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SIFF ’19: Awkwafina Gets Serious in A24’s Cross-Cultural Drama ‘THE FAREWELL’

Ignorance is power in A24’s celebrated Sundance hit The Farewell. The film follows Awkwafina’s Chinese family who, scattered across the globe, assemble when news breaks of the family matriarch’s terminal cancer diagnosis. The skinny is no one has told said matriarch, the family cooking up a ruse to keep that treasured info from her in increasingly heartbreaking and comical ways. The film from Lulu Wang is a rare family film that genuinely speaks to the deep, historied, and complicated bonds that tie while remaining thematically viable and content appropriate for practically all ages. Wang’s is a deeply felt and emotionally sincere film that benefits from its serio-comic nature, if not one that left me entirely moved. (B) Read More

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Julianne Moore Discovers Inner Strength in A24’s Humanist Romance ‘GLORIA BELL’

Come for Julianne Moore’s effortlessly jubilant performance, stay for the complicated middle-aged tryst in Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria Bell. A remake of the director’s own 2013 Spanish-language film Gloria, Chile’s submission for Best Foreign Language film at the 2014 Academy Awards, the film is distributed by indie giant A24 and carries the mark of quality that is commonly associated with their auteur brand, though it would be hard to mistake the competent, if hard to swoon for, drama for one of the distribution company’s finest outputs.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘HEREDITARY’ 

Every once in a blue moon, there comes a horror movie that’s legitimately capital-T terrifying. One that’ll cause your eyes to dart around the dark stillness of the theater at the smallest creak. One that’ll hitchhike a ride home with you to invade your dreams; an unabortable mental pregnancy. One whose delirious imagery will burn into your cranium as if doused in paint thinner and struck by a match. I am happy to report that A24’s Hereditary, dear readers, is just that kind of movie. It’ll take your damn head off. Read More

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SIFF ’18 Capsule Review: ‘EIGHTH GRADE’ 

A bighearted DM of awkwardness and warmth, Bo Burnham’s transportive comedic-drama debut Eighth Grade will return audiences to those pimple-pocked middle years; when being cool was synonymous with having no personality and anxiety over self-identity dominated every waking thought. The drama from A24 marries a tender coming-of-age saga with perfectly-layered cringe-comedy in a universal story of finding oneself in the digital age. Compelling use of musical cues and spirited, raw performances from Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton characterize this sweet, memorable story about the soul-crushing horror-show that is middle school. (A-) Read More

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Talking with Andrew Haigh of ‘LEAN ON PETE’

Yorkshire native Andrew Haigh has worn many hats in the entertainment industry. He cut his teeth in the early 2000s working as an assistant editor on a number of big budget blockbusters including Gladiator, The Count of Monte Cristo, Black Hawk Down, Reign of Fire and Kingdom of Heaven. In 2009, shortly after his last editorial gig, he released his first directorial debut, Greek Pete which he followed up two years later with Weekend. Neither made a huge splash at the box office but with his next feature, 45 Years, Haigh erupted on the art house scene, directing Charlotte Rampling to an Oscar nomination. He’s since lent his talents to the small screen, directing a number of episodes of the HBO sleeper gay drama Looking as well as a feature version of that same show. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE DISASTER ARTIST’

There in perhaps no film in existence that better exemplifies “cult” status than Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. A titanic miff on every level imaginable, Wiseau’s self-produced “romantic drama” is often called the worst movie ever made. And rightfully so. Anyone who’s had the privilege of witnessing this filmic trainwreck is treated to a level of incompetence that is wholly endearing in its epic failure. If you however are among the many uninitiated, I would suggest you stop reading and run to your nearest video store (assuming it still exists) to grab a copy The Room. I guarantee they have one. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘LADY BIRD’ 

Indie darling Greta Gerwig breathes life into directorial “debut” (she co-directed Nights and Weekends in 2008) Lady Bird with passion and pathos. Gerwig’s strong freshman feature strikes a balance between the mumblecore sensibilities of frequent collaborators Joe Swanberg and Noah Baumbach while bringing a refreshingly anarchical female voice into the choir. Lady Bird as a character and film manages both tenderness and lawlessness; caught in the confuddling mix of teenage hormones and perceived oppressive parenting; rebelling against the grain, oft to her own detriment; Gerwig’s capable filmmaking expertly capturing that claustrophobic  feeling of teenage angst and insurgency; Saorsie Ronan performing the hell out of the role.  Read More