• 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

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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 […]

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REVIEW: The Trials of Muhammad Ali [2013]

“A white man’s heaven is a black man’s hell” While the structure of Bill Siegel‘s The Trials of Muhammad Ali delivers nothing new to the language of documentary—archival footage mixed with present-day interviews working towards a specific thesis—the story at it’s back is too interesting to blindly dismiss. We all know Ali as a poet, […]

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REVIEW: Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle [The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser] [1974]

“I want to be a gallant rider like my father was before me” If any true story of mystery and perhaps madness were to align itself with Werner Herzog‘s sensibilities, that of young Kaspar Hauser is it. Here was a seventeen-year old boy found standing in Nuremburg clutching a note addressed to the cavalry captain. […]

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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 […]

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REVIEW: The Neon Demon [2016]

“Are you food or are you sex” Fame: all that’s glittered and gold, the intrinsic “it” quality we’d kill for but never do. That aura with an expiration date; beauty, confidence, radiance, and whatever other label outsiders use to transform you into a commodity to be bought, sold, and exploited within the tiny window before […]

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REVIEW: Buddymoon [2016]

“It will make sense in just some seconds” When Flula Borg showed up in the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer I found myself smiling at his success. It was a cameo keen to capitalize on his YouTube DJ fame and unabashedly broken English Chatty Cathy vibe, but it was studio film exposure nonetheless. This cemented the […]

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REVIEW: The Purge: Election Year [2016]

“Is murder our new religion?” The escalation of terror has dialed up a few more notches as writer/director James DeMonaco takes us further down the hole of first world genocide in The Purge: Election Year. What began behind fortified walls and a false sense of modest superiority to show how no one was safe when […]

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REVIEW: The Legend of Tarzan [2016]

“Look at his hands” The film wasn’t even over before an older woman sitting a row away loudly exclaimed, “I’m exhausted.” I chuckled to myself at the exasperation shown for what wasn’t even a two-hour movie, but quickly realized she wasn’t wrong. I felt a bit drained myself trying to figure out what part of […]

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REVIEW: The Shallows [2016]

“The island of the pregnant woman” Not all shark movies should be compared to Jaws—not even The Shallows. If you were to make any type of correlation cinema-wise it should be Cast Away meets Gravity or All Is Lost. The idea here is to put a character in isolation during a survival moment where hope […]