ANOMALY20 REVIEW: The Last Blockbuster [2020]

I miss it like crazy. We were a Blockbuster family. I don’t mean that because we had the gold membership card allowing us to rent any old DVD for free with the purchase of a new release or that we’d go at least once a week while working a drop-box drive-by into our regular schedule. No, that label was earned back when VHS was king and the best way to not have to constantly buy new VCRs was acquiring a rewinding machine instead. We’d watch our rentals, pop them in…

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ANOMALY20 REVIEW: Gremlins: A Puppet Story [2020]

Ha! Forgetting about the man-hours that go into a film production before the cameras start rolling is something many of us do. People do so where it concerns art and labor in most fields because it’s easier to reduce finished products to the “genius” or “talent” of a creator than fathom the work that actually goes into making those indelible traits possible. So watching an Oscar-winning make-up/special effects artist like Chris Walas go through the process of advancing from reading a script that seemed impossible to bring to fruition to…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Colectiv [Collective] [2020]

We’re no longer human beings. We’re of an era when everything good instills mixed feelings thanks to how far our species has fallen where the realm of empathy is concerned. It’s so demoralizing that we’ve been forced to hail those willing to do the bare minimum as heroes simply because they haven’t caved to the power of money’s so-called “great equalizer” … yet. How much buys your silence? How much for your complicity? How about your active participation? The old adage says everyone has a price because it’s very often…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Landfall [2020]

Days went by and we knew nothing Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the world. Think about that. The United States retains the island as an “unincorporated possession” without any national representation beyond a non-voting member of Congress. Inhabitants are therefore citizens without a voice. They have no say in who is elected President despite having a population larger than twenty Electoral College states. They are essentially slaves to a system that doesn’t care about them, helpless to prevent the federal government from coming ashore to wreak havoc whenever…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Zappa [2020]

Waiting to be disposed of. The thing about artists is that their life’s work is objective. It remains once they’re gone. Few other career paths can claim that since money doesn’t count. You don’t make money. Some earn it. Some steal it. Some do everything in their power to avoid its hold on their lives beyond the basic need for survival. And by all accounts, Frank Zappa was keenly aware of that distinction. He knew what was necessary to help raise a family and what was necessary to feed his…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Mystery of D.B. Cooper [2020]

On a 727, there’s no place to run. The FBI officially closed the D.B. Cooper case in 2016, forty-five years after he hijacked a plane, extorted $200,000, and jumped somewhere between Seattle and Reno. It’s the only unsolved case of air piracy in the United States and the fact it remained open for so long was reason enough for the bureau to cut its losses and put resources dedicated to its numerous dead-ends elsewhere. Cooper would be in his eighties or nineties at this point anyway, if he’s even still…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Letter [2020]

Funda mkota. The subject of married directing duo Maia Lekow and Chris King‘s The Letter isn’t just one piece of correspondence. It’s instead a type that’s been gaining traction more and more in Kenya as younger generations have sought to take land from elders by way of religiously motivated murder. The way they do it is simple: declare the landowner a witch. Create a laundry list of ills, place the blame around the neck of an unsuspecting senior citizen, and threaten them with a violent end by the blade of…

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REVIEW: Time [2020]

Life’s Only Valid Expression. Her mother raised her to believe in the American Dream: success comes to those who try. So of course Fox Rich believed she was on the top of the world over two decades ago. She was young, ambitious, and in love with her high school sweetheart Rob. They were happily married, raising a family of sons with two more on the way, and pouring their hopes and energy into a clothing business they opened together as a means to support their future. But the store began…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Viewing Booth [2020]

I think he’s lying. Modernism, insofar as the painting world is concerned, was created in large part out of the invention of the camera. Here was a new device that captured life-like images from the world with the press of a button. We no longer had to sit in chairs and pose for portraits. We no longer had to view canvases of landscapes and architecture in order to behold the beauty of what each provided without physically standing before them ourselves. So painters began to reinterpret reality instead. They moved…

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REVIEW: Totally Under Control [2020]

Politics got in the way of science. Documentaries like Alex Gibney (who also wrote), Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger‘s Totally Under Control have a tendency of falling prey to their activism. And being that this film specifically was shot, packaged, and released in just a handful of months before a very contentious United States presidential election only augments that potential. Because how much information about the COVID-19 pandemic is there that we don’t already know? How does putting what we do together into a cohesive, well-researched piece facilitate much-needed education…

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BIFF20 REVIEW: Runaway [2020]

Tears in cornflakes taste awful. Every story can be tackled from multiple angles depending on its narrative intent and lead character. It’s therefore a conscious choice when selecting a focal point because everything that follows will inherently center him/her as the protagonist. While generally not a bad thing considering most stories we tell are purposefully drawn to lift up their subject in that way, some demand a more complex and nuanced approach. The reason is simple: certain events prove more important than any single player within. And that’s definitely the…

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