• 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 […]

  • oliviernakache-interview01

    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 […]

  • debragranik-straydoginterview01

    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 […]

  • jalmarihelander-interview01

    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

entourage01

REVIEW: Entourage [2015]




“I don’t worry. I win.” I was a big fan of “Entourage”—loved the first four seasons and remained entertained until the end. The fact Doug Ellin received backing for eight seasons is a success story in itself because you can only recycle the same story beats so often before the audience loses interest. Who cares […]

tomorrowland01

REVIEW: Tomorrowland [2015]




“Which wolf wins?” The only constant the future holds is how today’s will look nothing like tomorrow’s. It would have been an amazing experience to see the vision Walt Disney had for his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow in Orlando, but he of course sadly passed away in 1966 and that land became the Magic […]

madmax401

REVIEW: Mad Max: Fury Road [2015]




“Our babies will not be warlords” It’s not often delays, financial dissolutions, and waning interest make a film better, but I don’t want to know what Mad Max: Fury Road might have been without them. In its current form the film embodies a logical escalation of what director George Miller began over three decades ago […]

pitchperfect201

REVIEW: Pitch Perfect 2 [2015]




“And there are the props” A surprise hit from 2012, Pitch Perfect was more than hype. It was good. Good enough for a sequel? Sure. I was excited to see what might happen until the trailer dropped. Boy did that thing look like a train wreck attempt at capturing lightning in a bottle by mimicking […]

madmax301

REVIEW: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome [1985]




“He can beat most men with his breath” It’s said that Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is based (without credit) on Russell Hoban‘s science fiction novel Riddley Walker. This could be true, but to my eye the finished product bears a striking resemblance to the 80s fantasy aesthetic thus far utilized during the decade. More of […]

madmax201

REVIEW: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior [1981]




“I’m just here for the gasoline” Welcome to the “Wastelands”. This is the Mad Max I remember—a desolate post-apocalyptic future riddled with mohawk-toting, S&M leather-wearing marauders bearing teeth and chaining submissives/human guard dogs on leashes until the fight needs some extra wild. It’s no surprise Hollywood changed the name from Mad Max 2 to The […]

madmax01

REVIEW: Mad Max [1979]




“I’m a fuel-injected suicide machine” You couldn’t turn on the television without seeing Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome when I was growing up. I couldn’t tell you anything about it besides the fact Tina Turner co-starred, but I remember the whole terminally crazed aesthetic of George Miller‘s post-apocalyptic world. So much so that I always assumed […]

dtrain01

REVIEW: The D Train [2015]




“Like lawn chairs” Calling The D Train a comedy is probably the most accurate description to bestow upon it, but the label doesn’t quite do it justice. I’m still wrestling about whether that’s because it’s more than a simple comedy or because it utilizes the genre so it can get away with a strain of […]

barelylethal01

REVIEW: Barely Lethal [2015]




“Like, totem pole” Much like director Kyle Newman‘s first theatrical release Fanboys, his sophomore effort Barely Lethal is built for a niche audience with minimal wiggle room to capture the excitement of casual viewers just stopping by. You don’t need to travel farther than the backlash-riddled comments section of its YouTube trailers to understand this. […]

avengers201

REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron [2015]




“It wasn’t a nightmare. It was a legacy.” He may not have been there at the start, but Joss Whedon stewarded the Marvel Cinematic Universe through its make or break stage. It was one thing to give the world high-tech flying fun via a sarcastic playboy, otherworld fantasy come to earth courtesy of a haughty […]

reality01

REVIEW: Réalité [Reality] [2015]




“The insides serve no purpose” This is what it’s like to go insane. Writer/director Quentin Dupieux loves the surreal and absurd, but Réalité [Reality] takes his penchant for humorous oddity to another level. With Philip Glass‘ “Music with Changing Parts” boring a hole into your temple and fluid sequences of characters meeting in real time […]

kumiko01

REVIEW: Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter [2015]




“Solitude? Just fancy loneliness.” It’s easy to assume Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter will be a humorous adventure of cultural dissonance upon reading its synopsis. The conceit is ripe for comedy and David and Nathan Zellner do mine that arena throughout their drama when it suits the story, but it’s a nuanced tragedy that’s ultimately delivered. […]

stay01

REVIEW: Stay [2005]




“Your troubles will cease and fortune will smile upon you” **POTENTIAL SPOILERS** I remember my head spinning about Stay after leaving the theatre. Not because David Benioff‘s script or Marc Forster‘s direction proved nuanced enough to shield the “reality” of what’s going on for any authentic surprise, but due to its visceral impact. The Guess […]

lostriver01

REVIEW: Lost River [2015]




“Here in my deep purple dream” You cannot watch Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut Lost River without recalling the divisive surrealism of Only God Forgives. He’s the first to admit how much of an influence Nicolas Winding Refn was, pitting the Dane’s heightened realities against the emotive authenticity of another favorite collaborator in Derek Cianfrance. Gosling […]

jackrabbit01

TFF15 REVIEW: Jackrabbit [2015]




“Rebuilding Our Future Today” Dystopian sci-fi is trendy. Anyone who has any knowledge of today’s pop culture could tell you that and it’s no surprise Hollywood has jumped on its collective consciousness with The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. I enjoy them all, don’t get me wrong, but the reality of their monumental […]