Thelma Review

Joachim Trier‘s Thelma begins with one of the most haunting opening scenes in recent memory. A young girl and her father trek out into the wilderness surrounding their home, crossing over a frozen lake and entering the woods. The father is armed with a rifle. When his young daughter isn’t looking, he takes aim at the back of her head. He hesitates. He doesn’t pull the trigger.

And then we leap forward a number of years and Thelma (Eili Harboe) is heading to university in Oslo and learns that something is wrong with her. Or right with her. Because Thelma has supernatural abilities. And like any kid heading off to college for the first time, she’s got some serious stuff to figure out.

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anna and the apocalypse review

As a Scottish zombie Christmas musical comedy, Anna and the Apocalypse sounds like a joke. And for a little while, it feels like one.

Conceived as a High School Musical riff where the shambling undead arrive to wreak havoc on a more trivial teen movie, director John McPhail‘s film leans hard into comedy and irony in its first act. But like the 21st century’s greatest horror comedy (Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead), the film finds its voice and its soul when it drops the wink and becomes a fully realized musical horror movie with actual stakes…and the nerve to literally tear its lovable cast to pieces.

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Kingsman The Golden Circle Review

Before going any further, let’s get this out of the way: I loved the first Kingsman movie. On a purely visual, gets-your-adrenaline-going level, Matthew Vaughn has achieved the platonic ideal of the comic book movie. The Kingsman movies spectacles of bright colors, stylish costumes, outlandish violence, and a complete lack of attention to the laws of physics, all scored to pop songs that are immediately recognizable. To be sure, I loved the physical act of watching Kingsman: The Golden Circle. More than a few sequences got me to clap in delight. But beyond that, there’s something about this second installment that doesn’t quite click.

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lean on pete review

Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete is a social realist drama of the highest order, combining the gentle pastoral touch of David Lynch’s The Straight Story with a probing sympathy for individuals on the edge of society recalling the best of the Dardenne brothers. There’s no armchair sociology here, just rich character observation steeped in a spirit of compassion. Haigh never veers into grandstanding “issues movie” territory or troubled youth drama. It’s just the story of an adolescent boy in need of the tiniest bit of permanence and security.

That boy is 15-year-old Charley Thompson, played by Charlie Plummer, a pure but restless soul hitched to the fortunes of his good-natured single father Ray (Travis Fimmel). When the film starts, the two are just getting settled into a new home in Portland, and Charley clearly has the routine down. He unpacks his trophies, goes for a run around unfamiliar streets to acquaint himself with the area and puts his Cap’n Crunch in the refrigerator to avoid the roaches. Charley is no hopeless, despairing victim – he’s just stuck in a situation beyond his control. From a young age, he has already learned not to get sentimental and accept nothing as permanent.

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Kingsman The Golden Circle reviews

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a nice surprise back in 2015, and the new sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, looks to expand director Matthew Vaughn‘s cinematic spy-verse in a big way by adding a ton of A-list stars to the cast and taking the action overseas. So do those decisions make this an entertaining, worthwhile addition to the franchise, or has Vaughn bitten off more than he can chew here?

Find out what the critics are saying in excerpts from a handful of Kingsman The Golden Circle reviews culled from around the web.
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let the corpses tan

Anyone who can bear to stare directly into Let the Corpses Tan may walk away with the sensation that their eyelids are burning, almost as if someone seared them with a scalding hot poker. That’s by design. And for those who don’t mind the pain, the embrace of directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani will provide a masochistic thrill.

This isn’t just gross-out, go-for-broke genre cinema. Let the Corpses Tan begins with a jarring gunshot, from which Cattet and Forzani proceed to fire on all cylinders, deploying a full arsenal of cinematic techniques to induce the visceral response they seek. Color, framing, montage – you name it, they’re using it at full throttle. Edited at the zippy speed of a sleek commercial, this is 90 minutes of pure cinematic sensory assault.

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foxtrot review

Comedy and tragedy are usually treated as two wildly different emotions – the Golden Globes even consider them so different as to break up their film awards into two tracks on those lines. But for a writer/director like Samuel Maoz, the dichotomy is not so clear-cut. His new film Foxtrot, the stealth sensation of 2017’s fall festival season, evinces how these two experiences are not opposites, but rather two sides of the same coin. Maoz, in just his second narrative feature, repeatedly demonstrates the way hilarity and calamity are never far removed from one another. Just one break in the other direction can produce a wild twist of fate.

With the absurdist deadpan of Swedish master Roy Andersson, Foxtrot captures a unique look at how young men respond to both the banality and boredom of war, as well as how adults absorb the trauma of death. It’s best to let the strange whims of life in the film guide the viewing journey; go in as blind as possible. As he charts the impact of a calamitous development, Maoz responds to a full range of human reactions. They’re never treated as separate gears to operate. Instead, pain and humor are complementary forces that overlap and bleed into each other.

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unicorn store review

“The most grown-up thing you can do is fail at things you really care about,” imparts Joan Cusack’s Gladys to her daughter, Brie Larson’s Kit, towards the close of Unicorn Store. It’s the perfect nugget of wisdom for a tale of stilted, prolonged adolescence. But the film, Larson’s debut behind the camera, is a world away from the Seth Rogen-style manchild so prevalent in the past decade of comedy.

Kit, like many millennials, struggles to adapt to a corporate environment and bristles at the drabness of office life. She’s an artist by training with an instinct to color outside the lines, a proclivity received unkindly by her stern professor. Kit snags a temporary gig at PR&R PR, where she finds herself unsure of how to reconcile her well-nurtured passion for individual expression with the mandate to be a productive, contributing member of society. At this sterile company, suit-clad men envision selling products on their purpose alone. Kit wants to set her imagination free to convey how those same products make her feel.

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mother! early reviews

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Darren Aronofsky’s mother!)

Darren Aronofsky’s talents extend beyond his gripping filmmaking, inspiring intense debate among those who watch the finished product. His latest film, mother!, is starting to inspire the loudest debate of all: those who have seen the film (whether or not they’ve walked out before it ended) are fiercely divided among those who love it and those who helped give it a CinemaScore of F this past weekend. Technically, a lot happens in mother!, but there’s not exactly a plot or character arcs on display (neither of which, of course, are necessary). The film does bear similarities to many of Aronofsky’s previous films, from Black Swan to Noah, but it’s still very singular. What else could you call a movie where a massive group of people devour a newborn baby?

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. To attempt to answer the question at the core of mother! — to wit, what the hell is this about? — it’s worth exploring the multiple allegories that present themselves throughout.

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Man on the Moon Documentary - Man on the Moon Documentary - Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond Review

“When did this movie start?” asks a modern-day Jim Carrey to director Chris Smith. It’s the start of what we know as Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond – With a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton. It’s also probably one of the more normal things Carrey says or does throughout the documentary, a work presenting unreleased footage shot by Carrey behind the scenes of his Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon.

Read our Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond review from TIFF below. Read More »