REVIEW: Bad Hair [2020]

You always have a choice. It’s 1989 and Anna Bludso (Elle Lorraine) still hasn’t straightened her hair thanks to an ill-fated attempt years previously that left her scalp scarred and sensitive to the touch. She asked her cousin Linda (Chanté Adams) to do it then because her idols all had sleek, shoulder length locks and she knew it would give her a leg up on a career path towards DJ/VJ stardom even before landing a job at the urban arm of RMV known as Culture. As an interviewer tells her…

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REVIEW: Love and Monsters [2020]

Man, Todd loved that goldfish. We’re seven years past the apocalypse. Eight years since the world banded together to send every nuclear missile on Earth into the sky to stop an asteroid hell-bent on destroying all life. Things obviously didn’t work out too well if the latter wasn’t able to stop the former. Ends up that that much radioactivity falling back down through the atmosphere was just as cataclysmic—killing off a lot of the population and mutating cold-blooded animals/insects into giant monsters that ultimately killed the rest. Ninety-five percent of…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Mandibules [Mandibles] [2020]

What’s in the suitcase? Look no further than the fact Manu (Grégoire Ludig) was given the job to know how simple it was. While he’s a guy who shouldn’t be trusted to operate heavy machinery, tasking him with the no-questions-asked delivery of a suitcase shouldn’t be far-fetched—especially not when he’ll be given a decent payday for his trouble. Manu needs that money too. He’s lost his home and sleeps wrapped up in a blanket on the beach way too close to the water. Any little bit therefore helps and procuring…

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REVIEW: The Forty-Year-Old Version [2020]

Is it looking for me? Cause I’ve been here. Sometimes you must begin the process of making art for that art’s potential to find its way to the surface. Radha Blank didn’t start with The Forty-Year-Old Version as it is today. She wanted to create something with full autonomy: shoot on an iPhone, release a web-series, and see what happened. But then her mother passed away. Her ability to be the person she had been creatively suddenly disappeared and she filled it with the cathartic power of the music written…

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REVIEW: A Rainy Day in New York [2020]

Real life is fine for people who can’t do any better. There’s a scene in Mike Nichols‘ The Birdcage where Robin Williams’ character is helping Nathan Lane’s character be more “manly.” He has him mimicking different masculine figures including John Wayne to which Lane struts around only to catch Williams’ quizzical look and ask, “What? No good?” Williams’ response perfectly encapsulates how things we’ve been conditioned to believe are normal are actually absurd when taken out of context. He says, “Actually, it’s perfect. I just never realized John Wayne walked…

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REVIEW: 12 Hour Shift [2020]

You ever smell sadness? The Podunk nature to Brea Grant‘s latest film as writer/director, 12 Hour Shift, is integral to its success. Nothing works without it. We need the overt Catholicism of some of its characters. We need the imbecilic criminals operating way outside their intellectual depth despite having no emotional issues with taking another person’s life. And we need the sheer lack of worry that goes into blindly stealing organs from a hospital without even mentioning blood type or potential compatibility. If everything weren’t so outlandishly absurd, I’d have…

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REVIEW: Eternal Beauty [2020]

I’m in my oils. You cannot just watch part of Craig Roberts‘ latest film Eternal Beauty. You might think you could since it’s seemingly as schizophrenic as its lead character Jane (Sally Hawkins), but that chaos is premeditated so that it can find tonal and thematic sense by the end. I was about twenty minutes in when “hate” started to solidify as a reaction to what I saw because it felt like Roberts was poking fun at the disease—purely using Hawkins’ monotone delivery and erratic actions for laughs. If I…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: The Kid Detective [2020]

I used to be loved. The premise behind Evan Morgan‘s The Kid Detective definitely hit upon my nostalgia as a big fan of the HBO “Encyclopedia Brown” series when I was a kid. You do wonder what might happen to someone like that as they grow older. Do they become cynical? Depressed? Do they become actual private detectives or go into the police force? A real world Encyclopedia Brown would have to face the reality that what they thought they were doing was never actually what it was. Being the…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Limbo [2020]

Tomorrow we’ll have apricots. Two Africans, an Afghan, and a Syrian walk onto a remote island in Scotland. The punch line potential is infinite. Writer/director Ben Sharrock knows it too as he places them all in the same cramped apartment with a “Refugees Welcome” banner outside so they can argue about the merits of Ross and Rachel’s “break” courtesy of a burned “Friends” box set left behind by whomever lived their last. Add an eccentric cultural awareness course led by a duo in Helga (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Boris (Kenneth…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Mila [Apples] [2020]

I don’t remember if I like them. Amnesia is a tragic ailment. To wake up and find yourself unable to remember your name or any other aspect of your life is nothing short of a nightmarish scenario. We fear diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s precisely because losing our memory is akin to losing our very identity and by extension our sense of purpose. So it’s only natural to see the conceit behind director Christos Nikou‘s and co-writer Stavros Raptis‘ film Mila [Apples] as one steeped in horror. It’s unknown why…

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FANTASIA20 REVIEW: The Paper Tigers [2020]

Kung Fu without honor is just fighting. Like the warring Japanese dojos depicted throughout the Karate Kid franchise, a growing disconnect exists between those who wish to learn a fighting style as a means of physical and emotional growth and those who simply seek the ability to punish their adversaries without mercy. It’s respect and honor versus strength and superiority—something even the most devout and sacred of Chinese Kung Fu masters like Sifu Cheung (Roger Yuan) can’t always instill in their pupils. No matter how much they strive to trust…

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