TIFF19 REVIEW: Hearts and Bones [2019]

How many times have you risked your life without asking me first? After witnessing famed Australian war photographer Daniel Fisher (Hugo Weaving) endure a traumatic experience in Iran during the opening of Ben Lawrence‘s Hearts and Bones, the sudden shift to a taxi driver (Andrew Luri‘s Sebastian Ahmed) will seem abrupt. It’s not, however, a coincidence that the latter recognizes the former’s name on the radio since they have a shared history courtesy of a small Sudanese village. Dan was on assignment during a massacre fifteen years ago that claimed…

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REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [2001]

“Keep your nose out of trouble and no trouble will come to you” Published in 1955, The Lord of the Rings would soon prove to be J.R.R. Tolkien‘s masterwork. It took him twelve years to complete, a project that began as a sequel to The Hobbit before morphing into its own adventure steeped in dark mythology as contained by The Silmarillion—a book he had hoped to publish alongside its account of the One Ring’s return from Gollum’s possession in the Misty Mountain and Bilbo Baggins’ pocket in the Shire. The…

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REVIEW: Hacksaw Ridge [2016]

“Come back home to me” It took almost sixty years before Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor, was cajoled from modesty to allow for a cinematic adaptation of his harrowing journey from Virginia to Okinawa’s blood-soaked WWII battlefield. It took another fifteen before the result hit the big screen, sadly ten too late for this hero to watch the sobering yet wholly inspirational look at faith and valor amidst chaos himself. Mel Gibson took the director’s chair after twice turning it down with Robert…

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REVIEW: The Mule [2014]

“Who doesn’t want a veranda, eh?” Directors Tony Mahony and Angus Sampson‘s The Mule is not at all what I expected. The marketing materials draw it up as a B-movie romp, something the involvement of Sampson and Saw co-creator Leigh Whannell (they co-wrote this one together from a story by Jaime Browne) helps corroborate. Besides a couple gross-out moments due to the excremental nature of the plot, however, the film proves differently. It’s instead a rather slowly paced true-life thriller spanning two weeks while the authorities wait on their captive…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Mystery Road [2013]

“How’d he know it was a wild one, Jay?” Originally conjured up by writer/director Ivan Sen in 2006, Mystery Road’s look at a “turncoat” cop working within a largely racist, white profession always had Australian television actor Aaron Pedersen in mind for the lead. Years passed, locales shifted, and the end result is finally hitting theaters as a sort of contemporary western set in the outback home of a returning detective years removed after a stint in the city. Not only an outcast with his peers—each quick to ensure his…

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REVIEW: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [2012]

“Home is now behind you” It’s hard to return to Middle Earth without thinking about Randal Graves from Clerks II and his defense of Star Wars possessing as its cornerstone the fact Peter Jackson‘s film version of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy was all a bunch of people walking. He’s not wrong. What the generalization misses, however, is just how integral the gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand play in creating this fantastical world. We accept the long treks across mountains and through trees because it breathes life into…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: Cloud Atlas [2012]

“Our lives are not our own” In grand fashion comes an epic about freedom and the wrongs of humanity forever marring how we’re seen through the annals of time. Every misstep is repeated; every stand against oppression spawned from the voice of one strong enough to understand equality’s worth over the cowardice of blindly hiding behind religious or societal rhetoric. There will always be some faction of life deemed unworthy, dirty, incomplete—some species, race, invention for us to lord our superiority over. And it isn’t about stepping back to gain…

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REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]

“Star-spangled man with a plan” Not having been someone who read comics as a kid, I am definitely in the dark on the inner-workings of the Marvel universe. Everyone has a cursory knowledge of DC’s greats and I’m not quite sure why that is. Batman and Superman are household names, their powers and origin tales part of pop culture lexicon, so why is it I knew nothing about Stan Lee’s equivalent to man’s favorite Kryptonian? Why do we intrinsically know an alien savior, but not the red-blooded American donning our…

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REVIEW: Transformers: Dark of the Moon [2011]

“You all read ‘Humpty Dumpty’” When Transformers came out in 2007, it was all the rage. Nostalgia, explosions, over-the-top summer blockbuster laughs, and even a smidgeon of heart were thrown into Michael Bay’s ultimate orgasm of action, sex, and metal. It was fun despite its corniness and therefore left a desire for a sequel, one where we knew all the major players and could watch their continuing saga. But 2009 came and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen underwhelmed. I still maintain that if liking one means liking the other because…

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REVIEW: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert [1994]

“Bernice has left her cake out in the rain” Based The road trip comedy is a staple in the cinematic world and I’m sure some would be quick to state how, “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”. However, I’d be surprised if those same people have ever seen anything as uniquely eccentric as Stephan Elliot’s foray in the genre. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a trek across the Australian desert with two drag queens and a transsexual making their way to the sleepy town…

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