REVIEW: John Wick [2014]

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“I’d like a dinner reservation for twelve” If ever there was a film you truly cannot judge by its cover, John Wick is it. We’re talking an action flick about a retired assassin played with stoic Zen by Keanu Reeves (the titular Wick) going on a killing spree against Viggo Tarasov’s (Michael Nyqvist) Russian mob […]

REVIEW: That Terrible Jazz [2014]

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“I’m gonna kick up some dirt” A senior film student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, Mike Falconi went noir for his thesis short That Terrible Jazz. The piece has an obvious affinity for past cinematic greats with hard-boiled dialogue, a stoic lead, and the missing persons mystery at its core, but his love for […]

REVIEW: The Minions [2014]

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“I shouldn’t have went there” Director Jeremiah Kipp once again amps up the mood with his latest short The Minions to follow his similarly aesthetically-constructed The Days God Slept. From the camera angles catching his actors’ expressions in a way that cultivates mystery, the score pulsing along with the imagery as though everything is set […]

REVIEW: The Living [2014]

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“All we got in life are choices” An interesting choice was made on Jack Bryan‘s film The Living—one that occurred before the camera rolled. If you’re familiar with Fran Kranz‘s emotionally fractured science nerd Topher from “Dollhouse” and Kenny Wormald‘s coolly confident Ren from the Footloose remake, you’d probably have a pretty good idea of […]

REVIEW: The Equalizer [2014]

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“Change your world” It may be because I knew beforehand that Antoine Fuqua‘s The Equalizer was based on an old 80s TV show (from Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim), but it felt very episodic in a way that made it utterly boring. There’s that time Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) helps his coworker lose weight. That […]

REVIEW: Gone Girl [2014]

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“Everything else is background noise” Director David Fincher‘s Gone Girl falls prey to the one thing that often prevents me from truly loving a cinematic adaptation of a novel—unquestionable faithfulness. Gillian Flynn does a wonderful job distilling her pulpy thriller into a fast-paced 149 minutes and Fincher stays true to the back and forth vantage […]

REVIEW: In Da Street [2014]

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“We’re two cops in the hood, man” For a crowdfunded French short shot in two days on only a $1,500 budget, In Da Street looks fantastic. This shouldn’t be surprising coming from writer/director Damien Kazan—a filmmaker whose last work Whisper was nothing if not an attractive visual poem. Building on that film’s stylistic construction, this […]

REVIEW: The Maze Runner [2014]

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“Wicked is good” There’s really no better way to start The Maze Runner than Wes Ball‘s opening. I’ve not read James Dasher‘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 […]

TIFF14 REVIEW: The Riot Club [2014]

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“People like us don’t make mistakes” I’ll bet Laura Wade’s 2010 play Posh is something special to see on stage. A fictionalized take on Oxford University’s exclusive Bullingdon Club—sons of wealthy Brits who attended the best boarding/prep schools before following in their patriarchy’s footsteps to enjoy vandalizing college rooms as an initiation ploy and restaurants […]

TIFF14 REVIEW: Kill Me Three Times [2014]

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“Quality always costs” Director Kriv Stenders left the audience seated for his latest film Kill Me Three Times with the words, “I hope you have as much fun watching as we had making it”. I doubt I did, but I cannot deny it wasn’t the sort of entertaining romp that keeps you on your toes […]

TIFF14 REVIEW: The Duke of Burgundy [??]

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“The colder the better” Sometimes you just need to cleanse your palette or expand your mind by checking out a film even the director says is all about the experience. So when Peter Strickland explains how he tried hard not to make us want to find metaphor or meaning beyond what’s onscreen, I’m going to […]