Film Review: ‘The Last Word’ is a Lopsided Love Letter to Shirley MacLaine

Oscar winner (and six-time Oscar nominee) Shirley MacLaine has been acting on the silver screen for over six decades. Daughter of drama teacher Kathlyn MacLain and sister of Oscar winner Warren Beatty, one could justifiably say that acting is in her blood. She was one of the spearheads who helped deconstruct an inherent barrier of […]

Historical Review: Bel Powley Carries ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ on Her Shoulders

The autobiographical graphic novel, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” written by Phoebe Gloeckner, was adapted by Marielle Heller, who wrote the screenplay and directed the film of the same name. Refreshingly, “Diary” has sweeping, elegant shots of some of San Francisco’s lesser known views, perspectives and sceneries. Heller did a fine job of taking the viewer […]

EXCLUSIVE: R-Rating and Violence in ‘Logan’ Defended by Mangold, Jackman, Stewart and Kinberg

2017 Berlin International Film Festival: During the first press conference of “Logan” after its world premiere at The Berlinale, Mangold, stars Sir Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman and producer Simon Kinberg justified the film’s violent nature. Mangold made an important distinction between making a film and watching a film, highlighted the paradox of some of […]

Film Review: In ‘Table 19,’ Russell, Kendrick and an Adept Ensemble Add to the Duplass Brothers’ Nonpareil Filmographies

“Table 19“ is further proof that the Duplass brothers can do no wrong. Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass have consistently consummated what very few filmmakers have been able to do in their careers: they have complete creative control over all of their projects. They have joined independent royalty along the likes of Richard Linklater, Quentin Tarantino and […]

Berlinale Review: ‘Logan’ Redefines a Tired Genre by Diminishing Excesses and Finding Its Humanity

2017 Berlin International Film Festival: A visceral, violent, sensitive and heartbreaking film, “Logan” overwhelmingly exceeds the hype. James Mangold‘s second entry into the standalone “Wolverine” franchise marks Hugh Jackman‘s last time dawning the now-iconic adamantium claws. The tone of “Logan” is set immediately, with the film’s setting portrayed as a barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland in the year […]

EXCLUSIVE: Stanley Tucci and Armie Hammer Discuss Art, Food, Stardom, Politics and ‘Final Portrait’

2017 Berlin International Film Festival: After the premiere of “Final Portrait,” which was extremely well-received at audience and press screenings alike last weekend, I had the opportunity to discuss all things art, food, inspiration, stardom, politics and activism, as well as the film industry narrative shift toward streaming services and the making of “Final Portrait” with Stanley […]

Berlin Critics’ Week Review: ‘California Dreams’ Is an Ambitious Blend of Documentary and Fiction

2017 Berlin Critics’ Week: From director Mike Ott (“Actor Martinez,” “Lake Los Angeles”), “California Dreams,” a docu-comedy, is one of the first of its kind. It is wonderfully funny, bleak and depressing, blending fiction with reality; the film uses real people not trained actors. It stars Cory Zacharia and follows the lives of five people – Cory, Patrick, Neil, Kevin (A Dog […]

Berlinale Review: ‘Weirdos’ Is a Beautiful Coming-of-Age Ode to the 1970s and American Counter-Culture

2017 Berlin International Film Festival: “We are all weirdos. That’s what makes us beautiful.” This quote from the film, “Weirdos” by Bruce McDonald (“Pontypool,”Roadkill”) consummately encapsulates the main theme of this eclectic period piece. Set in 1976 Nova Scotia, Canada, on the cusp of America’s bicentennial, the film follows two days in the life of two teenagers who embark […]

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With ‘Vaya’ Director Akin Omotoso

2017 Berlin International Film Festival: After outstanding critical reception following its Toronto International Film Festival and its premiere last week at the Berlin International Film Festival (or “The Berlinale”) on Feb. 11, “Vaya” is on pace to be a festival circuit hit, and might even garner major awards attention as the year progresses. Awards Circuit had the chance […]

Berlinale Review: ‘Final Portrait’ Provides Perfect Perspicacity Into the Life of Swiss Artist Giacometti

2017 Berlin International Film Festival: Actor and filmmaker Stanley Tucci (“Big Night,” “The Lovely Bones”) undertakes his fifth directorial effort with “Final Portrait,” a film about Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush), the esteemed and eccentric Swiss painter and sculptor. Based on James Lord’s biography, “A Giacometti Portrait,” the film follows Lord (Armie Hammer), an art critic, […]

Berlinale Review: ‘DISCREET’ Another Step Forward for Auteur Travis Mathews

2017 Berlin International Film Festival: “DISCREET” follows the metaphysical journey of an emotionally compromised man named Alex (Jonny Mars). It is Travis Mathews‘ feature follow-up to the critically acclaimed and uncompromising film, “Interior. Leather Bar.” The tone is immediately established through creepy visuals and odd, whispery and snapping sound effects. The film begins with a young […]

Berlinale Review: ‘Vaya’ Offers Rare Glimpse of Life in Johannesburg

2017 BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: The film “Vaya,” by acclaimed South African director Akin Omotoso (“God is African,” “Man On Ground”), which debuted last year at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), takes place in”Jozi,” or “Joburg,” or Johannesburg. Our very own staff writer Shane Slater briefly covered this film when it debuted last September. As Berlinale […]

Queen of Katwe

Film Review: ‘Queen of Katwe’ Is Charming but Imperfect

One wouldn’t expect to find a chess prodigy hidden in the slums of Katwe, Uganda. Yet that’s exactly what happened when Phiona Mutesi happened upon Robert Katende’s Pioneers on an afternoon that would ultimately change her life. There is a lot to enjoy about Mira Nair‘s new film “Queen of Katwe.” From the inspirational story […]

Film Review: ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ Sings Despite Wonky Notes

How do you solve a problem like Florence? The easy answer, add Meryl Streep. The more complex answer, surround her with interesting co-stars and filmmakers. For as great as Meryl is, “Florence Foster Jenkins” once again illustrates how Streep’s game is raised when she is with the right people. On paper, the film sounds almost […]

Film Review #2: The Revenant (★)

Read the first review of the “The Revenant” HERE! If there was an award for Endurance Test Film, I’m sure that The Revenant would be #1 with a bullet. However, putting your cast and audience through a lot does not a good movie make and The Revenant, as directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, is a […]

LAFF Review: Sin Alas (★★)

Sin Alas is a confounding film. On the one hand it’s a wonderful look into a culture that we don’t particularly see, at times searingly acted, and an admirable attempt at surrealism. On the other hand, it is an, at times, incomprehensible mixture of memory and modern day that goes off the rails. The movie, […]

LAFF Film Review: It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (★★★)

Charisma is an interesting power that actors have at their disposal. When used properly, an actor with charisma can render you completely unable to look away from the screen and elevate even the weakest material. Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg are two actors how have within them this kind of charisma. Both are incredibly likable […]

Comic Con: The Maze Runner (★★★)

There probably won’t be a film to hit in September that will be more entertaining than The Maze Runner. The film, which screened for fans, has the look and the makings of being a franchise film. Does that excuse it from its faults? Probably not. The technical merits and strong acting carry the film with […]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (★★★½)

Very few sequels outdo their predecessors.  Some will credit Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II as the greatest sequel of all-time while I find the wonder and amazement in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back as the best science fiction film of all-time.  When the first trailers started to appear for Matt […]

La Bare (★★★)

It’s no surprise that when actors do research for a role, that it can take on a life of its own. They are a part of the storytelling process and in being forced to go deep into the characters, often find new avenues of bringing these stories to life. For that reason, it’s probably not […]

Comet (★★★½)

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL: Much like the comets and shooting stars that Del and Kimberly are waiting to see, Comet is a film you have to wait for to fully get. Not that waiting is a bad thing mind you. In fact it’s the anticipation of what might be said next or revealed visually that […]

My Name is Salt (★★★)

LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL 2014: Thoroughly composed and crafted there are going to be few documentaries are gorgeously made as My Name is Salt, the documentary playing in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival. That beauty stands in such opposition with the hard manual labor the subjects that are the center of the doc […]

100 Days (★★★)

Produced by Stacy Fan (Wen-Si) and Weiko Lin (Wei-Ke), ‘100 Days‘ (TUC) was written by Megi Hsu, in collaboration with Weiko Lin, and directed by the Emmy-winning Henry Chan. This film features Johnny Lu (Sze-Ming) as Bo Dan and Tracy Chou (Cai-Shi) as XiaoWei. The rest of the cast, though small, are filled with big […]

Unhung Hero (★★★)

Alternately hilarious and informative, Unhung Hero chronicles one man’s journey to come to grips with his issues with his penis size. A self-proclaimed cockumentary, this documentary explores not just the concern of a guy with below average size, but what drives perception and the concept of manhood. Unhung Hero begins with introducing us to Patrick […]

The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition (★★★)

The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition, arriving on Blu-Ray tomorrow screened in front of critics two weeks ago and I happened to be attendance to catch the flick I missed during the summer movie season. One of the reasons why it fell by the wayside was that after seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the luster on this […]

Frozen (★★★★)

When one hears about a new Disney princess film, many happy memories come to mind as well as many questions. Will it be too heavy on the love story? Will the songs be any good? What more can be gleaned from a princess tale? Luckily for audiences Disney’s newest film Frozen manages a positive response […]