Review: ‘BADLAND’ – a western gone south.

BADLAND

More than a decade after the Civil War, a nation tries to rebuild as an outlaw faction takes root across the West. Gunslinging detective Matthias Breecher (Kevin Makely) is hired by one of the first African American Senators (Tony Todd) to track down the worst of the Confederate war criminals (Trace Adkins, Bruce Dern and Jeff Fahey), with nothing more than his wits and his revolver. As he roams the Old West seeking justice, his resolve is tested when he meets a determined pioneer woman (Mira Sorvino) who is far more than she seems. As the lawless converge on this lawman, death is inevitable in a terrain that welcomes no stranger.

Badland is a post civil war western written and directed by Justin Lee. The cinematography is perfect for the genre. Typical western tropes of honorable, gun-slinging hero on horseback and trigger-happy villains are what kept me watching. I was admittedly a bit distracted by the formality of the dialogue. It didn’t feel gritty enough for the time period and at points, I thought I was watching a Hallmark movie. While the actors make the best of it, I found it more difficult to fully immerse myself in a genre I typically enjoy. Because of this, Badland played like a stage play. Over the top line readings and slow pacing between dialogue led to an unnatural feel in exchanges. Ironically, I would watch this on a stage! It looks gorgeous from the sets to the costumes. I must give credit to Jeff Fahey in his role as Huxley Wainright. He is most definitely the highlight of this film. He fills the screen with his presence and makes everything work, finally. The story is presented in 4 chapters. I did get my fist fights, shoot outs, and classic love story but ultimately felt like Lee’s script could have used a good editor and another pass.

from Cinedigm, BADLAND opens in theaters and on-demand on November 1st.

Badland stars Kevin Makely (Big Legend), Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), Trace Adkins (Hickok, I Can Only Imagine), Bruce Dern (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood), Tony Todd (The Final Destination), Wes Studi (The Last of the Mohicans) and Jeff Fahey (“Lost”).

Written and directed by Justin Lee, BADLAND is set in the unincorporated areas of the West, where renegade factions have replaced law and order. Co-stars include Amanda Wyss (“Highlander”) and Ryan Kelley (“Teen Wolf”).

15 U.S. Premieres of the New York Film Festival

A Skin So Soft
Description: Studiously observing the world of male bodybuilding, Denis Côté’s A Skin So Soft (Ta peau si lisse) crafts a multifaceted portrait of six latter-day Adonises through the lens of their everyday lives: extreme diets, training regimens, family relationships, and friendships within the community. Capturing the physical brawn and emotional complexity of its subjects with wit and tenderness, this companion piece to Cote’s singular animal study Bestiaire (2012) is a self-reflexive rumination on the long tradition of filming the human body that also advances a fascinating perspective on contemporary masculinity.
Directed By: Denis Côté
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Locarno International Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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BOOM FOR REAL The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Description: Sara Driver’s documentary is both a celebration of and elegy for the downtown New York art/music/film/performance world of the late 1970s and early ’80s, through which Jean-Michel Basquiat shot like a rocket. Weaving Basquiat’s life and artistic progress in and out of her rich, living tapestry of this endlessly cross-fertilizing scene, Driver has created an urgent recollection of freedom and the aesthetic of poverty. Graffiti meets gestural painting, hip hop infects rock and roll and visa versa, heroin comes and never quite goes, night swallows day, and everybody looms as large as they feel like looming on the crumbling streets of the Lower East Side.
Directed By: Sara Driver
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Description: In the early 1990s, ACT UP—in France, as in the U.S.—was on the front lines of AIDS activism. Its members, mostly gay, HIV-positive men, stormed drug company and government offices in “Silence=Death” T-shirts, facing down complacent suits with the urgency of their struggle for life. Robin Campillo (Eastern Boys) depicts their comradeship and tenacity in waking up the world to the disease that was killing them and movingly dramatizes the persistence of passionate love affairs even in dire circumstances. All the actors, many of them unknown, are splendid in this film, which not only celebrates the courage of ACT UP but also tacitly provides a model of resistance to the forces of destruction running rampant today. A release of The Orchard.
Directed By: Robin Campillo
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Cannes Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Main Slate
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Caniba
Description: The latest by the makers of Leviathan (NYFF50) is a harrowing engagement with the sheer presence of a man who did the unthinkable: Issei Sagawa, who became a tabloid magnet after killing and cannibalizing a woman in Paris in 1981. Caniba moves past sensationalism to immerse viewers in an unnervingly intimate encounter with Sagawa, who has since lived off his notoriety (as a sexploitation star and manga author), and his brother and primary caretaker. The filmmakers use this modern-day instance of cannibalism, long a subject of anthropological study, to raise questions about repulsion, desire, madness, and more. Audacious and unflinching, Caniba compels us to reckon with the most extreme limits of human behavior.
Directed By: Véréna Paravel,Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017), Venice Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Projections
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Dragonfly Eyes
Description: Chinese visual artist Xu Bing’s ambitious debut feature follows an ill-fated romance through a frightening and faceless urban environment, using only closed-circuit surveillance footage. Constructing a fictitious narrative from real-world encounters and frequently spectacular images, Xu turns the story of a young man attempting to relocate his object of desire into a cogent analysis of postmodern identity and digitally mediated communication.
Directed By: Xu Bing
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Locarno International Film Festival (2017),Toronto Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Projections
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Félicité
Description: The new film from Alain Gomis, a French director of Guinea-Bissauan and Senegalese descent, is largely set in the roughest areas of the rough city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here, a woman named Félicité (Véro Tshanda Beya Mputu) scrapes together a living as a singer in a makeshift bar (her accompanists are played by members of the Kasai Allstars band). When her son is seriously injured in an accident, she goes in search of money for his medical care and embarks on a double journey: through the punishing outer world of the city and the inner world of the soul. Félicité is tough, tender, lyrical, mysterious, funny, and terrifying, both responsive to the moment and fixed on its heroine’s spiritual progress. A Strand Releasing release.
Directed By: Alain Gomis
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Berlin Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Main Slate
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Good Luck
Description: In his first solo feature in eight years, Ben Russell takes us deep into the unforgiving copper mines of Serbia. When we emerge, we’re thousands of miles away, amongst an illegal band of gold miners in the Suriname jungle. The physical demands of labor, as well as the transformative power of music, connect these communities, each equally fortified by the realities of capital and a spirit of masculine camaraderie.
Directed By: Ben Russell
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Locarno International Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Projections
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Jane
Description: In 1960, Dr. Louis Leakey arranged for a young English woman with a deep love of animals to go to Gombe Stream National Park near Lake Tangyanika. The Dutch photographer and filmmaker Hugo van Lawick was sent to document Jane Goodall’s first establishment of contact with the chimpanzee population, resulting in the enormously popular Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees, the second film ever produced by National Geographic. One hundred hours of Lawick’s original footage was rediscovered in 2014. From that material, Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) has created a vibrant film experience, giving new life to the experiences of this remarkable woman and the wild in which she found a home. A National Geographic Documentary Films release.
Directed By: Brett Morgen
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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Occidental
Description: In a boho Parisian hotel, two sexually and politically ambiguous Italians romp through a succession of blatantly artificial, anachronistically decorated set pieces, stoking the prejudices of staff members and fellow guests. Outside, riots rage and protesters march, threatening to spill into the increasingly feverish atmosphere gathering indoors. French-Algerian artist Neïl Beloufa’s second feature—reminiscent of films by Bertrand Bonello and the stage-derived works of Alain Resnais—confirms the arrival of a uniquely provocative, socially attuned filmmaker.
Directed By: Neïl Beloufa
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Projections
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Sea Sorrow
Description: Vanessa Redgrave’s debut as a documentary filmmaker is a plea for a compassionate western response to the refugee crisis and a condemnation of the vitriolic inhumanity of current right wing and conservative politicians. Redgrave juxtaposes our horrifying present of inadequate refugee quotas and humanitarian disasters (like last year’s clearing of the Calais migrant camp) with the refugee crises of WWII and its aftermath, recalled with archival footage, contemporary news reports and personal testimony—including an interview with the eloquent Labor politician Lord Dubs, who was one of the children rescued by the Kindertransport. Sea Sorrow reaches further back in time to Shakespeare, not only for its title but also to further remind us that we are once more repeating the history that we have yet to learn.
Directed By: Vanessa Redgrave
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Cannes Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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Spoor
Description: Janina Duszejko (Agnieszka Mandat) is a vigorous former engineer, part-time teacher, and animal activist, living in a near wilderness on the Polish-Czech border, where hunting is the favored year-round sport of the corrupt men who rule the region. When a series of hunters die mysteriously, Janina wonders if the animals are taking revenge, which doesn’t stop the police from coming after her. A brilliant, passionate director, Agnieszka Holland—who like Janina comes from a generation that learned to fight authoritarianism by any means necessary—forges a sprawling, wildly beautiful, emotionally enveloping film that earns its vision of utopia. It’s at once a phantasmagorical murder mystery, a tender, late-blooming love story, and a resistance and rescue thriller.
Directed By: Agnieszka Holland,Kasia Adamik
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Berlin Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Main Slate
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The Day After
Description: Hong continues in the openly emotional register of his On the Beach at Night Alone, also showing in this year’s Main Slate. Shot in moody black and white, The Day After opens with book publisher Bongwan (Kwon Hae-hyo) fending off his wife’s heated accusations of infidelity. At the office, it’s the first day for his new assistant, Areum (Kim Min-hee), whose predecessor was Bongwan’s lover. Mistaken identity, repetition compulsion, and déjà vu figure into the narrative as the film entangles its characters across multiple timelines through an intricate geometry of desire, suspicion, and betrayal. The end result is one of Hong’s most plaintive and philosophical works.
Directed By: Hong Sang-soo
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Cannes Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Main Slate
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The Florida Project
Description: A six-year-old girl (the remarkable Brooklynn Prince) and her two best friends run wild on the grounds of a week-by-week motel complex on the edge of Orlando’s Disney World. Meanwhile, her mother (talented novice Bria Vinaite) desperately tries to cajole the motel manager (an ever-surprising Willem Dafoe) to turn a blind eye to the way she pays the rent. A film about but not for kids, Baker’s depiction of childhood on the margins has fierce energy, tenderness, and great beauty. After the ingenuity of his iPhone-shot 2015 breakout Tangerine, Baker reasserts his commitment to 35mm film with sun-blasted images that evoke a young girl’s vision of adventure and endurance beyond heartbreak. An A24 release.
Directed By: Sean Baker
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Main Slate
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Western
Description: As its title suggests, German director Valeska Grisebach’s first feature in a decade is a supremely intelligent genre update that recognizes the Western as a template on which to draw out eternal human conflicts. In remote rural Bulgaria, a group of German workers are building a water facility. Meinhard (Meinhard Neumann), the reserved newbie in this all-male company, immediately draws the ire of the boorish team leader, not least for his willingness to mingle with the wary locals. Cast with utterly convincing nonprofessional actors, Western is a gripping culture-clash drama, attuned both to old codes of masculinity and new forms of colonialism. A Cinema Guild release.
Directed By: Valeska Grisebach
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017),Cannes Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Main Slate
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Zama
Description: The great Lucrecia Martel ventures into the realm of historical fiction and makes the genre entirely her own in this adaptation of Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 classic of Argentinean literature. In the late 18th century, in a far-flung corner of what seems to be Paraguay, the title character, an officer of the Spanish crown (Daniel Giménez Cacho) born in the Americas, waits in vain for a transfer to a more prestigious location. Martel renders Zama’s world—his daily regimen of small humiliations and petty politicking—as both absurd and mysterious, and as he increasingly succumbs to lust and paranoia, subject to a creeping disorientation. Precise yet dreamlike, and thick with atmosphere, Zama is a singular and intoxicating experience, a welcome return from one of contemporary cinema’s truly brilliant minds.
Directed By: Lucrecia Martel
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Main Slate
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Review: ‘BRIMSTONE’ takes Dakota Fanning down the darkest path yet.

BRIMSTONE
Official Selection – Venice International Film Festival 2016
North American Premiere – Toronto International Film Festival 2016
Official Competition – London Film Festival 2016

U.S. Premiere – Palm Springs International Film Festival 2017

BRIMSTONE is a tale of powerful womanhood and resistance set against the unforgiving cruelty of the American frontier. Wrongly accused of a crime she didn’t commit, the story follows Liz (Dakota Fanning) now turned fugitive, who is being hunted by a vengeful and diabolical Preacher (Guy Pearce.)
BRIMSTONE is directed and written by Martin Koolhoven (Winter in Wartime, AmnesiA) and features an all-star cast: Guy Pearce (HBO’s “Mildred Pierce,” The Proposition, Memento), Dakota Fanning (The Runaways, War of the Worlds, Man on Fire), Emilia Jones (One Day, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), Carice van Houten (HBO’s “Games of Thrones,” Black Book) , and Kit Harington (HBO’s “Games of Thrones,” MI-5).
Once we saw Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam, there was no doubting she would become one of the most talented actresses of her time. Taking on daring roles has always been part of her repertoire. She has never been afraid to push the envelope as a professional. In BRIMSTONE, Fanning plays a young woman whose life, we come to learn, has been nothing but hardship and emotional torture, mainly at the hands of one man. Guy Pearce plays a sadistic preacher hunting Fanning’s character, Liz. His sick interpretation of the Bible leads them both on a journey that takes danger to the next level. Liz only wants to protect her family and the Reverand wants nothing more than to destroy her. The script is extremely dark and completely unexpected. At a full 2hr and 20 min run, you never see what’s around the bend. It’s emotionally exhausting and that is meant to be a compliment. Pearce is vile in every way. Skin-crawlingly good in this role. Kit Harrington is a breath of fresh air and I wish we had seen more of him, but understand his purpose. The cast is exquisite and their chemistry is phenomenal.
Fanning is nothing short of brilliant, almost having to tackle several different characters in the same film. To say more would give away too much and I encourage you to experience the film for yourself. While Brimstone can be difficult to watch during multiple scenes, it’s presentation is outstanding. Presented as chapters of the Bible and out of order, you discover information along the way that ultimately sets up the ending. Never a dull moment, the film’s intensity cannot be denied. You can see Brimstone in theaters and On Demand this Friday, March 10th. Check out the trailer below.
 
 Momentum Pictures will release the upcoming thriller/western BRIMSTONE in select theaters and On Demand / Digital HD March 10, 2017.

Girls on Film Podcast: Interview with ‘Diablo’ writer/director Lawrence Roeck – “Build a good team around you”

Diablo poster

Yes, before you ask, that is Clint Eastwood‘s son, Scott. He’s pretty unmistakeable. He stars in Diablo playing a civil war veteran who begins a journey to rescue his kidnapped wife. While this may seem to be a very straightforward story, there are many twists and turns that make this western a very modern psychological thriller.

Diablo is in select theaters now as well as available on demand

I recently spoke with writer and director Lawrence Roeck about his film and got a glimpse into his filmmaking world. Listen to the entire interview here:

Roeck works with his creative partner, Carlos De Los Rios, and surrounds himself with very talented people. He had a basic concept for the story and brought it to De Los Rios and Eastwood, then flushed out the screenplay. Presto. 

Roeck seems to have found the magic formula with a great production team, that he couldn’t say enough nice things about. So who are the biggest players behind the scenes? Let’s break it down.

Director of Photography – Dean Cundey

Winner of several cinematography awards, Cundey is known for movies such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Apollo 13. He knows his way around a set and when you watch the film, you’ll need to see it on a big screen to fully appreciate the beauty.

For this film, Cundey used a camera he helped develop, the ARRI Alexa digital cinema camera. This is not like using the camera on your phone.


Horse Wrangler – John Scott

This guy knows horses. Having recently also completed work on The Revenant, Roeck just let Scott do what he does best. “The horses like being part of a process and being around people,” says Roeck.

 


 

 

Casting Director – Roger Mussenden

Known for casting the X-Men franchise, Mussenden pulled together the supporting talent that elevated the already intriguing script. Walton Goggins is a particular standout with his character having an menacing swagger that no one else could pull off.


 

Composer – Timothy Williams

Williams is known most recently for his work on Guardians of the Galaxy. Roeck and Williams sat together for four months to create the score for this film. “Timothy uses a lot of natural sounds” using the “drumming of the stock of the shotgun” as the specific sound with Walton Goggins character. The music was recorded with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.


 

Amazing films are out there. You just have to take a chance. Check out Diablo and you won’t be disappointed!

The Cast:

Scott Eastwood

Diablo_Still5 Courtesy Momentum Pictures © 2015

Walton Goggins

Diablo_Still11

Adam Beach

Diablo_Still15

Danny Glover

Diablo_Still4

‘BROKEN HORSES’ takes your heart strings on an extraordinary ride.

BrokenHoresesPoster

Your parents teach us right from wrong. What if your parents aren’t around? What if we’re molded from something evil instead? In Vidhu Vinod Chopra‘s new film BROKEN HORSES we meet two very different brothers at a pinnacle time in their life. When a manipulative man strolls into their lives, each brother takes a path of his own. 15 years down the road, simple minded and gentle soul Buddy works and does a little too well for himself, while younger brother Jake, now living in the city, is the successful music prodigy from his youth. Buddy reaches out to the newly engaged Jake to give him his wedding gift. Jake is hesitant to return to his desolate, Mexican border hometown, but understands that the love of his brother wills him to do so. Upon arrival, he learns that Buddy is being used as a deadly pawn in a drug lord’s chess match. Jake has no choice but to dedicate himself to saving his brother. 
BrokenHorsesAntonStillThe script takes some truly unexpected turns. I was constantly on my toes, especially emotionally. This engrossing story is only amplified by the stunning character development by Chopra’s writing and the outstanding and moving performances by Anton Yelchin and Chris Marquette as Jake and Buddy. Yelchin, in yet another film in a long line for 2015, plays a caring and protective role. It’s slightly more challenging than his usual boyish, all American vibe. Vincent D’Onofrio is manic in the role of evil puppeteer, Julius. There is very carefully crafted back story that we only get a glimpse of, and frankly it’s just enough.BroeknHorsesChrisVincentStillThe profoundly magnificent acting award, hands down, goes to Chris Marquette. There is a fine line when portraying a person that is not of average cognitive function . It can so easily read disingenuous and forced. Marquette gives us a performance of a career as Buddy. Every beat is perfection. This is one that must not be overlooked. Even if the film were not as great as is, Marquette blows everything out of the water. BrokenHoresesStillBroken Horses is enchanting and thrilling all in one. A game of sick manipulation is slowly built into a war for the soul. The acting is top notch and the scenery is breathtaking. Heart-pounding and gut-wrenching, Broken Horses is a story of undying love and devotion that will resonate with everyone.

Synopsis: Having left town as a child after the death of his father, young music prodigy, Jacob Heckum (Anton Yelchin), returns to his desolate hometown after years only to discover that Buddy (Chris Marquette), the child-like brother he left behind now works for a drug gang. The gang’s ruthless leader (Vincent  has twisted his simple mind and manipulated him into a killer… a surrogate son who blindly does as he is told. He is unable to convince Buddy to leave his new fraternity. Drowned in guilt for having abandoned him, Jacob quickly realizes the only way to save Buddy is from the inside out.

BROKEN HORSES comes to theaters in limited release Friday, April 10th

6 Films to catch at this year’s New Directors New Films Festival

New Directors New Films logo 2015Last year’s fest was a total success in my opinion. I saw some of my favorite films of the entire year there; Buzzard, The Babadook, Fish and Cat, Dear White People, and the #1 film on my Top 10 for 2014, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. This year’s selections were just as eclectic in subject and style. Here is my personal list of things to consider at this year’s New Directors New Film Festival.

THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRLDiary of a Teenage Girl 1 Original

Minnie is a 15 year old with a coked out mom and little self esteem. When she takes her childish fantasies to an adult level by sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend, emotional hell breaks loose in form of a tape recorded diary and sketches turned animated thoughts. This film jumps off the screen with a breakout performance from Bel Powley as Minnie. She is funny, insightful, and an apparent old soul, all while still just a kid trying not to lose her shit. The added element of the animation only adds to the wonder of this film. Kristen Wiig plays Minnie’s absent mother. She is a revelation in this role. You know, those rare cinematic moments when you forget who the actor is because you’re so immersed in the performance, that it’s a winner. Alexander Skarsgård is the creepy object of Minnie’s affection. This is not a coming if age tale for our lead, but truly for the adults in the film. The Diary Of A Teenage Girl will remind you of your own sexual awakening. All the awkwardness, the curiosity, and frankly, the lies you were told by everyone around you. Rediscover your own past. Go ahead.

VIOLETVioletJesse has been through a terrible trauma. He is despondent after the murder of his good friend, just feet from him at a local mall. Violet is a look into the world of survivor’s guilt. The camera work alone should get you through the door. Breathtaking closeups coupled with soft focus and exquisite sound editing creates a barrage of sense memory moments for both for Jesse and the audience alike. The uncomfortable silence (dialogue wise) is the key to this film. At a tight 82 minutes run, Violet is about what’s not being said.

WESTERNwesternWestern is a documentary that takes us into the world of small town politics up against very large drug cartel violence in the two bordering towns of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico. Mayor Chad Foster puts on a brave face as violence escalates and threatens the harmony he’s worked so hard to procure in Eagle Pass. Mayor Jose Manuel Maldonado, tries his best to ease the minds of local constituents and the mass media alike. Local cattle rancher, Martin Wall’s, smile turns hard in the wake of a temporary USDA ban on livestock trade over the border. Each of these men is doing their darnedest to maintain peace, safety and the livelihoods of so many others. Pulling the curtain back on what feels like scenarios that only happen in the movies, is eye opening. You have to remind yourself that these folks are living, breathing people with families and loved ones. This documentary is unusually educational and will certainly restore your faith in humanity.

LISTEN TO ME MARLONLISTEN TO ME MARLON (300dpi)This doc opens up in a jarring fashion. Reminiscent of the floating head at Disneyland’s The Haunted Mansion, there we see and hear the disembodied “Head” and voice of Marlon Brando. Director, Stevan Riley has granted the world the access he gained to mountains of audio tapes made by Brando himself. Some are self hypnosis tapes in which he recalls childhood moments once kept very close to his chest. Through archival footage and Brando’s own voice, we delve into the personal life of the reclusive star. These confessional tapes reveal a side of this legend not many people were privy to. Acting was somewhat of a spiritual outlet. His charisma was endless, as was his passion for sex and affection. Receiving little from his alcoholic parents, Brando‘s ego was lifted by his enormous talent, perhaps too far for the likes of some. Although, as you listen to him speak, you gather that he was a rather astute, observant, reflective man who struggled with real abandonment issues that never truly get resolved for him. Tragedy followed him in his personal life and the genius and attention swallowed him hole at times. Listen To Me Marlon is a gorgeous portrait. When you stop taking notes during a film and just listen, as a critic, that is the moment of pure magic.

GOODNIGHT MOMMYGOODNIGHT MOMMY_Still 2Give a kid an inch, so they say, and they’ll take a mile. Twins Lukas and Elias have been awaiting the return of their mother. She has just completed facial reconstructive surgery. Longing for her love and affection, the boys are thrown into detective mode when Mom returns a different person. Face completely bandaged and rage on the surface, she forces the boys to maintain quiet and changes all the rules. Something clearly amiss, Lukas and Elias must find a way to make her admit who she really is, while facing the changes themselves. Much like last year’s The Babadook, psychological torture is in the cards. Can you stomach the tactics used by children when they don’t fully understand the consequences themselves? Goodnight Mommy will scare the hell out of you and make you squirm like never before.

DOG LADYdog ladyFollowing a woman surrounded by a pack of discarded dogs, this film highlights the off-grid lifestyle to the nth degree. The film’s subject, played flawlessly by co-director Verónica Llinás, chooses to live on the outskirts of Buenos Aires in a what begins as a primitive lean-to, and progresses in sound structure along with the movie itself. We follow our lady through four full seasons as she forages for food and supplies. Her ingenuity is astounding, taking what is essentially trash and making a home for herself. She has absolutely zero dialogue. The sparse dialogue that does exist comes from what little human interaction she allows; taunting children, a clinic doctor, and a brief sexual encounter with a rather verbose rancher. This film is highly engrossing, perhaps causing the viewer to reassess the amount of material objects we carelessly cast aside. Her sense of survival and her clear warm spirit guide this film along it’s year long timeline. There is definitely something to be said about the it’s wide final shot. It will force you to  come to terms with your true feelings of our Dog Lady.

You can find out more about these incredible films, and so many more, at NDNF. The Diary of a Teenage Girl opens tonight! Screenings during the fest take place at MoMa and FSLC.