REVIEW: Judy & Punch [2019]

That’s the way to do it. They say your first violent act is the hardest. After that, however, repeating it often proves easier with each subsequent attempt. That initial struggle lies in knowing your actions are wrong. But if you do something unforgivable and never experience any consequences, those bad deeds start to normalize. You become comfortable with what you did and inevitably fall prey to a steady escalation of violence that spills out into the public. Domestic abuse leads to bar fights. Bar fights lead to run-ins with the…

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REVIEW: Dreamland [2020]

We don’t do this. There’s a line in Bruce McDonald‘s director’s statement that I believe should be shown before the start of his latest film Dreamland. It’s as follows: “I encouraged our team to embrace the Dream [and] not let logic get in the way of a good idea.” He goes on to mention how the result is a “miracle freak baby” that probably never should have been made considering they consciously tried to “stop making sense.” It’s the type of insight that people need access to since intent goes…

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REVIEW: Hammer [2020]

I didn’t have a choice. It’s easy to tell someone we’ll do anything for family when it’s what we’re supposed to say. That’s the expectation. That’s normalcy. And the majority of us never have to test those words anyway. We don’t all weigh the risk to our lives by donating an organ or financial security by re-mortgaging a home. But those acts do loom above us. So does tough love. “You want to live under our roof? Then abide by our rules.” Enforcing that line is where things get hard…

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REVIEW: Shirley [2020]

I don’t smote. What if instead of one night, Nick and Honey were entrenched in hosts Martha and George’s toxic manipulations for six months? Edward Albee‘s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would have progressed much differently if only because everyone would need to eventually sober up, confronting each other in the light of day with clear heads and accusatory eyes. Maybe there’d be regret and remorse or maybe things would pick up where they were left to expose how alcohol only helped to disseminate truths that were going to be…

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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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