• hellorhighwater01

    REVIEW: Hell or High Water [2016]

    “I ain’t speeding” It wasn’t long after his run as above-board Deputy Chief David Hale on “Sons of Anarchy” that Taylor Sheridan would find himself caught in awards season platitudes with Sicario, a film earning three Oscar nominations despite his screenplay not quite making the cut. Well he has a second change this January as […]

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    REVIEW: 俠女 [Xia nü] [A Touch of Zen] [1971]

    “One should rather believe in ghosts than not” It’s enlightening to read writer/director King Hu‘s press notes that accompanied the Cannes premiere of his then newly-cut 俠女 [Xia nü] [A Touch of Zen]. 1975 was four years removed from the film’s original release—as two parts, a format his producers demanded to try recouping some of […]

  • eyesofmymother01

    FANTASIA16 REVIEW: The Eyes of My Mother [2016]

    “Why would I kill you? You’re my only friend.” This is isolation, suffering. It’s also normal. We on the outside see Nicolas Pesce‘s debut feature The Eyes of My Mother as the former, young Francisca (Olivia Bond) swimming in a pool of abject dread as death proves a natural evolution for all living things. For […]

  • huntforthewilderpeople01

    REVIEW: Hunt for the Wilderpeople [2016]

    “Find water. Go to high ground. And don’t get naked.” A Māori boy and a Pākehā man go forth into the New Zealand bush. It sounds like the start to a joke. But while Taika Waititi‘s latest Hunt for the Wilderpeople is hilarious, it’s far from being a trivial lark. There’s some weighty emotion involved […]

  • swissarmyman01

    REVIEW: Swiss Army Man [2016]

    “I don’t want to die alone” You can never be sure about a marketing campaign using a phrase like, “You’ve heard it a million times, but this time it’s true. You’ve never seen a movie like Swiss Army Man.” What type of ploy are they engaging in? We all know it’s been affectionately called (and […]



film reviews

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REVIEW: La belle saison [Summertime] [2015]

“Loneliness is a terrible thing” While a romance on its surface, Catherine Corsini‘s La belle saison [Summertime] is really about freedom. The central relationship between Delphine (Izïa Higelin) and Carole (Cécile De France) pushes them to discover their personal identities removed from any union. The former is a farm girl yearning to break from the […]

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: The Alchemist Cookbook [2016]

“This human form, which I was born, I now repent” I have no clue why Sean (Ty Hickson) messes with the titular book in Joel Potrykus‘ The Alchemist Cookbook. He doesn’t seem to care about money while living as a hermit inside a hidden trailer deep within the woods—bill collectors “no longer owning him”—so gold […]

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REVIEW: Hell-Bent [2016]

“May you write some great pieces on this” For whatever reason, screenwriters Lorenzo Cabello and Shayne Kamat refused to turn their script about an underachieving journalist and his demon acquaintance into a deal with the devil scenario. Kudos, guys. There’s ample opportunity too considering Michael’s (Justin Andrew Davis) struggles to find the confidence to fight […]

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REVIEW: Tickled [2016]

“All of this over some tickling” When a journalist known for delving into the weird side of pop culture and society stumbles across an online video depicting a young man tied to a table as four other young men tickle him in a “sport” dubbed “Competitive Tickling,” there’s no way he closes that window to […]

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REVIEW: Inspired [2015]

“Don’t be late” For a student film, Maggie Kaszuba‘s Inspired is an effective cinematic effort. Depicting the life of a teenage girl dealing with ambivalence at home and tough love at school, the short has a wealth of earned emotion once relationships flesh out and motivation is revealed. Samantha Higgins (Tyler Kipp) is an underachiever […]

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Crimson Dance [2016]

“Welcome to the Bloody Burlesque Freak Show” Letting American burlesque dancer Tonya Kay perform an interpretive, sensual dance with blood isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about ways to raise public consciousness about donating this crucial fluid, yet here we are. Writer/director Patricia Chica not only thought it, she […]

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REVIEW: Bir Uyku Vakti [In a Time for Sleep] [2016]

“They are all the same except for their names” Writer/director Tofiq Rzayev‘s latest short Bir Uyku Vakti [In a Time for Sleep] appears to have a lot to say beneath its melodramatic plot. I’m just not sure exactly what it is. This could be a “lost in translation” case, but I found it difficult to […]

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REVIEW: The Invitation [2016]

“I’ve been waiting to die since the moment it happened” Death plays a large role in our lives, mortality seemingly out of reach but never forgotten. For some it knocks early—or at least earlier than we’d hope to believe. Disease, accident, and fate remind us how precious our time on Earth is. We grieve, pray, […]

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REVIEW: The Decline of Western Civilization Part III [1998]

“Your spit is greatly appreciated” To a certain extent The Decline of Western Civilization Part III could have been titled The New Western Civilization. The first two films in Penelope Spheeris‘ trilogy showed us the music that was changing American youth culture as well as the people performing it and listening to it. This entry […]

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REVIEW: The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years [1988]

“It doesn’t matter—the size of your pencil. It’s how you write your name.” Director Penelope Spheeris changes the aesthetic and to some extent the goals of her documentary series The Decline of Western Civilization with Part II: The Metal Years. Like its predecessor depicting the contemporary 1980 Los Angeles punk scene, we get a glimpse […]

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REVIEW: The Decline of Western Civilization [1981]

“I don’t think of myself as a happy person, but I had fun tonight” You don’t get much more punk rock than Penelope Spheeris‘ concert documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. At least not American punk since the film details the club life in Los Angeles during the 80s rather than mid-70s Britain. We’re talking […]

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REVIEW: Fathers and Daughters [2015]

“I have very self-destructive tendencies” The works of director Gabriele Muccino aren’t for everyone. I can’t speak on his Italian films, but the American ones are unavoidably cloying and sentimental in a way that must be accepted or ignored to find resonance. Despite being the one showered with praise, The Pursuit of Happyness didn’t quite […]

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REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets [2016]

“Liberated forever, domesticated never” Illumination Entertainment’s latest film The Secret Life of Pets has an amazing hook: what do our pets do while we’re gone? We could obviously pay Comcast Xfinity to supply cameras and discover the answer to that question—why use product placement when you can show a commercial before the film that uses […]

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REVIEW: Mower Minions [2016]

“Chop-ah chop-ah” The Minions used to be adorable little sidekicks—hilarious creatures ripe for slapstick in a secondary role to the film they were in (Despicable Me). And then they became bigger than the franchise that spawned them. Toys were made, companies recruited them to sell products, and their own feature length film was inevitably released […]

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REVIEW: Stripes [1981]

“Excuse me, stewardess. Is there a movie on this flight?” Considering it’s become such a major staple of Bill Murray‘s career, it’s crazy to think Stripes began as a prospective Cheech and Chong vehicle. Written by screenwriters Len Blum and Daniel Goldberg based on an idea from director Ivan Reitman, it may have gone in […]