Author Archives: Jess Rogers

January 05

La La Land

Every few years a movie comes along that tries to reinvent something in Hollywood. The last big reinvention was The Artist, which tried to revive silent films, or at least the concept of silent films and old Hollywood. These novelty films are often lauded for simply that, their novelty. While I HUGELY value originality, I […]

October 21

The People vs. Fritz Bauer

There’s often a higher bar that films in foreign languages have to reach than a film in your native tongue. They have to be compelling enough visually to keep you from just reading the subtitles, interesting enough dialogue that you want to keep reading, and riveting enough to make you want to put in the […]

September 13


If you’re like most people, you don’t think a lot about where your food comes from. Hopefully you think about its nutritional value, and maybe its social/environmental implications (e.g. how much oil was needed to produce it, what kinds of pesticides were required to make it grow beautifully). These are things I teach about, so […]

June 23

Finding Dory

The longer a sequel takes to be made, the higher the stakes become (see the budget for the upcoming Independence Day: Resurgence). Also, focusing a sequel on a supporting character (Minions, Evan Almighty) doesn’t always pay off as well as the original. However, when you have the star power of Ellen DeGeneres, and bring back […]

May 03

Hot Docs 2016: Half-Life in Fukushima

It’s just over five years since the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Pacific Ocean that led to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. It’s almost become a catchphrase, like Chernobyl. We know something nuclear happened, but the details are beginning to fade, as is our interest in what came next. What directors Mark Olexa […]

May 02

Hot Docs 2016: How to Let Go of the World

Though you may not have noticed, Earth Day 2016 was pretty momentous as the final version of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was opened for signatures, and 177 countries signed the agreement and 15 have already ratified it. This should have been a moment for excitement; a celebration that the world has come together […]

March 12

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a good movie is sold and/or publicized as something it is not. You can’t help but be a little disappointed when you discover that the movie is nothing like what you were promised. While this type of bait and switch might help to bring in audiences, it […]

February 07

TBFF16: Ayanda and the Mechanics

Many of the great universal truths revolve around family or grieving. Often it is a combination of the two. It doesn’t matter what kind of parent you have, your relationship with them doesn’t end with death. They stay with us via the ideal vision of them formulated by our memories once they have passed. This […]

November 25

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

I’m a huge fan of the current movement of having strong female protagonists in films – from Juno’s pregnant teen to Insurgent’s Tris to True Grit’s Mattie Ross and of course, the best of them all, The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen. Katniss has had to travel a long road but, throughout her trials, she has […]

September 13

TIFF 2015: Dégradé

The idea of being trapped somewhere waiting has never sat well with me. I don’t like the idea of being confined and limited in what I can do and where I can go. I’d like to think that it’s a universal trait as there are many around the world who are limited by their circumstances. […]

September 10

TIFF 2015: The People vs. Fritz Bauer

There’s often a higher bar that films in foreign languages have to reach than a film in your native tongue. They have to be compelling enough visually to keep you from just reading the subtitles, interesting enough dialogue that you want to keep reading, and riveting enough to make you want to put in the […]

June 24

Inside Out

Pixar’s newest entry into the canon of childhood exploration, Inside Out, plunges into the depths of the emotions that drive our lives, and how out of control they can sometimes seem. Most importantly it aims to show us that it’s okay to feel all of the feelings that make us whole. Riley – the body […]

May 02

Hot Docs 2015: Last of the Elephant Men

One of the greatest strengths of religion is the lack of proof required to be a believer. If you truly believe, you’ll see elements of truth all around you – whether elephant spirits, miracles, or myths coming true. However, if those same beliefs give you and your community a set of mutually agreed values to […]

April 27

Hot Docs 2015: Elephant’s Dream

“The greatest gift life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing” – T. Roosevelt. While Roosevelt was on to something, he has clearly never had to rebuild a country. Unlike the former US President, the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after a decade long civil war, […]

April 26

Hot Docs 2015: Milk

The most fundamental thing we all still have in common is that at some moment in time we were born. In fact, we celebrate it every year. That being said, there might not be a more controversial topic, with no correct answer, than giving birth and breastfeeding. Noemi Weis’ Milk, a clear labor of love […]

April 06

Get Hard

Will Ferrell usually needs a partner to make his comedy work, however, not all of his previous partners have made for great comedies. Thankfully he found Kevin Hart. Get Hard has a really weak premise that basically hinges on the idea that rich white men assume all black men have been to prison. James King […]

January 07

Into the Woods

Into the Woods has a pretty long history on the road to the big screen. The closest they have come was a 1991 televised version of the stage version on PBS (with Bernadette Peters as the witch). Who would have guessed it would take Disney to create the film version of a messed up series […]

November 24

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I

I don’t think I’ve ever jumped into a film series in the middle (nor did I with this one, I’ve seen the other 2 films), but I imagine it might be difficult. Most films that are part of a series dedicate at least a few minutes to catch you up (or a big cold open […]

October 09

This is Where I Leave You

One of my favorite quotes about family and home comes from Robert Frost, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” I think it exemplifies that idea that not everyone gets to (or wants to) be a part of the perfect family that loves unconditionally. This […]

October 07

Gone Girl

There are huge pitfalls to avoid when adapting a really popular novel. An important hurdle being that the book became famous for its unique ability to set fire to a readers’ imagination. Enter David Fincher, likely the only director who could have directed Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl for the big screen, which she also adapted. The […]