Tag Archives: JR

December 30

Top Films of 2017

I struggled to come up with a single word to describe this year. So much of 2017 for me was consumed by politics and the uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations we are only now starting to have regarding race, gender, beliefs and power. Through it all cinema was both my source of escapism and a place […]

December 28

Pitch Perfect 3

Right up front I feel I must say that I am the target audience for the Pitch Perfect movies. I love a cappella and I love movies with singing. Feel free to take anything that comes next with that context in mind. There was not a lot to expand this franchise on after Pitch Perfect […]

December 27

The Greatest Showman

Life is all about expectations. Entertainment is all about finding things to meet those expectations. Phineas Taylor (later known as P.T.) Barnum (Hugh Jackman) grew up knowing people expected him to be quiet and know his place as a tailor’s son. All he wanted was to surpass their expectations. Oh, and to prove himself worthy […]

November 05

THOR: RAGNAROK

At this point in the series, I’m likely talking to devotees when discussing Thor: Ragnarok. There are at a minimum 4 other movies you’d need to have pretty decent knowledge of to understand most of what’s going on here (Thor, Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron). However, I would […]

September 09

TIFF 2017: Bird

There are a lot of clichés that film can rely upon to create characters, a woman fainting to denote a pregnancy, a child avoiding eye contact to demonstrate autistic tendencies. I imagine when you’re making a short film, like Molly Parker’s Bird, it would be easy to simply rely upon stereotypes to get to the […]

May 03

Hot Docs 2017: The Quiet Zone

I’m not sure you can ever know what it feels like in someone else’s skin. You can identify with certain issues, headaches, a stubbed toe, a bumped funny bone, but you can’t rate someone else’s experience with pain. If you had to live with numerous kinds of pain, and someone told you there was a […]

April 29

Hot Docs 2017: Thank You For the Rain

There are moments in this world when we know we could have done more. The recent elections in the US, Brexit in the UK, among many others have left many people realizing they should have done more. The focus of the new documentary, Thank You For the Rain, directed by Julia Dahr, is a Kenyan […]

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

TIFF 2016: HAND.LINE.COD.

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 […]