REVIEW: Venom: Let There Be Carnage [2021]

Responsibility is for the mediocre. I’m pretty sure there’s more exposition in Venom: Let There Be Carnage than there was in Venom. It’s not without reason. At the time of the original’s inception, Sony had their hands tied. The Marvel characters they had—namely those from the Spider-Man universe—couldn’t integrate with the Marvel Cinematic Universe at-large without an agreement like the one that allowed Spidey into the Avengers. And since Spider-Man was an Avenger, he couldn’t interact with those characters either. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) was therefore on an island alone…

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REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings [2021]

It’s all about staying in the pocket. A big success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been its ability to adapt. Case and point: The Ten Rings. Here’s a terrorist organization utilized in the first MCU film ever, Iron Man, with a logo inscribed by Mongolian symbols that didn’t go over well. It’s been said that the idea was to tease Shang-Chi in The Avengers before giving him and Iron Man’s arch-rival, The Mandarin, exposure afterwards. So enraged by the connotations of that first use, however, the possibility that China…

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REVIEW: Arrebato [Rapture] [1979]

Suspended in pure pause. It’s not until heroin is mentioned that Ana Turner (Cecilia Roth) stops and reconsiders the offer to partake by boyfriend José Sirgado (Eusebio Poncela). She’s game for acid and coke, but that stuff causes addiction. It ruins lives. “Not if you don’t take too much,” he says—a line he recently heard from an acquaintance named Pedro (Will More). This guy is a basket case recluse who can barely muster two words while looking creepy in the corner of the room, staring daggers through the back of…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Paradis sale [After Blue] [2022]

Cut the bad weeds. It’s as though Roxy (Paula Luna) is standing at the gates of Heaven, being judged for what transpired during life on After Blue—a new planet devoid of computer screens post-Earth’s cultural destruction. Do we ever see the God she’s relaying her tale too? No. Or perhaps we are that God, judging her actions against whatever criteria we have in our own unprompted minds. The latter makes sense considering writer/director Bertrand Mandico operates under the cinematic Incoherence Manifesto that he co-wrote Katrín Ólafsdóttir. He “has faith in…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Medusa [2021]

What did she do to you? Writer/director Anita Rocha da Silveira has created an evangelical town of purity in her Brazilian-set sophomore film Medusa. It’s the type of place all Christians wish they could send their children because they know they will be carried into God’s light. The young men form a militia group to honor His will against deviants that dare to embrace sin. The young women form a gang in the likeness of their heroine angel, donning white masks to confront and assault the so-called “sluts” and “whores”…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Petite maman [2021]

We might not see each other again. It’s difficult grappling with the reality that we can never know when our latest “goodbye” to a loved one might prove the last we’ll ever share with them. The act itself is so commonplace and routine that we find ourselves performing on reflex. The assumption is that it’s really a “so long”—an ellipsis awaiting its next word whenever and wherever it may arrive next. Then the day comes when you realize two dots disappeared while you were away to reveal a period of…

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REVIEW: The Green Knight [2021]

I’ve got time. I’ve got lots of time. When you want something as desperately as Gawain (Dev Patel) wants to be a knight, you tend to cut corners without knowing it. Some, like him, might overcompensate a bit too. This is why he spends nights at the brothel with Essel (Alicia Vikander) or drinking at the pub. He lives his life as though he’s “someone” because in his mind it doesn’t appear he’s going to actually become that “someone” any time soon. And since his uncle (Sean Harris‘ King Arthur)…

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REVIEW: Nine Days [2021]

Pull the chair. Will (Winston Duke) is one of an unknown number of interviewers at the edge of existence: men and women who were once alive that now have the power to choose which newly created souls are worthy of the same opportunity. The interview period lasts nine days and is composed of philosophical quandaries, observations, and hypotheticals meant to better understand who these protohumans are and will remain if their consciousness is transferred to a baby ready for its first breath. Will tests their resolve, their strength, and their…

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REVIEW: Gaia [2021]

The apes return to the trees. Mankind doesn’t follow God because He’s compassionate. Anyone who’s looked through history at the death and destruction wrought in His name should know this all too well. Man follows Him out of fear—a fear so deeply rooted in our DNA that we cling to a fantasy instead of admitting its crippling hold. Because what’s God really saving us from during the rapture? Evil? Science? Ourselves? If we’re to believe God created everything, the only logical answer as to the orchestrator of our demise is…

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REVIEW:Genius Loci [2021]

I’m going to sit here and wait a while for a sign. With its esoteric dialogue and often cacophonic score incorporating foley sound effects with the melody that also double as the driving rhythm upon which the visuals are cut together, Adrien Merigeau‘s Genius Loci (co-written by Nicolas Pleskof) eschews traditional narrative for a beat poet aesthetic that embraces disorder on a journey through time and space. Reine (Nadia Moussa) is at once present in her sister’s apartment (watching a pot boil over upon the stove while simultaneously watching a…

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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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