Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Color Out of Space (2020)

Color Out of Space (2020)

Premise: After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farmstead, Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage) and his family find themselves battling a mutant extraterrestrial organism as it infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolor nightmare.

H.P. Lovecraft’s 1927 short story The Colour Out of Space has enjoyed a few adaptations to film over the years and has also served to inspire the likes of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel (and Alex Garland’s film) Annihilation and Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers. Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, is the latest cosmic and body horror adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story. It’s the classic tale of the Gardner family, a meteorite that lands on their property, and the havoc it unleashes. Through wonderfully vibrant visual effects and strong body horror elements, Color Out of Space leaves the viewer with a lot of dread to digest. Continue reading

Movie Review: 1917 (2019)

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4.5 stars

1917 (2019)

Premise: Two young British soldiers during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldiers’ brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.

Sam Mendes’ 1917 is an impressive faux single shot movie set during WWI with an immersive ticking clock plot. The tagline of “time is the enemy” couldn’t be more accurate as the movie follows two men tasked with delivering a message that will save up to 1,600 soldiers walking into a trap. Although it may appear at first glance to lack certain plot and character elements, 1917 offers a powerful message of duty, perseverance, and honor in an intentionally inglorious way. Continue reading

Movie Review: Cats (2019)

Cats (2019)

Premise: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.

When the trailer for Cats was released earlier this year, it became ensnared in a viral bloodbath of ridicule on social media. Of course, it’s a film adaptation of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about cats holding a talent show to gain entry into cat heaven in a seemingly deserted city. It stands to reason that any version of it would look bizarre and invite ridicule. However, being a cat owner myself, I felt obligated to give Cats a whirl.

Movie Review: The Beach Bum (2019)

Premise: A rebellious stoner named Moondog lives life by his own rules.

The Beach Bum is my second outing with a Harmony Korine film after watching Spring Breakers on a whim back in January. Even though I didn’t like Spring Breakers, I enjoyed the abstract editing and overall strange and indistinct tone of that movie. It was as though Korine was making a statement about debauchery and youth in revolt flirting with crime. Continue reading

Movie Review: Late Night (2019)

Premise: A late night talk show host suspects that she may soon lose her long-running show.

Writer/star Mindy Kaling and director Nisha Ganatra’s “boss from hell” movie about an underdog in late night TV is plagued by underutilized supporting characters, underdeveloped subplots, and a borderline unlikable co-lead character. Late Night‘s saving grace is a strong performance by Emma Thompson who, despite her character being nearly irredeemably obnoxious, is served well enough by a script that misuses most of the other characters and subplots. Continue reading

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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