REVIEW: Jungleland [2020]

We don’t have a front door. Director Max Winkler (who co-wrote with Theodore Bressman and David Branson Smith) opens his latest film Jungleland with a great reveal. We meet Stanley (Charlie Hunnam) as he wakes his younger brother Lion (Jack O’Connell) up, staring out the window with a huge grin on his face. He’s talking about the future and how it’s paved with gold. California is in sights, boxing stardom is in reach, and all they have to do is win this fight. So Lion gets out of bed, does…

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REVIEW: Da 5 Bloods [2020]

The American War is over. Decades after surviving a harrowing experience during the Vietnam War while tasked to reacquire a chest of gold bars from a downed plane in Viet Cong territory, Otis (Clarke Peters), Paul (Delroy Lindo), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), and Eddie (Norm Lewis) have returned to the South China Sea with unfinished business. It was their squad commander “Stormin’” Norman (Chadwick Boseman) who decided to bury the gold so that they could retrieve it once the fighting stopped. He was educated in the teachings of Martin Luther…

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REVIEW: The Last Black Man in San Francisco [2019]

You don’t get to hate it unless you love it. One of the casualties of gentrification in San Francisco over the past half century was the Victorian home that Jimmie Fails’ (Jimmie Fails) grandfather built in the Fillmore District circa 1946. He feels its effect every single day too—enough that he and best friend Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors) take the bus to visit it when they know the new owners will be out. While Mont sits across the street to sketch its exterior, Jimmie walks through the gate to touch-up…

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TIFF REVIEW: Out of Blue [2019]

You can tell a lot by looking. It’s comforting to discover that the Martin Amis novel Carol Morley‘s Out of Blue adapts is considered a “comedic parody” because I couldn’t wrap my head around the blatant noir affectation she had her stellar cast provide. If Night Train was actually meant as a serious detective story, I’d almost have to agree with the hyperbolic response of one audience member upon leaving: “That was The Room level of awful.” I found the remark too harsh at the time and more so now,…

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TIFF REVIEW: White Boy Rick [2018]

We’re goddamn lions. The pitch is as follows: Ricky Wershe Jr. (newcomer Richie Merritt) was a street hustler, drug kingpin, and FBI informant by the age of seventeen. If that doesn’t hook you, the added bonus of it all being real should. Welcome to White Boy Rick, a look at the American Dream that cuts through the bullshit to show what the term truly means outside of false promises. Ricky isn’t some hotshot who worked through the ranks and got too close to the sun. The order of those labels…

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REVIEW: Hostiles [2017]

You’re no angel your own self. The fact that America’s past isn’t without its horrific nightmares of misguided violence and oppression shouldn’t be lost on anyone, especially not with everything that’s going on here today. Our history runs red with the blood of men, women, and children who fought to survive against a force that thought themselves superior because of the color of their skin. White Europeans staked claim upon their arrival, killing the Native Americans with gunfire, alcohol, and disease before chasing them off west. They brought slave ships…

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