TIFF18 REVIEW: Hjertelandet [Heartbound] [2018]

I can sell my body if it helps my family. A film ten years in the making, anthropologist Sine Plambech and her director husband Janus Metz‘s open a door with Hjertelandet [Heartbound] onto an intriguing humanist story dealing with the complexities of life, love, and survival that spans almost nine thousand kilometers from Thailand to Denmark. The logline is simple: over 900 Thai women have moved to Jutland in order to marry Danes and carve out a better life than is available back home. The motivations for this decision, however,…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: The Truth About Killer Robots [2018]

We will not consider the question of the robot’s guilt. The title to Maxim Pozdorovkin‘s documentary The Truth About Killer Robots is intentionally sensationalized for the same reasons a real newspaper article about the death by machine of a Volkswagen factory worker would be accompanied by a photograph of a terminator. James Cameron put a face to the concern humanity has about artificial intelligence and technology—that some type of uprising will occur once we either wrong our creations or prove the catalyst of our own extinction and thus the “disease”…

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REVIEW: Brimstone & Glory [2017]

This one has gunpowder in his blood. The concept of The National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico is insane. For two days the town responsible for 90% of all fireworks in the nation plans an elaborate celebration in honor of their patron saint San Juan de Dios wherein they literally run into fire. First is the Castillos del Fuego: high towers affixed with carousels to light and spin with patterns and artwork as tiny missiles fly through the air. Second is the Spanish running of the bulls-inspired Pamplonada where massive…

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VENICE18 REVIEW: Why Are We Creative? [2018]

That’s the only question. The question that Hermann Vaske has asked for over two decades is a large one. Why Are We Creative? There’s no blanket answer—no right or wrong notion of the philosophical ramifications trying to put your own personal interpretation into words conjures. So it’s interesting that he would end his film with a statement explaining how the thousand-plus subjects he asked changed the way he looks at the world. It’s interesting because we don’t know if that is true. After traveling the world to confront geniuses in…

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REVIEW: McQueen [2018]

If you want to know me, just look at my work. I can understand the ubiquity of a name like Alexander McQueen because I remember knowing it when he tragically committed suicide back in 2010. Recognition only took one mention despite it being all over the news—even if I wasn’t wholly sure who he was removed from it. The fashion scene has never been something I paid attention to and yet some designers become a part of the pop culture lexicon regardless. That turned out to be true with this…

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REVIEW: Three Identical Strangers [2018]

I don’t know if this will turn out great or terrible. Just imagine you’re walking onto your college campus for the first time as a freshman and everyone passing by says hello. Okay. Maybe you’ve landed at a happy-go-lucky school of friendly co-eds ready to welcome all newcomers to the tribe. But then some say, “I thought you weren’t coming back?” Some of the guys start patting you on the back and some of the girls start kissing you without warning. You wouldn’t be blamed for pinching yourself in hopes…

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REVIEW: Eating Animals [2018]

No one fired a pistol to mark the start of the race to the bottom. Author Jonathan Safran Foer (of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close fame) wrote his third book—a memoir entitled Eating Animals—as an answer to the question he asked himself upon the birth of his newborn son: Should he raise him a vegetarian? It’s a hot-button issue these days with the amount of money food processors and growers earn as “true American entrepreneurs living a ‘small business’ dream” and then put into the government…

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REVIEW: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? [2018]

Look for the helpers. I remember watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a kid, but couldn’t have told you anything about it besides the fact that Fred Rogers would trade his jacket for a cardigan and eventually let us travel to his Neighborhood of Make-Believe. To me it was the aesthetic that grabbed hold—the trolley trip to a world of puppets and fantasy that brought to life the little maquettes on his shelf. So I always thought the entire endeavor was a bit of a spectacle, an educational show that knew…

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REVIEW: American Animals [2018]

Like what? The more you hear about privileged white kids shooting-up schools because they’re under such “debilitating” pressure alienating them from the “cool” kids, turn “alt-right” with a projection of hatred that stems from a hatred in themselves courtesy of a false notion that they’re somehow “special,” and find themselves acting out of boredom in an attempt to cry for help, the more you have to look at the over-arching issues: community, upbringing, parentage. Too often we hear “He was such a good boy” from family, friends, and pillars of…

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REVIEW: Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami [2017]

I have to do some emotional blackmail. There’s a moment early on in Sophie Fiennes‘ documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami wherein the titular artist films a new music video-style performance of her 1977 hit disco-era cover of Édith Piaf‘s “La Vie en Rose.” She goes to the studio blind to what the imagery will look like, the director or whomever simply asking her to sit on the chair at the set’s center upon arriving. The crowd is told to cheer and the music begins so Jones can sing as…

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REVIEW: RBG [2018]

There’s a china doll in the bullpen. If you asked me which branch of government’s members I know least, the answer would be easy: judicial. The reason is even easier: I don’t vote for them. It’s an interesting truth because they’re the ones given lifetime appointments and therefore the ones who will potentially impact our country the most. But we don’t learn their political views, votes, or names in school unless those things also carry a “first” along with them. Thurgood Marshall was the first black justice. Sandra Day O’Connor…

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