REVIEW: Левиафан [Leviafan] [Leviathan] [2014]

leviathan2014a

“These animals are not the whole town” It doesn’t get much bleaker or more cynical than Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Левиафан [Leviathan]. He and cowriter Oleg Negin were inspired by many stories—”killdozer” rampage orchestrator Marvin Heemeyer, the Bible’s Job and King Ahab, and Heinrich von Kleist’s novella Michael Kohlhaas—all of which I know nothing about. Reading a […]

REVIEW: Focus [2015]

focus01

“Nice jacket” You know that moment in a con movie where you’re shown an elaborate sequence full of subtle background action without knowing exactly what’s happening until the mastermind explains it all to a colleague—and us—who’s unaware? It’s my favorite trope of the genre because it either provides a sense of awe in the trick’s […]

REVIEW: Heritage [2015]

heritage01

“Easy thing to bring someone into this wild world” Writer/director Damien Kazan is really honing his visual style these last couple of years with a string of gorgeous looking short films able to mesmerize with the sound off. Not that you should turn it off, his narration arrives with the type of resonating philosophizing we […]

REVIEW: McFarland, USA [2015]

mcfarlandusa01

“There ain’t nothing American Dream about this place” I entered the theater expecting McFarland, USA to be a Million Dollar Arm redux with Latinos in place of Indians. What director Niki Caro actually delivered was something more akin to Miracle—still not a “great” film per se, but definitely a worthwhile telling of a heartwarmingly Disney, […]

REVIEW: Still Alice [2014]

stillalice01

“I knew I shouldn’t have had that champagne” There’s little scarier in this world than a debilitating disease like Alzheimer’s. You may initially feel a sentiment as shared by the titular Alice (Julianne Moore) in Still Alice to be hyperbolic, but the thought that cancer could be a better option is an extreme worth considering. […]

REVIEW: Plain Clothes [2015]

plainclothes01

“And God left it to them to choose darkness or light” Actor Sam Jaeger played the most calm and collected character of the bunch on “Parenthood”. Introduced as a stay-at-home dad with a smile, he had a way of internalizing his feelings so every emotion coursing through him was seen behind actions trying hard not […]

REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey [2015]

fiftyshadesofgrey01

“I enjoy various physical pursuits” Author E.L. James should be ecstatic that the crazy fervor surrounding her trilogy of BD/SM propelled it towards a movie deal because now artists more qualified to bring her kinkiness to life can get their hands on it. I’m not saying she’s a bad writer—I’ll let the myriad commenters on […]

REVIEW: Mr. Turner [2014]

mrturner01

“Nothing comes from nothing, Madam” I was not aware of J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) before hearing about Mike Leigh‘s latest film depicting the final quarter century of his life, Mr. Turner. I’ve tried recalling glimpses of his paintings during college, but find myself blank each time. As it appears he’s presently considered a master, perhaps […]

REVIEW: The Last Five Years [2015]

lastfiveyears01

“I will not lose because you can’t win.” I wanted to blame The Last Five Years‘ failure on the original musical’s creator Jason Robert Brown since director Richard LaGravenese and cast can only do so much if the material is lacking. But then I learned about a huge structural detour that occurred during the adaptation […]

REVIEW: かぐや姫の物語 [Kaguyahime no monogatari] [The Tale of The Princess Kaguya] [2013]

princesskaguya01

“That was Heaven telling us who she’d grow into” There is no questioning whether かぐや姫の物語 [Kaguyahime no monogatari] [The Tale of The Princess Kaguya] is an extraordinary work of art. The beauty of its simplistic, watercolor ink-lined drawings is a breath of fresh air within a medium of 3D-rendered characters trying so hard to not […]

REVIEW: Aya [2012]

aya

“Never follow your heart” It’s nice to take the road less traveled for adventure no matter how wild or tame the unknown journey becomes. That goes for those jumping headfirst and those unwittingly brought along. Because even if you didn’t intend for the unplanned sojourn, you cannot deny its allure once it’s begun. We take […]