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Archive for February, 2013

snitch

The following is an excerpt from my review of Snitch, published in Next Projection. You can read the full review here. I gave it a generous 79/100.

Life’s too short to be subtle all the time. Sometimes, you need a good kick to the skull, a nice pull on the heartstrings, to get a message across. It’s OK, I think you’ll agree, to occasionally sacrifice nuance in the name of reaching a larger audience.

Such is the thinking, I presume, behind Snitch, a zero-subtlety drama on America’s drug laws. Snitch unfolds like an extended episode of HBO’s “The Wire,” only with broader characters and more car chases. But what it lacks in artfulness, it makes up for in its earnest effort to spark a dialogue on mass incarceration and the war on drugs.

Certainly, no one will walk into Snitch expecting — or even wanting — a studious dissection of these issues. The film stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a man whose other 2013 credits include a G.I. Joe sequel, a Fast and Furious sequel, and a Michael Bay movie. Though a far more charismatic presence than most meathead tough-guys, Johnson rarely strays from generic, bankable entertainments. That a star of his caliber would choose to star in a broadside against mandatory minimum sentencing laws makes Snitch an important work, if not a particularly cinematic one.

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like-someone-in-love_reference

Greetings and apologies for the delay in posts. I have my reasons, most of which will be revealed in time. For now, I write to inform you that I’ve begun freelancing at Next Projection, a film criticism website based out of Toronto. My first piece, a review of Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love, went live today. You’ll find the first few paragraphs and a link to the full review below. As always, thanks for sticking with me.

Toward the end of Like Someone in Love, an elderly academic hears word that the first printing of his book is missing a sentence. As viewers of an Abbas Kiarostami film, we know the feeling. Anyone who’s seen a movie by the titan of Iranian cinema has felt, at one point or another, like a key scene or line of dialogue — one that’d make the whole thing make more sense — just up and disappeared. Kiarostami has said he strives to make “incomplete” films, ones that force us viewers to find (or create) the missing puzzle pieces. Few of his films have ever felt as incomplete as Like Someone in Love.

The film marks Kiarostami’s first feature in Japanese and his second outside Iran, following Certified Copy. That film’s teasing ambiguities and romantic core helped it find an unprecedented audience for Kiarostami. To be sure, Like Someone in Love won’t enjoy a repeat of that film’s commercial success. A difficult work from the master of minimalism, Like Someone in Love offers plenty to study and admire but little to attract a non-cineaste. Its pleasures derive almost exclusively from how Kiarostami toys with the medium.

Read the full review here.

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