REVIEW: The Addams Family [2019]

The day is becoming most wonderfully disruptive. What exactly the “old country” is in context with the latest iteration of Charles Addams‘ beloved The Addams Family is unknown. Are we to infer Transylvania? Maybe. Does the film itself pretty much just show Gomez (Oscar Isaac) and Morticia (Charlize Theron) driving until they hit a straight-jacketed inmate (Lurch) escaped from an abandoned asylum up on a hill? Yes. Does a patient escaping a building with no occupants seem strange? Sure, but that’s kind of par for the course. Asking questions about…

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REVIEW: The Card Counter [2021]

It’s a weight which can never be removed. William Tell (Oscar Isaac) doesn’t like to be noticed. Not because he’s a Swiss folk hero who proved his marksmanship by shooting an apple off his son’s head, but because his past is full of demons he’d just as soon leave behind during the daylight since the nightmares are coming while he sleeps either way. Card games are currently holding them at bay after an eight-year stint in Leavenworth. The counting systems he learned while in jail have made him practically unbeatable…

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REVIEW: The Letter Room [2021]

I didn’t write him to get letters back. The fact that we’re being asked to sympathize with a man working as a corrections officer on death row isn’t lost on writer/director Elvira Lind. If anything, she wants us to make certain we acknowledge the moral disparity that exists so that we realize Richard (Oscar Isaac) is an exception and perhaps an answer to so much of what’s wrong with our current prison system. What he learns in The Letter Room is what too many in his position refuse to believe:…

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker [2019]

Some things are stronger than blood. The return of Star Wars was always going to include a third trilogy because George Lucas had talked about his Skywalker saga being nine films way back in the 1980s. And since he eventually got chapters one through three on the big screen himself, it was guaranteed that Disney’s plans entailed pumping out chapters seven through nine. So why didn’t they game plan that arc? This isn’t like the Marvel Cinematic Universe where tenuous connections over ten films allow for multiple cooks to be…

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REVIEW: At Eternity’s Gate [2018]

I am my paintings. Vincent Van Gogh is quite the enigmatic figure in the art world as a man whose genius was ahead of its time. His greatest works were painted in the final two years of his life while combatting multiple psychotic breaks and asylum stays. People called his art ugly and dismissed his style as crude, but now he’s revered as a Post-Impressionist who helped expand the possibilities of modern painting in the decades since. He infamously cut off his ear, wrote long letters, and ultimately committed suicide…

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TIFF REVIEW: Life Itself [2018]

Tell them I’m nice. Morbid or not: I love when stationary characters turn to the camera only to be hit by a vehicle coming from offscreen. There’s something that’s just immensely satisfying about watching one step into that sweet spot of quiet, empty space with a hindered view on either side. I brace for impact, disappointed when it doesn’t arrive because the blocking so perfectly sets up tragedy despite the filmmaker’s decision to squander the opportunity. So I of course smiled when the first such collision occurs during Dan Fogelman‘s…

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REVIEW: Annihilation [2018]

Sometimes it’s beautiful. Reflections have been the subject of many fantasies whether it’s Through the Looking-Glass or Poltergeist III. The notion that a double exists in a different world conjures an unavoidable eeriness and the possibility of usurpation wherein fiction could become truth. It’s easy to therefore see the inherent duality as a good versus evil scenario with conqueror and conquered fighting for the opportunity to exist. But what happens when you make your mirror less smooth? What if the prism through which your image has been duplicated refracts rather…

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Last Jedi [2017]

No one is ever really gone. If you ever saw a kids show during the Aughts you’ll be familiar with the educational tactic of repeating a message over and over again throughout an episode before repeating that episode each day of the entire week. This was a huge component of “Blue’s Clues” because it was proven to work. There’s no better way to ingrain a theme than by hammering it in until the viewer can no longer ignore it if he/she tried. But while this is an appropriate technique for…

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REVIEW: X-Men: Apocalypse [2016]

“And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one” At a certain point Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) understands his pupils need more than just help controlling their powers in the X-Men universe. They must also learn to fight. He and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) had no choice but to battle forces of evil in X-Men: First Class and in Days of Future Past the real war was fought in the future with a team of soldiers already formed decades after a thus far unseen origin. Professor X,…

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REVIEW: Mojave [2016]

“I’m into motive-less malignity” I’m not sure what I thought William Monahan‘s Mojave would be, but it definitely wasn’t what followed the tense first fifteen or so minutes spent in the titular desert. We’re thrown into the world he creates to meet a man named Thomas (Garrett Hedlund) speaking philosophically about life and identity via narration as his stern yet lost self leaves a naked woman alone in his bed and ignores the voicemails of who we assume is his family. He’s a mystery—a formidable guy both physically and mentally…

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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens [2015]

“There’s still light inside of him” First thing’s first: there’s probably spoilers in this review. Because let’s face it, anything besides me plainly stating that I loved it is construed as a spoiler to a fandom as intense as that of George Lucas‘ Star Wars saga. Will I go into lineages and deaths? No. Does J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt‘s script seem to care about keeping such things secret in the context of this return adventure? No. But I’ll still leave it for their intuitive and refreshingly blunt…

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