New York Film Festival to open with 18th Century romp from the director of ‘The Lobster’ – Yorgos Lanthimos
Review: ‘PUZZLE’ allows one woman to solve the enigma of herself.
Review: ‘Occupation’ has a full sci-fi miniseries feel in 2hrs
Fantasia International Film Festival Review: ‘Relaxer’ pulls you in with its beautifully weird premise.
Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 Review: ‘Mega Time Squad’ is an editor’s masterpiece.

Review: ‘An American Pickle’ has you seeing double on HBO Max.

AN AMERICAN PICKLE

AN AMERICAN PICKLE, directed by Brandon Trost, is based on Simon Rich’s New Yorker novella and stars Seth Rogen as Herschel Greenbaum, a struggling laborer who immigrates to America in 1919 with dreams of building a better life for his beloved family. One day, while working at his factory job, he falls into a vat of pickles and is brined for 100 years. The brine preserves him perfectly and when he emerges in present day Brooklyn, he finds that he hasn’t aged a day. But when he seeks out his family, he is troubled to learn that his only surviving relative is his great grandson, Ben Greenbaum (also played by Rogen), a mild-mannered computer coder whom Herschel can’t even begin to understand.

The simple wonders of experiencing something for the first time is essentially the purest form of comedy in An American Pickle. Seth Rogen plays two distinctly different versions of “himself”. Having met Seth in real life, his Ben character feels very much like him. Down-to-earth, genuinely sweet, and very funny. As Herschel, he is truly astounding. The magic in his eyes, the reverent and tender respect for history and his family. I fear Rogen gets lumped into a certain category when you mention his name. While I love all his films, An American Pickle is different in a good way for him. It’s an engaging script with a funny concept. But really, the film is about family loyalty and pride. The jokes are whipsmart and insanely relevant to the absurdity of social influence and 2020 in general. This film lives and dies by the performances from Rogen. He needs more opportunities to show his acting chops in earnest. While the film has a lot of hilarious moments, as a whole it’s a little meandering for its roughly hour and a half runtime. Come to think of it, it might have fared better as a serial sitcom. Nonetheless, I think it’s worth your time. If you’re a Seth Rogen fan you will not be disappointed. An American Pickle premieres tomorrow exclusively on HBO Max.

“An American Pickle” begins streaming on HBO Max on August 6

Review: ‘Day 13’ proves no good deed goes unpunished.

When 17-year-old Colton is left at home to babysit his little sister for the summer, he develops a crush on Heather, the beautiful girl who just moved into a mysterious old house across the street. He falls in love with her from afar — but also witnesses her foster father grow increasingly threatening towards her. When Colton suspects the man belongs to a Satanic cult, and is preparing to ritually murder her, he resorts to desperate measures to intervene. Once he learns the real truth, it is more horrifying than anything he had ever imagined.

Take a little Disturbia, add a bit of Fright Night, and a pinch of Rosemary’s Baby and you’ve got yourself Day 13. The slow burn mystery feels a bit predictable about halfway through. Then 45 minutes in, “Oh, hello. That’s new!” You are, without a doubt, rooting for Colton. He’s a genuinely nice guy, even if he mysteriously has a ton of cash for a high school kid. Also, his mother is a terrible person (who leaves their two kids alone for 16 days?!) and his sister acts like an 8-year-old even though I’m sure she’s meant to be at least 13. That’s A LOT for a kid to deal with. Oh, and besides the fact that his new love interest seems to be held captive by her adoptive father who definitely deals in some dark arts shadiness.

Alex MacNicoll as our leading man is charming and down to Earth. He’s totally believable as a brave and gentlemanly boy next door. The mystery girl next door is played by Genevieve Hannelius. She has an authentic Taissa Farmiga vibe ala American Horror Story, season 1. One of the most entertaining parts of the film is J.T. Palmer as Colton’s best friend, Michael. He is the audience. I loved his commentary.

That climactic twist. Sure, I’ve seen enough horror films to know when something seems “too easy”. I’ve learned two things from Day 13; first, maybe don’t leave a teenager home alone to take care of his younger sister, and second, no good deed goes unpunished. If only Colton could have been bored for 3 more days. The film is definitely entertaining. I have to admit I was fully into Colton’s ambitious plan to solve the mystery. I was certainly on the edge of my couch when he attempts to rescue Heather. You’ll need to get to the bottom of what’s really plaguing this girl… and Colton. Day 13 is now available on VOD. Check out the trailer below.

Day 13 – VOD Release 8/4/20 – Will be Available on:
Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, Playstation, Vudu, Fandango & Vimeo
Click Below to Choose Your Platform!
Cast:
Alex MacNicoll, Martin Kove, Genevieve Hannelius, Darlene Vogel
Director: Jax Medel
Writer: Dan Gannon | Walter Goldwalter
Producer: Richard C. Brooks
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Language: English
Production Country: United States

Review: ‘Star Light’ star bright? Not quite.

A supernatural thriller, STAR LIGHT involves a kind-hearted teenager, Dylan (Cameron Johnson), who crashes into a beautiful young woman (Scout Taylor-Compton) while skateboarding. She turns out to be a world-famous popstar, who is on the run from her handlers. While he and his group of friends try to help this mysterious woman, unexplained events begin to occur within the home. When Bebe’s threatening handler, Anton, shows up demanding her return, the teenagers’ refusal makes him unleash a barrage of dire and otherworldly consequences that turns a fun graduation party into a night of living hell.

Star Light feels like a copycat attempt of Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight, with the hopes that a younger audience has no idea what that is. If you haven’t seen that yet, do yourself a favor and do so now. The acting is…  not great overall. The dinner scene in the opening of the film is so overly hostile, you may pause, make popcorn, and want to referee Real Housewives style. I give credit to the commitment of the actors. No one can say they gave a half-assed performance. Unfortunately, the dialogue is as cliche as having actors that are closer to 30 play high school students. I probably would have respected the film more had these actually been kids. The early skateboarding shots are by far my favorite bit of editing. Establishing a smalltown America was a nice choice even if it doesn’t ever pan out as purposeful in the end. 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre homage opening, which comes back around later deserves applause for the bait and switch. I know teens and sex and horror are a give-in for the genre, but there is one moment that seems so utterly misplaced it’s a full-on facepalm. The CGI is fair at best. I can change the color of my eyes with a Snapchat app. That does not mean I should be making a feature film. The climax of the film is hands down the most interesting but there is no payoff. If you’re going to insinuate that a Taylor Swift-like character has power over people, why not exploit that to its fullest extent. That’s the story! That’s an entire series or franchise. As someone who specializes in genre films, and as a genuine fan of all things scary and magical, Star Light felt less like it was made by experienced filmmakers and more like a local college kid’s project for a class. 

Mitchell Altieri and Lee Cummings’ STAR LIGHT hits Digital and On Demand August 4.

Review: ‘Summerland’ is charming family love story.

During World War II, reclusive writer Alice has her sequestered life upended when Frank, an evacuee from the London Blitz, is left in her care. Despite initially resolving to be rid of him, Alice finds herself and her emotions reawakened by him.

This is a surprising script. Filled with whimsy and an unexpected love story. Gemma Arterton plays two distinct sides of one woman. She is a lonely recluse, working day in and day out on her academic thesis. She was once a free spirit with an open heart. Her performance is stunning. Lucas Bond as Frank is simply darling. He represents a new start for Alice. He cracks her curmudgeonly shell. Through his innocent curiosity, her walls slowly come down. He is extraordinarily perceptive. She shares her studies in folklore. This leads to inevitable magic about the script, highlighting the location, and letting the score shine. His performance is a revelation.

Dixie Egerickx as Edie, Frank’s suspicious classmate is a wonderful addition to the story. She essentially represents both the townspeople and Alice, all at once. Her wit and hardened confidence match Alice at every turn. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is simply lovely as Alice’s long lost love. Their flashback scenes are lush with color and you can almost feel them radiate through the screen.

The screenplay and editing are gorgeous. It hones in on Alice’s abandonment trauma. This explains Alice’s writing. Summerland, mythic pagan heaven. This seems like a perfect escape for her emotionally fraught past. There is a pretty shocking twist that will leave you breathless and more invested in the story than you thought possible. Summerland is a beautiful film that deserves an audience.

Jessica Swale is an Olivier award-winning theatre director and was hailed as one of Variety’s Brits to Watch in 2019. The film stars Gemma Arterton (THEIR FINEST, VITA AND VIRGINIA), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, BELLE), Penelope Wilton (DOWNTON ABBEY, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE), and Tom Courtenay (45 YEARSDOCTOR ZHIVAGO). Subject to theater availability, IFC Films will release the film in select theaters and on VOD/Digital on July 31st, 2020

Review: Shudder’s ‘HOST’ is the scariest film I’ve seen all year.

Six friends get together during lockdown for their weekly zoom call. It’s Haley’s turn to organise an activity and instead of a quiz, she’s arranged for a Medium to conduct a séance. Bored and feeling mischievous, Jemma decides to have some fun and invents a story about a boy in her school who hanged himself. However, her prank gives license for a demonic presence to cross over, taking on the guise of the boy in Jemma’s made-up story. The friends begin noticing strange occurrences in their homes as the evil presence begins to make itself known, and they soon realise that they might not survive the night. A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.

Cast: Haley Bishop, Radina Drandova, Jemma Moore, Caroline Ward, Emma Webb, Edward Linard

Playing out in real-time (56 minutes to be exact), 6 friends jump on a Zoom call after they hire a medium to entertain them. The visual set up is key. What appears to be totally casual laptop setups is actually compromised of very specific angles that will put any genre fan instantly on alert. A well placed open door in any frame is a constant cause for anxiety. Since we’ve all been doing these damn calls for months now, Host stylishly lulls you into a false sense of familiarity before pulling the rug out from underneath you. It’s quite genius in it’s simplicity.

25 minutes in and I was genuinely frightened. I’m talking chills, and jump scare, heart-pounding, all in. The cast is us, but we get to experience it through them. I’m not sure if I would even watch this on a big screen. I suggest you watch it on a laptop for the ultimate immersive experience. It’s as if you’re on the call but muted. What a fantastic set up for this moment in time. Remember that feeling when you first saw The Blair Witch Project? For those like myself who saw it opening night at a sold-out screening, before the internet ruined everything, we felt real terror. As soon as the screen went black, there was screaming and a stampede for the exit. This has that special kind of fear attached to it. HOST is found footage reinvigorated.

The acting from every single person is phenomenal. It makes me wonder how much of the script they had knowledge of because they are superb. Director Rob Savage never even entered the same room as his cast members, directing them through Zoom to maintain social distancing. This feat is impressive. Not only did they shoot the film themselves, but set lighting, and executed the practical fx. When you see the final product, wow. This may be the scariest film I’ve seen all year. I watch A LOT of horror and this film’s second half was almost all watched through my fingers. Bravo to everyone involved. I, for one, will not be sleeping tonight and what better a compliment for a horror film.

HOST is now available on SHUDDER

Review: ‘The Shadow of Violence’ in Theaters Only July 31st!

SYNOPSIS: In the dark underbelly of rural Ireland, ex-boxer Douglas “Arm” Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis, Hunter Killer) has become a feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family. When his ruthless employers order him to kill for the first time, his loyalties are tested in this powerful thriller costarring Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) and Ned Dennehy (“Peaky Blinders”).

ONLY IN THEATERS: July 31, 2020

Under the structure of a crime thriller, this film is truly a redemption story. After seeing Cosmo Jarvis in the leading role, I can no longer imagine any other actor owning this role with such a tender precision. His physical presence has an ominous feel but at the core, he’s a gentle giant with emotional, and perhaps physical, PTSD. While The Devers family uses Douglas’ strength and stature to intimidate, their psychological abuse of him is pervasive and perhaps more effective than any threat of physical harm.

Now for the story’s most gripping aspect; a father/son connection, or lack thereof. Douglas’ son Jack is on the spectrum. As a mother of a young boy also on the spectrum, this story grabbed me immediately. The juxtaposition of him and Jack cannot be ignored. The script highlights trauma and the feeling of inferiority. It is grounded writing and extraordinarily acted. The Shadow of Violence is a perfect title. The tense action scenes keep the heart pumping. Seriously, nothing short of gripping sequences. The success of the film ultimately lies in family dynamics and letting go of guilt. You will undoubtedly be touched by this story. We all want better for our children than we had for ourselves.

TITLE: THE SHADOW OF VIOLENCE

ONLY IN THEATERS: July 31, 2020

DIRECTOR: Nick Rowland

WRITER: Joe Murtagh

CAST: Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar, Ned Dennehy

SYNOPSIS: In the dark underbelly of rural Ireland, ex-boxer Douglas “Arm” Armstrong (Cosmo Jarvis, Hunter Killer) has become a feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family. When his ruthless employers order him to kill for the first time, his loyalties are tested in this powerful thriller costarring Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) and Ned Dennehy (“Peaky Blinders”).

RUN TIME: 101 minutes

RATING: R

GENRE: Thriller

DISTRIBUTOR: Saban Films

Review: Shudder original ‘The Pool’ dives head first into the deep end.

A young couple find themselves trapped in a 20’-deep swimming pool with no way out—and that’s only the beginning of their problems. Starring Theeradej Wongpuapan, Ratnamon Ratchiratham, directed by Ping Lumpraploeng.

Relentlessly unnerving, The Pool takes a seemingly simple premise and turns it into an elaborate horror movie. From one moment to the next, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat and rooting for our leading man. Theeradej Wongpuapan must have been so physically drained after each takes, not to mention emotionally. The script highlights how desperation leads to ingenuity. Minus the holier than thou moment around abortion and the sometimes silly looking CGI, The Pool is successful because it’s so frustrating. It’s like watching a slow form of brutal torture, but undeniably entertaining torture. Some moments will be difficult to watch. They may break you. But, damn, this script is strong as hell. I don’t remember the last time I literally gripped the couch and was sweating near the end of a film. This is a film that I grant full permission to yell at the screen. I have no doubt writer-director Ping Lumpraploeng would approve. The visual starkness of (essentially a unit set) that occurs for the majority of the film is in high contrast to the dreamy opening shots that will make you gasp. This allows us to delve into the mindset of the characters, it heightens the panic. The Pool is incredibly unique. Great writing and exceptional performances keep it afloat.

The Pool is now available on SHUDDER

 

Review: ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ is music to my ears.

A fast living, cynical London music executive (Daniel Mays) heads to a remote Cornish village on a stag weekend where he’s pranked by his boss (Noel Clarke) into trying to sign a group of shanty singing fishermen (led by James Purefoy). He becomes the ultimate “fish out of water” as he struggles to gain the respect or enthusiasm of the unlikely boy band and their families (including Tuppence Middleton) who value friendship and community over fame and fortune. As he’s drawn deeper into the traditional way of life he’s forced to reevaluate his own integrity and ultimately question what success really means.

This film oozes with charm, from the storyline to the cast. Based on loyalty in more than one way, Fisherman’s Friends is uncompromisingly heartfelt. 10 fishermen who love to sing; they are crass and down-to-earth and it makes them all the more loveable. Their nonchalance helps make this a real rags-to-riches story. Watching a group of men represent a time and place that are the complete opposite of London’s modernized hustle and bustle is essential for understanding why Danny makes the decisions he does as the film progresses. The idea of family and tradition play heavily and to the film’s ultimate success. The music is both uplifting and haunting. Sea shanties, some you will recognize and others that will be altogether new to your ears, envelope the viewer. I adored just how many numbers were performed during the film.

The cast is just lovely. Truly an ensemble piece when it comes down to it, each actor is integral in telling this unique story. They are protective of each other, telling the history of the town and its residents through song, stories, and a pint. James Purefoy nails the rough around the edges, unofficial leader of the group. You fully buy his gruff yet protective nature. Daniel Mays as Danny strikes a perfect balance of genuine gentleman and hustler. Tuppence Middleton as Alwyn is a joy to watch. The chemistry between each member of this cast is superb. You’d think they weren’t actually actors at all, especially knowing the Fisherman’s Friends is a true story. Director Chris Foggins has given us a real gem of a film in a time we all need reminding how beautiful staying put can be. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sounds of the ocean and some melodic voices that are sure to capture your heart.

On Demand and Digital July 24, 2020

FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS is directed by Chris Foggin (Kids in Love) and co-written by Meg Leonard (Blithe Spirit, Finding Your Feet) and Nick Moorcroft (Blithe Spirit, Finding Your Feet).  The film stars Daniel Mays (1917, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), James Purefoy (“The Following,” “Rome”), David Hayman (Blinded by the Light, Sid and Nancy) and Tuppence Middleton (“Sense8,” The Imitation Game).

Review: Dave Franco’ directorial debut ‘The Rental’ may make you choose a staycation.

Two couples on an oceanside getaway grow suspicious that the host of their seemingly perfect rental house may be spying on them. Before long, what should have been a celebratory weekend trip turns into something far more sinister, as well-kept secrets are exposed and the four old friends come to see each other in a whole new light. Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Jeremy Allen White, and Sheila Vand star in this unnerving and sophisticated debut thriller from Dave Franco (NEIGHBORS, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, THE DISASTER ARTIST).

My husband happens to have an Airbnb listing. Dave Franco just made our lives a whole lot more difficult and I’m not even mad about it. With one hell of a cast at his behest, he dives headfirst into the feature-length game with The Rental. The script is juicy and unafraid. Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, Sheila Band, and Jeremy Allen White leave you enmeshed in their emotional baggage. From the very first scene, you feel a subconscious bait and switch in the blocking. As someone who has always had close colleagues of the opposite sex, boundaries are constantly an issue regardless of relationship status. Two couples silently pitted against one another but the dynamics are not what you’d expect. It’s the secrets and lies that drive this plot forward. Add in a more sinister element and you’ve got a storyline that you will not see coming. Alongside Franco in the screenwriting seat in Joe Swanberg, who you can always count on for some true to life complexities. This was a great pairing.

Dan Stevens, whose star has been steadily rising since his departure from Downton Abbey, is strong as ever. We know by now he’s a full-blown Hollywood star. Sheila Vand, who just so happens to be the star of one of my very favorite films of all time, (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) is having an excellent year with Snowpiercer the TV series and The Wave. Here, once again, she is a tour de force. She’s an empowered role model while certainly owning her own failures. Alison Brie feels like a quieter presence but in reality, we are her character for more of the film than we realize. Jeremy Allen White might actually be the most sympathetic of the four. The challenge to his past transgressions is huge. These are really only things that struck me in ful as I have been sitting on them since viewing. 

These characters and performances are ridiculously nuanced. You may find yourself not wanting to root for them at one moment but then screaming at the screen the next. It’s confusing and manipulative and I am here for it all. The idyllic setting and isolation add to both the tension and the endgame. Without spoiling anything, it was an incredibly smart choice. Heads up, there is a very brief false ending. You better sit still if you want some real answers. I can safely say I want more from Franco is this is any indication of what he can do. The Rental genuinely through me for a loop in the best way possible. 

IFC Films will release THE RENTAL in select Drive-Ins, Theaters and On Demand on Friday, July 24, 2020.

THE RENTAL is the directorial debut of Dave Franco (Neighbors, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Disaster Artist) from a script co-written by Franco and  Joe Swanberg (“Easy”, Drinking Buddies). The thriller/horror film stars Alison Brie (“GLOW,” Sleeping With Other People), Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey,” Beauty and the Beast), Jeremy Allen White (“Shameless”, Movie 43) and Sheila Vand (“Snowpiercer,” A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night).

Review: ‘LIFE IS EASY’ – a Queer “Body Swap” Comedy Series World Premieres today on Global LGBTQ+ Network Revry.

Welcome to the world of Jamie-Li and Curtis: Yin and Yang; Potato and gravy; BFF’s since childhood. Jamie-Li, a straight Chinese-Kiwi woman, and Curtis, a gay white man, have a friendship that defies race, gender and sex…or so they think. After a night of wet and wild partying on their joint 25th birthdays, the two Gemini’s wake up to find themselves in each other’s bodies–revealing a hot mess of unexplored issues that unravels the way they see others, one another, and themselves. They thought they were “woke”–until they woke up in each other’s bodies! LIFE IS EASY (LIE) is a smart, funny, sexy, wholesome, and thought-provoking 8-episode satire series exploring the complexities of race, gender and sexuality in today’s seemingly “woke” society.
Body swap comedies are always pretty funny but I’ve never seen one so real and raunchy as this Life Is Easy (LIE). In a world where gender identity and sexual choices are both more accepted and more heavily judged all at once, this series is outrageous in all the best ways possible, Writers and stars Chye-Ling Huang and Cole Jenkins nail the natural comedy of assigned gender mentalities and physicalities. Making a period joke genuinely funny and enjoyably grotesque is quite a feat. The complexities of relationship status figure prominently and are all the more interesting when you remember that Jamie-Li and Curtis are in the wrong bodies. Through the nonstop laughs are serious issues that provoke thought and discussion. Sexual harassment, homophobia, racism, emotional abuse, family dynamics, and finding your voice all jump off the screen. Huang and Jenkins are perfect foils for one another. Besides the fantastic writing, the performances are vibrant and over-the-top when they need to be. But don’t just take the shows for face value since the sincerity in the script allows them to bring their drama chops to the table. With a current 8 episode arch, and a runtime of 15 minutes on average, you will inhale Life Is Easy (LIE). I want more as soon as possible.

Revry Original comedy series from New Zealand, LIFE IS EASY – a FREAKY FRIDAY-esque body swap commentary on race, gender, and sex, world premiering July 19th at 5 pm & 8 pm (PST) on Revry’s Live TV Channels or the full season on Revry Premium July 17th.

About Revry
Watch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network. Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news, and exclusive originals all in one place! Revry is currently available globally in over 250+ million households and devices and on seven OTT, mobile, and Desktop platforms. Revry can also be viewed on nine live and on-demand channels and Connected TVs including: The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Dell, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo+, and as the first LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on Littlstar (available on PlayStation devices). The company–an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort–is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @revrytv. Revry.tv.

 

Review: ‘Zombie For Sale’ is a genre-bending riot. Now playing on the Arrow Video Channel!

 

Synopsis:  When the illegal human experiments of Korea’s biggest pharmaceutical company go wrong, one of their “undead” test subjects escapes and ends up in a shabby gas station owned by the Park family – a band of misfits spanning three generations who hustle passersby to make ends meet. When the Park family uncovers their undead visitor, he bites the head of their household, who instead of transforming into an undead ghoul becomes revitalized and full of life! The family then hatch a plan to exploit this unexpected fountain of youth, allowing locals to pay to be bitten too… until things go wrong.

Boasting moments of Shaun of the Dead-like physical comedy, this film is beyond hilarious. Outstanding editing and cinematography add to the overall greatness. The filmmakers did not cut corners in storyboarding. The quick takes are all part of the film’s success. I’ve never found a zombie film more charming. A score that is reminiscent of anything composed by Danny Elfman for a Tim Burton movie, Zombie For Sale has more elements of genre fun than you thought you’d need in a single film.

Our zombie friend has a higher than usual self-awareness, as his ability to understand love, fear, and pain feature prominently in the storyline. He is being used for a “get rich quick” scheme and your empathy is with him. I’ve never wanted to put a zombie in my pocket before, and yet here we are. This absurdity makes it all the funnier. When our clueless family looks up a clip from Train to Busan, I literally guffawed. Each member has a distinctly different personality, besides being con artists. It’s safe to say that our two female leads wield the most power in this screenplay. Outside of the typical “final girl” scenarios, this was refreshing as hell. This is a true ensemble cast. You will not know what’s coming next. It’s safe to call this a genre-bending film. It is a zombie apocalypse redemption rom-com. These performances are laugh out loud funny from start to finish. Zombie For Sale is colorful and zany and it’s one of my favorite zombie films of the year.

The Arrow Video Channel is available on Apple TV in the UK and US, as well as on Amazon in the UK.

ABOUT THE ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL

The ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL gives cult movie fans the opportunity to watch a wide selection of movies that the ARROW VIDEO brand has been famous for – personally curated by members of the Arrow team. From horror to sci-fi, thrillers to westerns, the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL is home to cutting edge cult and undiscovered gems such as Takashi Miike’s “Audition,” Wes Craven’s seminal masterpiece “The Hills Have Eyes,” George A. Romero’s contagion classic “The Crazies,” Edwin Brown’s slice-and-dice staple “The Prey” and so much more. In the coming months, the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL will be adding more cult classics from East Asia such as Shinya Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” and “Bullet Ballet” and a collection of the Japanese classic “Gamera” movies.  In addition to crowd-pleasing cult movies on the service, the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL will continue to give you an exclusive platform to brand new genre as part of a new global strategy.

The ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL also hosts a growing collection of documentaries, interviews and never-before-seen content from the Arrow Video archives, as well as newly produced material. These documentaries will breathe new life on the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL, giving movie fans an immersive look into the creation of many cult movie classics such as “Donnie Darko” and “Hellraiser.” The service will be updated regularly with new content, new curation focus and never-before-seen content, all hand-picked by the Arrow Video team.

 

 

Review: ‘The Sunlit Night’ glows from every angle.

Synopsis: The Sunlit Night follows an aspiring painter (Slate) from New York City to the farthest reaches of Arctic Norway for an assignment she hopes will invigorate her work and expand her horizons. In a remote village, among the locals, she meets a fellow New Yorker (Sharp), who has come in search of a proper Viking funeral only to find that the Chief (Galifianakis) is but a re-enactor from Cincinnati. The eclectic crew ranges from “home” to “lost,” within the extreme and dazzling landscape of the Far North. Under a sun that never quite sets, and the high standards of an unforgiving mentor, Frances must navigate between ambition, desire, obligation, and risk in order to find a way forward.

If you grew up with an art teacher mother as I did, this film will resonate with you immediately. I was given my own portfolio at the age of six. To be fair, I was drawing scale recreations from the 3 foot Georgia O’Keefe book that came with it. The birthday prior my parents got divorced. The Sunlit Night is a film made or me.

Through art references and voiceover we are privy to Frances’ inner thoughts. These moments are like diary entries. Color is like its own character. Frances is always wearing red. The barn is entirely different shades of yellow. The landscape is lush green. Viking reenactments are jewel and earth-toned while Yasha is in black. Specific paintings mirror each character, according to Frances. The film is a cinephile and art lover’s dream. Everyone that arrives is there to find something or perhaps, truly, to find themselves. The relationship between all the eccentric inhabitants of this small Norwegian town is what makes this film extra charming. Every shot in the film seems to glow. It’s simply breathtaking.

Jenny Slate is extraordinary. She always shines through her humor but here she has the opportunity to explore an even more nuanced vulnerability. Alex Sharp is tender and open. More and more of him everywhere, please. Fridtjov Såheim as Nils is a perfect balance of obstinate and passionate. He’s a great foil for Slate. While Zach Galifianakis is his adorably funny self in this, I wish we had more of him. As for Gillian Anderson, her appearance is brief but I’ll never turn down a chance to watch her effortlessness. The Sunlit Night has a glorious grace to it. It’s not a loud film, by any means, but what it does it does extremely well. Take a peek at the trailer below and watch the film on VOD starting tomorrow.

THE SUNLIT NIGHT will be released on VOD on July 17th from Quiver Distribution.

Review: ‘If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth’ is a short film every parent needs to watch.

If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth

Adapted from The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts column
Featuring narration by Jon Hamm

 

If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth is a short film adapted from the hilarious and heartwarming humor essay written by Toronto-based comedian Sophie Kohn (CBC Comedy), which was featured in The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts column in June, 2018. It features a monologue from a man who appears first as a stereotypical, overprotective patriarchal figure, but through clever turn of phrase, is quickly revealed to be a progressive, boundary-respecting father of a teenage daughter named Raina.

As someone who was forbidden to date until the age of 16 (which turned into me being too terrified to defy my strict Catholic parents), I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was 18 years old. My Parents are amazing. I’m very lucky and I know it. While I always felt comfortable as a young girl discussing crushes, into the teen years, I was no different than my peers in keeping secrets and feelings to myself. In hindsight, that fear and lack of open communication ultimately led me to have zero understanding of who I was in a romantic relationship dynamic and what I deserved. This forward-thinking short film melted my heart with its honest humor. As a 40-year-old Mom (yes, I just wrote that) with a three-year-old daughter, I immediately sent this to my husband and explained how this would have been incredible to experience as a young woman. I am hoping he studies up on this very smart, modern take on parenting, especially girls. Body autonomy is absolutely key to a healthy mental state, not to mention a great parent/child relationship. In 3 minutes and 18 seconds, it manages to capture the raw emotion of being a parent and attempting to protect your offspring. Its message is important without being overly preachy. With its sharp humor, quick cuts, and its genius delivery by Jon Hamm, If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth is pure delight. We can all afford to learn and grow and as parents. Aren’t we all determined to do better this time around?

Shot in Montclair, New Jersey, the short film features voiceover narration from actor Jon Hamm, alongside performances from lead actors David Afflick (Father), Alani Waters (Raina), and James Denzer (Jaxsen). New Jersey-based production company Brave Makers produced the short, led by a team including company founder and executive producer Justin Ross (Girls Leadership #MyVoiceMyPower), and director, producer, and Austin-based comedian Meghan Ross (An Uncomfortable Woman), who also moonlights as Justin’s sister.

Review: ‘Relic’ is a terrifying look at inevitability.

A daughter, mother, and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home.

The terror begins from the very first scene. Blink and you’ll miss the clues laid out from the getgo. Relic crawls under your skin and chills you to the bone. The script is skillfully crafted. Not only are you inside a haunted house story but you’re also tangled up in family trauma and dementia. As someone whose grandmother passed this spring, as someone who watched her mental and physical deterioration for years from Alzheimer’s, this film felt personal and all the more upsetting. For those who have had a relative with the disease, you’re constantly asking yourself, “Do I see traces of it in my Mother? My Father? Will I feel just as helpless in the future?” Relic is an allegory that builds upon fear, much akin to Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. If you understood the totality of that film, you’ll be spellbound once you experience this one. 

Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, and Robyn Nevin are phenomenal. Three generations of women expose themselves to give us some of the most epic horror performances since Toni Collette in Hereditary, Lupita Nyong’o in Us, and Riley Keough in The Lodge. The specificity to age and stage development is obviously there but it the reaction to trauma both unlying and on the surface that is played with precision.  This story, outside of the horror aspect, will resonate with so many, regardless of generation. The cinematographer coupled with the story leaves so many things unanswered. I actually would love a sequel… or even a prequel. Director-writer Natalie Erika James and co-writer Christian White, they have given the viewing audience an exceptionally frightening masterpiece. Very few films still cause me to cover my eyes. Though I wished I had, I could not pull my attention from the screen. Brilliant performances, dark and lush cinematography, and alarmingly visceral storytelling make Relic completely hypnotic. It will, no doubt, paralyze you with fears beyond your understanding.

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE JULY 10 

(SELECT THEATERS, DRIVE-INS & DIGITAL/VOD)

Director: Natalie Erika James

Writers: Natalie Erika James and Christian White

Starring: Emily Mortimer, Bella Heathcote, Robyn Nevin

Producers: Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riva Marker

Executive Producers: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Todd Makurath, Wang Zhongjun, Wang Zhonglei, Hu Junyi

Cinematographer: Charlie Sarroff

Distributor: IFC Midnight

Release Date: July 10, 2020 In Theaters and also available On Demand / Digital Rental

Review: ‘The Beach House’ is an atmospheric chiller.

A romantic getaway for two troubled college sweethearts turns into a struggle for
survival when unexpected guests – and eventually the entire environment – exhibit
signs of a mysterious infection.

So I have to admit that the night after I watched The Beach House I had some of the weirdest dreams since beginning lockdown in Mid-March. A lot of horror films are incredibly formulaic, not that I’m complaining about that. Sometimes all you want is a final girl and a monster to die, there’s almost a comfort in that. The Beach House is not your average genre fare, and that is awesome. There is a quiet unnerving that creeps in from the very beginning. You almost can’t put your finger on it. You will not notice just when you begin to lean into the clearly underlying tension being built up. The dynamics between our four characters have a grounded and yet completely off-kilter foreboding. A nod to mother nature being a vengeful creature is something that figures prominently. While it has elements of Stephen King‘s The Mist, M.Night Shyamalan‘s The Happening, and H. P. Lovecraft‘s Colour Out Of Space,  there is most definitely something special about Jeffrey A. Brown’s writing and directorial debut.

As someone who grew up going to smaller Cape Cod towns, sometimes on the offseason, I felt that isolation of being the only ones in a neighborhood. I also felt the dread it would bring if something ever went awry. Liana Liberato is my hero in this film. She’s a freaking superhero as far as I’m concerned. I have been following her as of late in this year’s Banana Split and To The Stars. She is a force of nature, no pun intended, in the role of Emily. I guess the irony of her character’s major is what baffled me the most. It metaphorically and physically consumes her and oh man, do you want her to succeed. The script might be all the more unnerving because we’re living through a pandemic that could kill us if we inhaled it. Nature is pissed off and frankly, I don’t blame it. Strong performances from Noah Le Gos, Jake Webber, and Maryann Nagel round out our two couples who could not be more different from one another. While Emily and Randall do not seem to suit one another at all, Mitch and Jane feel like genuine life partners. It’s a plot point that will keep you engaged and aware throughout.

The Beach House highlights flight or fight from different perspectives. That will ring more true upon viewing. The sense of dread is genuinely palpable as most of the action occurs in what feels like painstakingly real-time. It’s uncomfortable to watch and isn’t that what we’re all looking for in a good horror film? You can watch The Beach House now on AMC’s Shudder. It’s a fine way to celebrate this weird summer.

Review: ‘Guest Of Honour’

Veronica wants to remain in jail for a sexual assault she knows she’s been wrongfully indicted for. She and her father, Jim, find themselves acting out of the bounds of good behavior as the past haunts them.

Ethics and emotion and two versions of one memory; a complex father/daughter relationship is told through time jumps.  The new film by Academy Award-Nominated director & writer Atom Egoyan, The Guest of Honour is about questionable decisions and power dynamics. It is complicated in the most engrossing way. David Thewlis and Laysla De Oliveira make a compelling pair. Their chemistry has the perfect balance of volatility and authenticity. Each is afforded the opportunity to play contrasting traits of their characters. Luke Wilson plays a priest, but also a mediator and confession soundboard. He is a key player in the larger scope of the narrative.

Memories can be as delicate as the feelings that come with them. This script is driven by guilt and supposition. While, oftentimes, time jumps can muddle a story, but here the editing becomes another character driving the beats and mystery forward. The Guest of Honour is a nuanced and intriguing film about the intricacies of family, reclaiming power, and learning to let go.

David Thewlis (Naked), Laysla De Oliveira,
Rossif Sutherland & Luke Wilson
OFFICIAL SELECTION:
Venice International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
BFI London Film Festival

Review: ‘Volition’ begs the question of fate.

VOLITION is a time-bending cerebral science-fiction thriller where a man afflicted with clairvoyance tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own imminent murder.

The storyboarding that had to occur for this to succeed must have been painstakingly detailed. Think Looper meets 12 Monkeys. Do not blink while watching this film. The writing is on the wall (literally in some cases.) Volition is an incredibly high octane, sci-fi thriller. It challenges fate and consequences. It’s a never-ending stream of entertaining moments that build and build. The editors deserve a major high five.

Clearly written with some serious precision, Tony Dean Smith, who also directs, and Ryan W. Smith has given us a time-warped mindbender. Our leading man, Adrian Glynn McMorran is phenomenal. Beat to beat he nails the emotional uphill battle this script becomes. Speaking of which, the pacing is really a feat. The complexity will keep you glued to your seat. Volition is aptly named not only for its plot but for everyone involved in making the film as successful as it is. Check out the trailer below for a sneak peek!

You can be seen on Apple TV, Prime Video, and other digital platforms this Friday, July 10th.

 VOLITION is the feature directorial debut for Tony Dean Smith (Rakka), who co-wrote the script with his brother and producing partner Ryan W. Smith (Next Gen).  The film stars Adrian Glynn McMorran (The Revenant), Magda Apanowicz (You), John Cassini (The Possession), Frank Cassini (Watchmen), Aleks Paunovic (War for the Planet of the Apes), and Bill Marchant (Godzilla).  It was produced in association with Paly Productions and Smith Brothers Film Company.

 

Review: ‘Archive’ will make you question life and death decisions.

SYNOPSIS:2038: George Almore is working on a true human-equivalent AI. His latest prototype is almost ready. This sensitive phase is also the riskiest. Especially as he has a goal that must be hidden at all costs:being reunited with his dead wife.

Archive is a visual dream for fans of A.I. related storytelling. The production design team has taken pages from sci-fi films of old while also giving the audience a completely original aesthetic. It’s almost the birth of Westworld’s technology. You cannot miss the nods to Space Odessey, Alien, and Blade Runner.

Performances are incredibly grounded. The physical isolation mixed with grief makes for a somber and ominous setup. The nuanced relationships are brilliant to watch as they evolve. You will find yourself empathizing with all the A.I. entities. Theo James gives us every beat in total honesty. Stacy Martin is a superstar in 3 very different roles. Quite impressive.

There is a lot of intrigue in this script. Moral ambiguity is a huge part of the plot. Writer-director Gavin Rothery begs the question, “How far would you be willing to go for love?” There are clues dropped in the dialogue and recalls in scenes providing clever juxtaposition that will challenge the viewer. You cannot look away. Blink and you’ll miss something that might be more important than you realize. Brimming with emotional complexity, Archive challenges what life and death will continue to mean as technology upgrades in the future.

ARCHIVE is releasing on July 10, 2020 on Virtual Cinema Screenings, on Demand and Digital.

Review: ‘TIME WARP: VOLUME 3 COMEDY AND CAMP’ is now available for your viewing pleasure.

SYNOPSIS: The final volume of Time Warp digs deep into what makes us laugh over and over again as we reveal the greatest cult comedies and campy classics of all-time. From “Fast Time at Ridgemont High” and “Office Space” to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and “Showgirls.”

 

This is the longest in the Time Warp series. Starting off with Fast Times and the insight from Amy Heckerling, it’s a cinephile’s film class from the very beginning. Focusing first on high school films, we get a great mix from Rock N Roll High School to Napoleon Dynamite. Then we dive into Clerks and how a single film made on credit cards for $30K launched Kevin Smith’s career. The late Fred Willard talks Best In Show. The Bill Murray stories from King Ping are epic. John Cleese‘s presence for Monty Python and The Holy Grail reminds us that the best comedy is smart through its silliness. The first half focuses on Comedy for an HR and 15 minutes. The last 45 is Camp cult films. Rightfully so, Showgirls is covered. Gina Gershon’s character study background for Cristal Connors is masterful. Ed Wood’s editing style and relationship with Bela Lugosi made him one of the greatest cult filmmakers of all time. He was way ahead of his time when you look at his body of work. Speaking of being ahead of its time, Hedwig and the Angry Inch still has such an impact in so many ways. It may be more relevant right now than it was in its original run for the trans community. I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count, as to which film gets the final curtain call.

With Volumes 1 & 2, as with this third installment, these docs are like the YouTube rabbit hole we all fall into. Hours of different behind the scenes clips and stories all in one glorious place. You cannot go wrong with these films. You’ve seen more of them than you’ll realize. Feel a little cooler and a whole lot more informed after viewing. Then tell a friend so they can tell a friend and so on. All three docs are now available to stream.

TITLE: TIME WARP: THE GREATEST CULT FILMS OF ALL-TIME VOLUME 3 COMEDY AND CAMP
ON DEMAND AND DIGITAL: June 23, 2020
DIRECTOR: Danny Wolf
DISTRIBUTOR: Quiver Distribution
HOSTS: Joe Dante, John Waters, Ileana Douglas and Kevin Pollak
CAST: Gina Gershon, John Cleese, Ron Livingston, Jim Gaffigan, Fred Willard, Jon Heder, David Cross, Mary Woronov, Michael McKean, Kevin Smith, Amy Heckerling, Mike Judge, Peter Farrelly, John Cameron Mitchell
RUN TIME: 128 minutes

Review: ‘Disclosure’ is an emotional nail biter that warrants discussion.

From writer/director Michael Bentham, a film that hammers home the notion that “there are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth.” DISCLOSURE follows two couples who go to war over an allegation of child-on-child abuse. Australian documentary maker Emily, and her journalist husband, Danny, are reeling from an allegation of abuse their 4-year-old daughter Natasha has made against a local politician’s 9-year-old son, Ethan. Ethan’s parents, Joel and Bek, arrive unannounced at Emily and Danny’s house intent on convincing the couple that Natasha’s allegation is a fabrication. Accusations, arguments, and the ultimate search for leverage turn their civil conversation into a vicious confrontation.

Couple Vs couple tangling over abuse allegations between their children is one of the most visceral watches of the year, especially as a parent and former teacher myself. Disclosure boasts glorious performances and incredibly effective editing. Geraldine Hakewill, Mark Leonard Winter, Tom Wren, and Matilda Ridgway are simply outstanding and the use of a stationary camera allows the focus to remain on the nuanced beats within each scene. Long takes add to the tension and push a voyeuristic, “How long have you been standing there?” type of position for the audience. The dialogue is so weighty that you cannot separate your feelings from the characters. That’s great storytelling. We also explore the dynamics of gender roles, political fallout, past trauma, and marriage. One of the most intriguing is the way men communicate and the way women do. The avoidance, passive-aggressiveness, versus directness, is fascinating. At one point all bets are off and these couples will do anything to protect both their children and their own self-interest. Whose side will you be on? The fact that this is based upon a true story makes the entire thing all the more horrific. This is a lose-lose scenario no one wants to be a part of, but it does beg a larger discussion in the #MeeToo era: believing victims, victim shaming, trauma treatment, and all that comes with it. Writer-Director Michael Bentham gives us a bold film that deserves your attention. The film makes its North American debut tomorrow. Take a look at the trailer for a peek at what the audience is in store for.

DISCLOSURE arrives on VOD on 6/30 and DVD  7/7