Review: ‘The Tax Collector’ loses its money maker too soon.

SYNOPSIS: David (Bobby Soto) and Creeper (Shia LaBeouf), are “tax collectors” for the crime lord Wizard, collecting his cut from the profits of local gangs’ illicit dealings. But when Wizard’s old rival returns to Los Angeles from Mexico, the business is upended, and David finds himself desperate to protect what matters more to him than anything else: his family.

As a fan of Narcos and Cocaine Cowboys, I had incredibly high expectations for The Tax Collector. The slick editing in the beginning, that mixes voiceover and time-jumping violence immediately drew me in. Soto plays David with strength and a conscience. This felt like a fresh take on the typical gang genre. While there is a family angle that is different from the usual fare, it was the introduction of Shia LaBeouf‘s character Creeper that locked me into this particular narrative. He is an unexpected maniac. In reality, it should have come as no surprise because that’s LaBeouf’s schtick; he embodies any role with frightening ease. It was his role that kept me watching The Tax Collector because the idea of Creeper going nuts, simply based on a very brief intercut scene had me salivating for his character’s abilities to take shape. Then, it was a bit of bait and switch. While Bobby Soto was entertaining enough, and the rest of what feels like an ensemble cast is strong as well, LaBeouf’s character disappears and I lost most of my emotional investment. With the aspect of religion Vs religion used in a kind of silly way, I only watched until the end after some serious violence for violence’s sake occurs and thought, “Well, I’ve made it this far. How does this end now?” It’s pretty brutal (this is me warning you now) if you’re at all squeamish. After some truly senseless deaths, and ironically, one that not satisfying enough, the movie sort of just ends okay. That final shot though, come one now. Which is something I actually said out loud at the screen. Admittedly, I thought LaBeouf was the best part of this film. Show up for the genre, the music, the color choices, stay for Shia and The Tax Collector may just keep you in your seat.

RLJE Films will release the thriller THE TAX COLLECTOR, In Theaters, On Demand and Digital on August 7, 2020.

THE TAX COLLECTOR stars Bobby Soto (The Quarry, “Narcos: Mexico”), Cinthya Carmona (“East Los High,” “Greenhouse Academy”), George Lopez (“George Lopez,” Valentine’s Day) and Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy, The Peanut Butter Falcon). The film was directed and written by David Ayer (director and writer of Suicide Squad, Fury, End of Watch and the writer of Training Day).

Review: ‘The God Inside My Ear’ – One Trippy Ride

The God Inside My Ear

Release Date: August 2017

Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Reviewed By: Reel Reviews Over Brews

After experiencing a peculiar and sudden breakup with her boyfriend, Elizia discovers a world of conspiracies, strange voices and horrifying visions.

Holy ayahuasca trip, Batman! This is one trippy movie. Go into it with an open mind and you won’t be disappointed. This is certainly one of the better low budget films I’ve seen in a while. I believe the entire movie was completed in 13 days with only $8,000. Damn, that is impressive work! Linnea Gregg as Elizia did a wonderful job. Very impressed with her work. Although hard to follow at times, it had me going back and forth in my own head trying to figure out how it would end. It was certainly a bit of a jaw dropper, which is my favorite kind of movie so that helped make my decision on the higher rating easy. Can’t wait to see what Joe Badon produces next!

Reel ROB Rating: 5.75 out of 10 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review!

Review: ‘The Misguided’

The Misguided

Theatrical Release: January 26, 2018

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

University dropout Levi (Caleb Galati) is a young man incapable of holding down a steady job and has a reputation of taking advantage of his romantic partners for his own selfish reasons, especially in gaining financial support. Having suddenly become single and homeless, he begrudgingly has to approach his overbearing big brother Wendel (Steven J. Mihaljevich) for temporary help with a place of residence until he can sort out his troubled relationship. Wendel truly loves Levi, and is a captivating and manipulating personality with a special talent of drawing others toward him. He has big dreams for himself but is ill equipped to fulfil any of them, being a drug addict and part time dealer with a deficient memory. He also struggles with personal sexual and mental issues and a fear of loneliness. Shortly after lodging with his brother, Levi begins a romance with his Wendel’s ex-girlfriend Sanja (Jasmine Nibali), and plans to start a new independent life for himself with his partner in a new city to finally become self-sufficient. But when he learns of a deadly predicament Wendel faces, his loyalties between those closest to him and his sense of familial duty become divided, and a reciprocal sense of duty to assist his bro results in a tricky scheme of subterfuge.

When we first heard about The Misguided, we kept reading how this would be Katherine Langford‘s (13 Reasons Why) first film role. This got us extremely excited as we loved her in the Netflix hit. Well, we found ourselves disappointed on this end because although, yes, it was her first film role, it was a very minute role with very few scenes.  Jasmine Nibali did however do a spectacular job as the lead woman. Between Nibali and Mihaljevich the acting was far better than expected. We found ourselves really enjoying Nibali and couldn’t get enough of Mihaljevich‘s dark story. The premise of The Misguided is great! Feels as though you are watching an in-depth documentary. A classic story between love and family. We didn’t see the ending coming either. Those however, are the only few things we liked about The Misguided. We found it extremely hard to follow. It was very jumpy and things weren’t cleared up before they threw us into the next scene… and we get that’s what Shannon Alexander was going for, but it just didn’t work for us. With a few tweaks and (in our opinion) a little more Katherine Langford, The Misguided had potential to be a top movie this year. If we were to give it a second watch, we do think we’d understand A LOT more. Thus making it more enjoyable (even earning a higher rating from us), but it doesn’t seem likely we’ll be getting around to that anytime soon…

Reel ROB Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review!

Review: ‘JAMES WHITE’ makes escaping reality impossible.

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Josh Mond’s

JAMES WHITE

Starring Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

James White poster

If you’ve ever watched someone die from cancer… if you’ve ever seen the downward spiral of a loved one… if you’ve ever been lost in a haze a grief and confusion, JAMES WHITE will speak to you. What does a young man, flailing in his own existence, do to cope with the idea that one of these days, his mother will not get better? Is escapism the answer? Josh Mond‘s directorial debut lets us into the skin and brain of one man’s story.

JAMES WHITE

JAMES WHITE- Christopher Abbot & Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

As James’ mother’s health deteriorates, his ne’er do well lifestyle is forced to come to an end, but not before attempting to escape reality after the death of his estranged father. Triggering a getaway trip to Mexico with friends to avoid dealing with life, this drug, alcohol, and sex addled stay comes to an abrupt end when a call from Gail forces him to return to the couch of his childhood NYC home and take care of Mom 24 hrs a day. Struggling to put his bad boy behavior on the back burner, James walks the line between telling the world to fuck off and dropping his very existence to protect the woman he loves most in the world. As the plot progresses, we learn the this is not his first go round with mom’s illness. Do we forgive his behavior because of this? That’s for the individual to decide.

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

Mond’s script is partially based on his own experiences with his own mother. It is unapologetic and raw. You cannot take that away from Mond. No arguing that the film is ever dull or full of shit. It goes there fast and hard. Using cinematographer Mátyás Erdély was a genius move. Having recently seen Son of Saul at this year’s NYFF, his literal in your face, ultra close-up style of shooting, gives James White the immersive feeling the script calls for. I cannot imagine the film being in any other style. From the opening sequence, scored to perfection by co-star Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, with it’s organic feel and LOUD introduction, we immediately enter the world of a man who is grasping at straws to figure out who he is and what kind of person he wants/needs to be.

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Christopher Abbott gives an purely award-winning performance. His truth is on his sleeve 1000%. Somehow, through all the distasteful behavior he exhibits, you love him. Scott Mescudi is outstanding. As James’ best friend and long time player inside the family, his genuine interactions with Christopher and Cynthia feel so authentic, it’s almost hard to believe that this film isn’t a documentary at moments. Cynthia Nixon‘s portrayal of Gail is epic. With the film’s structure presented from month to month like chapters in a book, we are privy to the physical and mental changes her character endures. No matter the form of media, Nixon creates her own presence and we are lucky enough to witness it. The entire cast deserves all the accolades in the world, as does Mond for delivering a bold story.

JAMES WHITE will capture part of your soul. It allows you to let go and perhaps forgive yourself for past transgressions. Do yourself a favor and see this film.


 

Nominated for Three IFP Gotham Awards:

Christopher Abbott (Best Actor)

Josh Mond (Bingham Ray Breakthrough Actor Award) 

Audience Award

About JAMES WHITE

James White (Christopher Abbott) is a troubled twenty-something trying to stay afloat in a frenzied New York City. He retreats further into a self-destructive, hedonistic lifestyle, but as his mother (Cynthia Nixon) battles a serious illness James is forced to take control of his life. As the pressure on him mounts, James must find new reserves of strength or risk imploding completely.  The directorial debut of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE producer Josh Mond,  JAMES WHITE, which had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2014 where it was the winner of the “Best of Next” Audience Award, is a confident and closely observed debut that explores loss and the deep relationship between a mother and son.  Abbott’s strong central performance is aided by a stellar supporting cast featuring Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”), and Ron Livingston (DRINKING BUDDIES). Shot on location in New York City with an intimate visual style, JAMES WHITE follows its lead into deep, affecting places while still maintaining its fragile humanity. 

The Film Arcade will release JAMES WHITE on November 13th 

Review: ‘THE CONNECTION’ out on DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD Digital!

The Connection posterA stylish, ’70’s-period crime thriller inspired by true events, THE CONNECTION tells the story of real-life Marseille magistrate Pierre Michel (Academy Award® Winner Jean DujardinThe Artist, The Wolf of Wall Street) and his relentless crusade to dismantle the most notorious drug smuggling operation in history: the French Connection. In his crosshairs is charismatic and wealthy kingpin, Gatean, who runs the largest underground heroin trade into the States. Though the fearless and tenacious Michel, aided by a task force of elite cops, will stop at nothing to ensure the crime ring’s demise, Zampa’s “La French” always seems one step ahead. As La French mounts its retaliation, Michel will be forced to make the most difficult decision of his life: to continue waging his war, or ensure his family’s safety, before it’s too late.The connection
This film is massively dynamic. From the crisp and well framed cinematography to the outstanding cast. Dujardin proves he is still a star as Michel. He owns every moment on screen as his presence is captivating. Gilles Lellouche as Gaëtan ‘Tany’ Zampa is just as powerful. In a script where both men are equally determined to protect their legacy, Dujardin and Lellouche are movie magic when they appear on screen together. The film is action packed. Even with a runtime of 135 mins, it never seems like it drags. If you’re a fan of Netflix‘s new series Narcos, The Connection is right up your alley.The connection 2 still
It deserves the multitude of praise and awards is has garnered thus far. Director Cédric Jimenez (also one of the screenwriters) clearly knows his stuff. I’d love to see more from him asap. The overall look is pretty killer from the slick wardrobe to the soundtrack of the era filled club scenes. They nailed it.  While the idea of cops and gangsters is anything new, I still think this film keeps your interest with it’s mixture of action and plan of action. The acting is beyond solid with a vast array of bad guys to run through. DVD extras include a featurette on the making of The Connection as well as some great deleted scenes. We highly recommend you catch this film and thankfully, now you can!
 
Product Information
Language: French                                                     
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: Yes
Length: 135 min.
Year: 2014                                        
Genre: Action/Foreign
Rating: NR
CC: No
DVD
SRP: $24.99                                                  
Blu-Ray
SRP: $29.93
About Drafthouse Films
Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is a curated brand of provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world. Following the earnestly simple motto of “sharing the films we love with widest audience possible,” Drafthouse Films debuted in 2010 with the theatrical release of Four Lions, which was named of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Films Of The Year.” Their diverse and unique slate includes the highly-acclaimed, Oscar® nominated documentary The Act Of Killing produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, 2013 SXSW Midnight Audience Award winner Cheap Thrills starring David Koechner (Anchorman), British auteur Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic trip into magic and madness, A Field In England, Ari Folman’s Cannes Film Festival selected sci-fi epic The Congress starring Robin Wright, Harvey Keith, Jon Hamm and Paul Giamatti, Midnight Movie sensations Miami Connection andThe Visitor and rediscovered classics Wake in Fright and Ms. 45. Recent and upcoming releases include Dutch thriller Borgman, Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo, Sundance Award-winning documentaries The Overnighters and the recently acquired Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s stunning follow up to The Act of Killing. Drafthouse Films distributes films theatrically, through home video, VOD and their direct-to-consumer platforms integrating into the ever-growing Alamo Drafthouse entertainment lifestyle brand, which along with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas includes: Mondo, the collectible art boutique; Fantastic Fest, the largest international genre film festival in the US; and the pop culture website Birth.Movies.Death.

 

Tribeca Film Festival interview: ‘THE ADDERALL DIARIES’ director Pamela Romanowsky talks fated moments in making the film.

Stephen Elliott (James Franco) and Neil Elliott (Ed Harris)Anna Kooris

Stephen Elliott (James Franco) and Neil Elliott (Ed Harris)Anna Kooris

Director Pamela Romanowsky‘s debut feature is not a meek choice. Tackling the page to screen adaptation of Stephen Elliott‘s memoir THE ADDERALL DIARIES seems like something that was written in the stars. Speaking of stars, the film is lead by an outstanding performance by James Franco as a pill popping, destructive behavior addicted, emotionally ravaged man. Under the guise of writer’s block, Stephen lets himself become distracted by a murder case that seems to resonate with his memories of the past; memories that have made him a famous author so far. When his father’s ghost returns to haunt him, life spirals into an seemingly endless line of poor life choices. One person’s truth may not be what it seems.
On the heels of TRUE STORY, Franco plays Elliott with a ferocity that is totally organic. Hitting highs and lows so sharp, I can safely say I am impressed. Ed Harris portrays his strong willed father. A constant trigger throughout the film, this role was made for Harris, literally. Amber Heard is beautiful and honest as a NYT journalist fighting childhood demons of  her own. Christian Slater is charming as ever and a master of emotional disguise as the subject Stephen longs to understand. Cleverly edited and stunningly shot, THE ADDERALL DIARIES is a sensory and emotional overload of a film. You will find something that connects with you, I guarantee it.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Pamela Romanowsky and talk about the journey that became this project.

Liz:  Just saw the movie and I really liked it. How did you happen upon Stephen’s novel?

Pamela: Well, there are two parts to this story. I first happened upon it because I live near a really great independent bookstore called “Word” in Greenpoint. I saw it in the window and that is often how I buy books, ” What does Word have?” So I just read it as a casual reader and loved it, thought about it a lot, it really stayed with me. It’s the kind of story that takes a lot of processing. Then separately from that, James Franco and I went to grad school together and are good friends and we hadn’t worked together yet. Then I had the opportunity to make the short with him for The Color of Time. We had a great creative connection and a great time working together. James approached me with The Adderall Diaries. I actually just found out yesterday that it was the first book he optioned.

L: He is such a fan of page to screen, all of which so far have been really successful. It’s such a bold move because it can go so wrong.

P: He picks Difficult books.

L: He really does.

P:  It was a really great moment of synchronicity. He wanted to help me make my first feature and with a book we both loved.

L: I think his performance was one of his best and so clearly has a lot to do with your relationship. You had such a great cast full of talent. Ed Harris, what a juicy role for him. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of memories talk to me about the editing choices.

P: I developed the visual style with my DP who was also a collaborator from grad school. I met a lot of my people there. Bruce also shot my piece for The Color of Time so we had already talked about how to approach memories cinematically. We used steady cam alot because it felt organic. This is a character who is always in motion, and practically it allowed us to shoot quickly, to be intuitive, to find shots within the scene as we went. And the use of slow motion… you know memory is such a hard thing to describe to someone else but to me, the things that you tend to recall over and over are these small moments and details so it almost like you’re seeing it in slow motion.

L: it is incredibly effective. It is so aesthetically beautiful.

Did you guys have a lot of rehearsal time? Everything feels really organic. Yet there are some truly physically demand scenes.

P: I think as is often in indie film, but I had the advantage of knowing a lot of these actors and Ed, I met at the Sundance Directors Lab.

L: Had he been cast already or did he just come in and read for you?

P: No, he was my advisor at the lab. Coincidentally he was also the person I wrote this role for! His photo was on my writing board the whole time but I never actually thought I was going to get a chance to meet him. So when we were at Sundance, low and behold Ed Harris walks in and I was like ” Oh my God, Ed Harris is here!” It just happened that he was there, it just happened that he was my advisor, and it just happened to be the week I was shooting my father/son scene. So when he was leaving I had to tell him, “You know, thank you so much for helping me and so I wrote this role for you and I don’t know if you’d ever think about doing it but I am gonna keep asking you forever.”  And truthfully I didn’t have a back-up plan, I didn’t see anyone else playing this role. It took me 9 months to talk him into it. So I had a lot  of time to talk it over with him. It was the same with all the other actors. Rehearsal is really important so right before we would shoot each scene I would kick everyone out and we would run the scene through.

L:  As soon as I walked out of the theater I said, “I have to buy this book now. I am completely intrigued. I have to read it.” It has so many relevant issues that even if you’ve never experienced them personally, you would gravitate towards this story. We all have our own way to interpret what our memories are. And I think the older you get and the longer you live with your interpretation, that becomes your truth. It was beautiful to see that on screen. Thank you so much for talking with me.

P: Thank You! Enjoy the rest of your fest!

L: You too! I look forward to talking to you for whatever comes next.


THE ADDERALL DIARIES ticket and showtime information can be found here in the Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015.

TFF 2015 NARRATIVE FEATURE

Release Year: 2015

Runtime: 87 minutes

Directed By: Pamela Romanowsky

Country: USA

Elliott (James Franco), a once-successful novelist inflicted with writer’s block and an Adderall addiction strives to escape his problems by delving into the world of a high-profile murder case. Amber Heard, Ed Harris, and Cynthia Nixon co-star in this adaptation of Elliott’s best-selling memoir. | Read More

Tribeca Film Festival review: ‘COME DOWN MOLLY’ is a drug induced introspection

Come Down Molly_Press_4 Tribeca

COME DOWN MOLLY– Narrative, Drama, Comedy

While I have never done mushrooms, myself, I do know a few people who have. I’ve heard it all. “I was chased by giants bugs!”, “I felt one with nature.”, “It’s totally backed by science now.”  While the plot of Come Down Molly does revolve around a new mom taking a much deserved break to munch on some serious vegetation, honestly, the film isn’t really about drugs at all. It is is completely about identity. Oftentimes, new moms aren’t given a voice of their own. Feeling pressured by society to be perfect and to adore every single minuscule moment of their child’s life, they are merely human beings.  Every mother needs time to herself to maintain a sense of sanity and a sense of self. Molly takes the day to reconnect with her key group of male childhood friends. Just before venturing out into the vast wilderness of The Rocky Mountains, the group partakes in some recreational mushroom delicacies. Most of the movie is spent wandering the open fields and streams laughing and reminiscing.

Come Down Molly_Press_3 Tribeca

The dialogue feels super natural most likely due to the casting choices of  Writer/Director Gregory Kohn. Molly’s friends consist of Greg’s closest actor buddies. The seemingly improvised, hilariously witty repartee is key in convincing the audience to go along with a documentary style narrative. Eléonore Hendricks‘ performance is beautiful and down  to earth. She has an easy likability about her. Surrounded by the gentleman in the cast, sparks fly. The setting itself, is glorious. The quiet moments are some of the most prolific. Regardless of life experience, this film gives a solid voice to everyone struggling to maintain a sense of who they are and where they thought they’d be by now. Come Down Molly is a cinematic dream.

Come Down Molly_Press_2 Tribeca

Directed by: Gregory Kohn

In this expressionist odyssey exploring the lonely side of entering adulthood, struggling new mother Molly (Eléonore Hendricks) joins her old high school group of guy friends at a secluded mountain home. Amidst tears, laughter, and mushrooms, they connect with nature, one another, and themselves.

Find out more about Come Down Molly at Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015