REVIEW: kid 90 [2021]

What happens once I unlock it? My mindset entering Soleil Moon Frye‘s autobiographical documentary kid 90 anticipated a fun, nostalgic, low stakes look at kid celebrities. That’s what the slew of happy photos depicting teenaged Stephen Dorff, Brian Austin Green, and Balthazar Getty smiling sells: their childhood adventures as inseparable friends and peers removed from the otherwise tumultuous Hollywood machine. Frye only adds to that image when starting things off by saying, “this is an account of what it meant to be a child in the 1990s.” Expectations are therefore…

Read More

REVIEW: Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry [2021]

They’re not my friends. They’re part of me. Whether you enjoy her music or not, it’s tough to deny that there’s a story that needs to be told around Grammy-winning artist Billie Eilish. She and her brother Finneas O’Connell uploaded “Ocean Eyes” to SoundCloud when she was thirteen. They recorded their first full-length album in his bedroom when she was sixteen. And they’ve become worldwide sensations performing at the Oscars and writing the latest James Bond theme song all in the matter of about five years—the last two being a…

Read More

REVIEW: A Glitch in the Matrix [2021]

It’s just like a videogame. Simulation theory is an interesting concept because it cannot be objectively measured. Even if someone came up with a definitive answer to the question of whether our reality is the base world or one of infinite copies created by an unknown architect, the life we are living right now remains “real.” If we have to die to discover a new existence, the one we leave behind isn’t erased. We don’t actively seek to die so we can get to Heaven. Point of fact: our deeds…

Read More

REVIEW: Apollo 11: Quarantine [2021]

Please do not feed the animals. When you craft a 90-minute movie out of over 11,000 hours of newly sourced video documenting the Apollo 11 mission, the amount of footage left on the cutting room floor is extensive. That’s not to say you should have made a longer film, though. Todd Douglas Miller‘s succinctly titled Apollo 11 is one of the best documentaries to come out of the past decade. Adding more imagery of pre-launch, moon landing, and/or aftermath wouldn’t have improved anything—it may have conversely made it worse. But…

Read More

REVIEW: Escher: Het Oneindige Zoeken [M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity] [2018]

I’m a mathematician. Despite Graham Nash‘s words at the conclusion of Robin Lutz‘s documentary M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity stating that the world is destined to reappreciate the artist’s work, the fact that it’s taken three years for the film to become available in the United States seemingly proves the opposite. As the pop culture footage during the end credits reveals, however, it might just be that Nash was underestimating how important Escher‘s art already was. From Labyrinth to Inception and tattoos to YouTube make-up tutorials, the Dutchman’s optical illusions…

Read More

REVIEW: Acasa, My Home [2021]

I’m free here. The land where Gica Enache raised his family for eighteen years has become a target of the Romanian government for national park status. A birds’ eye view shows just how close their island refuge is to Bucharest—the green marshland and gray concrete separated by mere feet. But geography isn’t the only thing at play here. There’s the culture clash between living independently off the delta’s natural resources (fishing, hunting, etc.) and becoming part of a community mired by rules that guarantee jail time for those same actions.…

Read More

REVIEW: The Reason I Jump [2021]

Have a nice trip through our world. There’s no better advocate for you than you. You grasp what you’re going through. You comprehend your needs and desires. You feel the animosity and fear radiating off of those surrounding you because of their ingrained ignorance rather than your potential danger. The tragedy, however, is that we aren’t all equipped to serve that role for ourselves. We often need others to beat the drum on our behalf and work towards finding our truth. But as we’ve seen through the autistic community this…

Read More

REVIEW: Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets [2020]

This place sucked anyways. If ever there’s a case to stop singling documentaries out as a different entity when compared to fictional narratives, Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross‘ Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is a prime contender. Despite categorization that started at Sundance (much to the filmmakers’ own surprise), plenty of viewers have been quick to refute its place under the “documentary” banner because it doesn’t uphold their idea of journalistic (investigative, editorialized, or vérité) documentation. They’re correct. But just as many are throwing their weight to uphold the designation…

Read More

REVIEW: Boys State [2020]

You play to win. Directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss couldn’t have asked for a better result when they decided to film the 2018 Texas Boys State event in Austin. With the randomly selected Nationalists party voting René Otero (a POC liberal hoping to engage with the conservative majority by holding true to fairness and debate) as their State Party Chairman and the Federalists electing Ben Feinstein (a double-amputee and self-proclaimed “hype man” willing to fight dirty in order to win) as theirs, we’re more or less given a reductive…

Read More

REVIEW: Dick Johnson is Dead [2020]

I’ve always wanted to be in the movies. A steady stream of phone calls about Dick Johnson‘s growing forgetfulness eventually forced his daughter to admit a sad truth: it wasn’t safe for him to continue living alone. Anyone who’s seen Kirsten Johnson‘s previous documentary Cameraperson knows this reality will hit even harder considering she’s gone through similar circumstances before. It’s only been seven years since her mother Katie Jo passed away after a long bout with Alzheimer’s, so to turn around and have to watch her father suffer from dementia…

Read More

REVIEW: The Dissident [2020]

Say your word and walk away. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a known commodity in the world of international news so it was no surprise when word of his disappearance, presumed death, and confirmed assassination grabbed universal attention. So many questions swirled around the incident from its setting (his country’s consulate in Turkey), involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself, and a seemingly global indifference towards achieving actual justice in lieu of kowtowing to the economic importance of a nation with seventeen percent of the Earth’s petroleum reserves.…

Read More