Review: Is ‘Starfish’ a metaphor for grief?

With reality rapidly fraying at the edges, Aubrey finds herself following a string of clues left after the death of her best friend. Clues leading to a mysterious signal that could save the world.

Starfish is one hell of a trip. This film boasts one of the coolest soundtracks, some sick CG, outstanding acting, an anime sequence, and one weird ass storyline. I’m still not entirely sure what happens in this film but I know I loved it at every turn and have been talking about it nonstop for days. Our leading lady, Virginia Gardner is phenomenal. Every performance challenge you could face as an actress she tackles with complexity that feels grounded and relatable. This film is quite the feat from every angle. The editing makes this pretty delicious to watch. There is never a dull moment and I was absolutely living for the next beat. It deals with isolation, denial, depression, fear, and regret in the most unique ways. The visual playground that is Starfish is reason alone to watch. Below you will find the trailer. This is a small taste of the magic you are in for with Starfish. I’m going to need a sequel at the very least. Even better, can we expand this world into a series? I have so many questions and I crave more. You can check out Starfish now in select theaters. It will be available on VOD in May.

Starfish Trailer from Yellow Veil Pictures on Vimeo.

📼 Coming to select theaters across the US this March, VOD May 28th 📼

For theatrical listing please consult:

Director A.T. White in attendance at special screenings

In Starfish Virginia Gardner (Halloween 2018, Marvel’s The Runaways) stars as Aubrey, a young woman suffering from the death of a close friend. When a mysterious signal from an unknown dimension summons the end of days, it appears as if only Aubrey is left on earth. Trapped in the apartment of her recently deceased best friend, the only clue she has is a single cassette left behind after her friends death, labeled: “THIS MIXTAPE WILL SAVE THE WORLD.”

Thrust into a mystery orchestrated by her friend and stricken with grief, Aubrey begins to piece the clues together, uncovering a series of tapes all with pieces of the mystery signal. Along the way, progress is impeded when monstrous creatures begin to overrun the world and enclose in on her. Aubrey is forced to fight off the encroaching creatures and move beyond her own crippling grief in order to find the remaining tapes. But will completing the signal save the world?

Director A.T. White (part of the popular UK band Ghostlight) composed the captivating score, while the film’s soundtrack features songs from Sigur Rós, Sparklehorse, Why? and more, creating a unique audio landscape that matches Starfish‘s apocalyptic world.

STARFISH is written and directed by A.T. White and produced by We Are Tessellate, Spellbound Entertainment and 3ROUNDBURST Productions. The film stars Virginia Gardner (Blumhouse’s HALLOWEEN, Hulu’s Runaways) and features supporting performances from Christina Masterson (Power Rangers Megaforce), Eric Beecroft, Natalie Mitchell and Tanroh Ishida. Starfish will be released on VOD later this year by 1091 Media’s The Orchard.

Review: ‘And Then I Go’ will haunt every parent in America.

AND THEN I GO

In the cruel world of junior high, Edwin suffers in a state of anxiety and alienation alongside his only friend, Flake. Misunderstood by their families and demoralized at school daily, their fury simmers quietly until an idea for vengeance offers them a terrifying release. Based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, this unflinching look at adolescence explores how the powerful bonds of childhood friendship and search for belonging can become a matter of life or death.

With two small children, I now have a whole new set of anxiety as I research schools. I remember how bullying affected me when I was middle-school age. But with social media and the lack of consequences I have seen surrounding some children’s behavior, I am increasingly nervous about what my kids are getting themselves into through no fault of their own. My sister is newly a fulltime school counselor. The lack of coping skills and the increase of online harassment makes these kids more vulnerable than ever before. She job has quickly transformed from a few state-mandated cases into the disciplinary dumping ground for her particular administration. The uphill battle keeps getting higher.

The new film And Then I Go looks deep inside the isolation of two young boys as they are tormented by issues at home and school, some of their own doing and some by association. Performances from Melanie Lynskey and Justin Long are equal parts exhausted parents and concerned, loving individuals. They are caught in a cycle of changing behavior typical of their older son’s environment and a second child whose innocence is still intact due to age and personality. You feel for all parties involved and if you’re a parent yourself, can understand the look of desperation and quick jump to judgment.
The anchors of the film are undoubtedly our pair of lost boys, Arman Darbo and Sawyer Barth. These two give performances that will leave you breathless. The emotional depths to which these two have to go are heartbreaking and raw. Some moments are so natural you will wonder if there is a script at all. We will be seeing much more from these two in the future. Tony Hale and Carrie Preston offer us an insight into the minds of school staff and the attention they try to give to all their students. They are in the same mindset as parents emotionally and mentally. Exhaustive attempts to serve each child as an individual either stick or they don’t. All we can do is our best and remember why we do the jobs in the first place.
From the opening voiceover, there is an air of anxiety and melancholy. A deep seeded feeling of dread looms over the film as the plot rolls along. The cinematography and lighting are key to setting the film’s mood and tone. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, truly. While I was able to figure out where the film was headed, I was so invested in the characters that I was rooting for a different outcome throughout. You cannot help but hope that something or someone will intervene. But as a former teacher, I have seen the overcrowding and felt the burnout in taking work home, yet trying desperately to keep track of not only the kids in my own class but others. Resources being slashed left and right doesn’t help administration, teachers, and parents to do their very best. We are only human. I for one will be seeking out Jim Shepard‘s novel, “Project X”, immediately. And Then I Go should be required viewing for every adult in America today.

The Orchard will release AND THEN I GO On Digital and On Demand April 17, 2018.

The film features a stellar cast led by Justin Long (Yoga Hosers, Tusk, Accepted), Melanie Lynskey (“Castle Rock,” “Togetherness,” Heavenly Creatures), Tony Hale (“Arrested Development,” “Veep”), Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station, The Belko Experiment), Carrie Preston (“Claws,” “True Blood”), and powerful performances from teenage actors Arman Darbo (Defenders of Life) and Sawyer Barth (Super Dark Times).

 

20 films at the Tribeca Film Festival that already have distribution

No Greater Law
Feature Documentary
Country: UK, USA
Director: Tom Dumican
Writer: Jesse Lichtenstein, Tom Dumican
Distributed by: A&E
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

In Idaho’s rugged Treasure Valley, the Followers of Christ believe in God, family, and faith healing. As an investigation into the community’s high infant mortality rate closes in on the church, one patriarch fights for his right to his faith.


Studio 54
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Matt Tyrnauer
Writer:
Starring: Myra Scheer, Karin Bacon, Norma Kamali, Nile Rodgers, Ian Schrager, Steve Rubell
Distributed by: A&E
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

In 1977, Studio 54 and its founders, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, epitomized New York hedonism. But by, 1979 the fantasy was over—and Studio 54 goes inside that meteoric rise and catastrophic fall.


Disobedience
Feature Narrative
Country: UK
Director: Sebastian Lelio
Writer: Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Sebastián Lelio
Starring: Alessandro Nivola, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz
Distributed by: Bleecker Street – Releasing 4/27/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

After the death of her estranged rabbi father, a New York photographer returns to the Orthodox Jewish community in North London where she grew up and, in doing so, reignites long-dormant passions and controversies.


McQueen
Feature Documentary
Country:
Director: Peter Ettedgui, Ian Bonhôte
Writer: Peter Ettedgui
Distributed by: Bleecker Street
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Legendary couturier Alexander McQueen’s rags to riches story is vividly brought to life by his closest friends and family, and through his revolutionary body of work, as inspired, tortured, and visionary as the man himself.


Woman Walks Ahead
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Susanna White
Writer: Steven Knight
Starring: Bill Camp, Ciarán Hinds, Sam Rockwell, Chaske Spencer, Michael Greyeyes, Jessica Chastain
Distributed by: DirecTV/A24
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Based on a true story, 19th-century Brooklyn artist Catherine Weldon journeys west on a mission to paint a portrait of the legendary chief Sitting Bull, only to find a very different world—and man—than she was expecting.


Crossroads
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Ron Yassen
Writer:
Distributed by: ESPN Films
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Despite never having played the game before, a group of underprivileged teens emerge as a talented lacrosse team under the tutelage of Coach Bobby Selkin in this inspiring documentary.


Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: David Heilbroner, Kate Davis
Writer:
Distributed by: HBO
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Sandra Bland was a bright, energetic activist whose life was cut short when a traffic stop resulted in a mysterious jail cell death just three days later. Say Her Name follows the two-year battle to uncover the truth.


Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Andrea Nevins
Writer: Andrea Nevins
Starring: Peggy Orenstein, Roxane Gay, Gloria Steinem, Michelle Chidoni, Kim Culmone
Distributed by: hulu
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Since her debut nearly 60 years ago, Barbie has been at turns a fashion idol and a cultural lightning rod. Tiny Shoulders steps behind the scenes as the icon undergoes her greatest reinvention yet.


Mary Shelley
Feature Narrative
Country: Ireland, UK, Luxembourg, USA
Director: Haifaa Al Mansour
Writer: Emma Jensen
Starring: Maisie Williams, Tom Sturridge, Joanne Froggatt, Bel Powley, Douglas Booth, Elle Fanning
Distributed by: IFC
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

The story of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s whirlwind romance with the tempestuous poet Percy Shelley, a romance that led to her creation of one of the most enduring works of gothic literature before the age of 20: Frankenstein.


Nico, 1988
Feature Narrative
Country: Italy, Belgium
Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Writer: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Starring: Calvin Demba, Karina Fernandez, Thomas Trabacchi, Sandor Funtek, Anamaria Marinca, John Gordon Sinclair, Trine Dyrholm
Distributed by: Magnolia
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

This whirlwind road movie follows the final months on tour of the singer-songwriter Nico, one-time Warhol superstar and Velvet Underground vocalist.


The Gospel According to André
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Kate Novack
Writer:
Starring: André Leon Talley
Distributed by: Magnolia – Releasing 5/25/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

From the segregated South to the fashion capitals of the world, The Gospel According to André recounts fashion editor André Leon Talley’s storied life and career through intimate conversations, rich archival, and testimonials from fashion luminaries including Anna Wintour, Tom Ford, and Marc Jacobs.


Into the Okavango
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Neil Gelinas
Writer: Brian Newell, Neil Gelinas
Distributed by: National Geographic
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Botswana’s Okavango Delta is one of the planet’s last remaining true wildernesses, but studies have shown it is shrinking. A group of intrepid scientists embark on a four-month, 1500-mile journey upriver to the Okavango’s source to investigate why.


The Rachel Divide
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Laura Brownson
Writer: Jeff Gilbert, Laura Brownson
Distributed by: Netflix – Releasing 4/27/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Rachel Dolezal became infamous when she was unmasked as a white woman passing for black so thoroughly that she had become the head of her local N.A.A.C.P. chapter. This portrait cuts through the very public controversy to reveal Dolezal’s motivations.


Sunday’s Illness (La Enfermedad del Domingo)
Feature Narrative
Country: Spain
Director: Ramón Salazar Hoogers
Writer: Ramón Salazar Hoogers
Starring: Susi Sanchez, Barbara Lennie
Distributed by: Netflix – Releasing 6/15/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

After Anabel hosts an opulent dinner, she is confronted by Chiara, the daughter she abandoned decades earlier. Chiara arrives with just one request: that she and her mother spend ten days together.


The Bleeding Edge
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering
Writer:
Distributed by: Netflix
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Each year in the United States, unparalleled innovations in medical diagnostics, treatment, and technology hit the market. But when the same devices designed to save patients end up harming them, who is accountable?


Cargo
Feature Narrative
Country: Australia
Director: Yolanda Ramke, Ben Howling
Writer: Yolanda Ramke
Starring: Martin Freeman
Distributed by: Netflix – Releasing 5/18/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

An infected father navigates a zombie-riddled Australian Outback with his infant daughter. Fortunately, he’s found an Aboriginal community that may hold the disease’s cure. Unfortunately, he has only 48 hours to live.


The Fourth Estate
Feature Documentary
Country: USA
Director: Liz Garbus
Writer:
Distributed by: Showtime
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

For the journalists at The New York Times, the election of Donald Trump presented a once in a generation challenge in how the press would cover a president who has declared the majority of the nation’s major news outlets “the enemy of the people.” Oscar-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus witnessed the inner workings of journalism and investigative reporting from the front lines during this administrations’ first history-making year. A Showtime release


The Seagull
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Michael Mayer
Writer: Stephen Karam
Starring: Brian Dennehy, Billy Howle, Michael Zegen, Glenn Fleshler, Jon Tenney, Mare Winningham, Elisabeth Moss, Corey Stoll, Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

A sumptuous adaptation of the classic Chekhov play transports the audience to a picturesque lakeside estate, where a love triangle unfolds between the legendary diva Irina, her lover Boris, and the ingénue Nina.


Duck Butter
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Miguel Arteta
Writer: Alia Shawkat, Miguel Arteta
Starring: Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, Hong Chau, Kate Berlant, Kumail Nanjiani, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Lindsay Burdge, Miguel Arteta
Distributed by: The Orchard – Releasing 4/27/18
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

Two women, jaded by dishonest and broken relationships, make a pact to spend 24 uninterrupted hours together, having sex on the hour. Their romantic experiment intends to create a new form of intimacy, but it doesn’t quite go as planned.


We the Animals
Feature Narrative
Country: USA
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Writer: Dan Kitrosser
Starring: Josiah Gabriel, Isaiah Kristian, Evan Rosado, Sheila Vand, Raul Castillo
Distributed by: The Orchard
Festival tickets: Click for tickets

This lyrical coming-of-age tale, based on the acclaimed novel, weaves magic realism into an exquisite portrait of three brothers, their troubled parents, and the secret that the youngest of them holds.

Trailer: Edie Falco & Jay Duplass star in the SXSW selection ‘Outside In’

The Orchard will release OUTSIDE IN in select theaters on March 30th and all digital platforms on April 3rd

Official Selection 2017 Toronto Film Festival
Official Selection 2018 SXSW Film Festival

After serving 20 years for the crime of essentially being in the wrong place at the wrong time, 38-year-old Chris (Jay Duplass) is granted early parole thanks largely to the tireless advocacy of Carol (Edie Falco), his former high-school teacher. As he struggles with the challenges of navigating the modern world as an ex-con, and with a fraught relationship with his brother Ted (Ben Schwartz), Chris ends up confessing his romantic love for Carol — a love that, given her marital status, Carol cannot reciprocate. Or can she? Carol longs for something her husband no longer provides. Meanwhile, Carol’s daughter Hildy (Kaitlyn Dever) befriends Chris, finding a kindred spirit in this awkward, tormented older guy.

Distributor: The Orchard
New York Release: The Quad on March 30th
TRT:
 109 min 
Country: USA
Language: English
Director: Lynn Shelton
Writers: Jay Duplass and Lynn Shelton
Producers: Mel Eslyn, Lacey Leavitt
Executive Producers: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Editor: Celia Beasley
Director of Photography: Nathan M. Miller

Fantasia International Film Festival 2017 Review: ‘SUPER DARK TIMES’ is both a flashback and omen of horror.

SUPER DARK TIMES

Teenagers Zach and Josh have been best friends their whole lives, but when a gruesome accident leads to a cover-up, the secret drives a wedge between them and propels them down a rabbit hole of escalating paranoia and violence.

Set in the early 90’s, before Columbine was an event engrained in history, a child’s innocence was not as easily spoiled as the kids in Super Dark Times. As someone who grew up at the same time as the main characters, I can attest to the typical dangers that surrounded our childhood. We were affected by the national news when a child was kidnapped, but that was about it. On the first evening of this year’s Fantasia Film Festival, audiences will see a film so brilliantly composed from the colors and textures of the costumes and cinematography to the incredibly disturbing storyline from screenwriters Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski. The power of an act of violence changes a person. Born from that awkward time in our lives comes the idea that fear can control the room, where the older/stronger kids ruled the proverbial schoolyards. Drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes made you popular and badass and oftentimes, intimidating. Super Dark Times taps into those ideals in that very specific time in history, and yet it has a creepy timeless factor once you understand the full plot. With elements of the surreal, you will find yourself asking who is showing us the truth at any given moment. Director Kevin Phillips takes us on a sickening journey, one that’s become all too familiar as the years have rolled by.

CANADIAN PREMIERE
  • USA
  • 2017
  • 102 mins
  • English
  • Directed by: Kevin Phillips
  • Written by: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski
  • Cast: Sawyer Barth, Owen Campbell, Elizabeth Cappuccino, Amy Hargreaves, Charlie Tahan, Max Talisman
  • Company: The Orchard

NYFF54 Reviews: ‘NERUDA’ & ‘A QUIET PASSION’- two different films about two unforgettable poets.

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NERUDA

nyff54-neruda-luis-gnecco-courtesy-of-the-orchard

  • Pablo Larraín
  • 2016
  • Chile/Argentina/France/Spain
  • 107 minutes
  • Opens December 16, 2016

Pablo Larraín’s exciting, surprising, and colorful new film is a “Nerudean” portrait of the great Chilean poet’s years of flight and exile, featuring Luis Gnecco, Gael García Bernal as a fictional detective, and a terrific cast.

nyff54-neruda-gael-garcia-bernal-left-and-diego-mun%cc%83oz-right-courtesy-of-the-orchard

NERUDA is a beautifully detailed period drama about the legendary Communist party leader and Chilean poet Pablo Nedruda. It’s essentially a game of cat and mouse between Neruda’s refusal to turn himself into the government and the cop sent to hunt him down. Always one step ahead of the  game, the film utilizes literary tropes to reel the viewer in. Neruda’s own poem are weaved into the narrative giving it a romantic quality. The dialogue is witty and the delivery from each cast member is delightful. With its noir soundtrack and engaging jump cuts in the dialogue heavy scenes, your eyes and ears are nothing but  entertained throughout. Luis Gnecco portrays Neruda as the beloved, restless spirit he was. He is spectacular. Gael García Bernal, as Inspector Oscar Peluchonneau, is nothing short of hypnotic. He wrestles with falling into the shadow of his fathers greatness and letting out the poet inside himself. Neruda is a gorgeous portrait of man and the effect of his creations on the world.


A QUIET PASSION

a-quiet-passion-poster

  • Terence Davies
  • 2016
  • U.K./Belgium
  • 125 minutes

The great British director Terence Davies turns his attention to 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson for this formally audacious triumph starring a revelatory Cynthia Nixon.

cuynthis-nixon-and-jennifer-ehle-in-a-quiet-passion

Cynthia Nixon brings the reclusive American poet to  life in A QUIET PASSION. While the title, I believe, eludes to more than just her work, Terence Davies sheds light on the mystery that was one of the greatest poets we may ever know. As a fan of Dickinson myself, I was delighted to hear Cynthia voice her work  in chronological order. We first meet Emily as a young woman in a school she does not fit into. Adverse to the staunch religious societal norms, Emily makes her own path, even at the hands of her own happiness. Through her death, she battles a wanting for love and yet pushes away any acceptable suitors out of spite and stubbornness. The film tackles the inherent sexism of the times where duty and tradition trumped defiance such as Emily’s. She has very Lizzie Bennett quality about her. With stunning visual transitions and Wildean wit, A QUIET PASSION is mostly perfect. The one thing that may be difficult to overcome is the theatrical tone in dialogue delivery. It was no doubt  specific choice by Davies, one that might just be the film’s undoing in the long run.

Find out what movie made Adam Scott want to be an actor & other fun trivia from ‘The Overnight’ sneak preview and Q&A at Lincoln Center

The-Overnight-Film-Society-Q&A

Film Society moderator, Judith Godrèche, Producer Naomi Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Adam Scott, Writer/Director Patrick Brice

Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, have recently moved to Los Angeles’ Eastside from Seattle. Feeling lost in a new city, they are desperate to find their first new friends. After a chance meeting with Kurt at the neighborhood park, they gladly agree to join family pizza night at the home. But as it gets later and the kids go to bed, the family “playdate” becomes increasingly more revealing and bizarre as the couples begin to open up.

The Overnight posterThe Overnight was one of the first movies I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival this year and it started off my viewing with a bang. The spirit of an indie and the laughs of a blockbuster, this comedy takes you on an unexpected journey of non-stop hilarity.

I attended the sneak preview of the film with a Q&A that followed with Writer/Director Patrick Brice, Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Producer Naomi Scott and Judith Godrèche. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Judith GodrècheJason Schwartzman hadn’t met prior to the first day on set
  • It was shot mostly at night in 12 days with no rehearsing in basically chronological order
  • Writer/Director Patrick Brice at one point deleted a 70 page draft and had to retype from memory.
  • Production Designer Theresa Guleserian drew all Kurt’s paintings in one day
  • Almost exclusively lit with practical light
  • Movie that made Adam Scott want to be an actor – Raiders of the Lost Ark  “That’s what I want to do.” Later, he makes note that the first audience that made an impression was War Games. “It was so exciting in the theater.”
  • Jason Schwartzman never really thought of himself as an actor because he thought actors were in big movies and were like Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was more into music. “Cable always played the weirdest movies.” Dog Day Afternoon made him want to get into acting.
  • Patrick Brice also has a completely different type of movie, the horror, Creep, coming to VOD June 23rd and to Netflix July 14th.

My impressions of the Q&A:

  • Jason Schwartzman is just as adorable as you would imagine he is.
  • Adam Scott has an amazing voice that carries well and commands attention but is actually very soothing.
  • Judith Godrèche is incredibly sweet and must have been a pleasure to work with.
  • Patrick Brice will give us many more thought-provoking movies in the future.

OVERNIGHT_Press_2 Tribeca

Upcoming: ‘Harmontown’ Documentary Follows Dan Harmon – Creator/Writer/Producer Of NBC’s Community

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