Fahrenheit 451 review

Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 gets a slick, stylish update for the Trump era courtesy of 99 Homes director Ramin Bahrani. On the surface, taking Bradbury’s book about the suppression of knowledge and setting it firmly in a world that seems to be crafted in the image of Donald Trump makes sense, and there’s a potentially brilliant movie to be made from this concept.

This isn’t that movie, though. Instead, Bahrani weighs Fahrenheit 451 down with a near-painful lack of subtlety, to the point where the film feels like it’s screaming in your face with a megaphone, “GET IT?” Bradbury’s source material wasn’t exactly subtle to begin with, but writer-director Bhrani takes things to the extreme.

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solo review

After a troubled production, Solo: A Star Wars Story is here. The good news: the behind-the-scenes woes weren’t enough to sink the film and create a mess. The bad news: that doesn’t necessarily mean everything in Solo runs as smoothly as it should.

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Deadpool 2 review

Much like its predecessor, Deadpool 2 is less a movie than a smirky, feature-length meme generator. Though the sequel has a new director and some new cast members, Deadpool 2 is unsurprisingly doubling down on what made the first film such a big hit, including jokes about exactly how big of a hit at the box office it was, as well as plenty of other fourth-wall-breaking moments. Considering that the original was successful, it’s somewhat predictable that this sequel is going to the same well of snark and glib ultra-violence, but this is just as obnoxious as its predecessor, if not more so. Read More »

venus review

I’m going to spoil Venus for you up front: it’s a film that ends happily.

This isn’t so much a spoiler, though, as much as it is a reassurance of what becomes amply clear mere minutes in. It’s a family comedy – in tone, structure and everything else – and thus, it’s a queer narrative that doesn’t wallow in the misery of its protagonist. Things don’t often end well for queer women in fiction (for trans women especially), and so a film that not only centers a trans woman, but does so this lovingly, is undoubtedly worth noting. What’s more, it exists at the nexus of Canada’s queer and Punjabi-immigrant cultures, bringing with it not only a whole host of quirks, but the requisite nuances therein.

Indo-Canadian trans woman Sid Gill (Debargo Sanyal) discovers the teenage Caucasian son she fathered when she identified as a man in her teen years. She doesn’t have the bandwidth to compartmentalize this disruption. Her son Ralph, well… Ralph wants to be more Indian than Sid has ever allowed herself to be, whether in terms of music or language or food. It is, quite simply, a delight.

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the hungry review

The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus is one of the harder-to-adapt Shakespeare plays. Its ultra-violence can border on self-parody if mishandled, and losing that element of the story leaves it somewhat limp. Even when juggled deftly, it’s simply grotesque. Though as with any transposition of the Bard to a modern setting – in this case, New Delhi – it’s the adaptation of context that seems to matter most.

Enter Bornilla Chatterjee’s The Hungry, Andronicus loosely set against family industrialism in northern India. The Andronicus’s and Goths are now the Ahujas and Joshis, agrarian business partners entangled in political corruption on the eve of a family wedding. The play’s basic framework remains, a cyclical revenge saga (minus the rape), though its characters are combined for an easier follow.

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Breaking In Review

It was just last summer when Halle Berry’s Karla Dyson took matters into her own hands when she jumped into her minivan and chased down a pair of villains who abducted her son in Kidnap. That marked the first time in far too long that we saw a woman of color — and “of a certain age” — centralized as a badass hero and a mom on the big screen. She was no longer merely the sidekick or the villain the main character (usually a white actress) knocks off within the film’s first 30 minutes. She was the star.

I felt a similar sense of progress while watching Breaking In, the new thriller starring Gabrielle Union. In it, she plays a mother who stops at nothing to fight off armed criminals (Billy Burke, Richard Cabral, Levi Meaden, and Mark Furze) who break into her home and threaten her and her children.

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Life of the Party Review

Over the last decade, Melissa McCarthy has helped boost a handful of comedies with her fierce comic charm and timing. Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids, and the Ghostbusters remake (which wasn’t perfect, but was still pretty damn funny) all were elevated by her ability to play someone who’s wild and outlandish while managing to feel slightly rooted in reality. Her immense talent in these films makes it all the more puzzling that the three films she’s co-written and produced, including the new comedy Life of the Party, are so scattershot. Life of the Party has a familiar, straightforward premise, but is hampered by dull jokes and a poor sense of pacing.

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nude review

A row of women, bent over on the river bank, uniform, toiling away at dirty laundry on the outskirts of their village. One of them, Yamuna (Kalyanee Mulay) breaks formation. She turns to dive into the water, and to free herself from the shackles of tradition and gendered expectation. The mere swerve of her foot towards the river feels like an enormous gesture. As she swims to a quiet inlet, she spies on another woman, swinging from the branches, youthful, carefree and detached from concern. But in a moment, that freedom feels curtailed, when a man swims up to the woman on the tree. He is her lover, but there’s something amiss about the setting. Something intrusive about this male presence, sexualizing a moment that ought to feel untethered from time.

Within seconds and without words, Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi-language Nude establishes its emotional stakes, presenting a pristine vision of freedom before snatching it away. The rest of its runtime – a melodic 110 minutes that you’d wish lasted longer – follows Yamuna trying to win back this fleeting feeling. First, by escaping her abusive husband and moving to Mumbai. Next, by becoming a nude model at a college of the arts.

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Revenge Review

There’s an endless supply of revenge thrillers in cinema, and among them are also plenty of thrillers about a woman who wants retaliation after being raped by a man. That’s exactly what Revenge delivers, but what makes this particular thriller stand out is that it hails from first-time French filmmaker Coralie Fargeat, bringing a refreshing female perspective to the proceedings that is not only empowering, but also downright bloody and merciless in its literal and figurative execution. Read More »

the party's just beginning review

Karen Gillan is still a relatively unknown quantity in the U.S. After shooting to cult success in Doctor Who, Gillan muddled through a few obscure comedy roles before getting her big break as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. But her prosthetic-covered, blue painted face has hindered her chance at widespread recognition, though her performance in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle may have finally earned her the attention she deserves — if people could see beyond the Rock’s pecs.

She deserved to shoot to stardom with the unfortunately titled 2014 TV series Selfie, in which Gillan played a vain, selfish, and damaged heroine addicted to the instant gratification of social media. She gave a stunning performance in a show that was seen by too few and that was gone too soon. But Gillan’s directorial debut, The Party’s Just Beginning, takes that damaged, troubled character and runs with it — spawning an intriguing heroine for a dark, oddball film that deals with the lasting damages of grief.

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