• Online Film Critics Society Ballot 2016

    Below is my December 31st ballot for the 20th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards honoring movies released domestically in the United States during the 2016 calendar year. Group winners are highlighted in red. Best Picture #1Moonlight. #2Manchesterby the Sea #3Arrival. #4Jackie. #5The Witch. #6Hell orHigh Water #7La La Land. #8O.J.: Madein America #9The Handmaiden. […]

  • REVIEW: Fences [2016]

    “A fastball on the outside corner” It seems that many people have been docking points from Denzel Washington‘s latest directorial effort Fences by labeling it as “too theatrical.” Well, that’s somewhat hard to avoid when you’re dealing with August Wilson‘s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play and its wall-to-wall dialogue touching upon love, responsibility, race, […]

  • REVIEW: La La Land [2016]

    “Or one more dream that I cannot make true” Writer/director Damien Chazelle burst onto the scene in 2014 on the back of his Oscar-nominated and critical darling Whiplash. It took this jazz drummer time to finally breakthrough with his sophomore feature, time that saw actors and producers taking a risk on him that would ultimately […]

  • REVIEW: Manchester by the Sea [2016]

    “I can’t beat it” It’s hard to imagine a Manchester by the Sea directed by Matt Damon and starring John Krasinski, but that was the original plan. They actually brought the idea to Kenneth Lonergan—Damon acted in one of his friend’s plays on stage and also his sophomore film Margaret. Hollywood is tough, though. Schedules […]

  • REVIEW: Jackie [2016]

    “When something’s written down—does that make it true?” It’s rather intriguing how we feel we know our presidents. They represent us as a leader of the free world and we in turn love them enough to mourn their passing even when it’s decades after their run in the Oval Office ceased. But what is it […]



film reviews

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 […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Interchange [2016]

“This is not your story” Something’s happening in Kuala Lampur—something that cannot be explained. Deaths in the vein of Bryan Fuller‘s gorgeously ornate displays of murder from “Hannibal” have arrived without any leads or earthly reason. Detective Man (Shaheizy Sam) jokes that his forensic photographer needs to see a witch doctor after collapsing at the […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Tramps [2017]

“Kids menu or appetizers?” The romantic comedy formula is one that can’t help but become redundant in premise. How many different scenarios are there for two people to converge? Even so, Adam Leon may have found a new one with his meet-cute during a dead-drop gone wrong called Tramps. It should have been a painless […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Snowden [2016]

“Secrecy is security and security is victory” Remakes repackaging foreign films for American audiences are justifiable if done correctly. I’d hope our movie-going public would willingly read subtitles and experience the original artist’s vision, but we don’t live in a utopia. Dramatizing non-fiction work is equally acceptable in specific circumstances because a narrative built from […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: American Pastoral [2016]

“You told her to bring the war home” If my limited experience with Philip Roth adaptations is any indication, his novels deal in emotion. There are existential crises concerning identity involved, each a character study about life’s impact beyond the surface experiences propelling them forward. This isn’t something easily translated from page to screen when […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Catfight [2017]

“Raise a glass to trash” With a title like Catfight and the only available image showing a bloodied and battered chokehold between Anne Heche and Sandra Oh, our expectations are forced into conjuring hope for a wild, frenzied ride. Well writer/director Onur Tukel doesn’t disappoint with this broad satire of American politics and wealth disparity. […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: A Monster Calls [2016]

“You will tell me your nightmare. That will be your truth.” When your author and illustrator both win Carnegie and Greenaway Medals for the same book (it may still be the only time ever), you can bet Hollywood will come knocking. Even though the production is a joint effort between Britain (the majority of its […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Free Fire [2017]

“Talk about a fucking sledgehammer to crack a nut” TIFF’s Colin Geddes was correct when introducing Ben Wheatley‘s bottle episode of a film Free Fire with the words: “This will wake you up.” The gunfire alone risks perforating your eardrums as John Denver blares from a 1978-era van’s eight-track, but I think it’s the surprising […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Burn Your Maps [2017]

“The kid in the strange clothes said he gave birth to two goats” Many films deal with the aftermath of a family death by becoming about how their characters live with the pain—changing them into different people. Some distinctly show them living despite it instead. Rather than depict Connor (Marton Csokas) and Alise (Vera Farmiga) […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Pyromanen [Pyromaniac] [2016]

“You can be whatever you want to be” Going in with no expectations besides the recent news that the film had been shortlisted for Norway’s 2017 Oscar selection, director Erik Skjoldbjærg‘s Pyromanen [Pyromaniac] could not have delivered a better start to get me ready. Using extended camera movements to capture subtle detail from a car […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Souvenir [2016]

“Like ABBA but not so famous” It starts with bubbles. So many bubbles rising slowly in liquid as the opening credits in script font flash onscreen. And when the camera finally pans out to see what it’s been that’s mesmerized us so? A glass of water with an Alka-Seltzer dropped in, of course. This is […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: The Magnificent Seven [2016]

“It won’t sweeten, it’ll only sour” I’m at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the new The Magnificent Seven despite going in thinking it’d be the other way around. Here I was anticipating that I’d be able to watch the film with a completely blank slate because I’ve never seen the 1960 version nor […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Past Life [2016]

“In tragedy you can’t escape fate” It’s 1977 and you’re the lead soprano in your first international concert. Rapturous applause and a flawless performance later you find yourself hobnobbing with classmates and audience members alike, the famed German composer Thomas Zielinski (Rafael Stachowiak) even enters to the crowd’s delight. But rather than let the electricity […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Nikdy nejsme sami [We Are Never Alone] [2016]

“Those afraid to die are afraid to live” Fans of Quentin Dupieux should rejoice because I haven’t seen a film this absurdly hilarious since Wrong. Petr Václav‘s Nikdy nejsme sami [We Are Never Alone] is definitely bleaker, darker, and strangely realist, but it has that same sense of subtle humor to give you pause about […]

TIFF16 REVIEW: Tereddüt [Clair Obscur] [2017]

“Like a thorn” Life for a woman like Elmas (Ecem Uzun) in Turkey is a living nightmare. An eighteen-year old all but sold to a willing husband (Serkan Keskin‘s Koca) much older than she to clean his house, give her mother-in-law (Sema Poyraz‘s Kaynana) across the hall insulin shots, and—marriage or not—get raped every night, […]