REVIEW: Moffie [2020]

You are no longer someone. There’s no better propaganda machine than the military. But while that institution generally wields its power upon those who willingly embrace its messaging, not every country relies on volunteers to fill their ranks. For countries like South Africa during Apartheid, conscription became a way to retain white minority control. Why? Because it ensured that every able white male would receive a steady dose of its racist and bigoted rhetoric for at least two years. Rather than preach to the choir, the Afrikaners could brainwash every…

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REVIEW: Quo vadis, Aida? [2020]

We just need to stick together. Some stories don’t leave room for a hero even if they provide ample opportunity for one to enter. And when it comes to the 1995 Bosnian genocide that occurred in the town of Srebrenica at the hands of the Serbian army, there’s hardly room for hope let alone saviors. With over eight thousand men murdered while the UN and the world looked on, what is truly left but mourning and memorial? What is there to say besides the truth of its horrors so that…

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REVIEW: Дылда [Dylda] [Beanpole] [2019]

He’ll heal us. World War II has left Stalingrad in shambles. Buildings are destroyed. Families are torn apart. And meaning has all but disappeared in the face of atrocities that won’t simply go away. The head doctor at the city’s hospital (Andrey Bykov‘s Nikolay Ivanovich) tries his best to hold morale by saying that “peace is on its way” and yet the words can’t help but feel hollow. He lost everyone in the war himself and now he’s tasked with pretending that a soldier devoid of movement anywhere but his…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Shadow in the Cloud [2021]

Be safe. Shape up. Stay on task. Try as they might, Max Landis‘ name is still there on the big screen when the opening titles to Roseanne Liang‘s Shadow in the Cloud begin to roll. They’ve scrubbed it from the press notes save a single mention in the full credit list, IMDB hasn’t added it to their page (yet), and star Chloë Grace Moretz has gone out of her way to ensure everyone knows Liang (who shares that screenwriting credit) rewrote the original draft multiple times. That Landis hasn’t been…

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REVIEW: Summerland [2020]

Stories have to come from somewhere. The above quote is a big part of playwright Jessica Swale‘s feature directorial debut Summerland because of its lead Alice Lamb’s (Gemma Arterton) vocation. She writes academic theses about folklore wherein she dissects the scientific and anthropological reasons behind both the supernatural and impossible characters/settings/phenomena within myths. It’s also a rather all-encompassing statement considering how little we know about the character herself. Where did she come from? What events transpired to render her reclusive and ultimately reviled by the nearby townsfolk of Kent? What…

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REVIEW: Ghosts of War [2020]

If you leave, you die. Sometimes the memories of our inaction haunt us more than the actions we have committed. This can be especially true at war once you return home to realize the blood on your hands goes far beyond the lives you were directly responsible for extinguishing. Whether you found yourself helpless to act because of a direct order from your superior or you simply froze out of justifiable fear, the screams of those lost will remind you of your complicity either way and haunt your dreams like…

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REVIEW: Da 5 Bloods [2020]

The American War is over. Decades after surviving a harrowing experience during the Vietnam War while tasked to reacquire a chest of gold bars from a downed plane in Viet Cong territory, Otis (Clarke Peters), Paul (Delroy Lindo), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), and Eddie (Norm Lewis) have returned to the South China Sea with unfinished business. It was their squad commander “Stormin’” Norman (Chadwick Boseman) who decided to bury the gold so that they could retrieve it once the fighting stopped. He was educated in the teachings of Martin Luther…

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REVIEW: The Last Full Measure [2020]

Justice delayed is justice denied. While Todd Robinson‘s The Last Full Measure does center upon the cost of war, it’s neither a pro-war or anti-war film. He instead allows the idea of battle to exist as an imperative within Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr.’s story. Not only did this young man enlist to go to Vietnam, his bravery led him to voluntarily exit his helicopter above the massacre of Operation Abilene in order to help a division of total strangers who just sent their only medic up for evacuation. Pits…

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REVIEW: 1917 [2019]

It’s easier not to go back at all. While it appeared the Germans retreated, they were really just gathering their strength at the easier-to-defend Hindenburg Line as part of Operation Alberich in northern France. With British forces fooled and following closely behind to mount what they believed would be an offensive, their opponents were primed to turn the tables via ambush instead. After consulting aerial photographs of the Germans’ new position, General Erinmore (Colin Firth) realized 1,600 of Colonel Mackenzie’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) men would be slaughtered without his intervention. So…

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REVIEW: The Warrior Queen of Jhansi [2019]

Everything’s become red. The part Rani Lakshmibai (Devika Bhise) played during the 1857 Indian mutiny against the British East India Company is massive. A great moment of perseverance and rebellion on its own, this queen became a much-needed symbol for whom her persecuted people and dwindling allies could rally behind. Widowed five years earlier with an adopted son set to inherit the throne, England presumed a moment of weakness to seize her kingdom as its own. Believing Jhansi’s allegiance to this point gave them cause to simply take over, they…

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REVIEW: Jojo Rabbit [2019]

Where are all the goddamn knives? Seeing how skittish little Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) appears, a group of older Hitler Youths under an injured Nazi captain’s (Sam Rockwell‘s Klenzendorf) command decide to test his resolve. Since the boy enjoys talking the talk when it comes to killing Jewish people due to believing his father is a war hero doing the same on the frontlines (others wonder if Mr. Betzler turned deserter considering nobody has heard from him, alive or dead, for months), they hand him a bunny and order…

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