REVIEW: Frozen II [2019]

Do the next right thing. I have to give directors Jennifer Lee (who also wrote the script) and Chris Buck credit for not simply jumping at the chance to follow up a cultural phenomenon for the paycheck. People wondered on opening weekend when a sequel to Frozen would arrive and these two held fast to their mutual decision of waiting until the story drew them back. They even began work on a completely separate project before heeding the call of unfinished business where Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel)…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Allure [A Worthy Companion] [2017]

“You don’t deserve any of it” Capturing the complexity of abuse is tough to accomplish when mainstream audiences clamor for black and white delineations between predator and prey. Some go the horror route for metaphorical terror focusing on the pursuer while others go dramatic for the helplessness of a victim unable to break free. Writer/directors (and photographers) Carlos Sanchez and Jason Sanchez chose to throw out convention, using their feature debut as a vehicle to explain how easy boxes don’t exist for the devastation wrought by abusive relationships built on…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: Into the Forest [2016]

“It reveals character” The farther we advance towards a world of complete convenience, the further we distance ourselves from self-sufficiency. Every new generation loses more skills and know-how of what humanity was capable of for millennia to survive. We choose careers in dance and the arts, leave books collecting dust when the internet is at our fingertips, and take comfort in the assumption we’re only minutes away from acquiring what we need so technology can continue sustaining us into the future. So what happens when the power goes out? What’s…

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REVIEW: The Ides of March [2011]

“My name is Molly” To someone with limited interest and knowledge in politics like me, it seems an intriguing choice for a self-described political liberal who backed Barack Obama on his presidential campaign like George Clooney to tackle the subject matter of Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North. Based in part on the 2004 Democratic primary run of Howard Dean—who Willimon worked for—it depicts an idealistic, platform-driven candidate with an integrity the American public can rally around. With Shepard Fairey influenced posters of his visage, Clooney’s Governor Mike Morris appears to…

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TIFF08 REVIEW: The Wrestler [2008]

“Sacrificial ram” It’s a fascinating thought I had going into Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. I began to worry that a straightforward tale may not be playing to the director’s strengths. The reason being that his masterpiece The Fountain was still in my head and since he didn’t have writing credit here, my trepidation increased. It wasn’t until the end credits that I recalled Requiem For a Dream being an adaptation and his debut π being pretty grounded in reality despite its surrealistic tendencies.…

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TIFF07 REVIEW: Across the Universe [2007]

“Either learn French or die” Julie Taymor’s film Across the Universe has been high up on my most anticipated list for a year now. Taking classic and lesser-known Beatles’ tunes, she has crafted a contemporary musical about a group of young adults at the turning point of life during the start of the Vietnam War. While highly ambitious and oftentimes gorgeous to behold, the film ultimately ends up being a failed attempt at genius. Visually stunning, almost every sequence assaults your eyes with beauty and unique splendor. Unfortunately, Taymor may…

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REVIEW: Down in the Valley [2005]

“I invited Tex to the beach” I’m not quite sure exactly how I felt about Down in the Valley. At many times I thought it was a gorgeous film, shot perfectly, but at others I felt uncomfortable and shocked. We are given a love story between a troubled young man and a high school girl trapped in a family that could self-destruct at any moment. These two have been on a journey to find themselves, and in each other’s kindred spirits finds another to help steer them onto the right…

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REVIEW: Running with Scissors [2006]

“Hug back” The trailers for this adaptation of Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs, Running with Scissors, looked like an offbeat, quirky comedy. I had heard good things about the novel and the cast looked amazing. However, I am very happy I didn’t spend the money to see it in theatres. This film ended up being a sprawling series of uncomfortable events with no real narrative thread to be building towards a satisfying conclusion. If Burroughs himself came up to me and said just half of this film actually happened to him, I…

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