REVIEW: Mary Magdalene [2018]

I wish there were a demon inside me. I’m a non-practicing Catholic who hasn’t paid attention in Church since earning my First Communion, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the adjective my mind encounters upon hearing the name Mary Magdalene is “prostitute.” It’s the word the church purposefully utilized to erase her from Jesus Christ’s gospel and why she’s generally spoken about as little more than a distraction or even a temptation he had to combat rather than embrace. Like in a patriarchal society, this maneuver allowed a patriarchal…

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INTERVIEW: Xavier Legrand, writer/director of Custody

It’s always a treat to see a director whose work you’ve enjoyed in short form make the leap to features—especially when the latter debuts at a venue as auspicious as the Toronto International Film Festival. This is exactly what happened with Xavier Legrand last year. Less than half a decade after earning his first Oscar nomination for the wonderful Just Before Losing Everything, he decided to revisit those same characters in the direct aftermath of its dramatically tense events. The result is Custody, a brilliant look at the emotional and…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] [2018]

“Which of you is the bigger liar?” It didn’t win the Oscar for best live action short in 2014, but Xavier Legrand’s Just Before Losing Everything was by far my favorite nominee. Discovering his debut feature Jusqu’à la garde [Custody] was constructed as an expansion of that story therefore made it a must-see. The short is soon revealed as a prequel, its look at the fallout of domestic abuse hopefully in the rearview considering Miriam Besson (Léa Drucker) readies to plead her case as to why her now ex-husband (Denis…

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REVIEW: Assassin’s Creed [2016]

“Not everyone deserves to live” The Knights Templar and their numerous myths about secret societies and grand political aspirations have rendered the organization primed for villainous roles in multiple forms of media. One example is Ubisoft’s videogame Assassin’s Creed wherein a violent war has waged for centuries between the Templars’ drive for world domination (peace via control) and the Assassins’ desire to stop them (peace via free will). The series sprinkles in real historical figures and does its best to make it seem as though it could all be true—besides…

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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: Avant que de tout perdre [Just Before Losing Everything] [2013]

“You have to do it, Miriam” Whoa. Xavier Legrand‘s screenwriting and directorial debut Avant que de tout perdre [Just Before Losing Everything] is a tense piece of filmmaking that will have you holding your breath throughout. It starts with a young boy walking the opposite way from school before being stopped by his teacher. He says he’s buying cigarettes for his father and will be in class soon, yet he’s seen waiting at a bridge upon her dismissal until a woman pulls up in her car. From here the two…

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REVIEW: Dans la maison [In the House] [2012]

“What’s a perfect family’s house like?” What happens inside one’s home is sacred. Your skeletons are exposed, carefully manufactured façades rest for the night, and pent up frustrations boil to the surface in a cathartic outburst of unchecked emotion and fatigued spirit. This is why voyeurism has such a psychologically sensual appeal in its incomparable way of satisfying one’s desires, fantasies, and curiosity. When our lives hit a rut of dull monotony we find ourselves searching for outside entertainment—through books, movies, videogames, hobbies, or that unavoidable satisfaction of stumbling upon…

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REVIEW: Inglourious Basterds [2009]

“F*ck a duck!” I like to think that the sheer fact Inglourious Basterds got made means that Quentin Tarantino isn’t all talk. Maybe, just maybe, that Whole Bloody Affair DVD compilation of the Kill Bills will come out. For now though, we should all be happy QT is back to form after his, in my opinion, misstep with Death Proof. As with his previous feature films, Basterds is above genres, mixing so much cinematic history and style to become a beast all its own. Parts WWII drama, parts comedy of…

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