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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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Run [2020]

Will she be okay? The hospital equipment beeps above doctors frantically at work to save a baby in crisis, her mother awaiting news in another room. Then the textual definitions of numerous diseases arrive on-screen one after another to foreshadow the difficult road ahead for both parent and child to beat the odds and persevere. So seeing Diane Sherman’s (Sarah Paulson) smile when asked by the leader of her home schooling parents group if she’s ready to watch eighteen-year-old Chloe (Kiera Allen) head off to college is all we need…

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REVIEW: Possessor [2020]

Pull me out. We see it all the time in antihero assassin films: the killer with a conscience. How many jobs does it take for the toll to become too much? Where do they draw the line between their professional identity and the private one they share at home with family? Love, companionship, joy—they’re all used as incentives to pull these murderers for hire out of the dark mindset that has consumed them since their days in the military or since the horrible tragedy that marked them during childhood. Hope…

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REVIEW: The Swerve [2020]

Little Holly Hippo. The insomnia is a symptom, not the disease. That’s what you’d hope someone would tell Holly (Azura Skye) as she slowly descends into the maddening purgatory that exists between waking life and nightmare. We see it quite clearly once her husband Rob (Bryce Pinkham) asks to be doted upon because he’s too stressed out from working sixteen-hour days while their kids Ben (Taen Phillips) and Lee (Liam Seib) do everything to make her life more difficult than it already is as a full-time teacher and housewife working…

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REVIEW: The Honeymoon Phase [2020]

You are my everything. How well do you know your significant other? Enough to realize when the person lying next to you isn’t actually them? While we’d like to believe we would notice the tiniest of differences, that’s not always the case—especially not in a country so intrinsically interwoven with a Christian ideal of traditionalism wherein many couples don’t even start living together until after the marriage is finalized. There’s no way of knowing whether you’re truly compatible beyond physical attraction in that case because you’ve yet to live every…

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REVIEW: Last Call [2020]

Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. Anyone who has seen Mat Kirkby‘s Oscar-winning short The Phone Call will be familiar with the emotional beats at the back of Gavin Michael Booth‘s feature film Last Call. Both focus on a man contacting a suicide hotline for someone to talk to (if not someone to help) and the woman who fatefully picks up. Whereas the short focused solely on the latter as she works through her protocols and does whatever she can to try and talk the former down, however, Booth…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: I Care A Lot [2020]

There’s no such thing as “good people.” It’s the kind of grift that would make ‘Slippin’” Jimmy McGill proud. Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) calls up her friend Dr. Amos (Alicia Witt) to get a line on any prospective dementia patients with good insurance and ample nest eggs that have come through her office. She gets her partner (professionally and romantically) Fran (Eiza González) to run a background check with help from police contacts and calls an emergency trial with Judge Lomax (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) if their assumptions can be corroborated.…

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REVIEW: Antebellum [2020]

Another bad dream? If you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening these past four years, you’ve certainly seen your share of open racism spewed with an angry sense of entitlement only a white person believing him/herself to be a descendant of God and inheritor of earth could possess. If you’ve been keeping tabs more recently on the subject of Kenosha, Wisconsin (or watch “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”), you’ll know the county’s Sheriff is one such man. David Beth spoke back in 2018 without even the thinnest of veils…

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FANTASIA20 REVIEW: 返校 [Fanxiao] [Detention] [2019]

I don’t remember anything. As a subversive poem (according to the Chinese Nationalist Party that ruled Taiwan under martial law during the period known as the White Terror from 1947 until 1987) read by Miss Yin (Cecilia Choi) to the members of her and Mr. Chang’s (Meng-Po Fu) underground high school book club relates: a tree’s roots never ask to be repaid by the fruit that blooms as a result of their effort. It’s a succinctly beautiful metaphor for the education system and its liberal teachers doing all they can…

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REVIEW: Unhinged [2020]

I am wide-awake. **Potential Spoilers** There’s a big difference between getting cut-off white driving and finding yourself stuck behind a distracted driver at a green light. The former could have killed you. The latter is at most a frustrating inconvenience. There should therefore be a big difference in how you respond to both scenarios too. While a courtesy tap is all you need to wake someone up to the fact it’s time to go, the jerk in violation of traffic laws demands something more robust if for no other reason…

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