REVIEW: The Martian [2015]

“Mars will come to fear my botany powers” Sometimes we need a good old-fashioned feel good tale that doesn’t talk down to us for smiles to unabashedly form at the movies. Ridley Scott‘s The Martian provides exactly that. You have a healthy dose of infectious humor, life and death suspense, space exploration to an uncharted […]

REVIEW: All Things Must Pass [2015]

“No music, no life” There’s no better hook for Colin Hanks‘ feature-length documentary about the rise and fall of Tower Records entitled All Things Must Pass then the opening lines of text he and screenwriter Steven Leckart utilize: “In 1999, Tower Records had sales of over one billion dollars. Five years later, they filed for […]

REVIEW: Our Brand is Crisis [2015]

“There’s only one wrong: losing” It’s probably because I know little about politics and care even less that I find most film’s dealing with the subject matter enjoyable. George Clooney‘s The Ides of March is one—the actor taking on the director’s chair, a co-screenwriting credit, and co-lead in front of the lens. Highly political himself […]

REVIEW: The Notorious Mr. Bout [2015]

“You hope the rope is rotten and the noose breaks” I enjoyed Andrew Niccol‘s Lord of War when it came out in 2005. It was a fast-paced, enjoyable ride down the rabbit hole of the illegal arms trade, but I had no idea Nicolas Cage‘s character Yuri Orlov was based on a real life “Merchant […]

REVIEW: The Prophet [2015]

“And yet you rise above them unbound” After watching the animated cinematic adaptation of Kahlil Gibran‘s The Prophet and hearing his prose poetry read out loud, I can understand both the critical pause and public adoration it’s earned this past century. It consists of the kind of inspirational tales of flowery optimism that many love […]

REVIEW: Vredens dag [Day of Wrath] [1943]

“There is nothing so quiet as a heart that has ceased to beat” The Latin hymn “Dies Irae” has been highly quoted musically throughout the centuries in myriad compositions, its words a medieval tale of judgment day wherein the souls of the good are summoned to Heaven and the rest cast down to Hell’s eternal […]

REVIEW: অপুর সংসার [Apur Sansar] [The World of Apu] [1959]

“How do you know I’m happy?” After beginning his career in filmmaking with the first two installments of his famed Apu Trilogy, writer/director Satyajit Ray shot two standalone works before rounding out author Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay‘s world with অপুর সংসার [Apur Sansar] [The World of Apu]. This decision is felt as his saga capper feels much […]

REVIEW: Sans toit ni loi [Vagabond] [1985]

“Champagne on the road’s better” When I saw Sans toit ni loi [Vagabond] for the first time as a twenty-year old in college, I did so believing its titular nomad Mona Bergeron (Sandrine Bonnaire) was the focal point. This was a mistake. I was bored—frustrated that I was forced to care about someone who obviously […]

REVIEW: Respire [Breathe] [2014]

“Passion is harmful when it becomes excessive” There’s a lot of mirroring happening in Mélanie Laurent‘s sophomore film behind the camera Respire [Breathe]. Thinking it heavy-handed wouldn’t be impossible, but I’m not sure the story can be told otherwise. Granted, a philosophical discussion in class about passion foreshadowing events to come just as a biology […]

REVIEW: Плем’я [Plemya] [The Tribe] [2014]

Dismissing Miroslav Slaboshpitsky‘s Cannes award-winning drama Плем’я [Plemya] [The Tribe] as mere gimmick is easy and most especially lazy. I’d let you do so to Oscar-winning The Artist before I would this dialogue-free look at teenage rage and criminal exploitation because rendering that one silent was a purely aesthetic choice. It most certainly is here […]

BIFF15 REVIEW: In the Dark [2015]

“Atheist searching for a miracle” There’s nothing like a good cold open to set the mood and David Spaltro‘s In the Dark gets out of the gate running. It introduces us to Joan (Catherine Cobb Ryan) and Bethany Mills (Grace Folsom)—a seemingly wholesome mother and daughter duo connected by love and respect. The former has […]