• phoenix01

    REVIEW: Phoenix [2014]

    “I no longer exist” The Holocaust left thousands of survivors stripped of identity—branded by a number as though they weren’t worthy of the name given at birth. To exit such horror was to enter a new world forever changed for them as well as those lucky enough to have missed the nightmare first-hand. Pity, guilt, […]

  • mommy01

    REVIEW: Mommy [2014]

    “A mother doesn’t wake up one morning not loving her son” If I can be justified in agreeing with all the praise after seeing just one of his films—his latest, Cannes Jury Prize-winning Mommy—twenty-five year old writer/director Xavier Dolan is every bit the wunderkind label that has been thrust upon him. Five films in six […]

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    FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Observance [2015]

    “Just watch and report back” You know you’ve seen something special when your only thought upon completion is whether to watch again or scour the internet for possible interpretations. This is what Joseph Sims-Dennett‘s Observance did for me. A horror/suspense filled to the brim with atmosphere and mood, its tension gradually rises like the dark […]

  • oliviernakache-interview01

    INTERVIEW: Olivier Nakache, cowriter/codirector of Samba

    Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano‘s (shown above at middle and right with Omar Sy) Intouchables was France’s Oscar hopeful in 2012 and did make the January shortlist. An infectious crowd-pleaser based on a true story, it vaulted Sy into stardom with a César win over The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin and ultimately co-staring roles in Hollywood […]

  • debragranik-straydoginterview01

    INTERVIEW: Debra Granik, director of Stray Dog

    If you don’t think someone fresh off an Oscar nomination would spend five years to follow her critically acclaimed fictional narrative with the first feature-length documentary of her career, you don’t know Debra Granik. When I interviewed her back in 2010 in support of Winter’s Bone, she was already talking about documentary observation as being […]



film reviews

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REVIEW: Le mépris [Contempt] [1963]

“I love you totally, tenderly, tragically” Director Jean-Luc Godard has tested cinema’s boundaries throughout his career. So it’s hardly surprising his foray into CinemaScope color with a bigger budget would be as much an aesthetic exercise showing off the technology’s splendor as it is a scathing look at the industry with the money and ego […]

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REVIEW: American Ultra [2015]

“We fired the ugly one” When there are only seven basic plots—as the saying goes—to implicitly choose from as a screenwriter, genre-bending homage becomes the sole path towards creativity. So while Max Landis‘ script for American Ultra is The Bourne Identity meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith through a Pineapple Express filter, it’s a damn good […]

phoenix01

REVIEW: Phoenix [2014]

“I no longer exist” The Holocaust left thousands of survivors stripped of identity—branded by a number as though they weren’t worthy of the name given at birth. To exit such horror was to enter a new world forever changed for them as well as those lucky enough to have missed the nightmare first-hand. Pity, guilt, […]

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REVIEW: Cobain: Montage of Heck [2015]

“You better buckle-up because you are not ready for this” The mythos surrounding Kurt Cobain will never be contained. Revered the world over, his suicide at twenty-seven proved a devastating event in music and pop culture history—more so even than Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin whose deaths preceded him at that same age. Conspiracy theories […]

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REVIEW: Straight Outta Compton [2015]

“Speak a little truth and people lose their minds” NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton is a conventional biopic. And I hate conventional biopics. It’s therefore a good thing its story is anything but. Between its time period containing an excess of racial and political strife to the void of a black voice filled by rap […]

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REVIEW: Tom à la ferme [Tom at the Farm] [2014]

“Today a part of me has died and I cannot cry” For wunderkind Xavier Dolan, a film unreleased in America two years after completion is hard to believe. But that’s exactly what happened with his adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard‘s play Tom à la ferme [Tom at the Farm]. On the surface it should be […]

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REVIEW: The Great Outdoors [1988]

“Let go of the rope” Most would probably call it lesser John Hughes—he wrote and produced with Howard Deutch taking the director’s chair—but The Great Outdoors will always hold a special place in my heart. If you asked me who John Candy was in 1990 I’d probably have said, “the guy from The Great Outdoors” […]

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REVIEW: My Cousin Vinny [1992]

“I’ve just never actually seen a grit” I watched My Cousin Vinny a lot in my youth thanks in part to it being a cable TV staple. It’s been a while since my last visit with Joe Pesci‘s titular character’s antics, but the appeal of its humor never faded. I’ve continued to quote lines like […]

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REVIEW: Mother & Brother [2015]

“You want me to be happy for you two fools?” There’s a lot of drama to be tapped from the relationship between parent and child, especially those with a dynamic clouded by abuse. It doesn’t have to be physical or sexual to leave a lasting mark either—constant verbal disapproval despite doing everything in your power […]

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REVIEW: Felt [2015]

“I’m never safe” Today’s sexual climate needs a film like Felt to turn a mirror back. Whether it’s the long-hushed Quaalude-rape escapades of Bill Cosby finally coming to light or recent allegations pointed towards infamous party-boy and man-of-bad-decisions Patrick Kane, thinking the public can ignore society’s pervasive patriarchy and victim-blaming is dying. I won’t say […]

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FANTASIA15 REVIEW: リアル鬼ごっこ [Riaru onigokko] [Tag] [2015]

“Watch the ripple” If リアル鬼ごっこ [Tag] were any indication of writer/director Shion Sono‘s warped mind, I’d almost believe he films without rhyme or reason besides excess. Based upon the Japanese novel Riaru onigokko by Yûsuke Yamada—coined by some as the Stephen King of Japan—this surreal tale of three girls in one traversing a nightmarish landscape […]

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FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Catch Me Daddy [2015]

“Why did I create you?” Even though he’s absent until the film’s final sequence because the estranged daughter he’s hired bounty hunters to find is foremost in our attention, director Daniel Wolfe‘s quote explaining his story as “a man imprisoned by his own narrative” couldn’t be truer. Pakistani mobster—the only label befitting him after experiencing […]

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REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. [2015]

“Inside every Kraut is an American trying to get out” Writer/director Guy Ritchie is like that band all my friends dismiss because they think every song in their discography sounds the same to which I reply, “But I like that song.” With the exception of Swept Away—because I’ve never seen any reason to actually watch […]

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REVIEW: Dark Places [2015]

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” If Gillian Flynn wasn’t the “It” author after the phenomenon that was Gone Girl the book, she surely was once David Fincher adapted it into a huge moneymaking win. What’s interesting, though, is that Gone Girl wasn’t the first of her novels to head into […]

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FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Bridgend [2015]

“There’s a new girl in town” When 79 people between 2007 and 2012 commit suicide—many teens and most without a note—within a single town, there’s definitely a story to tell. Welcome to Bridgend, South Wales. No evidence has yet been found to link them together and some parents blame the media for reporting the tragedies […]