REVIEW: Midsommar [2019]

No higher and no hotter. It must have been one helluva break-up since no run-of-the-mill, mutual uncoupling could inspire someone to pull a complete reversal like writer/director Ari Aster did. He initially turned down an idea that some Swedish producers brought him to bring to life. He didn’t see the purpose in creating some random slasher set in their Scandinavian nation simply because they were offering the money to do so. Aster only circled back when the messiness of his relationship’s demise provided a reason to get some characters there…

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REVIEW: The Little Stranger [2018]

Well you’re forgiven now. Novelist Sarah Waters said her intent with The Little Stranger was never to write a ghost story, but instead speak about the rise of socialism in the United Kingdom and how those of affluent stature just below the nobility dealt with the decline of their legacies in its aftermath. I haven’t read the book myself, but this all rings true as far as Lenny Abrahamson‘s cinematic adaptation. Scripted by Lucinda Coxon, the result is more gothic romance than horror at first glance. While the marketing has…

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REVIEW: Maze Runner: The Death Cure [2018]

It’s about knowing when you’ve lost. Could you sacrifice a percentage of the population if it meant saving mankind in its entirety? What about if it merely gave you a chance at that salvation? These are the big questions we ask ourselves at the end of the world—ones that force us to face the reality of our inevitable demise. We can infer that we’ll reach this point because we made a wrong decision in the past. And if the whole reason we’re about to be lost forever is our fault,…

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REVIEW: Detroit [2017]

“Burn it down” The title may be presumptuous enough to broadly call itself Detroit, but make no mistake that Kathryn Bigelow‘s latest film is very much about the Algiers Motel incident on the night of July 25th, 1967. Screenwriter Mark Boal allows for some prologue exposition before reaching that fateful evening—setting up the events that sparked the city’s five-day long 12th Street Riot—but nothing more. We witness the raid conducted on a club operating without a liquor license, watch the streets erupt with fury in response, and move between archival…

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REVIEW: The Revenant [2015]

“As long as you can still grab a breath … you fight” If we’re to go by the setting of Michael Punke‘s novel The Revenant on which Mark L. Smith based his script—director Alejandro González Iñárritu gets a co-writing credit after coming onboard—the year is 1822 and the Central American frontier is loaded with fur traders pillaging Native American land, animals, and women. Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) leads a band of men under the authority of his employer to procure pelts and return to camp with Hugh Glass (Leonardo…

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REVIEW: The Maze Runner [2014]

“Wicked is good” There’s really no better way to start The Maze Runner than Wes Ball‘s opening. I’ve not read James Dashner‘s novels and probably knew less than the trailer foretold since it’s been so long since I last saw it. So watching the pitch-black screen stare at me while scrapping metal creaked until a scared boy as disoriented as I gets illuminated was brilliant. He and we enter this crazy situation together—running for our lives, being introduced to our new family, and realizing everything that came before this moment…

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REVIEW: We’re the Millers [2013]

“That’s my credo, ‘No Ragrets’” An R-rated comedy shouldn’t possess a PG-rated heart. This is We’re the Millers’ main problem in my mind because while the profanity-laced adventure has a ton of laughs, one can’t help shake the feeling that it’s targeted to a 13-16 age group who won’t be allowed to buy a ticket. Overt sexual innuendo and f-bombs don’t make up for a lack of anything else that would render screenwriting teams Bob Fisher and Steve Faber or Sean Anders and John Morris to need an R for…

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REVIEW: Son of Rambow [2008]

“I blame the parents” If you are in the mood for a story from the heart, about friendship and identity, growing up in a world foreign from your sensibilities and against what it is you want to be, despite the need to conform, Son of Rambow is just the thing. Be aware, however, that this is a British film with story at its core. There are slow moments throughout, but only in a bid to enhance the overall work. People walked out of my screening saying that they were bored—this…

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