• 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: Inside Out [2015]




“I call it the Happy Core Memory Development Program” The simplest ideas really are the greatest and Pixar’s made a legacy built on just such an ideal. They brought toys to life as living companions caring for our children. They humanized the monsters in our closets, conjured a spark of love in the circuitry of […]

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REVIEW: Lava [2015]




“Send me someone to lav-a” Sometimes cute is enough for an enjoyable little yarn, but I can’t help being disappointed when that’s all a new Pixar short has to offer. I do get that the studio can’t hit a homerun every single time out, however, and I don’t begrudge a catchy escapist ditty like the […]

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REVIEW: The French Connection [1971]




“And I’m going to nail you for picking your feet in Poughkeepsie” You watch William Friedkin‘s The French Connection today and literally start thinking about the forty-four years of police-based action thrillers owing it a huge debt. The genre just doesn’t have the type of cultural or artistic clout these days to win the hardware […]

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REVIEW: We Are Still Here [2015]




“The house needs a family” Sometimes the spirits clinging to your old home prove the least of your worries. Just ask the Sacchettis (Barbara Crampton‘s Anne and Andrew Sensenig‘s Paul). Attempting to restart their lives after the tragic death of their son months earlier, the couple moves to Aylesbury for peace, quiet, and a former […]

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REVIEW: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl [2015]




“Respect the research” Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl can be described as The Fault in Our Stars meets Be Kind Rewind. While the correlation to the latter is nearly identical with both comically parodying cinematic greats (albeit of differing oeuvres), the former hits as a contrast despite similar subject matter. Whereas […]

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REVIEW: 思い出のマーニー [Omoide no Mânî] [When Marnie Was There] [2014]




“I wish for a normal life everyday” If Studio Ghibli ends up closing shop as announced, we can be glad their final film is a winner with the heart and soul we’ve come to love from Hayao Miyazaki and the team. I’m surely in the minority, but I’d even say Hiromasa Yonebayaski‘s When Marnie Was […]

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REVIEW: Jurassic World [2015]




“This will give parents nightmares” As all good sequels must learn, the key to success is delivering on the promise set forth by the original while also providing something fresh and improved. Just ask James Cameron, a master at the task, who injected action-packed life into both Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day without negating […]

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REVIEW: Manglehorn [2015]




“I’m losing hope in tomorrow” Upon being asked whether he knows he’s a son-of-a-bitch or not, A.J. Manglehorn (Al Pacino) replies matter-of-factly with, “Yes. Maybe a little. Aren’t we all?” It’s a seemingly innocuous line within an intriguing film positing how each one of us can always see something of ourselves in characters onscreen. We […]

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REVIEW: Big Game [2015]




“Life is just too damn short not to have a cookie when you want one” Despite being rated PG-13 in America, Jalmari Helander‘s Big Game should target audiences between 10-15 like Dan Smith’s Young Adult novelization of the film. Being a Finnish production—the most expensive in the country’s history—probably means it did just that abroad. […]

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REVIEW: Kung Fury [2015]




“Yeah. That’s my bicep.” After earning three times its goal on Kickstarter, the thirty-minute short Kung Fury went into production in hopes of melting minds with Heavy Metal synth ballads and gratuitous gore like only the 80s could provide. The brainchild of Swedish commercial and music video director David Sandberg, this opus to over-the-top cheesy […]

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REVIEW: The Case Against 8 [2014]

“You are the case … it all flows through you” It’s a landmark case with civil rights reverberations that have shaken the country on its way to a current thirty-seven states legalizing same-sex marriage and counting. But that doesn’t mean the public knows what happened since the US Supreme Court barred cameras from allowing them […]

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REVIEW: Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991]




“You’re really real” Oh what seven years can accomplish through cinematic technological achievement. While The Terminator still looks good today, Terminator 2: Judgment Day looks amazing. Director James Cameron acknowledges his evolutionary leap by opening the follow-up with a near-replica 2029 Los Angeles prologue as the first to showcase exactly how far forward. These new […]

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REVIEW: San Andreas [2015]




“Played a little tug-of-war with a car” Can you call a movie a disaster flick without the President of the United States declaring a state of emergency? While I ask in jest, we do expect such a sobering announcement to arrive with music soaring and heroic platitudes raining down. It never comes here, though, and […]

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REVIEW: The Terminator [1984]




“It’s just him and me” Sometimes the road to success hinges on a series of happenstances and whom you know. Just ask James Cameron: on-set special effects director for Piranha II: The Spawning (former boss Roger Corman produced the first) before it became his directorial debut due to creative differences between his predecessor and producer […]

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REVIEW: How to Save Us [2014]




“Have you seen mom and dad yet since they’ve died?” A plague has decimated Tasmania to the point where everyone is either dead or evacuated. Everyone but Sam Everett (Coy Jandreau), the youngest of three siblings yet to cope with the death of his parents, present to visit his family’s old vacation home on the […]