REVIEW: The Rental [2020]

Abs-bro-lutely. There’s something to be said about a lack of sentimentality in a horror film. That doesn’t mean we can’t still have sympathy for the victims’ plight—the fact that they’re human beings provides the space for it regardless of who they are or what we know about them. We care because we see ourselves in their shoes. They embody our fear rather than provide an object for us to fear for. Whether or not they suffer when fate’s hand comes down is therefore quite often a moot point. Our sympathy…

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REVIEW: Her Smell [2019]

I see the void of eternity. The public loves a good train wreck when it comes to rockstars. That notion of burning your candle on both ends to create music that lasts forever at the expense of a life snuffed out too soon carries the sort of romanticism you must give pause to in hindsight, though. Because is the art worth it? We aren’t simply talking about the suffering of one tortured soul when there’s everyone who ever loved them too: abused significant others, abandoned children, broken friendships, and helpless…

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REVIEW: The Man Who Invented Christmas [2017]

Why throw everything away for a minor holiday? As Les Standiford‘s book would tell it, Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) found himself in somewhat of a creative rut after a lengthy and expensive tour of America post-Oliver Twist. He had published three flops since buying a new London home in need of wholesale remodeling and began watching his pocketbook dwindle along with his confidence. It was as though the autumn of 1843 presented him a make or break moment wherein he wasn’t certain he would ever write again. And then inspiration…

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BIFF17 REVIEW: Marshall [2017]

No one will even remember you were here. It’s hard to believe America’s first black Supreme Court Justice hadn’t yet earned the big screen cinematic treatment until now. Besides Thurgood Marshall appearing as a character in a few TV productions (including HBO’s Emmy-nominated one-man play Thurgood starring Lawrence Fishburne) and two movies (The People vs. Larry Flynt possessing the highest profile), this iconic hero who successfully argued Brown v. Board of Education in front of that same Supreme Court was all but invisible. And that ubiquitous 1954 moment interestingly isn’t…

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REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast [2017]

“Now find it in your mind’s eye and feel it in your heart” This latest Disney epoch consisting of live action remakes/re-imaginings of their classic animated tales has the studio utilizing a few different creative motivations. The best has thus far has been their ability to find ways to create something wholly new and better from the blueprints of those that didn’t age well (The Jungle Book‘s basic sing-along and Pete’s Dragon‘s archaic values). Then there’s the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school with Cinderella wherein the filmmakers…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Colossal [2017]

“I’m sorry. It was a mistake. It won’t happen again.” Whether the existence of time travel or an alien invasion, writer/director Nacho Vigalondo has proven king at dealing with large-scale concepts affecting small-scale characters. Always looking to portray how genre catastrophes are handled by nobodies on the ground without government credentials or scientific degrees, he continues this trend again with his latest monster movie Colossal … for the most part. After certain truths are revealed, it’s easy to discover how two former classmates in a sleepy city with one watering…

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REVIEW: The Guest [2014]

“Don’t feel bad” With my enjoyment of You’re Next and resounding positivity on the internet concerning its follow-up, I was excited to finally sit down and watch director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett‘s latest genre hybrid The Guest. Whether this fact tainted my overall enjoyment is a toss up, but it’s not like I can’t wait to watch it again. A bona fide midnight screening cult classic in the making, this thing looks great despite oozing 80s action horror flair. Rather than be poorly made and acted as most…

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REVIEW: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb [2014]

“They’ll burn up like tiny scarabs in Sinai” It appears director Shawn Levy and new screenwriters David Guion and Michael Handelman have thrown the jokey nature of Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant‘s Battle of the Smithsonian away to bring the Night at the Museum series back to what first made it a success. Secret of the Tomb reminded me a lot of the original installment with a thinly veiled metaphor once again providing the dramatic arc for Larry Daley’s (Ben Stiller) adventure, this time showing a need to say…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: The Cobbler [2015]

“I’m not gonna eat you!” Adults need fairy tales too and Thomas McCarthy—with cowriter Paul Sado—deliver one in The Cobbler. They don’t try to pretend it’s something more either as its opening prologue can attest thanks to older tradesmen on the Lower East Side speaking Yiddish around a table to think up a way to defeat the evil landlord raising their rent to drive them away. Cut to the local shoe man deemed their savior stitching up a pair of loafers with son in tow and we learn his machine…

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