Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘The Incredible Shrinking Wknd’ is insightful genre bender.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WKND

Alba is losing time. A mysterious place in the woods has caused her days to take a true Groundhog Day turn but with an added twist. Each repetitive day during an overnight trip with her friends is one less hour than the day before. The only consistent thing is the clothing she ends her day with is the clothing she restarts in… and any bodily damage such as injuries or hangovers. Alba must decide how she’ll handle each repetition. How will she change her fate and those of her fellow cabin mates before the final hour runs out? This film doesn’t immediately reveal its deeper meaning. It takes it time and in a smart fashion. It’s much more introspective than at first glance. Abla takes risks to challenge her surroundings and presumptions about her predicament. All while finding buried childhood treasures around the property. Oh, that’s the only other thing that carries through. The film is not only a scavenger hunt for her past but her present as well. Iria del Río as Alba is amazing. She is raw and untethered. The Incredible Shrinking Wknd keeps the audience on its toes with its ” what would you do” scenario. It challenges the viewer to think about how selfish we are and how little we actually care for the people in our circle. The writing is truly engrossing and the performances are all extraordinarily solid. The very specific visual framing is a trick that I didn’t even catch until about midway through the film. Brilliance. Huge congrats to writer-director Jon Mikel Caballero. Fantasia International Film Festival is a delightful venue for this feature that is a relationship film wrapped in science fiction.

Review: ‘The Boy Downstairs’ feels close to home.

The Boy Downstairs stars Zosia Mamet (“Girls”) as Diana, a twenty-something writer who moves back to New York City after a two-year stint in London. Upon finding the perfect apartment in Brooklyn, she realizes her downstairs neighbor is actually her ex-boyfriend Ben (Matthew Shear, Mistress America) whose heart she broke when she left town. After an awkward reunion, Diana proclaims her intentions for a genuine friendship. But as old wounds are opened, both Diana and Ben are forced to confront the true nature of their feelings.

 

Mamet gives a deliciously sardonic lean to the role that is funny and honest. The manic ways of Shoshanna Shapiro are nowhere in site. This should put Mamet on some serious casting lists. First-time writer-director Sophie Brooks shows us how a person can have a hold on your soul years after parting ways. The script is really smart and refreshing. It doesn’t glamorize the requisite navigation through adult relationships, those messy, real-life moments are the little things that stick with us in the end. Reality is much more awkward and The Boy Downstairs does not shy away from confrontation or feelings. It allows the audience to reflect on their own past emotional conflicts and in this film’s particular case, flashback sequences are the backbone of the plot. Strong performances from Matthew Shear and Dierdre O’Connell make The Boy Downstairs what it is. The chemistry is astounding. Being a grownup is complicated enough, so once you introduce the complexities of love and friendship, all hell will break loose, even if it’s a quiet thing. You can see The Boy Downstairs in theaters today.

 

 

LIz’s Review: ‘Bound To Vengeance’ holds us captive.

Bound to Vengeance posterIFC Midnight has given us a slew of great genre features in the past such as ATM, Exam, Dead Snow, and The Snowtown Murders (all available to stream on Netflix). Their newest release, Bound To Vengeance challenges the female protagonist role that we’re used to seeing in horror: Girl equals helpless victim, let’s leave the policing to the manly cops. No cops in sight, our lead takes action into her own hands.Bound to Vengeance still Eve and PhilThe film’s opening credit sequence is immediately reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw with a lone beat up van swiftly cruising down a deserted highway, though in this story the inhabitant of the car is our villain. Bound To Vengeance pulls no punches as the mental ride follows directly after those very opening credits. Our mystery man carries a tray with homemade soup down an eerie hall and into a locked basement room. There we find Eve, a young, slender woman chained to the floor. She manages to escape and in her attempt to get away, she realizes that she is not the only girl being held captive. She needs her captor. Fashioning a noose out of items inside the rundown house, Eve strikes a deal. He tells her where the others are and she drops him off at a hospital… But, even the best laid plans easily go awry.Bound to Vengeance Eve stillThe script is truly unexpected. Just when you think you’ve figured out what is going on, plot twist. You have to respect the ever changing scenery and manipulation. While it may not be a 5 star film, I will say, I had to know what the truth was and wanted to see Eve kick some major ass. Speaking of which, Tina Ivlev plays our heroine with an honest determination. She’s not a super ninja or hyper intelligent prodigy, she is a normal, albeit, incredibly resourceful and strong woman. That is what I appreciated most about the script. She was a girl who just wanted to save the others and in turn come to terms with her own captivity. Richard Tyson gives us our villain, Phil. It’s a complex performance filled with masterfully sick, power-struggle laden dialogue. How much do we trust Phil? Should we trust Phil at all? Once you get to the end of the movie, you realize that all the clues were there to begin with. Bound to Vengeance could have easily been a mini series. There is much more to this story and I for one would look forward to a sequel.

In Theaters and on VOD Friday, June 26th.

Film Synopsis
BOUND TO VENGEANCE is a gritty revenge thriller about a young woman, EVE (Tina Ivlev), who fights back and manages to escape a malicious abductor. However, after discovering she may not be the only victim, Eve unravels a darker truth and decides to turn the tables on her captor. The film is directed by J.M. Cravioto and stars breakout actress Tina Ivlev and Richard Tyson. The screenplay was written by Rock Shaink, Jr., and Keith Kjornes.
BOUND TO VENGEANCE 
Directed by: José Manuel Cravioto
Produced by: Alex Garcia, Rodolfo Marquez, Daniel Posada
Cast: Tina Ivlev (The Devil’s in the Details), Richard Tyson (Moonlighting), 
Bianca Malinowski (Midnight Bayou)  
TRT: 80 minutes
Language: English
Genre: Thriller / Horror

Liz’s ‘Boyhood’ New York City Press Junket Coverage

Monday, I had the pleasure of participating in the New York press junket for BOYHOOD. In attendance were writer/director Richard Linklater, breakout star, Ellar Coltrane, and industry strongholds Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. With the film’s highly anticipated release, everyone in the theater was eager to get some deeper insight into this innovative new film. Below you will find some of my favorite highlights from the afternoon.

DSC_0006

 This movie is about growing up. Can you tell us what you remember about your first kiss? Read More →