FANTASIA20 REVIEW: Undergods [2020]

All will be fog. We all like to think we have control—kings of our proverbial castles. It’s all a ruse, though. We’re actually slaves to a system that seems more and more likely to fail with each new day and each new declaration that its imminent demise is a call to arms to save it rather than move on and evolve. That false sense of control is thus a mechanism we use to combat the fear of knowing how little we truly possess. We dream of other men failing so…

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REVIEW: In a Valley of Violence [2016]

“I stopped listening to men like you a long time ago” Ti West‘s western In a Valley of Violence might have been great if it allowed itself to become the serious revenge thriller it sporadically proves. A dark drama able to embrace the weight of its characters’ turmoil appears once you remove Karen Gillan‘s over-the-top dullard in distress theatrics, James Ransone‘s cartoonish villainy, and the pinball piñata that is the penultimate body to fall. Denton, a virtual ghost town run empty by its corrupt Marshall (John Travolta) with a self-proclaimed…

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REVIEW: Crimson Peak [2015]

“Beautiful things are fragile” If you truly want to know what to expect from Crimson Peak you should ignore the trailers—save their ability to highlight the gorgeous aesthetic—and instead read director Guillermo del Toro‘s mission statement. In it you’ll discover that this isn’t your usual horror story. Yes it has some jarringly gruesome visuals and is rife with skeletal ghosts, but his main goal was to pay homage to the “old-fashioned, grand Hollywood production in the Gothic romance genre.” This means a melodramatic tone that earns its laughs as intentional…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Jimi: All Is by My Side [All Is by My Side] [2014]

“The rest is just painted with a little science fiction” On paper a biopic of Jimi Hendrix without the rights to his music seems like a complete waste of time. Even with John Ridley‘s All Is by My Side detailing the guitarist’s two years prior to the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, the thought of not using an iconic track for the credits is a daunting one to overcome. Thankfully, with a bit of ingenious sound design and multiple sensory collages of images and music, we’re able to experience the…

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REVIEW: Pacific Rim [2013]

“She’s starting to chase the rabbit” After watching two spec scripts get sold and ultimately fall through, Clash of the Titans scribe Travis Beacham finally breaks into Hollywood with an original vision in Pacific Rim. A futuristic look at our world on the cusp of annihilation by the claws of an alien species entering our realm via a wormhole over an underwater rift in our Earth’s crust, his tale is as close to a live action anime as we’re likely to get—complete with kaiju and mecha warriors fighting to rule…

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