• top10_2014

    Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

    I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the […]

  • wildtales01

    REVIEW: Relatos salvajes [Wild Tales] [2014]

    “Crime of passion?” Best. Wedding. Ever. And trip to the bureaucratic black hole that is government sanctioned towing. And expertly planned, faux fateful airline flight this side of “Lost”. I mean it. Damián Szifrón‘s Relatos salvejes [Wild Tales] is a twisted cousin of Krzysztof Kieslowski‘s The Decalogue, a sextet of darkly comic morality plays where […]

  • faults01

    REVIEW: Faults [2015]

    “What did you lose?” There’s an inherent paradox to the universally held idea of cults being destructive. So quick to deem what occurs within them unnatural—namely a leader using his charisma to indoctrinate the weak into a “family” that understands them—we forget to acknowledge how much of our own lives follow the same pattern. As […]

  • 2014topalbums

    Top 100 Albums of 2014

    Honorable Mention: #100: Get Hurt by The Gaslight Anthem #99: They Want My Soul by Spoon #98: Motion by Calvin Harris #97: The Joy of Motion by Animals as Leaders #96: Dialects by Snowmine #95: Emmaar by Tinariwen #94: The Fire is Gone by Midnight Faces #93: The Endless River by Pink Floyd #92: Count […]

  • oscars2015a

    The 87th Oscars recap through tweets …

    I’m not sure why I keep filling myself with false hope that the Oscars will one day be an entertaining show to watch. The optimism is almost completely unfounded by this point. Whether they go weird (Anne Hathaway and James Franco), safe (Billy Crystal), hip (Seth MacFarlane), or try and steal another show’s success (Neil […]



film reviews

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Kill Me Three Times [2014]

“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 […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Bang Bang Baby [2015]

“I am that. I am the service station.” Harkening back to the era of its setting, Bang Bang Baby embraces the over-the-top aesthetic of 1963 entertainment with small town girl Stepphy (Jane Levy) dreaming big for a chance at stardom in New York City. Overproduced, old-timey vocals emanate from her mouth as faux backdrops provide […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: The Cobbler [2015]

“I’m not gonna eat you!” Adults need fairy tales too and Thomas McCarthy—with cowriter Paul Sado—deliver one in The Cobbler. They don’t try to pretend it’s something more either as its opening prologue can attest thanks to older tradesmen on the Lower East Side speaking Yiddish around a table to think up a way to […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: The Duke of Burgundy [2015]

“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 […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Welcome to Me [2015]

“And only five carbohydrants” There’s a great reference in Welcome to Me about Cindy Sherman that many may gloss over. Director Shira Piven and screenwriter Eliot Laurence made mention to Network and The Truman Show during their Q&A after my TIFF screening, but I don’t think such comparisons hold a candle to Sherman’s photography challenging […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Nightcrawler [2014]

“If you want to win the lottery you have to have the money to buy a ticket” There are some huge ebbs and flows in Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler. At times I loved it, others I felt bad for laughing, and some instances made me wonder what exactly it was I was watching. In the end, […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Men, Women & Children [2014]

“I guess I was just scared” We are the pale blue dot. Earth? No. The intermittently blinking light on the end of an out-of-touch parent’s device for transparently spying on a daughter’s electronic path when he/she should be proud for having a smart and compassionate teen unlike the majority populating the local high school. Our […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: 归来 [Gui lai] [Coming Home] [2014]

“So you do have a heart” I kept trying to think about what films Zhang Yimou‘s 归来 [Gui lai] [Coming Home] reminded me of while watching. Obvious ones came to mind like Away From Her and Amour where Gong Li‘s Yu was concerned and even Atonement for Huiwan Zhang‘s Dandan. But it was a fellow […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: October Gale [2015]

“Sorry. I have to put my gum in your belly button for a second.” After enjoying Ruba Nadda‘s Inescapable and hearing a ton of praise for Cairo Time, I went into her latest effort October Gale with high expectations. Whether this fact tainted my experience or not, those hopes were not met. For whatever reason […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Samba [2014]

“Red paper. Then … no more.” Every movie should have a score by Ludovico Einaudi and it’s comforting to see Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano agree. After using his haunting music on the brilliant Intouchables, the duo take a few tracks from his album In a Time Lapse to enhance their latest work Samba. Another […]

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REVIEW: Take Me to the River [2014]

“Everything we touched turned to gold and they couldn’t figure out how” While it could have easily become a simple behind the scenes feature for an album of three generations of Memphis soul musicians coming together to recut some hits, Take Me to the River finds room to be more. Stewarded by director Martin Shore […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Corbo [2014]

“Tomorrow the enemy will pay for our blood and tears” There’s ease to idolizing the IRA for rising against their British oppressors because the number of Irish descendants retaining a piece of nationalism at heart is huge. Movies deify them, bartenders make “Irish Car Bombs”, and the group remains in existence still hoping for the […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: The Wanted 18 [2014]

“It means the ragheads are pissed off again” Who knew cows could be a symbol of freedom, resistance, self-sufficiency, and identity? On the surface it’s absurd and yet they became Palestinian town Beit Sahour’s greatest weapon against the Israeli occupation during the First Intifada from 1987-1993. When you’re taxed by a foreign government, forced to […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Trick or Treaty [2014]

“The sun rises for our people” A constant fixture with the National Film Board of Canada, director Alanis Obomsawin‘s latest documentary spans a variety of themes surrounding the weighted subject of the James Bay Treaty No. 9. Signed in 1905 by the Cree and Ojibway people, their First Nation descendants have long held it to […]

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TIFF14 REVIEW: Listen [2014]

“Go home and pray” There is no more apt title for Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni‘s Listen except maybe Comprehend. A 13-minute gut punch dealing with the disparity of culture, language, and religion, to say too much would ruin the perfectly orchestrated dissemination of information from start to finish. It asks questions like: What do […]