Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Wolf of Snow Hollow: Movie Review




Idiosyncratic comedy with the makings of a thriller/horror and a character study.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a curious little movie. Part comedy, part horror, part thriller, part murder mystery, part character study, and all within a sub-90-minute runtime. The dialogue, primarily where the comedy comes in, is great; and the set-up for the murder mystery/thriller is good. The meshing of all the themes together got very muddled by the end and the conclusion is not wholly satisfying.   2020

Directed by: Jim Cummings

Screenplay by: Jim Cummings

Starring: Jim Cummings, Riki Lindhome, Robert Forster

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Holidate: Movie Review





A romantic comedy missing that crucial element of humour.
Emma Roberts has built herself a nice career. A long string of comedies – some hits, some nots, but peppers them with roles that have a real bite to them like Scream Queens and American Horror Story. Such that when she returns to a typical romantic comedy, it feels like home. There’s a comfort level to casting Roberts and Luke Bracey in a holiday-themed romantic comedy, and that’s why Holidate will get its audience.   2020

Directed by: John Whitesell

Screenplay by: Tiffany Paulsen

Starring: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey

Sunday, October 25, 2020

An Imperfect Murder: Movie Review



Lacking a narrative, purpose, intrigue and everything that comes with that.

Whatever this movie was supposed to be, or whatever it once was, it’s not that. Originally titled The Private Life of a Modern Woman and playing the Venice Film Festival in 2017, it gets released three years later and renamed An Imperfect Murder. Never a good sign. I have no idea what made somebody dust this film off the shelf, but it should have remained buried.   2017

Directed by: James Toback

Screenplay by: James Toback

Starring: Sienna Miller, Alec Baldwin

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Shithouse: Movie Review



A true-to-life college experience with heart and vulnerability.

Cooper Raiff is a first-time filmmaker with Shithouse. It’s a small story, but one that is told with a lot of heart and a knack at hitting the awkward truths of college life. Alex (Cooper Raiff) is struggling. In general, struggling with everything about college. He’s not going to classes, failing when he does, he has a roommate who is actively awful to him and he has no friends. His only companionship is his mother and a stuffed animal.   2020

Directed by: Cooper Raiff

Screenplay by: Cooper Raiff

Starring: Cooper Raiff, Dylan Gelula, Logan Miller and Amy Landecker

Friday, October 23, 2020

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Movie Review




Make Borat great again.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan seemed like lightning in a bottle. Something that can’t be repeated and the humour wouldn’t translate to another year. Oh, how wrong that was. Sacha Baron Cohen and his fellow Borat writers and producers have made a true comedy sequel. One that picks up where the original left off and made it funnier and more relevant to today.   2020

Directed by: Jason Woliner

Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Nina Pedrad

Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Don't Read This on a Plane: Movie Review




Slow moving and bizarrely plotted, but Jovana has her charms.
Don’t Read This on a Plane borrows its title from the book at the center of the film. And yes, it is named that for a reason. The protagonist is Jovana (Sophie Desmerais) this is her third novel, but her publisher has abruptly gone bankrupt and left her stranded on her book tour. This is very slow, and very bizarrely plotted, but builds to a strangely satisfying story.   2020

Directed by: Stuart McBratney

Screenplay by: Stuart McBratney

Starring: Sophie Desmerais

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Trial of the Chicago 7: Movie Review




A fascinating period of time, molded into an entertaining movie.
Aaron Sorkin has a way with words. I love his dialogue which always has this natural rhythm and tempo in line with the importance of what the characters have to say, that the audience just falls in sync. I was expecting it to be enlightening, but the suspense and tension is also notable and builds to a very captivating experience.   2020

Directed by: Aaron Sorkin

Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Jeremy Strong

Monday, October 12, 2020

She's In Portland: Movie Review



Awful characters who don't have anything worthwhile to say.

She’s In Portland suggests there’s a mystique to this titular girl who gets an entire movie made around the journey to see her. But after all the girls we meet on the way to Portland, I really have to question how many girls do the filmmakers actually know? Do they think all girls are manic pixie dream girls? The use of that term will die down once filmmakers stop employing them.   2020

Directed by: Marc Carlini

Screenplay by: Patrick Alexander, Marc Carlini

Starring: Tommy Dewey, Francois Arnaud

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Misbehaviour: Movie Review




Gratifying entertainment in the hands of talented women.
There have been a lot of recent period pieces that seem just as timely and relevant today. Misbehaviour fits very nicely in that category. A story of activists centered around the 1970 Miss World competition tackling misogynism and racism. It’s led by a really fun group of actresses and hits all the right notes even if it’s not as big a film as others would like.   2020

Directed by: Philippa Lowthorpe

Screenplay by: Rebecca Frayn, Gaby Chiappe

Starring: Keira Knightley, Jessie Buckley,
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rhys Ifans

Friday, October 2, 2020

You've Got This: Movie Review




A nicely photographed dramedy with immature contrivances and one-dimensional characters.
You’ve Got This is a Mexican romantic dramedy. The production value is high, filled with some nicely photographed locales. The emotion in the romantic drama aspect is earned as the film gets deeper. However, apart from a few funny lines, the humour was mostly filled with immature contrivances, and despite some solid effort from the actors, the characters are mostly one-dimensional.   2020

Directed by: Salvador Espinosa

Screenplay by: Tiare Scanda, Leonardo Zimbron

Starring: Tato Alexander, Moises Arizmendi

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Boys in the Band: Movie Review




A period flashback to a film we need now.
Heavily advertised as a Ryan Murphy film, it’s not hard to mistake the producer’s influence on The Boys in the Band (notably in the opening sequence and the casting); however, it’s the film’s theater roots that become more prominent as the film went on. Unsurprisingly, it was originally a stage play, and is essentially a one-location, real-time movie.   2020

Directed by: Joe Mantello

Screenplay by: Ned Martel, Mart Crowley

Starring: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Personal History of David Copperfield: Movie Review




The joyful juncture between youth and maturity.
Similar to how director Armando Iannucci’s previous film The Death of Stalin is sort of based on real events, The Personal History of David Copperfield is sort of based on Dickens’ David Copperfield, which, in turn, is sort of based on real life. It’s a fantastical, upbeat, energetic take on Charles Dickens’ tale with Dev Patel's excellent turn as the titular mischievous orphan.   2019

Directed by: Armando Iannucci

Screenplay: Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci

Starring: Dev Patel

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Swimming for Gold: Movie Review




Mediocre production, nothing to elevate the overcoming-the-odds inspirational story.
Swimming for Gold is squarely directed towards its teen/pre-teen audience, but even if I put myself in 12-year-old me’s shoes, I assume I would be disappointed by this. It’s a mediocre production that tries to squeeze in all the important beats of overcoming-the-odds inspirational story. None of the story lines are appropriately fleshed out to help connect the audience.   2020

Directed by: Hayley MacFarlane

Screenplay by: Eric Bergemann

Starring: Peyton List, Daniel Needs

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Percy: Movie Review




An important story with a simplistic focus.
What feels like ripe material for an epic courtroom thriller, Percy instead takes the road less travelled. It focuses on the people. Which feels like a very apt focus considering the challenges that the agricultural community has faced with the growth of corporate farming and the decline of family farms. It’s a story of David vs Goliath when the septuagenarian Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser (Christopher Walken) took the giant corporation Monsanto to court.   2020

Directed by: Clark Johnson

Screenplay by: Garfield Lindsay Miller, Hilary Pryor

Starring: Christopher Walken, Zach Braff

Sunday, September 13, 2020

I Care a Lot: Movie Review



Cynicism guides this dark comedy thriller.

I Care a Lot has a rhythmic opening scene. A man, desperate to be heard, causes a physical disturbance at a nursing home. He wants to see his mother, but he’s not allowed. Meet Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) who happens to be the legal guardian of this man’s mother. She’s a lawyer who the courts have put in charge of caring for older folks who can no longer take care of themselves.   2020

Directed by: J Blakeson

Screenplay by: J Blakeson

Starring: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage

Saturday, September 12, 2020

I Met a Girl: Movie Review




An empathetic look at mental illness that is sweet and uplifting.
A story of hope, illness, resiliency, and love. I Met a Girl is an occasionally uncomfortable watch, but an uplifting one at the same time. Marketed as a romance, it’s not as light as you might expect it to be. Devon meets a girl and is in love, but he also suffers from schizophrenia with frequent bouts of delusion and paranoia.   2020

Directed by: Luke Eve

Screenplay by: Glen Dolman

Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Joel Jackson

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Broken Hearts Gallery: Movie Review




Genuinely funny and real empathy for the characters.
I’m having a curious relationship with The Broken Hearts Gallery. I have forgiven a lack of realism in romantic comedies in the past (because you just have to), but it’s particularly irksome here. The main premise is unrelatable and unlikable and yet I like everything else about the movie. The film has empathy for its characters, it's only fair that the audience does too.   2020

Directed by: Natalie Krinsky

Screenplay by: Natalie Krinsky

Starring: Geraldine Viswanathan, Dacre Montgomery

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Shiva Baby: Movie Review



A unique and unnervingly real romantic dramedy.

Shiva Baby is a unique film. We’ve seen real-time films before but not in this Jewish slice-of-life (and death, we are at a Shiva after all) way. This is a comedy-drama-romance, but told so intimately and unnervingly real that it feels like it’s own genre. It is nothing like a romantic comedy, and yet on it’s surface, it’s a comedy about a young woman in a not-good relationship and what is she going to do with her life.   2020

Directed by: Emma Seligman

Screenplay by: Emma Seligman

Starring: Rachel Sennott, Molly Gordon,
Polly Draper, Danny Deferrari, Dianna Agron

Friday, August 28, 2020

Bill & Ted Face the Music: Movie Review




Eternal optimism and humour.
Bill & Ted pick up, not right where we left them, but right where we thought they’d be, 29 years later. They’re married to their princesses, they each have a daughter, and they’re still trying to make a go of the Wyld Stallyns, very unsuccessfully with Ted’s disapproving father and younger brother not missing a beat. This time, they’re expected to save the world with their music, with only an hour or so to do it in.   2020

Directed by: Dean Parisot

Screenplay by: Ed Soloman and Chris Matheson

Starring: Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Emerson Heights: Movie Review



Hallmark-style romance, bad acting, awful message.

Emerson Heights is pure teen romance. It just screams Hallmark, but apparently it’s not. That was my first mistake, thinking if another distributor (Amazon) picked this up, surely there’s something else to this. It can’t just be a soapy, totally unrealistic tale of star-crossed lovers (at the ripe old age of 17) with really bad acting, can it? Yes, it can.   2020

Directed by: Jennifer Hook

Screenplay by: Wendi Foy Green, Austin James

Starring: Austin James, Gatlin Kate James

Friday, August 7, 2020

I Used to Go Here: Movie Review




Relatable, funny and entertaining.
I Used to Go Here is a funny and clever addition to the not-quite-a-mid-life-crisis, not-quite-a-quarter-life crisis genre. Kate (Gillian Jacobs) is in her mid-30s and the film quickly establishes that things are not going as well for her as she would like. She just got her first novel published – yay! But sales are poor, her book tour is cancelled, and there’s a man she once lived with who is not returning her calls.   2020

Directed by: Kris Rey

Screenplay by: Kris Rey

Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Josh Wiggins,
Jermaine Clement and Hannah Marks

Saturday, August 1, 2020

First Cow: Movie Review




A subtle tale of friendship and capitalism.
Eight features in and Kelly Reichardt remains a minimalist filmmaker. This time returning to the scene of Meek’s Cutoff and the Oregon territory in the mid-1800s. First Cow is as subtle a film as one could get with still a coherent narrative, and fortunes at stake for the protagonists. While it is a slow burn, eventually the story that forms is very engaging with legitimate suspense and hope for a better future.   2019

Directed by: Kelly Reichardt

Screenplay by: Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond

Starring: John Magaro and Orion Lee

Friday, July 31, 2020

Seriously Single: Movie Review




A legitimately crazy ex-fling.
The South African (English language) rom-com Seriously Single is basically 4 movies in one. If it was four different short films, a couple of them would be entertaining and really good. As one movie, it’s better than it had any right to be, but there are still pacing issues and character issues as Dineo (Fulu Mogovhani) goes through many highs and lows in her love life.   2020

Directed by: Katleho and Rethabile Ramaphakela

Screenplay by: Lwazi Mvusi

Starring: Fulu Mogovhani and Tumi Morake

Thursday, July 30, 2020

aTypical Wednesday: Movie Review




A smart, funny and clever comedy.
Not quite a directorial debut, aTypical Wednesday is, however, the first feature-length fictional film written and directed by J. Lee. It’s a funny and clever comedy that both subverts expectations and gives audiences what they want. The themes are common comedy-drama fodder, namely: relationship issues, bullying and race relations. All three play into one another really well with a lot of laughs along the way.   2020

Directed by: J. Lee

Screenplay by: J. Lee

Starring: J. Lee, Cooper J. Friedman

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Kissing Booth 2: Movie Review


   


More kissing booth: more of everything.
I was all prepared to hate this. A two-and-a-quarter hour sequel to a mediocre teen rom com don’t exist for good reasons. But it wasn’t all bad. The Kissing Booth 2 took a number of the same qualities to the first, added a few new characters (kept all the same important ones), and then attempted to improve on the common criticisms. Too much was squeezed into this one and the result is a slightly over-done teen flick. 2020

Directed by: Vince Marcello

Screenplay by: Vince Marcello, Jay S. Arnold
Based on the book written by Beth Reekles

Starring: Joey King, Jacob Elordi

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Sunlit Night: Movie Review



A mixed bag of sullenness.

On the surface, The Sunlit Night offers comedian Jenny Slate the chance to stretch her dramatic chops, but in reality it’s a mashup of three different film ideas with no clear theme or substance. In the first 10 minutes we’re treated to a quirky comedy. Frances (Slate) is a struggling New York artist living in a tiny apartment with her deranged parents and sister. The sister might be normal, but she gets left behind.   2019

Directed by: David Wnendt

Screenplay by: Rebecca Knight Dinerstein

Starring: Jenny Slate

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Simple Wedding: Movie Review




Fresh, joyful romantic comedy, consistently funny and heartwarming.
Movies that start with a break-up that look (at least to the audience if not some of the characters) like their relationship is turning a corner and moving onwards and upwards, always hook me in, especially if the humour catches you off-guard. It’s a good sign when romantic comedies are this funny from the opening scene. That’s how A Simple Wedding won me over, and it never lets up. I was laughing, laughing, crying, crying-laughing through the entire film. Let me back up and hopefully you’ll appreciate this film as much I do. 2018

Directed by: Sara Zandieh

Screenplay by: Sara Zandieh

Starring: Tara Grammy, Christopher O'Shea

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Blow the Man Down: Movie Review




Thriller of crime and family - funny, captivating, beguiling.
From the opening scene and deep-voiced men singing melancholic sea shanties, Blow the Man Down summons you into their grit-filled world -- familiar to some, fictional to others – and takes you on a journey of crime and family. The two are intricately connected, of course, especially when directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy present us with such an atmospheric, tightly-woven thriller where every beat matters. The backdrop is Easter Cove, Maine, a small fishing village where nothing is as it seems. 2019

Directed by: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy

Screenplay by: Bridget Savage Cole, Danielle Krudy

Starring: Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor

Friday, July 10, 2020

Mr. Jones: Movie Review


   


A poetic and supremely told story in the pursuit of truth.
London, 1933: Mr. Jones, a young accomplished Welsh journalist has the attention of some of the most powerful men in British politics. He just had the opportunity to interview Hitler and Goebbels and believes an intention to invade Poland. The old, white men laughed. One of them said, “Hitler will soon realize the difference between holding a rally and running a country.” They’re not taking this seriously. It’s even more chilling watching this in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic and an American president who would rather hold rallies than run a country. 2019

Directed by: Agnieszka Holland

Screenplay by: Andrea Chalupa

Starring: James Norton, Peter Sarsgaard

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Athlete A: Documentary Review


I'm angry, and you should be too.

I don’t watch a lot of documentaries because often it results in me being really pissed off and feeling like there’s nothing I can do. Athlete A grabbed my attention though, maybe it was the simplicity and artfulness of the poster, maybe it was because of the high profile names involved, or maybe it was because Larry Nassar’s in prison so I knew going in there was a sense of justice being served. Unsurprisingly, I was angry throughout the film, but that’s also pretty much the point. 2020

Directed by: Bonnie Cohen, Jon Shenk

Starring: Maggie Nichols, Jennifer Sey

Available on: Netflix

Photo credit: Melissa J. Perenson for AP / Netflix

Friday, July 3, 2020

Hamilton: Movie Review


   


A work of art.
Hamilton is finally available for the masses. And even though it is just a taping of a stage musical, it doesn’t feel like an event that I missed out on (but of course it was; the last four or so years of pop culture discussion made sure of that, but not any more). This is a cinematic wonder where we have the best seats in the house for, especially since the multi-camera taping allowed for multiple angles which we wouldn’t get otherwise. 2020

Directed by: Thomas Kail

Screenplay by: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Straight Up: Movie Review




Thoughtful, tender and absolutely hilarious examination of love and sexuality.
Straight Up is the romantic comedy that every gay, bi, pan, straight or questioning person has been waiting for. It has a very minimalistic atmosphere that can make it hard to get into, but the dialogue very quickly makes up for that. This is such a brilliantly funny and brilliantly creative take on the typical romantic comedy, that I’m certain I can’t write a review worthy of its screenplay, but I’m going to try anyways. 2019

Directed by: James Sweeney

Screenplay by: James Sweeney

Starring: James Sweeney, Katie Findlay

Sunday, March 8, 2020

10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up: Movie Review




Low-key rom-come missing humour.
10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up is a clever title. Unfortunately, it’s a better title than it is a movie, a movie that just can’t tap into the humour and wit that it needs. It’s a very low-key romantic comedy – dare I say, mature, which is a smart angle for its target audience. That target audience is me and others who have grown up on romantic comedies, but they haven’t grown up with us. This one is for the grown ups.   2020

Directed by: Galt Niederhoffer

Screenplay by: Galt Niederhoffer

Starring: Christina Ricci, Hamish Linklater