October 19, 2020

SCREEN | Crowning 'The Donut King' of California x VAFF 2020

"Donut is American breakfast."
Ted Bun Tek Ngoy Mayly Tao | Alice Gu's The Donut King | VAFF 2020
Vancouver Asian Film Festival
Taiwanese-American cinematographer and first-time director Alice Gu's quirky documentary about the legendary refugee turned unlikely doughnut entrepreneur Ted Ngoy (aka "Uncle Ted") brings a familiar feeling to its cultural subject matter. The Donut King explains the history behind the massive of wave of Cambodian immigrants opening doughnut shops in the late-'70s and their stranglehold on the market in Southern California to this day.

October 15, 2020

SCREEN | David Byrne Envisions His 'American Utopia' x TIFF 2020

"Same as it ever was."
Spike Lee | David Byrne'sAmerican Utopia HBO | TIFF 2020
Toronto International Film Festival
Director Spike Lee translates a filmed version of musician and Talking Heads frontman David Byrne's acclaimed Broadway stage show American Utopia based on his concert tour of the same name. Structured as a series of live song performances with one-man show interludes in between some of Byrne's greatest hits, the life-affirming musical is a testament of musical artistry and blending of storytelling mediums.

October 12, 2020

CINEMA | Sofia Coppola Wanders – A Marriage 'On the Rocks'

"What happened to you? You used to be fun."
Rashida Jones Marlon Wayans Sofia Coppola | On the Rocks | Apple TV+
A24 Films
Minimalist filmmaker Sofia Coppola offers another mostly expected but still appealing romp starring a wandering female protagonist, a sparkling Rashida Jones as Laura, who spends time with an older gentleman portrayed by Bill Murray as her playboy father, Felix. On the Rocks is by far Coppola's lightest and breeziest film as she settles nicely into its minor mid-life crisis material.

October 8, 2020

CINEMA | Aaron Sorkin Judges 'The Trial of the Chicago 7'

"We have to find some courage now."
Sacha Baron Cohen Jeremy Strong Aaron Sorkin | The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix
DreamWorks Pictures
Acclaimed writer turned director Aaron Sorkin returns to courtroom drama for his sophomore directorial effort revisiting the infamous Chicago riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is both standard and stylish in the vein of Sorkin's usual cannon but with a more streamlined focus on the dangerous politicization of protest movements and reflection of 1960s counterculture's impact fifty years later.

October 5, 2020

October 1, 2020

VIFF 2020 | Mads Mikkelsen Drinks Hard – 'Another Round'

"The world is never as you expect."
Mads Mikkelsen Thomas Vinterberg | Another Round (Druk) | VIFF 2020
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2020—Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg and actor Mads Mikkelsen reunite for a mid-life crisis film about overcoming general antipathy in your everyday life of routine and predictability. Another Round (aka Druk or "Drunk") has the basic yet somewhat ingenious premise of self-medication by maintaining a base-level of alcohol in your system throughout the day to keep a peak level of enthusiasm or engagement by way of inebriation.

September 28, 2020

VIFF 2020 | Aubrey Plaza Escapes from 'Black Bear'

"I've been lying since the second I got here."
Aubrey Plaza Christopher Abbott | Black Bear | VIFF 2020
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2020—Writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine takes a cabin in the woods approach to his twisty relationship psychodrama Black Bear. Essentially a single-location three-hander starring Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon as a couple, Gabe and his pregnant partner Blair, who rent out their picturesque Adirondack lake house to frustrated filmmaker Allison (Aubrey Plaza), the basic indie feature revels in its sharp-tongued dialogue and intimate performances.

September 24, 2020

VIFF 2020 | Margaret Qualley Catches 'My Salinger Year'

"Writers make the worst assistants."
Margaret Qualley Philippe Falardeau | Joanna Rakoff's My Salinger Year | VIFF 2020
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2020—Rising starlet Margaret Qualley leads Quebec writer/director Philippe Falardeau's faithful screen adaptation of acclaimed poet/journalist Joanna Rakoff’s understated mid-'90s literary memoir My Salinger Year. Based on Rakoff's actual experiences working as a meager assistant for notoriously reclusive author J.D. Salinger's literary agency, Falardeau never quite elevates the irresistible true story of sneaking your way into a writing career through publishing despite the promising material and cast.

September 21, 2020

VIFF 2020 | Brandon Cronenberg Controls 'Possessor'

"You've gone strange on me."
Christopher Abbott Brandon Cronenberg | Possessor: Uncut | VIFF 2020
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2020—Canadian filmmaker (and son of David) Brandon Cronenberg's second feature proves to be a nightmarish sci-fi thriller in interesting and twisted ways. Possessor revolves around a futuristic brain-implant technology deployed here for use in strategic corporate assassinations. While that's a seemingly expected but still inventive premise, how it's executed is deeply unsettling but rich in its dark exploration of personal identity, experienced trauma, and committing acts of violence in a digital age.