• 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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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 […]

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REVIEW: While We’re Young [2015]




“She is a mess. And an ugly eater.” I hated While We’re Young—a fact that actually increases my already healthy dose of respect for writer/director Noah Baumbach. He’s a filmmaker with the type of style, tone, and air of not quite tongue-in-cheek pretension you could pick out from across the room as his and his […]

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REVIEW: Ex Machina [2015]




“The history of man? That’s the history of Gods.” Artificial intelligence isn’t new. It’s in video games, toys, software platforms—most computer systems we interact with daily possess it in some capacity. The idea that one day someone will code a manufactured consciousness capable of becoming sentient, however, is still in the realm of science fiction. […]

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REVIEW: Man From Reno [2015]




“Every time I sit down to write” The best part of Dave Boyle‘s Man From Reno is its construction. He introduces Aki Akahori (Ayako Fujitani) and Sheriff Del Moral (Pepe Serna) separately, each contending with their own mystery man in a way that gives us pause to think whether their stories are concurrent. For all […]

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REVIEW: Bordering on Bad Behavior [2015]




“No. I don’t need a piss now.” You know that highly politicized stoner comedy about a Jew, Arab, and Christian locked together for six hours in an Israeli communications base on the Lebanese border you’ve been craving? Well, director Jac Mulder and writer Ziggy Darwish have delivered it with a punchline that pretty much writes […]

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REVIEW: Home [2015]




“I’m the interrupting cow! Moo!” While it didn’t need help on its way to a fifty million dollar opening weekend, Home may have benefited from a G-rating. Its journey in search of family taken by Oh the Boov (Jim Parsons) and Tip the Human (Rihanna) skews very young in message and comedic style—unexpectedly so for […]

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REVIEW: Gone in Sixty Seconds [2000]




“Two Rogers don’t make a right” There are more than a few unexpected things concerning the Gone in Sixty Seconds remake that surprised me. One was the huge cast of familiar faces. Another the full embracement of its spectacular levels of cheese. And despite marketing materials and especially the poster, Angelina Jolie is far from […]

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REVIEW: The Last Time You Had Fun [2015]




“You want to throw me a divorce party?” After watching the trailer and reading the synopsis, it’s hard not to see The Last Time You Had Fun in a sort of “been there, done that” light. We’ve seen it before countless times—that meet-cute of thirty-somethings at known and unknown crossroads in their lives letting loose […]

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REVIEW: Buffalo ’66 [1998]




“Just look like we are a married couple … spanning time” In 2004 Christina Ricci was quoted in Time Out magazine as saying, “Buffalo ’66 was the most beautiful example of self-absorption I’ve ever seen in my life.” She’s not wrong. Even if she had a good experience on set and didn’t loathe writer/director/star Vincent […]

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REVIEW: Furious 7 [2015]




“You never could take a punch” There’s something about this series that’s transcended any intellectual discussion about cinema. How else does a lamely derivative version of Point Break substituting waves with cars spawn six sequels in fifteen years? Think about that. 2 Fast 2 Furious was so bad that star Vin Diesel turned down a […]

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REVIEW: Resolution [2013]




“They said they were researching folktales” ***Possible Spoilers*** Films like Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead‘s Resolution can’t help but get under your skin and risk never letting go. Any issues you may have about production quality, plot holes, pacing, and performances fall away because of one genius detail planting the seeds of curiosity. Then, when […]

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REVIEW: What We Do in the Shadows [2014]




“Get up and stand on the ceiling like a man” In great mockumentary fashion, What We Do in the Shadows bears to mind the work of Christopher Guest. It has eccentric characters, constant mugging for the camera, and a perfectly dry delivery ensuring those watching will laugh even harder at each joke—if that’s their cup […]

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REVIEW: Fast & Furious [2009]




“He used to date my sister” While only grossing half of its predecessor’s haul to make it seem as though Paul Walker‘s absence was a huge box office hindrance, Tokyo Drift still almost doubled its budget despite no discernible connection to the franchise that spawned it until the very end (minus its drag racing theme). […]

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REVIEW: Get Hard [2015]




“Have fun with it” It was only a matter of time before Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart paired up. The former’s fading critical success is in need of an injection of freshness to work alongside his tired shtick and the latter’s firmly planted star atop Hollywood couldn’t hurt from a little face time with a […]

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REVIEW: Insurgent [2015]




“You have to forgive yourself” I don’t know which of the three writers credited (Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback) on Insurgent is responsible for the complete overhaul of Veronica Roth‘s source novel, but I applaud him. If not for the retention of its characters’ arcs, one could argue the majority of this cinematic […]