Review: ‘The Reason I Jump’ is a megaphone for nonverbal autism.

The Reason I Jump

Based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida, translated into English by author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas), The Reason I Jump is an immersive cinematic exploration of neurodiversity through the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people from around the world. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window into a sensory universe that guides audiences to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say.

Based on the book of the same name by Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump is an emotional rollercoaster. I was already welling up listening to the opening monologue. The echolalia, the sensory overstimulation, the hand flapping, and ear covering all punched me in the gut when presented on screen. I’m a lucky Mom. At 5 years old, my child is now very verbal, he’s hyperlexic which means he’s been reading since he was two. He loves hugs, sleep, and eats well. On the autism spectrum, he would be closer to Asperger’s, if that were a diagnosis recognized nowadays. None of these facts lessen the fear, frustration, exhaustion, and pure elation in raising an exceptional human being. The Reason I Jump is tailor-made from the words of a nonverbal 13-year-old boy’s experiences from the inside out. In film form, it’s simply triumphant.

In the doc, we are introduced to 5 unique young people with autism.

Amrit (India)
Her mother realized she was using art to communicate. Her paintings are extraordinary, some visually akin to continuous line drawings. It took time for everyone to realize they are snapshots of her day.

Joss -(UK)
His anxiety is palpable. His impulses and tendency to meltdown are understandably unpredictable. Joss’s ability to show unadulterated joy is magic. His parents break down their own existence in the most relatable ways, both the highs and the lows.

Ben & Emma – US
These two have learned to spell with letterboards and keyboards to communicate. Best friends since very early childhood, what they have to say will shock you.

Jestina – Sierra Leone
With Jestina, we tackle stimming and perception by others. Stimming a sensory-driven repetition of behavior like rocking or flapping to self soothe. Sometimes it’s a visual stim, sometimes watching wheels turn or glitter shine. Culturally, her mother and other parents in her autistic adjacent community are told their children are possessed. It destroys the spirits of entire families.

The narrated excerpts from the book directly correlate with whichever child is being highlighted at that time. Voiced by Jordan O’Donegan, they have a poetic feel to their profundity. Naoki writes, “Making sounds with your mouth isn’t the same as communication.” That quote did me in. When you hear that, truly hear it, you will be taken aback. Jestina, Ben, Emma, Joss, and Amrit all communicate in a different way, we just had to learn how to listen. The heightened sound design immerses you into the world of an autistic person. We do not understand what it is like to be utterly overwhelmed not being able to be fully understood. The cinematography is breathtaking. Quick cuts, predominantly in close-up form combined with a gorgeous soundtrack put you in an alternate headspace. The editing takes all these elements and blends them into a viscerally stunning documentary.

As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum, I feel like I can see I want to broadcast this film to the world so that neurotypical individuals can understand my son and every other person on the spectrum. The label of autism, whether people realize it or not, creates implicit bias. We are missing out on the potential and impact of an entire faction of our society. It is our duty to meet each other in the middle. The Reason I Jump is a captivating peek behind the autism curtain. Don’t look away now. Thank you Naoki Higashida for writing this book. Thank you David Mitchell for translating it for your son. Thank you Jerry Rothwell for directing such an important film. Thank you to the families that shared their lives. Watch this film, then choose to listen and learn in a new way.

The Reason I Jump will be in theaters and virtual cinemas Friday, Jan 8th

**WINNER – Audience Award, World Cinema Documentary –
Sundance Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – AFI Docs 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – BFI London Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – Chicago International Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – Hot Docs Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – SXSW Film Festival 2020**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – WINNER’S CIRCLE – DOC NYC 2020**

Review: ‘S#!%HOUSE’ is one of the most genuine films of 2020.

IFC Films

presents

Alex (Cooper Raiff) is a lonely, friendless college freshman who is seriously contemplating transferring to a college closer to his mom (Amy Landecker) and sister (Olivia Welch), to whom he is still extremely tethered. Everything changes one night when Alex takes a leap and attends a party at his campus’ party house ‘Shithouse’, where he forges a strong connection with his RA, Maggie (Dylan Gelula).

When a movie opens with a silent conversation with a stuffed animal, you’ve got me. Alex hates college, so, so much. Admittedly, it’s awkward as hell. Sharing bathrooms, still eating in a cafeteria, living with weird roommates. Leaving home for the first time can be really hard. The college experience is not for everyone.

S#!%HOUSE is an amazingly honest coming-of-age dramedy. The dialogue is hilarious. The bizarre exclamations of sloppy drunk people. The random hook-ups. The desperate attempts to connect with literally anyone else. The performances are spot in. They are down-to-earth and possess a familiarity that is necessary for this to be truly successful. It doesn’t shy away from reality. The sadness and fear and loneliness that comes along with being on your own in an entirely new setting. The entire plot, while seemingly centered on a romance, is truly about finding yourself.

Dylan Gelula, as Maggie, has a whole lot more under her cool girl facade. Her performance feels grounded and sincere. She brings confidence that few can convey with such ease and was an awesome casting choice for Maggie. Writer/director/star Cooper Raiff is someone to watch for all the reasons I mentioned above. He is responsible for a film that feels like it could be any one of our stories from college. He takes real care with Alex. This is a character we need to see more of. He allows him to be sensitive, honest, confused, hopeful, vulnerable. Frankly, he’s one of the most brilliantly written characters this year. S#!%HOUSE shines in its authenticity.

In Theaters + On Demand October 16th

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize (Narrative Film) at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.

About Cooper Raiff
Cooper Raiff is a 23-year-old filmmaker from Dallas, TX. He and his two best friends made a short film from stolen equipment, and in a burst of bravery, tweeted the link of their short film to Jay Duplass. To their surprise, Duplass liked the film and helped them develop it into the feature-length version of S#!%THOUSE that is about to make its World Premiere at SXSW. Raiff wrote, directed, edited, and starred in S#!%THOUSE, his feature debut.

NightStream 2020 capsule review: ‘Lucky’ is biting social commentary in horror form.

A suburban woman fights to be believed as she finds herself stalked by a threatening figure who returns to her house night after night. When she can’t get help from those around her, she is forced to take matters into her own hands.

Nightstream 2020 audiences have undoubtedly heard about Lucky by now. Absolutely killing to on the festival circuit under the keen direction from Natasha Kermani it is not to be missed. Screenwriter/star Brea Grant has crafted a whip-smart script that is both a clever takedown of patriarchal bullshit and a scary as hell genre film. She is outstanding, essentially playing every woman ever. It’s perfectly timed in a week when “I’m Speaking” is being emblazoned onto merch thanks to Kamala Harris. The terror comes from the fact that it is more a woman’s reality than it is fiction. With great fight choreography and engrossing editing, Lucky is the feminist horror anthem we need right now. You’ll want to go back and watch it over and over to catch all the nuance. It’s simply fantastic and that has nothing to do with luck.

U.S. Premiere
United States | 2020 | 81 Min.
Dir. Natasha Kermani

A Shudder Original Film

Review: ‘The Quarry’, SXSW 2020 selection is available today!

SYNOPSIS: From the novel by Damon Galgut comes this searing thriller, a tale of sin and redemption set in the wilds of Texas. After murdering a traveling preacher, a fugitive drifter (Shea Whigham, Joker) travels to a small town and poses as the man he killed. Though the congregation loves the drifter’s sermons of forgiveness, the local police chief (Academy Award® nominee Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water) is suspicious of the man. Soon a gruesome discovery at a local quarry forces the killer to fight for his freedom.

 

A fugitive, a local sheriff, and the resident town criminal all cross paths for a simmering thriller based on mistaken identity. You will recognize that the script is based on a novel in its slow-burn feel of storytelling. In reality, you’re getting a lot of information constantly, but the quiet, abandoned, small-town feel immediately affects the tone of the film. I found myself unable to decide who I should be rooting for even though it is morally very clear cut. That is 100 percent due to the nuanced performance from this relatively small cast. While the novel takes place during South African apartheid, the universal theme of racism is very much prevalent in this film. It will launch the plot towards its inevitable tragedy.

We have a mini Boardwalk Empire reunion with Shea Whigham and Michael Shannon. Pitted against one another, their chemistry is magic. You will find yourself pulled into their dynamic. These fully fleshed out and flawed people are a perfect character study, especially with Whigham and Shannon in the roles. Both gentlemen are given the opportunity to play off of Catalina Sandino Moreno. It’s a masterclass in subtly from every angle. This film is about the script and people. The sparsity of sets and costumes adds to your focus. The ending is something you will never see coming. Overall, The Quarry is a solid thriller that brilliantly highlights superior acting and great direction.

Lionsgate and Grindstone, a Lionsgate Company will release the thriller film THE QUARRY on demand on April 17, 2020.

THE QUARRY stars Shea Whigham (Joker, “Boardwalk Empire”), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Nocturnal Animals), Catalina Sandino Moreno (Showtime’s “The Affair,” Maria Full of Grace), Bobby Soto (“Narcos: Mexico,” A Better Life) and Bruno Bichir (Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Che: Part One). The film was directed by Scott Teems (That Evening Sun) who co-wrote the film with Andrew Brotzman (Nor’easter). The film is based on Damon Galgut’s acclaimed novel of the same name.

SXSW 2020 review: ‘I Used To Go Here’ is an emotional second chance.

I Used To Go Here

Synopsis:

Following the launch of her new novel, 35-year-old writer Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs) is invited to speak at her alma mater by her mentor and former professor (Jemaine Clement). After accepting the invitation, Kate finds herself deeply enmeshed in the lives of an eccentric group of college students.

Gillian Jacobs is charming as ever as a woman whose life isn’t quite stacking up with the fiction she has spun. She comes face to face, literally, with everything from her college experience; her house, her coursework, her professor, and fellow students. After a reading from her debut novel, she is confronted by her own shortcomings as she becomes entangled in the drama of current students. The script allows her to let her guard down and accept the dark. Failure allows her to grow.

While certain plot points feel like a cliche rom-com, there is nothing wrong with that. I Used To Go Here is a comfort film for people who feel stalled. Finger wagging Gen Xer’s (like myself) will instantly connect with Jacobs. Ironically longing to be in her shoes for a few days. It will remind us all of the hope and fearlessness of our youth. It’s a motivating, genuinely funny look as adulthood. Besides Jacobs continuing to be a lovely and heartfelt actor, her castmates also offer a plethora of laughs and light. Jemaine Clement is always hilarious and this is no exception. Sometimes, the more sincere he tries to be the funnier I fond him. This is a total compliment. I find him easy to watch and connect with.

Josh Wiggins as Hugo is a breath of fresh air. His nonchalance and enthusiasm are a joy to watch. Hannah Marks is everything we need her to be; ambitious, moody, and ultimately vulnerable. Brandon Daley is one of the most hilarious characters in this film as Tall Brandon. His confidence and comic timing are pure magic. Lastly, Zoe Chao plays Laura, Kate’s best friend that is living vicariously through sporadic phone calls. She is both a voice of reason and a reliable one-liner spouter. I’m going to need way more of her in the future, please and thank you.

While we’re not breaking any ground with I Used To Go Here, I still really loved it. I lived in it. Sometimes you just need a well written, well-acted film that universally gets you. Congratulations to writer/director Kris Rey and cast for leaving us with a feel-good gem.

I USED TO GO HERE— Directed and Written by Kris Rey

SXSW 2020 Official Selection – Narrative SpotlightWorld Premiere — Acquisition

Starring Gillian Jacobs, Jemaine Clement, Josh Wiggins, Hannah Marks, Zoe Chao, Jorma Taccone, Forrest Goodluck