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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REVIEW: Doctor Sleep [2019]

We don’t end. I’m not going to lie: seeing Stephen King endorse Mike Flanagan‘s cinematic adaptation of his novel Doctor Sleep worried me. After being so vehemently vocal against Stanley Kubrick‘s changes to The Shining, the film version of the sequel would seemingly need to be religiously faithful to the text for him to laud it. The only way that happens is for it to conversely diverge from Kubrick’s masterpiece instead, rendering a middle ground between them impossible. Either Flanagan wrote and directed a continuation of the movie (hedge maze,…

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REVIEW: T2 Trainspotting [2017]

“Friends is just another class of victim” Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) “chose life” twenty years ago—or what he believed was the best chance at having one at the time. This on-again/off-again heroin junkie had just stolen the sixteen thousand pounds he and three friends (Jonny Lee Miller‘s Simon, Ewen Bremner‘s Spud, and Robert Carlyle‘s Begbie) made in a drug deal somehow gone right. His justification: one of the others would do the same he if didn’t first. Unfortunately for Mark, however, that money only got him a reprieve from the…

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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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REVIEW: Trainspotting [1996]

“Choose rotting away at the end of it all” There’s an undeniable energy to Danny Boyle‘s Trainspotting, a rush of excitement set to a pulse-pounding rock soundtrack that almost seems the antithesis of what it’s like to fall down into a heroin-fueled dreamy stupor. Even as the characters from Irvine Welsh‘s infamous novel stick themselves with a needle and sink into the floor, Boyle keeps the pedal depressed beyond capacity with inventive visuals and breakneck speed narration. But as you get into the film and move forward with the sometimes…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: American Pastoral [2016]

“You told her to bring the war home” If my limited experience with Philip Roth adaptations is any indication, his novels deal in emotion. There are existential crises concerning identity involved, each a character study about life’s impact beyond the surface experiences propelling them forward. This isn’t something easily translated from page to screen when so much consists of internalized motivation. You must really look into the text, ignoring plot to find the core reactionary cause for everything occurring. If a daughter’s disappearance indelibly changes every second of her parents’…

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REVIEW: Our Kind of Traitor [2016]

“What am I doing here?” We received two John le Carré adaptations this year, each delivering high production value, effective performances, and somewhat weak plotting. Susanne Bier‘s The Night Manager provides a “hero” between worlds—not a bona fide spy as in A Most Wanted Man or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, not a regular man at his rope’s end willing to do whatever’s necessary a la The Constant Gardener. Surface appearances presume to be the latter except for the fact he has military training and a penchant for killing despite a…

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REVIEW: The Pillow Book [1996]

“Itch to read. Scratch to understand.” There aren’t many auteurs quite as inventively unique as Peter Greenaway and his “inspired by” adaptation of Sei Shonagon‘s The Pillow Book is a perfect example of why. Sexual explicitness and ink on flesh fetish aside, the sheer formal construction of the film puts it on a level all its own. Greenaway goes from black and white pasts to vibrantly colored presents, but as a demarcation of his lead character Nagiko’s (Vivian Wu) personal and emotional timeline rather than a generic linear one. He…

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REVIEW: Velvet Goldmine [1998]

“It’s funny how beautiful people look when they’re walking out the door” What if Citizen Kane wasn’t about Charlie’s Foster Kane but instead the interviewer tasked with speaking to those in Kane’s life, mining for the meaning of “Rosebud”? This is sort of where director Todd Haynes (co-written with James Lyons) begins his fictional account of Brit glam rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Velvet Goldmine deals with this enigma of a star and his tumultuous life before fading completely out of the public consciousness following a misguided stunt. (Or…

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REVIEW: Stay [2005]

“Your troubles will cease and fortune will smile upon you” **POTENTIAL SPOILERS** I remember my head spinning about Stay after leaving the theatre. Not because David Benioff‘s script or Marc Forster‘s direction proved nuanced enough to shield the “reality” of what’s going on for any authentic surprise, but due to its visceral impact. The Guess Who‘s “These Eyes” cannot play without my recalling the experience of grinding metal and dizzying light accompanying its melody. I bought the DVD the day it released and scoured the extra features to learn about…

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REVIEW: August: Osage County [2013]

“I’ll be sickly sweet” I’m drawn to dysfunction—especially when it’s of the familial persuasion. It’s probably because I didn’t really get exposed to much as a kid growing up with a family most would give anything to have. When you see the looks others who know dysfunction’s definition like the back of their hands telling you that what you believed was an example from your past is laughably quaint to say the least, experiencing a bit of that fiery vitriol at the movies can be invigorating. And when you have…

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