REVIEW: She Dies Tomorrow [2020]

I want to be useful in death. Do you feel that? The despair in and anxiety for a future as uncertain as it has ever been with civil unrest, genocide, climate disasters, global pandemics, and the ability to inject each of those horrors into our veins via technological progress that’s systematically hijacked by propagandists, charlatans, and malicious operators with no ambition other than sowing animosity and confusion? The futility in a present torn asunder by rich white men screaming at each other across a political divide while leveraging the lives…

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REVIEW: Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn [2020]

Paying is for dummies. It still surprises me that the so-called DC Extended Universe has a pulse after what’s transpired. Warner Bros. hasn’t helped matters with their muddying of the waters thanks to a standalone Joker film (alongside Jared Leto‘s unceremonious dumping), a newly announced Batman movie (sans Ben Affleck with some ambiguity as far as whether or not it fits under the umbrella), and the release of Superman himself now that Henry Cavill is no longer under contract. The Flash still hasn’t been made (although Ezra Miller is popping…

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BIFF19 REVIEW: The True Adventures of Wolfboy [2020]

That’s some … kind of beautiful. Denny (Chris Messina) tells his teenage son Paul (Jaeden Martell) to stand tall with dignity and never run away. Meant as inspiration with a sympathetic heart, these words fall flat because he’s trying to solve the wrong problem—his inability to truly understand Paul’s uniquely personal perspective leading him astray. Denny wants to believe the knit mask covering his boy’s face is a means to hide from the world because his goal is to protect his child from the terrible things ignorant people say and…

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REVIEW: Live By Night [2016]

“We don’t get to pick our sins” A scene happens early on in Live by Night where Deputy Police Captain Thomas Coughlin (Brendan Gleeson) tells his criminal son Joe (Ben Affleck) that our actions always add up to a conclusion for which we can never predict. The idea is that Joe is a good man—a war veteran with a good heart—who’s simply been disillusioned. Thomas is willing to not crackdown on him despite being fully aware of how his boy makes a living as long as the evidence doesn’t force…

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INTERVIEW: David Gordon Green, director of Manglehorn

In the six years between Snow Angels and Prince Avalanche, writer/director David Gordon Green became a collaborator on a string of comedies of which he was not credited as a writer. In the two years since he’s utilized that process with drama Joe and now Manglehorn. He’s said in other interviews that it’s a way for him to have multiple projects going at once, passing ideas onto others to see what develops into something he wishes to pursue and what doesn’t. And as he tells us below, it also allows…

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REVIEW: Manglehorn [2015]

“I’m losing hope in tomorrow” Upon being asked whether he knows he’s a son-of-a-bitch or not, A.J. Manglehorn (Al Pacino) replies matter-of-factly with, “Yes. Maybe a little. Aren’t we all?” It’s a seemingly innocuous line within an intriguing film positing how each one of us can always see something of ourselves in characters onscreen. We can relate to the son-of-a-bitches and the kindhearted optimists, recalling moments in our lives mirroring what’s seen—probably not closely, but enough to send us back. The people surrounding this solitary curmudgeon of a man who…

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REVIEW: Cake [2014]

“Forgive me” It may not be the best film utilizing its melancholic subject matter, but Cake is not as bad as the critical sphere appears to want us to believe. The credit for this goes to screenwriter Patrick Tobin for distilling his character’s grief, depression, and malaise into a precisely calculated 102-minute rebirth. We receive a lot of information through the interactions of people, expressive postures towards specific situations, and the blackly comic exchanges on behalf of Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston), a woman desperately trying to hide behind the cynical…

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REVIEW: Ruby Sparks [2012]

“I will never write about her again” The debut screenplay from actress Zoe Kazan includes moments ringing absolutely true and others completely false. I can’t stop thinking about Harry Weir-Fields (Chris Messina) giving his brother Calvin (Paul Dano)—the film’s lead—notes on his new, very rough manuscript. Asking without a shred of patronization who the target reader is, he doesn’t believe the women inclined to read romances will care about a quirky, damaged girl with little going for her besides being the object of a man’s affections. It’s obvious to Harry…

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REVIEW: Denise [2012]

“I get along with girls better …” As evidenced by In the Company of Men and The Shape of Things, no one does scathing social commentary like Neil LaBute. So, after the rather questionable decisions to helm remakes of The Wicker Man and Death at a Funeral, it’s good to see the playwright going back to what made him a filmmaker to keep tabs on over a decade ago. His script for the short film Denise—a part of the WIGS series from Jon Avnet and Rodrigo García—takes a discerning look…

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REVIEW: Greenberg [2010]

“Can a pool overflow?” There is a saying relayed by Greta Gerwig’s character Florence which perfectly encapsulates what happens during the course of Noah Baumbach’s newest look into the angst of suburbia, Greenberg. She says, “Hurt people hurt people”. The phrase is apt, especially for her being the one a hurt person, Ben Stiller’s titular Roger Greenberg, constantly hurts. However, no matter how much worth there is in the dynamic between these two people separated by fifteen years, the generational gap a much larger chasm, I can’t shake the fact…

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REVIEW: Devil [2010]

“We are the audience for a reason” It all starts with a suicide—a death to allow easy passage of the Devil to the real world, giving him human form to make those he’s about to collect suffer a public, horrific demise. The first of a planned series in suspense horror called the Night Chronicles, M. Night Shyamalan plays on his bedtime story concept of Lady in the Water, crafting a tale of man’s capacity for evil and the weight of guilt standing in the way of accepting the consequences for…

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