Author Kyle Burton

So long Mizzou, hello (virtual) Toronto! I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time when I was fifteen, and after immediately thinking 'What in the holy hell?', I stumbled onto Roger Ebert's review of the film. I haven't looked back since, and I try to maintain that infusion of knowledge of and love for all things film that I discovered in that stumbled upon, clarified moment.

Film Festival richhill_4-2

This is a true story. During the Q&A of the screening I attended of Actress, Robert Greene’s complex and artfully human new documentary, one woman couldn’t get through her question before losing her struggle with tears. She commended Brandy Burre, the subject, more or less for her vulnerability. Then she lost it, sobbing silently in the unlit audience as slews of “I thought this scene was…”-es and “How did you…”-s finished off the fifteen minutes.
For everything Actress is, emotionally devastating isn’t the first attribute I’d assign it. Burre, who’s theater-trained, had broached ‘making it’ with a role on The Wire. Soon after, she opted out of the industry to be a mom. Her six-year absence from acting sapped her and strained her relationship with her partner, the father of her children. The documentary, chronicling her reentry into the biz, has its emotional turbulences, to be certain. But its strengths lie in its insight and patience, as the actress in Burre comes out more and more to interact with the camera. Those aren’t necessarily the most wrenching traits.

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By the end of the final performance in 20,000 Days on Earth, it’s clear we’ve been watching a Nick Cave show the whole time. The film’s construction is enigmatic. Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s direction is evocative. They keep us at the precipice of the musician’s psychic creation of self and melody. Some films are called visual poems; this documentary is a song, on screen, the images its lyrics.


The crime procedural is about as TV as TV gets. It’s a fundamental mainstay of the medium, and it’s relationship with viewers and critics can be a bit of a contradiction. It’s cliché; it’s satisfying. It’s redundant; it’s reliable. How many ways could we turn a positive on its side? The template’s oddly impervious to itself. And to series with the ambition to hover over similar cop-case-killer territory but dash that template, audiences haven’t been kind. Think The Killing or The Bridge, shows that for the sake of grit and realism broke a single case into the minutia of its parts. But, in terms of televised narrative, how often is one case not another? True Detective adopts a version of the micro methodology. The substantial difference: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Reviews circles_2-1-1

It’s no wonder Serbia selected Circles, Srdan Golubovic’s carefully ambitious film about guilt and grief and their inflection in our choices, as the nation’s Academy Awards entrant. The backdrop and circumstances surrounding the film, though exquisitely crafted, are very much bound to an identity that’s pervaded Balkan film for some time: the consequences of war on human dynamics of ethnicity, family, and identity. Marko (Vuk Kostic), himself a soldier, intervenes when group of soldiers attack an innocent Muslim. The confrontation’s outcome lacerates a small collection of people connected only by Marko, and the film makes unnerving work of fleshing out the repercussions.

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Often we judge sequels in terms of how they compare to their predecessors. It’s not exactly fair, but it’s inevitable. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is no doubt better than the franchise’s first installment, but, more importantly, the film elaborates on the foundation laid. The stakes are higher, as is the hefty responsibility of this ensemble of characters—not because death is more intimately or disproportionately threatened, but because Panem’s politics resonant on screen with a complexity greater than any gamut of colors.

Reviews history-2

David Cronenberg is an avid Darwinian. There’s a moment about halfway through A History of Violence, his 2005 investigation into man’s recessive psyche, that hints toward just what sort of movie it is. Jack (Ashton Holmes), son of main man Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen), incapacitates the sidekick bully with a swift kick to the groin and proceeds to pummel the ringleading jock-douchebag. Little in the high school conflict has changed between the earlier scene where Jack wards off jock-douchebag’s alpha-male aggression with quivering sarcasm and this ass-whooping that dares us to find catharsis.

Television the-blacklist-general-ludd

One general rule for cinematic resolution is ending a story with the same, but different, image. Broadly, the idea allows the audience to take a final temperature of the story’s protagonist. The sameness is usually an abstraction, a reminder that this woman is the very woman with whom we set out. The difference is in the material; this is how far she’s come. The idea holds true, for the most part, in a variety of ways in television. If we’re to keep it in mind tonight, “General Ludd” might be The Blacklist’s most satisfying episode.

Television walking-dead-internment

Each week, it seems, we’re reminded that Carl is no longer a kid. Society codifies into its adolescents various benchmarks which, when met, signal another step toward adulthood—really, to sovereignty. Staying home alone. Going on dates. Driving. Driving to those dates. Shooting your mother’s corpse in the head. The ages at which these things happen tend to be determined for us. A nine-year-old can’t walk into his local DMV and request a permit test. While there are legitimate reasons behind those limitations, to the one they affect—to the adolescent—they are arbitrary. Who are you to tell me I’m not mature enough to stay by myself overnight?—I make some Pizza Rolls, then watch some Netflix and pass out, big deal, I’ll even set the TV sleeper. Unfortunately for Rick, his world no longer has any use for the distinction between child and man. He’s been clinging to these ideas of gradual progress for his boy, Carl. Immediacy is jarring. How can a kid cope with the realities of their world if not given the time to absorb the changes in bits and pieces—to adjust? But would kids know any better?

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