REVIEW: Reminiscence [2021]

Nothing is more addictive than the past. There’s a lot to like about Lisa Joy‘s feature debut Reminiscence—the least of which is its premise of memories as a drug. The concept itself isn’t a unique one, but that truth renders it no less alluring in its potential. Because while official use of extraction pods for deposition purposes is nuts and bolts generic, recreational use in a semi-post-apocalyptic world wherein customers can relive their happiest moments from the past and escape the harsh reality of the present has a certain romance…

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REVIEW: Venom: Let There Be Carnage [2021]

Responsibility is for the mediocre. I’m pretty sure there’s more exposition in Venom: Let There Be Carnage than there was in Venom. It’s not without reason. At the time of the original’s inception, Sony had their hands tied. The Marvel characters they had—namely those from the Spider-Man universe—couldn’t integrate with the Marvel Cinematic Universe at-large without an agreement like the one that allowed Spidey into the Avengers. And since Spider-Man was an Avenger, he couldn’t interact with those characters either. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) was therefore on an island alone…

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REVIEW: Needle in a Timestack [2021]

Happiness is the only thing more fleeting than time. For a movie about a fated love (Leslie Odom Jr.‘s Nick and Cynthia Erivo‘s Janine) being undermined by a jealous ex (Orlando Bloom‘s Tommy), I didn’t expect to witness a scene towards the beginning wherein the latter philosophically (and selfishly) attempts to legitimize his sabotage by explaining how every love is, by definition, another’s missed opportunity. He points out a random woman in the bar and tells Nick that whomever she falls for will be the lucky one of millions, setting…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Paradis sale [After Blue] [2022]

Cut the bad weeds. It’s as though Roxy (Paula Luna) is standing at the gates of Heaven, being judged for what transpired during life on After Blue—a new planet devoid of computer screens post-Earth’s cultural destruction. Do we ever see the God she’s relaying her tale too? No. Or perhaps we are that God, judging her actions against whatever criteria we have in our own unprompted minds. The latter makes sense considering writer/director Bertrand Mandico operates under the cinematic Incoherence Manifesto that he co-wrote Katrín Ólafsdóttir. He “has faith in…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] [2021]

Your eyes are like two mountain lakes I could sink into. Writer/director Maria Schrader‘s Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] posits the question: What if Weird Science, but real? That’s not to say the conceit she and co-writer Jan Schomburg have created (from a short story by Emma Braslavsky) isn’t science fiction fantasy. I just mean that their romantic comedy isn’t saddled by the puerile male gaze of an 80s sex romp. It uses its skeptical lead character (Maren Eggert‘s ancient language specialist Alma) to confront the scenario she’s…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Encounter [2021]

Everything I do is to protect you. A meteorite falling to Earth disintegrates into stardust that subsequently permeates everything it touches. It hits the soil, enters a bug, is consumed again, and then injected into human flesh by a mosquito while feeding on a microscopic tardigrade about to explode. This is the computer-generated prologue to Michael Pearce‘s Encounter that sets the table for its forthcoming struggle between man and neurological parasite. Has he and co-writer Joe Barton therefore shown that their protagonist has suddenly been infected while sleeping? Malik Khan…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Night Raiders [2021]

We are still here. German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller coined the poetic confession “First they came …” in 1946. The post-WWII piece spoke about how groups like the Nazis would always find new targets to oppress once their recent victims were erased. First it was the socialists. Then trade unionists and Jews. The sigh of relief breathed by those not yet included under those labels is therefore only ever brief. Unless you don the swastika to partake in the purges, they’ll eventually find a label to justify wiping you from…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Mad God [2021]

The Mad God of the film’s title is writer/director/animator Phil Tippett and the sheer audacity of him manufacturing an 80-minute opus of grotesquery sprung from a passage by Leviticus that would ultimately need thirty years to complete. His original footage went before cameras during the late 80s and early 90s—around the time he was working on Robocop 2—before he let the concept fade away once computer graphics (thanks to Jurassic Park, which he won an Oscar for) began taking over the special effects industry. It wasn’t until the 2010s that…

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REVIEW: Free Guy [2021]

Don’t have a good day. Have a great day. Every day is awesome for Guy the bank teller (Ryan Reynolds). While so-called “heroes” in sunglasses run roughshod on Free City by wrecking it with explosions, crime, and debauchery, his best friend Buddy (Lil Rel Howery) and him get their favorite coffee (medium with cream and two sugars), talk about hitting the beach, and greet everyone the same exact way they did yesterday … and the day before that. If not for the hole in his heart where love was concerned,…

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REVIEW: Demonic [2021]

It means it’s coming for ya. Carly (Carly Pope) hasn’t seen her mother (Nathalie Boltt‘s Angela) in two decades—if you don’t count the nightmares. Writer/director Neill Blomkamp brings us into his latest film Demonic through one such dream pitting daughter against mother inside an abandoned sanitarium with the latter calling out for the former’s help. Rather than conclude with a heartfelt reunion that’s yet to happen in the real world, Carly finds herself startled awake from the flames created by her mom tossing a lighter into the pool of gasoline…

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REVIEW: Shivers [1975]

Poor birdy. You almost want to say Dr. Rollo Linsky (Joe Silver) is on to something when telling Dr. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) about his latest scientific experimentations between bites of his pickle. He and the late Dr. Hobbs (Fred Doederlein) have been funneling grant money into a project that hopes to put parasites to work for humanity. The pitch is as follows: Which is better? A faulty kidney? Or a working parasite? If the latter cleans your blood without needing to wait for a new organ, doesn’t it…

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