REVIEW: Last Night in Soho [2021]

What’s the most? Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) sees dead people. Or, maybe, she’s crazy. No. She definitely sees dead people. Director Edgar Wright and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns aren’t interested in making Last Night in Soho a commentary on mental illness when they can merely use mental illness as a plot device (Eloise’s mother committed suicide a decade previously after her own journey to London proved too much to bear). That sounds snarkier than it is. Yes, they could have handled the topic better, but I say it simply because it’s true.…

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REVIEW: The Power of the Dog [2021]

I don’t know what you’re talking about. Bronco Henry made Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) a man and the latter won’t let anyone forget it twenty years after his mentor’s death. Everything he does is a testament to his late friend as a result. Finished with the long trek herding cows back to the family ranch run by him and his brother George (Jesse Plemons)? Drink a shot to Bronco. Find yourself in need of a task to take your mind off the gradual deterioration of a life you thought you…

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REVIEW: Noche de fuego [Prayers for the Stolen] [2021]

Sometimes, our perception of what we see is not real. Everything that happens in the small town at the center of documentarian Tatiana Huezo‘s fiction debut Noche de fuego [Prayers for the Stolen] runs through the Mexican drug cartel. The men have all but left to find work elsewhere, sending money to pay off collectors. The women work in the poppy fields, scratching opium bulbs to pay bills and earn a semblance of “protection” by being useful to the cause. And the soldiers stationed there act tough with guns as…

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REVIEW: Morocco [1930]

I changed my mind. Good luck! It’s said that Marlene Dietrich put a copy of Benno Vigny‘s “Amy Jolly” into director Josef von Sternberg‘s pocket before he set sail for America. Their German collaboration The Blue Angel had yet to be released, but the consensus that it would prove a hit was enough to land him in Hollywood with keen prospects and potential money. He then leveraged both to give birth to Morocco with Jules Furthman adapting the script and the studio bringing Dietrich over to star. One soon-to-be hit…

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REVIEW: Titane [2021]

You think I can’t recognize my own son? It always fascinates me when you hear stories about audacious new films being “unlike anything you’ve ever seen” and “wild enough to cause audience members to faint in their seats” since the ones carrying those labels are often quite tame by comparison. That’s not to say Julia Ducournau‘s latest Titane isn’t without its tensely disturbing moments. Watching Agathe Rousselle slam her face down onto a bathroom sink to break her nose isn’t going to be for the faint of heart, but I…

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REVIEW: Crash [1996]

I somehow find myself driving again. Writer/director David Cronenberg opens his J.G. Ballard adaptation Crash with a sex-crazed couple engaging in the act with people other than their partner before meeting back home to share their extra-marital affairs and ultimately arouse themselves yet again to finish the job their flings couldn’t. They get off on talking about the act, but the real impactful details are the ones where they explain how easy it would have been for them to get caught. That danger sets them off more than a desire…

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REVIEW: The Last Duel [2021]

God will spare those who tell the truth. The tale at the center of Eric Jager‘s book The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France is a compelling one that supposedly continues to inspire debate among historians today about who was telling the truth. While unsurprising considering there weren’t any witnesses of the crime that was said to have been committed, it explains how little has changed from 1386 where the patriarchal underpinnings of our world are concerned. Debate means that some people believe Marguerite…

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REVIEW: 13 Minutes [2021]

There’s always weather. I’m not entirely sure what the message is at the center of Lindsay Gossling‘s 13 Minutes. In fact, I’m pretty sure there isn’t one. A line of text runs before the end credits stating how the film honors those who have been affected by extreme weather, but there’s no mention of climate change, what you can do to help, or anything beyond the reality that extreme weather and affected people exist. And that’s how it treats everything across the board. Because despite being a disaster film, Gossling…

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REVIEW: Mass [2021]

I don’t think I can say it. First things first: you should go into Fran Kranz‘s directorial debut Mass as blind as possible. Knowing the premise beforehand won’t necessarily ruin anything, but he is hiding the particulars with reason as far as the emotional and narrative impact that comes with one of the characters saying it as plain as day. And that moment should be allowed its full weight. You should know that death binds these two couples—Martha Plimpton‘s Gail and Jason Isaacs‘ Jay opposite Ann Dowd‘s Linda and Reed…

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REVIEW: Broadcast Signal Intrusion [2021]

I fixed them all. It’s been almost three years since James’ (Harry Shum Jr.) wife disappeared and he’s yet to wrap his head around the void left behind. He works a video archivist job for a local Chicago television channel, transferring old tapes to DVD while generally falling asleep in the process, and fixes cameras on the side for less money than he probably should be asking. His only real human contact (he and his boss communicate via post-it notes at the recording dock) comes from the support group for…

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REVIEW: The Harder They Fall [2021]

Now it’s us and y’all. How can you not get behind a project like Jeymes Samuel‘s (aka The Bullitts) feature debut The Harder They Fall after hearing him describe the decision to put real life men and women, who may have never met, together in one story with the words, “I just assembled them like Black Gods.” Growing up loving westerns, that’s exactly who they were to him: historical people of color from the Old West who’ve too often been pushed to the fringes as their white counterparts gained legendary…

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