Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Irishman (2019)

3 stars

Premise: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.

The Irishman is Martin Scorsese’s examination of time, regret, and aging through the lens of the gangster epic. It’s a perfectly fine film whose biggest strength is in the powerful performances of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. Unfortunately, aside from those performances, the movie didn’t really hook me and ended up feeling like too dry and aimless a rumination on its themes. Continue reading

HIFF2019: Movie Review – In a New York Minute (2019)

In a New York Minute (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Official Selection
  • 102 Minutes/USA/2019
  • Drama/Romance
  • Director: Ximan Li

Premise: “In A New York Minute” follows three strangers connected by a single pregnancy test. Amy is haunted by a past breakup that has manifested into an eating disorder. Angel is caught between a loveless marriage to an American businessman and a passionate affair with a Chinese writer. Nina moonlights as an escort in order to support herself.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – House of Hummingbird (2018)

House of Hummingbird (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Grand Prize Winner
  • 138 Minutes/South Korea/2019
  • Drama/International
  • Director: Bora Kim

Premise: A lonely 14-year-old, Eun-hee moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness. Deprived of attention from her family, she spends her time finding meaning in the love and friendships of her peers. When Young-ji, a new teacher, arrives, she becomes the first adult Eun-hee feels really understands her.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – Last Year at the Crossing (2018)

Last Year at the Crossing (2018)

  • Documentary Feature/Indiana Spotlight
  • 75 Minutes/USA/2018
  • Education
  • Director: Kathy Bruner

Premise: An alternative high school in small-town Indiana is the last, best chance for four struggling teens to earn a diploma. Their dedicated school administrator holds out hope that this is the year they can overcome their obstacles. A heartbreaking and hopeful portrait of teens trying to rise above their circumstances.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – Man Camp (2019)

Man Camp (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Official Selection
  • 94 Minutes/USA/2019
  • Comedy/Drama 
  • Director: Nate James Bakke

Premise: It’s Man Camp weekend, the few days every year when brothers Adam, Tim, and Kevin head to the family cabin to memorialize their dad. When they arrive to discover their mom with some new guy she apparently plans on marrying, the trip becomes a wild test to determine his worthiness.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – Whelm (2019)

Whelm (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Indiana Spotlight
  • 114 Minutes/USA/2019
  • Thriller/History
  • Director: Skyler Lawson

Premise: “Whelm” is a thriller set deep in the Great Depression where two estranged brothers get tangled in a rivalry between a legendary bank robber and an eccentric young criminal. Through a series of bizarre occurrences, they find they are part of a larger historic scheme.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace (2019)

3 stars

Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace (2019)

  • Documentary Feature/Official Selection
  • 85 Minutes/USA, Australia/2019
  • History
  • Director: April Wright

Premise: “Going Attractions” celebrates the splendor and grandeur of the great cinemas of the United States, built when movies were the acme of entertainment and the stories were larger than life, as were the venues designed to show them.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – Rewind (2019)

4.5 stars

Rewind (2019)

  • Documentary Feature/Official Selection
  • 87 Minutes/USA/2019
  • Drama/Social Justice
  • Director: Sasha Joseph Neulinger

Premise: Drawing upon an immense home video archive, Sasha Joseph Neulinger exposes the family secret which destroyed his world. The camera that followed his footsteps from the day he was born also captured the story of an unraveling childhood, a high-stakes court battle, and a generational reckoning.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – Safe Spaces (2019)

4 stars

Safe Spaces (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Official Selection
  • 92 Minutes/USA/2019
  • Comedy/Drama
  • Director: Daniel Schechter

Premise: A comedy about a New York City professor (Justin Long) who spends a week reconnecting with his family while defending his reputation over controversial behavior at his college.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – Greener Grass (2019)

3.5 stars

Greener Grass (2019)

Premise: A deliciously twisted comedy set in a demented, timeless suburbia where every adult wears braces on their straight teeth, couples coordinate meticulously pressed outfits, and coveted family members are swapper in more ways than one in this competition for acceptance.

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Movie Review: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2019)

3 stars

Premise: A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. I haven’t seen the trailer but the title, premise, and poster all feel like the movie is supposed to be a cheesy, ultra-violent genre movie. What the movie actually is is far from that. Instead, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is a melancholic study of a man who has closed himself off from the world as he deals with what he did in the war. Continue reading

Movie Review: Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)

Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)

Premise: Harry Crumb is a bumbling and inept private investigator who is hired to solve the kidnapping of a young heiress which he’s not expected to solve because his employer is the mastermind behind the kidnapping.

Letterboxd Challenge: 30 From 30 – 1989 Movies Watchlist – 1/30

I grew up watching and enjoying a lot of John Candy’s work. Uncle Buck, Brewster’s Millions, The Great Outdoors, and Cool Runnings were all on heavy rotation in my house growing up. Who’s Harry Crumb?, however, is a movie I never saw. Now that I’ve seen it, (and although I didn’t necessarily “hate” it) I would have been okay having never seen it. Continue reading

Movie Review: The Great Dictator (1940)

The Great Dictator (1940)

Premise: Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel’s regime.

Immediately after The Great Dictator ended, I rewound the movie and rewatched the five minute speech at the end again. Now, while sitting in the afterglow of my first viewing of the film, I am really hard-pressed to think of any movie moments that are as emotionally affecting, timeless in their relevance, and as intensely powerful as that speech was. I am not being the least bit hyperbolic when I say that with one viewing, I’m confident in saying The Great Dictator is a true masterpiece.

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Movie Review: Stan & Ollie (2018)

Premise: Laurel and Hardy, the world’s most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song – a grueling theatre tour of post-war Britain.

Stan & Ollie dramatizes the waning days of Laurel & Hardy’s professional relationship with a quiet, almost sedated dignity. Embarking on a lengthy theatre tour in Britain, the aging comedy legends work to reclaim their comedic spotlight and secure funding for a Robin Hood film. This comes at the expense of their physical and mental health while also forcing them to come to terms with their celebrity status. Continue reading

Movie Review: Escape Room (2019)

Escape Room (2019)

Premise: Six strangers find themselves in circumstances beyond their control, and must use their wits to survive.

Escape Room was a fairly decent thriller for about 2/3s of its runtime. For the other 3rd, it was pretty rote with underdeveloped characters, derivative set pieces, and an ending that felt like a first draft fever dream.

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