REVIEW: The Trial of the Chicago 7 [2020]

You don’t know what to do with the egg now, do you? It’s a project tailor-made for Aaron Sorkin. So much so that I’m surprised The Trial of the Chicago 7 didn’t somehow worm its way into becoming his directorial debut rather than Molly’s Game three years prior. There’s the courtroom drama aspect recalling his play and screenplay for A Few Good Men, the government inner-workings a la his television show “The West Wing”, and the notion of a youth-led counter culture of bickering geniuses similar to the fast-paced insults…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Good Joe Bell [2020]

The truth is all I have. The first event at which we see Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) speak his anti-bullying message can’t help but make you laugh. He’s standing on-stage with a disheveled look cultivated by a weeks-long journey on foot, spouting more nervous “ums” then concrete dialogue as his son Jadin (Reid Miller) watches at the back of the auditorium. The scene lasts less than two minutes before Bell asks the audience of teenagers if they have any questions as though his awkward presence was enough to spark conversation…

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REVIEW: Tesla [2020]

Who strokes the cat’s back? As Anne Morgan (Eve Hewson) states from writer/director Michael Almereyda‘s Tesla coil set, Nikola Tesla is hardly as well known as the likes of contemporary Thomas Edison. She shows us her laptop screen with its Google search repeating the “same four photos” of the genius inventor just to fill his first page of images while Edison’s portfolio goes on and on. One was in the spotlight while the other was in the shadows. One knew how to play the marketing game while the other’s idealism…

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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.…

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REVIEW: Radioactive [2020]

An instinct isn’t a particularly scientific reason. You can’t tell the story of Marie Curie’s genius without also touching upon the complex ramifications of the scientific work she accomplished. As her husband and research partner Pierre says in a dream at the tale-end of Marjane Satrapi‘s cinematic adaptation of Lauren Redniss‘ graphic novel Radioactive, “You can only throw the stone in the water, not control its ripples.” Her stone was the discovery of two new elements (polonium and radium) and the concept of radioactivity that so intrinsically connects them together.…

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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: 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: 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: Capone [2020]

Let’s catch some of his marbles on the way out. Thanks to a bout of syphilis contracted before the age of fifteen, Alphonse Gabriel “Scarface” Capone found himself trapped inside a prison much worse than the federal penitentiaries in which he also spent time. With almost seven years spent within their concrete walls, the notorious gangster had almost eight more to live within the confines of a rapidly deteriorating mind. We can therefore speculate about the dementia’s effect on his already volatile personality because we understand how the disease operates.…

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REVIEW: Rewind [2020]

I have to put that puzzle back together. When films like Rewind are presented as exercises to reconstruct circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse its filmmaker endured, you can assume the journey will deal with unearthing previously unknown details about what happened through repressed memories. Despite the liberal use of home videos taken by director and subject Sasha Joseph Neulinger‘s father to relive this harrowing past, however, his motivations are very different. Sasha actually remembers everything that occurred: the pain, sorrow, and suicidal thoughts. He can look at himself on-screen and…

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REVIEW: Vitalina Varela [2019]

Fear can also get to Heaven. When Pedro Costa knocked on Vitalina Varela‘s door in Lisbon, he was looking for a house in which to shoot some of his latest film Horse Money. What he got instead was an impossibly tragic story about how her long-awaited arrival from Cape Verde happened three days after her estranged husband’s death. Apart for decades and forever holding out hope for the promise of one day reuniting, fate intervened at the eleventh hour to leave her in a new country with nobody she could…

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