Night of the Comet

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by: Juan Barquin

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It’d be easy to sell Night of the Comet to anyone with a passion for camp eighties flicks just by showing ‘em a frame or two alongside the beautiful tagline, “They came. They shopped. They saved the world!" After all, who could say no to a film whose two protagonists try on high heels with a submachine gun in hand when the world’s pretty much gone to hell? Clearly, I couldn’t. 

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Muppets Most Wanted

dimthehouselights:

by: Juan Barquin

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Few movies have such an innate goodness to them that the sheer love put into them emits a constant joy that lifts it above any flaws one might catch. For me, The Muppets (and The Muppet Movie) fits that description almost as well as something like Jacques Demy’sThe Young Girls of Rochefort does. Both are feel-good musicals that take place in a world where even bad news can be twisted to a delightful mood. Now, following a film as full of love as The Muppets is a tough task, one that James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller took on without co-writer Jason Segel. Without his presence, it seems like the love for the gang is lost, with focus turning from being “Together Again” to making a bigger, but not better, movie.

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It’s rare to find work in television or films that manage not to exploit a character with a developmental disorder. More often than not, every opportunity is taken to remind the audience that they’re not “normal,” and it’s incredibly unfortunate.
Writer-director Louise Archambault leaves no question as to her main character’s disability, and yet manages to gracefully sidestep any nonsense with her film Gabrielle. Its portrayal of a young woman with Williams Syndrome and those closest to her is sincere, and that sincerity is what makes it a strong piece of art.
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It’s rare to find work in television or films that manage not to exploit a character with a developmental disorder. More often than not, every opportunity is taken to remind the audience that they’re not “normal,” and it’s incredibly unfortunate.

Writer-director Louise Archambault leaves no question as to her main character’s disability, and yet manages to gracefully sidestep any nonsense with her film Gabrielle. Its portrayal of a young woman with Williams Syndrome and those closest to her is sincere, and that sincerity is what makes it a strong piece of art.

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Noah

dimthehouselights:

by: Juan Barquin

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As someone faced with over a decade of religious upbringing and a whole lot of Catholic school, the potential for interesting narratives based on Bible tales always excites me. There’s nothing as frustrating as hearing the same old story a thousand times when dealing with a piece of literature as open to endless interpretation as the Bible. With a boatload of inspired material impossible to find within the pages of that holy book, Darren Aronofsky does a great job at handling a narrative as tired as that of Noah’s Ark. By balancing the epic nature of Noah with the personal, gritty style he’s known for, Aronofsky delivers a surprisingly solid work.

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Stage Fright

dimthehouselights:

by: Juan Barquin

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There are few things in this world as important to me as musicals and the horror genre. To have both of these mixed together in a gloriously camp film is a surefire way to appeal to me. With my bias plainly stated, I now proceed to defend Stage Fright; a film whose concept alone seems tailored to repel anyone that doesn’t share my tastes.

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Nurse 3D

dimthehouselights:

by: Juan Barquin

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If you told me just before watching Nurse 3D that I’d end up being disappointed in a film where Paz de la Huerta plays a killer nurse who lures cheating men to their deaths, I’d call you crazy. Sadly for me, you’d actually be right. What starts off as a rather good-looking and entertaining bundle of the worst medical care one can imagine quickly turns into a horror film that’s just plain boring. Instead of what the first scene and early monologues introduce, Nurse 3D takes the amusing cheating-husband killer and transforms her into something entirely different: a psychotic bisexual woman hell-bent on taking down her protegé who refuses her sexual advances.

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G.B.F.

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by: Juan Barquin

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When I heard that Jawbreaker writer-director Darren Stein was bringing around another satire, this time about the popular trend of the GBF (that’s Gay Best Friend for those of you out of the loop), I was kind of excited. Here’s that point where I pull out my Gay Card and admit I get giddy when I hear about simple queer comedies getting a release. Speaking as that gay guy who came out mid-high school and sort of went through the motions of being the token GBF (while still being as awkward as non fashion-savvy as the film’s lead), it’s kind of refreshing to see a movie like this.

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Miele

dimthehouselights:

by: Juan Barquin

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Valeria Golino’s Miele establishes itself perfectly with its opening scene. After hearing a woman speaking with a client of some sort from behind a gorgeous, seemingly-reflective design, the camera pulls away to reveal actress Jasmine Trinca stepping out of a room and into a quiet, secluded hallway. She sits, listens to her own music, and waits, almost reveling in the loneliness to ease her mind after whatever situation she’s faced. It is only soon after that we realize why she finds comfort in the silence. Although one would never decipher it from her look, Irene is a new-age Jack Kevorkian. Her nickname Miele is fitting; honey helps the medicine go down easier, just as her work is to help ease the suffering into the next world.

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The Counselor: A Slight of Subtlety

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by: Juan Barquin

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This essay includes major spoilers for the film discussed.

Ridley Scott’s The Counselor is a film entirely dedicated to its writer, so much so that it transcends your typical cinematic narrative to become a visual novel fueled by the words of its characters more than any actions they actually make. It doesn’t matter how many steps each person takes in any direction, the thing that most determines their fate are the words they speak.

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MIFF Review: Belle

dimthehouselights:

by: Juan Barquin

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Many a period piece depict decadent palaces as constricting locations, but none showcase the limitations of this world for a woman quite as well as Belle. But Amma Asante’s sophomore feature doesn’t simply give us the perspective of your average woman-with-social-status like, say, Sofia Coppola did with Marie Antoinette. This is a work with a mixed-race protagonist, and it’s one that proudly proclaims that she deserves the same amount of happiness and love that an Austen character does. Belle isn’t just your average period drama; it’s a fine work of art that addresses both its romantic narrative and its heavy, racially-fueled, historical content with the grace and tact it deserves.

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