September 2016


Natural Born Pranksters

The YouTubers in Natural Born Pranksters want to be the boys from Jackass so bad.  They even go as far as roping in Jackass’ professional pooper Dave England to participate in a faux-art prank – Dave provides the “paint”.  However, unlike the Jackass crew, the jokers in Natural Born Pranksters (Roman Atwood, Dennis Roady, and Vitaly Zdorovetskiy) misunderstand the construction of comedy.


Operation Avalanche

From making a dark comedy about a premeditated school shooting to slightly deceiving NASA while making a faux-documentary within a faux-documentary, it’s safe to claim that filmmaker Matt Johnson is a bit of a renegade.  But similar to his storytelling innovation in The Dirties, Johnson finds a new way to twist old tales in Operation Avalanche.


The Lovers and the Despot

In 1978, South Korean actor Choi Eun-hee went missing.  Her ex-husband, director Shin Sang-ok, made it his mission to find her when he too went missing.  Their whereabouts remained elusive for some time, but the answer that eventually came out was stranger than any potential explanation: the two South Korean celebrities had been kidnapped by none other than North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il with the purpose of having them direct films for the people of…



Earlier this year, audiences witnessed Bruce Willis being a lazy actor in Precious Cargo – he talked on a cell phone and barely moved out of his seat.  In Marauders, the action star is at least doing more with his role (hey, walking counts), but the film itself receives the same faint praise I halfheartedly awarded Precious Cargo in April.



Kicks is a stylistic look at the superficiality that makes a man.  It just takes a while for the audience to realize that.  Justin Tipping’s semi-autobiographical drama appears as a string of unused music videos, commercials, and MTV bumpers.  The imagery is powerful and at times disturbing, but the audience wonders if Kicks is merely all style and no substance.

Festival Coverage

TIFF 2016: ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

I was utterly enamoured by Steve James’ ode to film journalist Roger Ebert in 2014’s Life Itself.  My wife, on the other hand, found it difficult to tap in to and suggested it was because she didn’t have any preinvested interest.  With James’ latest doc Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, I relate to my wife’s prior disconnect.  Not because of the content, but because of the documentarian’s chosen genre.  Audiences who are riveted by courtroom…