REVIEW: Two Distant Strangers [2020]

I think I just had the craziest, realist dream. You can’t read the synopsis for Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe‘s short film Two Distant Strangers and not think about The Obituary of Tunde Johnson—if you’ve seen it. Both utilize a time-loop scenario wherein their lead Black character is stuck in a never-ending cycle of police brutality always ending up with him shot dead. The difference between the two ends up being the fact that Free and Roe have less time to work with and thus less room to let…

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REVIEW: Boss Level [2021]

Yesterday was months ago. Add another entry to the time loop directory with Joe Carnahan‘s Boss Level arriving as this month’s installment of what feels like a monthly ritual these days. It’s not socially relevant like The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, emotionally poignant like Before I Fall, genre-bending like Happy Death Day, or irreverently subversive like Palm Springs, but it is entertaining. This is especially true for fans (like me) of the director’s Smokin’ Aces since that’s the title this latest work most closely resembles whether by way of its…

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REVIEW: Little Fish [2021]

I was so sad the day I met you. It happens slow or fast—only those suffering alongside you know for sure. Think Alzheimer’s except without an age threshold or genetic factor. One day you’re yourself and the next finds you either forgetting certain details or everything at once. The disease is known as NIA and it’s been ravaging the world for a while now. Planes are grounded so no more pilots will forget how to fly mid-flight. Stray dogs have increased exponentially because owners don’t realize they ever had a…

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REVIEW: PG: Psycho Goreman [2021]

That is a tale bathed in the blood of a million dead memories. It opens with a gladiator-level war of attrition between two middle school-aged siblings in their backyard. The game is called “crazy ball” and the loser gets buried alive. Mimi (Nita-Josee Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) pick-up their respective dodgeballs, throw them as far behind themselves as possible, and run after the other as fast as they can to try and take advantage of the five-point bonus “butt shot” rule. Writer/director Steven Kostanski shoots it like battle with…

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REVIEW: World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime [2020]

Will you be the one to discover my dead body? After two introspective science fiction gems that took us on journeys of self-discovery within the subconscious, filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt decides to take World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime in a different direction. That’s not to say the third part of this series isn’t deep, though, as there’s a lot to be said about love and longing and jealousy. Rather than lean on dialogue via a brilliant back and forth between a child’s endearing innocence and…

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REVIEW: World of Tomorrow Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts [2017]

The closer I look at things, the less I know. While Third Generation Emily told Emily Prime (Winona Mae) that they wouldn’t see each other again due to the impending doom of her world, she said nothing about whether other subsequent versions of herself would. The assumption is that she’d have remembered when Emily 6 (Julia Pott) visited since the event would have been stored in her memory due to everything that happens to Emily Prime already having happened before Third Generation Emily was cloned. The occurrence wouldn’t have been…

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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: 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: Minor Premise [2020]

We have to protect the work. The most important memory for audiences to remember is the one Ethan (Sathya Sridharan) specifically tried to forget. His father (Nikolas Kontomanolis) is sitting at a desk telling him how things work in academia. Any idea, theory, or experiment that occurs in pursuit of a university-driven project belongs to said university. And since Paul is the head of the department, it all belongs to him. That’s not to say Ethan won’t get credit—scientific papers often have multiple authors and names listed below the person…

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REVIEW: Love and Monsters [2020]

Man, Todd loved that goldfish. We’re seven years past the apocalypse. Eight years since the world banded together to send every nuclear missile on Earth into the sky to stop an asteroid hell-bent on destroying all life. Things obviously didn’t work out too well if the latter wasn’t able to stop the former. Ends up that that much radioactivity falling back down through the atmosphere was just as cataclysmic—killing off a lot of the population and mutating cold-blooded animals/insects into giant monsters that ultimately killed the rest. Ninety-five percent of…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Lapsis [2020]

Do not do anything with Felix. As multi-billion dollar corporations expand their reach within their respective industries (and beyond), the wage gap in our country increases. Executives are granted astronomical bonuses while the people on the ground floor are shifted from full-time employment to freelancers as a way to mitigate the possibility of unions, paying health insurance, etc. Welcome to the gig economy: a capitalist spin promising “self-employment” and freedom while actually trending towards isolation so that anyone can be cut loose before they start costing more to keep on…

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