• 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, […]

  • 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 […]

  • oliviernakache-interview01

    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 […]

  • debragranik-straydoginterview01

    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: Mr. Turner [2014]

“Nothing comes from nothing, Madam” I was not aware of J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) before hearing about Mike Leigh‘s latest film depicting the final quarter century of his life, Mr. Turner. I’ve tried recalling glimpses of his paintings during college, but find myself blank each time. As it appears he’s presently considered a master, perhaps […]

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REVIEW: The Last Five Years [2015]

“I will not lose because you can’t win.” I wanted to blame The Last Five Years‘ failure on the original musical’s creator Jason Robert Brown since director Richard LaGravenese and cast can only do so much if the material is lacking. But then I learned about a huge structural detour that occurred during the adaptation […]

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REVIEW: かぐや姫の物語 [Kaguyahime no monogatari] [The Tale of The Princess Kaguya] [2013]

“That was Heaven telling us who she’d grow into” There is no questioning whether かぐや姫の物語 [Kaguyahime no monogatari] [The Tale of The Princess Kaguya] is an extraordinary work of art. The beauty of its simplistic, watercolor ink-lined drawings is a breath of fresh air within a medium of 3D-rendered characters trying so hard to not […]

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REVIEW: Jupiter Ascending [2015]

“The problem with astrology … total bullshit” Sometimes filmgoers simply want to be entertained and often don’t mind when the means of that fun skews towards the headier side of things—no matter how implausible, campy, or convenient that direction proves. Jupiter Ascending isn’t trying to sell itself as some grand magnum opus that cures cancer; […]

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REVIEW: The Voices [2015]

“I know karate” Don’t let the wide-eyed giddiness of Ryan Reynolds‘ Jerry Hickfang fool you. There’s darkness inside him that simply hasn’t yet been coaxed out into the open. It may take a little while to see it in full force so you can truly comprehend what is going on with the Edward Scissorhands-esque bright […]

whiteearth

REVIEW: White Earth [2014]

“I don’t have any idea where it’s supposed to go” From the mouths of babes: Christian Jensen‘s White Earth is The Overnighters from the perspective of those uprooted along with the men heading to the North Dakotan oil fields. One boy remains in his trailer by himself rather than go to school while his father […]

reaper

REVIEW: La Parka [The Reaper] [2013]

“It’s your turn now” With thought provoking musings on life and death, La Parka [The Reaper] provides a unique look at Mexican slaughterhouse employee Efraín Jiménez García. A husband and father who walked by the business one day to see a “Now Hiring” sign, Efraín has worked his way up from waste sweeper to killer […]

ourcurse

REVIEW: Nasza klatwa [Our Curse] [2014]

“Except that for him everything is just a beginning” After culling together home videos documenting the early days of his son Leo Hueckel-Sliwinski‘s life along with brief one-shots of cathartic conversations had between he and wife Magda Hueckel into a seven-minute short three years ago, Tomasz Sliwinski expands their harrowing tale via the half hour […]

joanna

REVIEW: Joanna [2014]

“I may be lying but I’m still dancing” If I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and told I had three months to live, I’m not sure I’d think to blog about it. But that’s exactly what Joanna Sałyga decided to do, putting her thoughts on life, death, love, and loss out into the world so […]

crisishotline

REVIEW: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 [2014]

“You’re getting a hug whether you want it or not” Let’s just say it isn’t shocking to learn the federal government has only one Veterans’ Crisis Line office. America has a long history of soldiers coming home to a lower levels of support than deserved, so the reality that every call—and the numbers are staggering […]

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REVIEW: Dinosaur 13 [2014]

“Any tampering with this scene is a federal violation and will be prosecuted” It’s crazy how something so genuine in its scientific potential to find answers about our world and fiscal assistance to a small South Dakotan town can be warped and twisted into a sideshow of legal folly. Director Todd Douglas Miller has taken […]

aya

REVIEW: Aya [2012]

“Never follow your heart” It’s nice to take the road less traveled for adventure no matter how wild or tame the unknown journey becomes. That goes for those jumping headfirst and those unwittingly brought along. Because even if you didn’t intend for the unplanned sojourn, you cannot deny its allure once it’s begun. We take […]

parvaneh

REVIEW: Parvaneh [2012]

“Sorry, can you help send money?” The human condition is on display in Talkhon Hamzavi‘s Parvaneh. Or at least a very optimistic view of what it could and should be whether it takes a little while to get there or not. We like to think there is a universal concept of goodness in us all, […]

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REVIEW: Song of the Sea [2014]

“You’re going to be the best big brother in the world” Writer/director Tomm Moore received the okay to contemporize his peoples’ folklore from the seanachai he listened to while growing up in Ireland, Eddie Lenihan. A traditional storyteller known for modernizing these same archetypes, Lenihan explained to Moore that adapting them to our time might […]

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REVIEW: La lampe au beurre de yak [Butter Lamp] [2014]

“Go and look at yourself on the photos” The butter lamp is a traditional feature of Tibetan temples and monasteries as a representation of wisdom’s illumination. The light removes the darkness of the mind to focus it and aid meditation. As Buddhists ignite a number of these lamps for funerals and pilgrimages as a way […]