REVIEW: Boy Erased [2018]

Almighty Dog. I’ll never understand religion’s ability to shield believers from its inherent contradictions. I’ve seen faith help many in my family through its power for hope, healing, and positivity. But never have they been tested as far as making the choice to reject Catholicism’s rigidity where it pertains to subjects they’re simply happy to excuse with empty parroting from afar. They try and play both sides of issues—sticking to what they believe without “finding the need to prevent someone else from thinking the opposite.” They’re allowed to do this…

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REVIEW: Gringo [2018]

Why’s everyone talking about gorillas all of a sudden? You wouldn’t be wrong to view the trailer for Gringo and think, “I’ve seen this before.” You wouldn’t be wrong to assume it gave away the entire plot either—mild-mannered American is used by his ruthless bosses to perform a dangerous job they refuse to attempt and is kidnapped by a Mexican cartel for his trouble. Will he survive the chaos? Will his bosses save him or extricate themselves from blame? Or will the hapless victim of an increasingly escalating ordeal somehow…

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REVIEW: It Comes at Night [2017]

“Are you sick?” Distill any post-apocalyptic, sickness-infested world inhabited by survivors to its core and you receive an unfiltered glimpse at humanity’s desperation. Strip away the artifice and redundant plotlines, tear down labels in the vein of hero or leader or savior, and make sure “hope” becomes an archaic concept lost to distant memory even if it hasn’t been that long since everything imploded without warning. These arduously unforgiving circumstances box “life” in the present so that the past seems like a dream and the future a luxurious fantasy nobody…

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REVIEW: Loving [2016]

“You need to get you some civil rights” It took one viewing of Nancy Buirski‘s documentary The Loving Story to recruit Jeff Nichols into writing and directing a biopic of Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving’s (Ruth Negga) journey from newlyweds to Supreme Court precedent. But don’t think Loving is a courtroom drama. I’d estimate about ten minutes of its two-hour runtime take place inside a courthouse—fifteen if you count conversations outside its doors. Nichols instead decides to focus on the couple itself by creating a romantic example of a…

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REVIEW: Midnight Special [2016]

“Where do you belong?” Is young Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) the savior of the human race, born to unsuspecting parents inside a cult known as The Ranch in order to bring them salvation? Is he somehow an expert hacker infiltrating the NSA’s foolproof satellite transmissions courtesy of an uncanny technokinetic power no one can explain? Or is he simply a boy, a son, hunted by forces that do not understand him—forces that would scoop him up and use him for their own selfish gains as either a God or a…

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REVIEW: Black Mass [2015]

“If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen” The story of Southie crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) is perfectly suited for a sprawling, character-driven cinematic adaptation because of the corruption level involved. Based on the book by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, Black Mass screenwriters Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth take us through an in-depth look at a local gangster making good on his promise to watch out for South Boston just as he helps ruin it with drugs and murder before ultimately transforming into an…

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REVIEW: The Great Gatsby [2013]

“Once again I was within and without” Visionary filmmaker Baz Luhrmann returns with a big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus The Great Gatsby, filmed in the ostentatious aesthetic that made his jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! such a divisively stunning work. Love him or hate him, no one can deny the man has style or the ego necessary to transform iconic literature and historical eras into contemporary art-infused visual epics that overwhelm our senses. No one does excess better—over-cranked and pulsing to music intentionally subverting the subject matter…

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REVIEW: Zero Dark Thirty [2012]

“Some hummus, tabouli—I don’t know what that is—some figs” I have a very clear recollection of the day Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan because I was having dinner in India when a friend Facebook messaged me from America with the news. With no fanfare or announcement, Hindi reporters on TV were my only point of confirmation before bed. Naively (stupidly) while waiting to leave Jaipur for Ahmedabad as lobby televisions played soaps instead of breaking news the next morning, I allowed a local paper to interview me about…

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REVIEW: Warrior [2011]

“I think I liked you better when you were a drunk” Considering it’s only its third Friday in theatres and already has been demoted to one screening per day should mean Warrior isn’t worth your time. The amount of praise heaped upon it by both critics and fans alike would disagree. A crowd-pleaser looking to earn the same hearts Rocky did over three decades ago—winning the Oscar for Best Picture—Gavin O’Connor‘s return to the sports genre has the appeal to transcend its MMA stigma. Like he did directing Miracle, O’Connor…

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REVIEW: Animal Kingdom [2010]

“Crooks always come undone” The new, critically acclaimed Australian film Animal Kingdom debuted earlier this year at Sundance to rave reviews before it even opened in its native country. Finally, eight months later, the rest of North America is able to check out this brutal crime drama for themselves in select cities too. And they aren’t likely to forget the Cody family after watching the story unfold, seeing young Josh scooped into their criminal activity with no other place to go after his mother overdoses on heroin. A seemingly good…

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