POP AYE

The road is best shared with an old friend. Be it a drinking buddy, a childhood companion, or an old lover; any trip down the dusty trail of memory is one that must be shared. For successful Bangkok architect, Thana (Thaneth Warakulnukroh), that companion is a full-grown Asian elephant named Pop Aye. As we see in a later flashback, Pop Aye and Thana grew up together but were separated when Pop Aye was shipped off to the circus, performing under the name “Chang” after the popular Thai beer. In a manner of speaking, Thana was also shipped off: went to … Continue reading POP AYE

MOKA

Diane (Emmanuelle Devos) is hurting. Her young son, Luc, was killed in a hit-and-run. And with no one to take responsibility, no one to blame, grief has driven her deep inside herself. Diane pulls back from the world, from her husband, and from the future. Her world narrows to one simple task: make them pay. Finding the couple responsible isn’t that difficult for Diane — there are eyes everywhere — but convincing herself that vengeance can be righteous is. As the old saying goes, “Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth only leaves the world blind and toothless.” … Continue reading MOKA

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

There’s no hyperbole in calling War for the Planet of the Apes the best of the franchise just as there is no overstating the series’ contribution to motion capture performance. With each Apes installment, the technology gets a little better, but what makes War special is not simply that the technology has become more refined, but the storytelling as well. Set two years after the events in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) continues to lead his army of genetically enhanced apes against the last few outposts of humankind. The war is hard fought and with dwindling … Continue reading WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

2017: THE BEST SO FAR

Taken as a whole, 2017 at the movies has left me somewhat dismayed. This is at least partly due, I think, to the overlong award season. With each passing year, this toxic notion of competition clouds the waters and does little to foster the appreciation and discussion of cinema. This rang particularly true in the silly and absurd horse race between La La Land and Moonlight — which ended up being an overwrought debate between authenticity in emotion — and culminated in one spectacular and public bungle at this year’s Oscar ceremony. And while award season is both exhausting and disheartening, it was the lackluster rollout of … Continue reading 2017: THE BEST SO FAR

STAR WARS AT 40

A space opera in eight films, five directors, and two studios. A long time ago — May 25, 1977, to be precise — in a Hollywood far, far away, Star Wars took cinematic hearts and minds by storm. Later subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars was a ragtag space opera about a young farmer and two mercenaries trying to rescue a captured princess from the evil clutches of the Empire and return her to the Rebel base so she could deliver the stolen plan necessary to destroy the armored base. The backstory was sparse, the plot points were standard, and the characters were archetypal. … Continue reading STAR WARS AT 40