REVIEW: Blithe Spirit [2021]

Divine intervention. Charles Condomine (Dan Stevens) is plagued by writer’s block—so much so that his wife Ruth (Isla Fisher) talked her film producer father (Simon Kunz‘s Henry Mackintosh) into paying him to adapt his best-selling detective novel debut into a screenplay. The hope is that an easy task without the need for new ideas will get the creative (and sexual) juices flowing again so that they can push their beds together and maybe even cross the Atlantic to Hollywood. No matter how supportive Ruth has been, however, Charles still can’t…

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REVIEW: Flora & Ulysses [2021]

Maybe it’s okay to hope. The magic Kate DiCamillo imbues within the pages of Flora & Ulysses is infectious. Not only is her book a smart and witty adventure that refuses to shy from the struggles with loneliness everyone faces (young and old), but it also seeks to use wordplay and vocabulary in a fun Phantom Tollbooth kind of way that entertains and educates in equal measure. My worry with Disney’s live-action adaptation was therefore whether or not it could do the material justice since the absurdly hyperbolic nature of…

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REVIEW: I Blame Society [2021]

I’m a strong female lead. Fact and fiction blur in Gillian Wallace Horvat‘s I Blame Society thanks to an identical central premise catalyzing the projects her on-screen and real-life personas pursue: an anecdotal retelling of two friends joking that she’d make a really good murderer. Taking the sentiment as a compliment, Horvat sought to figure out if what they said was true by interviewing friends and family who know her best. A couple snippets from that preliminary footage makes it into what’s now become a wholly outlandish embellishment of what…

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REVIEW: PG: Psycho Goreman [2021]

That is a tale bathed in the blood of a million dead memories. It opens with a gladiator-level war of attrition between two middle school-aged siblings in their backyard. The game is called “crazy ball” and the loser gets buried alive. Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) pick-up their respective dodgeballs, throw them as far behind themselves as possible, and run after the other as fast as they can to try and take advantage of the five-point bonus “butt shot” rule. Writer/director Steven Kostanski shoots it like battle with…

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REVIEW: On the Rocks [2020]

It was heartbreaking … for everyone. Before the first image of Sofia Coppola‘s On the Rocks arrives on-screen, we hear Felix’s (Bill Murray) voice to a teenaged Laura: “You’re mine until you get married. Then you’re still mine.” It’s the type of goofy sentiments Dads tell their daughters and we dismiss it as such when she replies with a sarcastic, “Okay.” The choice is a correct one too once we meet them in the present. Felix is an aging art dealer lothario for whom Laura (Rashida Jones) is his sole…

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REVIEW: World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime [2020]

Will you be the one to discover my dead body? After two introspective science fiction gems that took us on journeys of self-discovery within the subconscious, filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt decides to take World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime in a different direction. That’s not to say the third part of this series isn’t deep, though, as there’s a lot to be said about love and longing and jealousy. Rather than lean on dialogue via a brilliant back and forth between a child’s endearing innocence and…

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REVIEW: World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts [2017]

The closer I look at things, the less I know. While Third Generation Emily told Emily Prime (Winona Mae) that they wouldn’t see each other again due to the impending doom of her world, she said nothing about whether other subsequent versions of herself would. The assumption is that she’d have remembered when Emily 6 (Julia Pott) visited since the event would have been stored in her memory due to everything that happens to Emily Prime already having happened before Third Generation Emily was cloned. The occurrence wouldn’t have been…

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REVIEW: Emma. [2020]

I have not yet been proved wrong. There have been countless adaptations of Jane Austen‘s Emma. and yet Autumn de Wilde‘s version (from a script by Eleanor Catton) is still able to feel fresh regardless. It might help that the director admits Clueless is her favorite of them because that viewpoint allowed its modern sensibilities to shine through the period aesthetic. The wit is sharp and quick, the production design is impeccable, and the characters are given life with the sort of off-the-cuff expressions today’s youth cannot stop themselves from…

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REVIEW: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm [2020]

God doesn’t make accidents. I’ll be the first to say I loved Borat back in 2006. I loved the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen bringing this wild character to America under the radar. I loved reveling in the absurdity of his antics with a crowded theater of like-minded audience members ready to laugh as he put a mirror up to us. And then time moved on. Others riffed on the concept (including himself with the much less effective Brüno) and the moment for such broad comedic strokes evolved into self-parody.…

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REVIEW: Palm Springs [2020]

To pretending not to care. A cinematic time-loop narrative is nothing new in Hollywood, so finding one that feels fresh almost thirty years after Groundhog Day is rare. Since the usual way to throw a wrench into the proceedings has always been changing genres to see how things fare with action, science fiction, horror, or high school drama added to the mix, it almost seems too easy to discover all that was necessary were a few simple shifts in focus. Director Max Barbakow and writer Andy Siara give us the…

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REVIEW: Over the Moon [2020]

Cherish life and everything you love. As an Auntie jokes during dinner on the night of the Chinese Moon Festival, the myth concerning Moon Goddess Chang’e isn’t always one about love. Some versions have it that she stole the immortality elixir from her love Hou Yi—taking it from his hiding place all for herself shortly after he decided forget it in order to remain on Earth with her. Screenwriter Audrey Wells changes things for Over the Moon from liquid to pills with Chang’e hiding two in her mouth before accidentally…

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