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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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Jumbo [2020]

What is it if it isn’t love? Jeanne Tantois (Noémie Merlant) has never been one for people. Besides her mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot) and co-worker Fati (Tracy Dossou), she’d avoid talking to them all. You can’t blame her for this attitude considering what so many do the moment they witness her shyly eccentric demeanor. She closes her eyes in a wince when someone gets too close and they almost always come back with a chuckle or unoriginal playacting of being “scary.” They mock her, ridicule her, and laugh rather than…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: The Water Man [2020]

I’m doing this for you. It’s starting to feel as though Gunner Boone’s (Lonnie Chavis) life is fitting to become a series of upheavals with no end in sight. First it was living with his mother (Rosario Dawson‘s Mary) while his father (David Oyelowo‘s Amos) was stationed in Japan with the Navy. Then it was moving to Pine Mills upon his return home to America. And now it’s adjusting to the reality that his mother is dying of cancer and his father hasn’t been able to thus far adjust to…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Wolfwalkers [2020]

Half wolf, half witch, half people. The woodsmen are clearing out the forest to expand Kilkenny, Ireland’s farmland circa 1650 under orders of Lord Protector Cromwell (Simon McBurney)—an Englishman. He and the British crown see these Irish folk as a people in need of taming so it’s only fitting that he try his hand at ridding the countryside of wolves first. This is something these peasants can get behind because they fear what those beasts might do if left unchecked. They clamor for the soldiers to protect them. They willingly…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: La nuit des rois [Night of the Kings] [2020]

The prince without a kingdom. Writer/director Philippe Lacôte looks to tell a tale of the Ivory Coast and its most recent two decades of civil war and strife with his latest film La nuit des rois [Night of the Kings]. With that also comes a necessity to speak about the youth who’ve recently taken up residence within the confines of his setting: La MACA. This prison—whose under-thirty population is currently hovering around eighty percent—shifts between the horrors of its inherent violence and the magical fantasy conjured when Lacôte was a…

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FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Undergods [2020]

All will be fog. We all like to think we have control—kings of our proverbial castles. It’s all a ruse, though. We’re actually slaves to a system that seems more and more likely to fail with each new day and each new declaration that its imminent demise is a call to arms to save it rather than move on and evolve. That false sense of control is thus a mechanism we use to combat the fear of knowing how little we truly possess. We dream of other men failing so…

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