TIFF20 REVIEW: Shadow in the Cloud [2020]

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

TIFF19 REVIEW: Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] [2019]

But we’re Christians. Director Alejandro Amenábar spoke very briefly before the screening of his latest film Mientras dure la guerra [While at War] and the main sentiment was this: “It could happen anywhere.” He doesn’t, however, just mean rebellion or uprising. He doesn’t mean a coup or military dictatorship either. What he and co-writer Alejandro Hernández share via the parallel journeys of Don Miguel de Unamuno (Karra Elejalde) and General Franco (Santi Prego) is that just fights always run the risk of becoming unjust very fast. This truth is ultimately…

Read More

TIFF19 REVIEW: 1982 [2019]

Don’t invite the war into our home. Before 2007, all Lebanese men were conscripted to serve in the military for at least one year. I’ve heard from multiple people that it wasn’t a question of citizenship, but ethnicity. If I ever visited before that year, I wouldn’t have been able to return to America without fulfilling that obligation. Whether or not this was actually true—I’m not certain. But even if it wasn’t, all the children born there during a lengthy civil war against Syrian occupation and an eventual Israeli invasion…

Read More

REVIEW: La battaglia di Algeri [The Battle of Algiers] [1966]

You never know. It’s almost impossible to receive an objective depiction of war considering how easy it is to skew art towards propaganda through the dissemination of a political agenda. And it’s only been getting harder as new technology keeps costs down when making movies that serve one side of things no matter the veracity of claims held within. A film like Gillo Pontecorvo‘s La battaglia di Algeri [The Battle of Algiers] therefore stands as a vision of what once was with a documentary-like vérité style refusing to pull punches…

Read More