REVIEW: Her Smell [2019]

I see the void of eternity. The public loves a good train wreck when it comes to rockstars. That notion of burning your candle on both ends to create music that lasts forever at the expense of a life snuffed out too soon carries the sort of romanticism you must give pause to in hindsight, though. Because is the art worth it? We aren’t simply talking about the suffering of one tortured soul when there’s everyone who ever loved them too: abused significant others, abandoned children, broken friendships, and helpless…

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REVIEW: 1985 [2018]

“Will you wait for me if you go first?” There’s a lot to like emotionally about Yen Tan‘s 1985 and some things to be desired in execution. It’s a period piece focused upon a conservative Texas family with military man father who sees his differences from his own “tough” Dad as potential weaknesses, a loving housewife mother recently finding the courage to break from her husband’s flawed political and religious zealotry, and two sons carving an identity for themselves despite a volatile environment wholly non-conducive to their wants and desires.…

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FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Better Watch Out [2017]

“U LEAVE U DIE” It’s Christmas and songs of carolers are in the air of a quaint suburban neighborhood populated by houses big enough to list four bedrooms yet safe enough to not need alarms. Perfectly imperfect families live inside them like the pulls-no-punches Deandra (Virginia Madsen) and affably self-deprecating Robert (Patrick Warburton) showing how love can take and sometimes excel with a little argumentatively sarcastic friction. They may drink and swear, but they’d do anything for twelve-going-on-thirteen year old son Luke (Levi Miller)—and he knows it. A sensitive kid…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Burn Your Maps [2017]

“The kid in the strange clothes said he gave birth to two goats” Many films deal with the aftermath of a family death by becoming about how their characters live with the pain—changing them into different people. Some distinctly show them living despite it instead. Rather than depict Connor (Marton Csokas) and Alise (Vera Farmiga) as the death of their baby girl just ten months prior consumes them, Jordan Roberts‘ Burn Your Maps portrays their desire to move on after their transformations are complete. They’re searching for a future they…

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REVIEW: Joy [2015]

“No, I don’t need a prince” There’s a reason you don’t hear “Mangano” throughout David O. Russell‘s supposed biography of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano and it’s because Joy isn’t real. Whether original scribe Annie Mumolo intended this aesthetic—she reportedly fought tooth and nail to retain her credit—or Russell retooled its tone, what could have been an empowering rags-to-riches drama proves a hyper-stylized comic fairy tale instead. So when Joy’s (Jennifer Lawrence) attending a professional business meeting introducing herself to people she hopes will take a chance on her ideas,…

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REVIEW: The Magic of Belle Isle [2012]

“You don’t have to leave this planet to tell a good story” As the years progress and his workload diminishes, director Rob Reiner has chosen to spend his time bringing what he calls “life-affirming material” to the big screen. Despite the surprising success of The Bucket List in 2007, however, such a decision carries smaller budgets, fewer screens, and less exposure while allowing more creative control on work appearing to possess a very personal hold. After the underrated coming-of-age story Flipped proved he had a bit of Princess Bride era…

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REVIEW: Red Riding Hood [2011]

“All sorrows are less with bread” Why, in movies, does a thrown axe/sword/dagger/knife always land squarely in the back of one’s opponent as he’s about to maim? Can’t it comically thud to the ground, short the half revolution necessary to inflict injury, allowing the antagonist to look at the camera with a twinkle in his eye before clawing the heroine’s face off? I know its Hollywood and audiences have preconceptions about good versus evil and all, but realistic physics mixed with plausible probability may help something called authenticity. But what…

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REVIEW: Firewall [2006]

“I’m going to find my dog” It’s almost comforting to know that when trailers for action thrillers are in paint by numbers structure their film counterparts are as well. The Harrison Ford actioner Firewall seemed like a redundant, rehashed plot regurgitated for the umpteenth time and that is exactly what it ended up being, minus any real action. Sure the plot tried to be high-tech, utilizing the firewall protection systems that battle against hackers and computer viruses, taking pace away from the story to show us that Ford really knows…

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REVIEW: The Number 23 [2007]

“I think you know” Director Joel Schumacher can go from great (Tigerland), to very good (Falling Down), to classic nostalgia (The Lost Boys), to utter garbage (Batman & Robin). When I hear that he has directed something new, I usually begin with a cringe before checking out the new trailer. The Number 23, however, started its advertisement with an interesting premise, great cast, and finally the Schumacher stamp of unknowingness. I didn’t care that much, thinking that this could definitely go in the great category and cement a change for…

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