Tag Archives: 2019

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

Ben’s Column: Frozen II (2019) Movie Review

Frozen II (2019)

Premise: Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.

Look. When you’ve got one of the most profitable films of all time like Frozen in your back pocket, there’s bound to be talks of a sequel. This is 2019 after all, and the studio that made Frozen is Disney, who’s never met an original property it couldn’t shoehorn into a prequel, sequel, or spin-off. Not to mention the untold millions Disney has raked in from merchandising ever since – if you’ve gone a single Halloween since 2014 without seeing an Anna or Elsa or Olaf costume, you’re either lying, or weren’t paying attention. None of this is surprising. 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

Ben’s Column: Parasite (2019) Movie Review

Parasite (2019)

Premise: All unemployed, Ki-taek and his family take peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks, as they ingratiate themselves into their lives and get entangled in an unexpected incident. Continue reading

Ben’s Column: The King (2019) Movie Review

The King (2019)

Premise: Hal, wayward prince and heir to the English throne, is crowned King Henry V after his tyrannical father dies. Now the young king must navigate palace politics, the war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life.

The King may not be the longest, the most plot-heavy, or even the most complicated movie of 2019, but it may be the most tedious to get through. Here’s a fun parlor game you can play with your friends: gather everyone together and turn on The King. The first person to either nod off or check his or her phone loses. Best of luck to you, because I would have failed this challenge within the first 30 minutes. 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

Ben’s Column: The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

The Lighthouse (2019)

Premise: The hypnotic and hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

“Why did ye chase me up and down this rock with that axe?” Willem Dafoe’s Thomas Wake asks of Robert Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow (or is it Thomas Howard?) late in The Lighthouse, the newest from director Robert Eggers, after his breakout success of The Witch. The question, on its face, isn’t all that significant. What makes it stand out – and emblematic of the entire film – is that, just minutes earlier, we see the exact opposite happening with Dafoe madly chasing Pattinson. Is Dafoe messing with Pattinson? Was it a drunken hallucination? Is Dafoe the crazy one, or is Pattinson (or both)? Throughout The Lighthouse, Eggers has the audience constantly question what he just showed us, as his characters descend deeper and deeper into madness. Continue reading

Ben’s Column: Dolemite Is My Name (2019) Movie Review

Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Premise: Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon. 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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Ben’s Column: The Laundromat (2019) Movie Review

The Laundromat (2019)

Premise: In this dramedy based on the Mossack Fonseca scandal, a cast of characters investigate an insurance fraud, chasing leads to a pair of a flamboyant Panama City law partners exploiting the world’s financial system. Continue reading

HIFF2019: Ben’s Column – Go Back to China (2019)

Go Back to China (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Official Selection
  • 96 Minutes/2019/USA
  • Comedy/Drama
  • Director: Emily Ting

Premise: When spoiled rich girl Sasha Li blows through most of her trust fund, she is cut off by her father and forced to go back to China and work for the family toy business. Continue reading

HIFF2019: Ben’s Column – International Falls (2019)

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4.5 stars

International Falls

  • Narrative Feature/Official Selection
  • 96 Minutes/2019/USA
  • Comedy/Drama
  • Director: Amber McGinnis

Premise: A woman stuck in a small, snowbound border town has dreams of doing comedy when she meets a washed up, burned out comedian with dreams of doing anything else.

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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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