film review Archive

The Old Man & the Gun

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November 2, 2018 Gordon Houser

David Lowery is unique, a director to watch. He’s made four films, all of them receiving critical acclaim but all of them different from one another—at least on the surface. His first, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, is a romantic crime drama a la Bonnie and Clyde. Pete’s Dragon, a remake of an animated musical, is a moving fantasy adventure tale. A Ghost Story made my top 10 list last year. Though different, his films have a relaxed quality and use misdirection. These are on display in his latest film. The Old Man & the Gun is based on a 2003 […]

First Man

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October 26, 2018 Matthew Kauffman Smith

July 21, 1969 is an important day in Smith family history. My parents were watching Apollo 11 perform the first lunar landing. When astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon and later walked, my brother Kent, then 14 months, started walking across the room, marking his first steps on earth. The moon landing carried cultural significance as well and elevated Armstrong to superstar status. My parents experienced the event and its aftermath firsthand, and I heard about it and studied it in school. My kids, however, have studied little about space travel and the lunar landing. So when my parents, […]

Three Indie Gems to Watch For

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October 11, 2018 Vic Thiessen

The 2018 Edmonton International Film Festival (EIFF) was not as good as last year but still featured a number of excellent indie films, including two from Canada (which understandably has many films in the festival, but rarely does so well). The big surprise for me was the extraordinary coincidence of having three of my favourite five films of the 2018 EIFF concerned with senior high school classes (I’m generally not a big fan of high school films), though they could hardly be more different. Here is a brief look, in the order in which I liked them.   The Silent […]

Four documentaries by Errol Morris

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October 3, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

Knowing what the truth is in a given situation seems to be particularly challenging, with news organizations being called false, and totally opposite narratives both being claimed as truth. I suggest a dosage of documentary films by Errol Morris for an antidote. He is fascinated by how we discover the truth. He believes there is an historical truth, even when it is hard to find. He suggests, “It is often said that seeing is believing. But we do not form our beliefs on the basis of what we see; rather, what we see is often determined by our beliefs. Believing is […]

Juliet, Naked

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September 27, 2018 Matthew Kauffman Smith

Author Nick Hornby has made a nice living writing about male characters that seem to muddle through life with either a misguided purpose or little purpose at all. High Fidelity, About a Boy—and even Hornby’s memoir Fever Pitch—move along those thematic lines. All of those books became the basis of movies (Fever Pitch twice, in fact—one British and one American adaptation) where the protagonists fail to live up to others’ expectations of them. Juliet, Naked is Hornby’s latest story to hit the big screen. While it follows similar patterns of the other Hornby-based movies, Juliet differs in that the characters […]

Peppermint

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September 21, 2018 Carmen Andres

  I was a huge fan of Alias, a television series that ran in the early 2000s starring Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, an international spy recruited out of college who is highly skilled in spy craft and self-defense. The series was well crafted with complex characters, moral dilemmas and twisting plots, receiving numerous awards and nominations. And, personally, I enjoyed seeing a strong female character as the lead in the action genre. So I was thrilled when I heard that Garner, now 46 and a mother of three, was returning to what looked like a similar role in Peppermint, […]

Blindspotting

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September 13, 2018 Vic Thiessen

In last week’s film review, Jerry Holsopple praises and highly recommends Spike Lee’s new film, BlacKkKlansman. I agree completely, but this summer saw the release of what I think is an even better independent film featuring an African-American writer and protagonist: Blindspotting. Unlike BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting has received very little attention and has not been widely distributed. In Winnipeg, Blindspotting played for one week in late August, in a cinema at the edge of town, and I was the only person in the theatre when I watched this profound and insightful film. The theatre next door, meanwhile, was full for what […]

Eighth Grade

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August 10, 2018 Vic Thiessen

Do you remember eighth grade? I remember it all too well. For me, it was the most difficult year of my life, especially in terms of relating to my peers. But I cannot begin to imagine how much worse that year might have been if I had been a girl in our age of social media. That’s the premise of Bo Burnham’s debut film (he wrote and directed), Eighth Grade, which stars Elsie Fisher as 14-year-old Kayla Day. Kayla, in her final weeks of middle school, is trying to navigate the daily experience of being shunned or ignored by her […]

The King and Won’t You Be My Neighbor

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August 3, 2018 Jerry L. Holsopple

  Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes the front seat in Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce to explore America in a new film, The King. The coast to coast drive explores the American Dream, the roots of rock and roll, the 2016 U.S. election and the nature of success using Elvis as the metaphoric story. Ethan Hawke shares, near the end, that Elvis at each juncture in his career chose money, more money rather than what might have made him happy or fulfilled. Jarecki uses this theme to make social commentary on the U.S., suggesting that the dream is dead, or really […]

Three Identical Strangers

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July 27, 2018 Matthew Kauffman Smith

The age-old psychology debate of nature versus nurture has been studied and argued for years, but it’s not super splashy. No Hollywood exec is asking Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to star in an action thriller where he must choose between his friends Nurture and Nature—all while saving a burning building. As far as I know, Nature vs. Nurture: The Musical isn’t coming to Broadway anytime soon. The new documentary Three Identical Strangers, however, plays out like a compelling mystery, leaving the viewers to believe nature wins—only to turn that whole theory on its head in the second half of the […]