REVIEW: French Exit [2021]

My plan was to die before the money ran out. Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer) married Franklin Prince (Tracy Letts) and they had a son named … Malcolm (Lucas Hedges)? I guess continuing the name gag to make him Frankie or François was a bit “too far” for screenwriter Patrick deWitt (adapted from his novel). I don’t blame him and director Azazel Jacobs for drawing that line, though, considering I didn’t register the similarity until after the fact anyway. It’s just one more straight-faced joke layered atop the rest to either…

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REVIEW: The Father [2021]

I don’t need anyone. The first scene transition in Florian Zeller‘s The Father (adapted from his play “Le Père” with help from Christopher Hampton) is exactly the type of system shock we need to find our footing within an environment that more or less is devoid of ground. We meet Anthony (Anthony Hopkins) soon after he’s forced yet another caretaker from his home. Despite suffering from dementia and prone to the temperamental flare-ups the condition fosters, he staunchly believes he can take care of himself. So his daughter Anne (Olivia…

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REVIEW: Vivarium [2020]

Raise the child and be released We all like to believe that we have some semblance of control over our lives. Do we, though? How much of our identity is dictated by social conditioning? Maybe it’s explicit indoctrination like that taught by religion, politics, and culture as “superior” than others. Or maybe it’s implicit like the subliminal messaging possibilities of art appropriated by marketing. You might say to yourself that you’re too smart for advertising, but what do you do when confronted by four of the same product consisting of…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Castle in the Ground [2019]

I’m not stuck here with you. An addict is an addict whether they’ve become one via doctor’s orders or not. Sometimes the “not” part is even a direct result of those orders. When you’re working with volatile drugs like OxyContin, the line separating too much and not enough is razor-thin with the inclination being to err on the side of numb. We’re talking pain management after all and the more we take, the more tolerance we build to make the cycle worse. And for someone with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, it can…

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FANTASIA19 REVIEW: The Art of Self-Defense [2019]

I want to be what intimidates me. There was definite trepidation upon learning writer/director Riley Stearns‘ follow-up to Faults would be a comedy. That’s not to say his debut wasn’t funny, however. It was. But where its humor arrived from the matter-of-fact nature of the characterizations he utilized to turn his tale of cult deprogramming upside down, it remained a darkly suspenseful nightmare flirting with the supernatural in ways that forced our laughter to cease by lending those disquieting moments conviction beyond their inherent absurdity. I therefore worried billing The…

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BIFF18 REVIEW: Age Out [Friday’s Child] [2019]

I don’t hurt people. The only thing worse than never getting your happy ending is having it within grasp and realizing you cannot accept it. To see salvation and turn around knowing it would be a lie is the type of heartbreaking choice we often have to make in order to keep on going. It’s the decision that separates man from monster: an admission of remorse, guilt, and regret. Our actions cause ripples that affect countless others we haven’t met yet or never will and while that truth allows some…

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REVIEW: I Kill Giants [2018]

We’re stronger than we think. While the main creative force behind I Kill Giants is unquestionably screenwriter Joe Kelly (whose limited comic series of the same name alongside artist J.M. Ken Niimura is the basis for his script), director Anders Walter‘s Oscar-winning short Helium shows he’s hardly a stranger to its subject matter. These two found success through the delicately complex experience had when a child confronts his/her as yet abstract conception of death wherein the infinite expanse of one’s imagination can manifest a path towards understanding. Few people find…

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REVIEW: Green Room [2016]

“The energy doesn’t last” It’s official: Jeremy Saulnier‘s Blue Ruin was no fluke. That pulse-pounding thriller wowed audiences a couple years ago with good reason and his follow-up Green Room only advances that success further. It’s as though he looked upon the climax of his 2014 gem and wondered what it’d be like to mold that powder keg of suspense into a full-length feature. His latest puts his players in their predicament very early and watches as the victims try to escape and predators enter. The numbers are about even…

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REVIEW: Knight of Cups [2016]

“You’re still the love of my life. Should I tell you that?” The evolution of Terrence Malick is a fascinating one. From regular narrative structure to voiceover-driven epics to visual poems, his style has been stripped down to beautiful imagery and pithily obtuse dialogue sending us on journeys as much about ourselves as they are about the characters onscreen. Many believed his last film To the Wonder was a sign of decline—hours of improvised footage cobbled together during post-production into something wholly different than how it began—but I still held…

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Posterized Propaganda March 2014: ‘Noah’, ‘Nymphomaniac,’ ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ ‘Enemy’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Has summer started early? Big blockbusters like Divergent, Noah, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Need for Speed are releasing in March—I guess they must therefore be the studios’ lesser…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: Jimi: All Is by My Side [All Is by My Side] [2014]

“The rest is just painted with a little science fiction” On paper a biopic of Jimi Hendrix without the rights to his music seems like a complete waste of time. Even with John Ridley‘s All Is by My Side detailing the guitarist’s two years prior to the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, the thought of not using an iconic track for the credits is a daunting one to overcome. Thankfully, with a bit of ingenious sound design and multiple sensory collages of images and music, we’re able to experience the…

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