Review: Scary Movies XII’s Opening Night Film ‘VILLAINS’ is terrifyingly good.

presents

Scary Movies XII’s Opening Film

VILLAINS

Opening In Theaters Nationwide This Fall

Two hilariously small-time millennial robbers break into the wrong house. Something is clearly amiss when Jules and Mickey are confronted by the owners. In an attempt to do the right thing, they are faced with challenges no one will see coming. Evil comes in many forms.

The film has fantastic framing and awesome camera work. Beautifully sprinkled horror homages keep genre fans in a state of pure delight. This is already a crowd-pleaser less than 15 minutes into its 89 minute run-time. The animation under the final credits is like a drug induced plot recap. I am obsessed. The script is quirky is wonderful. With stylistic elements that reminded me of The People Under The Stairs, it’s a film you’ll have to go back and watch to catch all the little details.
Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe are young balls of energy. Both quickly becoming genre icons in their own right, these two make a stunning pair. Their chemistry feels super organic and appropriately playful. By the end you will be genuinely invested in their survival. Homeowners Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Donovan are total creeps. Sedgwick, in particular, will blow you away with a complex performance. They are a perfect foil for Jules and Mickey. It’s scary what we’ll do for love.

You’ll be totally enamored with Villains from start to finish. It’s funny and bizarre as hell. It has a classic feel but somehow completely fresh all at once. From the acting to the cinematography to the smart script, directors Dan Berk & Robert Olsen have a real winner on their hands.

Written & Directed by | Dan Berk & Robert Olsen

Starring | Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Jeffrey Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick

Co-Produced by | BRON Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance & The Realm Films

Review: ‘Driven’ is a great vehicle to showcase Jason Sudeikis’ talents

When you think of Back To The Future, you cannot help but see one of the most iconic cars of all time in your mind is: The DeLorean. But does anyone know a single thing about the creator of this movie legend? Few names in the tech industry evoke an immediate portrait of that person: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and perhaps now Elizabeth Holmes for better or for worse. I certainly had no clue about the tangled and complex story behind the man who would lend his name to cinematic history. Driven goes behind the proverbial curtain and sheds light on an unbelievable true tale of corruption and image through the eyes of someone who befriended this enigmatic figure. Con man to con man, takes one to know one.

Corey Stoll is probably the most believable version of a fed up FBI agent there could be. His genuinely flabbergasted attitude is the perfect foil for Sudeikis’ sardonic wit. Judy Greer, my beautiful girlcrush, is honest and spitfire as ever. One particularly climactic scene between her and Sudeikis (unmistakable once you see it) is pretty much a masterclass in scene partnering. Lee Pace is immensely unsettling and about as big of a dickhead as you need DeLorean to be. His bullshit is thick and perfect. Now, let’s get to the man of the hour. Jason Sudeikis, since I saw him in Tumbledown, is as surprising as ever. He has honest to God acting chops outside of his charming funny guy routine. More roles like this please and thank you. Bravo, once again, good sir.

The film’s pacing works well with the backdrop of Hoffman’s testimony. This is one hell of an intriguing story. You’ll need to know how it ends. Driven is about the deadly mixture of ingenuity and pride. It will take you for a ride.

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: ‘The Deeper You Dig’ will never let you rest in peace.

THE DEEPER YOU DIG

In the aftermath of a roadside accident, the line between the living and the dead collapses for a mother, a daughter and a stranger.

This is one of the most unique films of this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. The fact that our three stars wrote, directed and shot this film is absolutely astounding. The script is filled with intrigue from the get-go. You can feel the isolation of the Catskills location and the weather exacerbates the ominous tone. I’m a born and bred New Englander so I know what it feels like, smells like, sounds like to have a woodsy area covered in snow. I grew up with snow tires, daring to trek out in snowy weather when all else stayed home for safety. This super cool family dynamic works wonders on film. Not just between mother and daughter, but the trust that John and Toby must have had in an elaborately choreographed climax. Not to mention the gruesome violence inflicted on each of them during the course of the film. Toby Poser as Ivy is grounded and complicated. Her character’s intuition and boldness make her a strong hero. Zelda Adams as Echo (which, by the way, the name is a total double entendre for the plot and ridiculously genius) is pretty magical in both her vulnerability and her playfulness. John Adams as Kurt is scary. His slow descent haunted madness is wild. I was completely enthralled by these performances and the writing. Not only is it a complex ghost story, but it has intense dreamlike trances, communication with otherworldly spirits, and pure guilt-driven vitriol is quite a thing to behold. The practical and special FX are damn good. This talented trio of filmmakers deserves attention and applause. The Deeper You Dig had a visceral effect on me. This film will stay with me for a while and I am proud to highly recommend it.

THE DEEPER YOU DIG

 

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘HARPOON’ is a wild ride of deceit on the high seas.

Wealthy Richard (Christopher Gray) is prone to fits of violent anger, particularly when he believes his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra) is cheating on him with his best friend Jonah (Munro Chambers) — who’s been having worse luck than even his Biblical namesake. Once they reassure him that his fears are unfounded, Richard invites Sasha and Jonah on an excursion aboard his yacht The Naughty Buoy to make amends. What starts out as a pleasure cruise becomes a fateful trip when festering suspicions and resentments bubble to the surface, and the trio become stranded on the open sea with a dead motor, extremely limited food and water, and one of them grievously injured. Unconsciously violating any number of maritime superstitions, they are soon at the mercy not so much of the elements, but of each other.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 has had some instant hits this year. Saturday night was no exception as HARPOON wowed audiences at its Quebec premiere. From the incredible opening shot, this film comes at you like a rabid animal. Amazing, quippy, profanity-laced dialogue kicks off a ride we are are now ready for. This love triangle at sea plays off a classic dynamic of a wealthy asshole, girlfriend, and third wheel best friend where suspicion fuels jealousy. The script utilizes literary references, voiceover narration by Brett Gelman, and the kind of honest intimacy in dialogue that you only find between best friends. But, secrets are the one thing that can be a real friendship killer, even for those not stuck out in the middle of the ocean. Our three cast members are phenomenal. I completely buy these performances. Each is funny, vulnerable, and kind of dickheaded in their own unique way. The practical fx are gruesome and awesome. Writer-director Rob Grant has given us a goddamn indie gem. It’s got a twisted ending you will never “sea” coming. What’s a little murder between friends, after all? Fantasia International Film Festival fans will go overboard for Harpoon.

Review: Based on a true story ‘Skin’ inks morality questions into our brains.

Synopsis:        After a difficult childhood drives him into the grasps of a white supremacist gang, Bryon (Jamie Bell, delivering a visceral, explosive performance) tries to escape to a new life, all the while questioning whether he’s capable of undoing— and repenting for — the evil he’s done.

Academy Award- winner Guy Nattiv makes his English-language feature debut with this galvanizing story of transformation, inspired by actual events.

Indoctrinated as a child into a white supremacist enclave, Byron finally realized the fallout of his beliefs. He is ready to start a new, tattoos and all. But past violence and pride attach themselves to his present and his attempt to escape.

Jamie Bell is ever the chameleon. His physical transformation via racist tattoos that engulf his face and upper body is pretty jarring if you know Bell’s previous work. The pain his character endures is written on his face and in his nuanced performance. Danielle MacDonald shines in yet another role. Her sharp wit and vulnerability is spot on. Vera Farmiga plays Viking club mother figure Ma. Your skin crawls as she nurtures lost youth into the lifestyle. She is truly scary.

The dialogue is unapologetically offensive. The interspersed tattoo removal sessions are some of the most effective scenes in the film with their elegant score and heightened audio. Although the film already feels long one hour in (basically halfway) the story is timely and the performances redemptive and engrossing. SKIN goes behind the scenes of a culture so vile it cannot be tolerated. The fear from the screen is visceral and incredibly effective.

Release Date:  Exclusively on DIRECTV June 27, In Theaters July 26

Running Time: 119 minutes

Rating: R

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: “Culture Shock’ takes fake news to task with genre realness.

CULTURE SHOCK

The White House and their white nationalist propaganda make for great resistance in art these days. Hulu’s Blumhouse Into the Dark series is now streaming Culture Shock to its subscribers. Using real-life scenarios as a jumping-off point, this film takes illegal immigration beyond the hell we’re currently seeing at our border and brings it into true sci-fi territory. Our leading lady wakes up in a Valley Of the Dolls nightmare with its sweater vests and pastel coordinated everything and begins to lose time and all sense of rea Something about this “American Dream” is way off. Once she cracks the code, nothing can stop her from escaping.

Performances are eerie and amazing. Genre legend and timelord extraordinaire, Barbara Crampton plays a motherly figure looking after Marisol and her newborn baby. She sets the tone for the remainder of the film with her saccharine-sweet smile and creepy overbearing politeness. She is outstanding. Martha Higareda is the real wow factor. You are rooting for her the entire way and hope she gets everything she seeks. Her IDGAF survival attitude is pure magic. The script is edgy and brings a major creep factor that gets under your skin. The enhanced audio editing is a fantastic tool that heightens the inevitably squirming you’ll do while you watch. The story is one that will resonate with so many people living their own version of what is looking more and more like the American nightmare. This is a stunning debut feature for director Gigi Saul Guerrero and I know the industry, as well as Fantasia International Film Festival fans, can be excited for whatever comes next.

CULTURE SHOCK

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘The Art Of Self-Defense’

Jesse Eisenberg has mastered playing the quirky, whipsmart, douchebag. In The Art of Self-Defense, he plays genuinely sweet, pushover Casey looking to stand up for himself after a brutal attack. He gets a lot more than he bargains for when he signs up for karate lessons. The film is an unapologetic look at toxic masculinity.  It’s over the top dark comedy is a political blowtorch. If you can’t laugh at this film you need the stick removed from your ass. The snark factor is so high that even Casey’s answering machine is kind of a dick. Imogen Poots is equally impactful with both her physical and emotional performance. The humor lies in the absolute seriousness in which the cast says their lines. The film appears to take place sometime in the ’80s by the look of technology and funny enough, the misogynistic dialogue is most likely insanely accurate. Eisenberg is undeniably incredible. He is vulnerable and fearless and funny as hell. The Art of Self-Defense absolutely belongs at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019. The timing of the film is sheer perfection and this fest has the right audience.

THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE

Review: ‘Astronaut’ soars.

ASTRONAUT

Starring Academy Award Winner Richard Dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss plays Angus, a grandfather who’s family has made him feel like a burden.  Forced into a home and with failing health, Angus and his grandson see a competition held by a billionaire entrepreneur calling for applications for the first civilian flight into space. Slowly drowning in a sea of the sad and lonely old folks residents, Angus takes a leap of faith and applies under false pretense with only seconds to spare. Could this 75-year-old civil engineer make it to space, with all the odds stacked against him? Not before making waves, of course.

Astronaut isn’t just about space. It’s about humanity at best and at it’s worst. It’s about joy and loss and time. It’s about family and sacrifice. It addresses ageism is a smart way. Dreyfuss is as endearing and brilliant as ever. His ability to connect through the screen has not waned from American Graffiti to now. His genuine and grounded performance is a masterclass in technique from head to toe. It taps into the curiosity of the unknown stokes in all of us. The idea that we’re not alone. And not just with respect to space. Astronaut explores the idea that we’re somehow all connected and the need to feel seen and heard. Elegantly scored, beautifully written and directed by Shelagh McLeod, Astronaut will touch your soul.

Quiver Distribution will release the heartwarming family drama ASTRONAUT in theaters and On Demand and Digital on July 26, 2019The film will release timely to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing (7/20/1969).

ASTRONAUT stars Academy Award Winner Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye GirlJaws), Lyriq Bent (“She’s Gotta Have It”, Acrimony), Krista Bridges (Land of the Dead, “Schitt’s Creek”), Graham Greene (The Green MileDancing with Wolves), Richie Lawrence (“Odd Squad”, “Heroes: Reborn”) and Colm Feore (ChicagoThor).

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘Black Magic For White Boys’ spells it out in dark humor.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYSOnur Tukel is truly one of a kind in his IFGAF honesty and deliciously bizarre approach to storytelling. (There I go again with the tasty metaphors. This all started with Applesauce.) At this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Tukel has given us another smart indie with Black Magic for White Boys. The film uses the power of magic to heighten the toxic masculinity, racism, and misogyny of white men. Tukel brilliantly plays Oscar, a manchild with an inheritance who thinks he can command the uterus of his new girlfriend. Jamie Block plays real estate mogul, Jamie, trying to undercut and oust his rent-controlled tenants. Ronald Guttman as French magician Larry, in desperate need of ticket sales, utilizes a book of ancient spells to the benefit of all three men. Black Magic for White Boys is a not so subtle metaphor for the gentrification of New York City and perhaps the state of our country during this truly hideous period of our history. Every great/disastrous recent newsworthy story is integrated shamelessly (a total compliment) into the dialogue. The modern-day Greek chorus of bus riders making social observations is perfection. Performances across the board are nuanced and raw, funny and wild, in your face and effed up. Shout outs to Franck Raharinosy, Brendan Miller, Colin Buckingham, and Eva Dorrepaal specifically.  Therein lies the cinematic magic of Tukel. Putting himself in each of his films is also essentially my favorite thing. Watching him transform from role to role only reminds me our how insanely talented he is as a writer, director, and actor. Ultimately, like each of Tukel’s films, this stands as a unique experience packed with insight, bold ideas, humor, and a grab ’em by the balls mentality. No surprise, I loved it.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘Ode To Nothing’ is everything a cinephile wants.

Synopsis:

“Sonya, an old maid is about to give up on herself until one day, she meets a corpse in her family’s embalming business that changes her life.”

Another North American premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 is that of Ode To Nothing. The slow burn of creepy factor launches this film into skin-crawling territory. The setting alone is horror movie gold. A family mortuary? Besides My Girl, when does anything fun and happy occur? Hell, even with a mostly delightful plot, the end of My Girl still makes me bawl my eyes out every damn time I watch it! “He needs his glasses! He can’t see without his glasses!” *Cue ugly cry* Anyhow, Ode To Nothing takes the family business and infuses humor as it transitions to the unsettling. As Sonya runs the business, the mystery body becomes her confidant. The reality of her loneliness becomes next level when she takes this unknown woman’s body and treats it as her own personal best friend. I don’t know if it’s sadder or more upsetting. Imagine you find a lost dog and take it in and begin to love it. You treat it like it’s your own knowing full well that at anytime the owner could show up to claim their dog. Now replace the dog in that scenario with a dead body. Yeah, it’s just as weird as you’re picturing. The audience is unsure if it’s supposed to laugh at the lunacy or cringe at fact that both father and daughter act like this is totally normal. Therein lies the brilliance of Ode To Nothing. The film’s framing feels reminiscent of a vacation slide. We often peer through a window, a door, or watch a scene in the reflection of the mirror. It’s simply beautiful. The dialogue is unexpected in its intimacy. If you can separate yourself from the odd, the number of monologues that Marietta Subong has are stunningly performed and wonderfully honest. As the body decays, this family’s life blossoms. Ode To Nothing is something special in its eccentricity.

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: ‘PHIL’, Greg Kinnear’s directorial debut is now in theaters and On Demand.

**Closing Night Film – Sarasota Film Festival 2019**

Phil, a depressed dentist whose life is falling apart, is shocked when one of his patients, a man who seemed to have the perfect life, kills himself. Determined to find out what would drive a man who had everything to end his life, Phil pretends to be a handyman and integrates himself into the dead man’s life, befriending his wife and daughter. How long can Phil keep up this double life when he is already ready to end his normal one?

Happiness is the ever elusive prize in life. Depression is a monster. As one man’s seemingly perfect life comes to an end, another attempts to find out why in question of his own mortality. PHIL is a story of the pursuit of happiness and what that even means.

Greg Kinnear, playing both the film’s director and titular character, is a man on the literal edge. After becoming enamored with the joy of one of his patients, he resorts to following the man until he discovers him hanging in the middle of the forest. Why would someone who has it all end his life? Phil is obsessed with answers. Kinnear, as always, is charming and grounded. There is something in this man’s eyes that makes you want to listen to him, to care for him, to experience what he experiences. Alongside an enormously talented ensemble, including Emily Mortimer, Jay Duplass, Luke Wilson, and more, PHIL explores the things in life that make us connect with one another; Stories, memories, new and old, family and friendship. Learning to not live vicariously through others is a lesson we can all take to heart. PHIL has an unexpected script and it is pure delight. This film is about growth and the exploration of self. It’s a real gem and all involved should be proud to share this story.

Quiver Distribution will release the comedy PHIL in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on July 5, 2019.

 PHIL marks the directorial debut of Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine, As Good As It Gets).  The film features an all-star cast including Kinnear, Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns, HBO’s “The Newsroom”), Jay Duplass (Amazon’s “Transparent,” Hulu’s “The Mindy Project”), Taylor Schilling (Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black,” The Lucky One), Kurt Fuller (Midnight in Paris, Anger Management) with Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde series, Old School) and Bradley Whitford (Get Out, ABC’s “The West Wing”). The screenplay was written by Stephen Mazur (Heartbreakers, Liar Liar).

Hold onto your butts, Fantasia International Film Festival is back!

To give you an idea of why Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite redheaded stepchild of a festival, here are a few films from my youth that still haunt/entertain the crap out of me. 1. Poltergeist: the film my father thought a 2-year-old should watch. 2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: because a sci-fi musical with Tim Curry in drag should be shown in every Kindergarten class on the planet I inhabit. 3. Princess Bride: one of the most quotable and inconceivable films, I mean that with the utmost respect and if you say otherwise I will fight you (with a sword). 4. Pulp Fiction: a film whose dialogue is filled with sermon, innumerable expletives, drug overdose, and bloody violence for days was just the beginning of a long career of effed up magic. Love it or hate it, it was original. So, for me, Fantasia encompasses all that is weird, wonderful, wacky, wtf, and any other “w” descriptor I’m missing out on in this precise moment.

Fantasia is in its 23rd year and with every passing fest, the films you’re talking about all year play here. This festival gives genre fans something to look forward to and never disappoints. Last year, CAM, The Night Eats The World, Mega Time Squad, and Relaxer just to name a few, all rocked my socks. This year, I’m jonesing to catch a list of films that have already been buzzing for months. There are too many to share in just one post, so here are ten (ish) features I’m fired up for.


Bliss– Joe Begos brings us a blood-soaked trip. Handheld 16mm, punk rock, and vampires? Sign me up for this visceral ride. Check out the trailer in all its glory.


Ready or Not– is this a weird twist on The Most Dangerous Game meets You’re Next? All I know is that I don’t know, and I cannot wait for the mayhem to begin.


Little Monsters– who would have thought that Lupita Nyong’o would be a repeat horror heroine? And Josh Gad, beloved voice of Olaf alongside her? As a former teacher, I’m all in.


AstronautRichard Dreyfuss plays a grandfather trying to fulfill his dream of going into space. With his family as only one if his obstacles, Dreyfuss a genre legend in his own right, is sure to dazzle once more.


1BR– this is already on the Sold Out Screening list. Need I say more about a finding an apartment and the horrors that inevitably surround that experience. My guess is that this goes above and beyond the normal hassle.


Black Magic for White BoysOnur Tukel (we once described one another as “delicious and super natural” in an interview for Applesauce) is sheer perfection for Fantasia. His IDGAF attitude in his writing and directing style are ripe for genre fans. This looks absolutely… well, magical.


The LodgeVeronika Franz and Severin Fiala follow up the haunting Goodnight Mommy with their first English-language horror film. Starring a heavy-hitting cast including Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone, Riley Keough, and Jaeden Lieberher, trying to figure out a new family dynamic amidst a trip to a secluded lodge… On Christmas… In a blizzard. Sounds like nothing could possibly go wrong here.


Tone-Deaf– Politics has spiraled into horror in real-life since the orange garbage person cheated his way into the White House. Seems apropos for a MAGA white man and millennial to duke it out over a living situation.


Paradise Hills– With hints of A Handmaid’s Tale, this pink saturated nightmare has another phenomenal big-name cast including Mila Jovovich, Emma Roberts, and Awkwafina, to name a few. Young women being groomed in any fashion doesn’t lend itself for happy tidings.


Culture Shock– Part of Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology series (under the Blumhouse production name), this take on America’s “Dreamers” is killing it already. Not to mention it stars cult icon Barbara Crampton who in real-life is clearly some magical sorceress because she never ages.


And finally, every year, I personally look forward to the Born of Woman program. This year there will be 9 short films from around the globe. This year Fantasia is showcasing films from Australia, Netherlands, USA, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Fantasia’s annual showcase of intimate, auteur genre visions returns with nine extraordinary works from an array of international talents who will leave you gobsmacked and amazed.


The number of women represented behind the camera is growing exponentially. And everyone benefits from that.

Fantasia will run from this Thursday, July 11th until August 1st. To find out more information on all the films and if you’ll be in Montreal over the next three weeks, you can purchase tickets at www.fantasiafestival.com

Review: Award-winning documentary ‘The Push’ now available on VOD platforms.

The Push


Grant Korgan is a scientist and a professional athlete. Grant Korgan should not be able to do the things he does. After sustaining a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the belly button down, his entire spirit was deflated. Until he discovered other disabled athletes were training to continue their sports and beyond. Along comes an opportunity of a lifetime; go to The South Pole, and not just go, traverse 100 miles across the polar plateau of Antarctica using only his arms to pull himself on a sled. It had never been done by someone like Grant. His entire journey, from the accident on is documented. He literally had a camera on his person as he hit the ground and, unbeknownst to him, became paralyzed. Not only does he have a camera, but his best friends and extreme sports buddies are also filming him from the bottom of the mountain. The Korgans have a camera running for all the good, the bad, the ugly of recovery and training. The Push is a story of the human spirit and the determination of Grant, his wife Shawna, and Tal, Grant’s trekking partner, and ultimate caretaker on the ice. The bond forged between these two people is unreal. Teamwork doesn’t accurately define their relationship. Tal essentially becomes the lifeguard that Shawna had been. Now she’s not there and Tal has to make decisions for the both of them. Things do not go as planned. It’s impossible to predict how Mother Nature will treat you. Faith is a real driving force in this story. Not the religious kind of faith but the belief that anything can be achieved if you just persist hard enough, long enough. The Push will make you root for these guys to succeed. Challenge after challenge will they make it to the South Pole?  And at the point of real-life danger and all the odds against them, and after all they’ve already achieved, does it even matter? Not only do we experience Grant’s South Pole excursion, but the aftermath. This is where it comes back to the human spirit, once again. There is a lot of soul searching and as Grant says, ” there is a beauty in being broken” and how you choose to view your circumstances. If you’re not crying at the end of this film I don’t even know if you’re a human being. The Push is inspiring and a film that should be shared far and wide for anyone struggling. It’s truly uplifting.

A Gravitas Ventures release, the film has just landed on Amazon and Netflix and other VOD platforms.

THE PUSH

Winner of “Best Documentary” at AmDocs Palm Springs, Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, The Impact DOCS Awards, Long Beach International Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Sonoma International Film Festival, and the Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival.

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 Podcast Interview: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella, and Brea Grant share all the gory and gorgeous details of ‘Something Else’.

Something Else Podcast

Something Else was one of the most unique selections in this year’s festival. Both a monster movie and a love story, the film’s deliberate structure is a standout all on its own. The writing is fresh and funny and the use of light makes it a joy to watch. There are brilliantly theatrical moments. I believe this film would actually translate incredibly well onstage! When you see it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a complete compliment. I sat down with co-directors Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner (who also stars and wrote the script) and star Brea Grant to chat all things Something Else. How did the script come about? What in the world were they thinking with certain choices? What did Brea think the first time she read the script?  We talk favorite movie monsters, and how the filmmakers of one of my favorite films The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, got on board. You can read my full review of Something Else here, but give a listen to the awesome time we all had together. Be warned, when I walked into the room, Christian, Jeremy, and Brea had all been in the super cool bathroom of our interview room at The Roxy Hotel taking a photo, and I’m disappointed in myself for not getting in on the selfie action on my way out the door. Also, when you hear us refer/talk to “Ted”, we’re actually talking to We Are Still Here and Mohawk filmmaker Ted Geoghegan who just so happened to be in our presence. No big deal. Anyhow, without further ado, here is our podcast talking all things Tribeca, monsters, and Something Else.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are the filmmakers behind the indie zombie film The Battery and survival comedy Tex Montana Will Survive! Lifelong friends, both directors were born and raised in Florida.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Midnight
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    83 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Connect:
CAST & CREDITS
  • Director:
    Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella
  • Producer:
    David Lawson Jr., Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Arvind Harinath
  • Screenwriter:
    Jeremy Gardner
  • Cinematographer:
    Christian Stella
  • Editor:
    Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner
  • Executive Producer:
    Venu Kunnappilly
  • Cast:
    Jeremy Gardner. Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra

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.

 

 

 

How to see the Tribeca Audience Award Winners & Runner-ups

These films will be showing tomorrow on the last day of the Tribeca Film Festival or you can also catch them below. See You Yesterday is coming to Netflix!

  • Documentary Audience Award
  • Narrative Audience Award

Airbnb-produced Gay Chorus Deep South is making its way around the country on the festival circuit. Next stop will be Montclair, NJ followed by Greenville, SC. Check out the schedule here: https://www.gaychorusdeepsouth.com/seethefilm

Gay Chorus Deep South, directed by David Charles Rodrigues, written by David Charles Rodrigues, Jeff Gilbert. Produced by Bud Johnston, Jesse Moss. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Documentary. To confront a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ laws, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on an unprecedented bus tour through the Deep South, celebrating music, challenging intolerance, and confronting their own dark coming out stories. With The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Dr. Tim Seelig, Ashlé, Jimmy White


Plus One is to be released June 14th, and I assume that means theatrically, although it is not clear.

Plus One, directed and written by Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer. Produced by Jeremy Reitz, Debbie Liebling, Ross Putman, Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer, Greg Beauchamp. (USA) – World Premiere. In order to survive a summer of wedding fever, longtime single friends Ben and Alice agree to be each other’s plus one at every goddamn wedding they’re invited to. With Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Ed Begley Jr., Rosalind Chao, Beck Bennett, Finn Wittrock.


You’ll find See You Yesterday on Netflix on May 17th.

See You Yesterday, directed by Stefon Bristol, written by Stefon Bristol & Fredrica Bailey. Produced by Spike Lee, Jason Sokoloff, Matt Myers. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Narrative. Two Brooklyn teenage prodigies, C.J. Walker and Sebastian Thomas, build make-shift time machines to save C.J.’s brother, Calvin, from being wrongfully killed by a police officer.


Watson, directed by Lesley Chilcott. Producers: Louise Runge, Lesley Chilcott, Wolfgang Knöpfler. . (USA, Costa Rica, Tonga) – World Premiere. Co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson has spent 40 years fighting to end the destruction of the ocean’s wildlife and its habitat. Part pirate, part philosopher, Watson’s methods stop at nothing to protect what lies beneath.