TIFF21 REVIEW: Charlotte [2021]

The sad ones always feel more true. Similar to co-director Tahir Rana before tackling the project, I too had never heard of Charlotte Salomon before sitting down to watch it. This fact seems weird considering many hold her posthumous masterpiece Life? or Theater?: A Song-play as the first graphic novel. A pedigree like that shouldn’t be swept under the rug—especially not when you delve into her work’s content and begin understanding all she endured as a German Jew during World War II. You would think her name would be held…

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REVIEW: King of Thieves [2018]

Stop talking shop. She’ll turn in her grave. It’s not about the robbery. King of Thieves wouldn’t be worth telling if it was just watching these senior actors ranging sixty-years old to eighty-five fictitiously accomplish the “biggest jewel heist in British history” since there obviously won’t be any foot-chases or complex wire-suspended acrobatics. No, the reason this tale (adapted by Joe Penhall from a Vanity Fair article by Mark Seal) proves interesting is due to the characters they portray. How do diabetes, incontinence, and hearing loss affect their chances of…

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REVIEW: Paddington 2 [2017]

Where all your dreams come true. In true children’s book fashion, Paddington’s (Ben Whishaw) continuing adventures in London alongside the Brown family (Hugh Bonneville‘s Henry, Sally Hawkins‘ Mary, Madeleine Harris‘ Judy, Samuel Joslin‘s Jonathan, and Julie Walters‘ Mrs. Bird) would of course stem from something as seemingly innocuous as procuring a birthday present for his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). The activity will prove more difficult than anticipated, a villain will be introduced, and a mystery uncovered through an enjoyable series of pratfalls and error. This is exactly the stuff that…

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REVIEW: Paddington [2014]

Does anyone know where I can find a home? I remember reading Michael Bond‘s Paddington Bear books when I was a kid and might have even had a duffle coat-wearing stuffed animal too. But I couldn’t tell you a thing about those stories if you put a gun to my head and asked. I recall a little more about The Berenstain Bears and a bit more than that about Teddy Ruxpin—apparently bears just didn’t leave a huge impression upon me. Even so, however, I worried about a live action film…

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REVIEW: Brooklyn [2015]

“I’m not sure I have a home anymore” I believe a very crucial distinction should be made before going into director John Crowley and writer Nick Hornby‘s adaptation of Colm Tóibín‘s Brooklyn for those unfamiliar with the book. When I watched the trailer it appeared very much like an Oscar-bait romance with a firecracker love triangle between young Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) and two men in Tony Fiorello (Emory Cohen) and Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson). To a certain extent it is, but don’t get fooled into expecting swooning melodrama to…

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INTERVIEW: Jalmari Helander, writer/director of Big Game

After finding success from his debut feature Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale—an expansion of a world he created through two previous shorts all released together by Oscilloscope—Finnish writer/director Jalmari Helander did what many European filmmakers do and went English-language for his sophomore effort. But he did so on his terms by once again writing his own script and recruiting familiar faces to act against the newly accessible stable of international stars provided to him. The result is action romp Big Game and it has the potential of turning even more…

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REVIEW: Big Game [2015]

“Life is just too damn short not to have a cookie when you want one” Despite being rated PG-13 in America, Jalmari Helander‘s Big Game should target audiences between 10-15 like Dan Smith’s Young Adult novelization of the film. Being a Finnish production—the most expensive in the country’s history—probably means it did just that abroad. Unfortunately Americans cringe at the sound of curse words reaching their children’s ears, forgetting how readily accessible they are at home on TV and otherwise depending on whether parents or siblings aren’t careful. The inclusion…

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REVIEW: The Phone Call [2013]

“Can I help at all?” It’s nice to see an artist who’s unafraid to play with tragedy and find a way to make it transform into a bittersweet glimmer of hope. There’s a fine line in doing so, one that can easily consume the goal into a trite abyss trying too hard to stay afloat within the melodrama. I can see Mat Kirkby and James Lucas‘ The Phone Call proving just as unsuccessful to some as it was touching to me. I wouldn’t say it’s a resounding triumph considering its…

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REVIEW: Le Week-End [2013]

“That’s the nicest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth” Children are our legacy—our immortality. We sacrifice everything to raise them in our image, hoping for the best until they’re set free as fully formed adults ready to continue the cycle. And through our rosy-colored glasses of optimism we assume the journey ends happily in a successful second act for them and a well-earned third unencumbered by anything but love and adventure for us. Sadly, however, such broad ideas often prove little more than fantasy as decades spent in the…

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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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REVIEW: Brazil [1985]

“Care for a little necrophilia?” Although Terry Gilliam had already established the highly imaginative filmic style we now associate him with above his Monty Python animations, no one could have imagined the scale of what would become his unequivocal masterpiece, Brazil. There were shades of its escapism in Time Bandits and its bureaucratic satire in short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance, but nothing as grandiose as Sam Lowry’s (Jonathan Pryce) fantastical dreamscape juxtaposed against his Orwellian, nightmarish reality. In fact, Gilliam even sought to title the film 1984 1/2 before…

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