Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Never Rarely Sometimes Always can be broadly described as a coming-of-age film—the story of a teenage girl traveling with her cousin to procure an abortion is dependent on the main character’s young age—but as with her previous two features, It Felt Like Love and Beach Rats, Eliza Hittman’s narrow focus and unconventional approach makes it…

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AFI Top 100: Sullivan’s Travels

In 2008, the American Film Institute revised their previous 2007 list of the 100 best American films of all time. This weekly column will explore my thoughts on select films from this list, mostly following along with the Unspooled Podcast, which inspired my journey to complete the AFI Top 100. You can also follow my…

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The Burnt Orange Heresy

An art dealer is hired to steal a painting from one of the most enigmatic painters of his day, and he is consumed by his own greed. Insecurities rise as this operation spins out of control. The Burnt Orange Heresy is a slightly uneven but engaging arthouse thriller, led by two fantastic performances and a…

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Best Picture #21: Hamlet (1948)

Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were…

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Tell It to the Bees is a Lesbian Story for Gay Audiences Adapted to a Heterosexual World

The key to a good adaptation is keeping the themes. A book-to-movie adaptation can change plot points, merge characters, and reinvent tone, but the core is always the theme of the original novel. Endings can change, but only as long as they are true to the characters and message that was called for. The film…

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The Long Walk

Anatomy of a murderer by way of a trek through darkness, The Long Walk is a bleak, meditative horror film. It’s an intricate tale of the pain left behind by time, told from the perspective of a serial killer. A deeply emotional time travel story, this horror film from Laos should put the nation on…

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Siberia

Last we saw of Abel Ferrara was with still-undistributed Cannes premiere Tommaso in 2019, starring Willem Dafoe as an aging, self-hating director. Siberia, premiering at Berlinale less than a year later, is perhaps the director’s elusive, hypothetical film. Starring Willem Dafoe again, who had previously collaborated with the auteur on projects like Pasolini, New Rose…

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Days

Cinema without dialogue seems like a strange thing, especially outside the realm of silent film, and even more so when set in a bustling city. The new feature from Taiwanese-Malaysian director Tsai Ming-liang is a slow meditation on loneliness and eroticism. Days opens with a title card that reads “intentionally unsubtitled.” This is not a…

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The Platform

Streaming services have been great lately for satisfying my appetite for cinema in these times. I’ve been visiting a lot of classic films from great filmmakers and hidden gems that I never would have discovered without this much time on my hands. Cue my surprise when I saw this new release from Netflix, a Spanish…

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Blow the Man Down

Small-town thrillers are mostly dominated by strong and complicated male characters. Even when there are female leads, the male characters will always remain integral to the story. But in the talented hands of the first-time writers/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, that is not the case. They brilliantly reinvent the genre by telling the…

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AFI Top 100: Rear Window

In 2008, the American Film Institute revised their previous 2007 list of the 100 best American films of all time. This weekly column will explore my thoughts on select films from this list, mostly following along with the Unspooled Podcast, which inspired my journey to complete the AFI Top 100. You can also follow my…

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QFF Day 5: Hell is a Teenage Girl

For today we’re going to be taking a look at some films in the female coming of age genre. Although the following films often depict the conflict and struggle of growing up. There’s something comforting about capturing the process of growing up and putting it to film. That comfort arises from identifying with the characters…

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Kelly Reichardt Captured the Weight of Time and Friendship in Old Joy

[written by Cole Clark] Years removed from Sundance acclaim and constant comparisons to Brokeback Mountain, Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy has proven to be one of her sturdiest films. In her 26-year career, Reichardt has covered the painful reality of post-2008 America, activism by way of eco-terrorism, and the Wild West in ambitious and daring films…

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Disco (2019)

Disco is coming of age tightly wound with religion. Much like Alice Rohrwacher‘s  Corpo Celeste, it’s about the effect intense religious pressure within Christian denominations has on a young woman.  Mirjam (SKAM’s Josefine Frida Pettersen) is 19 years old, and a world champion freestyle disco dancer. Her Evangelical church takes great pride in this, and…

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QFF Day 3: Noirs

Bleak times call for bleak movies so today we’re enlisting the help of some classic noirs to program another festival day. Fortunately, despite mostly having fairly depressing endings, these are all some of the most comforting films to watch if you’re anything like me. So sit back, relax, and watch some chain smoking gumshoes explore…

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Luz: The Flower of Evil

Luz: The Flower of Evil is a sort of Southwestern The Wicker Man. It is also the third film of Glasgow 2020 I have published a review of in which I refer to its “pastoral nature” uplifting its “overall dullness.” In this case, at least the dullness is occasionally interrupted by violent outbursts, which are…

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QFF Day 2: Feel Good Fest

A year ago, I responded to a tweet (from @jamesd7004) asking what 5 movies I’d select if I could program my own film festival. I don’t recall if I was in a great or awful mood at the time, but for whatever reason, I chose to program “Kern’s Feel Good Fest”—a festival of curated films…

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QFF Day 1: Isolation

Since so many of us are now confined to our homes, unable to work or at least working in an entirely different way, and unsure of what the future holds, it seemed a good idea to watch and talk about some excellent cinema that this newfound time can allow some of us to watch and…

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Resin

Resin is a film that sounds better on paper. This isn’t to say it’s a bad film; it’s shot with a dreamy softness, and its superficial idyllic atmosphere gives it a distinct aesthetic. Still derivative of every other isolated-descent-into-madness films, it takes the typical “living in the woods psychologically affects children” story, and makes it…

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AFI Top 100: 12 Angry Men

In 2008, the American Film Institute revised their previous 2007 list of the 100 best American films of all time. This weekly column will explore my thoughts on select films from this list, mostly following along with the Unspooled Podcast, which inspired my journey to complete the AFI Top 100. You can also follow my…

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Staff Selects: Max von Sydow Films

Brought on by his unfortunate passing this week, our staff highlights some of our favorite Max von Sydow performances and films: The Seventh Seal Max von Sydow’s breakthrough role, and one of his most memorable performances, came in The Seventh Seal, the first of the eleven films he made with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. In…

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The Hunt (2020)

I would have been very happy to review The Hunt back in September when the very provocative first trailer was making the rounds. After the tragic shootings in Dayton and El Paso (and Donald Trump decrying the film on his ever monstrous Twitter account), Universal pulled the film indefinitely, only to release it a few…

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Bloodshot

“They filled my head with nightmares and sent me on a suicide mission.” To those not well versed in the tangible world of physical media comic books, the names Bloodshot and Valiant Comics may not ring any bells. Odds are you wouldn’t be the only person to question or hear confusion over whether this new…

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Blood on Her Name

Opening with a pool of blood and panicked breathing, Blood on Her Name is a fairly typical neo-noir that’s well crafted enough to still be worth watching. It’s an anxious look at guilt and responsibility, and is well suited for lovers of genre fare who don’t need something entirely inventive to have a good time.…

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First Cow

Kelly Reichardt has been directing western-inspired tales for pretty much her entire career. Her breakthrough, 2005’s Old Joy, brought audiences to Oregon for a tale of friendship and loss between two old pals during a camping weekend in the Cascades. Fifteen years later, Reichardt has returned to the lavishly lush emerald woods of the Pacific…

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The Way Back

It’s hard out here for a Tinsel Town A-Lister. Consider Ben Affleck, once a Miramax Golden Boy, leading man, Oscar-winning writer, and a lauded director of a Best Picture winner, no less. If you believe everything you read, you’d be convinced that Ben’s been having a tough time of late, the last 5 years being…

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Swallow

To discuss Swallow is to begin with Safe. Todd Haynes‘s 80s-set melodrama is perhaps the foremost depiction of suburban trauma, the idea that the mundanity of housewivery is a sickness. Julianne Moore plays a woman who goes to her jazzercise classes, dinner parties, and cookie cutter home, but does not connect. She grows unhappy with…

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Staff Selects: Pixar Films

Pixar has come a long way in the 25 years since the first Toy Story was released, and with their latest film Onward hitting theaters today, our staff decided to highlight some of our favorite films in their spectacular catalog: Monsters, Inc. In 2001, Pixar made a film that was an attack on big business,…

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Onward

Pixar has successfully explored fantasy worlds over and over. From Monstropolis to Paradise Falls to the inner mind of a young girl, they’ve managed to move audiences to tears in the most unexpected ways while exploring high-concept worlds that test the limits of our imaginations. Even in deeply realistic worlds such as the kitchen of…

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Underseen & Underrated: Brain Damage

Every two weeks this column will shed light on the underseen, underrated, or misunderstood. Most films will be vastly different from one another, so just consider this a bi-weekly recommendation from me. This week’s film is Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage (1988). Last month I was extremely focused on breezing through countless 80s films that had…

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Eternal Beauty

Perhaps the sequence that best represents Craig Roberts‘s debut, Eternal Beauty is when June (Sally Hawkins) sits alone at a Halloween party dressed as a cowgirl, ignored by everyone around her. It’s an image that’s infantile, a child thrown aside to cry over a fallen birthday cake at a class party, but this time, the…

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Premature

Adolescence is a troubling time for almost everyone. Our teenage years are a time for growth, but that growth often comes from negative experiences. We learn about our place in the world, assess our past selves, and try to move on to become better. If we’re lucky, we overcome those negative events in our past…

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AFI Top 100: Schindler’s List

In 2008, the American Film Institute revised their previous 2007 list of the 100 best American films of all time. This weekly column will explore my thoughts on select films from this list, mostly following along with the Unspooled Podcast, which inspired my journey to complete the AFI Top 100. You can also follow my…

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The Invisible Man

Leigh Whannell is arguably one of the most underrated creative minds in the horror genre. Being a longtime partner of filmmaker James Wan, Whannell started his career as a writer. The two of them would collaborate and spawn the Saw and Insidious franchises. He finally made his directorial debut with Insidious: Chapter 3, and followed…

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Sorry We Missed You

For more than five decades, Ken Loach has been using his art as a potent medium to tell a routine yet important story of working-class people, highlighting the struggle that they have to face every day while unsubtly exposing how unfair our economic system is. Where his 2016 Palme d’Or-winning I, Daniel Blake takes a…

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The August Virgin

Sometimes warmth is all you can ask for in a film and Jonás Trueba’s The August Virgin brings just that. With the palette of a digital Rohmer drama, save for the rich, handwritten intertitles, it looks as gently familiar as its story feels. In Spain, the city one lives comes with significance in faith. Eva…

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AFI Top 100: MASH

In 2008, the American Film Institute revised their previous 2007 list of the 100 best American films of all time. This weekly column will explore my thoughts on select films from this list, mostly following along with the Unspooled Podcast, which inspired my journey to complete the AFI Top 100. You can also follow my…

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The Last Thing He Wanted

I firmly believe that Dee Rees is a good filmmaker. I feel like I should get that point out of the way before I go any farther into this. Pariah is one of my favorite films, an empathetic story of a teenaged, lesbian African-American. It was a queer film in the modern era before queer…

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