REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story [2018]

You said never improvise. Nine movies into the cinematic world of George Lucas‘ Star Wars—three of which extend past his control over the franchise—and we remain tethered to the Skywalkers. It makes sense. In order for Disney to commoditize the property, they must first reconnect with old fans and familiarize the new. So they stuck with Luke, Leia, and Anakin’s continuing legacy (even if they threw out extended universe material once considered canon). They began with a rousing remake, continued with a spin-off expanding upon a moment we knew occurred…

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REVIEW: Rules Don’t Apply [2016]

“You’re an exception” Eighteen years after Bulworth and fifteen after Town & Country (his last time directing and acting for a feature film respectively), Warren Beatty returns to the big screen with a fictionalized biography of Howard Hughes forty years in the making. It’s a passion project and vanity project: two endeavors worthy of an auspicious return to the spotlight even if the latter isn’t always the best decision for retaining a renowned legacy. Will Rules Don’t Apply taint peoples’ image of him? No. It’s not going to mark any…

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REVIEW: Hail, Caesar! [2016]

“It’s all in the hips, the lips, the eyes, and the thighs” You don’t think much when you read the Coen Brothers have been bouncing Hail, Caesar! around since 2004. After all, they’re prolific auteurs that often write scripts for other directors, so a decade-long gestation period is nothing to scoff at. Only when you learn the idea was little more than an idea that you start wondering about the final product. Maybe they loved that initial pitch so much the words simply poured out over the last couple years.…

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REVIEW: Stoker [2013]

“We are not responsible for what we have come to be” Despite being a new venture for both screenwriter and director, Stoker is the type of film that sticks with you whether you want it to or not. There’s an unsettling feeling from the first frame with Mia Wasikowska‘s India talking in voiceover as she roams through an overgrown field, spouting omnisciently philosophical musings while the image hitches as each credit appears. Clint Mansell‘s score helps create a foreboding sense of dread leading perfectly into the disembodied, blood-curdling scream that…

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REVIEW: Blue Jasmine [2013]

“When I did what I did I regretted it” A film dealing with issues of causality, Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine provides much more than surface appearances. Rather than simply be a character study of an emotionally and psychologically broken woman whose rarified airs of elitist wealth came crashing down after her husband’s villainous financial skeletons are found, this story is also a tragic tale about perception. Does one woman’s dumb luck success really make her into some kind of expert on life possessed by a trustworthy opinion because she can…

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REVIEW: Beautiful Creatures [2013]

“You can either run or shoot” Just like clockwork the Twilight series has found a successor. Trading vampires and werewolves for witches, authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl‘s Caster Chronicles‘ has hit theatres with much less fanfare but perhaps more intrigue. Gatlin, South Carolina’s secrets are a mixture of Hogwart’s affinity for the Muggle world and Bella’s supernatural-heavy Seattle backyard—the casters possessing a division of light and dark like Voldemort’s Death Eaters and Dumbledore’s students as well as rites of passage similar to those of Jacob’s pack and Edward’s ‘vegetarian’…

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TIFF11 REVIEW: Twixt [2012]

“Keeping track of time around here is pointless” After a stellar career directing some of cinema’s greats—The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation—you can’t blame Francis Ford Coppola for deciding to film smaller passion projects in his twilight. After the self-financed Tetro and Youth Without Youth, he returns with a story from an unusual origin. With an alcohol-induced dream in Istanbul, a vivid conversation with Edgar Allen Poe while a murder mystery happens as a backdrop, the impetus behind Twixt was born. Awoken before its end, Coppola scribbled down what he…

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REVIEW: Tetro [2009]

“You can’t look into the light” I had heard that Francis Ford Coppola’s first film in a decade, 2007’s Youth Without Youth, skewed more toward the arthouse, experimental spectrum of cinema. After his early masterpieces, including the bloated budget of Apocalypse Now, his career went the way of minor Hollywood-fare, like Jack and The Rainmaker. One might have assumed he’d retired from the director’s chair until the success of his daughter, and son, (come on Roman, stop being assistant to your family members and make that sophomore film), showed what…

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