REVIEW: Pete’s Dragon [2016]

“Just because you don’t see anything doesn’t mean it’s not there” You have to give Disney credit for accomplishing the unthinkable this year by releasing remakes of archaic properties to rapturous fanfare. The Jungle Book began this refurbishment movement with the studio’s Iron Man steward Jon Favreau taking the helm of what proved a fantastically realized world made almost entirely of pixels bolstered by a story with the type of stakes the original forgot in lieu of sing-a-long frivolity. And now the trend continues with Pete’s Dragon and director David…

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REVIEW: Knight of Cups [2016]

“You’re still the love of my life. Should I tell you that?” The evolution of Terrence Malick is a fascinating one. From regular narrative structure to voiceover-driven epics to visual poems, his style has been stripped down to beautiful imagery and pithily obtuse dialogue sending us on journeys as much about ourselves as they are about the characters onscreen. Many believed his last film To the Wonder was a sign of decline—hours of improvised footage cobbled together during post-production into something wholly different than how it began—but I still held…

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REVIEW: The Better Angels [2014]

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother” It only takes one look at a tree canopy from below in gorgeous black and white photography to know writer/director A.J. Edwards is a student of Terrence Malick. He’s actually been the auteur’s editor since To the Wonder after holding positions as editorial intern and key artistic consultant on The New World and The Tree of Life respectively. It’s hardly surprising Edwards’ own style would therefore mimic Malick’s poetic visuals and penchant for voiceover subtly inferring…

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Welcome to Me [2015]

“And only five carbohydrants” There’s a great reference in Welcome to Me about Cindy Sherman that many may gloss over. Director Shira Piven and screenwriter Eliot Laurence made mention to Network and The Truman Show during their Q&A after my TIFF screening, but I don’t think such comparisons hold a candle to Sherman’s photography challenging audiences with staged depictions of women in society and the media. In them the artist made herself up to be the subject rather than a model or community figure aligned with her concept. The film’s…

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REVIEW: The Time Being [2013]

“Artists don’t have families” The life of an artist is often pigeonholed into some lofty, depression-laden existence built upon selfish ambitions and creative genius leaving no room for anything else. One could argue the great works possess such high emotive worth and resonant beauty because their creators poured every ounce of their heart and soul into them with nothing to spare on a life with which to love or be loved. Well-known masters were penniless and poor—starving artists who could have used the financial wealth bestowed upon their estates in…

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REVIEW: The Hunger Games [2012]

“Thank you for your consideration” Underdogs thrive on the ability to retain hope in a world forever shoving them into a corner without the reality of upward mobility or a true chance at overall social change. When they start to believe their numbers can actually overcome that adversity, however, the ruling class must take notice and ready for a fight they may not win. Rebellion will forever be a threat whether one has been squashed in the past or not since you can only kick the underprivileged masses down so…

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REVIEW: Plastic Bag [2009]

“My cold, her warmth” It is impossible to watch Ramin Bahrani’s film Plastic Bag without thinking about the scene in American Beauty of Wes Bentley videotaping a lone bag as it flew through the air and swirled with the wind. That moment of beauty could be seen as every human being’s goal—to be absolutely free of burden and earthly concerns; to just move and journey unencumbered. What Bahrani does in his short film, however, is to add a narrative to the life of that bag, giving him his birth into…

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