Tribeca Film Festival 2022 review from Unseen Films: ‘BLAZE’

BLAZE

After accidentally witnessing a violent crime, a young girl is left catatonic with shock, and struggles to make sense of what she saw, ultimately finding renewal in the inestimable world of her own imagination.


It is a  brilliantly made, beautifully acted film that is an excellent exploration of dealing with trauma. I applaud the filmmakers for making a film that deals honestly with the subject and doesn’t make it so everything instantly goes away in 90 minutes.

That said, we have to talk about the opening.

I am being more forthcoming than the promotional material for the film in that I am telling you our right that the terrible thing mentioned in the promotional material is a sexual assault, I am also warning you that it is really brutal.  While I hate warning audiences this time there should have been a warning on the content before going in – especially since some write-ups mention the film being about a girl and her invisible dragon- which many, myself included, made us think slightly lighter fare.

I mentioned this because I have friends who are victims of sexual assault and watched them walk out after discovering a film or play not knowing the subject matter. I have a day job where I have come into contact with survivors and I have seen them triggered by off-handed mentions of their own or another’s assault.  I have been yelled at by friends for not mentioning lesser assault in a film recommendation, so despite the filmmaker’s desire that audiences not be told and discover the event on their own, I am warning you.

Critically the assault raises an important question about the structure of the film in that there is no constructive need for us to witness the whole thing when our heroine does not. She only peaks at the rape, hiding behind a tree and listening to what she can hear over the sound in her headphones. There is no rational reason for us to see the rape in detail from multiple angles other than the creating of a head space, which ends up being overdone since the rape hangs over the film. Think about it- I am talking about the start of the film despite the ending being hopeful.

In an age where we label what is in the film, there was, as of this writing (June 3) no warning anywhere. There should be one. More so since I know other festivals such as Sundance and SXSW earlier this year had warnings on films that were much less jarring.

And no I am not big on trigger warnings but this film really requires one- even if my calling for one may make you think it’s not as bad as all that- because someone is not going to get the memo.

Warning given the film is gorgeous and amazingly well made (dare I say it could be called a great film), but everything is colored by the rape and as such, I don’t want to discuss it.

You’re on your own


For more Tribeca coverage from Unseen Films click here!


Remaining screenings:
Fri June 10 – 5:45 PM

Cinépolis: Theater 5

Fri June 17 – 8:00 PM

Village East by Angelika: Theater 2


Review: ‘WYRMWOOD APOCALYPSE’ screams franchise potential.

WYRMWOOD: APOCALYPSE

Synopsis: Rhys lives in the zombie-infested wasteland. His job is to capture civilians and deliver them to what’s left of the military. When Rhys captures a half-zombie-half-human named Grace, he comes to believe she is the key to ending the apocalypse.


*Let me begin their review by stating that I have not seen the original Wyrmwood. I can only comment on Wyrmwood: Apocalypse as a stand-alone film.*

I was immediately drawn into the film hearing Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds‘ track “Red Right Hand,” alongside the quick-cut editing. Equal parts quirky and cool, I was committed. The costumes and sets are elaborate eye candy. The special effects makeup and practical FX are deliciously gruesome. The score, combined with the red lighting, makes for the perfect touch of camp. Wyrmwood: Apocalypse has legit legs for a franchise reboot. 

This cast is gold. The commitment to these characters is commendable. The fight sequences and choreography are damn entertaining. These actors go hard into the action. Bravo, to Luke McKensie, Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Jake Ryan, Bianca Brady, Tasia Zalar, Jay Gallagher, and Nick Boshier for their phenomenal chemistry.

The plot possesses a similar concept as Zydrate from one of my all-time favorite films, Repo! The Genetic Opera. There’s revenge, cognisant zombies, mind control, harvesting, and family dynamics. You name it, and it’s in Wyrmwood: Apocalypse. There’s enough meat in this storyline to justify a series development. I could easily see this doing well on the SyFy network. It has to be from writer-director Kiah Roache-Turner and co-writer Tristan Roache-Turner. Consistency is key to maintaining a fandom. The bottom line is Wyrmwood: Apocalypse is a new beginning.


Zombie Action-Horror WYRMWOOD: APOCALYPSE — OUT DIGITALLY IN THE U.S. APRIL 14!


Genre: Horror

Country: Australia

Runtime: 90 mins

Year: 2022

Language: English

Rated: NA


Capsule review: Inspired by actual events, ‘NITRAM’ is a gripping tale of inevitable violence.

NITRAM

SYNOPSIS: Nitram (Caleb Landry Jones) lives with his mother (Judy Davis) and father (Anthony LaPaglia) in suburban Australia in the Mid 1990s. He lives a life of isolation and frustration at never being able to fit in. That is until he unexpectedly finds a close friend in a reclusive heiress, Helen (Essie Davis). However, when that relationship meets a tragic end, and Nitram’s loneliness and anger grow, he begins a slow descent that leads to disaster.


Witness the downward spiral of an already unwell young man as he slowly travels down the rabbit hole of complete darkness. When Nitram finally connects with a reclusive heiress named Helen, his world appears brighter. Helen provides the comfort and emotional shelter his parents could not. When the sadness becomes too much, his anger and anxiety manifest in violence and unfathomable tragedy. Inspired by actual events, NITRAM tells the story of one man’s undoing, changing Australia’s history forever. 

Caleb Landry Jones embodies the mentally fragile Nitram with his entire being. It’s no wonder he won Best Actor when the film premiered at Cannes last year. Jones’ uncanny ability to live in the skin of his character is something you don’t see often. He’s on another level, whether that be his voiceover work in Finch or his haunting performance in Antiviral. Alongside stellar performances from Judy Davis and Anthony LaPaglia as Nitram’s emotionally exhausted parents and a breathtaking turn from Essie DavisNITRAM is an eerie chronicling of inevitable implosion.


IFC Films will release the thriller/drama NITRAM in Theaters, on Digital Rental and AMC+ on March 30, 2022.

Directed by Justin Kurzel (TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, SNOWTOWN MURDERS, MACBETH) and written by Shaun Grant (TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG, BERLIN SYNDROME), NITRAM stars Caleb Landry Jones (THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING MISSOURI, GET OUT, HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT), Essie Davis (THE BABADOOK, TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG), Oscar Nominee Judy Davis (HUSBANDS AND WIVES, BARTON FINK, NAKED LUNCH), and Anthony LaPaglia (EMPIRE RECORDS, WITHOUT A TRACE).


 

SXSW 2022 review: Gracie Otto and Krew Boylan take on Dolly Parton, big hair, and even bigger dreams in ‘Seriously Red’

SERIOUSLY RED

This infectious homage to tribute performers focuses on a quirky redheaded young woman whose passion in life has been the songs and personality of Miss Dolly Parton. While she’s has a patterned history of screwing up, Red is a bold, kind-hearted spirit determined to make it as a Dolly impersonator. As her star rises, so does her self-esteem, affecting her personal life, for better or worse. 

Flashy sequins and blonde wings aside, deep down, the film is about self-actualization. The things we try and disguise from others and ourselves. When I was younger, someone asked me why I performed. “Is it because you’re hiding behind those characters?” First, I was offended. Then I thought about it. It was the perfect opportunity to try on someone new. But, Seriously Red is also about having the bravery to do what you love. 

Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, Celeste Barber, Daniel Webber, and Thomas Campbell give superb performances. Seriously Red lives and breathes in screenwriter and star Krew Boylan. She brings unbridled nuance to Red. Comedy timing from the gods, slapstick chops, and a voice for days, Boylan owns every scene. You can’t take your eyes off of her.

The energy never fades, with glorious musical numbers (live and choreographed fantasy sequences.) This film will resonate with an audience wider than Dolly fans. While we revel in the legend’s words throughout the script, the themes stand undoubtedly on their own. Seriously Red will make you smile from ear to ear.


To Learn More About SXSW22 click here!


SXSW 2022 review: Living your best life is triggering in ‘SISSY.’

SISSY

Synopsis: Cecilia and Emma were tween-age BFFs who were going to grow old together and never let anything come between them until Alex arrived on the scene. Twelve years later, Cecilia is a successful social media influencer living the dream of an independent, modern millennial woman… until she runs into Emma for the first time in over a decade. Emma invites Cecilia away on her bachelorette weekend at a remote cabin in the mountains, where Alex proceeds to make Cecilia’s weekend a living hell. #triggered


Catty, protective, territorial; girls can be the worst. Mean girls made my life a living hell for years. Everyone I know has a story involving them. SXSW22 Midnighters world premiere SISSY addresses them head-on. 

Slow clap for the editing in SISSY. It is clever and engaging from the beginning. The tension in the script is a deliberate build, sort of like ascending a rollercoaster, knowing that that first drop is coming and will be one many. But there are moments of silliness that cut through the anticipation. Overall a slick structure that never lets up. Trust me when I say you will not see where this leads. The practical FX are so tight I exclaimed, “Oh, F*ck,” at one point. There is no better an endorsement than that. 

The chemistry between Aisha Dee and Hannah Barlow (who co-writes and directs with Kane Senes) is magic. You believe they were best friends when they were twelve. Fast forward 15 years or so, and things look very different in their relationship. But, best friends never really lose their groove. That is until someone comes between them. Aisha Dee is our true leading lady, and she friggin kills it. SISSY obliterates your moral compass. 

SISSY tackles unresolved childhood trauma most darkly. Combined with the influencer angle is pure genius. SXSW22 audiences are going to love this. You root for all the wrong things, and therein lies the brilliance.


SISSY – Midnighters (**World Premiere**)
Writers/Directors: Hannah Barlow, Kane Senes
Cast: Aisha Dee, Hannah Barlow, Emily De Margheriti, Daniel Monks, Yerin Ha, Lucy Barrett


To find out more about SXSW22 click here!