REVIEW: Safety [2020]

I am a winner. Anyone who’s played organized sports is familiar with their clichés. Whether “fighting in the trenches” as though a game is akin to war or loyalty and love transforming your teammates and coaches into a second family (the same rhetoric employers use as a means to get you to willingly sacrifice more than your compensation contractually demands), these platitudes are used to confirm that “we” is stronger than “I.” The result is two-fold: we do make priceless relationships from those experiences, but also sometimes find ourselves stripped…

Read More

REVIEW: Ammonite [2020]

Fashion moved on. Did it not? By all accounts a woman long disregarded for her invaluable role in the scientific field of paleontology, Mary Anning deserves substantial recognition. Her first major discovery occurred around age eleven after her brother found an ichthyosaur skull for which she then collected the entirety of its completed skeleton. Because their father died that same year and left the family in dire financial straits, they sold the piece to find its way into London’s British Museum eight years later. Mary then continued her winter expeditions…

Read More

REVIEW: Mank [2020]

Sixty days and a noodle. Who wrote Citizen Kane? It’s a question that should have a definitive answer considering it’s hailed as the greatest film of all-time after winning a single Oscar out of nine nominations: for original screenplay. Yet the debate rages on. Or maybe it’s better to say that those who believe there is a debate continue declaring that one exists. Pauline Kael wrote a 1971 New Yorker article that posited how director/producer/star Orson Welles added nothing of value to Herman J. Mankiewicz’s original draft. Many others refuted…

Read More

REVIEW: The Twentieth Century [2020]

Sure as a winter’s day in springtime. It would seem by most accounts that William Lyon Mackenzie King was a middle-of-the-road politician who neither rocked the boat nor steered it towards any particular acclaim. That’s not to say he wasn’t popular—three non-consecutive terms as Prime Minister of Canada aren’t won without appeal. He just wasn’t as internationally revered as his World War II counterparts Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. To read about his legacy is to therefore see a man firmly entrenched in a gray area our incendiary day and…

Read More

DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Zappa [2020]

Waiting to be disposed of. The thing about artists is that their life’s work is objective. It remains once they’re gone. Few other career paths can claim that since money doesn’t count. You don’t make money. Some earn it. Some steal it. Some do everything in their power to avoid its hold on their lives beyond the basic need for survival. And by all accounts, Frank Zappa was keenly aware of that distinction. He knew what was necessary to help raise a family and what was necessary to feed his…

Read More

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…

Read More

TIFF20 REVIEW: Joe Bell [2021]

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.…

Read More

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.…

Read More

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…

Read More