2018: Another Year of Cinema Come and Gone

This year was a real game changer for a person like myself. To kick things off, it was the first year in which I was able to attend TIFF as a press member rather than as any other audience member. It was a defining moment for myself, though I don’t want to brag a little too much about what happened there. It was just a good year for cinema in general. That’s all I can really say, and I want to bring more attention to the many films that I absolutely loved this year – and so many of them came around this year and so forth. We’re already nearing the end of a decade, and through the good and the bad, the cinema has always been able to provide nothing but the greatest pleasures through and through. Although as we look through the films that have come to define 2018 as a whole, there were many surprises that came along the way just as there were disappointments – all of which came in between the very best and the worst in cinema through the year. So without further ado, let us begin. Continue reading →

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coen Brothers’ Western Anthology Hits and Misses, but Mostly Hits: Review

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The Coen brothers’s anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a portrait of the many sides of the west, but like any other anthology film there’s always that challenge coming by as to how can all stories ever remain so compelling. You can only get so much charm out of the sort of wit that’s typical of the Coen brothers, but where the film already finds some of its very best footing it also comes right in between some of the weaker portions of the film. That’s not to say I was never entertained by The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but I had only ever found myself susceptible to dozing off because certain stories didn’t capture my interest as much as another one did. But knowing that the Coen brothers had initially intended this as a miniseries, with every segment representing another facet of the American west, maybe it’s also reflective of what one could also expect from how each story mixes together here. You’ll already know which stories you would want to stick with, just as you would which ones you’ll also find yourself caring less about – but there’s always something entertaining to come out from each story.

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Widows is the Most Captivating Heist Film in Years and Stretches Beyond Genre Conventions: TIFF Review

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Steve McQueen’s fourth feature film marks the British filmmaker’s first foray into genre filmmaking fresh off his Best Picture win for 12 Years a Slave, and arguably a case for what may also be his best film yet. Based on the ITV miniseries of the same name created by Lynda La Plante, what McQueen and Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn have created is not just any other thriller but a very special one indeed – one where it feels every position carries a sense of power over one another. It’s a thriller that carries all the best elements of the genre, but also something so much more thoughtful in its presentation it feels outright irresistible. Yet this is only a fraction of where Widows’s greatness comes by, if more needed to be said about why Steve McQueen is one of this generation’s best working filmmakers. But knowing that a filmmaker like Steve McQueen and a writer like Gillian Flynn can join forces in creating what also happens to be one of the most emotionally visceral thriller films to be released in recent memory.

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The Commuter – Review

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Liam Neeson said fairly recently that he was set to retire from the action genre, so it was only fitting that another action film starring him was set to be directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. But when you see a name like Jaume Collet-Serra is behind the camera, you can only expect he can make a simple premise seem entertaining enough even if it isn’t set to last fairly long. Nevertheless he’s also shown himself to be at his best working with Liam Neeson as proven by Unknown and Non-Stop, so it was among many reasons I was still curious enough to see The Commuter. If this is going to be Liam Neeson’s sendoff from the action genre, it’s disappointing – but nonetheless it’s entertaining to see him getting into action as if he were young, then again it was what I expected.

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Silence (2016) – Review

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Growing up in a Catholic family, there’s a part of Silence that would have spoken towards my own experience. But I’ve grown up later with a lack of sureness in my faith and soon it became clear to me why Martin Scorsese’s most recent effort only were set to have grabbed me as much as it did. After Casino, Scorsese seems to have gone from a consistent track record to a more hit-and-miss run with an occasional gem like Bringing Out the Dead or The Wolf of Wall Street and then come disappointments like Shutter Island or The Departed. I feel happy enough to say that with Silence, Scorsese has indeed made his best film in the 21st century and thus his best film since Casino. Regrettably I was unable to have seen it in theaters and after having finally seen it, the wait was more than worth it. With Silence, what we have on the spot may be the closest thing we’ll ever get to a modern day Ingmar Bergman film in a sense.

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The Lego Movie – Review

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On the surface it would be easy to say that The Lego Movie is a horrible concept and yet Phil Lord and Chris Miller manage to make something so much better than what would ever be expected out of it. With The Lego Movie, the duo’s second foray into animation after Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, they take the beloved toy line and somehow manage to tell a story out of it with such ease. For as broad as the limits could ever be, it’s nice to see that the duo make great awareness of such with The Lego Movie and call for greater wonders by bringing them onto the big screen. First they take the improbable with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or 21 Jump Street but something that could have easily come off as a nearly two hour long commercial ultimately becomes even more joyful inside.

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Love Actually – Review

If the title alone was surprisingly not the most condescending thing about Love Actually, then I would have been shocked based on that alone because the course of events that take place in this supposedly charming romantic comedy all live under an illusion. Richard Curtis’s Love Actually managed to earn a reputation as a delightful Christmas treat in some circles and yet, the opening already suggests the general idea that it wants to get across and yet its picture of such idea is where the film falls on its knees. Love is all around, that is said idea, but Love Actually only inspires a hate-filled rage out of me.

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Ponyo – Review

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Despite my usual love for the films of Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo has always been one of my least favourites from him. Regardless, there’s still a lot about it that I like and I can’t really call it a bad film by any means, because it’s still enjoyable while it lasts. Sure, it still has a whole lot of really goofy elements behind it but I think there’s enough to keep one waiting for more to come along. It’s rather disappointing especially when you compare it to a masterwork much like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, or My Neighbor Totoro, but it should provide enough to keep one satisfied. It feels like a film so wallowed with its approach which shouldn’t be a bad thing, but in this scenario it had me thrown off although not to the degree which Howl’s Moving Castle had done so (the only Miyazaki film which I found rather difficult to absorb). Continue reading →