Deerskin review

Have you ever loved a jacket? I mean really loved a jacket? Ruined your life for a coat? Destroyed your marriage and your finances for cool-looking cool-weather clothing? Have the fringes on your outfit caused you to live a fringe existence, evaporating your sanity, and driving you to a rampage? And was your outfit made out of Deerskin?

Director Quentin Dupieux’s new film will certainly speak to anyone with a dash of fashionphilia, or even a simple desire to rid the world out of outerwear. It’s a completely bonkers exercise in lunacy and cold, calculated obsession, all revolving around a really groovy suede outfit. Read More »

Hope review

Scandinavians know how to draw out operatic misery from quotidian life, and Hope, filmmaker Maria Sødahl’s masterful take on a couple in crisis, illustrates just how effective delving into the misery of brokenness can be. Read More »

TIFF 2019 Unsung Gems

The festival scene rolls on past Toronto, with Fantastic Fest kicking off this week and New York Film Festival gearing up for next week. It’s easy to focus on the big winners – Joker, Jojo Rabbit – and the losers – The Goldfinch, Lucy in the Sky – and completely lose sight of why these festivals exist in the first place. In a crowded media environment, film festivals represent one of the last bastions that provide platforms to emerging or under-the-radar filmmakers. They are a spot where a film, freighted with few expectations, can come out of nowhere and surprise unsuspecting viewers.

The following three films represent some of the best of this side of TIFF. Their journeys do not end at the festival, either. Unlike well-funded studio projects using TIFF as a launch pad for release, these films are all seeking U.S. distribution and will likely continue touring the worldwide festival circuit. Keep an eye out for them if they arrive at a fest near you.

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Guns Akimbo Review

“You like this?!” asks Daniel Radcliffe’s Miles to a covert camera live streaming his misfortunate adventures as he fights for his life. It’s a breaking point for him as a character in Guns Akimbo, and he launches into quite the screed about the cowardice of the viewers who cheer on imperiling people from behind the remove of their screen but could never face a similar situation in their own lives. In a smarter movie, Miles might also be addressing us, the audience, with his impassioned rant. After all, haven’t we, too, been watching his plight voyeuristically and getting a kick out of his misery?

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best of TIFF 2019

Another Toronto International Film Festival is drawing to a close, and what a wonderful year it was. This was my fourth year attending the festival, and I have to say, there wasn’t a single movie I saw this year that I outright disliked. There were titles I loved more than others, but out of the many movies I caught at the fest, I’d honestly say all are worth seeing. Below, I’ve put together a best of TIFF 2019 round-up to highlight some specific films you’re not going to want to miss whenever they find their way to theaters.

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pain and glory review

Filmmakers – especially those who auteurs who shape the story of their respective films – often draw on personal experiences. It’s a time-honored tradition, with Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ being perhaps the most famous, respectable example. Pedro Almodovar‘s Pain and Glory is yet another prime instance, and there are times when watching the film that one wonders if it’s all too personal – turning the audience into true voyeurs, peering into the furthest recesses of another person’s heart and soul. In many ways, this is Almodovar’s most “normal” movie, but it’s also one of his best, a lovely, tender work of art that finds beauty in personal pain.

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uncut gems review

The Safdie Brothers love to make movies about down-and-out folks making one terrible choice after another. These movies are endurance tests of a sort – narratives that ask: “How long can you put up with what the main character is putting up with?” Uncut Gems, the latest descent into poor choices from the filmmakers, pushes the situation to the limit, setting Adam Sandler on a journey from one terrible idea to the next. On one hand, it’s a treat to watch Sandler break out of his endless stream of bargain-basement Netflix comedies to try something like this. On the other hand, by the time the journey ends, you might want to watch one of those terrible comedies just to cleanse your palate.

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dolemite is my name review

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Eddie Murphy was never really “gone” in the literal sense, but the once megastar comedian had a serious drop-off, quality-wise, over the years. It got to the point where a new Eddie Murphy movie was so rare as to be non-existent. Every now and then, the actor would appear in something heralded as his “comeback” – see his wonderful supporting turn in Dreamgirls. But nothing truly clicked. Now, things might be about to change for the better. Because Murphy is front and center in the laugh-out-loud crowd-pleaser Dolemite Is My Name, and it’s an absolute joy to have him back.

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ford v ferrari review

Ford v Ferrari is an old-school Hollywood drama – the type that is in short supply these days. It has movie stars! It has an uplifting, all-American message! It has timely needle-drops that make you perk-up and say, “Hey, I love that song!” We need more movies like this, especially these days – when multiplexes are overrun with franchises and superheroes. But that doesn’t excuse how dull long stretches of James Mangold‘s racing pic are. Whenever the film hits the track, it’s exciting as hell. But as soon as the cars are parked, all the life runs out of this thing like gas from a leaking tank.

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synchronic review

Note: it is nearly impossible to talk about this film without giving away some small spoilers, so be warned. 

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the filmmakers behind ResolutionSpring, and The Endless, have assembled a unique, familiar series of films that all deal with the same theme: time. The persistence of it, the lack of understanding of it, and the potential ability to control it. They’re so focused on the subject that you might call it an obsession at this point. The duo’s latest, Synchronic, takes that obsession to a whole new level. It’s their biggest, most ambitious movie yet.

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