Grand Jury Prize/ Int’l competition WINNER @ DOC NYC: ‘HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND’ is a final love letter spread across 12 years of filming.

HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND

The monster that is depression roars silently because, in Russia, depression is not allowed to have a voice. Putin has seen to that. In HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND, filmmaker Marusya Syroechkovskaya chronicles over a decade of her emotional roller coaster in life, love, and deep-seated despair.

Kimi was a history major with a brilliant mind, a great sense of humor, and a penchant for drug use. Marusya’s childhood was a bit more idyllic, but that didn’t stop her suicidal ideation. The two bonded over music, beliefs, and self-destructive ideas. They also filmed every waking moment.

Kimi’s traumatic childhood and Russia’s national political upheaval created the perfect ticking time bomb of existence. He and Marusya needed each other to stay alive, but unresolved trauma is a killer lying in wait. Through marriage, rehab, divorce, and Kimi on a headlong downward spiral, Marusya must find other ways to dull the inner chaos. She had to decide, make a plan to live, or join her innumerable friends in suicide.

Marusya Syroechkovskaya’s dedication and fearless openness make it easy to understand why this film won Grand Jury Prize/ Int’l competition at DOC NYC 2022. HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND is an intimate and unfiltered look at addiction, love, and attempts to survive one more day. It is a must-see film.



Saturday, November 12 – Sunday, November 27, 2022

Venue

Online Screening

Director: Marusya Syroechkovskaya
Producer: Ksenia Gapchenko, Mario Adamson, Co-Producers Anita Norfolk, Alexandre Cornu
Cinematographers: Kimi Morev and Marusya Syroechkovskaya
Editor: Qutaiba Barhamji
Language: Russian
Country: Sweden, Norway, France, Germany
Year: 2022


Netflix documentary review: A family’s mission, ‘I AM VANESSA GUILLEN’ is more than a hashtag, it is a movement.

I AM VANESSA GUILLEN

Netflix presents I AM VANESSA GUILLEN, a film about one family’s relentless push for justice and exposing the toxic culture that permeates the military, specifically Fort Hood. Director Christy Wegener brings us the story that sparked a social media frenzy, a race to pass new legislation, and the family that would not stay quiet.

The systemic failure at Fort Hood will leave you seething. After two months of desperate outcry, the Army finally makes a statement and begins to search, but it is too little too late. With the pro bono help of maverick lawyer Natalie Khawam, The Guillen family takes their fight to Capital Hill.

I remember this story. I remember feeling so angry when I heard how long Vanessa had been missing before I heard about it on the news. Then, when the details emerged of her murder and subsequent failure at Fort Hood, I was disgusted. Those feelings returned and multiplied as I watched this film. Understanding the extent of their coverup will blow your mind. The military justice system allows for secrecy and discretion to sweep everything under the rug. It is beyond broken.

I AM VANESSA GUILLEN proves the saying, “No justice. No peace.” The Guillen family never backed down. The military counted on their silence, and they got the exact opposite. I AM VANESSA GUILLEN has been in the top 10 since the film’s release last Friday. It is easy to understand why.


I Am Vanessa Guillen | Official Trailer | Netflix https://youtube.com/Netflix

I AM VANESSA GUILLEN is now streaming on NETFLIX


 

Shudder Original review: ‘BLOOD RELATIVES’ is a quirky vampire family comedy you can sink your teeth into. I already want a sequel.

BLOOD RELATIVES

After her mother’s death, Jane tracks down her elusive dad to avoid foster care. When Jane unearths the truth about her father’s past, she demands a relationship, leading the estranged father-daughter team to take a road trip like no other. Oh, also, he’s a vampire. A unique take on the monster genre combined with a family road trip drama makes BLOOD RELATIVES one of a kind.

Victoria Moroles is Jane. Her precociousness is spot a delight. Segan gives her dialogue deliciously reminiscent of Dawson’s Creek, i.e., she is far too eloquent for fifteen. Her chemistry with Segan is comfortable and endlessly amusing. Her takedown of the film’s misogynist energy is chef’s kiss.

Josh Ruben (who also produces) plays Roger Fieldner. A patient who distinctly resembles Bram Stoker‘s Renfield. Kudos to Segan for the character name scramble. It is a role only Ruben could own. After witnessing his sycophantic behavior, I cannot imagine anyone else doing Roger justice. There is a reason he has become a scream king in the past few years. He is the best.

Writer-director-star Noah Segan plays Francis as a Yiddish-spewing loaner. His penchant for a happy-go-lucky attitude is more function over form. We learn about his deep-seated loneliness and unresolved trauma, which creates an equally funny and tragic persona. Segan gives a star-making performance.

The film occurs predominantly at night for obvious reasons. The use of moonlight, dusk, dawn, dashboard, and neon light gives the film a slick overall tone. The comedy shenanigans are balanced beautifully with dramatic growing pains.

BLOOD RELATIVES is an undeniably fun vampire coming-of-age family film. Heartwarming, silly, and intimate, it is easy to see why it garnered so much attention in the festival circuit. Shudder is the perfect platform for Segan’s madcap creation. I formally request a sequel when Jane gets to college. I have to know where this family unit ends up. Don’t forget to bring Fieldner along.


CHECK OUT THE TRAILER:  

Shudder will exclusively stream BLOOD RELATIVES on Shudder on November 22, 2022.

 

BLOOD RELATIVES stars Noah Segan (Knives Out) and Victoria Moroles (“Teen Wolf,” “Never Have I Ever”). It was written and directed by Segan. 

SYNOPSIS: In BLOOD RELATIVES, Francis, a 115-year-old Yiddish vampire, still looks 35. He’s been roaming American backroads in his beat-up muscle car for decades, keeping to himself, and liking it that way. One day, a teenage kid, Jane, shows up. She says she’s his daughter, and she’s got the fangs to prove it. They go on the road, deciding whether to sink their teeth into family life.


 

Review: In Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson’s ‘Manifest West,’ Milo Gibson goes off-grid to escape family turmoil.

MANIFEST WEST

Dave moves his wife, Alice, and two young daughters, Riley and Mary, to a remote cabin in the American wilderness. Where guns and boredom meet the desire to push society away, MANIFEST WEST sees tensions rise when Dave’s new way of living shirks the norms.

Tim Heidecker plays against type as gun-wielding hyper-conservative neighbor Steve Danik. Michael Cudlitz counters Heidecker with his performance as neighbor Eric Lind. He is kind and thoughtful with his actions and words.

Annet Mahendru gives Alice palpable manic desperation. Her ability to jump from one emotion to another in the same breath is impressive. It is one hell of a turn. Milo Gibson is Dave Hayes. His character arc almost feels like the audience is witnessing a slow-motion car crash. Gibson brings not-so-subtle anger and protective alpha energy.

Lexy Kolker plays Riley with perfect corruptable innocence. She gives a performance that is nothing short of captivating. Kolker takes in each beat with precision. Her slow burn of resentment is a ticking time bomb.

MANIFEST WEST addresses a myriad of current and alarming themes in America. The score is melancholy and ominous. Writer-directors Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson use the girls’ history text as a smart foreshadowing device. Antigovernment sentiment compounds the simmering chaos. Add Alice’s deteriorating bipolar disorder, and you have a powder keg. Children learn from their parents, for better or for worse. MANIFEST WEST runs head-on with its relevance to a shocking conclusion.


Trailer: 

Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Release Date:  The film is now in theaters and VOD/Digital!
Writer/Directors: Joe Dietsch, Louie Gibson
Starring: Annet Mahendru, Milo Gibson, Lexy Kolker, Tim Heidecker, Michael Cudlitz




Disney+ documentary review: ‘Mickey: The Story of a Mouse’ is a nostalgic warm hug reminding us why we love the global icon.

Mickey: The Story of a Mouse

Disney+ has a brand new doc as delightfully imaginative as you’d expect. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is a darling dive into the making of an internationally beloved icon. It all started with a mouse, and his evolution is a fascinating journey for fans everywhere.

We peek into the minds of fans, young and old, visit the Disney Archives, chat with animators and historians, and hear directly from Walt Disney in classic interviews from our childhood. The work that went into creating Disney’s empire will astound audiences and yet never destroy the magic. We delve into Walt’s unrelenting sense of adventure and fearless attitude about expansion and risk.

The doc also discusses Mainstream Mickey and counterculture Mickey and how his image became synonymous with cultural change through the years. They touch upon copyright infringement and the complexities that grew out of Walt’s loss of Oswald the Rabbit. Filmmakers and interviewees do not shy away from the negative stereotypes appearing in certain cartoons and how Mickey became a corporate symbol. It’s an honest take.

I don’t think I’ve fully understood the impact of Mickey’s image until now. I refuse to dress my five and 6-year-olds in clothing that has characters branded on them, except for Mickey. There is a deeply ingrained subconscious reason that I’m only now realizing. It was a real aha moment for me.

I was lucky enough to have been a performer at Disneyland in 2000. For the insiders, I’ll say I had the magical title of “pageant helper,” which carries more weight than it suggests. I thought perhaps working at the parks would kill a little bit of the joy, as technically, I had peeked behind the curtain, quite literally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anytime I stepped onto the grounds out from backstage (the areas no guest ever sees), I would be a giant kid all over again. On one unforgettable day, I had the unprecedented honor of meeting the actor Walt hired to wear the first Mickey costume on Disneyland’s opening day. There I am, a sweaty mess, in half a costume smiling like a fangirl. It was a part of history most people would never get to touch.

Visually, Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is a cinematic dream. From hand-drawn frame-by-frame cell animation to chemist-mixed paint to the collaborations we see today as animation and technology shift by the day. We experience the sheer artistry involved in Mickey as animators recreate some of his most iconic roles throughout history. In a sort of meta moment, these creators work on the newest Mickey short, “Mickey In A Minute,” during the doc, one hand-drawn scene at a time. The final product is Disney perfection.

Mickey Mouse is the most famous character in all of history. Three simple circles have made an indelible mark on humanity. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse overflowed with nostalgia and had me giggling and grinning from ear to ear. I could not have loved it anymore.


Mickey: The Story of a Mouse 

premieres today on Disney+

Short Synopsis
One of the world’s most beloved icons, Mickey Mouse is recognized as a symbol of joy and childhood innocence in virtually every corner of the globe. Dreamed up at a low point in Walt Disney’s burgeoning career, Mickey became an overnight sensation when he starred in the first synch-sound animated short, Steamboat Willie. Through the decades that followed, the character evolved into strikingly different versions of himself that reflect both his creator’s remarkable career and dramatic societal shifts in the nation he came to represent. In the fascinating documentary Mickey: The Story of a Mouse, director Jeff Malmberg and Oscar ® -winning producer Morgan Neville (who previously teamed up together for Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) examine the cultural significance of the nearly 100-year-old cartoon mouse.


 

DOC NYC review: David Siev’s ‘BAD AXE’ features hope pushing past hate. IFC will release one of the year’s best docs in theaters and on digital tomorrow!

BAD AXE

Synopsis: ​​After leaving NYC for his rural hometown of Bad Axe, Michigan, at the start of the pandemic, Asian American filmmaker David Siev documents his family’s struggles to keep their restaurant afloat. As fears of the virus grow, deep generational scars dating back to Cambodia’s bloody “killing fields” come to the fore, straining the relationship between the family’s patriarch, Chun, and his daughter, Jaclyn. When the BLM movement takes center stage in America, the family uses its collective voice to speak out in their conservative community. What unfolds is a real-time portrait of 2020 through the lens of one multicultural family’s fight stay in business, stay involved, and stay alive.


The Siev family patriarch Chun is a Cambodian refugee who came to the US to attain the American Dream. He and his wife Rachel opened a donut shop named Baker’s Dozen. Times were hard, and money was tight, but the Siev family stuck together and thrived. In 2000 they opened Rachel’s, a family restaurant in their hometown of Bad Axe, Michigan.

Director and only son in the Siev pack, David had the foresight to capture the upheaval of his family and their community beginning in March 2020. Like many families, the Sievs found their adult children moving back into their homes to help their vulnerable parents. Bad Axe is a small, tight-knit town with two stoplights. It’s a nice place to raise a family. When lockdown begins, local tension boils over, and the Siev family becomes targets of racism and conspiracy theories.

The eldest daughter, Jaclyn, has palpable anxiety. She tries her hardest to protect her father. The tension and stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. The family’s livelihood, quite literally, is on the line. Siblings, Michelle and Raquel, joined by Jaclyn’s husband Mike, Rachel’s boyfriend Austin, and a small handful of Rachel’s loyal employees, work day and night to feed the community and maintain a sense of normalcy while facing political and racial upheaval.

The intimate nature of Bad Axe is visceral. The Siev family could be anyone’s neighbors. They are friendly, hardworking, and respectful members of their community. They bug each other as much as they love each other. They remind me of my holidays when all four siblings invade our childhood home with inside jokes, arguments, and an unconditional adoration for one another.

Chun is a fascinating member of the family. He is a proud man. An opinionated individual, a responsible gun owner, and a survivor of the Cambodian killing fields, Chun’s unresolved trauma reveals itself in harsh words toward Jaclyn. He knows it and owns it. His emotional journey is everything.

The footage of the Black Lives Matter confrontation made my palms sweat. The aftermath of ignorant racist attacks will undoubtedly infuriate you. You will not believe the sheer terror these people have to endure. The courage of the Siev family makes my heart swell. Their bravery to move forward in the face of chaos is astounding. David’s commitment to telling their story gives audiences a peek inside the hatred stirred up by those in politics and the media that I refuse to give fuel by naming them. We all know who is responsible for the uptick of hate. May he lose again and again.

While we witness the many trials and tribulations alongside the Siev family, in the end, BAD AXE is a love letter to an ever-evolving community and an ode to a family that believes love conquers all. I can easily say Bad Axe is one of the year’s best documentaries.


BAD AXE — Directed by David Siev

New York Premiere — Winner’s Circle — IFC Films Release on Nov 18, 2022

Produced by ​​Jude Harris, Diane Quon, Kat Vasquez, David Siev 

Executive Produced by Daniel Dae Kim, Jeff Tremaine

Featuring Chun Siev, Rachel Siev, Jaclyn Siev, Skylar Janssen, Michael Meinhold

 

Screenings:

Online Screening Window – Sunday, November 13, 2022 12am through Sunday, November 27, 2022 at 11:59pm

Run Time: 102 minutes


 

Review: Emotional trauma and a sinister spirit board a luxury yacht in Christian Schultz’s ‘PRESENCE’ on VOD today.

PRESENCE

Business partners Jennifer and Samantha are invited on a weeklong yachting voyage with a potential investor. Jennifer begins to have strange dreams, and it becomes clear that she may have brought something else with her.


I’ve been sitting on my thoughts about this film for two days now. If I’m being completely honest, I think PRESENCE plays like a rushed prequel to a horror franchise. All the elements are in place for some seriously scary storytelling. Yet somehow, I was left with more questions than answers.

Writer-director Christain Schultz gives us a damaged lead in Jennifer. She has emotional trauma that feels unresolved, even in the final moments. I wanted specifics, other than everyone around her referencing a “breakdown in New York.” Jenna Lyng Adams has moments of badassery, but they are few and far between (no fault of her own). I was also slightly confused about the dynamic of Jennifer and Sam’s relationship. At first, I thought they were lovers. It was a bit messy. Schultz and co-writer Peter Ambrosio ultimately make Jennifer a victim, even though I believe the intention was a reclamation of power through supernatural forces. I’m unclear whether this was an editing issue or a script issue.

I must say that the performance of Dave Davis is my favorite part of the film. Davis gives depth to the building mystery, in some moments with nothing but a panicked stare. His intensity immediately reeled me in, calming me during my desperation to make sense of the plot. I would watch an entire film about his journey with the Presence. That’s the story that hooked me instantly.

Overall, PRESENCE got me revved up with slick visuals but never satisfied me with its overall arc. I don’t need it spelled out because the bones are there. I was looking for a further explanation of “why” all around.


XYZ Films is proud to announce that Christian Schultz’s PRESENCE will land on North American VOD on November 17th, following a thrilling festival run that included Popcorn Frights and Panic Fest.

 

DOC NYC (2022) review: ‘MY SISTER LIV’- one family’s story that speaks to millions.

MY SISTER LIV

Director Alan Hicks brings audiences the intimate story of sisters Tess and Liv through a letter from one the other. MY SISTER LIV is a tale of one family’s relentless journey to save their loved one by diving deep into the all-consuming chaos and shocking prevalence of depression. 

Liv’s personality explodes off the screen. Her bright-eyed energy catches you off guard and makes you smile. Her musical talents are an impressive saving grace. But, her thoughts of self-harm are a relentless monster exacerbated by sexual assault and body dysmorphia. Tess’ guilt is palpable. She and her mother did everything right. They researched medications and therapy and checked in on Liv. Ultimately social media and the need for acceptance lead to dark thoughts and self-medicating with alcohol.

Home videos, Tess’ narration, and Liv’s diary entries comprise a narrative that looks and sounds like so many young people. The doc plays out in two distinct halves; before and after. My Sister Liv begins with Tess telling the audience Liv’s story. The second is Tess and their mother’s emotional devastation and how the pandemic rolled into their already heavy grief, with videos of Liv replaced by videos of Tess. Then zoom discussions of Tess speaking with young people Liv’s age and mental health professionals, expressing similar feelings, coping mechanisms, causes, and statistics. 

Having lost one of my best friends from suicide after years of reaching out and quite literally talking them off the ledge, again and again, I understand the approach to mental health is sacred. My Sister Liv also served as a wake-up call for me as a parent of a five-year-old with OCD and anxiety. Can I prevent their mental health struggles from becoming all-consuming in a world that bombards children with negative thoughts and images 24 hrs a day? I’ve never wanted to predict the future more in my entire life. DOC NYC 2022 audiences have something special at their fingertips. If My Sister Liv gets viewers to start a conversation about mental health, that’s already a hugely important win for everyone. 

 thelivproject.org


Online Dates

Friday, November 11 – Sunday, November 27, 2022

Venue

Online Screening

Director: Alan Hicks
Executive Producer: David J. Cornfield, Linda A. Cornfield, Ross Kauffman, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Curtis Pesmen, Dan Braun, Josh Braun, Rob Galluzzo, Steve Carpenter, Amy Carpenter, Bob Birch, Genie Birch, William Campbell, Alice Fiori, Co-Executive Producers Amy Batchelor, Brad Feld
Producer: Paula DuPré Pesmen, Camilla Mazzaferro
Editor: Andrew McAllister, Michael Mahaffie, Jordan Swioklo
Language: English
Country: Australia, United States of America
Year: 2022


Review: Carlo Lavagna’s Post-Apocalyptic Thriller ‘SHADOWS’ Finds Mia Threapleton Living in Isolation

SHADOWS

Anxiety and paranoia seep from every pore of Carlo Lavagna’s Shadows. We follow sisters Alma and Alexis as they attempt to carve out a life in the post-apocalyptic countryside. They live in an abandoned hotel under the strict eye of their Mother (Saskia Reeves). Every activity they must undertake to survive (hunting, fishing) must be done at night – to venture out in the light risks the wrath of the dangerous SHADOWS.

We don’t know much more than that, and we don’t really need to. The film’s premise in many respects takes a backseat to the character dynamics and overall setting. Mia Threapleton brings a quiet, contemplative balance to the role of Alma. She is often tasked with being simultaneously curious, terrified, furious, and even somewhat maternal (kids are complex, even in an apocalypse!) Threapleton is up for the task, and I’m eager to see what roles she pursues in the future.  As younger sister Alex, I felt Lola Petticrew suffered from less screen time, which is remarkable in a film with only 3 characters. As Mother, Saskia Reeves dances on a razor wire stretched between empathy and lunacy.

Beyond strong characters, the film leverages its setting to its full effect in an impressive fashion. The hotel is decrepit and terrifying. The simplicity and restraint of the framing will stick with me – lingering shots of empty, silent halls convey an effective chill without excessive soundtracks or jump cuts. I also loved the way the film showcased the more mundane aspects of survival (collecting water, checking on greenhouses, hunting for food) Survival isn’t always about running and jumping.

Don’t come to SHADOWS expecting A Quiet Place, Part 3. The scares are more cerebral than visceral. But ultimately, it all felt appropriate to me. This is a film more concerned with motivations and relationships than the things that go bump in the dark.


Shadows: 102 minutes / Italy & Ireland / English

 Red Water Entertainment has announced the North American VOD debut of Carlo Lavagna’s Shadows. The Irish-Italian psychological thriller will be available on a number of digital and cable platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, iNDemand, and DISH, starting November 15th.


DOC NYC (2022) review: ‘ CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET’ is an awe-inspiring film about the importance of theater and the ability to create.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET

CENTERPIECE SELECTION

*WORLD PREMIERE*

Cirque du Soleil’s “O” is the top-grossing show in the world. Enter Covid19 and the subsequent and heartbreaking release of 3400 employees. The show was down for 400 days. In April 2021, restrictions finally loosening Cirque announced “O” would be back. Eight weeks to reopen among health and safety restrictions. The doc spotlights a handful of their performers. We learn how they got to Cirque and follow along as they retrain their minds and bodies after more than a year of uncertainty. We also see the tech and artistic crews rebuilding, sewing, and revamping as quickly as possible to meet the reopening deadline. It is an intricate dance of trust. One slight human or machine error could spell disaster for the artists.

The cinematography is breathtaking, from underwater shots of the artistic swimmers to areal views of acrobatic acts. Ultimately, the film reminds us of the power and importance of performance. It’s an undeniably visceral viewing experience.

As a performer, this documentary feels deeply personal. One particular quote early on struck me immediately. “It’s really difficult to live without purpose.” What is humanity without creation? What is an artist without the ability to access their craft? Speaking from personal experience and the confessions of fellow performers when the lockdown began, it physically pained us not to be onstage. Cirque du Soleil: Without A Net is a celebratory exploration of a performer’s purpose and the joyous return of the world of theatre.


CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET had its World Premiere at DOC NYC on November 13 @ 2:15pm.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET tells the story of when the world shut down, its greatest Circus went into freefall. Within 48 hours Cirque du Soleil closed all its 44 shows; within a week it let 95% of its workforce go. The show seemed over for the billion-dollar brand. Now, more than a year later, a group of world-class artists, athletes and crew at “O”, Cirque’s flagship production, face uncertainty as they prepare to bring their show back to life. With unprecedented access, this film documents their extraordinary journey as they attempt a return to stage after one of the world’s greatest crises.

Director: Dawn Porter
Executive Producer: Dawn Porter, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Richard Bedser, Ailsa Orr
Producer: Dawn Porter, Summer Damon, Sadie Bass, Mark Burnett, Barry Poznick
Cinematographer: Chris Hilleke, Bryant Fisher
Editor: Jessica Congdon, Dave Marcus
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Year: 2022

Online Dates

Monday, November 14 – Sunday, November 27, 2022

Venue

Online Screening

Review: Charming debut for writer- director Darren Le Gallo, ‘Sam & Kate’ opens in theaters today!

SAM & KATE

SYNOPSIS:

A life-affirming family dramedy starring Oscar®-winners Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek, Sam & Kate takes place in a small town in the heart of the country. Hoffman plays Bill, the larger-than-life father to Sam (Jake Hoffman), who has returned home to take care of his ailing dad. While home, Sam falls for a local woman, Kate (Schuyler Fisk). And at the same time, Bill starts to fall for her mom, Tina (Spacek). But finding love is complicated and for these four, it is no different. They all must confront their past in order to make their new love work for the future. Truly a family affair, art imitates life with the father/son casting of Dustin & Jake and the mother/daughter casting of Sissy & Schuyler.


Charming and breezy, Sam & Kate is a lovely exploration of generational communication and the joy and complexities of newfound intimacy.

Dustin Hoffman plays two sides of a complex man. He’s a curmudgeon and old-school charmer. His vulnerability slowly reveals itself, and it’s a gloriously nuanced turn. Sissy Spacek plays Tina with the perfect balance of warmth and hesitancy. Her character’s fear stems from unresolved emotional trauma, and Spacek settles into that messiness like a master. Their chemistry makes me wonder if any of their dialogue is improvised. They are two legends making it look easy.

Jake Hoffman and Schuyler Fisk learned a lot from their parents because they are spectacular. Hoffman’s boy next door goodness is pitch-perfect. Fisk is effortlessly elegant. Together, they transfix the audience with their wounded imperfection.

The script from writer-director Darren Le Gallo feels like a comforting hug, yet fresh. I love that Sam and Kate aren’t 20-somethings. I respect the grown-up, lived-in realities of caring for aging parents while exploring their place in the world. Tina and Kate’s histories affect every beat. In the end, Sam & Kate boasts incredibly grounded dialogue and flawless pacing. It’s a gem and a notable debut for Darren Le Gallo.


In Theaters November 11, 2022

WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY:

Darren Le Gallo

STARRING:

Jake Hoffman, Schuyler Fisk, Dustin Hoffman, Sissy Spacek, Henry Thomas

RUN TIME:

RATING:

110 minutes

R

 

 

Review: ‘The Friendship Game’ explores the dangers of our deepest and darkest desires

THE FRIENDSHIP GAME

From the Producer of THE WITCH and the Writer of “The OA”

Four best friends play a mysterious game procured at a tag sale, testing their relationship in unpredictable and terrifying ways. Glitchy body doubles and piecemeal memories are only the beginning of the nightmare-fueled film.

Performances from our five leads are exceptional. Dylan Schombing plays Kyle, a young webcam hacker essential to the audience following any trace of sense. Schombing’s eyes speak volumes. Kelcey Mawema is Court. She has a party-girl spirit with a drinking problem that hides an inferiority complex. Mawema gives us a solid performance, never letting herself become a third wheel as the story progresses. Peyton List plays Zooza. This role is a departure for List, even with her darker character of Cobra Kai. You cannot help but focus on her turmoil.

Brendan Meyer (who I loved in OA, and am still bitter we didn’t get our ending…) plays Rob with a trustworthy boy-next-door aura. But, Ober’s script allows him to explore a nuance that Meyer owns. Kaitlyn Santa Juana‘s turn as Cotton is enthralling. She is the thread we follow through the film as we unravel the game. There’s an “it” quality about her I cannot pin down, but I’m dying to see her in whatever she does next.

The script had me hanging on every word, every visual, and mind-ending twist. Writer Damien Ober and director Scooter Corkle hypnotize audiences with dizzying editing combined with slowly leaking reveals. It’s a ceaselessly engrossing marriage of devices. Add on the notable red/ blue lighting and jarring soundscape, and The Friendship Game holds you captive from the very first frame. It is emotional manipulation at its finest.

RLJE Films will release the thriller/horror film THE FRIENDSHIP GAME in theaters, on-demand, and digital on November 11, 2022.

SYNOPSIS: The Friendship Game follows a group of teens as they come across a strange object that tests their loyalties to each other and has increasingly destructive consequences the deeper into the game they go.

THE FRIENDSHIP GAME stars Peyton List (“Cobra Kai”), Brendan Meyer (“The OA”), Kelcey Mawema (To All the Boys I’ve Loved franchise), Kaitlyn Santa Juana (“The Flash”) and Dylan Schombing (“Watchmen”). The film was written by Damien Ober (“The OA”) and directed by Scooter Corkle (Hollow in the Land).


 

Review: In theaters today, Eva Green and Chai Fonacia star in ‘NOCEBO,’ a mysterious revenge horror mixing ethics and folk healing.

NOCEBO

In NOCEBO, a fashion designer (Eva Green) suffers from a mysterious illness that confounds her doctors and frustrates her husband (Mark Strong) – until help arrives in the form of a Filipino nanny (Chai Fonacier) who uses traditional folk healing to reveal a horrifying truth.


After a mysterious phone call and a simultaneous encounter with a mangy dog riddled with ticks, Christine’s physical and mental health rapidly declines. Suffering from sleep apnea, nightmares, forgetfulness, and sharp, debilitating pains at any given moment, her already vulnerable marriage and successful fashion design career teeter on the edge of destruction. When Filipina Nanny Diana arrives at her door, Christine does not recall sending for her, but the extra set of hands proves life-changing, for better or worse.

Diana’s integration into the family lands somewhere between awkward and essential. Husband Felix and young daughter Roberta (they call her Bobs) are caught in the middle, allowing for gaslighting from Felix and growing distrust from Bobs. Add in the class distinction with Christine and her family living in a lavish mansion, while Diana arrives with nothing but a single suitcase, mostly filled not with clothing. Writer-director Lorcan Finnegan utilizes flashbacks of Diana’s life to illustrate the glaring contrast. Little by little, the audience begins to piece things together, but not before being disturbed by the effects of Diana’s folk healing methods.

Finnegan uses the color red in many specific instances; lipstick, curtains, and, most impactfully, Christine’s lucky shoes. The color is a sumptuous visual punch set against the mostly jewel-toned house. Finnegan understands the assignment.

As the story progresses and the truth reveals itself, your view of each character shifts. Eva Green plays Chrissy with both a manic and ruthless angle. She is a master at living inside the skin of a character, and Christine is no exception. Chai Fonacier is Diana. This juicy role allows us to see Fonacier’s massive range. I would watch her in all the things, as they say.

Radek Ladczuk‘s cinematography, which I loved in Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook and The Nightingale, is just as emotionally jarring in both overt and subtle forms. The closeups of hands, small objects, and facial features pull the audience into the overall mystery of Christine’s ailment and the impact of her family.

*********The next paragraph has a bit of a spoiler. Skip it to keep the mystery intact!*********

*******SPOILER ALERT*******

In the credits, just after the music tracks, I noticed bold text reading, “Justice for all Kentex workers.” A quick Google search led me to a story from 2015 in Manila in which a factory fire killed 72 factory workers after they were trapped on the second floor. Metal grates on the windows prevented them from escaping a horrifying death. We have heard so many of these same stories of unsafe sweatshop conditions. NOCEBO I pulls directly from the 2015 tragedy, making the film all the more terrorizing.

****** End Of Spoiler Info******

NOCEBO boasts a jaw-dropping and shockingly dark finale. Mixing folklore and revenge horror never miss. The term “nocebo” comes from the Latin to harm. The Oxford definition reads: “a detrimental effect on health produced by psychological or psychosomatic factors such as negative expectations of treatment or prognosis.” Finnegan slickly lulls you into one genre, then pulls the rug out from underneath us. The truth will either set you free or destroy you. NOCEBO is here to remind us all.


RLJE Films will release NOCEBO in theaters on Nov. 4, 2022 and on Demand and Digital on Nov. 22, 2022. The film will stream on Shudder at a later date.



Directed by Lorcan Finnegan (Vivarium) and written by Garret Shanley (Without Name), NOCEBO stars Eva Green (Casino Royale), Mark Strong (1917), Chai Fonacier (Jesus Is Dead) and Billie Gadsdon (Cruella).





Short film review: ‘And I Miss You Like A Little Kid’ hits you square in the chest.

And I Miss You Like A Little Kid

From microaggressions to unapologetic emotional manipulation, And I Miss You Like A Little Kid sees a new relationship between strangers Jason and Clarissa begin during the pandemic. It isn’t long before power becomes the focus, and masterminded carelessness drive one of them to their breaking point.

Watching Jason endure ceaseless emotional abuse is visceral. It’s an interesting angle from the typical toxic grooming gender dynamic. Filmed in lockdown adds another layer, the relationship compiling with the isolation that was already a monster when Jason was alone. And I Miss You Like A Little Kid takes you by surprise, over and over.

Teri Reeves plays Clarissa with an edgy, ferocious energy. I loathed her. It is essential to understand this is a compliment. She is great.

Chris Zylka‘s vulnerability is award-worthy. The performance reminds me a lot of Cooper Raiff in Sh*thouse. It is not often we see the softer side of men. Zylka brings freshness. His sadness and overwhelming confusion are palpable.

As someone who had three separate college roommates that were cutters, And I Miss You Like A Little Kid is especially challenging to witness. I had forgotten the impact of catching someone bleeding with a knife in one hand, bleeding from the wrist or forearm, or inner thigh. But, in this film, Jason’s ability to recognize his breaking point is the catharsis necessary before the audience loses all hope. And I Miss You Like A Little Kid hits hard and leaves scars. It will take me a long time to shake. Writer-director Benjamin Hosking strikes a raw nerve and presents us with a clear artistic voice. Whatever comes next, I’ll have my eyes and ears waiting.


And I Miss You Like a Little Kid (TRAILER) from Benjamin Hosking on Vimeo.


Audiences can see the film today at  AFI Film Festival Conservatory Showcase 6. It will screen in a block with other short films beginning at 3:45 PM at TCL Chinese Theater. 
The entire film festival will run Wednesday, November 2-6th, 2022.

AND I MISS YOU LIKE A LITTLE KID is a short psychological drama displaying the spiraling and abusive domestic relationship of Jason (Chris Zylka, The Amazing Spider Man (2012), 90210, Hannah Montana and Cougar Town) and Clarissa (Teri Reeves, The Punisher on Netflix, ABC’s Once upon a Time, Hulu’s Battleground and NBC’s Chicago Fire) in Covid-era Los Angeles.


Film’s website: https://www.andimissyoulikealittlekid.com

Instagram: @andimissyoulikealiitlekid

Facebook Page: And I Miss You Like a Little Kid


 

Review: ‘Something In The Dirt’ is the latest mindf*ck from the filmmaking team Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson.

SOMETHING IN THE DIRT

I’ve been waving my arms and shouting their names from the rooftops for years, pushing their films on fellow indie genre fans. Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are unquestionably one of the most intriguing filmmaking teams. It is impossible to predict their endgame. They thrive on the unexpected. Their latest film killing it on the festival circuit, SOMETHING IN THE DIRT, is no exception. Welcome to one of the weirdest head trips in cinematic history.

Levi and John form a fast friendship when a strange occurrence in their LA apartment building inspires them to make a documentary. Walking a fine line of admiration and distrust, the two get deeper into the mystery and the lies they tell one another.

Benson and Moorhead’s use of science is a running theme in their films. It is always clever. In SOMETHING IN THE DIRT, history and math (specifically the Pythagorean theory) are quite literally written on the walls. The quick-take editing holds your attention like a vice with a mix of home videos, documentary-style sit-down interviews, visuals of whatever topic Levi and John reference, and handheld cinematography allow the audience to teeter on the edge of doc and sci-fi narrative. This is what Benson and Moorhead do; keep you on your toes from start to finish.

The sound editing is a character. Audiences might suddenly find themselves imitating Levi’s stillness and neck craning to get the full effect. Justin Benson wrote the script, while Moorhead tackles the eclectic cinematography. Directing side by side, Benson and Moorhead share a chemistry that is something of the gods. They cannot escape likeability. The dialogue sounds so natural it could be improvised around the main outline. I constantly smirked as they effortlessly bounced between science, humor, casual conspiracy theories, and the idea that nothing is a coincidence. A meta film within a film, SOMETHING IN THE DIRT is here to mess you up and keep you guessing. I need to watch it again. I need to.


SOMETHING IN THE DIRT
The Fifth Mind-Melting Feature from Filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (THE ENDLESS, “Moon Knight”) 
Opens in Theaters November 4 via XYZ

Netflix review: ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’ is a breathtaking epic.

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

17-year-old Paul and his young comrades enthusiastically join the Western Front in 1918 under the guise that they will return to a hero’s welcome. The reality they are about to enter is far from ticker tape parades and medals. It is the unforgiving and bloody trench warfare of WWI. German director Edward Berger’s All Quiet on the Western Front is a breathtaking retelling of the classic 1928 novel by Erich Maria Remarque.

The unfiltered brutality of war, shocking imagery, nothing is sugarcoated. Felix Kammerer stars as our young lead Paul. The film follows his journey from enlisting by lying about his age to the day the war officially ended. Fear is the dominant feeling that runs through the narrative. The class and rank of soldiers is a striking contrast, highlighted by scenes of prideful general sitting safe in high mansions while young men and boys get slaughtered. The film opens with some of the bluntest scenes of warfare that left my jaw on the floor.

In its nearly two-and-a-half-hour runtime, the film has little dialogue. Not a wasted word in the trenches with shouted orders, a kind word of encouragement shared for survival, and the cast genuinely connects on a personal level. Of course, once you become attached to anyone, they are just as quickly ripped away. Kammerer is the star of this film, no doubt about that. His ability to fully embrace the chaos grabs you by the throat. His eyes speak volumes.

James Friend‘s exquisite cinematography encompasses stunning framing, detailed close-ups, and natural lighting. The choice to do hand-held places the audience on the ground with the cast. It’s dizzying at times, but that’s the point. In the still moments, I found myself saying out loud, “Wow, this is beautiful.” The score is its own entity. Jarring, often electronic-sounding horn melodies and sharp state drum rhythms usher impending menace. It will be a travesty if it doesn’t get noticed during awards season.

All Quiet On The Western Front may be the most extensive war epic ever filmed. The fight choreography made my palms sweat. I don’t care how hard you think you are. This story will break you. The cyclical nature of war will crush your soul. There is a reason All Quiet On The Western Front is Germany’s Oscar entry. It’s essential viewing for any history buff or cinema lover and a stark warning to men in power.


Streaming Now on NETFLIX


 

Review: Amanda Kramer’s ‘PLEASE BABY PLEASE’ is the next cult midnight movie queer obsession.

When newlyweds Arthur and Suze become the object of obsession for a dangerous street gang called The Young Gents, their lives get turned upside down. Amanda Kramer‘s PLEASE BABY PLEASE puts identity and love to the test in this sexy queer musical.

Demi Moore plays upstairs neighbor Maureen. She’s a hot pink and animal print-drenched eccentric woman and the perfect influence on Suze, giving her permission to let go of her inhibitions. Karl Glusman is Teddy, a member of The Young Gents with an eye for Arthur. Glusman nails the classic greaser role, adding a relentless sensuality to his words. He is fantastic. 

Harry Melling plays Arthur with brooding intellectual turmoil, his gentleness waiting to burst at the seams with desire. Melling oozes charm and surprising elegance. It is a marvelous turn.  Andrea Riseborough is Suze. Her fiery energy explodes off the screen. Brimming with sass, dramatic flair, and pent-up rage, Riseborough dives deep into Suze’s fantasies of sadism and masculinity. They are perfect foils for one another, each hungering for something more. They are, simply put, magnificent. 

The score is brilliant, with a mix of bass plucking, bongo drums, and saxophone wails. Short bursts of choreography smartly encapsulate the mood and era. The sets are deliciously accentuated with neon-colored everyday objects, black light hues, and engulfing blues and magenta. Everything sort of glows like a live-action comic book.

The dialogue openly discusses the foolish nature of traditional gender stereotypes. It invites exploration at every level. PLEASE BABY PLEASE would make a fabulous stage production. It’s over-the-top perfection. I loved everything about this fearless, campy, one-of-a-kind film about self-discovery. 


Opens In Theaters October 28

https://www.pleasebabypleasemovie.com/


 

 

Review: Based on one of the greatest warriors in history, ‘MEDIEVAL’ is yet another star vehicle for Ben Foster.

MEDIEVAL

 ARRIVES ON DIGITAL OCTOBER 25th AND ON DVD & BLU-RAY DECEMBER 6th

Synopsis: Ben Foster (Hell or High Water) and Academy Award® Winner Michael Caine* (The Cider House Rules) star in the action-packed historical epic inspired by the true story of daring mercenary leader Jan Žižka, one of greatest warriors in history. After the death of its emperor, the Holy Roman Empire plummets into chaos while corrupt kings battle for control of the empty throne. To battle the tyranny and greed of those clawing for power, Jan must lead a rebel army in this sweeping saga of war and betrayal.


1402 and politics and religion clash in the new historical epic Medieval. This wickedly violent retelling of arguably the greatest warrior to ever live, Jan Žižka. With Europe in turmoil and freedom at stake, one man leads a rebel army against all odds.

Michael Caine gives a memorable performance even if his screen time is brief. Matthew Goode is positively vile. He is slyly punchable, and if that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is. Sophie Lowe, who I adored in Blow The Man Down, holds her own against the predominantly male cast. Her chemistry with Foster feels natural. I found myself pulled into their dynamic more and more.

I met Ben Foster when we both attended Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan in 1994. Within minutes, I knew he’d be a star. Few actors can disappear into a character. Foster is unstoppable in his pursuit to perfect his craft. In Medieval, he possesses compelling and quiet strength as Žižka. Foster makes everything look effortless, from the fight choreography to the passionate drama. He is magnificent. If you need further proof that he’s the leading man you’ve been waiting for, look no further than Medieval.

The film boasts massive and elaborate fight sequences. The cinematography is beautiful, and the score is luscious. Overall the film is reminiscent of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), and I mean that as a compliment. It deserves the best-quality screen you can find. The script is a lot. Keep your ears sharp to keep track of the ever-evolving chaos. MEDIEVAL is undeniably entertaining at every turn. If for no other reason than to witness a masterclass in acting from Ben Foster. He earns and then demands your full attention.


 Official Trailer:

On Digital October 25th and On DVD & Blu-ray December 6th

 

Website: www.medieval.film

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/medievalmovieus/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Medieval-Movie-109224965060431

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theavenue_film

Starring:                                              

Ben Foster, Sophie Lowe, Til Schweiger, Matthew Goode and Michael Caine*

Written and Directed By:                     

Petr Jákl

Story By:                                             

Peter Bok & Petr Jákl Sr.

Based on the previous screenplay by:  

Marek Dobeš and Michal Petruš

  

*2000/Best Actor in a Supporting Role/The Cider House Rules

‘ACADEMY AWARD®’ is the registered trademark and service mark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences


Genre:                                                 

Action

Run Time:                                            

125 minutes

Rating:                                                

Rated R for strong and grisly violent content throughout, and some nudity.

Distributor:                                         

Paramount Pictures


2022 Gotham Awards Nominations feature some of year’s best surprises.

2022 Gotham Awards Nominations Full List 

 

Best Feature Nominations go to Aftersun, The Cathedral, Dos Estaciones, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Tár.

New York, NY (October 25, 2022) – The Gotham Film & Media Institute announced today the nominations for the 32nd Annual Gotham Awards, singling out 23 feature films, 15 series, and 35 performances in twelve award categories. The nominations were announced live from Cipriani Wall Street by Emmy-nominated star of Pose and American Horror Story on FX and now as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway, Angelica Ross. Ross was joined by Jeffrey Sharp, award-winning film producer and the Executive Director of The Gotham.

“We are thrilled to announce this year’s Gotham Award nominees and look forward to celebrating together live and in person in a few weeks. Over 500 films and TV shows were submitted for consideration this year. These filmmakers demonstrated tremendous courage and invention in the production of their work during these months, and we’d like to congratulate them all.” said Sharp.

As the first major awards ceremony of the fall season, the Gotham Awards provide critical early recognition and media attention to worthy independent films and series and their writers, directors, producers, and actors. The awards are also unique for their ability to assist in catapulting award recipients prominently into national awards season attention. The 2022 Gotham Awards Ceremony will be held live and in person at 7 pm on Monday, November 28, 2022 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Nominees are selected by committees of film and television critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators. Separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, editors, and others directly involved in making films will determine the final Gotham Award recipients. 

The 2022 Gotham Award nominations are:

Best Feature 

Aftersun

Charlotte Wells, director; Adele Romanski, Amy Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Mark Ceryak, producers (A24)

The Cathedral

Ricky D’Ambrose, director; Graham Swon, producer (MUBI)

Dos Estaciones

Juan Pablo González, director; Ilana Coleman, Jamie Gonçalves, Bruna Haddad, Makena Buchanan, producers (Cinema Guild)

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, directors; Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Mike Larocca, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Jonathan Wang, producers (A24)

Tár

Todd Field, director; Alexandra Milchan, Scott Lambert, Todd Field, producers (Focus Features)

Best Documentary Feature

What We Leave Behind

Iliana Sosa, director; Emma D. Miller, Isidore Bethel, producers (ARRAY) 

All That Breathes

Shaunak Sen, director; Aman Mann, Shaunak Sen, Teddy Leifer producers (A Sideshow & Submarine Deluxe Release in Association with HBO Documentary Films) 

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

Laura Poitras, director; Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin, Yoni Golijov, Laura Poitras, producers (NEON)

I Didn’t See You There

Reid Davenport, director; Keith Wilson, producer (RePort Media) 

The Territory

Alex Pritz, director; Alex Pritz, Darren Aronofsky, Sigrid Dyekjær, Will N. Miller, Gabriel Uchida, Lizzie Gillett, producers (National Geographic Documentary Films)

 

Best International Feature

Corsage

Marie Kreutzer, director; Alexander Glehr, Johanna Scherz, Bernard Michaux, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade, Jean-Christophe Reymond, producers (IFC Films)

Athena

Romain Gavras, director; Romain Gavras, Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Mourad Belkeddar, Jean Duhamel, Nicolas Lhermitte, Ladj Ly, producers (Netflix)

The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh, director; Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh, producers (Searchlight Pictures)

Decision to Leave

Park Chan-wook, director and producer (MUBI)

Happening

Audrey Diwan, director; Edouard Weil, Alice Girard producers (IFC Films)

Saint Omer

Alice Diop, director; Toufik Ayadi, Christophe Barral, producers (Super LTD)

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award

Charlotte Wells for Aftersun (A24)

Owen Kline for Funny Pages (A24)

Elegance Bratton for The Inspection (A24) 

Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic for Murina (Kino Lorber)

Beth de Araújo for Soft & Quiet (Momentum Pictures / eOne)

Jane Schoenbrun for We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Utopia)

Best Screenplay

Armageddon Time, James Gray (Focus Features)

After Yang, Kogonada (A24)

Catherine Called Birdy, Lena Dunham (Amazon Studios)

Tár, Todd Field (Focus Features)

Women Talking, Sarah Polley, based upon the book by Miriam Toews (United Artists Releasing / Orion Pictures)

Outstanding Lead Performance

Cate Blanchett in Tár (Focus Features)

Danielle Deadwyler in Till (United Artists Releasing / Orion Pictures)

Dale Dickey in A Love Song (Bleecker Street)

Colin Farrell in After Yang (A24)

Brendan Fraser in The Whale (A24)

Paul Mescal in Aftersun (A24)

Thandiwe Newton in God’s Country (IFC Films)

Aubrey Plaza in Emily the Criminal (Roadside Attractions and Vertical Entertainment)

Taylor Russell in Bones and All (United Artists Releasing / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)

Outstanding Supporting Performance

Jessie Buckley in Women Talking (United Artists Releasing / Orion Pictures)

Raúl Castillo in The Inspection (A24)

Hong Chau in The Whale (A24)

Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway (Apple TV+)

Nina Hoss in Tár (Focus Features)

Noémie Merlant in Tár (Focus Features)

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)

Mark Rylance in Bones and All (United Artists Releasing / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

Gabrielle Union in The Inspection (A24)

Ben Whishaw in Women Talking (United Artists Releasing / Orion Pictures)

Breakthrough Performer

Anna Cobb in We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (Utopia)

Frankie Corio in Aftersun (A24)

Anna Diop in Nanny (Amazon Studios and Blumhouse)

Gracija Filipovic in Murina (Kino Lorber)

Kali Reis in Catch the Fair One (IFC Films)


Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)

Abbott Elementary, Quinta Brunson, creator; Quinta Brunson, Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumaker, Randall Einhorn, executive producers (ABC)

As We See It, Jason Katims, creator; Jason Katims, Jeni Mulein, Dana Idisis, Yuval Shafferman, Udi Segal, Amit Gitelzon, Shlomit Arvis, Danna Stern, executive producers (Prime Video)

Mo, Mohammed Amer, Ramy Youssef, creators; Mohammed Amer, Ramy Youssef, Ravi Nandan, Hallie Sekoff, Solvan “Slick” Naim, Harris Danow, Luvh Rakhe, executive producers (Netflix)

Rap Sh!t, Issa Rae, creator; Issa Rae, Syreeta Singleton, Montrel McKay, Deniese Davis, Dave Becky, Jonathan Berry, executive producers (HBO/HBO Max)

Somebody Somewhere, Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, creators; Bridget Everett, Carolyn Strauss, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Mel Eslyn, Hannah Bos, Paul Thureen, Patricia Breen, Tyler Romary, executive producers (HBO Max)

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)

Pachinko, Soo Hugh, creator; Soo Hugh, Michael Ellenberg, Lindsey Springer, Theresa Kang-Lowe, Richard Middleton, Kogonada, Justin Cho, executive producers (Apple TV+)

Severance, Dan Erickson, creator; Ben Stiller, Nicholas Weinstock, Jackie Cohn, Mark Friedman, Dan Erickson, Andrew Colville, Chris Black, John Cameron, executive producers (Apple TV+)

Station Eleven, Patrick Somerville, creator; Patrick Somerville, Jessica Rhoades, Scott Steindorff, Dylan Russell, Scott Delman, Jeremy Podeswa, Hiro Murai, Nate Matteson, executive producers (HBO/HBO Max)

This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay, creator; Naomi De Pear, James Farrell, Jane Featherstone, Adam Kay, Ben Whishaw, executive producers (AMC+ in association with BBC)

Yellowjackets, Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, creators; Jonathan Lisco, Ashley Lyle, Bart Nickerson, Drew Comins, Karyn Kusama, executive producers (SHOWTIME)

Outstanding Performance in a New Series

Bilal Baig in Sort Of (HBO Max/HBO)

Ayo Edebiri in The Bear (FX)

Janelle James in Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Minha Kim in Pachinko (Apple TV+)

Matilda Lawler in Station Eleven (HBO/HBO Max)

Britt Lower in Severance (Apple TV+)

Melanie Lynskey in Yellowjackets (SHOWTIME)

Zahn McClarnon in Dark Winds (AMC & AMC+)

Sue Ann Pien in As We See It (Prime Video)

Ben Whishaw in This is Going to Hurt (AMC+ in association with BBC)

Breakthrough Nonfiction Series

The Andy Warhol Diaries, Alexis Martin Woodall, Scott Robertson, Andrew Rossi, Stanley Buchthal, Josh Braun, Ryan Murphy, executive producers; Maya E. Rudolph, producer; Andrew Rossi, director (Netflix)

The Last Movie Stars, Martin Scorsese, Amy Entelis, Courtney Sexton, executive producers; Adam Gibbs, Ryan Hawke, Emily Wachtel, Lisa Long Adler, producers; Ethan Hawke, director (HBO Max)

Mind over Murder, Nanfu Wang, creator and director; Marc Smerling, Nanfu Wang, Max Heckman, Chad Mumm, Mark W. Olsen, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, Sara Rodriguez, executive producers (HBO/HBO Max)

The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder, creator and director; Nathan Fielder, Dave Paige, Dan McManus, Christie Smith, executive producers (HBO Max)

We Need To Talk About Cosby, W. Kamau Bell, creator and director; W. Kamau Bell, Andrew Fried, Katie A. King, Vinnie Malhotra, Dane Lillegard, Sarina Roma, Jordan Wynn, executive producers (SHOWTIME)


Thirty-four critics, curators, programmers, and writers participated in the nomination process. 

Nominating Committees for the 2022 Gotham Awards were:

Nominating Committee for Best Feature and Best Screenplay:

Justin Chang, Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, NPR’s “Fresh Air”

K. Austin Collins, Film Critic, Rolling Stone

David Ehrlich, Chief Film Critic, IndieWire

Jessica Kiang, Freelance Film Critic, Variety, Sight & Sound, Los Angeles Times, The Playlist

Alison Willmore, Film Critic, New York Magazine/Vulture

Nominating Committee for Best Documentary Feature:

Ben Fowlie, Executive and Artistic Director, Points North Institute; Founder, Camden International Film Festival

Tom Hall, Co-Head/Artistic Director at Montclair Film & The Clairidge Cinemas

Eric Hynes, Writer/Reporter/Critic; Curator of Film, Museum of the Moving Image

Ruth Somalo, Senior Programmer at DOC NYC & ADFF, independent curator and filmmaker

Ania Trzebiatowska, Film Curator, Sundance Film Festival

Nominating Committee for Best International Feature:

Bilge Ebiri, Film Critic and Writer, New York Magazine/Vulture

David Fear, Senior Editor & Critic, Rolling Stone

Wendy Ide, Film Critic, The Observer, Screen International

Guy Lodge, Film Critic, Variety, The Guardian and co-editor, Film of the Week

David Rooney, Chief Film Critic, The Hollywood Reporter

Nominating Committee for Breakthrough Director

Carlos Aguilar, Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, The Wrap

A.A. Dowd, Culture Editor, Chron

Kate Erbland, Executive Editor, Film, IndieWire

Lovia Gyarkye, Arts and Culture Critic, The Hollywood Reporter

David Sims, Staff Writer, Culture, The Atlantic

Nominating Committee for Outstanding Lead Performance, Supporting Performance, and Breakthrough Performer:

Robert Daniels, Film Critic, RogerEbert.com, The Playlist, IndieWire

Jon Frosch, Reviews Editor, The Hollywood Reporter

Tim Grierson, Senior U.S. Critic, Screen International; author, This Is How You Make a Movie

Tomris Laffly, Film Critic, Variety, RogerEbert.com

Brian Tallerico, Editor, RogerEbert.com

Nominating Committee for Breakthrough Series and Outstanding Performance in a New Series

Judy Berman, TV Critic, TIME

Jen Chaney, TV Critic, Vulture

Daniel Fienberg, Chief Television Critic, The Hollywood Reporter 

Caroline Framke, Chief TV Critic, Variety

Melanie McFarland, TV Critic & Senior Culture Writer, Salon

Nominating Committee for Breakthrough Nonfiction Series 

Judy Berman, TV Critic, TIME

Amy Dotson, Director of PAM CUT//Center for an Untold Tomorrow & Curator, Film & New Media at Portland Art Museum

Daniel Fienberg, Chief Television Critic, The Hollywood Reporter 

Cynthia Fuchs, Interim Director, Film and Video Studies, College of Visual and Performing Arts, George Mason University 

Sponsors

The Lead Sponsors of the 2022 Gotham Awards are Cadillac, FIJI Water and GreenSlate. 

About the Gotham Film & Media Institute

The Gotham celebrates and nurtures independent film and media creators, providing career-building resources, access to industry influencers, and pathways to wider recognition. The organization, under the leadership of Executive Director and award-winning producer Jeffrey Sharp, fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include Gotham Week, Gotham Labs, Filmmaker Magazine, the Gotham Awards, Gotham EDU, Owning It, and Expanding Communities.

About the Gotham Awards

The Gotham Awards, one of the leading honors for independent film and television, provides early acknowledgement to groundbreaking independent films and television series. Selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, the home of independent film, the Gotham Awards are the first honors of the film awards season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that The Gotham Film & Media Institute does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition.

 

 

 

Review: ‘HALLOWEEN ENDS’- thoughtful conclusion to horror saga may leave fans feeling stabbed in the back.

HALLOWEEN ENDS

Here we are. The purported end of Michael Myer’s murderous saga. Jamie Lee Curtis’ very last ride as Laurie Strode (although that’s what they said after Halloween Resurrection in 2002…) Certainly, this will be the last entry of the Blumhouse rebooted trilogy, which re-invigorated the franchise by ignoring all entries other than John Carpenter’s 1978 classic. I found 2018’s Halloween to be wildly successful – it skillfully brought Laurie and her bogeyman into the modern era by hitting the right mix of screams and smarts. 2021’s Halloween Kills? If they gave out Oscars in the “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” category, it would have run away with it.

I’m happy to say I enjoyed Halloween Ends quite a bit more than Halloween Kills. I also fully admit this movie won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (or, in Michael Myer’s terms, everyone’s kitchen knife.) Director David Gordon Green and co-writer Danny McBride are grappling with big ideas, and take some bold narrative swings in this film. This is a movie that is less concerned with slices and screams. Instead, it reflects on the nature of evil, as well as the long-lasting effects of trauma and pain on both survivors and bystanders.

It’s a big switch, and it makes for a bumpy cinematic experience.  This shift is embodied most clearly in the new character of Corey Cunningham (Rohan Campbell). It is Halloween Night in 2019 when we are first introduced to Corey (1 year after the events of the rebooted Halloween and Halloween Kills.) He is shy but bright and has the unfortunate luck to be a babysitter in Haddonfield, Illinois. An awful incident occurs, and Corey is much changed when we flash forward to Ends’ present day. A potential romance with Laurie Strode’s granddaughter, Allyson (an underused Andi Matichak) offers a hopeful future. But Corey is vulnerable, touched by darkness, and shamed by nearly everyone else in town. The core battle of Halloween Ends is in many aspects focused on this tug-of-war for Corey’s soul. Let’s be clear: if the above turns you off, then you will not like this movie.

Ultimately, what drew me to this film was the inevitable confrontation between Laurie and The Shape, and there Halloween Ends does deliver. It is exciting and exhilarating and left me wanting more. So much of this is due to Jamie Lee Curtis’ performance. In 2018’s Halloween, Laurie Strode was a type of haunted doomsday prepper – her every moment and movement was dominated by a fear of Michael Myers returning. In this final iteration, Laurie is looser and more free. She bakes pies and makes jokes. But she is not naïve.  After 44 years and 6 prior appearances. Curtis still brings such fire to this character. All of the film’s best moments belong to her, and they are worth the price of admission.

It’s impossible to really evaluate Halloween Ends on its own. There is simply too much history at play (both between Laurie and Michael Myers, and across horror film history in general.) I appreciated that Ends tried to wrestle with this legacy. I also hope they let Myers and Laurie rest now. Those seeking a final slice, a final scream, and return to the many films that have come before. Nobody needs to see Halloween Ends, Again. 

In theaters and streaming only on Peacock October 14

Music composed by: John CarpenterCody CarpenterDaniel Davies