22 July (2018)

22 July was released in 2018, a little more than seven years after the barbaric terrorist attack perpetrated by Anders Breivik, which claimed the lives of seventy-seven people, injured well over two hundred and – one way or another – affected the lives of all Norwegians. Written and directed by Paul Greengrass who has had a long-standing interest in exploring tragic and politically-relevant events in film (Bloody SundayUnited 93 and Captain Phillips), this film has attracted a rather lukewarm critical reception, which immediately invites a question as to why that was.  

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Greyhound (2020)

At this point I am not exactly sure what the problem with Greyhound is, especially having been made aware of the rather lukewarm reception it got when it was originally released. Granted, it was most assuredly hurt by the raging pandemic and some have perhaps indicated they would be interested in seeing how their perception of this film would change if they had the opportunity to watch it in a theatrical setting. And I don’t think I agree with it being the case. In fact, I’d venture a guess that the most abundant piece of criticism levelled at this film would involve pointing out the shortcomings of its scale.  

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Coming 2 America (2021)

When Coming to America opened in 1988, I don’t think it aspired to anything more than being a funny and entertaining comedy. Whatever else it smuggled beneath the epidermis of its fish-out-of-water raunchy rom-com borrowing heavily from Preston Sturges and Howard Hawkes both in spirit and in application of comedic technique, it didn’t ultimately matter. It was an effective, innovative and light-hearted movie that capitalized on the effortless chemistry between Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall and pulled no punches when it came to more provocative attempts at humour.  

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The Uncut Gems Podcast – Episodes 05 (Alien Nation, Bright) and 06 (Glass)

It dawned on me just now that I totally forgot to share the recent episodes of The Uncut Gems Podcast over here in addition to their usual PR. And it just so happens that these two episodes were absolutely wild (for two different reasons). So, please have a listen to our conversation on Alien Nation and Bright, two high-concept sci-fi buddy cop movies separated by three decades. I found it extremely fun to engage with these films, even though I didn’t like one of them (you guess which one); however, the conversation these two movies sparked was super fun, even though it eventually descended into chaos. So tune in and enjoy!

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Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

As the field of animation matured in the mainstream of popular culture and successfully untethered itself from being immediately associated with entertainment for children, many Hollywood animated features have developed a successful methodology of including pop-cultural refences as little off-hand remarks, Easter eggs and winks at the audience as a way to entertain the adult in the room. Now, I have never been fully on board with this because I do believe that children should have their entertainment untainted with overabundance of ‘adult stuff’, however funny it might be for the adults watching it or critics reviewing it. However, certain studios (like Pixar) have successfully evolved this ideology into entertainment for general audiences as they hide their Easter eggs well enough that they don’t distract from the story at hand and the subject matter equally appeals a bit more to a wider range of ages.  

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Fantastic Planet (1973)

When it was originally released in 1973, Fantastic Planet immediately attracted considerable attention from critics who praised its surreal atmosphere, singular animation style and design. Undeniably, a good chunk of the reason why this film instantly became (and perhaps continues to be) a bottomless well for interpretation is owed to the artistic stamp left by Roland Topor. Some might even suggest that without his signature outlandish animated vision Fantastic Planet wouldn’t be half as rich as it is; and though there may be some validity to this statement, it is much safer to assume that René Laloux’s film is a prime example of a sum-of-its-parts film, or – better yet – a lightning in a bottle.  

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On Criticism: The Death of a Review and Who Is a Critic These Days Anyway?

I’ll be honest here: I have been gearing up to write on the subject of film criticism for a long while now. Sadly, finding motivation to sit down and write is a challenge for me these days. In fact, I wanted to write an article on this subject (my problems with motivation) as well, but – ironically enough – I can’t motivate myself to write it. But that’s a topic for a different day.

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