Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Our reviews and thoughts on the latest releases, classics, and nostalgic favourites. Things we loved, things we hated, and worst of all, things we were ambivalent about.

Root Cause

Back pain. Breast cancer. Panic attacks. Arthritis. Chronic fatigue. Bladder infections. Emphysema. Autoimmune disease. Herniated discs. Heart attacks.

Would you believe they’re all related to bad dentistry? In no other branch of medicine would a dead body part or tissue be left to fester. But dentists perform root canals all the time, and there’s just no way to keep a root canal completely sterile. Each tooth has 6-8 miles of tubules, tiny, tiny little tunnels that are basically only big enough to house gif-1-unicorn-1503393855bacteria and not much else. But a root canal keeps the tooth but cuts it off from the body’s natural immune system so if bacteria gets in, there’s no good way to get it out. And teeth are living things; they are connected in to the larger system of the body. According to the doctors in this documentary, every tooth is connected to particular organs and glands. And it’s weird to really understand the connection, but they’re telling me that, for example, 97% of breast cancer patients between the ages of 30-70 have had either a root canal or a toxic tooth. The worst part is the infected root canals are often asymptomatic. You’re not necessarily feeling tooth pain, so you never even think to have it checked.

A couple of things you should know about me:

  1. I’m a member of the No Cavity Club, which is an actual club at my dentist’s office. He posts my polaroid proudly.
  2. I married the son of a dentist, so my excellent teeth have often been remarked upon.

My dentist growing up, and his hygienist wife, were family friends of ours. I’ve had cleanings but no big drilling procedures so I never developed any of the dentist phobias that so many people seem harbour. That said, this film was occasionally difficult to watch, even for me. There is some actual footage of root canals, and that’s pretty gross.

The thing is, I think I have a healthy amount of skepticism and this all sounds pretty simple and easy for something that continues to cause so many problems. Most dentists are still performing root canals. Most patients are still asking for them: it “saves” the tooth (well, allows the dead tooth to remain). But the evidence presented is convincing: of 30 000 root canals studied, and every single one of them without exception was infected. These are not performed badly, it’s just that root canals are just inherently toxic.

I have no science or medicine credentials. I write movie reviews. As a documentary, this film is fairly well-made, with tonnes of qualified experts weighing in. The science is careful. It adds up. But as viewers, you and I need to exercise our judgement. I can’t tell you how much to panic about your root canals, but the truth is, right now I’m awfully glad I’ve never had one.

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Fyre

I don’t know if you remember the fuckfest that was Fyre, but for some reason it caught my attention at the time, and Matt and I killed a lot of time at “work” gossiping about it. And the dirt was legendary.

Fyre was meant to be a music festival, the first of its kind, a high-end music festival on a private island in the Bahamas. The tickets were outlandishly priced in the thousands upon thousands of dollars, and they got you not just access to a concert, but luxury accommodations, fine dining, and the ability to cavort with bikini-clad super models. The festival was the brainchild of Fyre’s young, maverick CEO Billy McFarland. He had partnered with Ja-Rule to form a company that would make it easier to book musical acts, and what better way to brand a new company than to throw the world’s most IG-worthy, FOMO festival? They went after the young and stupid rich kids through Instagram’s influencers, and they sold out in days thanks to a single promotional video that featured the likes of Bella Hadid and Chanel Iman romping around on white sand beaches and yachts with just enough scraps of swim suit to keep things legal.

But other than knowing how to package things through the heavily filtered lenses of super models, McFarland’s secret was that he’d never been successful at anything before. And he was using finds collected for Fyre to pay off the debts of his last business venture. With just a month before the festival was to begin, not a single shred of work had been done on it. And remember we’re talking a Bahamian island that has no infrastructure or even electricity and plumbing.  With the clock ticking, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened shows McFarland’s despotic tendencies, firing anyone who voiced concerns, and insulating himself with anyone foolish enough to believe in his pipe dream.

Of course it all falls apart in the end. Or rather, it had failed to come together since the fyre-festival-documentary-netflix-tweets-1547562032beginning. They erected a few hurricane-issued FEMA tents as the “luxury” digs, enough for a only small fraction of attendees, and that’s if they weren’t rain-soaked and slicked with mudslide, which of course they were. There wasn’t enough food. There weren’t enough toilets. And then there wasn’t any music.

I remember seeing the statement when Blink 182 pulled out, just the day before the festival was meant to begin. They didn’t have faith that the festival could provide them with the necessities for their show. Understatement of the year. They were failing to provide the necessities of life. But they let hundreds of kids arrive anyway, and they were stranded without food or water.

For the rest of us watching from home, it was all kinds of fun to watch their increasingly desperate tweets about the crap food and the chaos. Keep in mind these were the painfully rich, spoiled beyond belief kids, a bunch of entitled millennials with such unfettered access to mommy and daddy’s accounts that they could wantonly spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a weekend they knew little about. The best thing about it was that it was okay for the rest of us to have absolutely no sympathy for them. This was likely the worst thing that had ever happened to them, and they’re clearly still dining out on the story 2 years later.

Nor do you need any sympathy for McFarland, wanted on charges of fraud. Of course, McFarland hasn’t learned a lesson, the extent of which is revealed in the Netflix original documentary (Hulu has its own doc on the subject, but it’s more montage-driven than interview-driven, so a little less informative). But this documentary has taught me where to expend any welled-up sympathy that I may be hoarding: on the poor Bahamians who worked tirelessly to build a festival from the ground-up and never saw a penny. The scam artist known as McFarland has of course left unpaid bills all over the place, but the only ones you’ll care to see paid are the local Bahamian ones, innocent people taken down by a stupid white boy from New Jersey with an inflated ego and a golden touch. But it takes a village of idiots to go along with it and make it happen. McFarland didn’t act alone.

IO

Sam is a young scientist, writing to her boyfriend Elon who is worlds away, on a space station called IO, along with nearly all remaining humans. People fled Earth as it became uninhabitable. Now the IO colony has turned its sights toward another planet near Alpha Centauri, and they’re cutting ties with Earth in order to dedicate all resources to this new plan. Any humans still surviving on Earth have 4 days to catch the last of the shuttles, or forever be left behind.

mv5bmgzlyjc4yjutnjnhni00ytvhlwi3ztqtota1ody2ntkwngi0xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntc5otmwotq@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,1364,1000_al_Sam (Margaret Qualley) has no way of making those shuttles until Micah (Anthony Mackie) shows up in a helium balloon. He’s heard the broadcasts from Sam’s father, a famous scientist who steadfastly remained behind in order to study Earth’s atmosphere and gauge whether life may once again be tenable on Earth. Micah is their only chance at escape, but he’s finding the last Earthlings to be pretty ambivalent about leaving rather than grateful for rescue.

IO is not breaking any new ground in terms of the apocalypse, or science fiction. Qualley and Mackie are totally lovely as the last people on Earth, but a story that keeps reminding us that human connection is the most important thing should remember that showing our heroes affectionately bonking gas masks is a little short on intimacy.

Truthfully, it’s a little short on story too. It’s retreading a very familiar path without engendering a single original idea. It was uninspiring enough that I felt myself embracing the apocalypse and actually wondering what the others were doing up on IO. It can’t possibly be as dull or as dusty as life on Earth.

The good news is, it’s on Netflix, streaming for “free” since you already have a subscription. So even a mild or passing interest can be indulged with no harm done. Temper those hot-air-balloon-sized expectations and instead anticipate something more akin to a birthday balloon, three days after the party.

The Bill Murray Stories

Bill Murray is a unicorn among movie stars. No other person in the history of fame gives such good celebrity encounters. But he’s also sort of a recluse and an intensely private person. He doesn’t have an agent. He’s notoriously hard to get a hold of. Major directors have failed to cast him because he’s elusive as hell.

But the thing about Bill Murray is, SO many people have a story about him. He’s photo-bombing their wedding pictures, or playing tambourine in their band, or bar-tending at the local watering hole. He just spontaneously joins in and leaves joy in his wake. Because what other celebrity in the whole entire world is as beloved as Bill Murray? His 615x330_bill-murray-1.0energy is just so open and guileless that you can’t help but admire him. But he receives all this love and instead of it bloating him, he reflects it back at the world. He’s literally just having fun. I guarantee nobody else handles fame half as well as he does.

Anyway, you only have to type half his name into the Google search bar before these crazy Bill Murray stories start to pop up. Hundreds or thousands of them. So documentarian Tommy Avallone decides to tackle them in The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man. Bill Murray is our generation’s big foot. Sightings are legendary. Stringing together a bunch of Bill Murray encounters actually starts to feel really meaningful. It’s just a few moments from his life that makes one person’s day extra special. He lives a lot like some of our favourite characters of his: he just really throws himself at life, he lives in the moment. And shouldn’t we all? Is Bill Murray showing us how to live life?

Avallone is not a terribly good film-maker. He inserts himself into the story a little too much for my taste. But his subject is near and dear to my heart, so I watched, and I’m glad I did. Bill Murray is uniquely able to cut through this weird fame barrier, reach across it and just be a guy among guys. I particularly like a story about Bill at SXSW. In fact, Sean and I saw Bill at SXSW just last year, and heck yes, you bet it made our day.

Jonathan

Jonathan has a very ordered, very precise life. He runs, he works, he cooks, he sleeps. The only thing odd about his life are the videos he leaves for his brother. Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) is clearly the buttoned-down brother; the other one a little wild, a little loose. But they’re close. They’re very close because they have to be. The two brothers occupy the same body. Jonathan works it during the day while Jon (also Elgort, duh) takes the nighttime shift. It’s a “thing” apparently, according to Dr. Patricia Clarkson, and let’s face it, I WILL buy anything that lady’s selling.

mv5bnmq4ywe4nmetnzk5mi00zwnllwewm2utnmuzodbjm2qzyte2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndc2nzc5mta@._v1_There’s occasionally a little tension between the brothers because in order to make their arrangement work, they have to live by certain rules. And as you might guess, Jonathan’s a better rule follower than is Jon. When Jon breaks a cardinal rule, ie, gets a girlfriend, the two start to pull apart, and while distance between siblings is usually a normal thing, between these two it’s going to start to get very, very complicated.

There’s a dark filament running its electric current throughout the movie, and I have to say, I liked it. I like movies that are puzzles, and I’m always four steps ahead, or I think I am, trying to shoehorn pieces in to slots that are maybe not the right fit. The brothers are superclose, inhabiting the same body as they do, but at the same time, they’ve never technically met. How’s that for a concept? Now imagine the relationship you have with your own sibling. Do you fight sometimes? Give each other the silent treatment? The thing is, when Jon and Jonathan fight, they virtually disappear from each other’s lives, but at the same time their bodies are subject to whatever the other does during his shift. It’s crazy.

Ansel Elgort is commanding in dual roles, though this movie, as you can tell by the title, belongs to Jonathan. The story is told only through his side of the equation; glimpses of his brother come only through the videos, and the consequences to Jonathan’s waking life. I tend to like these bold, “big idea” movies and this one worked for me. Not in a big way. It doesn’t quite live up to Jonathan’s potential, or even Jon’s. But it cooks with some really interesting ingredients. It has a sci-fi premise but a character study feel. Jonathan can’t quite fill the big shoes of its own promise, but I like that it tried, and I like how it tried, and I like the twisty pretzel shapes my brain’s been doing trying to straighten it all out.

The Darjeeling Limited

Stream of conscious watching a Wes Anderson movie:

Already loving the quirky little score, borrowed heavily from Indian films, as the pedi-cab races toward the train station.

Less than 3 minutes into the film and we’ve already left poor Bill Murray behind. Why do I feel guilty though? Peter (Adrian Brody) races by him, hopping on the train right before it leaves the station. Stupid Adrian Brody.

Peter’s brother Jack (Jason Schwartzman) has at least 8 pieces of luggage. A lovely set of course, but for ease of travel, perhaps he should consider one larger case rather than a bunch of oddly shaped little ones?

Their third brother, Francis (Owen Wilson), arrives with a busted face and a very strict mv5bmtuzmtq2mjq4nl5bml5banbnxkftztcwodg1oty4na@@._v1_sy1000_cr0,0,1493,1000_al_schedule to find the path to spirituality, plus an unseen assistant with a laminating machine to keep things on course. The 3 brothers have not seen each other in a year.

The brothers exchange unprescribed but over-the-counter drugs. It is immediately obvious why they might have avoided one another for a year.

Is it really a think to walk barefoot on trains in India? That creeps me out. There must be a special kind of athlete’s foot you get from the stinky carpeting.

Francis has so many rules for his brother that I’m starting to feel vicariously oppressed.

No wonder their mother (Anjelica Huston) hasn’t joined them: who would willing submit to this road trip with the world’s most sulky, dopey, resentful brothers?

The train scenes are shot on an actual moving train, moving from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, through the Thar desert. They requisitioned 10 rain cars and a locomotive, which Wes Anderson redecorated to his aesthetic. Nothing could be attached to the ceiling, and equipment couldn’t hang more than a meter out the windows.

How can the train be lost? It’s on rails!

Francis has just revealed their secret destination: to visit their mother, who has become a nun and is living in a convent in the Himalayas. Their visit may or may not be welcome.

With such militant scheduling, it’s kind of miraculous that they remain late for the train every damn time.

Turns out there are 11 pieces of luggage; they were designed for the film by Marc Jacobs by Louis Vuitton.

Kicked off the train, the 3 brothers and their copious luggage are traveling along a path when they see a raft carrying 3 kids overturn. The brothers plunge into the waters to save them, but one is dashed against rocks and killed. The look on Adrian Brody’s face when he says “I didn’t save mine” – oof, that’s real acting right there.

I like this custom of the father washing his son’s body before the funeral. I think Western cultures are too detached from death. There’s a tragic tenderness to this scene, just a few seconds of film, actually, that really moves me.

Francis implies that his wounds are actually self-inflicted in a suicide attempt, which is particularly hard to bear since Owen Wilson was taken off the press tour for this movie after his own suicide attempt.

The Old Man & The Gun

Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) is a charming old rascal. He meets Jewel (Sissy Spacek) on the side of the road in front of her broken down truck while still in the getaway portion of a bank heist. Would she believe him even if he told her?

Based on a true story, Forrest Tucker was a Texan bank robber who escaped San Quentin at the age of 70 and went on yet another crime spree in the early 80s. Well, his whole life, really, when he wasn’t in prison, which he often was. But then he always escaped and went straight back to the only thing that ever made him happy. His victims would often note how happy he looked, how polite he was. A real mv5bmta2odriy2utnzq1zi00zjzklwe4mwyty2u1odiznty2yzc2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntc5otmwotq@._v1_gentleman. John Hunt (Casey Affleck) is the cop who just happens to be making a deposit on the morning of one of Forrest’s robberies. He vows to chase him and his Over-The-Hill Gang (Danny Glover, Tom Waits).

The Old Man & The Gun isn’t just a tribute to a bygone era of movie-making; it looks and feels like it’s part of the period. It’s the slowest-moving heist movie you’ll see this century, and not just because Redford’s hips aren’t what they used to be. It’s just that director David Lowery isn’t so interesting in the cops and robbers part as he is in making a fitting tribute to Robert Redford. The camera lingers on his impish grin, still capable of commanding a scene after all these years. The film is an homage to him in many ways – to his past filmography, to his status as a living legend. If this is indeed Redford’s last role (he has announced his intention to retire from acting), you couldn’t have found a better one. Lowery reworked the script, molding it from true crime to something more of a love letter to one of his favourite actors.