REVIEW: Jumanji: The Next Level [2019]

Wherever they may be. The first cinematic adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg‘s Jumanji brought the board game’s wild jungle environment to its players’ quiet suburbia for a crazy survival adventure. Jake Kasdan and company could have easily done the exact same thing again with their reboot/sequel hybrid Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle due to over twenty years having past since its predecessor’s release, but they chose to breathe new life into the property instead. And it worked beautifully to earn critical, creative, and financial success. They revamped board and dice…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Bad Education [2020]

What we have works. How much would you spend on your child’s education? Lori Loughlin money? Or more working class parent utilizing public schools while voting Republican to keep taxes low? What’s so crazy about America is that the ethical gap between isn’t that large. We’re a nation priding ourselves on a lie about having the best schools because we’re blind to our own self-sabotage. The kids aren’t the only victims either when overworked/underpaid teachers and administrators are treated like dirt by delusional parents. The same parents that share uplifting…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Castle in the Ground [2019]

I’m not stuck here with you. An addict is an addict whether they’ve become one via doctor’s orders or not. Sometimes the “not” part is even a direct result of those orders. When you’re working with volatile drugs like OxyContin, the line separating too much and not enough is razor-thin with the inclination being to err on the side of numb. We’re talking pain management after all and the more we take, the more tolerance we build to make the cycle worse. And for someone with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it can…

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REVIEW: Hereditary [2018]

Why are you afraid of me? If anyone has the ability to dive into the deepest, darkest secrets of an otherwise normal looking suburban family, it’s the writer/director of The Strange Thing About the Johnsons. It’s been seven years since Ari Aster‘s viral short film about incest and sexual abuse came out and yet his first feature is just hitting theaters. Whether due to a lack of funding or need for time to hone his script, Aster spent the period in-between by crafting more shorts to cut his teeth and…

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REVIEW: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [2017]

Find the missing piece. The end of Jumanji shows Alan and Sarah chaining up the board game before throwing it over a bridge into water. Later we see it washed ashore on a beach, buried in the sand with chains removed as people walk by speaking what sounds like French. So we wonder how long after the main plot this Planet of the Apes ending is set. Did it cross the Atlantic? There’s real fun to this abstract epilogue with infinite possibilities, especially since the unlikely sequel Jumanji: Welcome to…

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REVIEW: My Friend Dahmer [2017]

Smiles up. When someone kills seventeen people over a thirteen-year span with words like necrophilia and cannibalism circling each murder, sympathy for the predator—not his prey—is neither the first nor hundred and first emotion that should come to anyone’s mind. I’m not certain there could be room for anything but disgust whether you’re a stranger, a family member, or an old friend reading the news. And yet we try to find motivation nonetheless. We wonder about how someone could become such a monster right under our nose without ever suspecting…

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REVIEW: Coming Through the Rye [2016]

“Everyone loves Mercutio” Emmy-winning director James Steven Sadwith makes his feature theatrical debut with a story close to his heart. Coming Through the Rye fictionalizes his experiences as a 1969 boarding school teen and his adventure finding reclusive author J.D. Salinger. We assume liberties were taken considering the opening caption loquaciously elongates the usual “inspired by” to “a lot of this is inspired by real events if you want to know the truth,” but that’s okay since this sort of chatty flourish aligns perfectly with the character created as his…

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