REVIEW: The Aviary [2022]

What’s in the way of your joy today? Freedom is an escape from society’s invisible cages. So, Seth (Chris Messina) teaches his followers at The Aviary to emancipate themselves from those walls. He serves as their quasi-psychoanalyst conducting what he’s coined “barrier therapy” (or BT) to allow them to open themselves up to what it is they truly want outside of the norms civilization feeds them. And they love him for it. They embrace his teachings and enjoy his hugs while walking lockstep into the New Mexican desert to inhabit…

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REVIEW: Black Site [2022]

Drift caught, sir. The terrorist bombing of a hospital in Istanbul has left almost two hundred people dead, including CIA Agent Abby Trent’s (Michelle Monaghan) husband and daughter. Since they were on-site because of her job as an analyst whisking them off to far-flung regions of the world, she blames herself for their deaths. It’s therefore no surprise that she fights hard to be reassigned to an off-the-grid location known as the Citadel considering it currently houses the government’s best lead (Simon Elrahi‘s Farhan) to discover the culprit’s identity. Abby’s…

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REVIEW: Dual [2022]

Why aren’t I crying? Sarah (Karen Gillan) is depressed. While it initially seems the result of loneliness created by her live-in boyfriend’s (Beulah Koale‘s Peter) absence with a lengthy out-of-town work effort, she’s been retreating from the world for quite some time now. Small things like not wanting to answer the phone when her mother (Maija Paunio) calls to “chat.” Big things like not wanting to leave the house and socialize with people when staying home and watching television is enough. So, when Sarah finds out she’s sick courtesy of…

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REVIEW: In the Heat of the Night [1967]

What kind of a place is this? All you need to know about Sparta, Mississippi is Mayor Schubert (William Schallert) reminding his police chief Bill Gillespie (Rod Steiger) that he wasn’t hired for his “homicide expertise.” No, in a town like this, overseen with an iron grip by the owner of a cotton plantation (Larry Gates‘ Eric Endicott), loyalty means a lot more than the ability to do your job well. So, why not let the Black detective from Philadelphia who’s just passing through stay awhile and help solve a…

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REVIEW: Barbarians [2022]

Nothing ever happened. It opens with a commercial. Lucas (Tom Cullen) has his voiceover voice going full tilt to talk about this new venture he’s created on some English farmland that houses a mysterious, spiritual stone monolith that brings people from all over the world to visit every solstice. He’s partnered with the property’s owner to turn its historical and mystical allure into a high-end luxury community of beautiful country mansions. The initial test home is already complete—with a soon-to-be-finished replica monolith sculpted by his renowned artist friend Eva (Catalina…

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REVIEW: Infinite Storm [2022]

You know what day it is. There’s a beautiful tale of grief and rebirth at the center of Malgorzata Szumowska‘s film Infinite Storm. The only reason Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) hiked up Mt. Washington despite warnings of blizzards and extreme temperatures that November day is because, as she tells her friend (Denis O’Hare), “It’s cheaper than therapy.” This has been her ritual on the anniversary of her daughters’ death. She climbs. She remembers. She mourns without the threat of anyone trying to comfort or pity her in a moment of…

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REVIEW: The Contractor [2022]

We’re all just mercenaries in the end. James Harper (Chris Pine) knows that military life has two faces. He grew up with first-hand knowledge thanks to a gung-ho Ranger dad who forced him to spend his birthday money on an American flag tattoo that matched his own despite not yet being a teenager. Was James’ father a hero? Maybe. Was he also a monster? Sure. The truth lies somewhere in the middle because the military cannot turn you into the former without first ensuring that you can become the latter.…

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REVIEW: Nitram [2021]

Mom told me to do something. An interesting and completely understandable ask was presented before being granted access to watch director Justin Kurzel and screenwriter Shaun Grant‘s latest collaboration Nitram: please don’t mention the name of the perpetrator of the 1996 mass shooting in Port Arthur, Tasmania. It was understandable because tragedies such as these become so easily sensationalized by the media in ways that glorify the murderer while forgetting about the victims when we should be memorializing the latter and ignoring the former. It was interesting because this is…

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REVIEW: The Outfit [2022]

You can’t make something good until you know who you’re making it for. The key to a good mystery isn’t tricking the audience as much as it is entertaining them. The more you watch from this genre, the less slips past your perception. The moment the filmmaker fails to maintain their “trick” is therefore the moment he/she loses their viewer because there’s nothing else for us to grasp onto. Director Graham Moore and co-writer Johnathan McClain understand this fact. They know they can lean into the usual double-cross tropes if…

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REVIEW: All My Friends Hate Me [2022]

You do know that this is all your fault? Pete (Tom Stourton) hasn’t seen his university mates in years. Ten years to be exact. It happens. Life happens. We reach adulthood, mature, and set goals for ourselves that the people who were closest to us during that formidable period simply cannot follow because their own ambitions lie upon different forks in the road. Resentment shouldn’t therefore factor in. Nor should jealousy. And yet, Pete can’t help but wonder about both. A little voice in the back of his head wonders…

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REVIEW: Slapface [2022]

Was it all because of me? We don’t know what Lucas (August Maturo) did to find himself in the back of Sheriff Thurston’s (Dan Hedaya) car towards the beginning of Jeremiah Kipp‘s Slapface (an expansion of his short film), but it couldn’t have been anything good. I don’t say that because of what being there means. He obvious did something to warrant an “arrest.” I say it because of what Thurston tells Lucas’ older brother and guardian Tom (Mike Manning)—the boys survived the car crash that claimed their parents—upon taking…

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