REVIEW: Perempuan Tanah Jahanam [Impetigore] [2019]

We just don’t want what your family left behind. Life has never been easy for Maya (Tara Basro). Raised by her aunt with no knowledge of her parents’ history, she’s struggled finding her place in the city. Her sole comfort is best friend Dini (Marissa Anita), a tollbooth operator like herself who’s promised to help open a clothing business if they ever save enough money. So when a strange man drives through her lane on a deserted evening three separate times, it’s hard not to fear the worst. No matter…

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REVIEW: The Rental [2020]

Abs-bro-lutely. There’s something to be said about a lack of sentimentality in a horror film. That doesn’t mean we can’t still have sympathy for the victims’ plight—the fact that they’re human beings provides the space for it regardless of who they are or what we know about them. We care because we see ourselves in their shoes. They embody our fear rather than provide an object for us to fear for. Whether or not they suffer when fate’s hand comes down is therefore quite often a moot point. Our sympathy…

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REVIEW: Radioactive [2020]

An instinct isn’t a particularly scientific reason. You can’t tell the story of Marie Curie’s genius without also touching upon the complex ramifications of the scientific work she accomplished. As her husband and research partner Pierre says in a dream at the tale-end of Marjane Satrapi‘s cinematic adaptation of Lauren Redniss‘ graphic novel Radioactive, “You can only throw the stone in the water, not control its ripples.” Her stone was the discovery of two new elements (polonium and radium) and the concept of radioactivity that so intrinsically connects them together.…

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REVIEW: Rebuilding Paradise [2020]

Time to abandon ship. As someone residing as far from wildfire country California as possible here in snowy Buffalo, Butte County’s town of Paradise brought two things to mind: the utter devastation suffered on November 8, 2018 and Donald Trump’s callous chuckle upon discovering he couldn’t even muster the empathy necessary to correctly identify the home of the survivors he was meant to console. Director Ron Howard talks about this phenomenon during his post-screening Q&A, describing it as one of the main reasons he sent a film crew as soon…

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REVIEW: I Used to Go Here [2020]

You’re like our forefather. This was the week when Kate’s (Gillian Jacobs) dreams were supposed to come true. Her debut novel was releasing, her wedding was on the horizon, and a nationwide book tour was about to commence. Everything she worked for since college had finally bore fruit and you couldn’t blame her if she smiled with relief at a job well done. Except she never gets that chance. She receives a call from her publisher weeks after her engagement was cancelled to hear the tour has been too. Kate’s…

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REVIEW: Ghosts of War [2020]

If you leave, you die. Sometimes the memories of our inaction haunt us more than the actions we have committed. This can be especially true at war once you return home to realize the blood on your hands goes far beyond the lives you were directly responsible for extinguishing. Whether you found yourself helpless to act because of a direct order from your superior or you simply froze out of justifiable fear, the screams of those lost will remind you of your complicity either way and haunt your dreams like…

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REVIEW: Waiting for the Barbarians [2020]

It’s the consequence of too much ease. The phrase “the calm before the storm” has always been an interesting one to me because it posits that storms are inevitable and periods of calm nothing but illusion. It doesn’t matter how much work you’ve put into a situation to create peace if the other shoe is destined to drop. And the more you live in that nihilistic headspace, the more you render the storm a self-fulfilling prophecy. You become driven by fear in the unknown until you become the very thing…

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REVIEW: The Sunlit Night [2020]

Maybe it was never really that fragile. The usual rom-com formula is as follows: the lead breaks-up with their significant other, escapes to a far-flung place to pick up the pieces, and finds true love waiting. We’ve seen it countless times and always sigh when the fateful yet unlikely happily-ever-after proves itself to be another co-dependent Hollywood victory where romance trumps independence. So it’s hard to look past a film daring to travel beneath such fairy tale surfaces and get at the heart of what those types of escapes truly…

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REVIEW: Yes, God, Yes [2020]

I’ve never even heard of dressing someone’s salad. There’s no question that religion is a powerful tool insofar as its partnership with faith. While prayer is never going to literally save someone’s life, it can create the hope and positivity necessary to heal from emotional, psychological, and physical hardship. Our minds have a way of dictating how our bodies react to suffering and being part of a community that cares and empathizes with your plight as you do theirs cultivates a path forward both through healing and the acceptance of…

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REVIEW: Fisherman’s Friends [2019]

Mom, the tosser’s at the door. The moment a group of Cornish fishermen and lifeboatmen turned their charitable crooning on the shore of Port Isaac into a Universal Music record deal that saw them debut in the top ten was the moment producers started falling over themselves to sign the life rights for a cinematic adaptation. And just as the band subsequently released another two collections of sea shanties and traditional folk songs despite their original one-album contract, it appears that Chris Foggin‘s feel-good dramedy will soon receive its own…

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REVIEW: ウィーアーリトルゾンビーズ [Wî â Ritoru Zonbîzu] [We Are Little Zombies] [2019]

Reality is too stupid to cry over. Hikari (Keita Ninomiya) has always been a “single player.” That’s what happens when you’re raised in an affluent household by parents who substitute gifts for affection thanks to them never being around. Videogames became the boy’s only outlet. They gave him comfort when bullies at school put him in lockers and when he found himself microwaving yet another vacuum-sealed bag of spaghetti-for-one within his perpetually empty apartment. They’re also the medium by which he interprets reality’s framework for everything that happens to him…

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