Review: ‘Archive’ will make you question life and death decisions.

SYNOPSIS:2038: George Almore is working on a true human-equivalent AI. His latest prototype is almost ready. This sensitive phase is also the riskiest. Especially as he has a goal that must be hidden at all costs:being reunited with his dead wife.

Archive is a visual dream for fans of A.I. related storytelling. The production design team has taken pages from sci-fi films of old while also giving the audience a completely original aesthetic. It’s almost the birth of Westworld’s technology. You cannot miss the nods to Space Odessey, Alien, and Blade Runner.

Performances are incredibly grounded. The physical isolation mixed with grief makes for a somber and ominous setup. The nuanced relationships are brilliant to watch as they evolve. You will find yourself empathizing with all the A.I. entities. Theo James gives us every beat in total honesty. Stacy Martin is a superstar in 3 very different roles. Quite impressive.

There is a lot of intrigue in this script. Moral ambiguity is a huge part of the plot. Writer-director Gavin Rothery begs the question, “How far would you be willing to go for love?” There are clues dropped in the dialogue and recalls in scenes providing clever juxtaposition that will challenge the viewer. You cannot look away. Blink and you’ll miss something that might be more important than you realize. Brimming with emotional complexity, Archive challenges what life and death will continue to mean as technology upgrades in the future.

ARCHIVE is releasing on July 10, 2020 on Virtual Cinema Screenings, on Demand and Digital.

Review: ‘PREVENGE’ takes killer kids to the next level.

presents

PREVENGE
Written and Directed by Alice Lowe

**Official Selection: 2016 VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL**
**Official Selection: 2016 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL**
*
*Official Selection: SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2017**

Sometimes, when it’s 3 am and my unborn baby girl decided it’s an awesome time to do a dance instead of letting me sleep, I become, shall we say, a little grumpy. 3 weeks away from my second child, I’m freaking tired and sore and over being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled for this peanut. My soon to be two children will be less than 16 months apart. Yup, two under two. I shudder to think about the amount of rest I will not be getting for the next 18, nay, 19 years. All that being said, I’ll have my perfect little salt and pepper set, all we need is the dog. There will be days I will want to flee, I’m sure… but I cannot imagine a day where the acts of my kids will compel me to start, let’s say, murdering people. Though, it’s early and who am I to judge. In Alice Lowe‘s directorial debut, PREVENGE, Ruth’s unborn child is telling her to murder a very specific list of people and perhaps for a good reason.

Synopsis:

A pitch black, wryly British horror comedy from the mind of Alice Lowe (“Sightseers,” “Hot Fuzz,” “Paddington”) that’s as funny as it is vicious,  PREVENGE follows Ruth, a pregnant woman on a killing spree. It’s her misanthropic unborn baby dictating Ruth’s actions, holding society responsible for the absence of a father. The child speaks to Ruth from the womb, coaching her to lure and ultimately kill her unsuspecting victims. Struggling with her conscience, loneliness, and a strange strain of prepartum madness, Ruth must ultimately choose between redemption and destruction at the moment of motherhood.

Written, directed and starring Lowe while she was actually 7 1/2 months pregnant, Prevenge is savage and wickedly demented. Sharp British humor heightens this in-your-face rampage. As much as you attempt to figure out the actual reason for the string of murders, you won’t until very late into the film and thus a sign of great writing. Lowe’s portrayal of Ruth is frighteningly grounded and wonderful. The cast is filled with familiar faces and the chemistry between Lowe and her (mostly) victims is perfection. The colors are vibrant and the jarring jump cuts interspersed are incredibly effective. The film is weird and gruesome and unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s just plain cool.

Check out a clip from the film below.

PREVENGE opens theatrically in New York and Los Angeles and will be available nationwide on Shudder, on March 24th

About SHUDDER:

Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving fans of thrillers, suspense, and horror. Backed by AMC Networks, Shudder has a growing and dynamic selection of thrilling premieres, originals, and exclusives, which complement its impressive library of international and independent films, gripping TV series, and Hollywood blockbuster favorites.

TRT: 88 min
Director: Alice Lowe
Writer: Alice Lowe
Cast: Alice Lowe, Gemma Whelan, Kate Dickie, Jo Hartley
Distributor: Shudder

 

Review: ‘CLAIRE IN MOTION’ stars Betsy Brandt in a desperate search for her missing husband.

Breaking Glass Pictures will release the upcoming psychological drama/thriller 

CLAIRE IN MOTION

 in theaters and On Demand January 13, 2017. 

CLAIRE IN MOTION is the second feature film by filmmaking team Lisa Robinson and Annie J. Howell (Small, Beautifully Moving Parts) and stars Betsy Brandt (CBS’ “Life in Pieces,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad”) in a breakthrough performance that twists the missing person thriller into an emotional take on uncertainty and loss.

Three weeks after Claire’s husband has mysteriously disappeared, the police have ended their investigation and her son is beginning to grieve. The only person who hasn’t given up is Claire. Soon she discovers his troubling secrets, including an alluring yet manipulative graduate student with whom he had formed a close bond. As she digs deeper, Claire begins to lose her grip on how well she truly knew her husband and questions her own identity in the process.

Playing the convincing role of math professor and mom comes so naturally to Betsy Brandt, one might actually think this film was based on a true story. With facts and figures guiding her everyday life, she quickly learns they aren’t going to help figure out who she really married. The plot moves swiftly. There is no lag time between the opening scene and transitioning entering the mysteries. The pace and editing are such that you can feel the immediate push from the outside world on both Claire and her son to accept the fact that husband and father are not coming back. It is the quintessential, “You think you know someone,” piece. It lends you to wonder who your significant other is when they’re not with you. Work friends, hobbies, the gym, lunches, seemingly mundane moments impact us each day so why would they not impact your partner in the same profound way? But, the torturous unanswered questions left in the wake of any ended relationship are the ones that stick with us. Claire In Motion is a quiet and yet profound look into reaching beyond yourself and into the lives of those around us.

Narrative Spotlight Audience Award – SXSW Film Festival 2016

Official Selection, New American Cinema – Seattle International Film Festival 2016

TITLE: CLAIRE IN MOTION
IN THEATERS AND ON DEMAND:  January 13, 2017
DIRECTOR:  Lisa Robinson, Annie J. Howell
WRITERS:  Lisa Robinson, Annie J. Howell
CAST:   Betsy Brandt, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Chris Beetem, Sakina Jaffrey
GENRE:  Psychological Drama, Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: Breaking Glass Pictures

Review: ‘JACK GOES HOME’ proves that Rory Culkin is terrifyingly good at his job.

jackgoeshome_theatrical_27x39They say you can never go home again. Maybe some of us should heed this advice depending on the skeletons in our closets. In Thomas Dekker‘s new film JACK GOES HOME, Rory Culkin finds himself playing the title character whose loss might be his greatest gain. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
r1I’ve see a horror film or two in my day, but I’ve never seen anything like Jack Goes Home. The story appears to be straight forward: Jack’s parents are in a car accident. His father dies and he goes home to take care of his mother, who has survived. When something goes bump in the night, he is compelled, by his father’s own words, to explore his childhood like never before. It doesn’t take too long before things get weird. Grief can make people act in funny ways, but this film takes it to a whole other level. Dekker’s script is off the hinges with scares both physically and emotionally. You’re never quite sure who is fooling whom. rl1With genre veteran Lin Shaye as Jack’s mother, you’re immediately thrown for a loop. Her presence is this insane mix of calming and unnerving. Each scene she appears in makes your skin crawl. Rory Culkin is more intense with each role he takes on. Following up on his fierce performance in Gabriel, there is no doubt this young man is a star. Jack is one hell of a character and when the film has the balls to open by having him break the fourth wall, you know you’re in for a ride. Each scene tops the next in mystery and fear and Culkin is the driving force behind your unease. As the credits rolled I thought, “What the hell did I just see?!” Then in watching the trailer again, I had so many more questions and theories. This is a film I’ll be speculating about for some time. It begs for multiple viewings.

JACK GOES HOME hits US cinemas and VOD on Friday, October 14th, from Momentum Pictures.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA) Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content, language throughout, and drug use.

NYFF54 Reviews: ‘SIERANEVADA’ & ‘THE REHEARSAL’

nyff54-banner

SIERANEVADAnyff54-sieranevada-mimi-cornel-branescu-valer-dellakeza_courtesy-elle-driverSieranevada takes a peek inside a grieving family and the reality of being stuck in a small space with the people you love and hate. Days after the death of the family patriarch and the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks, we find our cast gathered together to honor their beloved father. While they wait for the priest to arrive, we discover, little by little, the chaos, the meddling, the selfish, emotionally unstable ways that only your own family can throw at you all at once. Director Cristi Puiu, makes us, the audience, a fly on the wall for 3 solid hrs. This might pose a challenge for some viewers. The camera, mostly stationary, pans back and forth in place for extended periods of time, catching whispers, shouts, and much chain smoking predominantly from a hallway position. While the actors try desperately not to step on each other or wake the baby while they wait to eat once the elusive priest finally arrives. The dialogue is a beautiful mix of over the top arguments, manic bereavement, and laughter at internet conspiracy theories. It’s undeniably relatable. Only a big family dynamic can get your blood boiling and creative juices flowing for that long. nyff54-sieranevada-2_courtesy-elle-driver


THE REHEARSALnyff54-the-rehearsal-actors-kieran-charnock-james-rolleston-michelle-ny-alice-englert-and-scotty-cotte-courtesy-of-matthew-klitscherHaving graduated drama school only blocks from the NYFF, I can relate to The Rehearsal on a very personal  level. Based on the novel Eleanor Catton‘s debut novel of the same name. Director/writer Alison Maclean‘s film version is slightly different but the themes remain the same. Teachers taking advantage of their students. It was lovely to see the authenticity of a performing arts school portrayed on the big screen. It’s been a while since both the discipline and seemingly ridiculous have been combined to give the viewer a slice of life in a conservatory style education. No one is nice to you. everyone is competition. The teachers are their to teach you with hard life lessons. But this story is also about the emotional responsibility of not only the teachers, but the students as they grow into mature adults. Our main plot revolves around the lives and work of the kids. More specifically, their final project. The dialogue is evenhanded in humor and drama. The performances are extremely solid.The final scene is cinematic perfection. nyff54-the-rehearsal-actors-michelle-ny-and-kerry-fox-courtesy-of-matthew-klitscher

 

Review: ‘THE VESSEL’ is a struggle between grief and belief.

sheen-face-theatrical-1-sheet

In Theaters September 16, 2016

Starring:

Martin Sheen (TV’s “The West Wing,” Apocalypse Now)

Lucas Quintana (Wing it, Death of an Ally)

Jacqueline Duprey (Under Suspicion, Entre Nos)

Aris Mejias (Gabi, “Incógnita”)

still_5

Lucas Quintana; Credit: Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

When tragedy strikes, your universe can crumble. Everything you know can seem confusing or useless. Darkness takes hold. We search for the smallest meaning to turn our sadness into joy once more. In THE VESSEL, one man is burdened with being the guiding light for a small coastal town, following the sudden death of all its elementary aged children.

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Aris Mejias; Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

Martin Sheen‘s performance as a well-meaning priest is genuine and grounded as always. The Vessel was filmed in both English and Spanish, which is an incredible feat for any American actor. Once again teaming up with Terrence Malick (executive producer), the two would have the opportunity to seemingly readdress a series of meaningful conversations in Paris in 1981 in which Sheen’s Roman Catholic faith was restored. Playing our other leading man, Leo, is Lucas Quintana. His strong but never forceful presence is the perfect companion character for the audience to follow. We are 100% on his intellectual journey throughout. Both Jaqueline Duprey and Aris Mejias, as Leo’s Mother and Soraya respectively, give heart-rending performances as two women whose grief controls their daily lives and sanity.

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Lucas Quintana; Courtesy of Outsider Pictures

One thing that must be mentioned is the ethereal score of this film. It is, in itself, an entire character. The music is emotionally entrancing, at moments giving me chills. The Vessel presents a world in which religion and the supernatural collide. A town frozen in time and mourning experiences a miracle that breathes new life into its people. But disappointment leads to anger and hysteria. It’s a visually lovely film in which color plays a huge role. Bravo to director Julio Quintana for assembling a masterful piece of work.

Music, Dancing, Fireworks, Childbirth. In an unnamed coastal town somewhere in Latin America, these are just a few things that vanished from a small fishing village after a massive tidal wave crushed the local elementary school, washing forty-six children out to sea.  Father Douglas (Martin Sheen) urges the grief-stricken mothers to have more children, but they refuse, locked in a state of perpetual mourning. Until one night when a local young man slips off the pier and drowns, only to mysteriously waken three hours later.  “Could this be a sign from God?” the townspeople wonder.

[FLASHBACK] Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Tumbledown_Press_1 TribecaRebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.tumbledownjasonsudeikisrebeccahall

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.jasonsudeikistumbledownrebeccahall


I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

Originally posted April 20, 2015

Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown_Press_1 Tribeca

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Rebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.


 

I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

You can still catch a screening of TUMBLEDOWN at the fest this Thursday!! I cannot imagine this film not getting distribution. We will most certainly keep you updated here at RND.

3:30 PM – THU 4/23  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-11Icon-fg-map ADD $13.50
To find out more about TUMBLEDOWN in the Tribeca Film Guide 2015

Liz’s Review: Jennifer Aniston is devastatingly delicious in ‘CAKE’

CakePosterImagine a scenario where you’ve lost everything you hold dear in life: spouse, career,  friends, stability, sense of self and, perhaps, even your soul. How would you live day to day? Now forget “live”, and replace it “survive”. CAKE is a film that tackles a profound sense of loss and the tremendous possibility that this may be impossible. Read More →

‘The Sublime and Beautiful’- Liz’s interview with writer/director/star Blake Robbins

SUBLIMEBEAUTIFUL

Grief is a very personal experience. Some of us cry, some lash out at loved ones, some shut down. A few even look at a loss as an excuse to reassess their lives. Either way, it is a loss. Five years ago yesterday, I lost someone very special to me. I had experienced the loss of family members before, but this, this was something altogether different. Tyler was a beloved friend. I guess I never actually knew how close we were until after he was ripped from my life without real explanation. The hole gets smaller each day but just barely. There are moments, songs, pictures, that still take the wind out of me. It’s the most horrible feeling. Grief owns me at times. It’s still a process. In Blake Robbins new film, The SUBLIME and BEAUTIFUL, all those feelings rush back into my brain and heart. Read More →