REVIEW: The Souvenir [2019]

Very much in love. Love is a powerful drug. There’s the unadulterated high when things are going good and the debilitating anguish upon suffering withdrawal. We chase the former and fall into bad habits to avoid the latter—sacrificing everything we want to achieve for ourselves in order to sustain a union we cannot fathom being without. So even though Anthony (Tom Burke) is the only one shooting heroin, he’s not the only addict drawn by The Souvenir‘s writer/director Joanna Hogg. As he constantly asks Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) for money…

Read More

TIFF19 REVIEW: The Personal History of David Copperfield [2020]

Digs for joy, that boy. Finds it too. David Copperfield (Dev Patel) has a story to tell. It begins with his cute, precocious little self (Jairaj Varsani) making Mom laugh and nanny Mrs. Peggotty (Daisy May Cooper) laugh even harder. He’s a headstrong boy with dreams of joy thanks to the overflowing love shown to him by everyone but his aunt (Tilda Swinton‘s Betsey Trotwood) … for now. Like most widowed women of thirty with an estate in the Victorian Era, however, remarrying is a foregone conclusion for Ms. Copperfield.…

Read More

REVIEW: Suspiria [2018]

Of what do you ask? I’m no big fan of Dario Argento‘s Suspiria. It’s a gorgeous film overflowing with mood and aesthetic that ultimately becomes the poster child for style over substance before gradually revealing more to offer upon subsequent viewings. In the end, however, it still doesn’t add up to much besides its place as a prototypical entry in the horror genre that’s inspired countless works in the four decades since release. So I got excited when a remake was announced. If ever a “classic” movie deserved a new…

Read More

REVIEW: Okja [2017]

Very healthy! I’m far from a vegetarian or a pet/animal lover, but I get the reasons why people would be both. And no matter how much I enjoy eating red meat, even I would have to draw the line when confronted with a “Meet your meat” type scenario. What purpose is drawn from such a stunt? Do you know what’s a good pig/cow/chicken from a bad one? Do you even get to choose or are you merely gazing upon the one selected for you? It’s one thing to eat another…

Read More

REVIEW: The Last of England [1987]

“There are more walls in England than Berlin, Johnny” While the short poem Ford Madox Brown wrote to accompany his painting The Last of England has a hopeful lilt (“…She grips his listless hand and clasps her child, Through rainbow tears she sees a sunnier gleam, She cannot see a void where he will be.”), the film Derek Jarman has created with the same name does not. Where the painting shows a couple leaving their country for greener pastures, the film depicts that country having left its people. It starts…

Read More

REVIEW: War Requiem [1989]

“I knew we stood in Hell” English composer Benjamin Britten was commissioned to mark the consecration of the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral in 1962 (after the original was destroyed during World War II). The result is his War Requiem, a work juxtaposing the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead with poetry written by World War I casualty Wilfred Owen. Killed in action in 1918, Owen has become revered as a war poet of note whose work touches upon the horrors experienced in the trenches. He delivered stories of nightmare and death,…

Read More

REVIEW: Doctor Strange [2016]

“It’s not about you” People love to complain about superhero origin story trappings and they’re correct. The need to introduce new characters in their own standalone piece forces writers and directors to focus on certain check stops as far as normal life, transformation, and the embracing of one’s power to find the courage to selflessly fight evil. But just because these things are obvious doesn’t mean they have to be boring or that they have to diminish the final product. Many Marvel Universe fans still laud Iron Man as this…

Read More

REVIEW: A Bigger Splash [2015]

“Try not to frighten the horses” More than loosely based upon Alain Page‘s 1969 French script La Piscine, Luca Guadagnino finally follows up his magnificent I Am Love with A Bigger Splash, his first narrative fiction since. It tells the story of a rockstar legend (Tilda Swinton‘s Marianne Lane channeling Ziggy Stardust) and her long-term documentarian boyfriend (Matthias Schoenaerts‘ Paul De Smedt) as they vacation on a secluded Italian island for much needed recovery—she post-vocal surgery and he not so far removed from a violent suicide attempt spurred by alcoholism.…

Read More

REVIEW: Trainwreck [2015]

“Monogamy isn’t realistic” Here I thought I could blame the editor for why Judd Apatow‘s films have been lackluster and overlong since The 40-Year-Old Virgin only to discover his latest Trainwreck is the first of his theatrical quintet not in part handled by Brent White. Instead we have William Kerr, Peck Prior, and Paul Zucker: three people who either failed to explain that a scene shouldn’t remain in the final cut just because it’s funny or three people who ultimately were ignored and/or sequentially replaced by one another. Don’t get…

Read More

REVIEW: The Zero Theorem [2014]

“Making sense of the good things in life” If the end were empty—as was the beginning—wouldn’t life be meaning in itself? Why do we constantly ask the question and seek its answer if so many believe our present existence is merely a stepping-stone towards eternity? If that’s truly the case one could label life as a vicious joke—a test in futility God has set forth to ensure we endure the pain and suffering he promises to extinguish at the opening of his pearly gates. This is why suicide is unforgivable…

Read More

REVIEW: 설국열차 [Snowpiercer] [2013]

“Is it time?” When talk surrounding the US release of Kar Wai Wong‘s The Grandmaster erupted in controversy about a truncated cut from the Weinsteins, cinephiles across the nation couldn’t help but let depression set in. Even so, no one could have been surprised by the decision because Harvey Scissorhands likes to streamline story for action whenever he can to trick American audiences into seeing a foreign film they wouldn’t otherwise care about. So when the same rumors started swirling around Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer, you had to fear for the…

Read More