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  • First Reformed

    First Reformed


    “Will God forgive us? Will God forgive us for what we’re doing to his creation?” Asked by Ethan Hawke’s Reverend Ernst Toller throughout the film, this line plays as the impending question of “First Reformed,” while still barely scratching the surface to the big ideas that director Paul Schrader has on his mind. Plagued with physical ailments and familial tragedy, the film centers on Reverend Toller, the pastor and in-house operator of the historic First Reformed Church. After his consolation…

  • Pierrot le Fou

    Pierrot le Fou

    During the lesson on The French New Wave in an International Cinema class, I was asked this question:
    "Is formal innovation and experimentation alone grounds for critical appreciation? Do the self-conscious devices used by directors like Jean-Luc Godard enhance your appreciation of a film, or detract from it?"
    This was my answer:
    Like many of the discussion questions from this course, I think it's safe to say that the "general answer" to this week's prompt "Is formal innovation and experimentation…

  • Grand Illusion

    Grand Illusion

    To me, the association between dreamlike imagery and the cinema go hand-in-hand. In a broad sense of the term, the very idea that an artist/filmmaker can craft a piece of cinema to examine the human experience, inner psyches, the complexities of war, or even propose their own view on how the world should operate, is an exhibition of "dreamlike imagery" in its own right. This idea is one I'll expand on when speaking about the "grand illusion" of Renoir's "La…

  • Red Sparrow

    Red Sparrow


    Seemingly taking place during a sort-of Cold War 2.0, director Francis Lawrence (best known from his work on THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY) helms the newest spy thriller from 20th Century Fox, RED SPARROW. While being easily comparable to last year’s ATOMIC BLONDE, RED SPARROW is far from what I would consider to be an action film, but rather a film that relies so heavily on character relationships and dynamics – maybe to a fault. With a narrative…

  • Annihilation



    In a time where mainstream science fiction offers nothing but an oversaturation of bad-CGI, disaster-driven plots, and thinly-veiled characters, its refreshing to come across a film that is both high-concept and not at all pretentious – such as ANNIHILATION, the newest from EX MACHINA writer-director Alex Garland. Similarly to Garland’s last, ANNIHILATION is a science fiction film that not only explores original concepts, but also finds its roots in Kubrickian storytelling – all utilized to tell a cogent and absorbing…

  • Black Panther

    Black Panther


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    An informal review:

    I was going to write long about this one, but it just feels inconsequential. The bottom line: this film is culturally and historically important. Not only is the cast widely diverse, but the multicultural representation of the African American characters is profoundly well-done. The ideologies showcased in this movie paired with the massive reception in just the first weekend at the box office is a game changer. Depiction of culture, language, and even masculinity and femininity are…

  • Early Man

    Early Man


    Utilizing a similar animation style as seen in "Chicken Run" (2000), "Wallace & Gromit" (2005), and "Shaun the Sheep" (2015), Nick Park directs the new fantasy-adventure film "Early Man". Unfortunately, unlike the films aforementioned, "Early Man" fails to deliver a significant story, leaving the characters unimportant and the themes nonexistent.

    The film takes place on prehistoric Earth during "The Stone Age", as referred to in the script. Enter Dug (voiced by Eddie Redmayne), a young member of a caveman group. In…

  • Game Night

    Game Night


    Following their atrocious direction in "Vacation" (2015) and their delightful writing in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017), John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein return to their directing chairs for their newest mystery-comedy "Game Night". This film tells the story of Max (played by the always-charming Jason Bateman), Annie (Rachel McAdams), and their group of friends enjoying their weekly game night with Max's brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler). But, when things go sour as Brooks is kidnapped, the friends become wrapped up in…

  • The Cloverfield Paradox

    The Cloverfield Paradox


    Boldly promoted and released amongst the flood of yearly goofy Super Bowl commercials, "The Cloverfield Paradox" is the third film in the "Cloverfield" line up - following the mysterious 2008 film "Cloverfield" and the acclaimed 2016 drama "10 Cloverfield Lane". While this film offered promise in its vaguely frightening first looks (the two during the Super Bowl), it delivered a rather disappointing addition to the space-thriller subgenre.

    "The Cloverfield Paradox", written by Oren Uziel and Doug Jung and directed by…

  • Gran Torino

    Gran Torino


    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    A discussion of multiculturalism:

    As Walt Kowalski grows throughout the film "Gran Torino", he begins to understand more about Hmong culture, and what that could possible mean to his own life. While he continues to use racial terminology even after his growth - and is given a higher pedestal to stand on as a character - Walt still embraces and encourages Hmong culture in his life and (to him) his neighborhood. In this way, he embraces multiculturalism.

    Multiculturalism in "Gran…

  • Hostiles



    "If you do it enough, you get used to it. Doesn't mean a thing."
    "That's what I'm afraid of."
    The fear of numbness of humanity is one of the most prominent themes brought to life in Scott Cooper's western drama "Hostiles". Characters throughout the film grapple with the ethics of the treatment of Native Americans in the late 1800's - elevated by dedicated performances by Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, and Wes Studi, and beautifully realized cinematography.

    "Hostiles" tells the story…

  • Imitation of Life

    Imitation of Life

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    A discussion of maternal depiction through melodrama:

    Towards the end of Douglas Sirk's "Imitation of Life", the film's themes begin to blossom and become more vulnerable. This burgeoning of ideas cannot be seen more clearly than through a line given by Lora Meredith, a seemingly-absent mother of young Susie, which goes as follows: "Now, just a moment, young lady! It's only because of my ambition that you've had the best of everything. And that's a solid achievement that any mother…