REVIEW: Bad Hair [2020]

You always have a choice. It’s 1989 and Anna Bludso (Elle Lorraine) still hasn’t straightened her hair thanks to an ill-fated attempt years previously that left her scalp scarred and sensitive to the touch. She asked her cousin Linda (Chanté Adams) to do it then because her idols all had sleek, shoulder length locks and she knew it would give her a leg up on a career path towards DJ/VJ stardom even before landing a job at the urban arm of RMV known as Culture. As an interviewer tells her…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Frank & Zed [2020]

It will end in the Orgy of Blood! Centuries ago in a small kingdom ravaged by evil wizard The Moroi, a king made a pact with the God of Death to usher in what he believed was his only chance at peace. By giving them cursed weapons with the power to vanquish their foe, Death also bestowed a prophecy that foretold an orgy of blood fated to take tenfold the blood spilled by the king’s hand the moment his royal line is ended. And it worked. The wizard was destroyed…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Run [2020]

Will she be okay? The hospital equipment beeps above doctors frantically at work to save a baby in crisis, her mother awaiting news in another room. Then the textual definitions of numerous diseases arrive on-screen one after another to foreshadow the difficult road ahead for both parent and child to beat the odds and persevere. So seeing Diane Sherman’s (Sarah Paulson) smile when asked by the leader of her home schooling parents group if she’s ready to watch eighteen-year-old Chloe (Kiera Allen) head off to college is all we need…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: An Unquiet Grave [2020]

I could always tell you two apart. When is the right time to stop mourning your love? A month? A year? Longer? When do the tears become less of a memorial for the dead and more a tomb constructed around the living? The folksong states “one year and a day.” That’s when an unnamed man hears from his late lover that his crying has prevented her from rest. He says he’ll stop if only he had but one more kiss, yet she knows it to be false. Such an intimate…

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REVIEW: 12 Hour Shift [2020]

You ever smell sadness? The Podunk nature to Brea Grant‘s latest film as writer/director, 12 Hour Shift, is integral to its success. Nothing works without it. We need the overt Catholicism of some of its characters. We need the imbecilic criminals operating way outside their intellectual depth despite having no emotional issues with taking another person’s life. And we need the sheer lack of worry that goes into blindly stealing organs from a hospital without even mentioning blood type or potential compatibility. If everything weren’t so outlandishly absurd, I’d have…

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REVIEW: Possessor [2020]

Pull me out. We see it all the time in antihero assassin films: the killer with a conscience. How many jobs does it take for the toll to become too much? Where do they draw the line between their professional identity and the private one they share at home with family? Love, companionship, joy—they’re all used as incentives to pull these murderers for hire out of the dark mindset that has consumed them since their days in the military or since the horrible tragedy that marked them during childhood. Hope…

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REVIEW: Death of Me [2020]

What happened last night? The words faith and belief have been distorted beyond recognition these past couple decades (if not longer). They used to signify a person’s innate ability to trust in the unknown (God, morality, etc.) and now they’re used to refute the known. People say they “believe” a faulty opinion that blatantly rejects empirical fact as though they have the power to disagree a proven truth from existence. They “believe” climate change isn’t real (it is). They “believe” wearing masks doesn’t combat the spread of COVID-19 (it does).…

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REVIEW: The Honeymoon Phase [2020]

You are my everything. How well do you know your significant other? Enough to realize when the person lying next to you isn’t actually them? While we’d like to believe we would notice the tiniest of differences, that’s not always the case—especially not in a country so intrinsically interwoven with a Christian ideal of traditionalism wherein many couples don’t even start living together until after the marriage is finalized. There’s no way of knowing whether you’re truly compatible beyond physical attraction in that case because you’ve yet to live every…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Shadow in the Cloud [2020]

Be safe. Shape up. Stay on task. Try as they might, Max Landis‘ name is still there on the big screen when the opening titles to Roseanne Liang‘s Shadow in the Cloud begin to roll. They’ve scrubbed it from the press notes save a single mention in the full credit list, IMDB hasn’t added it to their page (yet), and star Chloë Grace Moretz has gone out of her way to ensure everyone knows Liang (who shares that screenwriting credit) rewrote the original draft multiple times. That Landis hasn’t been…

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REVIEW: Antebellum [2020]

Another bad dream? If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening these past four years, you’ve certainly seen your share of open racism spewed with an angry sense of entitlement only a white person believing him/herself to be a descendant of God and inheritor of earth could possess. If you’ve been keeping tabs more recently on the subject of Kenosha, Wisconsin (or watch “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”), you’ll know the county’s Sheriff is one such man. David Beth spoke back in 2018 without even the thinnest of veils…

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FANTASIA20 REVIEW: 返校 [Fanxiao] [Detention] [2019]

I don’t remember anything. As a subversive poem (according to the Chinese Nationalist Party that ruled Taiwan under martial law during the period known as the White Terror from 1947 until 1987) read by Miss Yin (Cecilia Choi) to the members of her and Mr. Chang’s (Meng-Po Fu) underground high school book club relates: a tree’s roots never ask to be repaid by the fruit that blooms as a result of their effort. It’s a succinctly beautiful metaphor for the education system and its liberal teachers doing all they can…

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