REVIEW: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs [2018]

Well don’t let my white duds and pleasant demeanor fool ya. You know the whole enterprise will be a bit cheeky just by directors’ Joel and Ethan Coen‘s statement of intent. While explaining that their love for anthology movies stems from the format’s ability to unite multiple directors with a common theme, they admit their hopes of doing the same with a sextet of Western tales written and adapted over the years. Instead of lamenting the fact they couldn’t make it happen before deciding to direct everything themselves, the duo…

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REVIEW: The Old Man and the Gun [2018]

I know what I’m doing. Finding an occupation you love is rare when familial and financial responsibilities often dictate a path towards compromise. It’s therefore hard to let one go. Just ask Forrest Tucker, a career criminal in and out of prison since age fifteen whose life consisted of planning his next bank robbery or jailbreak depending on his mailing address at the time. The guy broke out of San Quentin at the age of 70 and then went right back at it for the sheer joy of the act…

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REVIEW: What Jack Built [2015]

It’s difficult not to think about Tom Waits‘ song “What’s He Building?” from Mule Variations while watching Matthew Mahler‘s (co-written with Ross Mahler) What Jack Built. This is both a compliment to the tone set by Timothy J. Cox‘s performance as Jack and the tension created by the filmmaker slowly revealing hidden details as the character moves from basement/garage workspace to the woods outside. But it’s also a big reason for why I feel the film doesn’t quite succeed. I try not to let budgetary constraints factor into my experience…

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TIFF11 REVIEW: Twixt [2012]

“Keeping track of time around here is pointless” After a stellar career directing some of cinema’s greats—The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation—you can’t blame Francis Ford Coppola for deciding to film smaller passion projects in his twilight. After the self-financed Tetro and Youth Without Youth, he returns with a story from an unusual origin. With an alcohol-induced dream in Istanbul, a vivid conversation with Edgar Allen Poe while a murder mystery happens as a backdrop, the impetus behind Twixt was born. Awoken before its end, Coppola scribbled down what he…

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REVIEW: The Book of Eli [2010]

“Stay on the path; it’s not your concern” Sometimes promotional material lets on to the truth. By watching the trailers for The Book of Eli, I became excited to see the film due to its stripped color palette, post-apocalyptic environment, and Denzel Washington’s insane fighting skills. For some reason, though, all those posters saying “Deliver Us” and the fact of it all centering on a book that’s more important than anything else left on earth—a weapon even—eluded me in realizing just how large religion would loom over everything. The Hughes…

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REVIEW: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [2009]

“Can you put a price on your dreams?” Director Terry Gilliam is one of the few people working in the industry today whose work I will go to no matter what I’ve heard telling me I shouldn’t. I’m not saying this because press for his new The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was lackluster; in fact, the acclaim on this one is glowing in comparison to his last two. It’s that a visionary such as Gilliam faces a lot of problems when looking towards a new project. Between financing, making the…

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REVIEW: Wristcutters: A Love Story [2007]

“The dog has spoken” Goran Dukic’s Wristcutters: A Love Story is indie cinema to the core. With a plot concerning life in purgatory—an adequate punishment being that it is life as usual, but a little worse—and a band of suicides (or off’d people) trying to find love, answers, and a way out, this film laughs at the mainstream and succeeds as a result. Everyone involved is a kooky, crazy character with little screentime yet large meaning. Zia just could not take it anymore and decides to end it all by…

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