This is a selection of excerpts from various reviews and essays written over the years. You can read more of my general reviews on Letterboxd. Illustrated reviews and essays that delve deeper are available exclusively to Cinephilia patrons at the Critic level on Patreon.
BLACK PANTHER (2018)
"...The genius of this film starts right at the beginning, opening on an often used black character film stereotype, immediately shattering it, and continuing along that path all the way until the film’s end. Black Panther shows how advanced a country left to its own devices, having never been colonized, could be. It compares and contrasts the roles and struggles of black people in their native African setting as well as in the diaspora. It upholds black feminism and shows how strong, important, dependable and needed black women are. It gives a difference between wanting to stand up without being taken advantage of and wanting to conquer. It expounds a modern, fuckboy mentality into a sympathetic one because we’re all really dealing with our own struggles. It explores blacks who are intellectual, nerdy, vegan, connected to nature, patriotic, traditional, spiritual and honorable. It explores love, family and relationships of all types. It even includes white allyship to an extreme in which many allies might not go. These are all aspects that could be studied further in their own right, and there are still other details I’ve not mentioned, but together they add up to create something very special and unique. And it’s all not so subtlety disguised in a fun, mainstream comic book movie..."
"...Has any of this story been real? Is what is happening in this story being imagined? There's a sense of ambiguity that, instead of making things more comfortable because it's probably just an old-timey urban legend, actually makes you more hesitant to step further into darkness because it could very well be real. While the horrific voices help make up a vivid and powerful score by Mark Korven, could these chants actually be coming from nearby evil as well? The forest, already naturally dangerous, is left open to become a supernatural place of folklore where any animal you encounter could be something more and the tall trees creep in close to overcome you... All of this culminates into a film that floats into a state of euphoria, capturing an emotion that you may not have known was even there before. It's a witch film unlike any other, taken seriously and realistically, but with a climate of dread. It's a slice of life film, really, albeit a slice of an alternative life. As familiar in storybooks as it might be today, these were the absolute thoughts and stories passed around by those who lived during the time, the stories that many thought to be real. The VVitch is the definition of the American witch mythology, portrayed in its purest state of horrific enchantment."
"Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a master of whimsical quirk and Amélie might be his ultimate achievement. It's a kind of neo-fairytale or modern storybook romance, heightened to such with its narration and its wonderful score by Yann Tiersen, simple and melodic, like a small band playing in a café on a sunny afternoon. It delves more than slightly into fantasy, as romance often does, but does so in a very refreshing and fun way. This is a world where gnomes travel and skeletons are somewhat sensual. At the same time, this is just the magic that can and does happen everyday..."
"...It Follows is a very surreal reality. It seemingly takes place in everyday suburbia, but something is just slightly off throughout. The entire film seems to be suspended in this dreamlike state where things don't quite match up. Newer technology and black and white television inhabit the same room, the soundtrack is purely inspired 80s synth while overall visual styling seems to come from both the 90s and the 70s. Some locations seem very now while others are like stepping back in time. It indeed has a nostalgic feel, but for when exactly can't be assured. And that makes it all the more interesting and creepy..."
"...Obey. Consume. Conform. Buy. Stay Asleep. Watch TV. Do Not Question Authority.
It is stark. Being able to notice all the brainwashing and subliminal messages keeping everyone away from independent thought and dictating every aspect of society, and learning that capitalism, the system you are taught is the best way of life from childhood, is actually an inhumane system that serves only the elite, is a painful realization. And once you see and know it for yourself, it’s a major difficulty to wake others up to it. Unless there were a way to literally augment their eyes to make them see it... And that is the cleverness of They Live..."
"...While horror films like Night of the Living Dead, Tales from the Hood and Get Out are successful at exploring the black experience in America in their own ways, The Purge is a surprising addition to the genre that holds blatant stories of oppression of people of color and widespread government control. I initially expected the series to be another pop-culture jump-scare survival horror pushing the extremes of its content, and in a way it very much is. But the extremes that it pushes are not the fictional gore and mayhem. Rather, it pushes to expose the real life horrors within these so-called far fetched ideas about race and class and social politics and how people survive in today’s stormy America."