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: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm [2020]

God doesn’t make accidents. I’ll be the first to say I loved Borat back in 2006. I loved the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen bringing this wild character to America under the radar. I loved reveling in the absurdity of his antics with a crowded theater of like-minded audience members ready to laugh as he put a mirror up to us. And then time moved on. Others riffed on the concept (including himself with the much less effective Brüno) and the moment for such broad comedic strokes evolved into self-parody.…

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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: Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets [2020]

This place sucked anyways. If ever there’s a case to stop singling documentaries out as a different entity when compared to fictional narratives, Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross‘ Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is a prime contender. Despite categorization that started at Sundance (much to the filmmakers’ own surprise), plenty of viewers have been quick to refute its place under the “documentary” banner because it doesn’t uphold their idea of journalistic (investigative, editorialized, or vérité) documentation. They’re correct. But just as many are throwing their weight to uphold the designation…

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REVIEW: Tenet [2020]

Ignorance is our ammunition. We’re each the protagonist of our own stories. Whether we are the villain in another’s, a sidekick, or a complete afterthought, we push forward regardless onto the path we believe is righteous. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should blindly sympathize with an antagonist because they don’t know better. They often do. Antihero status isn’t therefore necessary to understand complexity beyond ego or hubris. We can hate someone trying to destroy the world without wondering about his/her motivations or the fact he/she wasn’t loved enough in…

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REVIEW: I’m Your Woman [2020]

You’re not supposed to look back. Director Julia Hart and co-writer Jordan Horowitz waste no time making sure Jean’s (Rachel Brosnahan) introduction tells us everything we need to know. There she is sitting in her backyard staring off into space and thinking about how empty her life has become. She’s so bored that an urge to rip the tags off her new robe walks her into such a rage that her husband Eddie (Bill Heck) finds her sitting on the kitchen counter with a carving knife at the ready to…

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REVIEW: Boys State [2020]

You play to win. Directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss couldn’t have asked for a better result when they decided to film the 2018 Texas Boys State event in Austin. With the randomly selected Nationalists party voting René Otero (a POC liberal hoping to engage with the conservative majority by holding true to fairness and debate) as their State Party Chairman and the Federalists electing Ben Feinstein (a double-amputee and self-proclaimed “hype man” willing to fight dirty in order to win) as theirs, we’re more or less given a reductive…

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REVIEW: Martin Eden [2019]

Beauty is demanding. Martin Eden (Luca Marinelli) is a man without a home. He’s too ambitious to become a working class cog with little to no room for education and he’s too much of a rugged realist to play the aristocratic elite’s hypocritical games. So the former calls him lazy. The latter calls him undeserving. And yet he somehow finds himself with a foot firmly planted in both worlds regardless thanks to a charming likeability that turns him into the puppy by their side that he later rails against via…

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REVIEW: Дылда [Dylda] [Beanpole] [2019]

He’ll heal us. World War II has left Stalingrad in shambles. Buildings are destroyed. Families are torn apart. And meaning has all but disappeared in the face of atrocities that won’t simply go away. The head doctor at the city’s hospital (Andrey Bykov‘s Nikolay Ivanovich) tries his best to hold morale by saying that “peace is on its way” and yet the words can’t help but feel hollow. He lost everyone in the war himself and now he’s tasked with pretending that a soldier devoid of movement anywhere but his…

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REVIEW: Over the Moon [2020]

Cherish life and everything you love. As an Auntie jokes during dinner on the night of the Chinese Moon Festival, the myth concerning Moon Goddess Chang’e isn’t always one about love. Some versions have it that she stole the immortality elixir from her love Hou Yi—taking it from his hiding place all for herself shortly after he decided forget it in order to remain on Earth with her. Screenwriter Audrey Wells changes things for Over the Moon from liquid to pills with Chang’e hiding two in her mouth before accidentally…

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REVIEW: Dick Johnson is Dead [2020]

I’ve always wanted to be in the movies. A steady stream of phone calls about Dick Johnson‘s growing forgetfulness eventually forced his daughter to admit a sad truth: it wasn’t safe for him to continue living alone. Anyone who’s seen Kirsten Johnson‘s previous documentary Cameraperson knows this reality will hit even harder considering she’s gone through similar circumstances before. It’s only been seven years since her mother Katie Jo passed away after a long bout with Alzheimer’s, so to turn around and have to watch her father suffer from dementia…

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