post

Out in Theaters: ‘WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES’

Let’s not split hairs – though with the sublime mane work the necromancers at WETA have accomplished here, splitting hairs is definitely within the realm of possibilities – War for the Planet of the Apes is a remarkable achievement on nearly any rubric. A narratively pulsating, emotionally turbulent survival epic complete with near-miraculous FX work and sumptuous production design, War sets itself so far apart from the average summer blockbuster that it risks being undefinable. As bleak as anything I’ve personally witnessed in a PG-13 effects-driven escape movie about apes, War for the Planet of the Apes is the Joseph Conrad-penned Schindler’s List of Apes movies. Dealing in genocide, slavery, exodus and death, War also finds room among its Old Testament adversity for growth, heroism and hope to take root. Perfectly culminating Caesar’s prequel trilogy and tying into the 1968 Charlton Heston-led original, War is everything fans of the franchise could hope for and more. And boy is it a breathtaking journey to be a part of.  Read More

post

Out in Theaters: ‘BABY DRIVER’

It’s been a hot minute since Edgar Wright has graced us with his genius. The man responsible for such perfect fare as Shaun of the Dead andHot Fuzz, Wright has long been a pioneer of the Trojan horse comedy, trafficking highbrow laughs in with genre trappings. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Wright is known for his masterful command of visual language, finding laugh-out loud moments in sharp editing, frame composition, camera operation and a great ear for music that amplifies the deadpan, pun-happy, tongue-in-cheek writing gushing from the page. As the mainstream moves more and more toward studio comedies disemboweled by flat visual palettes that fail to embolden jokes with any discernible directorial decisions, Wright has further articulated and championed his particular filmmaking flavour and the world of cinephiles has been the more fortunate for it. Which takes us to Baby Driver. Read More

post

Out in Theaters: ‘TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT’

Just like kicking your little brother in the nuts isn’t a movie, Transformers: The Last Knight isn’t a movie. A blatant “fuck you” to audiences stupid enough to buy a ticket to this next go-round – one that Universal and Hasbro have positioned as a “launching pad” for a Hasbro Cinematic Universe (and yes, the existence of a Hasbro Cinematic Universe makes me question my place on this Earth and will to live) – this inept fivequel is a brain-numbing series of endless explosions and rinkadink chase sequences and imbecilic exposition and sparks farting through the air and adolescent titties bouncing in slo-mo and Mark Wahlberg hollering fucking nonsense and racist robots with gold-plated teeth and snobby British ladies gathered for high tea. Trans5mers is all those things and so much less. It’s a retard-robo-fantasy masquerading as a film that lacks any of the stuff that actually makes a movie a movie, replacing substance with middle fingers extended curtly at those in the audience expecting one iota of sense. A flaming effigy of not giving a single fuck, Transformers: The Last Knight spits in its haters’ face and asks you to thank it.  Read More

post

Out in Theaters: ‘THE BOOK OF HENRY’

The Book of Henry, only the third film from “indie” director wunderkind Colin Trevorrow, plays like a film adaptation of a best selling novel. There’s sudden shocking twists, richly drawn, if brazenly over-the-top, characters and a hurried pace that all coalesce to feel like the product of 300 pages of prose siphoned into a 100-page screenplay. Big, bold and unpredictable, Henry unfolds like a suburban Dan Brown novel; it’s pulpy and scrumptious while it lasts, brimming with sudden breakneck turns that veer the narrative into perpetual new territory, but won’t leave much of an imprint once you’ve slammed it shut. Read More

post

SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘PYROMANIAC’

A brightly burning ode to a troubled firestarter who happens to be the son of the fire chief in a small Norwegian village of about 800, Pyromaniac is an unsettling if unfulfilling character study. This mysterious slow-burn is more interested in the human drama than the narrative twists it sets up but fails to satisfyingly reveals the arsonist’s true motives – and I’m not convinced the ending is nearly as impactful as it ought to be – but Pyromaniac is accented by fiery cinematography and catchy Scandinavian punk rock, which helps it burn just a bit brighter. (C+) Read More

post

SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL’

Rodrigo Grande’s devilish Argentine caper pits a paraplegic engineer against a malevolent troop of thieves burrowing beneath his house to rob a nearby vault. Nail-biting and pitch black in tenor, At the End of the Tunnel employs star Leonardo Sbaraglia’s dramatic chops to create a complicated protagonist, even if his villainous counterparts are at times cartoonishly evil. Drawing inspiration from the likes of David Fincher’s Panic Room, Grande’s is a worthwhile pursuit for those who want a little slice of dark Hollywood sheen to their foreign language dishes. (B-)

Read More

post

SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘CITY OF GHOSTS’

A stirring tribute to the journalistic heroes of ‘Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered’, City of Ghosts takes us into the epicenter of Syria’s ISIS occupation where a troop of citizen journalists seek to expose the true horror tearing their world to pieces. Matthew Heineman’s immersive filmmaking peels back the curtain, crafting a definitive take on one of the world’s most horrific war zones. The personal sacrifice each of the subjects must endure – some are killed, others see their families killed in their place – is unspeakably heartbreaking but Heineman’s powerful documentary never exploits their pain for political means. Must-see investigative journalism, City of Ghosts is a terrifying vision of hell on earth. (B+) Read More

post

SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘THE LITTLE HOURS’

A stacked comedic cast aligns for Jeff Baena’s The Little Hours, an unholy send-up of 14th century lust in a small-village monastery. The priest (John C. Reilly) drinks like a fish, while three rebellious nuns (Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Kate Miccucci) flex newfound bad habits when the arrival of a young stud (Dave Franco) spurs a sexual awakening amongst their ilk. Atoning for their sins, Baena creates an absolutely ridiculous world of opposition; repression and personal expression engulfed in a battle of the ages with flying-fast curses as hilariously out of place in this modest countryside as the eventual witch covens erupting in their woods. Unique, offensive and perfectly cast, The Little Hours is a little miracle of feminist subversion. (B) Read More

post

Out in Theaters: ‘BAYWATCH’

What to say about Baywatch, the new movie from Paramount and Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon, that can’t simply be assumed? R-rated by virtue of scatalogical humor – penii, both of the flaccid and majorly erect variety, crowd the screen; jaws dangle, gawking at flopping mammaries;  – and frivolous vulgarities, Baywatch fails to insert much conviction into its raunch and lacks even more in the originality department.  Read More

post

SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘TIME TRAP’

Aliens. Conquistadors. Cavemen. All three filmic mainstays crop up in soft sci-fi thriller Time Trap from directors Ben Foster and Mark Dennis. A pulpy adventure reminiscent of 80s classics like The Goonies and Back to the Future, Time Trap tells the story of a company of graduate students and their pre-teen tagalongs who go looking for their professor in a cave that manipulates time. Clipping along using an intriguing premise to overcome middling characters, Time Trap is in a constant state of reinvention as it moves along, adding new layers of logistical gears to keep us on our toes and invested in its windy plot. Fun above all else, Time Trap is a great little schlocky detour into indie pop cinema sure to earn warm welcomes from excitable festival crowds. (B) Read More