September 29, 2013 - 5:07pm
'Off Label,' which screened on Friday at the Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival, follows no principles of effective storytelling and fails to draw connections between unrelated individuals.

Watching Off Label is like being in a conversation with a reasonably intelligent but digressive person. It starts on a broad topic and jumps from tangent to tangent, trying unsuccessfully to tie them all together until it’s not clear what point it’s trying to make at all. Maybe all of the points. Maybe none of them.

September 27, 2013 - 3:59pm
The first film in the Syracuse University Human Rights Film Festival, documentary 'Rafea: Solar Mama,' finds something close to the truth despite human tendency to act for a camera.

There’s a tendency for people to start performing as soon as they’re aware there’s a camera on them.

That can be a problematic situation for a documentary filmmaker, especially one trying to stay out of his/her film’s story, and it makes documentaries that try to capture unmediated reality feel awkward, if not suspect.

September 17, 2013 - 3:09pm
The team behind our new pop culture podcast discusses the major fall-opening film festival where Oscar buzz already has started.

This week we focus on our experiences at the recent Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) at which more than 360 movies were screened and 146 debuted.

Some of the films we touch on include Around the Block, The Station, The Green Inferno, 12 Years a Slave, The F Word, and Can a Song Save Your Life?

See video of TIFF and read reviews of select films.

September 13, 2013 - 10:21pm
Eli Roth's 'The Green Inferno,' which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, uses cannibalism to make a point about the naivete of young people.

In an early scene in Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno, college student Justine (Lorenza Izzo) sarcastically questions activist Alejandro’s (Ariel Levy) ludicrous plan to save Peruvian natives from a construction company. Alejandro calls her insolent.

September 13, 2013 - 10:17pm
Michael Dowse's 'The F Word,' starring Daniel Radcliffe, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The romantic comedy doesn't transform the genre, but it offers a good time.

The F Word, directed by Michael Dowse, is a teenage romantic comedy set in Toronto starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. An amalgamation of earlier films in the genre, The F Word is a love letter to romance and the city. What it lacks in innovation it makes up for in wit and charm.

September 13, 2013 - 10:13pm
Denis Villeneuve's 'Prisoners' changes the meaning of child abduction movies and pushes the detective genre. The film screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Prisoners is a perfect film for drama-loving masochists. Grief and injustice dominate the plot as a crude reminder that bad things happen to good people, but the film does so in a way where you cannot blink, let alone go to the bathroom, until the end.

The trailer was an unfortunate false advertisement of the film. It gives little justice to the intellectual thriller of fist-clenching tension, which kept the theater jumping at every unexpected turn.

In other words, be prepared to flinch.

September 13, 2013 - 10:07pm
'Once' director John Carney attempts to create another movie about music, but he can't live up to his own legacy. 'Can a Song Save Your Life?' screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.

John Carney, director of the acclaimed music film Once, attempts to make a comeback with Can A Song Save Your Life?

As the title suggests, Carney’s new movie follows Once in genre but is less gripping and more disappointing.

Greta (Keira Knightley), a heartbroken struggling musician, and Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a recently fired music producer, predictably bond through music and overcome their difficulties in life during the process. 

September 13, 2013 - 9:55pm
Steve McQueen’s '12 Years a Slave,' screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, showcases brilliant performances and beautifully tells the true story of freeman Solomon Northup.

Billie Holiday’s haunting and passionate voice echoes over the song “Strange Fruit.” The 1939 blues standard is a harsh cry and protest against the brutal racism and lynchings that were an everyday occurrence in the United States.

Steve McQueen’s film 12 Years a Slave, depicting the true story of the enslavement of freeman Solomon Northup, echoes Holiday’s seminal song. It is a rapturous meditation upon America’s original sin and, like “Strange Fruit,” is brutally honest and yet tinged with a sorrow so personal and vivid that the film is transcendent.

December 12, 2012 - 2:51pm
Review: The ghost-hunting comedy hits all the right notes to make it an unlikely yuletide classic.

There comes a time when all the Christmas movies have been watched, and while it would be awesome to watch Scrooged for the fifth time, it might be nice to unearth a different film for a change of pace.

October 27, 2012 - 12:02pm
Review: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Hocus Pocus" bring the girl power.

Joss Whedon’s 1992 teen flick Buffy the Vampire Slayer laid the ground work for his television show of the same name. The most popular girl in her high school, Buffy must move from vapid cheerleader to vampire hunter. In every age, one teenage girl is chosen to defend humanity from the vampires. When one slayer dies, the next is summoned.