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: ‘VIRGINIA MINNESOTA’ is a quirky and heartfelt road movie.

 Daniel Stine’s feature film debut, Virginia Minnesota, received its world premiere on March 2nd at the Cinequest Film Festival and stars a primarily female cast led by Aurora Perrineau and Rachel Hendrix.

Two young women, torn apart by a childhood tragedy, unexpectedly reunite and embark on an illuminating 24-hour journey, where they unlock memories of long forgotten innocence and what it means to truly believe.

This unexpected indie takes your heart by surprise within minutes. It’s part folklore, part road movie, and all charm. When four girls are called together to hear the reading of the will of their former headmistress, sparks fly and memories burn with truth and misunderstanding. I was not expecting this story to turn into a road movie at all, although with a character that is a suitcase with a personality (you’ll just have to watch to understand what I mean) I guess I should have predicted it in hindsight. While a small piece of the plot does revolve around a fiancé, the dialogue definitely passes The Bechdel Test with flying colors. Aurora Perrineau and Rachel Hendrix have a chemistry that is fun and comfortable.They challenge one another at every turn making Virginia Minnesota just as delightful as it is insightful. Guilt, repressed feelings and some seriously quirky encounters create a truly lovely and endlessly engrossing film.

VIRGINIA MINNESOTA – Trailer from Daniel Stine on Vimeo.

Virginia Minnesota premiered at the 2018 Cinequest Film Festival on March 2nd at 9:30 PM.

Virginia Minnesota was recently awarded the Global Grand Jury award for Best Hollywood Film at the Hollywood Film Festival (HFF), with Aurora Perrineau and Rachel Hendrix receiving special mention as Exceptional Emerging Artists. The film is produced by Rushaway Pictures, with cinematography by Pedro Ciampolini and a score by Gary Dworetsky.

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.

[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

Review: ‘MEADOWLAND’ drives Olivia Wilde to the brink.

Meadowland poster

How does one cope after the loss of a child? Do marriages survive? Can we be saved? These are all questions in an intense script lead by a masterful performance from Olivia Wilde. Sarah and Phil’s son goes missing, shattering their life together and forcing each to find their own way to cope. Cinematographer-turned-director Reed Morano presents a masterfully crafted contemplation on a relationship strained to the breaking point. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson capture the unraveling emotions with remarkable power, alongside Kevin Corrigan, John Leguizamo, Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple, and Merritt Wever. Read More →

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 →