Review: ‘The Mauritanian’ features a strong central performance stuck in a bog-standard legal drama

The Mauritanian

It’s no secret that the United States has done some terrible things in the wake of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. Nearly 800 people were detained at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp –which, for the record, remains open still– without due process. They have been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques”, a bland euphemism for torture. In violation of both international agreements and the united states constitution, these prisoners rights were ignored and their persons abused. The entire affair was –and continues to be– a blight on American history.

The Mauritanian tells the story of one of these people. Mohamedou Ould Salahi (played by Tahar Rahim) was held at Guantanamo for 14 years. His memoir, written while in detention, became the basis for this movie, in which his harrowing story is hiding inside a legal drama we’ve all seen before.

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Review: ‘Moxie.’ is a tale of protest and empowerment

Moxie.

How do you create change? That’s one of the questions at the heart of Moxie, the story of Vivian (Hadley Robinson), a young woman whose high school is, in a word, toxic and the girls of which are disempowered and objectified. The boys literally create a list ranking each of the girls for their best “attribute”, like biggest breasts or “most bangable”, or in the case of Vivian, “most obedient.”

The answer, it turns out, is “however you can.” Tired of existing in a world so toxic, and after both being inspired by a new girl in class and by finding a suitcase full of mementoes from her mother, Lisa’s (Amy Poehler) past, she finds a way to create change with an anonymously produced ‘zine she calls “Moxie”.

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Review: ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is action-packed, heartfelt, and relevant. In other words: another hit for Disney.

Raya and the Last Dragon

Animation is a medium in which is not limited by imagination. If you can think of it, you can make it happen on screen. The best animated stories have bright, imaginative worlds populated with endearing, relatable characters, and a story that appeals to young and old alike; and most importantly a theme that makes the whole thing work in our world, too.

Raya and the Last Dragon is one of these animated stories. Set in a world inspired by a variety of south-east asian cultures, and following a young woman on a quest to repair a world torn apart by lack of trust, this movie is the real deal. Shocking, I know.

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Let’s Take a Closer Look at the #SnyderCut trailer (with 70+ high-res captures)

Zack Snyder's Justice League

We are fast approaching the date when the Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be a legitimate thing in the world, we’ll have a four hour movie to watch, and baat-fans the world over will gloat at how awesome it is even if it isn’t. What a time to be alive!

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the new trailer for the Snyder Cut, and we’re going to do it with nearly 80 high res frame captures.

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Review: ‘Space Sweepers’ is exactly the kind of bonkers fun I want in my Sci-Fi right now

Space Sweepers

Look, 2020 was a challenging year. In a world that feels incredibly bleak, sometimes you want something bright and colourful and maybe a little naive to get you through the day. Space Sweepers is entirely this: a Korean blockbuster about a group of rag-tag misfits who salvage space junk for a living, get caught up in a massive conspiracy, adopt a child, and fight back against a ruthless and oppressive corporate overlord.

It’s a ton of fun.

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Victoria Film Fest Review: ‘Fanny Lye Deliver’d’ tells of a woman’s awakening with mixed results

Fanny Lye Deliver'd

It is easy to romanticize the past but what we often overlook is how difficult and awful it was for women. Women in historical stories are often portrayed as fierce, headstrong, and independent, but much more common was that they were sheltered and abused. This the case of one Fanny Lye (Maxine Peake), husband to John Lye (Charles Dance), a devout Christian and former member of Oliver Cromwell’s army. It is, at least, until two strangers happen into their lives.

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Victoria Film Fest Review: ‘Queen of the Andes’ explores big ideas with a micro budget

Queen of the Andes

Space travel is in our future. One day we will get to other planets, but how we get there and who we send will be an ongoing project. What, though, if it weren’t a choice, for we as a society or for the people that we send?

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Victoria Film Fest Review: ‘The Secret Garden’ is gorgeous to look at but not much else.

The Secret Garden

A great story is timeless and as resonant in the present as it was at the time it was written. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 children’s novel The Secret Garden is one of these. A timeless classic with themes that resonate today as well as they did in 1911.

There have been quite a few adaptations of this story over the years, with four film versions being made before this one and at least that many television serials and specials, most of which in the last 30 years. Adapting a classic, it seems, still requires that something new is offered the viewer. What then, after so many visits to this garden, does this new version have to offer? Well, it’s really, really pretty. Unfortunately, not much else.

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Victoria Film Fest Review: ‘The Reason I Jump’ examines the world from the perspective of those with autism

The Reason I Jump

It has been 14 years since Higashida Naoki’s book, The Reason I Jump was first published in Japan, and 8 since English novelist David Mitchell translated it. Naoki was 13 at the time and is autistic and unable to communicate verbally. He was able to write his book by using an alphabet board his mother created, and in the process provided a roadmap for how his mind works and how he experiences the world.

That roadmap has proven invaluable to the families of those on the spectrum, especially those who are non-verbal. This documentary by Jerry Rothwell explores how that roadmap has impacted the lives of five such people. The result is a film that will open your eyes and your heart.

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Victoria Film Fest Review: ‘Once Upon a Time in Venezuela’ is a heartbreaking look at a country in crisis

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela

Imagine living in a place that is literally rotting away beneath you. No matter what you do, what help you ask for from local and national governments, your home slowly but surely disappears. This is the story of Congo Mirador, a tiny village of fewer than 1000 people situated on Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. It’s also the story of the whole country, and it’s heartbreaking.

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Victoria Film Fest Review: ‘Violation’ is a tense, uncomfortable twist on the rape-revenge genre

Violation

There are few things that one person can do to another that is more violating than rape. It is an act of power, an act of selfishness, and an act of degradation. Violation is a film about such an act—a moment when a man sees a woman and takes what he wants. The result is a visceral and uncomfortable watch that sees a woman go to extremes to take her revenge.

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Review: ‘Malcolm & Marie’ confirms Zendaya and John David Washington as major talents

I like movies that are based on plays, or that resemble them. Movies where characters sit in a room and talk endlessly. Showcases for actors, heavy with dialogue and a tendency toward big performances. Malcolm & Marie, the new film by Sam Levinson starring John David Washington and Zendaya is not based on a play, but it does resemble one.

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Victoria Film Fest Review: ‘Skyfire’ doesn’t make a lick of sense, but is still fun

Disaster movies occupy a small but bombastic niche of filmmaking. They’re big on spectacle, small on plot, and medium on characterisation in the case of the best ones. When it comes to the science of whatever disaster they are portraying, they are usually either accurate to a point, or seemingly completely unresearched. Skyfire, the first blockbuster budgeted disaster movie from China, is one of these movies, and a fun example of one, too.

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Review: ‘The Dig’ is an unpretentious look at how the past affects the present

The Dig

They say that you can never really know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been. This is true for societies as well as individuals, and in the new Netflix movie The Dig we get a chance to delve into a moment in England’s history as well as England’s relationship with its history.

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Review: ‘Palmer’ is pretty good!

Palmer

Here’s a confession: I love Justin Timberlake. The guy is a triple threat. He can sing, he can dance, and he can act. Not everything he has been in has been gold, but he’s put in enough good performances that I am ready and willing to see just about anything he is in these days.

It has been a few years since Timberlake has been seen in person in a film, and Palmer represents exactly the kind of movie that an actor looking to re-assert themselves after a bad role or an absence (or both) would take. So is it any good? Yeah. Mostly.

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