TIFF22 REVIEW: Chevalier [2022]

Choice comes from within. The Toronto International Film Festival wasn’t kidding when they said they were welcoming director Stephen Williams back after pivoting into prestige television. It’s been twenty-seven years since his theatrical debut Soul Survivor with a laundry list of all your favorite shows in the meantime. It just goes to prove that sometimes it’s all about the right project bringing you back into the fold. And it seems a script by rising star Stefani Robinson (coming from FX shows such as “Atlanta” and “What We Do in the…

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REVIEW: Elvis [2022]

He was a taste of forbidden fruit. There’s a lot to talk about when dealing with Elvis Presley. Too much for one film to do him justice. That’s why Baz Luhrmann (who writes with Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, and Jeremy Doner) decides to tell someone else’s story instead: that of Colonel Tom Parker, the self-proclaimed “Snowman” who discovered the King and helped make him an American icon. Unfortunately, he also probably played the biggest role in killing him thanks to the pills and injections necessary to keep Elvis on-stage and…

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REVIEW: Cyrano [2021]

My fate is to love her from afar. We were about three songs into Joe Wright‘s Cyrano when my partner and I looked at each other and said, almost in unison, “These songs are pretty bad.” I don’t need rhymes (and especially not ones as rudimentary as “know” and “go” and “Cyrano” back-to-back-to-back), but I’d love some sort of dynamism to make me believe there was a reason someone wanted to turn Edmond Rostand‘s “Cyrano de Bergerac” into a musical. What about the material screamed song? What kind of exciting…

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REVIEW: Waves [2019]

All we have is now. Ronald Williams (Sterling K. Brown) tells his son Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) what so many parents do: “You don’t know how lucky you are.” What are those words besides a pat on the adult’s back for providing a decent life for their child, though? To me they’re often a source of resentment on behalf of the son or daughter receiving them because they’re very much a deflection wherein the parent places blame for whatever is wrong on the kid’s shoulders. Rather than have a conversation…

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REVIEW: Luce [2019]

I can’t be perfect. So much of who we are and what we become relies on perception. Race, gender, religion, sexuality, language, culture, education, and socio-economic standing all play a role because we’re perceived by those like us and those not. We therefore exist in a tenuous bubble of expectations wherein normalcy is a razor-thin line between sainthood and monstrousness. One side waits to anoint us while patting itself on the back for assisting our ascent upwards to meet our potential. The other patiently bides its time until we’re revealed…

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REVIEW: JT LeRoy [2019]

I wouldn’t even exist without her. It really is a wild story. Laura Albert, in need of expressing her pain outside of her own identity, creates a fictional version of herself to write three novels as exorcism under “his” name. Who knows if she anticipated the type of acclaim they and “he” would receive, but Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy necessitated her performing multiple characters out of her San Francisco apartment with fake accents to speak with journalists, fans, and artists over the phone in order to keep the charade alive. Only…

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REVIEW: Jinn [2018]

I don’t know what it means to be a believer. Religion is sacrifice. I don’t think there’s another way to truly describe what it means to give yourself to faith so completely that you’ll allow it to control your life. It’s always fascinated me that so many ascribe to a God in this way. Whether it’s tithing, hijabs, prayer, diet, etc., worshippers grab hold of the comfort and community religion provides and willingly change (or ensure not to change depending on when their faith was chosen) to earn its sense…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: Monsters and Men [2018]

Six dudes for one guy. The conversation surrounding Black Lives Matter is (and should be) about the victims of police violence who’ve yet to see any killers in blue face real consequences. It’s not about saying their lives matter more than anyone else, but that they matter at all. Because if you look at the headlines it’s easy to wonder if people think they do—especially the police. Just like nursery rhymes in classrooms have begun teaching youngsters how to stay safe during school shootings, many parents of POC children are…

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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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