Category: Reviews

Spirit of the Beehive: A Vindication of Childhood Imagination

Victor Erice directed only three films in his career, yet managed to debut with what is considered one of Spain’s greatest cinematic achievements: 1973’s Spirit of the Beehive. It’s a masterpiece that has influenced cinema indelibly through Erice’s empathetic regard for his principle characters and a quiet solemnity unmatched by his contemporaries. Of Erice’s handful of films, two—Spirit and El Sur—featured children as their protagonists. For Erice, this choice of child protagonists was neither incidental nor a consequence of the plot. Instead, it was driven by his need to explore one of his favorite themes to revisit—the child’s guileless discovery of a world...

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VIFF: True to its Promise, Lucky Gives Us Harry Dean Stanton One Last Time

Overview: A 90-year old comes to terms with his life and his death. Magnolia Pictures; 2017; Rated PG; 88 minutes. That’s Some Heavy Shit: The concept of aging has always scared me much more than the concept of death. Being trapped inside a body that’s slowly breaking down is a sobering thought, one that encouraged me to start exercising and taking care of myself early. Lucky shows us Harry Dean Stanton’s 90-year old body close up in full detail as he practices his daily yoga exercises and drinks his morning glass of whole milk. It’s strange to look at—bony...

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The Battle of the Sexes Fights the Good Fight

Overview: The fight for equal pay for tennis athletes culminates in a final match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 121 minutes.  A Long Road Ahead: We should be closer to equality than we are. This is true when talking about our culture’s treatment of LGBTQ rights, race, and gender. It can sometimes be easy to assume that we have made great strides. However, taking a closer look at a seminal event in regards to equality can present us with some very difficult truths. The Battle of the Sexes, is at its...

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Gerald’s Game: How Women Survive the Men Who Love Them

Overview: Jessie and Gerald Burlingame’s romantic weekend turns suddenly horrific when Jessie finds herself alone, handcuffed to a bed, with no one around for miles. Netflix; 2017; Rated TV-MA; 103 minutes. A Story Within a Story: Gerald’s Game premise is simple: A weekend getaway designed to reignite the flame that years of marriage have dulled. Its tools, almost cliché: a new slip for her, those ever-recognizable little blue pills for him, and handcuffs for a bit of excitement. But the intrinsic power of Gerald’s Game is not in its clever setup, but rather the underlying tension wrought by every...

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5 More of the Best Horror Scores and Soundtracks

When we think about horror movies, most often we focus on the lighting, the acting, the effects, and the shocking reveal. But none of these elements would be nearly as effective without the use of music. Whether it be diegetic or non-diegetic, the music featured in horror movies has the ability to masterfully manipulate our emotions, making even the most sub-par elements of horror effective in a way they never would be without it. In a two-part list, we’ll be continuing our conversation of horror music by looking at more best horror movie scores and the best uses of...

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American Made Showcases One of the Last American Outlaws

Overview: Doug Liman and Tom Cruise re-team to give us the dark spiritual sequel to Top Gun we never had. Universal Pictures; 2017; Rated R; 115 minutes. The American Dream: American Made is the mostly true story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a smuggler for the CIA, DEA and Medellin Cartel. In the vein of films analyzing chaos through entertainment like Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, American Made looks back at a final frontier in American history. In interviews, Liman and Cruise refer to piloting in the 80s as the last bastion of...

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New on Amazon Prime: The Lost City of Z Discovers the Lost Vision of David Lean

Originally published on April 13, 2017. The Lost City of Z is now available on Amazon Prime instant streaming. Overview: In the early 20th Century, a determined explorer makes three separate journeys into the Amazon in hopes of finding a lost civilization. Bleecker Street/Amazon Studios; 2016; PG-13; 140 minutes. This Time, It’s True: I never liked that old dismissal, “They don’t make movies like that any more.” The sentence is almost always cheap and empty, and frequently a testament only to its speaker’s nostalgic hindsightedness. Most of the things that were great about movies then, no matter where in...

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Pelo Malo is a Moving Must-Watch

Overview: The story of nine-year-old Junior whose obsession with straightening his hair leads to him suffering homophobic abuse. Artefactos S.F; 2013; Rated R; 93 minutes. Identity: Pelo Malo is a tale of identity, both how one finds their inner identity and how the rest of the world perceives it. Junior, whose father passed away when he was younger, lives to support his emotionally unstable mother and baby brother. Despite being nine years of age, he cooks dinner and cleans up after his recently unemployed mother. His father is said to be Afro-Latino, which is why Junior’s hair is curly....

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Mubi Hidden Gem #2 – Hello Destroyer

Hello Destroyer Kevan Funk Drama Synopsis: After almost killing a rival hockey team’s player during a match, Tyson Burr struggles to rebuild his life.  Overall: It would be a gross oversimplification to say that Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer is a film about violence, much as it would be a gross oversimplification to say that it’s a film about hockey. Yes, the film follows Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson), a professional hockey enforcer who gets dropped from his team after hitting an opposing player so hard he shattered one of his vertebrae and hemorrhaged his brain. Hello Destroyer is a film...

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In Columbus, A Relationship Blooms Amidst Architectural Wonders

Overview: A young woman who cares for her mother befriends a man who visits the town of Columbus, Indiana when his father falls ill; Depth of Field; 2017; 100 minutes. Dream Baby Dream: Early in Columbus, the debut film from writer/director Kogonada, we hear a girl rehearsing to herself as she stands at the foot of a beautiful building. The hushed voice recites the facts and figures you’d hear from a tour guide. Indeed, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) would make a great guide to the modernist architecture sprinkled around the town in Indiana that the film is named for....

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The Uncanny Terror of Carnival of Souls

A young woman travels a bleak, lonely road at dusk. We don’t know much about her, but we know all we need: she’s fleeing a past suddenly defined by trauma. She lives in a world she no longer understands. She’s crossing the country to start again. As she drives, she peers around, as though monitoring her surroundings for the next calamity. When she turns back to the windshield, there’s a ghoulish man in the middle of a pitch-black highway (wait a minute, wasn’t it dusk a moment ago?) and as we zoom towards him—or he zooms towards us; it’s...

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle is Fun but Empty

Overview: After the Kingsman headquarters is destroyed, the remaining Kingsmen are forced to seek out their American counterparts, the Statesman, to stop a dangerous threat. Twentieth Century Fox; 2017; Rated R; 141 Minutes. “Now I’ve Got Wings”: Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service was creative, irreverent, well-crafted parody that still managed to have a sweetness to it, courtesy of its protagonist Eggsy (Taron Egerton). The sincerity and heart present in the chaos and parody in the original Kingsman came from Eggsy’s origin story, from an aimless working-class boy to an English gentleman spy, guided by his mentors Harry Hart (Colin...

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Stronger Is One Big Phantasmagoria

Overview: A victim of the Boston Marathon bombing’s photographed image becomes a source of hope for his city and country while his personal life becomes increasingly fraught with anguish from his trauma. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions; 2017; 119 Minutes. Phantasmagoria: Since he passed away earlier this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about something legendary actor Harry Dean Stanton told The Observer in an interview in 2013: “In the end, you end up accepting everything in your life—suffering, horror, love, loss, hate—all of it. It’s all a movie anyway.” Life, he explained, was “one big phantasmagoria.” Strange, then, that the first...

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Indivisible Is A Dark Fairy Tale

Overview: Conjoined twins Viola and Dasy come of age and begin to question the direction of their separate lives. Tramp Ltd.; 2017; Not Rated; 100 minutes Together: Indivisible gets right into it, addressing the question that comes to everyone’s most honest mind: how attached are they, and what sensations are shared between them? The film opens on conjoined twins Viola and Dasy, Viola sleeping soundly with a pleasured smile on her face as Dasy lazily touches her vulva, seemingly more bored with the morning than actually aroused. This initially shows us that what affects one girl’s body somehow transfers...

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