Review: Kevin McMullin’s ‘Low Tide’ is a successful teen noir.

LOW TIDE

In the long days of summer in a beach town on the New Jersey shore, high schooler Alan (Keean Johnson) and his friends Red (Alex Neustaedter) and Smitty (Daniel Zolghadri) break into vacation homes to steal valuables, funding dates at the boardwalk and lunches at the burger stand. When Alan and his younger brother Peter (Jaeden Martell) find a bag of gold coins, they try to hide them from the others — but Red, suspicious and violently unpredictable, seems willing to do anything to get the money.

This teen thriller is so well written and acted that the foreboding behinds immediately and never lets up. Nothing good can come of white boy rage and resentment. But a whole lot of great can come from a brilliant young cast of this caliber. Jaeden Martell is captivating as younger boy scout brother Alan. There is something truly special about this young man’s ability to fill a frame with a powerful silence. Older, sort of ne’er do well brother played by Keean Johnson is a dynamic foil for Martell. Fueled by equal parts passion and pride, he inadvertently puts both boys’ lives in jeopardy. The other two young men that keep these brothers deeply mired in danger are complete opposites of one another. Daniel Zolghadri gives a phenomenal performance as Smitty, playing somewhere between a mob rat and a boy who is terrified to feel rejected. The fourth and certainly most brutal of the bunch is Red. Alex Neustaedter utilizes a physical and emotional volatility that is truly unsettling. You will keep one eye on him at all times because you know nothing good can come of his angry townie attitude. These four boys try to avoid getting caught robbing summer tourists but deceit leads the group down a deadly path. Writer-Director Kevin McMullin has crafted a real thriller. The cinematography is beautiful. Existing in a time driven by greed and favoring the elite, Low Tide proves that human nature reveals its flaws just as easily among children as it does adults. This film undoubtedly brings unsettling intrigue and true noir.

Written and Directed by: Kevin McMullin
Produced by: Brendan McHugh, Kevin Rowe, Richard Peete, Rian Cahill, and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones 
Starring: Keean Johnson, Jaeden Martell, Alex Neustaedter, Daniel Zolghadri, Kristine Froseth, Shea Whigham

Distributed by A24 and DIRECTV
Run Time: 86 Minutes
Rated R for language, some violence and teen drug use

 

TFF Review: ‘Woman Walks Ahead’

Woman Walks Ahead
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Susanna White
Writer: Steven Knight
Starring: Bill Camp, Ciarán Hinds, Sam Rockwell, Chaske Spencer, Michael Greyeyes, Jessica Chastain
Based on a true story, 19th-century Brooklyn artist Catherine Weldon journeys west on a mission to paint a portrait of the legendary chief Sitting Bull, only to find a very different world—and man—than she was expecting.
Click for tickets
Toronto Film Festival 2017
In theaters: June 29th, 2018, Distributed by: DirecTV/A24

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Susanna White’s beautiful and building drama, it’s always good to point out that this is historical fiction. It’s based on a true story, so it didn’t entirely happen the way it’s shown on screen.

Some really bright spots are Sam Rockwell as a supposedly well-meaning officer andCiarán Hinds (Mance Raycer in Game of Thrones) as the sheriff. Jessica Chastain is as graceful and determined as you’d come to expect her to be. It’s got just enough originality to draw you into another world.

20 films at the Tribeca Film Festival that already have distribution

No Greater Law
Feature Documentary
Country: UK, USA
Director: Tom Dumican
Writer: Jesse Lichtenstein, Tom Dumican
Distributed by: A&E
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

In Idaho’s rugged Treasure Valley, the Followers of Christ believe in God, family, and faith healing. As an investigation into the community’s high infant mortality rate closes in on the church, one patriarch fights for his right to his faith.


Studio 54
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Matt Tyrnauer
Writer:
Starring: Myra Scheer, Karin Bacon, Norma Kamali, Nile Rodgers, Ian Schrager, Steve Rubell
Distributed by: A&E
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

In 1977, Studio 54 and its founders, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, epitomized New York hedonism. But by, 1979 the fantasy was over—and Studio 54 goes inside that meteoric rise and catastrophic fall.


Disobedience
Feature Narrative
Country: UK
Director: Sebastian Lelio
Writer: Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Sebastián Lelio
Starring: Alessandro Nivola, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz
Distributed by: Bleecker Street – Releasing 4/27/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

After the death of her estranged rabbi father, a New York photographer returns to the Orthodox Jewish community in North London where she grew up and, in doing so, reignites long-dormant passions and controversies.


McQueen
Feature Documentary
Country:
Director: Peter Ettedgui, Ian Bonhôte
Writer: Peter Ettedgui
Distributed by: Bleecker Street
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Legendary couturier Alexander McQueen’s rags to riches story is vividly brought to life by his closest friends and family, and through his revolutionary body of work, as inspired, tortured, and visionary as the man himself.


Woman Walks Ahead
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Susanna White
Writer: Steven Knight
Starring: Bill Camp, Ciarán Hinds, Sam Rockwell, Chaske Spencer, Michael Greyeyes, Jessica Chastain
Distributed by: DirecTV/A24
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Based on a true story, 19th-century Brooklyn artist Catherine Weldon journeys west on a mission to paint a portrait of the legendary chief Sitting Bull, only to find a very different world—and man—than she was expecting.


Crossroads
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Ron Yassen
Writer:
Distributed by: ESPN Films
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Despite never having played the game before, a group of underprivileged teens emerge as a talented lacrosse team under the tutelage of Coach Bobby Selkin in this inspiring documentary.


Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: David Heilbroner, Kate Davis
Writer:
Distributed by: HBO
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Sandra Bland was a bright, energetic activist whose life was cut short when a traffic stop resulted in a mysterious jail cell death just three days later. Say Her Name follows the two-year battle to uncover the truth.


Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Andrea Nevins
Writer: Andrea Nevins
Starring: Peggy Orenstein, Roxane Gay, Gloria Steinem, Michelle Chidoni, Kim Culmone
Distributed by: hulu
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Since her debut nearly 60 years ago, Barbie has been at turns a fashion idol and a cultural lightning rod. Tiny Shoulders steps behind the scenes as the icon undergoes her greatest reinvention yet.


Mary Shelley
Feature Narrative
Country: Ireland, UK, Luxembourg, USA
Director: Haifaa Al Mansour
Writer: Emma Jensen
Starring: Maisie Williams, Tom Sturridge, Joanne Froggatt, Bel Powley, Douglas Booth, Elle Fanning
Distributed by: IFC
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

The story of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s whirlwind romance with the tempestuous poet Percy Shelley, a romance that led to her creation of one of the most enduring works of gothic literature before the age of 20: Frankenstein.


Nico, 1988
Feature Narrative
Country: Italy, Belgium
Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Writer: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Starring: Calvin Demba, Karina Fernandez, Thomas Trabacchi, Sandor Funtek, Anamaria Marinca, John Gordon Sinclair, Trine Dyrholm
Distributed by: Magnolia
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

This whirlwind road movie follows the final months on tour of the singer-songwriter Nico, one-time Warhol superstar and Velvet Underground vocalist.


The Gospel According to André
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Kate Novack
Writer:
Starring: André Leon Talley
Distributed by: Magnolia – Releasing 5/25/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

From the segregated South to the fashion capitals of the world, The Gospel According to André recounts fashion editor André Leon Talley’s storied life and career through intimate conversations, rich archival, and testimonials from fashion luminaries including Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, and Marc Jacobs.


Into the Okavango
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Neil Gelinas
Writer: Brian Newell, Neil Gelinas
Distributed by: National Geographic
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Botswana’s Okavango Delta is one of the planet’s last remaining true wildernesses, but studies have shown it is shrinking. A group of intrepid scientists embark on a four-month, 1500-mile journey upriver to the Okavango’s source to investigate why.


The Rachel Divide
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Laura Brownson
Writer: Jeff Gilbert, Laura Brownson
Distributed by: Netflix – Releasing 4/27/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Rachel Dolezal became infamous when she was unmasked as a white woman passing for black so thoroughly that she had become the head of her local N.A.A.C.P. chapter. This portrait cuts through the very public controversy to reveal Dolezal’s motivations.


Sunday’s Illness (La Enfermedad del Domingo)
Feature Narrative
Country: Spain
Director: Ramón Salazar Hoogers
Writer: Ramón Salazar Hoogers
Starring: Susi Sanchez, Barbara Lennie
Distributed by: Netflix – Releasing 6/15/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

After Anabel hosts an opulent dinner, she is confronted by Chiara, the daughter she abandoned decades earlier. Chiara arrives with just one request: that she and her mother spend ten days together.


The Bleeding Edge
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering
Writer:
Distributed by: Netflix
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Each year in the United States, unparalleled innovations in medical diagnostics, treatment, and technology hit the market. But when the same devices designed to save patients end up harming them, who is accountable?


Cargo
Feature Narrative
Country: Australia
Director: Yolanda Ramke, Ben Howling
Writer: Yolanda Ramke
Starring: Martin Freeman
Distributed by: Netflix – Releasing 5/18/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

An infected father navigates a zombie-riddled Australian Outback with his infant daughter. Fortunately, he’s found an Aboriginal community that may hold the disease’s cure. Unfortunately, he has only 48 hours to live.


The Fourth Estate
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Liz Garbus
Writer:
Distributed by: Showtime
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

For the journalists at The New York Times, the election of Donald Trump presented a once in a generation challenge in how the press would cover a president who has declared the majority of the nation’s major news outlets “the enemy of the people.” Oscar-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus witnessed the inner workings of journalism and investigative reporting from the front lines during this administrations’ first history-making year. A Showtime release


The Seagull
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Michael Mayer
Writer: Stephen Karam
Starring: Brian Dennehy, Billy Howle, Michael Zegen, Glenn Fleshler, Jon Tenney, Mare Winningham, Elisabeth Moss, Corey Stoll, Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

A sumptuous adaptation of the classic Chekhov play transports the audience to a picturesque lakeside estate, where a love triangle unfolds between the legendary diva Irina, her lover Boris, and the ingénue Nina.


Duck Butter
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Miguel Arteta
Writer: Alia Shawkat, Miguel Arteta
Starring: Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, Hong Chau, Kate Berlant, Kumail Nanjiani, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Lindsay Burdge, Miguel Arteta
Distributed by: The Orchard – Releasing 4/27/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Two women, jaded by dishonest and broken relationships, make a pact to spend 24 uninterrupted hours together, having sex on the hour. Their romantic experiment intends to create a new form of intimacy, but it doesn’t quite go as planned.


We the Animals
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Writer: Dan Kitrosser
Starring: Josiah Gabriel, Isaiah Kristian, Evan Rosado, Sheila Vand, Raul Castillo
Distributed by: The Orchard
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

This lyrical coming-of-age tale, based on the acclaimed novel, weaves magic realism into an exquisite portrait of three brothers, their troubled parents, and the secret that the youngest of them holds.

Review: ‘RUPTURE’ challenges human perception.

RUPTURE
Fantasia International Film Festival 2016
 Sitges Film Festival 2016
 Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan) 2016

RUPTURE is directed by Steven Shainberg (Secretary, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus) from a script co-written by Shainberg and Brian Nelson (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night). The film stars Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus), Peter Stormare (The Big Lebowski, Fargo), Kerry Bishe (AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire,” Argo), and Michael Chiklis (FX’s “The Shield,” Fantastic Four).

RUPTURE follows Renee Morgan (Noomi Rapace), a single mom, who is deathly terrified of spiders.  While in route to meet up with a friend, she is violently abducted by a group of strangers.  After enduring intense yet strange questioning and examinations, some about her fear of spiders, Renee soon discovers that she is now the subject of an underground experiment.  Her captors explain to her that she has a genetic abnormality that can potentially allow her to “rupture” and reveals her alien nature.  Renee must find a way to escape before it is too late.
Writer/director Steven Shainberg became an award-winning indie film sensation with 2002’s kink masterpiece Secretary, his second feature following 1998’s powerful Jim Thompson adaptation Hit Me. Four years after, he returned with the poetic and beautiful Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.
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Noomi Rapace‘s previous roles in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Prometheus make her the perfect actress to tackle a role that is both physically taxing and unglamorous AND that delves into fear and alien genetics. I cannot imagine anyone else for this very niche role. The rest of the eclectic cast’s performances seem off-putting at first, but makes more sense as the plot rolls along, so don’t let that throw you as you watch. Rapace owns this film from the very first frame she appears in. In less than 13 minutes, we have a fully established mother/son relationship that is so valuable to the script and emotional hold of an audience. The dialogue is ominous and well paced. As the story progresses, the film has a Hostel meets Splice vibe.

Rupture’s sound and music editing add to the impending sense of ‘something ain’t right here”. The oversaturated lighting scheme and set colors achieve a similarly unsettling feel that is perfect for this genre. You can’t escape the immediately engrossing plot. Rupture is a fantastic balance of scary and scientific exploration that makes for one hell of a ride.

AMBI Media Group will release the sci-fi thriller RUPTURE in theaters and On Demand April 28, 2017.  The film is currently available exclusively on DirecTV.

Review: ‘The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ is wicked twisted and completely unsettling.

 The Blackcoat’s Daughter

SYNOPSIS

A deeply atmospheric and terrifying new horror film, The Blackcoat’s Daughter centers on Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), two girls who are left alone at their prep school Bramford over winter break when their parents mysteriously fail to pick them up. While the girls experience increasingly strange and creepy occurrences at the isolated school, we cross cut to another story—that of Joan (Emma Roberts), a troubled young woman on the road, who, for unknown reasons, is determined to get to Bramford as fast as she can. As Joan gets closer to the school, Kat becomes plagued by progressively intense and horrifying visions, with Rose doing her best to help her new friend as she slips further and further into the grasp of an unseen evil force. The movie suspensfully builds to the moment when the two stories will finally intersect, setting the stage for a shocking and unforgettable climax.

Emma Roberts plays a mysterious young woman who is clearly troubled. It’s an unglamorous role but suits her well. She is, as ever, riveting on screen. Having watched Kiernan Shipka literally grow up on Mad Men, we find her in a role that’s totally unexpected and truly scary. The progression of her character is unhinged. Fun fact: Shipka has a hauntingly gorgeous singing voice. The script’s dynamic is engrossing and the concept of two stories colliding keep you consistently alert. The uncomfortable moments and there are many, will keep you on the edge of your seat long enough to get to the weird (in a good way) ending.  The location screams typical New England boarding school. The winter weather adding to the gloom and darkness of the impending doom. The Blackcoat’s Daughter will stick with you in a disturbing way long after the credit roll. In Select Theaters and On Demand March 31st, 2017

Opening in NYC (Village East, Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers), LA (Sunset 5 West Hollywood) and additional cities…

Directed By:                         Osgood Perkins

Written By:                           Osgood Perkins

Produced By:                       Rob Paris, Adrienne Biddle, Bryan Bertino, Robert Menzies, Alphonse Ghossein

Starring:                                Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton, Lauren Holly, James Remar

Release Date:                       Exclusively on DirecTV—February 16, 2017 / In Theaters and On Demand—March 31, 2017

Running Time:                     95 minutes

Rating:                                 R for brutal bloody violence and brief strong language

Review: Sundance Film Festival Selection ‘Mississippi Grind’ starring Ben Mendelsohn & Ryan Reynolds

Mississippi Grind-poster

Disguised as a buddy, road movie, Mississippi Grind is an intense and intimate story of addiction that reveals the gritty details of a lifetime gambler when he’s paired up with one that’s just beginning. Ben Mendelsohn melts into this fantastic role and he really tears your heart out.

Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) likes to play poker and he’s been on a bit of a losing streak. His luck changes when he’s around the hard-to-read Curtis (Ryan Reynolds). The two embark on a road trip from Iowa to New Orleans and as you may have guessed, learn more about themselves and each other. It could have been cliche and terrible, but all the talent involved from the writing to the directing to the acting, make it a solid movie about another side of addiction, the one that doesn’t destroy you, but those around you.

Yes, I’m a fan of Ryan Reynolds. He may have caught my eye in Van Wilder, but it’s Just Friends that really sealed it. Oh, and he’s actually a great actor. Yeah, he sucked as Green Lantern, but he’s been great in Chaos Theory, Buried and the yet-for-me-to-see Voices (which Liz is still raving about). As Curtis, he’s disheveled yet charming, but not the over-the-top charming that reared it’s ugly head in The Change Up or The Proposal.

Ben Mendelsohn, is the new (dare I say) Gary Oldman. He can do (and does) everything and you’ve probably seen him so many times and you didn’t even know it. Here are a few of my favorite roles:

Summary:

Trespass with Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman – watch in on Netflix
A thief who’s plans to rob a family man totally backfire.

Summary:

The Dark Knight Rises
The smarmy guy trying to control Bain.

Summary:

Starred Up – watch on Amazon
A father in prison who thinks what’s best for his son is to toughen him up. p.s. Even though it’s in English, I highly recommend turning on the captions.

My favorite part about this movie is that I didn’t know if I should root for them or not. The characters are so incredibly developed and presented, that you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s the exact type of movie that’s the bread and butter of great actors, but unfortunately, it’s not the type of movie that appeals to a wide audience. Those who seek it out, however, will be treated to an emotionally layered thinkpiece.

Now available on DirecTV, at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York today and October 5th in Los Angeles. It comes to Bluray/DVD December 1st, but I bet you’ll be able to buy it digitally the week or so before.