• 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 […]

  • observance01

    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 […]

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    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 […]

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    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 […]

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    INTERVIEW: Jalmari Helander, writer/director of Big Game




    After finding success from his debut feature Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale—an expansion of a world he created through two previous shorts all released together by Oscilloscope—Finnish writer/director Jalmari Helander did what many European filmmakers do and went English-language for his sophomore effort. But he did so on his terms by once again writing his […]



film reviews

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REVIEW: Lila & Eve [2015]




“Talk is meaningless” A movie isn’t necessarily ruined because its so-called twist is easily deciphered, especially when the reveal is less for shock value than depicting the psychological struggle of grief. For Lila Walcott (Viola Davis), the loss of her son Stephon (Aml Ameen) as an innocent bystander to a drive-by shooting has drowned her […]

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REVIEW: Trainwreck [2015]




“Monogamy isn’t realistic” Here I thought I could blame the editor for why Judd Apatow‘s films have been lackluster and overlong since The 40-Year-Old Virgin only to discover his latest Trainwreck is the first of his theatrical quintet not in part handled by Brent White. Instead we have William Kerr, Peck Prior, and Paul Zucker: […]

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REVIEW: Ant-Man [2015]




“Just a tall-tale” You can tell as soon as it happens where the Marvel machine broke Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the two guys who had been developing Ant-Man to their singular vision since before the Cinematic Universe’s cohesive arc began. It’s a funny cameo with an Avenger, one where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) attempts […]

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REVIEW: The Evil Dead [1983]




“There’s bodies in the cellar” It appears my friends misinformed me many years ago when my decision to watch The Evil Dead came up. I was told to skip the first because Evil Dead II was “pretty much” a remake of it anyway. Whereas the original was a straight horror, the “sequel” skewed comedic and […]

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REVIEW: Mr. & Mrs. Smith [2005]




“Right. Five or six years.” It was the aggressive nature of the stories told to screenwriter Simon Kinberg by friends in couples therapy that inspired Mr. & Mrs. Smith—his MFA thesis turned half billion dollar moneymaker at the box office. The leap from the tit for tat dynamic between bickering spouses to secret lives is […]

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REVIEW: The Gallows [2015]




“He’s going to choke like Charlie” Something doesn’t add up. It does if coincidence is the name of the game (and it is), but that doesn’t make it plausible to accept any revelations Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing deliver in Act III of The Gallows. It’s not ruining anything to say a main character is […]

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REVIEW: La cage aux folles [1978]




“Procreation is wearing you out” The fact The Birdcage proves an almost shot for shot remake thirty years later is a testament to La cage aux folles‘ quartet of writers if not to the original stage play’s creator Jean Poiret alone. This is how funny, resonate, and timeless the material remains—enough to even provide the […]

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REVIEW: Pink Moon [2015]




“Nothing is permanent” It’s a shame that films like Sal Bardo‘s Pink Moon are necessary for some to realize the true value of human life, but that’s the world we live in. Even with the Supreme Court ruling for same sex marriage throughout the United States, we are a long way towards equality. Many Republicans […]

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REVIEW: Birthday [2015]




“Some assembly required” It’s not difficult to know what’s coming as soon as a Marine (Chris Gouchoe) and his wife (Mandy Moody) are seen discovering the discrepancy in their math counting down the days until his return home. She has it marked on her calendar as forty-two to go while he gently explains it’s actually […]

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REVIEW: Gimme Shelter [1970]




“Like lemmings to the sea” And to think they only wanted to follow The Rolling Stones around America on tour. I wonder what Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin hoped to find in the edit via their “reactive” filmmaking philosophy because it surely wasn’t what resulted. Who could have known how dangerous things would […]

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REVIEW: Terminator Genisys [2015]




“If there was another way I would have taken it” Much of the success attributed to “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” stems from it using its time travel-centric mythology to erase the franchise’s failures—mainly Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. You’d think Terminator Salvation would have followed suit, but for whatever reason it held onto […]

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REVIEW: Eden [2014]




“Save France with Coke” The rock and roll life has always been filled with temptation no matter what decade. So electronica, house, and garage music’s heyday (has it ended?) of the 90s proves no exception. With its world of DJs and samplers standing at turntables while their audience danced and raved below, however, learning a […]

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REVIEW: Stray Dog [2015]




“It’s veterans helping veterans. Who else do we got?” Five years after writer/director Debra Granik‘s sophomore effort Winter’s Bone earned four Oscars nominations including Best Picture, she returns to the big screen with a documentary spawned from her experience filming in Missouri. Far from a novice to the genre-she lensed a documentary called Thunder in […]

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REVIEW: Трудно быть богом [Hard to Be a God] [2014]




“Don’t drink. I only sniff now.” There’s a plot inside Aleksey German‘s final film Трудно быть богом [Hard to Be a God]—an audacious sci-fi epic slinging mud and feces in our faces while everyone onscreen sniffs them like drugs until we’re involuntarily following suit. No really, there is. Well, maybe a lingering vestige of what […]

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REVIEW: Ted 2 [2015]




“Fresh cakes” Something Steve Harvey said on a recent episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” really struck me: “Tragedy strikes. I got news for you—we have the jokes that night. We know that we can’t bring this to the public yet cause we’ll get hammered. But in a room alone, when it’s just us, […]