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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HEARTLAND20 REVIEW: Minari [2020]

Because of the dirt color? One of the first things Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn) wants to do upon arriving in America to live on her daughter’s family’s new Arkansas farm and help with her grandkids is find a place to grow the minari she’s brought over from Korea. She mentions it out loud at dinner after picking a spot only to hear her son-in-law Jacob (Steven Yeun) say he’ll think about it. He’s too busy plowing the land he bought to grow Korean vegetables to worry about additions, but Soonja wasn’t…

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NIGHTSTREAM20 REVIEW: Rose Plays Julie [2020]

Do you ever think about me? Get ready for a tense ride because writers/directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor‘s Rose Plays Julie never relinquishes its sense of brooding until the very last frame’s welcome exhale of relief. Why should they considering the subject matter? This is a dark story dealing with a reality too many women have experienced without the means for guaranteed justice. So while it might be a spoiler to say, I’m not sure it’s possible to speak about the film without mentioning how everything we witness is…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Nuevo orden [New Order] [2020]

Then don’t tell them. Seemingly taking a cue from television, writer/director Michel Franco provides us glimpses of the carnage to come at the opening of his latest incendiary drama Nuevo orden [New Order]. There’s a naked woman with blood dripping down her body in the rain. There’s paint splashed upon a window behind a bride trying on a white lace dress, a giant oil canvas adorning the wall of an affluent family’s home, and fire burning in the distance after thrown furniture shatters into a hundred pieces on the ground.…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: One Night in Miami … [2020]

God is great. The power behind Regina King‘s directorial debut (adapted by Kemp Powers from his own play) One Night in Miami … is epitomized by an exchange between Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) a little more than halfway through. It’s the night their friend Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) became the surprise heavyweight-boxing champion of the world and the two are alone in the former’s hotel room while the Champ chases down the fourth member of their quartet, Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), after he stormed…

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TIFF20 REVIEW: Good Joe Bell [2020]

The truth is all I have. The first event at which we see Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) speak his anti-bullying message can’t help but make you laugh. He’s standing on-stage with a disheveled look cultivated by a weeks-long journey on foot, spouting more nervous “ums” then concrete dialogue as his son Jadin (Reid Miller) watches at the back of the auditorium. The scene lasts less than two minutes before Bell asks the audience of teenagers if they have any questions as though his awkward presence was enough to spark conversation…

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REVIEW: She Dies Tomorrow [2020]

I want to be useful in death. Do you feel that? The despair in and anxiety for a future as uncertain as it has ever been with civil unrest, genocide, climate disasters, global pandemics, and the ability to inject each of those horrors into our veins via technological progress that’s systematically hijacked by propagandists, charlatans, and malicious operators with no ambition other than sowing animosity and confusion? The futility in a present torn asunder by rich white men screaming at each other across a political divide while leveraging the lives…

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REVIEW: Babyteeth [2020]

I’m not ready to be functional. No matter how prepared we think we are to confront our own mortality, we aren’t even close. This goes for those lucky enough to spend close to a century on Earth, but especially for those who aren’t. And with our own impending mortality comes that of loved ones around us. How do we cope with knowing there’s nothing to do but wait? How do we numb the pain we feel as bystanders in order to help the dying deal with theirs? Ignoring it makes…

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REVIEW: Driveways [2020]

Who has more fun than us, huh? Taking care of her estranged sister’s estate was supposed to be a means to an end for Kathy (Hong Chau). Drive down to a house she never visited (April was twelve years her senior and the two had a falling out when she refused to help care for their mother), clean things out with her eight-year old son Cody (Lucas Jaye), put it on the market, and use the money to help get things back on track and perhaps pay for nursing school.…

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REVIEW: Never Rarely Sometimes Always [2020]

A positive is always a positive. The title to Eliza Hittman‘s Never Rarely Sometimes Always has a specific meaning in that those are the choices a Planned Parenthood counselor (Kelly Chapman) provides seventeen-year old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) as answers to a difficult yet crucial line of questioning about her psychological and physical wellbeing. Hittman films the scene as a continuous take with the camera never leaving this teen girl’s face as each query hits home for us to interpret her tears as the unspoken truth of life experiences too many…

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Top 100 Albums of 2019

Honorable Mention Tinlicker – This is Not Our Universe; Cold War Kids – New Age Norms 1; Sara Bareilles – Amidst the Chaos; Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold; Elbow – Giants of All Sizes; Coldplay – Everyday Life; Chance the Rapper – The Big Day; Yeasayer – Erotic Reruns; The Chainsmokers – World War Joy; Ghostface Killah – Ghostface Killahs; Chromatics – Closer to Grey; Free Nationals – Free Nationals; Matt Maeson – Bank on the Funeral; Tove Lo – Sunshine Kitty; The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger; Jimmy…

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