REVIEW: Family Romance, LLC [2020]

We can only do what we really are. Leave it to the Japanese to create an industry where you hire actors to fill-in for every occasion. The father of the bride can’t attend the wedding due to illness? Hire a performer to take his place so the absence isn’t noticeable (no sitcom antics a la headsets via “Arrested Development” or motorized computers via “The Big Bang Theory”). Unable to relive the excitement you felt upon winning the lottery? Pay someone to randomly surprise you as though you’ve won again to…

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REVIEW: Blood Quantum [2020]

You don’t name things that eat you. A Red Crow reservation citizen in Jeff Barnaby‘s Blood Quantum asks the question of whether they as indigenous people are immune to a vicious zombie outbreak that’s taken over North America or have simply been forgotten by the Earth during its cleanse. It’s easy to understand such a defeatist attitude considering the world at-large has done the latter for centuries. Colonialists slaughtered, infected, and cordoned off natives from lands they sought and stole, continuing to isolate them even today onto their tiny swaths…

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REVIEW: My Spy [2020]

It’s a fine line between friendly and desperate. Like Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vin Diesel, and Dwayne Johnson before him, former wrestler and MMA fighter Dave Bautista has found himself starring alongside a child in a family-friendly vehicle using the juxtaposition between adolescent innocence and muscle-clad heroics as a comedic right of passage towards potential (Hollywood Hogan left his short-lived cinematic career in the 90s) superstardom. Whereas Mr. Nanny, Last Action Hero, The Pacifier, and Tooth Fairy hit the big screen to varying box office success, however, Bautista’s bid to…

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REVIEW: La vérité [The Truth] [2019]

You can’t trust memory. Despite the title of her autobiography being La vérité [The Truth], it takes a while before Fabienne Dangeville (Catherine Deneuve) says what we know to actually be true. Her stories about being a loving mother in text are just that: stories. Despite being a screenwriter, not even Fabienne’s daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) could conjure an anecdote that bore any resemblance to such an idyllic façade if she tried. But while everything boils down to what the aging actress finally expresses during a defensive fit of anger,…

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REVIEW: Mr. Jones [2019]

I’ve woken up screaming in Barry myself. It’s not a bad thing to be insane in an insane world. In fact, it’s comfortable. So it’s unsurprising that a room full of old white British men would simply laugh when Gareth Jones (James Norton) tells them a truth their privileged naiveté refuses to let be taken seriously at the start of Agnieszka Holland‘s Mr. Jones. He’s a Foreign Service employee under Lloyd George (Kenneth Cranham) who found himself on a plane with Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, interviewing the two to…

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REVIEW: 7500 [2019]

I can’t open the door. **SPOILER WARNING** You can tell that Oscar nominee Patrick Vollrath wishes his feature directorial debut 7500 could be more than just another Islamophobic film wherein Middle Eastern terrorists try to kill a bunch of innocent westerners. Much of this stems from young Vedat (Omid Memar)—the nineteen-year old accomplice of three older zealots ready to do whatever is necessary for their point (ostensibly using the “eye for an eye” creed Gandhi critiqued in an early on-screen quote so Europeans will know the pain Muslims suffer) to…

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REVIEW: Da 5 Bloods [2020]

The American War is over. Decades after surviving a harrowing experience during the Vietnam War while tasked to reacquire a chest of gold bars from a downed plane in Viet Cong territory, Otis (Clarke Peters), Paul (Delroy Lindo), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), and Eddie (Norm Lewis) have returned to the South China Sea with unfinished business. It was their squad commander “Stormin’” Norman (Chadwick Boseman) who decided to bury the gold so that they could retrieve it once the fighting stopped. He was educated in the teachings of Martin Luther…

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REVIEW: Miss Juneteenth [2020]

Stop worrying about THEM. There’s nothing wholly original about the narrative within Channing Godfrey Peoples‘ feature directorial debut Miss Juneteenth. You can probably rattle off ten films right now that depict a down-on-their-luck parent desperately trying to do right by the child they had too young to ever do right by themselves. These parents are so driven to ensure their kid doesn’t follow in their footsteps that they ultimately push them away—refusing to see their son or daughter’s true self beneath a projection of what they wished they had become…

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REVIEW: Babyteeth [2020]

I’m not ready to be functional. No matter how prepared we think we are to confront our own mortality, we aren’t even close. This goes for those lucky enough to spend close to a century on Earth, but especially for those who aren’t. And with our own impending mortality comes that of loved ones around us. How do we cope with knowing there’s nothing to do but wait? How do we numb the pain we feel as bystanders in order to help the dying deal with theirs? Ignoring it makes…

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REVIEW: The Surrogate [2020]

I’m just the vessel. There’s a moment in Jeremy Hersh‘s feature directorial debut The Surrogate where a heated argument devoid of any correct answers reaches the inevitable question: “Where do you draw the line?” It’s the corner in which we all find ourselves when forced to confront what Hersh calls “the gap between ideals and practical realities.” Because even if we refuse to create such barriers when thinking about topics in the abstract, we’re often very quick to erect them at the exact moment an issue concerns us personally. Maybe…

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REVIEW: Selvmordsturisten [Exit Plan] [2019]

Life never stops. Life is forever. Max (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is an insurance adjuster who just told his latest client that her claim wouldn’t be approved since her husband’s six-month disappearance isn’t confirmation of death. It’s a revelation that leaves her distressed not because she won’t be getting the money, but because she’ll have to continue living with the possibility he might still be alive. She wishes for a body because it would provide answers. She wishes Max would sign-off on the plan anyway because doing so would supply a legal…

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