REVIEW: Mass [2021]

I don’t think I can say it. First things first: you should go into Fran Kranz‘s directorial debut Mass as blind as possible. Knowing the premise beforehand won’t necessarily ruin anything, but he is hiding the particulars with reason as far as the emotional and narrative impact that comes with one of the characters saying it as plain as day. And that moment should be allowed its full weight. You should know that death binds these two couples—Martha Plimpton‘s Gail and Jason Isaacs‘ Jay opposite Ann Dowd‘s Linda and Reed…

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REVIEW: Gûzen to sôzô [Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy] [2021]

Maybe it’s the loss of someone I believed was mine. Everyone lives through a series of choices. Some are buoyed by the happiness of having always chosen correctly (or at least the privilege of never having to wonder if the other choice would have provided greater happiness) and some weighed down by regret. There are other times too, however, that people may find themselves existing in a moment where happiness becomes inextricably linked to regret. Perhaps it’s only through pushing yourself to the brink of self-destruction that you finally realize…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Les oiseaux ivres [Drunken Birds] [2021]

I’m scared I’ll forget her. We start at the end—the end of a cartel. Men climb the walls to go inside the now abandoned estate, walking amongst paintings and sculptures before stripping naked to take a dip in the indoor swimming pool while a giant portrait of their unwitting (and now imprisoned) benefactor looks on. One decides to don a fur coat as he rifles through the papers sitting on the kingpin’s desk. He picks up a note and begins to read before discarding it out of boredom. The voice…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Petite maman [2021]

We might not see each other again. It’s difficult grappling with the reality that we can never know when our latest “goodbye” to a loved one might prove the last we’ll ever share with them. The act itself is so commonplace and routine that we find ourselves performing on reflex. The assumption is that it’s really a “so long”—an ellipsis awaiting its next word whenever and wherever it may arrive next. Then the day comes when you realize two dots disappeared while you were away to reveal a period of…

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FANTASIA21 REVIEW: Daewoebi: Gwonryeok-ui Tansaeng [The Devil’s Deal] [2021]

Can’t we live ordinary lives? There’s no way anybody beats Jeon Hae-woong (Cho Jin-woong) in a hometown election because everyone in Haeundae loves him. Walking down the street means shaking hands and bowing to applause because the people know that he will fight for them. He is one of them, after all. Thinking as much only proves naïve if the world in which he exists is corrupt and, according to the President (who is also up for re-election at the same time as Congress), this will be the most transparently…

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REVIEW: Nine Days [2021]

Pull the chair. Will (Winston Duke) is one of an unknown number of interviewers at the edge of existence: men and women who were once alive that now have the power to choose which newly created souls are worthy of the same opportunity. The interview period lasts nine days and is composed of philosophical quandaries, observations, and hypotheticals meant to better understand who these protohumans are and will remain if their consciousness is transferred to a baby ready for its first breath. Will tests their resolve, their strength, and their…

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REVIEW: Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) [2021]

It was the ultimate Black barbecue. 1970. That was the year Michael Wadleigh‘s epic film showcasing the August 1969 Woodstock Festival debuted. Woodstock won the Oscar for best doc, was nominated for best editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), and entered the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress in 1996. It took five months for this counterculture phenomenon that occurred near Bethel, New York to be seen by the world. Five months. And yet it’s taken until in 2021—50 years—to finally get the chance to see a different concert series (the…

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REVIEW: Los nôtres [2021]

What are you hiding from me? It takes a village. That’s what close, tight-knit communities like Sainte-Adeline, Quebec say when asked about how they are able to confront and conquer tough circumstances. With that sense of togetherness, however, comes a cliquish sensibility of superiority. They survive because they have each other. They survive because they’re vigilant and always watching to see where and when their help is required to pick someone up. It’s how they got through a horrible construction site tragedy years prior that claimed too many friends and…

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The 93rd Oscars recap through tweets …

If you’re going to hire a director like Steven Soderbergh to handle the Oscars … expect the unexpected. And why not after the year the industry just experienced? Movie theaters shuttered for months (some forever) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Productions were canceled, postponed, and scaled-down with new protocols allowing Tom Cruise to scream at people and somehow be the “good guy” in the exchange. And the deadline to qualify for the ceremony shifted from December 31, 2020 to February 28, 2021. Chaos was baked into this show’s…

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REVIEW: Shiva Baby [2021]

No funny business. All bets are off the moment Danielle (Rachel Sennott) whisper-shouts towards her parents to find out whose shiva they are about to walk into because not being prepared enough to know who the deceased is means there’s a good chance that she won’t be prepared for some of the guests either. And while it’s one thing to see an ex (Molly Gordon‘s Maya) walking into the house before your mother tells you to keep your hands to yourself (not because she isn’t progressive enough to accept a…

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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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