Considering both of us editors here at Dim the House Lights write for other websites, we figured it’d be a great idea to make a collection made up of our film reviews (or other pieces of writing) for other sites on here. These will only come every so often, when we’ve decided that we have just about enough to make a round-up. So here’s all of our 2014 reviews in alphabetical order folks!
“Advanced Style is the kind of documentary about women in their later years that we need. It’s a film that doesn’t shy away from the downbeat and emotional when necessary, but chooses to revel in the beauty and grace of women who prove that fashion has no time limit.”
“When it comes to melodrama, outsized emotions come with the territory. But in All That Heaven Allows, emotional outbursts aren’t confined to performances or actions. They spill out onto the screen in bold Technicolor, or they manifest themselves in the lighting choices. Whole exchanges happen in ill-lit, midnight-coloured rooms, as if to draw a clear difference between what is said and what is meant or felt.”
“Quebec isn’t known for its superior genre cinema, but that’s not for lack of trying; this movie, along with many others of the same stripe, does exist. The more movies like this that we retrieve from the edge of oblivion, the clearer the portrait of Quebec’s cinema will be. It provides an alternate cinematic narrative that runs parallel to the established one, and gives film-goers a chance to see well-worn tropes bent into a unique shape.“
“‘Elena, I had a dream about you last night,’ Petra Costa, the woman who created the ultra-personal tribute to her dead sister that is Elena, says in the first lines of her film. It’s a perfectly apt way to introduce a film that’s as dreamlike as the very memories we hold of those dearest to us that have passed on, but everything becomes more real as the minutes flow by.”
“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.”
“[T]he sound designers build approximations of what the landscape’s soundtrack could be: overlapping dialogue, the sounds of motors and feet, the coo of wildlife. And yet, as impressive as the sound editing is in the film, it still insists on having a narrator/teacher figure crack dad jokes over majestic shots that practically beg to be looked at in silence, or at least scored by Stompin’ Tom Connors or the McGarrigle sisters.”
“Consider this: as the second act of the film comes to a close, the film producers and their crew engage in the ultimate act of colonial hubris. That is to say, they literally steal the local object of worship so that well-off metropolitans can gawk at how ‘exotic’ it is. They basically put Kong to work on American shores after being kidnapped.”
“As much of a downer as Life Feels Good might read — a film that chronicles decades of the life of a young man with cerebral palsy who longs to be understood by those around him — it actually strives to be an ultra-relatable testament to how anyone can find happiness in life, even in the most dire situation.”
“But the greatest crime that Meeting Sebastião Salgado commits is that it doesn’t expose the world to nearly enough of Salgado’s photography. With the abundance of fascinating work that flashes by for under three seconds per photo, it leaves one longing to get a closer look at the beauty in each frame.”
“It’s clear from the very beginning that Olho Nu wants to pride itself on being just as eccentric a documentary as the subject it’s presenting, something I’d often praise in an informative work. The problem with the film, however, is that it doesn’t actually do all that much to stand out from anything else.”
“The best thing about this movie his how thoroughly it dismantles the idea that a protagonist has to be relatable for a story to work. To his infinite credit, [Walter] Matthau relishes in the opportunity to be a total scumbag. But for all it’s pointed one-liners and gallows humour, there’s an unsettling underlying current beneath A New Leaf, likely a remnant from its original longer cut. Though it ends up positing that there is empathy is even the most despicable of people, the journey there is filled with good actions made for terrible reasons.”
“Beyond its poor characters, lackluster voice-acting, flimsy story, and overall cheap feel, the film exists at a strange ideological crossroads. Dusty becomes a firefighter to serve something beyond himself, which is commendable, but Planes: Fire and Rescue continuously stomps over the line that separates selflessness from martyrdom.”
“Anderson’s last period movie, 2011′s The Three Musketeers, had the amiable go-for-broke feel of goofy historical fan fiction. Like Pompeii, it also had a dull protagonist who only existed solely to fight and fall in love outside his class, but what differentiates the two is tone. While The Three Musketeers reveled in giddy visual excess and even giddier supporting performances, Pompeii is comparatively subdued.”
Raiz (Matías Rojas Valencia, 2013) – CAPSULE
“To say that Chilean film Raiz is languorously paced is no stretch, and while some might consider that trait a treat when it comes to contemplative cinema, it certainly isn’t in this case.”
“Between its plot contrivances, rug-pull ending, mystery-story construction, and downright strange scoring choices, Le diable est parmi nous feels like the closest thing Quebec ever produced to a giallo picture. But the film is too rough around to edges to earn that particular title.”
“[F]or a while, it’s almost as if the movie forgets it’s a slasher, preferring to dangle the threat of imminent death over the characters’ heads while they’re just farting around and/or being obnoxious. Once the killer’s spirit is summoned, though, the film becomes a brisk home invasion thriller, though it still maintains plenty of its gonzo form and energy. For example, Ted Prior reacts to a stage punch as if it was thrown by George Foreman, then the film goes to slow-mo on impact, while the whole thing is scored by Carpenter-esque synth gurgling. It’s all very silly and very fun.
“There’s something to be said about a filmmaker who can take moments that shouldn’t work by any means and make something marvelous out of them. For instance, a lengthy segment shot entirely in extreme close-ups, or even a salsa dancing bit smack in the middle of a thriller that would make Baz Luhrmann jealous of how much passion was oozing from it. With Tom à la ferme, Xavier Dolan finally delivers on all the promise he’s formerly shown, further proving that he’s only getting better and better with each film he delivers.”
“The film’s most successful moments can be attributed to its cinematographer, Bradford Young — one of the best around right now — who consistently delivers images that make audience question what it’s viewing and explore the dichotomy between the Bollywood dancer and the spiritual performer.”
“[The film] looks amazing, but it still feels like a movie written by a man in his fifties who is in constant contact with young people he doesn’t get. To [Terry] Gilliam’s credit, though, that man isn’t him; that would be writer Pat Rushin, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida. Knowing this, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the movie is basically about those damn kids and their smartphones.”
“And that’s why 10.000KM works: it balances the light and the dark of being in a long-distance relationship. The struggles and the joys blend together. More importantly, neither Marques-Marcet or his two talented (and beautiful) actors shy away from anything that comes with being in love. They bare all for the camera, emotionally and physically, but never make it seem as though their relationship is anything other than what everyone goes through.”
If you’re interested in checking out all the other non-review things we recently wrote, including some interviews and listicles, you can find my writing at Miami New Times and YAM Magazine, and Derek’s writing at Sound on Sight.