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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

REVIEW: Becky [2020]

You can’t stay angry forever. Becky (Lulu Wilson) is hurting. It’s been almost a year since her mother passed away from cancer and she’s yet to move on in part because her father (Joel McHale‘s Jeff) already has. So she acts out, drowns him out, and can’t wait to get out. Not only has he put the lake house that holds so many of her memories with Mom on-sale, he’s also become very serious with his new girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe). The worst…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More