Additional Film Reviews
Written by Peter Bird and Paul Hutcheson.
Film Reviews: October 1st, 2023
THE LAST DETAIL
Jack Nicholson stars in the 1973 Hal Ashby road movie/buddy flick. A young Randy Quaid is being taken to the brig and his guards are going to show him a good time along the way. An interesting but plodding depiction of male relationships. Final scene shot in High Park.
A hidden-history documentary. Who knew the automat was such a powerful symbol in American history? You begin to think if we could just bring the automat back, everything would be OK again. It won’t.
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
What initially appears to be a stodgy period piece proves to be one of the best lesbian films of all time. Terrific. A radical re-think of portraiture in the age of selfies.
PRETTY RED DRESS
Fresh out of prison and straight into a pretty red dress. It all happens quite quickly, amid many complications. Doesn’t always find the right tone, but an enjoyable attempt.
We recommend these short films on Kanopy.
We wouldn’t waste your time.
RUBBER DOLPHIN (28 min) is sexy.
THE BEAST (19 min) is hilarious.
THE PHONE CALL (21 min) stars Sally Hawkins.
Film Reviews: September 1st, 2023
HOLLYWOOD: NO SEX PLEASE
An historical overview of Hollywood’s relationship to sex. The influence of religion and politics is inescapable and prevents honest depictions and discussions. Some depth is lost with the breadth of focus.
A bizarre Brazilian film about Christian female vigilantes. Stunning visuals and plenty to say about what the church does to people.
SUMMER WISHES WINTER DREAMS
Oh, the 70s. When films were slow and didn’t tell, or even show, everything. An adult film that watches Joanne Woodward figure out how to give meaning to her life. Trauma, sexuality, and gender relations are all covered in this gem of a film.
MY DONKEY MY LOVER AND I
A charming, funny French film about a naïve woman’s search for love while stalking her married lover and his family on a rural pilgrimage. A lovely depiction of modern human sexual relationships. Refreshing. Laure Calamy is charismatic as Antoinette.
BODIES BODIES BODIES
Beautiful rude rich people behaving badly. Some of the comeuppances are awesome. Very much a movie of today, using the language in circulation and mocking it appropriately. Nobody is more toxic than a murderer or a bored rich asshole.
Film Reviews: August 1st, 2023
We wouldn’t have known about this film were it not for the Toronto Public Library. Portraits of Americans; the only context is that they were all filmed just before the 2020 election. No analysis, simply people speaking for themselves which amplifies their humanity and our empathy.
A young woman moves to Bucharest with her husband, and a misogynist serial killer stalks the city. Is her neighbour who she thinks he is? Tense, fraught and beautiful, with a lot to say about gender relations. Too bad the ending is so unbelievable.
THE AMUSEMENT PARK
George A. Romero’s experimental depiction of aging and dementia. The amusement park is a stand-in for this cruel world. Challenging but brilliant. Don’t get old.
OUT OF THE BLUE
A 1980 Canadian film directed by and starring Dennis Hopper about Cebe, a tomboy obsessed with the emerging punk scene. A dire warning of family dysfunction and intergenerational tragedy.
What if suicide was caused by a contagious demon? What would you do to shake it loose? The symptom is a terrifying smile. Creepy, good fun.
Film Reviews: July 1st, 2023
SEARCHING FOR MR RUGOFF
A documentary about a difficult genius who brought art films to a wider audience in New York, and eventually the world. An homage to the distribution and viewing of challenging films.
The kind of gay conversion you want to see: A psychologist has his homophobic views altered by a gay activist and the world is a better place for it. Conversion through conversation.
A beautiful, abstract wandering paean to David Bowie.
Incredible visuals to accompany his awesome music.
Hardcore fans will be in their glory.
HOLD YOUR FIRE
A heart-breaking documentary about a 1973 Brooklyn robbery gone wrong.
Although the event occurred 50 years ago, it still speaks to our society’s problems with policing marginalized communities. Society is slow to learn.
Great documentary about Julia Child. You will walk away loving this woman even more. Such integrity, such strength. Her marriage was so modern and equitable. Marvelous role-model. Supporter of Planned Parenthood.
Film Reviews: June 1st, 2023
MRS HARRIS GOES TO PARIS
This film looked delightful. Our bags were packed.
However, this trip is saccharine to the point of nausea with too many coincidences.
Why do we need depth or nuance when we have pretty dresses?
An insight into the displacement of the south Asian community from Uganda to the American south in the 70’s. Colourful, with a beautiful cast of characters that don’t always ring true.
Weak writing ruins a great premise.
Terrifying moments are undermined by bull-shit philosophising and plot holes.
Why are these kick ass women wrapped up in clichéd heteronormativity? Climb higher.
DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE
Eleanor Perry wrote the screenplay, based on the novel by Sue Kaufman.
Showcasing how women were driven mad with domestic expectation.
Tina Balser tries to escape through sex, but the patriarchy won’t let her.
Eleanor Perry with another terrific script based on the short story by Lois Dickert.
Fear and paranoia wreak havoc in a rural community during 1950’s nuclear cold war panic.
The heart of the story is the children. Excellent film.
Dana Gould & Bobcat Goldthwaite go on a stand-up tour together.
Both are hilarious. Goldthwaite is an awesome human.
Rumi Missabu was a member of the trail-blazing performance troupe the Cockettes.
A true outsider who pushed the boundaries of polite society.
And smoked cigarettes. Lots of cigarettes.
A reminder at just how popular ABBA was.
They have aged gracefully and richly.
Only downside was being reminded of Mama Mia. We hate Mama Mia.
The beginning of this film is dry. (Even though Eric Bana is in it)
The middle of this film is dry. (Even though Eric Bana is in it)
The end of this film is dry. (Even though Eric Bana is in it)
A surprisingly fresh take on the horror genre.
Set during a 70’s X-rated movie shoot, shame and sexphobia bubble to the surface with terrifying results.
Film Reviews: May 1st, 2023
This overlooked film is now part of the Criterion Collection, and rightfully so.
Laurence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum, in a Miami Vice aesthetic, add up to an interesting comment on identity in this 90’s undercover drama.
NOTHING BUT A MAN
This 1964 film is a searing portrayal of the generational impact of racism.
Abbey Lincoln is terrific in the role of Jessie. Great direction and writing.
The film offers perspective and insight on gun violence in America. The four actors are mesmerizing as parents forced to deal with a future no one anticipated. Originally a lauded stage play, the script is tight and devastating.
Great premise, but poorly developed characters led us to believe this would have been a better CBC mini-series.
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN
Give this 1957 film a chance for the special effects alone.
Scott Carey’s reaction to his shrinking stature predicts the anger of today’s white men.
The loss of privilege is made visual.
KENNY SCHARF; WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
Often overshadowed by Keith Herring and Michelle Basquiat, Scharf is the only member of the trio of artists still living. Perhaps the lack of tragedy has led to his being overlooked. His art has evolved and grown. Charming man.
Beautiful cast, setting and wardrobe.
Interesting way to address a historical failing, but not fully realized.
Yes, they are parallel, but not profoundly so.
EMILY, THE CRIMINAL
Emily seethes with anger and resentment and we don’t blame her.
The threat of violence always looms in this tense, contemporary crime thriller.
Aubrey Plaza is terrific.
As a queer San Francisco burlesque group prepares for a show, we are given portraits of people who found self-acceptance through the art form. Warm and uplifting in dark times.
Terrible people doing terrible things.
We stuck around to see if anyone got their comeuppance. They do.
Although, we wonder if it was worth enduring 2 hours with these assholes?
Film Reviews: April 1st, 2023
THE YEAR DOLLY PARTON WAS MY MOM (DVD)
Great art direction.
Fun, not sappy.
A Canadian independent gem.
SUICIDE SQUAD (DVD)
Be prepared for cartoonish hyper-violence, balanced by a great cast and performances.
A funny comic book film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Why hasn’t Margot Robbie been nominated for Harlequin?
BLOOD SISTERS (DVD)
A time capsule of early 90s San Francisco BDSM lesbian community.
Butch realness at its best. What’s not to love?
QUEER JAPAN (DVD)
Delightful romp through the queer performance, art, and advocacy communities of Japan. Heart-warming.
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI (DVD)
Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke spend an evening in a motel room, discussing Black manhood, under the direction of a Black woman.
Great writing, great art direction, amazing performances.
DEFENDING YOUR LIFE (DVD)
Albert Brooks, at his most handsome, accompanied by the luminous Meryl Streep.
A great premise, undermined by a weak protagonist.
We want to visit the afterlife with someone who has led a more interesting life.
WOJNAROWICZ: F**K YOU F*GGOT F**KER (DVD)
A complex portrait of an activist artist at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
It looks at the consequences of a fringe artist becoming mainstream.
His critical perspective is still needed today.
WORKING GIRLS (DVD)
A ground-breaking and intimate film set in a 1980’s, NYC brothel.
Non-judgmental and empathetic, it surprises in both tone and character.
SOME KIND OF HEAVEN (DVD)
A documentary about “The Villages”, an infamous retirement community in Florida.
Unfortunately, it only focuses on four residents and offers no evidence why this is the fastest growing community in the States. The result is a film that lacks joy.
I, TINA (DVD)
Tina Turner wants to be celebrated for her accomplishments.
Instead, this film stews in past trauma that doesn’t need to be revisited.
You, Tina, deserve better. (Although great archival footage)
Film Reviews: March 1st, 2023
SAINT MAUD (DVD)
If you need homecare, make sure to check references.
Past work experience and religious beliefs need to be assessed.
An original horror film that finds fear in religious compulsion; fanatics often confuse horniness with godliness.
We know what the makers of this film were thinking:
You know what’s hot right now? Trans issues. Let’s rush to make a film.
Cowboys is clichéd and overly earnest, wasting the talents of Steve Zahn and Ann Dowd. Watch Ma Vie En Rose instead.
Ambition can be a dangerous drug.
Ethan Hawke endangers his family for the sake of a good story.
A clever horror film where dread effectively builds to a satisfying end.
MISSISSIPPI GRIND (DVD)
A well-acted character study centered around gambling addiction.
Ben Mendelson and Ryan Reynolds capture the different ways in which addicts cheer each other on, leading to disaster and triumph.
Great coming-of-age film set during the 1990 Oka Crisis in Quebec.
Archival footage enhances and shames in equal measure.
An honest and firmly grounded film with a stellar Indigenous cast.
This 1972 doc, Fuck The Army, disappeared after a couple screenings and did not get re-released until 2021. Jane Fonda offers context in the introduction.
Scathing critique of the American war machine. Fascinating. Watch it.
THE WIDOW COUDERC (DVD)
The middle-aged Couderc, hungry for companionship, takes in a homeless hunk.
Jealous in-laws and the beauty of youth thwart her plans. A decent film.
Lovely exploration of family.
Unpredictable plot and characterization; Minari touches the heart without being cloying or cliché. Sun Y’s, as the grandmother, gives a breathtaking performance.
ME WITHOUT YOU (DVD)
An interesting, episodic depiction of co-dependent friendships.
Stellar acting, especially by Michelle Williams.
A terrible ending left these viewers resentful. (Turn it off @ 122 min.)
RIDERS OF JUSTICE (DVD)
Finally, an honest revenge film. It admits that there is no reason for any of it.
Violence is meaningless and simply an expression of man’s fucked-up relationship to masculinity. Mads Mikkelsen is terrifying. An unexpected gem.
Film Reviews: February 1st, 2023
A refreshing sport film that is more concerned with gender politics and the commodification of sports celebrities than who wins. Strangely mis-marketed with tits and ass.
Jill Clayburgh, Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson ably prop up a nonsensical script.
LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE (SUBTITLED, DVD)
The only reason to watch this film is the incredible fireworks made to look like Paris’ Pont-Neuf…oh, and the boner in silhouette while the lovers run along the beach. (HUGE)
Otherwise, overly long, depressing, self-indulgent love story with an inflated budget.
9 to 5 (DVD)
Tomlin, Fonda, and Parton look fabulous fighting for women’s and worker’s rights.
The script however loses steam; no one wants to hold their boss hostage for 6 weeks.
The song remains perfect.
WORLD’S GREATEST DAD (DVD)
Tragedy propels a failed writer to prominence in his community.
Surprising in tone and subject matter, this black comedy stars Robin Williams as a dad trying the best he can with a shitty kid. The power of grief is astounding.
THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN (SUBTITLED, DVD)
A metaphorically rich film about a Syrian refugee who literally sells the skin on his back.
In exchange, he receives a visa to the EU but is reduced to an object.
Relevant discussions of personhood and freedom are marred by weak subplots.
QUICK CHANGE (DVD)
Little character development wastes the talents of Bill Murray, Geena Davis, and Randy Quaid. Such promise: a bank-heist comedy. Unfortunately, it only delivers some cute gags.
You know that sinking feeling on Christmas morning when the one present you hoped for isn’t there? This was Candyman. A major disappointment.
MISS JUNETEENTH (KANOPY)
Great start with likeable leads that quickly falls victim to its own ambition.
Too many subplots and character digressions stymy any enjoyment.
Betty Ray doesn’t want to be Miss Juneteenth and we don’t blame her.
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN (DVD)
Carey Mulligan, director Emerald Fennell and a great supporting cast tackle sexual assault, guilt, and revenge. Uncomfortable, disquieting, and beautiful to look at, this film grabs you by the throat; release arrives with a controversial end.
TRUMAN & TENNESSEE: AN INTIMATE CONVERSATION (DVD)
An intriguing and nuanced portrait of two literary icons.
Jim Parsons and Zachery Quinto voice Capote and Williams admirably.
These two queens show us that the “library” was open long before RuPaul.
Film Reviews: January 1st, 2023
GODZILLA VS. KONG (DVD)
Expected this to be the same escapist fun as Kong: Skull Island.
Expectations not met. No fun. A bloated mess.
Terrific cast should be ashamed.
MAN PUSH CART (DVD)
Depressing. Tragic. Repeat.
Depressing. Tragic. Repeat.
Depressing. Tragic. Repeat.
Would have made a good limited series.
As a film…an exhausting onslaught of family tragedy.
Too much, too soon…I don’t know these people!
Not for the faint of heart. Little Red Riding Hood retold as a nasty black comedy.
Reese Witherspoon chews up the scenery as our foul-mouthed heroine who goes head-to-head with the big bad wolf of Kiefer Sutherland.
STIR OF ECHOES (DVD)
A decent way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Kevin Bacon looks great shirtless, playing a tortured hero amid suburban toxic masculinity.
THE NIGHT HOUSE (DVD)
An effective ghost story.
Rebecca Hall carries the film.
A solid B.
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (DVD)
The classic high school ensemble comedy holds up.
Funny, real, heartwarming and made us miss the mall.
Spoiler Alert: The girl gets the abortion. Wouldn’t be made today.
I CARE A LOT (DVD)
Another victim of Hollywood’s hubris; a great premise that falls apart under the need for silly action. What could have been a ruthless satire of late capitalism, instead becomes a paean to horrible people. By the end, you don’t know who to root for or where to look, except away.
CATTLE ANNIE & LITTLE BRITCHES (DVD)
We were excited for a 1980 female-lead Western starring Amanda Plummer and Diane Lane. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to its promise. Overly long with obvious filler.
Plummer is typecast as crazy in her first film role—and it stuck.
THE FATHER (DVD)
Tour-de-force performance by Anthony Hopkins. A frightening portrait of dementia and aging.
It’s true success is that it never lapses into sentimentality or cliché.
A rare mainstream film that doesn’t assume its audience are morons.
Film Reviews: December 1st, 2022
SMOOTH TALK (DVD)
Joyce Chopra makes an impressive directorial debut with this adaptation of a Joyce Carol Oates short story.
Laura Dern captures the reality of adolescent sexuality, fluctuating between naive and empowered. The danger lies between the two.
A 1972 film that deals with toxic masculinity and white privilege. It’s controversial, in-your-face, and would be rife with trigger warnings if screened today. It’s hard to believe white men have been angry this long about their “slipping” status.
Another off-beat, original film by visionary artist, Miranda July.
The story is weird yet fully realized. The cast is fantastic, and Gina Rodriguez is stellar.
Based on a series of real-life tweets, the story is fascinating because it is true.
An impressive directorial debut that captures the intersection of social media and sex work.
A road trip with a pimp and new friend: exciting, terrifying, and ultimately unsatisfying.
A QUIET PLACE II (DVD)
The original was great. This sequel is a nonsensical mess.
Ended up rooting for the monsters.
We’re still angry they didn’t get the whole family. (Yes, including the baby.)
THE LAST BLOCKBUSTER (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
Even though we were independent-video store enthusiasts (Blockbuster was a last resort); this doc is like a warm hug. It reminds us of video stores, and this Blockbuster in particular, were so much more: community centers, date-night pitstops, and receptacles for our nostalgia.
A BOY AND HIS DOG (DVD)
This film, an inspiration for Mad Max, has got to be one of the oddest films of the 70’s.
A young Don Johnson learns that post-apocalyptic society will be built on the commodification of women. Sounds about right.
A strong premise that gets nothing else right.
Plot holes, terrible script and pacing issues are anger inducing.
Who greenlit this?
SCARE ME (DVD)
This film felt like an improv game.
Improvisation can be great or terrible.
This film falls into the latter.
SUMMER OF ’85 (SUBTITLED, DVD)
A queer coming-of-age that starts out lovely then betrays its characters.
It outstays its welcome and becomes disingenuousness.
Film Reviews: November 1st, 2022
JIMMY CARTER, ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
A moving tribute to Jimmy Carter.
An uplifting portrait of at an exemplary leader: non-violent, humanitarian, artistic, ethical, and compassionate, whose love of music propelled him to the presidency.
90’s computer dating agency nightmare.
Great premise and cast. Would have been better as a short.
PETER ‘N’ TILLIE (DVD)
Uneven, but watchable comedic drama about an independent woman and a lothario finding love.
Carol Burnett and Walter Matthau are easy, and Geraldine Page received an Oscar nod.
Great art direction and fashion.
THE MOLE AGENT (DVD, KANOPY, HOOPLA)
Recently widowed Sergio goes undercover in a home for the aged to investigate possible abuse. Documentary or dramatic film? Lines get blurred.
However, we are safe in the hands of Sergio. Highly recommended.
REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES (DVD)
America Ferreira proves she’s a star in her first film.
A feminist coming-of-age story with a happy ending--the protagonist gets what she wants without a makeover or cliché romance. As the mother, Lupe Ontiveros is wonderful.
4X4 (DVD, HOOPLA)
A car thief gets locked in a booby-trapped vehicle he intends to steal.
The first 45 min are claustrophobic and tense. Remaining 45? Ridiculous and heavy-handed.
We heard it was based on a short film. I bet it’s terrific.
LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS (DVD)
A strong film with great direction and a script that is decidedly 90’s.
Thomas Gibson as David & Ruth Marshall as Candy are brilliant.
Mathew Ferguson as Kane & Mia Kirschner as Benita? Not so much.
COP CAR (DVD)
A unique premise with strong performances makes this a solid B thriller.
Who can blame the kids for wanting to go on a joy ride? Kevin Bacon is a terrifying villain.
THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS (DVD)
Never accept invitations from strangers you are wary of. Christopher Walken & Helen Mirren play a psychotic game in Venice with the beautiful Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson.
Beautiful scenery and gorgeous people compensate for the slow pace.
LITTLE MONSTERS (DVD, HOOPLA)
An original zombie thriller anchored by likeable leads and a kindergarten class.
A decent black comedy-zombie film that could have used more scares and chases.
Lupita Nyong’o is a star.
Film Reviews: October 1st, 2022
THE NEW MUTANTS (DVD)
A dark, twisted origin tale from Marvel comics.
A flawed script mars an otherwise entertaining movie about battling one’s inner demons.
For comic lovers only.
YES, GOD, YES (DVD, HOOPLA)
A tight, fun, sex-positive independent film about teenage female desire.
Slut shaming, religious repression and sexual hypocrisy are all dealt with admirably.
Natalia Dwyer shines in the lead role.
MARKIE IN MILWAUKEE (DOCUMENTARY, DVD, KANOPY)
Fascinating documentary about gender identity and fundamentalist Christianity.
Watching Markie Wenzel’s ten-year journey of acceptance, denial, and confusion is uplifting, harrowing, and depressing.
THE DAYTRIPPERS (DVD)
A talented ensemble centering on 24hrs in the lives of the Malone family.
Terrific script allows for fully realized characters and laugh out loud moments.
Confirms that all relationships are weird and complicated.
JASPER MALL (DOCUMENTARY, DVD, HOOPLA)
A documentary centered on the long-time caretaker of Jasper Mall in Alabama.
The final community of occupants and patrons are the heart of the film, reminding us of how mall culture used to sustain us, beyond material consumption.
CHAINED FOR LIFE (DVD, KANOPY)
A challenging experimental film that addresses film making, beauty and the nature of performance. Well cast and acted, the film compels viewers to question reality.
A true original.
BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR (DVD)
We really wanted to go on a vacation with Barb and Starr.
¼ of this film is amazing, ¼ is lazy, and ½ is failed Austin Powers pointlessness.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SEASAME STREET (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
A look at the individuals responsible for the creation of a beloved institution.
Diversity, honesty, compassion, and respect for children were prioritized.
A wonderful examination of society’s potential.
MCCABE & MRS MILLER (DVD)
A fascinating look at building a town in the American frontier.
The entrepreneurial spirit in conflict with corporate interest.
Bleak, but beautiful depiction of settlers’ suffering.
CAPTAIN MARVEL (DVD)
Captain Marvel is the kick ass super-hero we needed, with no bull-shit love interest.
Brie Larson is great as Marvel and has terrific chemistry with Samuel L. Jackson as Fury.
The script was infused with humour and a great supporting cast.
Film Reviews: September 1st, 2022
ANOTHER ROUND (SUBTITLED, HOOPLA)
Strange and challenging look at alcohol and masculinity.
Comedy, drama, and dance add up to a truly original film.
Why is Mads Mikkelsen’s face so compelling?
CODE OF FREAKS (DOCUMENTARY, DVD, KANOPY)
An interesting overview of depictions of disabled characters in mainstream films.
Could have been shorter and some of its over generalizations undermine the message.
AN UNMARRIED WOMAN (DVD)
A prescient depiction of fragile masculinity before the term existed.
Jill Clayburgh gives a multi-faceted portrayal of a woman’s struggle for independence.
The reason why 70’s films are lauded.
KEITH HARING: STREET ART BOY (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
What’s not to love? A brilliant, prolific artist who took the world by storm.
His milieu and influences were diverse and inspirational; consequently, his impact remains relevant. A charming portrait of an artist lost too soon.
BECOMING LESLIE (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
A fixture of Austin, Texas, Leslie was a cross dressing, homeless activist who ran for mayor numerous times and was instrumental in the “Keep Austin Weird” movement.
A testament to how abuse and neglect shape a lifetime.
PROUD (SUBTITLED, DVD, KANOPY)
An engaging, multi-generational saga that addresses coming out, AIDS and queer adoption.
Treats the viewers with respect, not succumbing to generalizations and pat endings.
FIRST COW (SUBTITLED, DVD)
Kelly Reichardt is a great filmmaker.
The film is a quiet meditation on friendship and fortune seeking in the late 1800’s.
JOJO RABBITT (DVD)
Initially resistant to a WWII film with comedic portrayal of Hitler.
Completely won over by its imaginative take on a child’s view of war.
Script and performances are superlative. Deserved all the recognition it received.
SHORT CUTS (DVD)
A star-packed, rambling film based on Raymond Carver short stories.
Great elements throughout; however, excessive length compromises enjoyment.
RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT (DOCUMENTARY, DVD, KANOPY)
Marion Stokes was a brilliant woman: a mother, a librarian, a commentator, a civil rights activist, a television host, and a successful investor. She also recorded the news every day for over 30 years, on numerous channels, using VHS. The archival footage is astounding.
Film Reviews: August 1st, 2022
LA DOLCE VITA (SUBTITLED, DVD)
Set in Rome, the gorgeous visuals never disappoint.
A week in the life of a philandering paparazzo romanticizes the infection that has come to dominate our culture.
THE BEDROOM WINDOW (KANOPY)
Great cast in a mediocre thriller.
Steve Guttenberg is gorgeous and often shirtless which made for easy viewing.
YOU DON’T NOMI (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
An examination of the cult appeal of Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls.
Interesting for thirty minutes. It was ninety-two.
THE RENTAL (DVD)
Two couples rent a property. But are they alone?
A great cast delivers on a creepy premise.
A solid B horror film.
THE LAST SEDUCTION (HOOPLA)
Linda Fiorentino won acclaim for her role as femme fatale Bridget Gregory.
Commanding every scene, she makes this dated thriller worth a watch.
BILL & TED’S FACE THE MUSIC (HOOPLA)
A pleasant surprise. We should know not to underestimate Keanu.
THE JOKER (DVD)
Assumed a glorification of uber-violence; viewed with reluctance.
Reality: amazing direction, cinematography, and performances.
A great film.
A terrible thriller not even Isabelle Huppert can save.
Watch The Piano Teacher if you really want to be disturbed.
TOM OF FINLAND (SUBTITLED, KANOPY)
An eye-opening look at gay identity before WWII.
How a gay artist shaped queer desire.
Lots of eye candy, but not enough hot sex for a film about Tom of Finland.
A workaholic and her niece bond during a week of baby-sitting.
The premise is tired but is bolstered by strong performances.
A funny and realistic depiction of family that avoids sentimentality.
Film Reviews: July 1st, 2022
Widowed Ruth is directed by her in-utero fetus to seek revenge for her husband’s death.
What begins as a great black comedy runs out of steam in the final quarter.
It required accepting too many plot holes.
LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN (DVD)
An adaptation of Herbert Selby Jr.’s disturbing novel set in 1950s New York.
This is NOT West Side Story; a jarringly violent film that depicts a host of working-class struggles related to employment, gender, and sexuality.
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Tra La La is fearless.
QUEERAMA (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
An interesting look at queer representation in cinema over the last 100 years.
Lots you’ll recognize and even more clips you’ll see for the first time.
At a tight 70 minutes and organized by themes, it redresses historical oversights effectively.
MAURICE (DVD, KANOPY)
Merchant and Ivory’s effective adaptation of E.M. Forrester’s novel is one of the few gay films of the 80’s with a happy ending.
James Wilby (as Maurice) does NOT end up with Hugh Grant—Rupert Graves is way hotter.
PAPI CHULO (DVD, HOOPLA)
A sweet-natured and surprising film about loss and acceptance.
Matt Bomer surprises in a nuanced role as a gay man coming to terms with a life unexpected.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (KANOPY)
A masterpiece. George A. Romero was a genius. That is all.
A terrifying film about a woman’s kidnapping and escape.
Although marred by plot holes it’s still an exciting ride.
Teach young women they don’t have to be polite to strangers.
PORNSTAR PANDEMIC (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
What do pornstars do during a pandemic?
Apparently work out and make boring documentaries.
EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (DVD)
A layered portrayal of a queer teen and his best girlfriend coming-of-age in the 80’s.
Lovely performances anchored by a terrific soundtrack.
GOLDEN DOOR (SUBTITLED, DVD)
A technically and visually stunning film about nineteenth century immigration to America.
Treats its viewers as thoughtful adults, able to arrive at their own conclusions.
A beautiful ending.
Film Reviews: June 1st, 2022
ANITA (DOCUMENTARY, HOOPLA)
It was me-too before #MeToo.
Sad commentary on what little progress we’ve made since 1991.
We still don’t believe women. Anita Hill should be on the Supreme Court.
SCREAM QUEEN (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
A layered documentary on the undoing of a career in Hollywood due to homophobia.
Mark Patton gets his first starring role in A Nightmare on Elm St 2.
The public was not ready for a man to play a scream queen. Worth watching.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE (DVD)
After Scream Queen, we had to watch this.
The film went on to be a queer cult film.
However, the documentary is enough.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (DVD)
After watching #2 we needed a palate cleanser.
The original holds up. Parents burning a pedophile? The 80’s were perverse.
Suburban secrets come back to haunt in the form of a terrifying Freddy Krueger.
It’s a laugh watching Johnny Depp turn into a blood fountain.
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (DVD)
Freddy’s back to fuck-up some teens in a mental institution.
Interesting power struggles amongst the adults as the teens must fend for themselves.
Patricia Arquette rocks. Much better than #2.
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (SUBTITLED, DVD)
Heartbreaking film about orphaned children surviving drug cartel violence.
Original and imaginative elements lift it out of the darkness.
The child performers are amazing.
LITTLE WOMEN (DVD)
A fun adaptation that deserved recognition-for the first 120 minutes.
We really hated the last 15.
THE PROJECTIONIST (DOCUMENTARY, KANOPY)
A revealing look at the volatile business of owning cinemas.
A sympathetic portrait of entrepreneur and projectionist Nicolas Nicolaou.
Archival footage of New York never ceases to amaze. A good edit would have improved it.
JOHAN (SUBTITLED, HOOPLA)
An experimental 70’s French film that follows a man waiting for his lover to get out of jail. Everyone is liberated, sexy and quick to fuck.
Don’t expect a coherent plot—it is the 70’s.
If Shirley Jackson was truly as nasty as the film suggests, she should have won “The Lottery.” Interesting experimental elements anchored by the reliable Elizabeth Moss.
A dire portrait of alcoholism, mental health, and academic snobbery.
Film Reviews: May 1st, 2022
BEING 17 (SUBTITLED, DVD, KANOPY)
French coming of age film dealing with sexuality, race, gender, and class.
A homo-bullying film, with a happy ending set in the French Alps.
What’s not to love?
THE REF (DVD, HOOPLA)
A Christmas film we both enjoyed when it came out in 1994.
Hard to look at Kevin Spacey, but Denis Leary, Judy Davis and a strong supporting cast carry it.
If National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is an ‘A’ Christmas film, The Ref is a solid B.
DEAD PRESIDENTS (HOOPLA)
We were onboard for the excellent character development and soundtrack.
Unfortunately, a rushed, nonsensical, hyper-violent heist upsets the mood of the film and it never gets back on track. A great first hour that ends in a hot steaming pile of gun violence.
COME TO DADDY (HOOPLA)
Elijah Wood, a status obsessed hipster, seeks out his absent father in a remote, seaside setting. Huge mistake.
If your dad doesn’t want to be found, you shouldn’t go looking for him. Terrifying. Great premise. Excellent start, then it becomes an unbelievable mess. Sad.
LAZY SUSAN (HOOPLA)
A surprisingly candid and nuanced performance by Sean Hayes in the titular role of Susan.
This is not a drag performance, but rather an embodiment of middle-class entitlement.
Susan wants what Susan wants, but don’t expect her to work for it.
Supporting cast is effective and diverse.
WRINKLES THE CLOWN (DOCUMENTARY, HOOPLA)
A documentary about a scary clown hired to frighten bad children.
It’s a great premise but quickly loses steam.
Could have worked much better as a short. (Not enough wrinkles to keep us interested)
INDIAN SUMMER (HOOPLA)
A decent but dated look at middle-age nostalgia for summers past.
A great ensemble cast raises it above mediocre.
Too bad about the title.
THE TEACHER (SUBTITLED, HOOPLA)
A corrupt Slovakian teacher with connections to the Communist party’s higher-ups emotionally manipulates and abuses students and their families for personal gain.
If only teachers had this much sway.
AQUARIUS (SUBTITLED, KANOPY)
Clara, played by the luminous Sonia Braga, is the last tenant in a building slated for demolition.
With quiet intensity she resists developers as we learn her life story.
A feminist film that celebrates an autonomous woman’s fight against capitalism and racism.
BACURAU (SUBTITLED, KANOPY)
Set in the near future, a small village disappears from online maps.
Invading forces want Bacurau, but they underestimate the citizens.
A great film of under-dog resistance, starring the terrific Sonia Braga.
Film Reviews: April 1st, 2022
THE LODGE (DVD, HOOPLA)
Impressive Christmas horror film.
A widowed, selfish father takes ‘new’ girlfriend to the isolated family lodge. He leaves her to supervise. His grieving children are less than thrilled.
YOU WERE NEARLY REALLY HERE (DVD)
Brutal but ethical assassin-for-hire (Joaquin Phoenix) haunts the city of washed-out colours.
Feeds a real part of us that wants horrible people to get theirs.
Lynn Ramsay films get under your skin and stay for a few days, festering.
WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL (DOCUMENTARY, DVD, KANOPY)
Portrait of a woman driven to write.
An artist who changed the tenor of the conversation about film.
You won’t agree with everything, but she was a thinker worth listening to.
WOMAN AT WAR (DVD, SUBTITLED)
A brilliant Icelandic film, until it stumbles tragically in the final quarter.
Halldora Geirharosdottir’s performance is flawless and deserved better.
Hopefully, a re-cut will be released.
SORRY ANGEL (DVD, SUBTITLED)
French film that looks at evolving queer identities amidst the Aids epidemic.
One, a teen coming to terms with sexuality and another middle aged, dealing with mortality.
Although a racially homogenous cast, the film does bear witness to a variety of queer lives.
Great performances anchor a truly frightening scenario, a violent Kafkaesque trip into the bureaucratic nightmare of health insurance and mental illness.
Throw in a stalker and it’s a trap you’ll never escape.
Moments of unnecessary violence mar an otherwise effective thriller.
THE ASSISTANT (DVD)
A timely indictment of the ‘Weinstein’ era.
Jane, the ‘assistant’ (played to perfection by Julia Garner) tries navigating the insidious abuse by men within the film industry.
A quiet, devastating film.
THIRSTY (DOCUMENTARY, DVD)
A bio pic of drag artist Thirsty by Thirsty.
You can’t help but wonder, who paid for Thirsty?
Did not watch to completion.
Weren’t that thirsty.
GREMLINS 2 (DVD)
A strangely prescient film about corporate greed.
It is a cult favourite, and we understand why.
Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates are immensely watchable.
DON’T WORRY HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT (DVD)
This shouldn’t have gotten this far on film.
Contrived, terrible storytelling. Garbage.
This from the director of My Own Private Idaho?