• moonlight01

    TIFF16 REVIEW: Moonlight [2016]

    “Chiron and trouble always found a way” What’s it like to be a young boy on the drug-filled streets of Miami: without friends, without family, without hope? As cliques begin to feign superiority by ganging up on the weak to prove themselves hard enough for what’s coming, Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert)—or “Little” as they call […]

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    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 […]

  • touchofzen01

    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 […]



film reviews

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 […]

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Let Me Make You a Martyr [2016]

“You can’t fight fate” There’s a lot more to Corey Asraf and John Swab‘s debut feature Let Me Make You a Martyr than meets the eye. It looks like your run-of-the-mill revenge thriller with its prodigal son (Niko Nicotera‘s Drew Glass) returning home after an extended stay away to right the wrongs of the past. […]

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Man Underground [2016]

“There’s not a lot of money in being a true patriot these days” Aliens are here. That’s the message Willem Koda (George Basil) would have us believe—the 360 viewers clicking on his YouTube channel’s posts. He’s an ex-geologist who rode a government contract until the unexplainable left him with nothing but emotional and psychological scarring, […]

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REVIEW: Lights Out [2016]

“Are you doing this to help him or hurt her?” The story behind Lights Out is one many YouTubers aspire towards because it sees Swedish filmmaker David F. Sandberg evolve from three years of super short online scares to a seat beside contemporary Hollywood horror king James Wan. You could call his three-minute original from […]

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REVIEW: Lights Out [2013]

It’s a bona fide YouTube to Hollywood transformation story for David F. Sandberg who along with actress Lotta Losten has been creating ultra-short horror treatments on both the Google-owned platform and Vimeo since 2013. It started with Cam Closer and has continued all the way into this year with Closet Space en route to his […]

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Little Sister [2016]

“It took God six days to create the universe. You should be able to get your act together in five.” Saying Zach Clark‘s Little Sister being called a comedy does a disservice to the film seems like a slight on the genre. I know. But I don’t mean it that way. What this label does—even […]

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REVIEW: Ghostbusters [2016]

“Ain’t no bitches gonna bust no ghosts” They lied. I walked out of Paul Feig‘s Ghostbusters reboot to find my childhood intact. Memories didn’t disappear as the run-time progressed with cooties-infested women replacing the nerdy, elitist dickheads in jumpsuits who ran amok in New York City years ago. In fact, these 21st century scientists actually […]

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Never Tear Us Apart [2016]

“I was attacked by a cougar once. Her name was Janice.” It plays out exactly how you know it will, but it’s no less funny as a result. Sid Zanforlin‘s (co-written by Chris Bavota) short film Never Tear Us Apart has everything you’d want from a horror with naïve wanderers, cannibalistic hicks, dismemberment, and a […]

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REVIEW: Our Kind of Traitor [2016]

“What am I doing here?” We received two John le Carré adaptations this year, each delivering high production value, effective performances, and somewhat weak plotting. Susanne Bier‘s The Night Manager provides a “hero” between worlds—not a bona fide spy as in A Most Wanted Man or Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, not a regular man at […]

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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 […]