REVIEW: The Mitchells vs the Machines [2021]

Be bold and never play it safe. So many familial conflicts can be solved by a simple conversation laying out wants and desires since passive aggressive ultimatums will always prove insufficient as a means for compromise. Should Rick Mitchell (Danny McBride) need Katie (Abbi Jacobson) to overtly tell him she’s desperate for his support? No. It’s what every child wants from his/her parents. Should Katie need Rick to explain the reasons he lets his own insecurities and failures dictate his attitude towards the light years’ worth of cultural distance separating…

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REVIEW: Encanto [2021]

Make your family proud. Abuela Alma (María Cecilia Botero) was alone with her triplet babies when a miracle occurred. Her husband had just been lost trying to protect them from the rampant violence that has displaced thousands of Colombians. They would have been killed too if not for the magic that manifested a stone barrier protecting the four remaining Madrigal family members from the conflict. With it came a living house powered by the everlasting candle that ignited this impossible moment. Alma would return the favor by becoming its protector…

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REVIEW: Ron’s Gone Wrong [2021]

Let’s make friends. The CEO of tech giant Bubble (Justice Smith‘s Marc) had good intentions when creating the Bubble-bot. His goal was to eradicate childhood loneliness by supplying boys and girls the world over a personal SEO-equipped “Smart” device that doubles as a best friend and geo-locator of other like-minded real friends. The toy’s launch proves a huge success as Marc randomly selects an audience member to electronically imprint on the first unboxed Bubble-bot before then having it wirelessly connect to the app-aggregated meta data cataloged on every child’s phone…

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REVIEW: The Addams Family 2 [2021]

Up and Addams. When Grandma Addams (Bette Midler) says, “Time to make some money” upon waving goodbye to the family as they embark on a cross-country bonding vacation (despite the song lyric proclaiming they are “going global,” that doesn’t happen until the end credits), I laughed because it seemed like a thinly veiled joke on sequels to already rebooted IP generally being made to do exactly that. What I didn’t expect, however, was for there to be an actual advertisement about halfway through courtesy of a Progressive billboard. It’s not…

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REVIEW: The Addams Family [2019]

The day is becoming most wonderfully disruptive. What exactly the “old country” is in context with the latest iteration of Charles Addams‘ beloved The Addams Family is unknown. Are we to infer Transylvania? Maybe. Does the film itself pretty much just show Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) driving until they hit a straight-jacketed inmate (Lurch) escaped from an abandoned asylum up on a hill? Yes. Does a patient escaping a building with no occupants seem strange? Sure, but that’s kind of par for the course. Asking questions about…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Silent Night [2021]

Tonight’s all about truth and love. The easiest way to make sure your child actors are up to swearing on-screen is casting your own. That’s exactly what first-time feature writer/director Camille Griffin does for her film Silent Night—and it’s with good reason. Art (Roman Griffin Davis) and twins Thomas (Gilby Griffin Davis) and Hardy (Hardy Griffin Davis) have made a pact with their parents (Keira Knightley‘s Nell and Matthew Goode‘s Simon) to say whatever comes to their mind without fear of punishment or retribution since they’re all going to die…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] [2021]

Your eyes are like two mountain lakes I could sink into. Writer/director Maria Schrader‘s Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] posits the question: What if Weird Science, but real? That’s not to say the conceit she and co-writer Jan Schomburg have created (from a short story by Emma Braslavsky) isn’t science fiction fantasy. I just mean that their romantic comedy isn’t saddled by the puerile male gaze of an 80s sex romp. It uses its skeptical lead character (Maren Eggert‘s ancient language specialist Alma) to confront the scenario she’s…

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REVIEW: The Nowhere Inn [2021]

We’re in this together. Much like their fictional counterparts on-screen, Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) and Carrie Brownstein did plan on crafting a documentary about the former’s music career. Along the way, however, they found themselves diving deeper and deeper into conversations about what form it might take. They didn’t want to fall prey to conventions or artifice. Nor did they condone pretending life off-stage was some wild, hedonistic experience simply because that’s what the audience expected (or wanted). Ideas to prevent cliché ultimately skewed towards mockumentary and they didn’t…

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REVIEW: Lady of the Manor [2021]

I was a little stoned. The directorial debut of brothers Justin and Christian Long (who also co-write) hinges on a pedophilia joke. Let’s get that out in the open because you’re either the type of person who can chalk it up to “good-humor” and carry on or the type who checks the calendar, realizes it is indeed 2021, and decides to spend their time on anything else. It’s not like Lady of the Manor consciously deals with the gag beyond an ill-advised decision to make a callback like it’s no…

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REVIEW: Best Sellers [2021]

Piss off. Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) is a writer in need of money. Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza) is an editor/publisher in need of money. And it just so happens that a contract between him and her company is already on the books to provide some for both. There are a couple problems, though. Shaw hates people, press, and perhaps life itself while Lucy is constantly being judged against her father (a pillar of the literary world who left her the shingle) and thus constantly disrespected. Does the benefit of teaming…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Sis dies corrents [The Odd-Job Men] [2021]

What could go wrong? It’s an important week for three handymen in Barcelona. Pep (Pep Sarrà) is retiring after decades on the job. Moha (Mohamed Mellali) is showing what he can do as his potential replacement. And Valero (Valero Escolar) is left to reconcile their swap’s extreme change to his routine with an empty stomach due to a last-minute attempt to lose weight before a family member’s wedding that weekend. There’s a bit of “old man yelling at clouds” with Pep’s last hurrah providing the opportunity to tell builders how…

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