REVIEW: Leave No Trace [2018]

We can still think our own thoughts. It’s easy to depict PTSD-suffering war veterans as unstable, dangerous, and beyond help from inevitable tragedy. This depiction has sadly become the Hollywood norm to conjure volatile dramatics devoid of the empathy those struggling to combat their demons deserve. If anyone could supply the necessary humanity to portray that plight, writer/director Debra Granik is she. Never afraid to take exploitation-free narratives into the desperate yet manageable rural squalor (relatively speaking) of mid-west locales—blind spots to the narrow vantage of urban dwellers (see Winter’s…

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REVIEW: Hostiles [2017]

You’re no angel your own self. The fact that America’s past isn’t without its horrific nightmares of misguided violence and oppression shouldn’t be lost on anyone, especially not with everything that’s going on here today. Our history runs red with the blood of men, women, and children who fought to survive against a force that thought themselves superior because of the color of their skin. White Europeans staked claim upon their arrival, killing the Native Americans with gunfire, alcohol, and disease before chasing them off west. They brought slave ships…

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REVIEW: Inferno [2016]

“We’re a minute to midnight” America loves popcorn thrillers as much as Hollywood and that suits Dan Brown fine. Having Ron Howard and Tom Hanks take an interest in his character Robert Langdon definitely helps too, but the “bestseller” label would have been enough if lesser names attached instead. Whether or not Brown anticipated his professor’s pop culture appeal to ensure each installment was a solitary unit (the initial adaptation, The Da Vinci Code, was actually Langdon’s second entry) is something only he can answer, but it’s served him perfectly…

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REVIEW: Hell or High Water [2016]

“I ain’t speeding” It wasn’t long after his run as above-board Deputy Chief David Hale on “Sons of Anarchy” that Taylor Sheridan would find himself caught in awards season platitudes with Sicario, a film earning three Oscar nominations despite his screenplay not quite making the cut. Well he has a second change this January as his earlier script of gritty Texas survival under the poverty line—a 2012 Black List inclusion—has arrived with David Mackenzie‘s stewardship. Hell or High Water utilizes similar themes of determined, smart vengeance and bittersweet resolutions, it’s…

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REVIEW: Warcraft [2016]

“From light comes darkness and from darkness light” As of a year ago I didn’t know what MMO meant (massively multiplayer online) and only an hour ago learned “World of Warcraft” didn’t always exist as one. Warcraft has actually been around since 1994 as a real-time strategy game without avatars and networking. There was a storyline before sprawling into the ever-expanding phenomenon it’s become, a beginning to this war between humans and orcs that continues to wage decades later. Duncan Jones‘ film is therefore an adaptation of this original history…

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INTERVIEW: Stephen Frears, director of The Program

It’s proving to be a couple of busy months for legendary director Stephen Frears, fresh off his delightful true-life story Philomena making an Oscar run in 2013. Not only does he have his Lance Armstrong biopic The Program opening US theaters this Friday (March 18th), but his newest Florence Foster Jenkins also hits UK screens May 6th. It appears the filmmaker has embraced telling the tales of real people whether of empathetic note or infamy. This hectic schedule made cementing an interview very difficult, regardless, we were still able to…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: The Program [2015]

“I’m flying” When you think about what Lance Armstrong did to the sport of cycling—winning seven straight Tour de France titles before finally being revealed as a cheater—you have to laugh. It’s funny how much stock people around the world put in professional sports and athletes only to see their fallibilities as a betrayal. Celebrities in other vocations screw up all the time; some have found their fame specifically for screwing up. But there is integrity to athletics that must not be tainted in the public consciousness. Somehow sports aren’t…

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REVIEW: X-Men: The Last Stand [2006]

“Same as the Professor: visiting an old friend.” I’m sad to inform you that X-Men: The Last Stand did not age well. Not that anyone called it great when it was released—it was little more than serviceable then—but boy does it falter when viewed in close proximity with the two stellar entries coming before it. I’d like to blame Bryan Singer for jumping ship to DC so he could helm Superman Returns or even Matthew Vaughn and his family issues preventing him from taking the reins. Heck, I’d love to…

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REVIEW: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints [2013]

“Everyday I wake up thinking this is the day I’ll see you” Reading how writer/director David Lowery set out to make an action film with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints only increased my appreciation for what he actually created. Trying to move away from what he calls the “nearly silent pastoral portrait” constructed with his previous work, he couldn’t help gravitating back towards that same territory as soon as the would-be thrills and excitement were to begin with his anti-hero escaping jail. Those aspects do still exist within this 1970s-set Meridian,…

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Posterized Propaganda January 2013: The Top 10 Movie Posters of 2012

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Another year is complete and the time has come to revisit the best one-sheets that did all they could to help their films achieve box office glory. Unsurprising to those…

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REVIEW: Rampart [2011]

“You can’t cheat on something you never committed to” After making a splash with his directorial debut The Messenger, writer/director Oren Moverman continues to delve into the subject matter of conflicted heroes and misunderstood men with Rampart. His focus is a veteran soldier once again, but this time far removed from his stint in Vietnam. A rough and tumble cop in the LAPD Rampart Division, his notoriety for ‘possibly’ killing an accused serial rapist years earlier has allowed him certain freedoms during the infamous 1990s scandal embroiling his department that…

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