The Conductor Review

This review contains mild spoilers for The Conductor

Have you ever heard of Antonia Brico? Don’t be ashamed if the answer to that question is “no”. Many people, even those with degrees in musical fields, have no idea who she is. The short answer is that Brico is one of the most exceptional modern conductors of our time. She’s the first American to graduate from the Berlin State Academy of Music, and the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic. The Conductor is her story. 

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Saint Frances Review

This review contains mild spoilers for Saint Frances

Thirty-four-year-old Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) is figuring it out as she goes. She’s single, stuck in a dead-end job, and not quite sure what she wants to do with her life. After listening to a creep at a party blather on about all the things he’s achieved by the same age, Bridget decides to take life by the horns. But not before an awkward and incredibly relatable night with her now not-boyfriend, Jace (Max Lipchitz). 

A series of quick events will result in two facts in Bridget’s life: she’s facing an unwanted pregnancy because a lot of sex-ed still fails to teach us that pulling out isn’t a viable method of birth control, and she’s about to take a new job as a nanny for a lesbian couple. What unfolds throughout the rest of Saint Frances is an exploration in just how inherently lonely being a woman can be, and how using our words with one another can actively help combat that loneliness.

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Daniel Isn't Real Review

This review contains mild spoilers for Daniel Isn’t Real

Imaginary friends have a way of getting a little dicey in media. They start out sweet. They act as a companion and build up the confidence of their hosts. Then the next thing you know they’re telling you to put glue in your sister’s shampoo and hair on your mom’s toothbrush. But what would happen if that imaginary friend took things to a more sinister place? Daniel Isn’t Real is here to answer that question. 

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Butt Boy Review

One of the joys of attending several film festivals every year is finding and celebrating the wildest and most unique genre movies from around the world. This year, the crown for wildest discovery goes to Butt Boy, a film that has been making the festival rounds, but one that should be seen by everyone.

Meet Chip Gutchell (writer/director Tyler Cornack) a man who is miserable with his life. He has a soulless job he hates, a loveless marriage he is tired of, and even though he’s a new father, he feels unfulfilled in every way. Then he gets an appointment for his first prostate exam.

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knives out review

The game’s afoot and everyone’s a suspect in Knives Out, Rian Johnson‘s deliriously funny whodunit. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have trying to solve a murder. Gathering together a killer cast of movie stars and character actors, Johnson has crafted a film that’s both a loving homage to locked room mysteries and a giddy, laugh-out-loud funny comedy that keeps pulling the rug out from under you just when you think you’ve found your footing. It’s a total blast.

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Philophobia Review

The below contains minor spoilers for the film Philophobia: or the Fear of Falling in Love.

You ever feel like your love life is a horror movie? If so, you’re going to find Philophobia: or the Fear of Falling in Love extremely relatable. Tyler Cole’s directorial debut takes a swing at romantic horror and punches it right in the heart. Because honestly, what could be more terrifying than being in love? You take the most vulnerable version of yourself and you just hand it over to another human being hoping they don’t spike it like a wide receiver.  

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1917 review

Not since Mad Max: Fury Road has a film so fully embraced the “motion” part of motion pictures. Sam Mendes‘ jaw-dropping, nerve-jangling World War I epic 1917 is designed to look like one extremely long take from start to finish, resulting in a film that almost never sits still. The clock is ticking, and the narrative thrusts the characters forward as if a strong wind is at their backs.

One-take movies are nothing new, and 1917 ran a serious risk of being gimmicky. But Mendes, working with master cinematographer Roger Deakins, uses the single-take concept to fully enhance the narrative. Best of all, the film underscores its technical prowess with a raw, emotional story that finds beauty struggling to push through all the muck and mire. In 1917, war is hell, but it’s a hell you can find your way back from as long as you remember your humanity.

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Josh Trank Reviews Fantastic Four

Back in 2015, 20th Century Fox wasn’t worrying about being purchased by The Walt Disney Company. But they were worried about the release of their new take on Marvel’s first family, Fantastic Four. The studio was rebooting the franchise in an effort to capitalize on the love for Marvel Studios movies, and rather than going in the goofy family action comedy direction of the first franchise, they got dark and gritty with Chronicle director Josh Trank at the helm. But things did not go well.

Josh Trank’s vision for Fantastic Four did not pan out as he hoped. Studio executives demanded reshoots, and it was clear that they completely crippled whatever Trank had in mind. Well, four years later, Trank decided to revisit his box office bomb that stopped any hopes of revamping the franchise dead in its tracks. The director even took the time to post a movie review to Letterboxd, in which he reflects on that time in his life and hints at the production woes behind the scenes. Read More »

white snake review

For all the dominance that China has asserted on the movie industry in recent years, the country has not yet been able to gain a foothold in the animation market. There have been a few Hollywood productions co-financed or co-produced by Chinese studios, but no original films from China have yet to make a mark on outside of the country’s borders. And considering China’s rich cultural history and mythology — which has frequently been cribbed by Western animators — it seems like a long time coming.

White Snake, the second feature film from Beijing-based CG animation studio Light Chaser Animation, bears all of this baggage on its back and delivers a breathlessly imaginative and visually stunning animated film that is easily one of the most beautiful animated films this year. But for all its visual splendor, the story itself feels like an afterthought, too heavily inspired by the Disney films that it emulates.

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21 bridges review

Hollywood doesn’t pump-out many non-franchise action-thrillers these days, so perhaps we should be thankful for 21 Bridges. And perhaps that this movie hails from producers The Russo Brothers, a duo responsible for so many blockbuster franchise movies, is a good sign. But lordy, does the end result have to be so lifeless?

21 Bridges is a yawn-inducing long night’s journey into day, where a supposedly hotshot detective doesn’t pick up on big twists we spot a mile away, and where characters fire off dialogue that’s supposed to be weighty but comes out clunky. You get the sense that 21 Bridges wants to be a throwback to old school police action-thrillers, but you’d be better off avoiding this and renting one of those old school flicks instead.

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