• phoenix01

    REVIEW: Phoenix [2014]

    “I no longer exist” The Holocaust left thousands of survivors stripped of identity—branded by a number as though they weren’t worthy of the name given at birth. To exit such horror was to enter a new world forever changed for them as well as those lucky enough to have missed the nightmare first-hand. Pity, guilt, […]

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    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 […]

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    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 […]



film reviews

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REVIEW: Hereafter [2010]

“Cooking is for all the senses” Right before sitting down for a screening of Hereafter, my friend told me she had read that it was Clint Eastwood’s ‘French film’. Once the end credits rolled, I realized there isn’t a more succinct description for it. Showing again how the marketing machine loves to manipulate audiences into […]

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FILM MARATHON: Movie Musicals #3: Kiss Me Kate [1953]

“You louse!” I’m a sucker for multi-layered films depicting simultaneous stories at once, juxtaposing onstage performances with the backstage antics of the actors involved. Kiss Me Kate, screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley and music by Cole Porter, shows the theatrical opening inter-workings of a stage musical, by the same name, styled on William Shakespeare’s The Taming […]

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REVIEW: RED [2010]

“Did you vacuum?” My only knowledge of director Robert Schwentke was that he helmed the Jodie Foster vehicle Flightplan that didn’t interest me in the slightest and the sub-par adaptation yet very effective film version of The Time Traveler’s Wife. So, I wasn’t sure on whether his newest comedic actioner RED would end up being […]

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REVIEW: Buried [2010]

“Or else he’ll take me to SeaWorld” Oh, what lies we are willing to tell in order to selfishly make ourselves feel safe and guiltless while those we fool have their lives destroyed or to guard them from the stark realities of truth for a short time more. Thinking he’s about to die, what does […]

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FILM MARATHON: Movie Musicals #2: Show Boat [1936]

“Just one big happy family” Based on Edna Ferber’s novel, the James Whale directed and Oscar Hammerstein II scripted Show Boat concerns the show-biz family of Magnolia Hawks and how her life is forever changed once a sheltered childhood makes way for international success. Ushered in by a nicely animated credit sequence of cardboard dancers […]

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FILM MARATHON: Movie Musicals #1: The Jazz Singer [1927]

“A jazz singer—singing to his God” Mirroring the actual life of star Al Jolson, playwright Samson Raphaelson wrote The Jazz Singer about a young Jewish performer who was cast out of his own home for choosing jazz over the traditional synagogue hymns taught to him by his Cantor father. Gone for years to try his […]

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REVIEW: 三槍拍案驚奇 [A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop] [2010]

“You are such a wimp, the biggest I’ve ever seen” A prolific director in China, Yimou Zhang found an audience in America with the wonderful Hero and his follow-up House of Flying Daggers. Curse of the Golden Flower came next with its stunning visuals but lackluster storyline that left me cold and uninterested, thinking perhaps […]

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REVIEW: Blood Simple. [1984]

“I ain’t done nothin’ funny” It took Fargo, thirteen years later, for the Coen Brothers to finally get recognition at the Oscars with three nominations culminating in a win for Best Screenplay, and then another eleven for a Best Picture win. Looking at that victory, No Country for Old Men, and the most recently acclaimed […]

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REVIEW: Race to Nowhere [2010]

“Our children are going to sue us for taking their childhood” I’ve been seeing the state of education in this country and its stringent control over academic achievement being the end all be all for personal success, destroying the youth of our nation with unwarranted stress and pressures, for awhile now. My age group graduated […]

REVIEW: Buster Keaton’s Cops [1922], One Week [1920], The Boat [1921] & The Play House [1921]

If you’re going to watch short films by Buster Keaton, you should do a marathon if possible. Watching four in a row, as I did, allows you to truly appreciate the comedic talent he was—writing and directing with Edward F. Cline, choreographing his own insane stunts, and creating laughter without ever breaking into a smile. […]

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REVIEW: 全職殺手 [Fulltime Killer] [2001]

“In our business, you’re bound to rub out someone you know” Filmmakers and creators of Milky Way Image, a studio in Hong Kong, Johnnie To and Ka-Fai Wai have been collaborating for many years as producers, writers, and directors, both getting their start in television. I think most people credit much of the work to […]

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REVIEW: Catfish [2010]

“Hi! So who’s all real in this situation?” I did not expect Catfish to be a real documentary. In hindsight, it wouldn’t have taken much for me to find this fact out, but I was so vigilant to go into the film with as little information to the ‘twist’ alluded to in the trailer that […]

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REVIEW: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps [2010]

“Growing old’s not for sissies, kid” Stupid subtitle aside, dare I say Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps surpasses its predecessor pretty much across the board cinematically? Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff have woven together an intricate plot of dueling con jobs amidst a young romance between idealists in a capitalist world where greed is a […]

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REVIEW: Resident Evil: Afterlife [2010]

“Star Power, Bitches” Is it bad to say I think Paul W.S. Anderson gets a bad rap? This guy has been getting David S. Goyer type flack for years now, but while Goyer can write great work for other directors, saving himself the drivel, Anderson has seen a pretty solid slate of work. I think […]

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REVIEW: Devil [2010]

“We are the audience for a reason” It all starts with a suicide—a death to allow easy passage of the Devil to the real world, giving him human form to make those he’s about to collect suffer a public, horrific demise. The first of a planned series in suspense horror called the Night Chronicles, M. […]