Review: Alex Strangelove

Although comparisons to the similarly queer themed teenage rom-com Love, Simon from earlier this year are inevitable, writer-director Craig Johnson’s raunchier Netflix original film Alex Strangelove has more in common with the American Pie franchise than John Hughes, and that shift from gentility to risqué behaviour works greatly in its favour.

Review: ‘The Polka King’

The darkly comedic biopic The Polka King is a well made example of a “straight to Netflix” film. This “stranger than fiction” look at a former oom-pah-pah baron and Grammy nominee who perpetrated massive amounts of fraud in the 1990s is lean, fast paced, almost completely devoid of filler, and likely works better at home than it would in the confines of a theatre. Netflix is the perfect place for a film like The Polka King, and that’s not in any way a knock against the talent and effort that went into making it.

Review: the documentary ‘Chasing Coral’

As a work of cinema, Chasing Coral is ambitious and unprecedented. As a work of advocacy, it has the power to open eyes and make people at least try to save something that we frighteningly might have done too much damage to already. It’s also a film that isn’t afraid of making its advocacy into a personal crusade for the people involved, but it does so without being hokey, preachy, maudlin, or sentimental. It’s honest, unflinching, and unabashed in how it depicts coral as an unseen force that should unite us all. It’s also one of the most unmissable films of the year.

Review: ‘Okja,’ starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal

Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho delivers another fantastical allegory with Okja, following similarly themed, but perhaps more action packed efforts like The Host and Snowpiercer. While those films were a lot darker and more relentless in their approach and aims, don’t let Okja’s overall gentility and flashes of kindness fool you. This is just as cutting, biting, and insightful as his previous works. It’s still not a subtle effort, and a lot of the messages can easily be seen on the film’s surface without much digging or unpacking, but that approach works well with Joon Ho’s tendency towards science fiction and the ethereal.