high life review

(This review originally ran during our coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018. High Life is in theaters today.)

In High Life, Claire Denis heads to space, and brings Robert Pattinson with her. The result is a strange, surreal, often indecipherable trip into the darkest recess of the galaxy, and beyond. But what does it all mean?

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Outlaws Trailer

After playing the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2017, the Australian biker gang drama formerly known as 1% is finally coming to theaters, but with a new title and an early 2019 release date.

The film from director Stephen McCallum is now known as Outlaws, and it follows Matt Nable as the Copperheads motorcycle club leader Knuck who has been busy doing a three-year stint in prison. Meanwhile, Paddo (Ryan Corr) has been keeping the everything in order, even turning quite the handsome profit for the gang. So when Knuck returns, there’s a bit of a conflict as to whether Paddo should keep leading, or if they go back under the old leader. Violence and sex ensues, as you can see in the Outlaws trailer below. Read More »

if beale street could talk review

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins returns with If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of the novel by James Baldwin. Romantic and tragic, Beale Street is gorgeous and emotionally stirring – the type of movie that only comes along every so often.

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Gloria Bell Trailer

Hollywood has always had a problem with giving women leading roles once they start hitting their 40s and 50s. Obsessed with the fresh-faced, young women pouring into Los Angeles everyday, it’s one of the more shameful sides of show business. But thankfully that’s started to change a bit with great roles for women of all ages, and A24 has just released the first trailer that gives Julianne Moore one of those fantastic roles.

Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is a divorced woman just trying to meet the right man all over again, hitting up night clubs, dancing like no one is watching, and living her best life. That’s when she meets Arnold (John Turturro), and it looks like everything is coming up Gloria. At least at first. See what happens in the Gloria Bell trailer below. Read More »

Ben Is Back Trailer

This awards season will see two different stories of drug addiction hitting theaters. There’s Beautiful Boy showing the turmoil that addiction creates between a father and son played by Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, and then there’s Ben Is Back, the new film from director Peter Hedges showing how addiction impacts an entire family, with Julia Roberts doing everything she can to keep her addict son Lucas Hedges from heading down a dangerous path when he returns home. And the latter just released a harrowing new trailer to pull at your heartstrings.

Watch the new Ben Is Back trailer below. Read More »

TIFF Midnight Madness

The Toronto International Film Festival is best-known these days as a Big Daddy of the awards season. Major films that premiere at TIFF – of which there are many – tend to do so with glamorous red-carpet events, stars congregating outside any one of the gorgeous theatres in the closed-to-traffic festival zone. Many are slick, prestigious studio dramas from celebrated filmmakers – think First Man, A Star Is Born, or If Beale Street Could Talk – and they’re rightly festooned with attention.

I did not attend TIFF this year for those films. I attended for Midnight Madness. Read More »

if beale street could talk review

Art reflects the culture it’s created in. In the ’30s and ’40s, directors like Frank Capra produced optimistic comedies and dramas to help uplift a national morale brought low by the Great Depression and World War II. In the late ’70s and ’80s, punk music and hip-hop spoke to political frustrations. Part of the value of the art that makes up popular culture is what a piece of music, literature or cinema can tell us about the prevailing cultural attitudes at the time it was made.

In this way, events like the Toronto International Film Festival are valuable not just as marketing tools by studios to kick off their awards campaigns, but as a way to show audiences what ideas are currently dominating our cultural conversation. By gathering the biggest, newest films in one place, festivals like TIFF invite the world to consider what’s been on our collective minds, and provide a space to have a dialogue about it.

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birds of passage review

We’ve seen plenty of films giving us stories from the South American drug trade from the colonial-style perspective of the white man. Now is the time for Birds of Passage, a filming providing a gripping look at how the burgeoning business of marijuana affected the indigenous tribes of Colombia.

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Olivier Assayas’ Non-Fiction shows one of the great contemporary filmmakers at his most perceptive and loquacious. His latest film strays away from the mysticism of recent entrancing efforts like Clouds of Silas Maria and Personal Shopper, instead portraying an hour and 45 minutes of exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) conversations about the state of the arts and society at large. I couldn’t take notes fast enough to capture all his brilliant observations on everything from the discussion on the decline of the critic as tastemaker to a sly bit of visual humor ridiculing the multiplicity of electronic devices in our lives.

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Peterloo Review

Mike Leigh intentionally delayed the production and release of his film Peterloo to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the event it portrays, a massacre of peaceful protestors in Manchester by the British Army. Yet its historic status should not obscure that Peterloo is less a moment in time preserved in amber and more of an ongoing struggle. Though the period dress and dialogue are different, the conversations about forcing a democracy to respond to its neediest citizens are depressingly relevant.

Better yet, Leigh does not need to resort to rubbing our noses in the contemporary parallels. His methodical, delicate approach to depicting what led up to a watershed moment in British political history makes its own case. Leigh trusts his audience to understand the slow drip of social change and how a speech or a small act of defiance can ripple outwards. Peterloo might not be a particularly rousing political drama, but fans of other procedurals like BPM depicting the funneling of activism into progress will find the film’s patience a refreshingly honest change of pace.

Find out more in our Peterloo review below. Read More »