REVIEW: Rebecca [2020]

I don’t believe in ghosts. Despite David O. Selznick‘s desire to keep his cinematic adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier‘s novel Rebecca as true to the source novel as possible and not alienate its built-in fan base, at least one change was unavoidable en route to passing Hollywood’s “Hayes Code.” Because it concerns a late-arriving revelation that would spoil things, I won’t say what it was. Just know that this seemingly small alteration on paper beneficially reverberates throughout the entirety of what Selznick and director Alfred Hitchcock put onscreen by allowing…

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REVIEW: Rebecca [1940]

They say he simply adored her. Director Alfred Hitchcock winds the camera down the overgrowth to a once beautiful estate known as Manderley—now a shell of its former splendor and shrouded in shadows. He’s foreshadowing the forthcoming darkness so we don’t meet the bright eyed and innocent young “companion” of Mrs. Van Hopper (Florence Bates) and believe we’re about to receive a whirlwind romance of love and life rather than pain and sorrow. No, the latter are firmly entrenched from frame one straight through the end despite subsequent appearances to…

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NYFF20 REVIEW: Undine [2020]

If you leave, you have to die. Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) laughs when Undine Wibeau (Paula Beer) tells him he can’t leave her lest she be forced to kill him. He laughs because he’s read the myth of sea nymphs sharing her name and the fate those who love them suffer if they ever betray it. That’s not how the real world works, though. Couples fall in and out of love all the time. Men don’t walk to forest lakes and scream her name to satisfy the holes in their heart…

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REVIEW: A Rainy Day in New York [2020]

Real life is fine for people who can’t do any better. There’s a scene in Mike Nichols‘ The Birdcage where Robin Williams’ character is helping Nathan Lane’s character be more “manly.” He has him mimicking different masculine figures including John Wayne to which Lane struts around only to catch Williams’ quizzical look and ask, “What? No good?” Williams’ response perfectly encapsulates how things we’ve been conditioned to believe are normal are actually absurd when taken out of context. He says, “Actually, it’s perfect. I just never realized John Wayne walked…

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REVIEW: Eternal Beauty [2020]

I’m in my oils. You cannot just watch part of Craig Roberts‘ latest film Eternal Beauty. You might think you could since it’s seemingly as schizophrenic as its lead character Jane (Sally Hawkins), but that chaos is premeditated so that it can find tonal and thematic sense by the end. I was about twenty minutes in when “hate” started to solidify as a reaction to what I saw because it felt like Roberts was poking fun at the disease—purely using Hawkins’ monotone delivery and erratic actions for laughs. If I…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Dasatskisi [Spring Blossom] [2020]

I’d give everyone a five. How do you know a relationship sparked with another is truly love and not merely the absence of the listlessness you felt before its creation—a mere distraction? The answer is probably a simple case of seeing with objective eyes and feeling with an unencumbered heart, but those aren’t easy things to possess while the excitement of the moment remains fresh. So sixteen-year old Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) will continue longing for the serious stranger standing outside the theater on her way to school regardless. And thirty-five-year…

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FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Chihuo Quan Wang [Chasing Dream] [2019]

Don’t drown yourself in mistakes from the past. We live in an era where celebrity has become more about fame than talent as those wishing for adulation do what they can to mimic the greats that came before them without ever worrying about proving whether they possess an ounce of originality. You want to impress the judges on “American Idol”? Show them you can be Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna all at once. You want to be the talk of the fighting world by unleashing your strength in the Ultimate…

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FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Une sirène à Paris A Mermaid in Paris] [2020]

The ghosts of my memories are leaning on the bar. Gaspard (Nicolas Duvauchelle) has lived his entire life in pursuit of fulfilling a promise from his grandmother that he’s never quite understood. She was the matriarch of a family that reached well past blood to encompass a group of artistic “Surprisers” who gathered at her famed Flowerburger—an underground speakeasy of sorts doubling as a safe haven for anti-fascist disruptors during the war where song and dance led to poems and love. With a wealth of important Parisian history many will…

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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: 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: Alice [2020]

Prejudice is more powerful than logic. It makes no sense. The night before saw Alice Ferrand’s (Emilie Piponnier) husband François (Martin Swabey) going out of his way to passionately make-out with her in front of their friends at a dinner party and now he won’t answer her calls. Despite his running out of the house earlier than usual without any explanation, however, there’s nothing to make her think something is wrong until a trip to the drugstore exposes a freeze on their finances. One credit card won’t work. Then another.…

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