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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TIFF18 REVIEW: If Beale Street Could Talk [2018]

Flesh of each other’s flesh. Fonny Hunt (Stephan James) puts out his arms for a hug upon seeing an old friend in Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) after too much time and too many men their age have passed. Smiles and laughter enter the scene before they are soon replaced by beers and reminiscing. And then comes the hard truth of absence—the explanation of his disappearance. Daniel had been in jail two years for a crime he didn’t commit and Fonny feels for his plight. Despite anything he could possibly say…

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REVIEW: The Disaster Artist [2017]

Give me your pinky. If I hadn’t known already, James Franco‘s The Disaster Artist confirms it: I’m not a connoisseur of the “cringe laugh.” I’ve always been the one attendee of a midnight screening of a C-list film who isn’t laughing because the artists who put what I’m watching together didn’t mean for it to be funny. I’m filled with second-hand embarrassment instead. Some people can allow themselves to ignore the fact that they’re laughing at the cast and crew in these scenarios rather than the finished product and some…

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REVIEW: Now You See Me 2 [2016]

“You may not be having fun, but I am” The problem with giving a film steeped in misdirection a sequel is that the mysteries have already been uncovered. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle to achieve the same success. Now You See Me had a great magic premise wherein the theatrical audience was as in the dark as the fictional audience attending The Four Horsemen’s performances. We knew something big was happening, but weren’t privy to the plan. We watched the intrigue, received truth from an illusion-debunker,…

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REVIEW: Neighbors [2014]

“We should go Mom tipping later” After respectively writing and directing a short film that dealt with a manchild living in a storage unit who befriends one of the employees in hopes to stay, Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen have decided to go a bit less high concept with their feature screenwriting debut. But while the quirky setting may be gone, the theme of surviving the suburban boredom of adulthood is not. One could say Neighbors is an evolutionary reworking of American Storage‘s concepts as the duo polishes things…

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REVIEW: This is the End [2013]

“Is the power of Christ compelling me? Is that what’s happening?” Way back in 2007 there was a YouTube trailer for a short film entitled Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse that whetted fans’ appetites only to never seen by the public. Time went on, nothing appeared to be happening—which wasn’t necessarily a horrible thing since the trailer wasn’t all that funny—and eventually word came down it was being retooled by the titular Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg into their directorial debut This is the End. Now six…

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REVIEW: Now You See Me [2013]

“That’s a lot of excitement for a crime” As the characters in Louis Leterrier‘s Now You See Me love to say, the more you see the less you know. This is the line of deflection The Four Horsemen love to package as their neat and tidy rule, ignoring the constant, ever-apparent question magicians and illusionists have refused to answer since the first trick was performed: “How did you do that?” It’s a loaded query posited with full knowledge that understanding would only render the feeling of disbelief we hunger to…

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REVIEW: Warm Bodies [2013]

“God, we move slow” Who would have thought even fifteen years ago that 2013’s nerd culture would have at its pinnacle zombies and bacon? Seriously, who? While we have Ron Swanson to thank for helping keep the latter alive recently, Hollywood has been the former’s driving force. What used to be a vehicle to disseminate political satire and civil unrest in a world slowly devolving towards a wasteland of mindless automatons has now become a million dollar moneymaking machine. They are so ubiquitous that I’m baffled none ever showed up…

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REVIEW: 21 Jump Street [2012]

“What’s the girl in the back doing?” Screenwriters Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill made the right move when they decided their 21 Jump Street would be a continuation of the original television series and not a remake. They may go a bit heavy on the pseudo-meta scripting of characters mocking the fact their police department can’t come up with any good new ideas so they have to rehash what worked and hope no one notices, but it succeeds in letting me forgive the unoriginal genesis and enjoy its newly created…

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