REVIEW: Mr. Jones [2019]

I’ve woken up screaming in Barry myself. It’s not a bad thing to be insane in an insane world. In fact, it’s comfortable. So it’s unsurprising that a room full of old white British men would simply laugh when Gareth Jones (James Norton) tells them a truth their privileged naiveté refuses to let be taken seriously at the start of Agnieszka Holland‘s Mr. Jones. He’s a Foreign Service employee under Lloyd George (Kenneth Cranham) who found himself on a plane with Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, interviewing the two to…

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REVIEW: 7500 [2019]

I can’t open the door. **SPOILER WARNING** You can tell that Oscar nominee Patrick Vollrath wishes his feature directorial debut 7500 could be more than just another Islamophobic film wherein Middle Eastern terrorists try to kill a bunch of innocent westerners. Much of this stems from young Vedat (Omid Memar)—the nineteen-year old accomplice of three older zealots ready to do whatever is necessary for their point (ostensibly using the “eye for an eye” creed Gandhi critiqued in an early on-screen quote so Europeans will know the pain Muslims suffer) to…

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REVIEW: Becky [2020]

You can’t stay angry forever. Becky (Lulu Wilson) is hurting. It’s been almost a year since her mother passed away from cancer and she’s yet to move on in part because her father (Joel McHale‘s Jeff) already has. So she acts out, drowns him out, and can’t wait to get out. Not only has he put the lake house that holds so many of her memories with Mom on-sale, he’s also become very serious with his new girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her young son Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe). The worst…

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REVIEW: Hammer [2020]

I didn’t have a choice. It’s easy to tell someone we’ll do anything for family when it’s what we’re supposed to say. That’s the expectation. That’s normalcy. And the majority of us never have to test those words anyway. We don’t all weigh the risk to our lives by donating an organ or financial security by re-mortgaging a home. But those acts do loom above us. So does tough love. “You want to live under our roof? Then abide by our rules.” Enforcing that line is where things get hard…

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REVIEW: The Vast of Night [2020]

They don’t stay for long. The world that director Andrew Patterson and writers James Montague and Craig W. Sanger put on-screen for their film The Vast of Night isn’t real. Rather than transport us to 1950s New Mexico, we’re put in front of a TV to watch the latest episode of “Paradox Theater”—a “Twilight Zone” riff promising unexplained wonders—set in 1950s New Mexico. It’s an interesting formal decision since we never interact with the place in which we reside. We can neither look around the living room beyond that television…

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REVIEW: Inheritance [2020]

The truth must stay buried. Simple questions rarely have simple answers. Take the one that’s posed to Lauren Monroe (Lily Collins) upon the death of her father Archer (Patrick Warburton): Are you loyal to your family or justice? Most would probably say both since they have it in their minds that their family is on justice’s side. Despite her desire to be one, however, Lauren isn’t that person. She partly worked to become District Attorney precisely because her family’s name was more aligned with money and murky morality than lawful…

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REVIEW: Arkansas [2020]

Relying on other people is the fastest way to end up dead. As Kyle (Liam Hemsworth) shares during an early voiceover, organized crime in the backwoods of southern America isn’t very organized. This is good since few of the people in the wholesale drug dealing business of which he’s operated for just a little while are smart. He probably wouldn’t call himself very smart either since he’s content to follow his orders to the letter rather than harbor ambitions about becoming the boss. He’s perceptive in ways that ensure he…

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REVIEW: The Quarry [2020]

You’re not the one who can forgive. Reverend David Martín’s (Bruno Bichir) fate wasn’t set in stone while driving down a Texas highway with a bottle of wine in his hand. He still had choices. Should he stop to assist a man (Shea Whigham) found face down in the dirt? Should he offer a ride to the place that will serve as his own new beginning? Should he confront him about a dark truth his conscience won’t ignore? You might say that being a man of God did seal his…

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REVIEW: La Gomera [The Whistlers] [2019]

The package arrived safely. A Romanian detective named Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) just landed on La Gomera in the Spanish Canary Islands. Because he’s unsure who’s supposed to meet him or where he’s going, he enters Kiko’s (Antonio Buíl) car with trepidation despite the man seemingly knowing everything about him. Only when they arrive at their destination to find Gilda (Catrinel Marlon) does Cristi relax since she’s the one who asked him to come and gave him the plane ticket. The reason is to teach him how to use an ancestral…

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REVIEW: Papa, sdokhni [Why Don’t You Just Die!] [2019]

It’s surprising how everything evil can be justified. Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) just wants to take his girlfriend Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde) on a date. At least that’s what he tells her father Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev) when he opens the door. We know it isn’t quite true, though, considering his pulse is racing and his grip on the hammer hidden behind his back is tightening. Because a neighbor is walking to her apartment across the hall to provide way too compelling a witness, he can’t just take a swing and leave. So…

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REVIEW: We Summon the Darkness [2020]

Let the madness begin. A rash of 1980s-era satanic ritual killings puts Pastor John Henry Butler (Johnny Knoxville) front and center in rural America’s consciousness because his church is doing its very best to combat the disintegration of society with the word of God. Just as his increased television appearances rally the Bible Belt to his cause (treating rock music and other not quite “demonic” practices as sinful weapons destroying their children’s souls), however, they also work to embolden those he is forsaking. More than calling out the as yet…

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