [2020]

Forward isn’t the only way. There are other roads. Trust is earned, not given. Just because you believe you’re a just person who’d do everything in your power to protect the less fortunate doesn’t mean they should blindly provide their allegiance. They need to know for sure that what you say and do is true. They need to know that you aren’t acting one way via deception in order to act another way later out of some warped notion of entitlement. There are too many people in this world who…

Read More