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

Review: ‘Discreet’ is intense psycho-sexual thriller.

SYNOPSIS
After years in hiding and struggling to control his demons, an eccentric drifter returns home and discovers that his childhood abuser, the center of his pain, is still alive.  Armed with this knowledge,  the drifter plots his revenge, all the while navigating the perilous land of masculine fragility in modern-day America.

There are so many disturbing elements in this narrative. From the real-life alt-right radio that quietly screams at you during pensive moments, to the cyclical nature of abuse. Discreet gets under your skin as it crawls into your brain. The augmented sound is somewhere in between nails on a chalkboard and brilliance. Discreet calls attention to a section of the population that feels ashamed and threatened by their desires. Travis Mathews has tapped into something many want to keep private. Performances from the entire cast pervade your viewing experience. Their effect is undeniable. The twisted plot depicted is worthy of your time, although be prepared to squirm for numerous reasons.

You can find the trailer for Discreet below.

Discreet Trailer from Uncork’d Entertainment on Vimeo.

June 1st L.A. + Multi-City Theatrical / VOD

Directed, Written and Produced by Travis Mathews
Produced by Don Swaynos, Joao Federici, Johnny Mars, Chris Ohlson & PJ Raval
Cinematography by Drew Xanthopoulos
Edited by Travis Mathews & Don Swaynos
Distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment

DOC NYC review: ‘A Better Man’ is an emotionally raw healing session.

A BETTER MAN

US PREMIERE  While they were a couple, Steve exposed Attiya to terrifying daily verbal and physical abuse. Twenty years later, they revisit their relationship in an intimate, therapeutic context, walking through the physical — and emotional — spaces they once inhabited together. As Steve is put in a position to acknowledge and take responsibility for the abuse, will Attiya complete her long process of healing and be liberated from her demons? A Better Man explores the revelatory potential of involving the abuser in domestic violence prevention.

If you’ve ever been a victim, A Better Man feels surprising and cathartic. While this is  Attiya and Steve’s story, Attiya becomes our emotional surrogate. With so many victims coming forward in this tumultuous climate, especially over the past year, this film is very timely. 1 in 2 women has experienced physical, verbal, emotional and/or sexual abuse in her lifetime. To have the opportunity to revisit an old relationship in a safe and constructive environment might not be on everyone’s bucket list, but I know from firsthand experience that I would gladly take part in such a chance… but perhaps that is a hasty statement. Until it is real, these are just words. Attiya is a brave woman. Steve is a remorseful man. Let it be known, I am not a fan of Steve here, but do acknowledge that not every abuser would be so open and willing to offer a public apology and seek counseling sitting directly across from his victim. A Better Man is a film that is important for audiences to see and I for one hope that they absorb it for the powerful piece it truly is.

Official Site: https://abettermanfilm.com/

On Twitter: ABetterManFilm
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ABetterManFilm/
Director: Attiya Khan, Lawrence Jackman
Producer: Christine Kleckner, Justine Pimlott
Cinematographer: Iris Ng
Editor: Lawrence Jackman
Music: Lesley Barber
Running Time: 78
Language: English
Country: Canada
Year: 2017

Review: ‘RUN THE TIDE’ dives into lost childhoods and abuse.

runthetide_posterSome if us had great childhoods. Others, perhaps a rocky road. Abuse in a family can cause rifts both seen and unseen. How far would you go to protect your loved one? In Soham Mehta‘s new film, RUN THE TIDE, a young man is faced with the biggest nightmare so far. The return on his abusive mother now threatens the life he’s provided for his younger brother. Can time heal everything?runthetide_1RUN THE TIDE stars Taylor Lautner (The Twilight Saga, “Scream Queens”), Constance Zimmer (“UnREAL,” “Entourage“), Kenny Johnson (“Bates Motel,” “Secrets and Lies”), Johanna Braddy (“UnREAL,” “Greek”) and introducing Nico Christou. Lautner gives a viscerally raw performance as the older brother who endured years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his mother, played beautifully by Zimmer. It’s a far cry for both, as we’re used to seeing Lautner is action roles these days. He easily wears his heart on his sleeve and proves we’ve been taking his acting chops for granted for far too long. Zimmer’s role is about as unglamorous a departure from the hit series UnReal as you can get also showing her immense talent. The chemistry between Lautner and newcomer Nico Christou is out of this world.  Their bond feels anything but forced and they make the film what it is. Christou’s natural abilities are vastly beyond what you’d expect from someone his age. The soundtrack is one of the first things that captures you in this film. The thoughtfully chosen songs are ones that make you want to close your eyes and breathe. Writer Rajov Shah takes the entire film to present the back story and it comes off as completely organic in pacing. Run The Tide is a nice film about second chances and the realities for sacrifice.runthetide_10

  You can catch it in theaters and On Demand/Digital HD this Friday, Dec 2nd. 

TITLE: RUN THE TIDE
IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND / DIGITAL HD: December 2, 2016
DIRECTOR: Soham Mehta
WRITER: Rajiv Shah
CAST:  Taylor Lautner, Constance Zimmer, Kenny Johnson, Johanna Braddy, Nico Christou
SYNOPSIS: When their drug abusing mother is released from prison determined to rebuild their family, Rey kidnaps his younger brother Oliver and escapes their desert home for the California coast.
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures, Orion Releasing

Liz’s Review: ‘EVERY SECRET THING’ is a twisted tale of emotional manipulation.

EVERY SECRET THING_POSTERLaura Lippman‘s best-selling novel Every Secret Thing has been brought to life by Academy Award(r) Nominated Filmmaker Amy Berg. Two 11 year old girls are convicted of kidnapping and killing a biracial infant. Released after seven years in a jeuvenile detention center, Ronnie and Alice are back in their hometown attempting to adjust to normal life as newly minted adults. Two weeks after their release, another young biracial girl goes missing from a local furniture store. Can the lead detective from the first case survive this new one? Who can you trust? Every Secret Thing puts your suspicions to the test at every turn.

Every Secret Thing (15)Utilizing flashbacks and he said/she said interrogation tactics, Berg skillfully crafts a film filled with mystery. Having not read the book, I was pleasantly surprised that the film clearly stands on it’s own. Never once did I feel cheated or left in the dark for the wrong reasons. In fact I was scratching my head, trying to figure it out right along with the detectives. I was fully engrossed with the story and structure.  Bravo, I say.

Every Secret Thing (16)Dakota Fanning plays Ronnie with a beautiful mixture of shyness and a hardened edge. Ronnie is from “The wrong side of the tracks”. Quiet and smart, her heavily rimmed eyes speak volumes as a severely damaged young woman. Danielle Macdonald gives one hell of a performance as Alice. Her eerie lack of emotional growth is startling. She walks a fine line between naivete and incredulity. Someone go cast her in something else, please?

Every Secret Thing (6)Diane Lane plays Alice’s mother, Helen. This is a woman with issues in broad daylight. Her relationship with Ronnie and Alice is beyond peculiar and most definitely off putting. Alcoholic and self loathing, she has been silently molding the girls whether she realizes it or not. This performance should garner her attention for the sheer sliminess and moral justification that comes off the screen. Elizabeth Banks play Detective Nancy Porter. Haunted by the death of the first child 7 years earlier, she is determined to figure out the truth this time around. Banks is vulnerable but tough in all the right areas.

Every Secret Thing (14) It was so refreshing to see a cast that was female dominated and extraordinarily talented. This film blows the Bechdel test out of the water. Applause to Berg, screenwriter Nicole Holofcener, and executive producer Frances McDormand for bringing Every Secret Thing to the big screen. I will say, even after seeing the film twice, (once at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and again this week) I am still intrigued to go out and grab Lippman’s novel. At the heart of it all, this is a story about emotional abuse and it’s long term consequences. Every Little Secret will keep you guessing until the very last frame.

Synopsis: From a producer of FOXCATCHER and based on the novel by New York Times best-selling author Laura Lippman, EVERY SECRET THING is a gripping psychological thriller about the chilling consequences of the secrets we keep.

Detective Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) is still haunted by her failure to save the life of a missing child from the hands of two young girls. Eight years later, another child goes missing in the same town just days after Ronnie and Alice (Dakota Fanning and newcomer Danielle Macdonald), the two girls convicted of the former crime, were released from juvenile detention. Porter and her partner (Nate Parker) must race against the clock to prevent history from repeating itself. But as they begin to investigate the girls and their families, especially Alice’s protective mother (Diane Lane), they unearth a web of secrets and deceptions that calls everything into question.

Directed by Academy Award(r) Nominated Filmmaker Amy Berg and Executive Produced by Frances McDormand.

Rated R

RT: 93 Minutes

Release: In theaters, On Demand and iTunes May 15, 2015
 
Additional VOD platforms: iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, DirecTV, Dish, and more…