‘Lucy in the Sky’ TIFF Review: Noah Hawley’s Directorial Debut Falls Short of the Diamonds

✯✯✯

Picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies, somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly, Natalie Portman arrives with kaleidoscope eyes. Television legend Noah Hawley of Fargo and Legion promises as much with his feature film directorial debut, but even the thought of a film about a woman’s journey to outer space and back sounds too good to be true after fittingly being named for a Beatles song. Yet as Lucy rises up to the sky, you’re wondering where all the diamonds are, for Lucy in the Sky doesn’t shine as much as you’d want something that sounds like a jewel to do so. It isn’t a bad movie per se, but given the sort of potential that this could have been considering the talent involved, Lucy in the Sky should have been a diamond – but it just never quite gets to that level.

Continue reading →

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 Death and Life of John F. Donovan is a Compelling but Endearing Mess: TIFF Review

✯✯✯✯

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Xavier Dolan and I outright hated his last film, so upon hearing that The Death and Life of John F. Donovan was already opening to bad reviews from other peers at TIFF, I thought I already knew what I was set to expect. Yet instead I came out thinking that as messy as it may have been, this also happens to be one of Dolan’s best films. Surprisingly, it was rather easy for me to have made such a statement because it seems to be a perfect summary of what I find Dolan himself to be – and it’s also set to divide people all the more. But because of what a story like this can say about where Xavier Dolan comes from, I think it’s also fitting enough to say that there’s a lot of heart to be recognized in a story like this, and for the most part – it also happens to be in the right place. Which is more than I know I can say about many of Dolan’s other films, because I’m also looking forward to seeing another English-language effort by him now.

Continue reading →

Annihilation – Review

✯✯✯✯

Annihilation is a strange product, the sort that would be expected from Alex Garland after Ex Machina – but maybe for the very best at the same time. I’ve admittedly never always been sold in on Alex Garland, so it was one among many reasons that I was unsure as to how Annihilation would have turned out for me, although what I still find fitting enough to say about it is that it’s a commendable effort. Nevertheless I think it’s only fitting that the experience that Annihilation is set to provide will be discomforting for the senses from start to finish, even if I’m not exactly sure I would say that everything about it works. Nonetheless I feel bad for those who won’t be able to witness it on the big screen as per their own wishes, but alas the experience it is set to provide is one not to be easily forgotten.

Continue reading →

Black Swan – Review

✯½

I’ve soured on Darren Aronofsky heavily over the years: I remember when I first saw Requiem for a Dream and initially I thought that it was an emotionally draining experience and now it only ever manages to ring me as exploitative of its own characters’ misery at the hands of an agreeable message. But this was not something I found to be exclusive towards said film, because Black Swan, which may very well be his worst film yet, only manages to rub me in the wrong way for similar reasons. But for the many shortcomings of Requiem for a Dream, it never felt condescending in the way that Black Swan was, among many reasons it has only ever managed to leave such a bitter taste in my mouth. It seems so insistent that perfection leads to equally perfect art, and it’s a product so explicitly mechanical its own message only falls down upon itself and the one thought that came to my mind after finishing up read: “this is why I hate Darren Aronofsky.”

Continue reading →

Song to Song – Review

✯✯✯✯

I feel almost at a point where I’ve reached “peak Malick” in which I don’t enjoy his recent output as much as I know some of his most dedicated fans do. I’ve already found myself struggling to connect with To the Wonder and perhaps my own personal feelings about this style got in the way with my own experience of Knight of Cups, but I feel like it has become so difficult to even immerse with Malick anymore. These were among many fears that I had with Song to Song, being another film that takes upon this fractured narrative, but to my own surprise (and eventual delight), I found myself liking this style once again. Regardless of my feelings about how Malick has found himself playing out for me, I’ve always been able to appreciate him as a distinctive experimenter and Song to Song not only signifies my growing respect for his work, but it’s also the first of his I’ve found myself able to say I liked since The Tree of Life. Continue reading →

Heat – Review

✯✯✯✯✯

There are two sides to the battle as portrayed in Michael Mann’s epic crime drama Heat that grants it the title of being one of the best films of its own time. Putting Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together for once after their share from The Godfather: Part II, what we have now is a different crime saga, but one within the streets of Los Angeles. Under the hands of any other filmmaker, Heat could almost have found itself falling in the same category as just about any other cops-and-robbers tale, but there’s a great sense of humility present in the way that Michael Mann is telling his own story that ultimately has made his work one of the defining works of its era. Michael Mann’s Heat doesn’t simply carry its own weight through a sense of the action, its strength lies inside the morality at play.

Continue reading →

Jackie – Review

✯✯½

Pablo Larraín’s latest film, a biopic about Jacqueline Kennedy from the days after JFK’s death, is one of the year’s most frustrating films, one in the sense it feels far too much like an obscured portrait of its own subject. On one hand there’s a technically impressive feat that’s allowing itself to shine all the way through but somehow it seems that Pablo Larraín’s handling of the subject is just so alienating where it should be intriguing. My assumption was that if it were the point to get a grasp on what Jacqueline Kennedy was like after JFK’s death, it was one among many factors to why Jackie never finds itself working as well as it should. Rather instead, it just feels so empty and never moves out of the single spot it remains within.

Continue reading →