‘Long Gone By’ premiering at HBO’s New York Latino Film Festival

LONG GONE BY tells the tale of Ana Alvarez, a single mother from Nicaragua living in Warsaw, Indiana with her teenage daughter, Izzy. When a routine check in leads to a deportation order, life as Ana knows it ends. The timing could not be worse as Izzy has just been accepted to Indiana University, a dream that becomes a nightmare when she discovers that because of her immigration status she will not qualify for the needed scholarships or federal aid. Faced with an impossible reality of a lifetime away from her daughter, Ana decides to risk everything in a last chance effort to leave Izzy’s tuition paid before her time runs out. An intimately unnerving portrait of a woman willing to sacrifice everything to give her daughter the chance at a life she never had.

Said director, Andrew Morgan, “There is nothing in my life that comes close to relating to what we witness Ana and Izzy go through in this film. The prospect of facing a lifetime away from my children is a nightmare I have never had to imagine. For me that reality, as I listened to the stories of families being torn apart gave me the motivation to do something in my own way to shine a light on these issues and ideas.” Said lead Erica Muñoz, “I’ve seen people forced into impossible situations. Parents having to make unthinkable decisions in order to try to give their children a better life. Since we shot the film, the horrors are only amplified.” These issues are what drove the cast and crew to create LONG GONE BY, and the effect of the film is palpable.
The film was set and shot on location in Warsaw, Indiana. Morgan wanted to portray the classic small town America through the eyes of an outsider. He said “I absolutely loved working there, the entire community was so helpful and it gave the film a look and feel that I really love.”
“Andrew is focused, driven, kind, incredibly patient, and ridiculously talented.  Working with him was, without question, the most rewarding professional experience of my life,” said lead and Associate Producer, Erica Muñoz. “The rest of the team – in particular, Emily Morgan, his wife and producing partner, created an environment where everyone felt so supported in every conceivable way.”
The filmmakers responsible for LONG GONE BY are very excited to be premiering at the 16th year of HBO’s New York Latino Film Festival. Muñoz has been following the festival since its inception. She says “the spotlight on Latinx creatives has created opportunities for so many filmmakers like myself. It’s by passing the gate keepers and opening the door for unknown talent to be seen.”
LONG GONE BY premieres at HBO’s New York Latino Film Festival August 17, 2019 at 2pm at AMC Times SquareTickets can be purchased here.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: Let us all worship at the altar of ‘THE DIVINE FURY’.

The Divine Fury

After losing his father at a young age in a terrible accident, Yong-hu (Park Seo-jun) abandons his Christian faith and chooses to only believe in himself. Now as an adult, Yong-hu is a champion fighter and has everything he has ever wanted, that is until mysterious wounds appear in the palms of his hands. He solicits help from a local priest Father Ahn (Ahn Sung-ki), hoping the priest can help relieve him of the painful markings, only to find himself in the middle of a dangerous fight against otherworldly evil forces seeking to wreak havoc on the human world.

Set against the neon lights of Seoul, The Divine Fury utilizes incredibly effective special fx mixed with a dynamic plot of good vs evil. Roman Catholic use of exorcism is rare and must be approved by the Vatican. As a former Catholic school kid and genre fans since the age of 2, I know this to be fact… At least as factual as one can attribute to organized religion in general. All that aside, The Divine Fury adds an extra supernatural element by giving an MMA fighter a demon expelling stigmata superpower. It takes faith into a genre-bending underworld and it is fascinating. From the very first shot with its heightened sound editing, you know you’re in for a ride. There is never a dull moment during its 2-hour runtime. The fight choreography is outstanding and meticulously specific to this unique plot (Think MMA meets demon streetfighter goodness). As a “lapsed Catholic” viewer, it does a brilliant job of melding together religion and otherworldly lore for one hell of an entertaining storyline. I cannot express how truly fun this film is. As the closing film of Fantasia International Film Festival 2019, The Divine Fury puts this year’s selections over the top.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: DREADOUT plays well on the big screen.

Jessica, Beni, Dian, Alex, Erik, and Linda want to increase their popularity through recording their adventures to upload to their social media accounts. They chose to go to an abandoned apartment famous for its awesomeness. Linda manages to persuade Kang Heri, security guard, to enter the apartment. Linda and friends found one apartment unit which is given a police line. Encouraged by curiosity, they brake down the door of the apartment unit. When they are researching the room, they find an old parchment, which only Linda could read. After Linda reads the writing on the parchment, suddenly a portal open. Inadvertently Linda and her friends have opened the door to the magical world and anger the portal guardian supernatural creatures.

Those crazy teenagers. Always opening the gates to other worlds. DREADOUT had its North American premiere last night at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 and audiences were not disappointed. The film begins with all the buildup of suspense and visual feel of playing the DreadOut video games. The framing feels sharp and the character dynamics are as fresh as Cabin In The Woods. As the audience peers through the cell phone lense of the group’s live stream, it has an amazing effect on how the lighting is filtered and you find yourself glancing at the viewership every so often. But mostly, it forces your attention to the mysterious surroundings even more intensely. This is simply the introduction to this film’s plot. 30 mins in, some creative and fresh hell awaits our ingenue Linda (Caitlin Halderman). She must explore her new otherworldly environment and figure out why she’s there and how to escape. The film’s location bounces between realms keeping the audience on its toes and the pace moving. The sets are incredibly intricate and the film really never ceases to entertain. Now, I’ve never played the game but it is reminiscent of Silent Hill and I have played that for years. The best shots recall first player gameplay with pointed POV camera work that’s impossible to miss. I do wish that had not completely disappeared. If I’m being honest, I could have used a bit more otherworldly background, perhaps flashes just as the gang is discovering the storyline. As someone who has not played the game, I feel like this was a missed opportunity.  As a whole, I was fully engrossed. DREADOUT has all the elements of a great horror adventure. Genre fans should be nothing but pleased.

DREADOUT

 

Review: RSVP yes to ‘PLUS ONE’

SYNOPSIS:  Long-time friends Alice and Ben find themselves in that inevitable year that all late 20-somethings experience—in which seemingly every person they know gets married—and agree to be one another’s plus ones as they power through an endless parade of insufferable weddings.

One summer I went to 6 weddings. It was equal parts fun, exhausting, and expensive. We learned who had gotten engaged, married, broken up, and gotten divorced since seeing some of the regulars at these blessed events. Some were shocking while frankly others we silently cheered their wreckage within the confines of our clique. Plus One explores these exact evolutions of so many relationships in our late 20s early 30s. Its honest charm and genuinely witty banter are just the tip of the iceberg of this film. The framework of the film is literally dated around each specific wedding weekend our duo attends. Don’t brush this film off as millennial drivel. Who hasn’t been stuck at the singles table or judged the food and speeches at a wedding? Hell, we still do it 8 years after our own wedding. Sorry, everyone. But the truth is funnier than fiction and PLus One nails these cliches on the head without being obnoxious. Jack Quaid is a nice foil for Maya Erskine. She is the best friend we all wish we had. Her natural ability to be funny and raw makes Plus One as wonderful as it is. The soundtrack, both the score by Leo Birenberg and original songs by Real Estate is outstanding. The dialogue has an amazing vulnerability with a side of raunch. The plot is universally relatable. You should save the date for Plus One without hesitation.

TITLE:  PLUS ONE
IN THEATERS:  June 14, 2019
ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND:  June 14, 2019
DIRECTORS:  Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer
WRITERS:  Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer
CAST:  Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Beck Bennett, Rosalind Chao with Perrey Reeves and Ed Begley, Jr.
TRT:  99 mins
RATING:  Not Rated
GENRE:  Romantic Comedy
DISTRIBUTOR:  RLJE Films

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Blow The Man Down’ is one of the year’s best films.

Blow The Man Down

While grieving for the loss of their mother, the Connolly Sisters suddenly find they have a crime to cover up, leading them deep into the underbelly of their salty Maine fishing village.

Growing up in a small New England town, I have a full appreciation for the glorious specificity in Blow The Man Down. From the regional slang to the understanding that everyone knows everyone else’s business, this film is filled with surprises and its very own version of a Greek chorus in Maine fisherman form. A completely femme-centric story boasts magnificent performances from the entire ensemble cast. June Squib, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugo, Margot Martindale, Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor, and Gayle Rankin. Co-directors and screenwriters Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have created a suspenseful, funny, incredibly dark murder mystery. It’s only after walking away from the screening did I realize the small clues that were sprinkled along the way and but honestly had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. It was refreshing. Martindale plays the dominant town matriarch with the skill we’ve come to expect from her. Squib, O’Toole, and Hugo are a smart trio. They cleverly play their hand close to the chest and become the saving grace of our two young leads. Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor are fantastic foils as sisters. Their chemistry is spot on. Gayle Rankin’s emotional journey is much larger than it might first appear. She continues to be one to watch. Blow The Man Down is in my Top 3 films from the festival this year.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Bunker Burger’ and ‘The Neighbor’s Window’, two shorts that keep you watching.

Bunker Burger

The members of an underground, post-apocalyptic bunker invite a psychologist from the radioactive and chaotic surface to audition for a place to live among them.

This short has everything you’re looking for in any film; suspense, distinct style, consuming plot, brilliant performances. There is not a hair out of place with this dark comedy. It is the perfect proof-of-concept piece. I am delighted to hear that writer/director Adam Yorke is developing it into a feature. I’m already there.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Adam Yorke is a writer/director/producer and head of development at Wildling Pictures, a ProdCo. in Toronto. He’s made two previous shorts and has had two feature scripts optioned. He’s currently writing the feature version of Bunker Burger.


The Neighbor’s Window

The Neighbors’ Window tells the true story of a middle aged woman (Maria Dizzia) with small children whose life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings (Juliana Canfield and Bret Lada) move in across the street.

This film is absolute perfection for anyone thinking the grass is always greener. A married New York City couple watching the progression of a neighboring couples’ lives play out over the course of about a year is simply captivating. In the city, personal space lines are thinly drawn. It can feel as if no one here owns curtains. But we make too many assumptions and cannot fully appreciate what we have until tragedy strikes. The Neighbor’s Window is about people. With stunning performances, a lovely score, it’s pure and wonderful.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Marshall Curry is a three-time Academy Award® -nominated documentary filmmaker. Many of his films have premiered at Tribeca and include the Academy Award®- and Emmy® -nominated documentary Street Fight, as well as A Night At The GardenRacing DreamsPoint And Shoot, and If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front.

 

 

 

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: SHORTS: WTF

SHORTS: WTF

These films were curated especially for late-night.

Playing in this program:
Twist

No choice but to walk home alone, Hannah (Helena Howard) sees an opportunity for a ride, but others see an opportunity in her.

With a well-built tension familiar to any young woman, Twist leaves much to the terrifying imagination, making it all the more frightening. Beautiful performances bring fear to life.

Whiteout

When a young couple (Sarah Tihany and David Call) encounters a strange old man (Patrick M. Walsh Jr.) wandering in a snowstorm, they must decide if he needs help, or if he has more sinister intentions.

A real “What would you do?” scenario set in the middle of the road on a snowy night. It begs the question, “Who’s the real monster?”

His Hands

Two men (Arron Blake and Philip Brisebois) of different ages meet for the strangest encounter of their lives.

While I’m not completely sure what was actually happening in this film, I know I was damn uncomfortable as a viewer. Performances are striking and I need to know more.

Momster

When notorious bank robber, the Momster (Amanda Plummer), catches her daughter Angel (Brianna Hildebrand) mid-gunfight, Angel thinks she’s being rescued… until she realizes she has to do the saving.

This short has a Robert Rodriguez/ QuentinTarantino Grindhouse feel with its quippy dialogue, vivid pops of color, and effective narration.

Hunting Season

Callie (Hannah Levien), a small town gas station attendant, has an unexpected encounter which will change the course of her life forever.

This short begins by utilizing the major trope of failing electricity to build up suspense. The sparse dialogue is meaningful enough to create an entire backstory and the perfect amount of dread, culminating in a magical ending no one will see coming.

11:50

In the pouring rain, a junkie (Jerry Chih-Wei Huang) takes the hotel key of a man that his car has accidentally killed. As he walks into the hotel and finds that room, he has to face a mysterious journey that will never have an end.

This cinematic little masterpiece is a proof of concept from heaven. Not only visually delicious but one hell of a reveal that will keep you wanting more.

Snaggletooth

An unusual girl (Jolie Ledford) needs to get her teeth fixed at midnight.

The 50’s era sets, costumes, and lighting lead up to a visual shock that is both scary and delightful.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Shorts Program
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    75 minutes
  • Premiere:
    New York

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘For They Know Not What They Do’ and this is the problem

FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO

Documentary Competition, World Premiere – Directed by Daniel Karslake

More maddening than enlighting, For They Know Not What They Do follows four families that facing challenges and did their best. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating and exactly what happens when people are not empathetic with each other.

I liked the structure with switching back and forth between each story, as it made the progression much more interesting. However, it felt at some points that the audience was somehow meant to forgive these people of their ignorance and lack of compassion.

There’s always value in hearing the stories of others, but I left the theater shaking my head rather than feeling like I learned something.

When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality across the nation in 2015, many assumed that the fight for LGBTQ rights was won. But politicians and religious conservatives launched a state-by-state campaign to retract the human rights of America’s LGBTQ citizens under the guise of religious freedom. Introducing four American families caught in the crosshairs of scripture, sexuality, and identity, this documentary weaves together clips from the national news and the church pulpit, alongside family photos and intimate testimonies to show the undeniable connection between the personal and the political.

These individual experiences of rejection and validation, tragedy and triumph include Ryan Robertson, who was encouraged by his Christian family to attend conversion therapy; Sarah McBride, the transgender student body president who went on to work at the White House; Vico Báez Febo, whose Catholic grandmother locked him out of the house when a neighbor outed him; and Elliot Porcher, a young trans man who endured self-harm before his parents’ acceptance enabled him to come to terms with his gender. An emotionally impactful follow-up to the award-winning For The Bible Tells Me So, this powerful examination of the intersection of religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity offers much-needed healing, clarity, and understanding.

—Lucy Mukerjee

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Aamis’ serves up a shocking treat.

AAMIS (RAVENING)

Food and romance seem to go hand in hand. Think about the traditional date. It usually revolves around dinner or coffee. Food is the ultimate form of aphrodisiac. Though, both food and love can spoil quickly. In Aamis, Tribeca’s only Indian feature film this year,  married doctor Niri meets Sumon, a Ph.D. student studying regional meat-eating traditions in India. As their relationship moves swiftly past friendship, the idea of experiencing “forbidden” meat cuisine progresses into an infatuation beyond imagination. Set in the colorful backdrop of North Eastern India, the natural scenery combined with the rich prepared dishes gives the film a gorgeous visual pop. The actual act of eating in scenes is very sensual. No surprise seeing as how the senses are sparked when tasting something delicious and when falling in love. Food and sense memories are created throughout our lives. I can still remember meals based on specific dates with my husband, spanning the 14 years we’ve been together. Not to mention we actually lived in Southern India for a year in the very early years of our relationship. Experiencing new flavors and adventures with someone you care deeply for is invigorating. All that being said, this film takes it to an entirely new level; an intimacy that will either intrigue or distress you. The performances from our two leads are fantastic. It’s a tricky dynamic to navigate given the circumstances but their chemistry is very grounded and reads completely natural. The age difference is another added bit of fire. Aamis, the first film for Tribeca to feature the Assamese language, is an outstanding representation of emerging Indian cinema outside the realm of your typical Bollywood fare. It is bold and dark. I may go as far as to call it a tasty, genre-bending surprise. The things we do for love.
Married Niri (Lima Das) shares a forbidden passion with Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah), who introduces her to a world of fresh, wild, meat-based delicacies. But as their unconsummated desire mounts, the two are pushed inexorably towards transgression and taboo. A daring, intense drama that veers into very dark territory, Aamis is Tribeca 2019’s only Indian film, and the festival’s first-ever Assamese language film.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Come To Daddy’ is everything you’d want an Ant Timpson film to be.

COME TO DADDY

Elijah Wood plays an emotionally overwhelmed uber hipster attempting to reconnect with his estranged father. Summoned to a secluded home via a mysterious letter from his dad, he finds himself in an unexpected situation. Wood, as always, is vulnerable and funny. I’ll buy anything he’s selling. His body of work is so eclectic and wonderfully bizarre, what’s not to love? Now let’s talk about Ant Timpson‘s amazing directing. As a producer, The ABC’s Of Death is off the wall fun and don’t even get me started on the insanity that is The Greasy Strangler. Come To Daddy, Timpson’s directorial debut is a genre-bending funhouse. Tribeca’s Midnight section is the perfect slot for Timpson’s work and I do mean that as a compliment. This film takes a sharp turn at 30 minutes in, then hurtles from mysterious to funny, unsettling to WTF, and it is a delight. The camera work is top-notch. There is mayhem for days. Wonderfully timed plot treats fall into our laps like a busted piñata. I simply cannot express how damn fun this film is. You will not have any clue where this is going.

Norval’s (Elijah Wood) life has been, to put it lightly, difficult. Currently living home with his mother, the troubled young man is coming off alcohol-related struggles. So when he receives an unexpected letter from his estranged father requesting a visit, Norval catches a bus up to his dad’s secluded and scenic waterfront home. Maybe reconnecting with his father will give Norval the emotional fulfillment he’s been lacking. Before long, though, he notices something off about his dad, an uneasy feeling triggered by inappropriate comments and a possible over-dependence on booze. Norval quickly realizes that his hope of father/son bonding is doomed. Instead of a family reunion, he finds himself in waking nightmare.
FILM INFO

Review: ‘Leaving Neverland’ exposes the man in the mirror. The two part doc airs this Sunday and Monday.

PRESENTS

LEAVING NEVERLAND

Debuts on HBO March 3rd and 4th

This two-part documentary explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of their own.

I’ve started this review many times in the past seven days. It’s been difficult to put into words how Leaving Neverland has made me feel. For my sixth birthday, I can only recall receiving one particular gift. It was Micheal Jackson’s Thriller on cassette. This was my very first album that was all mine, outside of Sesame Street or Disney songs. I had already been dancing for three years and MJ would influence my musical and performance taste going forward. In 2009, my husband and I were in the car and the radio came on with the breaking news on Michael’s death. We were stunned, devastated, conflicted. We’d lived through the accusations at the same time his accusers and fellow defenders had. Macaulay Culkin was my childhood crush and one of Jackson’s close friends. Culkin has categorically denied anything inappropriate ever happened. He and Wade Robson‘s testimony had a huge effect when Jackson went to trial. I was relieved when Michael was acquitted of all charges in the early 2000s. I wanted to believe that his hands were clean. Now, I think my idolization of this once in a lifetime artist is destroyed.

The personal risks for Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck coming forward now are immense. Hardcore fans are up in arms. Threatening to protest in droves at the film’s premiere at Sundance. But in the doc, we see and hear more evidence than ever before. Family photos, home video, faxes, and to top it off, voicemails, all from Michael. There is new video from inside Neverland. The sheer number of bedrooms hidden onsight should have been alarm enough. The pattern is laid out for us to see. The grooming is there. The gifts, the promises, and all the personal attention. But obviously most upsetting is the sexual abuse itself. Each act described in illicit detail. I want so badly for these stories to be lies. I do not think they are. In a time when victims’ voices are more important than ever, we have to respect Robson and Safechuck for finally feeling healthy enough, physically and emotionally, to share their stories. They are not being paid for the film. They have confronted the abuse that they were groomed to believe was love. Now, as father’s of little boys themselves, they have to come to terms with not only their hurt but the onus of their mothers who failed to protect them. There are no winners here. No amount of money can bring back the childhoods that were stolen. What emotion comes after denial? I think it’s anger. Now, after Leaving Neverland, I’m just really angry.

RT: Part 1: approx. 2 hours
Part 2 approx. 2 hours

Directed and Produced by Dan Reed
Edited by Jules Cornell
Featuring Wade Robson and James Safechuck

Review: ‘ADULT LIFE SKILLS’ finds humor in overwhelming darkness.

ADULT LIFE SKILLS 

**Winner of 2016 Tribeca Film Festival’s Nora Ephron Prize**

Anna (Jodie Whittaker) is comfortable living in her mom’s garden shed making funny videos all day, but as she approaches 30, she starts feeling the pressure to move on and “grow up” without compromising her youthful spirit.

There is something whimsical about Adult Life Skills that takes hold of your heart. Jodie Whittaker plays Anna, a woman on the brink of turning thirty living in the backyard shed of her family’s home. Attempting to hold on tight to her childhood, she pushes back on growth as she is still reeling from the death of her twin brother. Reliving her relationship through the wonderfully absurd movies they created together for their website, Anna reluctantly takes a lonely neighbor boy (whose mother is dying of what we presume to be cancer) under her wing. Through his growing attachment, she learns to assess her emotional journey and come to terms with her reality. Whittaker is charming and honest. Each beat has depth and humor under the very real sadness. The surrounding ensemble of female family and friends pushes Adult Life Skills to the next level of indie darling. It’s a creative film version of depression. It delves into the mind of sadness with a visually interesting and fully uniquely fleshed out storyline The soundtrack is catchy and haunting as hell. On the whole, Adult Life Skills is simply lovely.

In Theaters and On Demand January 18, 2019 

Starring: Jodie Whittaker (“Doctor Who”) and Edward Hogg (“Harlots,” “Misfits”)

Written & Directed by: Rachel Tunnard

Review: ‘WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?’ is poignant and timely and terrifying.

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? could not be coming at a more tumultuous time in history. How did we get here? Director Astra Taylor poses the question to people from every corner of the globe in this poignant documentary. The film explores the past, present, and theorizes what will become of our future if we do not pause to learn from our previous mistakes. The world is in what feels like total upheaval but it is not the first time we as a civilization have been on the precipice of either disaster or triumph. We march, we vote, we are inundated with fake news, and yet the people continue to strive for peace and equality against all odds. But democracy goes both ways. That’s the very essence of the word itself. Can good prevail without its counterpart? What we gather, on the whole, is that the naive promise of democracy is beginning to feel like an unfulfilled promise. That no matter the world’s location, race, socio-economics, and money rule. Let us not become numb to the negative but continue to seek compromise and understanding. Truly, WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? should be required viewing in every high school civics class. Hell, it should be required viewing by every human being.

Acclaimed director Astra Taylor‘s WHAT IS DEMOCRACY? (TIFF 2018) opens Jan. 16, 2019 at IFC Center in New York via Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber, followed by theatrical engagements nationwide.

Synopsis: Coming at a moment of profound political and social crisis, What Is Democracy? reflects on a word we too often take for granted. Director Astra Taylor’s (Zizek! and Examined Life) idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents: from ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor. The film features Cornel West, Angela Davis, theorists, activists, asylum seekers and a diverse cast of people from around the world.

Review: ‘SONGWRITER’ gives birth to Ed Sheeran’s best album yet.

I feel like if you don’t like Ed Sheeran‘s music you may be a bit of a sociopath. His songs are the ones you here over and over on the radio and either find yourself singing or waxing philosophically about. In the new doc by Murray Cummings, Songwriter, we get to go behind the magical creativity that becomes an Ed Sheeran album. Specifically, his third (and latest) album, “Divide”. One gorgeous hit after another is created by Ed, producer Benny Blanco, and a slew of family, friends, and fellow songwriters. The songs come in waves and sometimes tsunamis. Cummings, who just so happens to also be Sheeran’s cousin, has real-time studio, tour, and vacation footage mixed with childhood films of Ed. We’re even treated to his very first recording session, something altogether different from the songs we’ve fallen in love with. I often wonder how many babies exist in the world because of his melodies. Sheeran’s passion and talent permeate the screen. He is as charming and genuine offstage as he is on. Songwriter deserves to be watched on a device with superior speakers. Sheeran and his cohorts let us peek behind the curtain of their process. It is honest, funny, emotionally indulgent, and damn near perfect. Sheeran is something akin to a modern-day Shakespeare, in a word of 140 characters of all too often vitriol. So, if music be the food of love, play on Ed Sheeran, play on.

In Theaters on August 17th in NY and August 24th in LA and exclusively on Apple Music August 28th

Songwriter is an intimate and personal look into the writing process of one of the world’s leading artists – Ed Sheeran. Songwriter details the creation of Ed’s third studio album “Divide” and gives an authentic insight into Ed’s life through never before seen home videos. Witness firsthand the creativity, from the very first chord to the finishing touch – as the sounds become the songs.

Fantasia International Film Festival review: ‘The Night Eats The World’ breathes new life into the zombie genre.

The morning after a party, a young man wakes up to find Paris invaded by zombies.

The Night Eats The World is all about isolation. Sam is alone in his ex’s apartment, walls splattered with blood, and the other floors are not much better. Realizing the outside is even less safe, he begins to use his wits by gathering what he can find, little by little, staying organized but perhaps not sane. Actor Anders Danielsen Lie is in every single scene of the film. His performance is so engrossing that I almost missed his complete physical transformation along the way. He must remain as calm as possible, which is pretty difficult considering the circumstances. Director Dominique Rocher has given us quite the gem here. The Night Eats the World easily sets itself apart from the average zombie film. The film delves into the complexity of human intimacy. This is explored through a relationship with an undead individual trapped inside an elevator (played magnificently by Denis Lavant), an encounter with a fellow survivor, and a cat. An added element of interest that propels the plot is the fact that Sam is a musician. This becomes both an advantage and a misstep along the way. We’ve all watched The Walking Dead for years now but off the top of my head, I’m not sure I would be as methodic in my solitary survival as Sam. While we don’t get any information about the outbreak specifically, it never stopped me from enjoying the film, rooting for Sam to stay alive. Sometimes you don’t need it all spelled out for you, sometimes great storytelling is more than enough.

The Night Eats The World made is Canadian Premiere at this year’s Fantasia International Film festival. The 2018 fest came to a close last night, but we’ll keep you updated on the release dates. As for The Night Eats The World, you can catch it in theaters now and on VOD platforms like Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 starts this week! Here are 10 films that are getting us excited.

The Fantasia International Film Festival officially begins in two days. If you don’t already know about the fest, you are in for a cavalcade of horror, sci-fi, action and the out of this world twisted with the strange and unusual. How’s that for a description? Some of last year’s hits include LowlifeThe EndlessMohawkGood TimeSpoor, and Mayhem to name a few. If you haven’t seen any of these yet, do yourself a huge favor and seek them out. 2018’s lineup is no exception with films like Under The Silver Lake from David Robert Mitchell, which takes us into a neo-noir surreal romp and a complete 180 from It Follows. Nicholas Cage stars in Mandy, already being touted as a genre-bending blood fest of epic proportions. Hint, it’s already sold out. Let us not forget the enormously popular Fantasia Shorts Program. One, in particular, that was phenomenal last year was the Born of Woman section. As the title might suggest, these are shorts made exclusively by female filmmakers. They were as disturbing as they were profound and they are not to be missed. Fantasia has something for everyone. Cinephiles easily plan their year around this one festival and we don’t blame them. Here are a few titles we are stoked to check out over the next few weeks.
​​Blue My Mind
Blue. Of the bewildered spirit intermediating between child and sea. Blue is the colour of Mia (Luna Wedler), 15 years old, newly arrived in a town that looks like all the others. Breaking away from the sterile environment provided by her parents, she is drawn to the pack of popular kids, the ones who smoke, shoplift, mess around. Mia has everything, yet she suffocates. Then comes an odd thirst, an irresistible instinct that has her reaching out for air where there is none. In her head are the turbulent sounds of crashing water against the pebble beach. In her tortured flesh, the alienation of nature, the terrifying and unstoppable transformation of her body conflicting with the need for stillness, to press pause on the perfect breath.
Heavy Trip
Life has its downsides in a small, northern Finnish town. The local bros give long-haired, leather-clad Turo a tough time, and his job at the mental hospital is literally shitty. His crush on Miia at the flower shop is thwarted by the tacky lounge singer Jouni, and his band jams in the back of a reindeer slaughterhouse. In the plus column for Turo, well… there’s the band, even if these black-metal true-believers have never gigged in all their 12 years together (Turo’s concealed but crippling stage fright hasn’t helped). A miraculous crack at a major metal festival in Norway jumpstarts the quartet’s dreams, and Impaled Rektum set out on a metallic mission that will make them confront not only doubts, detours and difficulties, but also Vikings in longships (plus an elf), graverobbing, Swedish rocket launchers and wolverine-wrestling (dangerous… and awkward!).
Cold Skin
In the early years of the 20th century, a young man (David Oakes) takes over the responsibility of surveying the weather of a secluded island in the Antarctic. Hoping for isolation and time for self-reflection, he instead finds a crazed and weathered person named Gruner, played by genre favourite Ray Stevenson (DEXTERTHORDIVERGENT). Gruner quickly reveals that there is more to this island than meets the eye and that below the icy depths, a terrible scourge lurks. The extent of Gruner’s madness slowly becomes more and more pronounced as his bloodlust for the creatures becomes apparent. Struggling for survival, the surveyor must choose between a madman and a legion of creatures he does not fully understand.
Tokyo Vampire Hotel

Set in 2021 as the Dracula family and another family of vampires, the Corvins, prepare for the end of the world by getting into a massive rumble.

The Draculas wear billowy pirate blouses, are scared of crucifixes, and have retreated into an interdimensional salt mine beneath Transylvania. The Corvins are pop-idol hot and have retreated into a posh hotel located inside the interdimensional vagina of their leader. There, theyve invited a herd of humans they’ll force to breed at a “Special Coupling Party” to ensure an endless future supply of blood. Enter Manami (Ami Tomite), a girl looking to fit in someplace, who has special vampire blood, and suddenly everyone wants to shoot each other in the face to stash her in their apocalypse bunker first.

Tales from the Hood 2
Horror is back in the hood! The sequel to the groundbreaking original film TALES FROM THE HOOD reunites executive producer Spike Lee (Honorary Academy Award® winner) and writers/directors/producers Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott for an all-new gripping, horrifying and oftentimes devilishly comical anthology. Keith David stars as a contemporary Mr. Simms to tell bloodcurdling stories about lust, greed, pride, and politics through tales with demonic dolls, possessed psychics, vengeful vixens, and historical ghosts. Mr. Simms’s haunting stories will make you laugh… while you scream.
Mega Time Squad
Johnny (Anton Tennet) lives an underwhelming life. He is a low-level drug dealer in Thames, New Zealand, he lives in his mother’s garage, his time is spent with a blundering friend Gaz (Arlo Gibson) at the local bowling alley and doing petty errands for the local kingpin Shelton (Johnny Brugh of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) and his henchmen (including Milo Cawthrone of DEATHGASM and ASH VS. EVIL DEAD). When a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a big score reveals itself, Johnny finds himself wondering, “Do I have what it takes to pull off a caper?” He quickly realizes no, he doesn’t. That is, not until he stumbles upon an ancient relic that allows him to travel across time. With the power to bend time in Johnny’s hands, a hodgepodge of hilarity ensues and the “bogans” (Kiwi for loser) sets his sights once again on the wealth just beyond his grasp. However, what are the consequences of this temporal insanity, and does Johnny have what it takes to face off against Shelton and his henchmen?
Nightmare Cinema
At a forgotten, haunted bijou, a group of strangers have assembled to watch a series of macabre vignettes unspooled by the mysterious Projectionist (Mickey Rourke). Like the best anthology films (DEAD OF NIGHTCREEPSHOWTRICK ‘R TREAT), the stories’ tones range from truly deep, dark, psychological, demented horror to ones with a lighter, satirical spin. Witness a ghost story that will chill you to the bone; an exorcism story guaranteed to make your head spin; a B&W descent into clinical madness; a plastic surgery gone horrifyingly awry; and a cabin-in-the-woods slasher ditty with a unique twist you’ll never see coming.
A Rough Draft
Over a mere handful of hours, successful Moscow video-game designer Kirill has watched his life vanish. There is no longer any official record of his existence. His colleagues, his loved ones, even his dog no longer recognize him. Homeless, heartbroken, battered and framed for murder, Kirill is at the mercy of a mysterious cabal, and they have a new life planned for him. He is now to reside in a dismal old tower near the Kremlin, and there he will serve as an interdimensional gatekeeper, opening the doors to a myriad of possible Moscows that could have been, would have been? or should never have been. Kirill discovers that he now has the power to manipulate the material world around him. But who is manipulating Kirill?
The Night Eats The World
Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) is not legend, though he may be the last man on earth. After falling asleep in a back room of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, he wakes up to discover that the world, or at least Paris, has been overrun by a zombified populace. Barricading himself inside the building, he faces life as the sole survivor of the plague, gathering the supplies he can as the ghouls stagger and slaver outside. He can sustain his body, but can he sustain his mind as the days alone in a world gone to hell stretch out endlessly before him? He finds “companionship” and a sounding board in a zombie (Denis Lavant) trapped in an elevator, while facing an existential crisis: “Being dead is the norm now. I’m the one who’s not normal.”
Summer of ’84
“The suburbs are where the craziest shit happens,” 15-year-old Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) tells us at the beginning of SUMMER OF ’84,, and he should know. It’s June of the eponymous year in Ipswich, Oregon, and Davey is spending his days and nights hanging out, talking about sex and the finer points of STAR WARS sequels, and playing “manhunt” with best friends Eats (Judah Lewis), Woody (Caleb Emery) and Curtis (Cory Gruter-Andrew). The innocent fun ends when Davey begins to suspect that his next-door neighbour, outwardly friendly cop Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer), is the Cape May Slayer who has been preying on kids his age in the area. Davey recruits his pals to help investigate and expose Mackey, initiating an adventure that threatens to turn dangerous and deadly for the boys at any moment.

We could keep naming films but that would be a bit overkill, don’t you think? But seriously, see whatever you can. We’ll be bringing you reviews of everything we’re able to catch. You can find out more info about the full program and tickets at fantasiafestival.com
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The Fantasia International Film Festival, North America’s largest and longest-running genre film fest, will be celebrating its 22nd year in Montreal this summer, taking place from July 12 through August 2.

 

Tribeca Film Festival Review: ‘Here and Now’ is sensational.

On the eve of a major performance at the iconic Birdland Jazz Club, Vivienne Carala (Sarah Jessica Parker) receives shocking news during a doctor’s visit that turns her world upside down. She struggles to deal with the devastation during rehearsals with her band and her manager (Common) and attempts to avoid her overbearing mother (Jacqueline Bisset). Finally, as she contemplates sharing the news with her ex and her teen daughter, Vivienne finds solace in the streets of New York City, where she reflects on her past and her future.

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Here and Now is the reason we still sit in a dark theater to experience a film. Sarah Jessica Parker is breathtaking and raw. The sound editing is stuff dreams are made of. It is noticeably heightened and for good reason. People’s cell conversations accost her while music fills the gaps in between. We track her in real time because time and sound and regret are the keys to this elegant film. Along with some stunning handheld camera work, there is simply not a hair out of place in this film’s storytelling. Here and Now explores the human connection between beauty and loss and life choices. You will be moved in ways you will never see coming. Check out the clip below for a slice of heaven that is Here and Now. *Formally titled Blue Night*

TRAILER:

 

Tribeca Film Festival: ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ is still happening

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Desiree Akhavan
Writer: Cecilia Frugiuele, Desiree Akhavan
Starring: Jennifer Ehle, John Gallagher Jr., Forrest Goodluck, Sasha lane, Chloë Grace Moretz
After Cameron is caught making out with another girl on prom night, her conservative guardians send her to gay conversion therapy. There, she forges an unlikely community with her fellow teens in this Sundance-winning coming of age story.
Official Selection of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Releasing August 10, 2018 from FilmRise

Melissa:

You might expect a combustible teenage tale of rebelling against a terrible situation, but instead, the story is nuanced and quietly chilling. Set not so long ago, the most disturbing thing is that it could be set today. This is not a bubbly teenage coming-of-age story.

Liz:

Melissa is right, the scenarios depicted in this film are absolutely still occurring in 2018. Being touted as  “gender confusion” in the film, I have no doubt this is damaging stuff to young people. It’s an important narrative to study in an everchanging inclusive environment. Chloë Grace Moretz as Cameron gives the audience a brave and honest performance. The writing and directing are fantastic. The film will both comfort and disturb audiences and the best ways possible. Through Cameron’s Miseducation, the world will learn.

Tribeca Film Festival: ‘Back Roads’ is rural noir

Back Roads
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Alex Pettyfer
Writer: Adrian Lyne, Tawni O’Dell
Starring: Juliette Lewis, June Carryl, Nicola Peltz, Jennifer Morrison, Alex Pettyfer
A young man cares for his sisters after their mother is imprisoned for murdering their abusive father. When he strikes up an affair with a married woman, long-dormant family secrets bubble to the surface in this noir thriller.

No distribution as of posting.

Melissa:

Alex Pettyfer directs himself in the main role of a man who has a lot on his mind. Just when you think his life can’t get worse, something else emerges. While some saw his performance as flat, I found it incredibly nuanced and full of pain.

Liz:

This film is the epitome of dysfunctional family life. The plot twists are endless and it is truly emotionally taxing to watch. While the storytelling is dark, it delves deep into issues ranging from depression, guilt, and gender stereotyping. I couldn’t find a loose thread in the acting department and Pettyfer‘s particular performance is gripping.

TFF Review: ‘Dead Women Walking’

Dead Women Walking
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Hagar Ben-Asher
Writer: Hagar Ben-Asher
Starring: Ashton Sanders, June Carryl, Colleen Camp, Lynn Collins, Dot Marie Jones, Dale Dickey

Nine vignettes depict the stages leading to execution for women on death row in this emotional account of the human toll of the death penalty—on both the inmates and those they encounter in their final hours.

Dead Women Walking is an all our emotional gut-punch. It forces you to confront the reality of humanity rather than the crime. From 14 days to mere minutes prior execution time, the vignettes capture moments of healing, despair, acceptance, and the regrets of these very different women. There is no doubt that this film is one hell of an ensemble piece. Each breathtaking and nuanced performance will touch your soul in an extraordinary way. Adding to the brilliant writing is the specific choice of song for each character. Dead Women Walking‘s structure walks the perfect line between pragmatic and poetic. You will be moved, no matter what your political views are,  no matter if you are the victim of a crime, or you think you have no interest in the subject matter. Dead Women Walking will take your preconceived notions of female death row inmates and destroy them.