TIFF20 REVIEW: Pieces of a Woman [2020]

There will be consequences. Every bit of promotional material I’ve read about director Kornél Mundruczó and writer Kata Wéber‘s Pieces of a Woman (kudos to their shared “a film by” credit) has billed the work as a look into the emotional grieving process of a woman who just lost her newborn child. Even the title highlights her experience above all others because she’s the one who gave birth. She’s the one who everyone is turning to for his/her own cues as to how to act. She’s the one whose body…

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REVIEW: The Tax Collector [2020]

Family is sacred. I often wonder how writer/director David Ayer‘s films will hold up considering so many of them deal with race relations on the streets and dirty cops. I have to believe Fury (my favorite of his) will stand up best, but what about Harsh Times? What about End of Watch? What about the script that vaulted him up the Hollywood depth chart, Training Day? I’m afraid to find out since I loved each one of them upon their release. I therefore hoped The Tax Collector would help me…

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REVIEW: The Peanut Butter Falcon [2019]

Two bandits on the run. Neither Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) nor Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is where he wants to be—each haunted by memories of their loss. The former suffers from demons of his own making after his brother Mark’s (Jon Bernthal) death while the latter contends with his family abandoning him into the guardianship of a state ill-equipped to care. They’re trapped in ways that only render an escape possible through criminal means. Tyler’s arson gives him an excuse to run by ensuring Duncan (John Hawkes) and Ratboy’s (Yelawolf) desperate fishermen…

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REVIEW: Honey Boy [2019]

Why am I here? The bane of childhood stardom is that nothing you do will ever be a secret again. Your success will be written in black and white in the trades. Personal relationships will be speculated upon in the tabloids. And mistakes—large or small—will trend like wildfire on the internet until they become the prevalent way by which you will be defined. Shia LaBeouf experienced every last bit of this with a keen, if imperfect, vantage point allowing him to use it to his advantage through performance art pieces…

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TIFF17 REVIEW: Borg/McEnroe [2017]

“Who am I? The gentleman or the rebel?” Juan Martin del Potro just ruined the match-up everyone wanted to see at the 2017 US Open—a semi-final pitting Rafa Nadal against Roger Federer. Despite both being in their thirties, their rivalry has never stopped. What’s intriguing, however, is how amiable it has always been (or seemed to be). With the quieter Pete Sampras and emotional Andre Agassi a generation earlier, the same was true despite their differing personalities and server versus returner billing. You could call the former a product of…

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REVIEW: American Honey [2016]

“What about you? What’s your dream?” Welcome to our disenfranchised youth. That’s exactly what Andrea Arnold puts front and center with her latest film American Honey: miscreants getting high, road tripping, and lying their way to a few bucks meant to continue the nomadic journey’s unending party. Led by outside-the-box entrepreneur Krystal (Riley Keough), this ragtag bunch of urchins scooped from the side of the road go door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions—or as her number one seller Jake (Shia LaBeouf) says, “… themselves.” We don’t know if their customers will ever…

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REVIEW: Nymphomaniac: Vol. II [2014]

“I’m a virgin. I’m innocent.” I had heard there was a drop off in quality with Nymphomaniac: Vol. II compared to the first half, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how far. A much crueler portion of the tale, the second part of Lars von Trier‘s sex epic is also more outlandish as new characters are introduced with cartoonish demeanors and old ones proven to seemingly evolve against everything we had already learned about them for no reason other than the filmmaker’s attempt to sensationalize. What makes this so unfortunate…

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REVIEW: Nymphomaniac: Vol. I [2014]

“Mea Vulva. Mea Maxima Vulva.” I don’t intend it to be a smirk at those who think otherwise, but Lars von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac: Vol. I is much tamer than I expected. I’m not sure why I thought it would simply be gratuitous sex from start to finish—I guess I let the hype surrounding it taint what I knew and loved about the auteur’s work. There is sex, don’t get me wrong, enough even to be considered straight porn if it were 90-minutes in length. But this installment is almost twice…

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REVIEW: Fury [2014]

“Are you saved?” I can relate when people look at David Ayer‘s Fury and shake their heads saying, “We get it. War is brutal.” I can because I remember sitting down to watch The Reader in 2008 only to think how completely over Holocaust movies I was that year. I believe I saw four or five—each good, relevant, and powerful on its own terms if not overwhelming when put together. That’s kind of the point, though, isn’t it? At the end of the day the truth of the matter is…

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Posterized Propaganda October 2014: ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘Whiplash,’ and 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. Say goodbye to summer. Tent pole season is over and the critical darlings have begun to pop up on the Fandango queue. October is still a weird month, however, since…

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REVIEW: Constantine [2005]

“You still trying to buy your way into Heaven” At the height of the first new wave of comic book adaptations, Warner Bros. delved a little deeper into the literary medium’s annals for something dark like New Line’s Blade. It was three years before Iron Man ushered in cinematic universes and a year after Spider-Man 2 and X2 provided a one-two punch of the genre’s potential. Batman Begins was always going to be the studio’s 2005 crown jewel, but you could call Constantine a precursor to its pitch-black, cynical atmosphere…

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