REVIEW: Together Together [2021]

I’m nervous too. It’s not until a conversation about two-thirds of the way through that dissects how problematic the romantic relationships in Woody Allen movies are that I realized writer/director Nikole Beckwith was utilizing the infamous auteur’s signature font Windsor Light Condensed for her title card and chapter interstitials. I should have, though, considering how iconic a typeface it is in the context of cinema and just how impactful Beckwith’s film Together Together is at dismantling the stereotypes inherent to the romantic comedy dichotomy so many male filmmakers inject into…

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REVIEW: Shiva Baby [2021]

No funny business. All bets are off the moment Danielle (Rachel Sennott) whisper-shouts towards her parents to find out whose shiva they are about to walk into because not being prepared enough to know who the deceased is means there’s a good chance that she won’t be prepared for some of the guests either. And while it’s one thing to see an ex (Molly Gordon‘s Maya) walking into the house before your mother tells you to keep your hands to yourself (not because she isn’t progressive enough to accept a…

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REVIEW: Já-Fólkið [Yes-People] [2020]

Life beats us all down eventually. Or, if we’re lucky, it numbs us from caring about the chaos that surrounds us. This is only too true for the inhabitants of three apartments within Gísli Darri Halldórsson‘s short film Já-Fólkið [Yes-People]. Whether it’s the senior couple at a breakfast table daring each other to blink during an impromptu “who’s most annoying” contest or a cheery mother and her morose son getting through teaching clarinet to a novice and staying awake at school respectively or a frustrated middle-aged pair who’ve turned to…

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REVIEW: Shoplifters of the World [2021]

No one can ever take it away from us. The Smiths are dead. That’s the news Cleo (Helena Howard) punctuates with a scream loud enough to wake everyone in Denver, Colorado but her own passed out drunk mother on the couch. So she drives to the one place she knows she’ll find a kindred spirit: the record store. Dean (Ellar Coltrane) is reading the news behind the counter as she walks in, the obvious air of depression looming above him before his boss (Thomas Lennon) stomps in to say that…

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REVIEW: The Letter Room [2021]

I didn’t write him to get letters back. The fact that we’re being asked to sympathize with a man working as a corrections officer on death row isn’t lost on writer/director Elvira Lind. If anything, she wants us to make certain we acknowledge the moral disparity that exists so that we realize Richard (Oscar Isaac) is an exception and perhaps an answer to so much of what’s wrong with our current prison system. What he learns in The Letter Room is what too many in his position refuse to believe:…

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REVIEW: Burrow [2020]

I said it two years ago with Kitbull and will say it again now: it’s weird to watch a Pixar production utilizing a two-dimensional, hand-drawn style after so many years of computer animation. Madeline Sharafian‘s Burrow continues that trend within the Disney+ Sparkshorts series and her tale of a young rabbit looking to dig out her dream home in the dirt. There’s a Little Golden Books appeal that hit me with a ton of nostalgia as her unwavering joy is shattered by not one, but two neighbors popping their heads…

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REVIEW: Happily [2021]

I could have made that omelet. I can’t tell you how many times a friend has come up to me with a story that positions their significant other as the proverbial albatross around their neck with a look that screams, “Amirite?” only to have me shrug, smile, and reply, “I don’t know. I actually like my partner.” I only partially say this in jest because I do hope they’ll hear those words and rethink their situation—their refusal to acknowledge their own part in their problems, the possibility that their relationship…

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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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