burning cane review

Burning Cane is a movie that flows over you: It’s less a structured narrative than a series of arcane images, each more beguiling and haunting than the last. The film, which deservedly won the Founders Award for best narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival, is an incredible debut for a 19-year-old filmmaker just out of high school — Burning Cane feels like the product of decades lived, of tragedies untold. But Phillip Youmans, who made this film at the age of 17 with Benh Zeitlin of Beasts of the Southern Wild as executive producer, proves to be an assured director who beautifully delivers a sprawling, hypnotic Southern Gothic drama about the last gasp of a disappearing world.

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goldie review

Goldie writer/director Sam de Jong comes from the world of music videos, and fittingly, the music video is both the driving narrative and visual inspiration of his debut feature film. But this is not some fairy-tale vision of New York: de Jong’s grainy, sun-kissed ode to the city of hustlers highlights the gritty, unforgiving world from which Slick Woods‘ titular Goldie is trying to break free. The result is a lively, kinetic film that dances between the natural and the fanciful, centered on a dynamo of a cinematic character played by the first-time actress.

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georgetown review

With Georgetown, Christoph Waltz joins the steady stream of actors making their transition behind the camera to make their highly anticipated directorial debuts. And indeed, the two-time Oscar winner seems like the perfect candidate to make that leap: a character actor with a keen eye for a riveting script and larger-than-life characters. But unfortunately, despite the talent that he frontloads into his debut film and despite the sordid real-life story upon which it’s based, Georgetown is a snooze.

Based on a real-life couple that was memorialized in The New York Times’ attention-grabbing article “The Worst Marriage in Georgetown,” the scandal at the center of Georgetown seems better suited for the D.C. gossip magazines or whispered furtively among the city’s elites at black tie parties. But in Georgetown, the story is given the same dramatic weight as a film about the president of the United States. And as electrifying as Waltz is to watch onscreen, his Ulrich Mott is no Richard Nixon.

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charlie says review

In the 50 years since the Manson Family committed the brutal murders that shook the nation, the cult and its infamous leader Charles Manson has never really left the public consciousness. And this year, the number of movies attempting to decrypt the notorious Manson and his all-consuming influence has ramped up, with everything from shockingly offensive horror films to star-studded Quentin Tarantino dramas taking on the cult leader. But what about the women who were under Manson’s thrall?

Charlie Says attempts to answer that question, examining the horrific Manson Family murders through the perspective of three of Manson’s most devout followers: Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón), and Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon). But despite the three women bringing this story to life from behind the camera — American Psycho‘s Mary Harron helms while frequent Harron collaborator Guinevere Turner wrote the script, and Dana Guerin produced — the film’s purported female gaze feels partially obscured.

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plus one review

Thirty years ago, When Harry Met Sally posed the question: Can men and women really be friends? While it never quite provided an answer, it did prove one satisfying thing — friendship may be forever, but watching friends fall in love is timeless.

Plus One, which follows two jaded college buddies Ben and Alice (Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine) who make a pact to be each other’s plus ones during a summer of endless weddings, pays appropriate homage to its lauded predecessor, but takes that delightful push-pull dynamic that When Harry Met Sally perfected to another level. Pen15 writers Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer unite with Erskine, the star and co-creator of the acclaimed Hulu series, to make their feature debut with this sharp, raunchy, and altogether winning film that is poised to be the rom-com of the summer.

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buffaloed review

Zoey Deutch is poised to be the next movie star. The actress showed signs of potential in the workplace rom-com Set It Up, but in Buffaloed, her natural breezy charisma is put on full blast. With director Tanya Wexler lending the crime dramedy a zippy, irreverent flair, Buffaloed becomes the vehicle for which Deutch can finally show off her chops.

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standing up falling down review

The homecoming comedy is the bread and butter of the indie circuit, and as poignant and humanist as the genre can be, it can also get old fast. It falls then, on the shoulders of the stars to keep the film from stumbling; thankfully in Standing Up, Falling Down, Ben Schwartz and Billy Crystal are more than up to the task.

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I Am Human Review

The brain is an unfathomable organ packed with experience. Neuroscience, science with a focus in the nervous system, is reaching as far as it can to decipher ways to unlock potential–or restore senses–in its neuro-corners. It encompasses tricky studies and comprehending brain waves. Although cutting-edge, neurotechnology is expensive and time-consuming. But it will have a role to play in expanding treatment options for patients as well as the evolution of human abilities.

Directed, produced, and written by Taryn Southern & Elena Gaby, I Am Human (playing the Tribeca Film Festival) ruminates on neurotechnology and follows three patients who pursue neuro-treatments after exhausting all their options. Anne is coping with Parkinson’s Disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that robbed her of her artistic abilities; Bill is a quadriplegic, his four limbs paralyzed; and Stephen is blinded by an undetected degeneration that caused him to see only white, like “blank pages,” as he puts it. Read More »

blow the man down review

Sex, drugs, and murder rock the sleepy New England seaside town in Blow the Man Down, a chillingly savage debut feature from co-directors and screenwriters Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy that makes a strong case for them to be the heirs to the Coen Brothers’ wintry crime drama throne. Plenty of talented filmmakers have tried to ape the Coens’ singular brand of brutal absurdity, but Cole and Krudy succeed in pulling off Fargo-esque shenanigans while adding their own feminist twist.

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A Day in the Life of America Review

Actor Jared Leto‘s directorial debut, playing the Tribeca Film Festival, is spun from constructive intentions, but I had a hard time buying into its purported positivity. Leto posited that he hoped this documentary, A Day in the Life of America, would be seen as a time capsule years later. I suspect that decades later–hopefully when the nation is recovering from the long-term damage of the Trump administration–I would still see this film with stirring stories sullied by its overall skewered positivity. Read More »