REVIEW: The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain [2021]

This is when they come. I’m not sure there’s a more textbook example of police overreach and excessive force than the one depicted in David Midell‘s The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain. The number of checkpoints that had to be missed, ignored, or willfully flaunted for the tragedy that ensures to occur is too high to count. In a perfect world (one the “defund the police” movement strives to create), officers wouldn’t have been dispatched to Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.’s (Frankie Faison) in the first place. He was a seventy-year-old Black Marine…

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REVIEW: tick, tick … Boom! [2021]

What workshop? Despite any prescience on behalf of its subject matter, I’m sure even the playwright himself, Jonathan Larson, would have looked back on his big-budget, science fiction Broadway hopeful “Superbia” with enough hindsight to acknowledge there was no way it would ever see the light of day. As the relatable cartoon shared by artists all over the internet of an iceberg attests: the amount of work produced to get to the one piece that finds an audience (in any medium) is too high a multiplier to even begin hypothesizing.…

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REVIEW: So Late So Soon [2021]

There’s always been something missing. As Jackie and Don Seiden unintentionally describe themselves by way of an impromptu thought experiment: he’s the warm-hearted crocodile and she the intelligent mouse. They are opposites yet the same—incongruous creatures bound by a half century of marriage that became more about building a life together rather than necessarily being together. Jackie is quick to mention how afraid she is of intimacy and Don is constantly doing things at his own pace separate from her, but neither could ever imagine themselves not having the other…

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REVIEW: 借りぐらしのアリエッティ[Kari-gurashi no Arietti] [The Secret World of Arrietty] [2010]

Sometimes it’s best not to go looking for danger. The day has finally arrived for Arrietty (Bridgit Mendler) to become a “borrower.” Just being a four-inch-tall humanoid living in secret under the floorboards and inside the walls of an unsuspecting “human bean’s” house isn’t enough to earn the title. One must embrace bravery and ingenuity to venture out and take that which the family needs to survive without also earning any unwanted attention for what went missing. Would Arrietty love to take a “real’ dresser from the dollhouse upstairs to…

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REVIEW: Passing [2021]

What have you told him? Irene’s (Tessa Thompson) hat is pulled down and her eyes lowered as she walks through a crowd of white customers inside a New York City toy store. Her words are brief. Her movements exacting. And when she sees a fallen man on the sidewalk, she second guesses her instinct to discover if he’s okay. Why? Because she’s not certain she’ll be okay if she does. Irene is a Black woman in 1920s white society doing everything she can to not be noticed. So, she hails…

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DOCNYC21 REVIEW: Adrienne [2021]

I wasn’t supposed to find her dead. I hadn’t seen any of Adrienne Shelly‘s work at the time of her death, but you couldn’t follow the film world in 2006 without hearing about what happened. The news sites latched onto the assumption of suicide early on only to discover what happened was murder—the culprit found, arrested, and confessed shortly afterwards. And amidst that tragic whirlwind during the final two months of that year, Shelly’s latest film as writer/director/star, Waitress, was in submission at Sundance. It would eventually bow at the…

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DOCNYC21 REVIEW: Messwood [2021]

Kids win. Coaches lose. You can’t avoid questions about race when you’re talking about a situation such as that at the center of Emily Kuester and Brad Lichtenstein‘s documentary Messwood. The title is the name that was coined when two high schools a mile apart on the same street separated by a stream joined forces to field a competitive football team. Shorewood High is predominately white and bolstered by the highest median income level in Milwaukee. Messmer High is predominately Black and saddled with a student body that can barely…

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REVIEW: Last Night in Soho [2021]

What’s the most? Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) sees dead people. Or, maybe, she’s crazy. No. She definitely sees dead people. Director Edgar Wright and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns aren’t interested in making Last Night in Soho a commentary on mental illness when they can merely use mental illness as a plot device (Eloise’s mother committed suicide a decade previously after her own journey to London proved too much to bear). That sounds snarkier than it is. Yes, they could have handled the topic better, but I say it simply because it’s true.…

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REVIEW: The Power of the Dog [2021]

I don’t know what you’re talking about. Bronco Henry made Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) a man and the latter won’t let anyone forget it twenty years after his mentor’s death. Everything he does is a testament to his late friend as a result. Finished with the long trek herding cows back to the family ranch run by him and his brother George (Jesse Plemons)? Drink a shot to Bronco. Find yourself in need of a task to take your mind off the gradual deterioration of a life you thought you…

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REVIEW: Noche de fuego [Prayers for the Stolen] [2021]

Sometimes, our perception of what we see is not real. Everything that happens in the small town at the center of documentarian Tatiana Huezo‘s fiction debut Noche de fuego [Prayers for the Stolen] runs through the Mexican drug cartel. The men have all but left to find work elsewhere, sending money to pay off collectors. The women work in the poppy fields, scratching opium bulbs to pay bills and earn a semblance of “protection” by being useful to the cause. And the soldiers stationed there act tough with guns as…

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REVIEW: Lair [2021]

What did we do? Ben Dollarhyde (Oded Fehr) just murdered his wife and son. There’s no refuting it. He admits that his body committed the crime. His mind, however, did not. And while he knows saying that sounds crazy, he cannot stop himself from believing it and subsequently telling a colleague (Corey Johnson‘s Steven Caramore) who might agree. Except Caramore has never been a believer in the supernatural despite the fact he, Dollarhyde, and Ola (Kashif O’Connor) have worked in the paranormal sphere for years. Rather than make a career…

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