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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REVIEW: アーヤと魔女 [Âya to majo] [Earwig and the Witch] [2020]

I shall give you the worms. Those familiar with Diana Wynne Jones‘ children’s book Âya to majo [Earwig and the Witch] will be surprised to find Gorô Miyazaki‘s cinematic adaptation beginning with a chase scene pitting a red-headed woman on a motorcycle against a yellow Citroën on her tail. They weave in and out of traffic with impossible speed and maneuvering before we see the first bit of magic used to create some extra distance. That’s when a cut occurs for us to watch the unknown redhead walk through a…

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REVIEW: Wonder Woman 1984 [2020]

No true heroes are born from lies. **Spoilers** You may remember the first Wonder Woman ending with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) flying after her full powers were finally realized during a climactic battle with Ares, the God of War. If so, you’re wrong. You’re so wrong that director Patty Jenkins and co-writers Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham decided to give you a two-and-a-half hour sequel wherein she does learn (“you just need to be one with the air”) so there can be no confusion whatsoever in the future. I kid…

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REVIEW: Palm Springs [2020]

To pretending not to care. A cinematic time-loop narrative is nothing new in Hollywood, so finding one that feels fresh almost thirty years after Groundhog Day is rare. Since the usual way to throw a wrench into the proceedings has always been changing genres to see how things fare with action, science fiction, horror, or high school drama added to the mix, it almost seems too easy to discover all that was necessary were a few simple shifts in focus. Director Max Barbakow and writer Andy Siara give us the…

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REVIEW: The Midnight Sky [2020]

As good a place as any. We’re three weeks past “the incident.” What that means is vague when talking about specifics, but the fact that Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney) is saying goodbye to people as they board multiple helicopters during an evacuation that leaves him as the last human in residence of a high-tech command station in the Arctic says all we need to know. Earth is on its last legs—if any still remain. Those people are hoping to build new lives on a lunar colony orbiting Jupiter and he’s…

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REVIEW: ハウルの動く城 [Hauru no ugoku shiro] [Howl’s Moving Castle] [2004]

He’s just throwing a tantrum. At one point during Hayao Miyazaki‘s Hauru no Ugoku Shiro [Howl’s Moving Castle], as adapted from Diana Wynne Jones‘ 1986 novel, Sophie (Emily Mortimer in youth; Jean Simmons in cursed old age) asks Howl (Christian Bale) if the large warship in the sky above their serene field of flowers is “on their side or ours.” His resigned response, “What difference does it make?” In his mind no side of this or any war has a righteous claim when the result is an indiscriminate amount of…

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REVIEW: Mortal [2020]

Do you believe me now? In a world more than ten years into an historic Marvel Cinematic Universe run, the only word to describe someone outside the Hollywood system deciding to make a film about a young man with the same powers as Norse mythology’s most iconic God is bold. Why? Because it won’t really matter whether André Øvredal‘s Mortal is good or not. He’s willfully going up against the zeitgeist and many audience members will scoff at whatever direction he’s taken simply because it diverts from what they think…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Mandibules [Mandibles] [2020]

What’s in the suitcase? Look no further than the fact Manu (Grégoire Ludig) was given the job to know how simple it was. While he’s a guy who shouldn’t be trusted to operate heavy machinery, tasking him with the no-questions-asked delivery of a suitcase shouldn’t be far-fetched—especially not when he’ll be given a decent payday for his trouble. Manu needs that money too. He’s lost his home and sleeps wrapped up in a blanket on the beach way too close to the water. Any little bit therefore helps and procuring…

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