Review: Watch with glee as Nicolas Cage battles evil animatronics in ‘Willy’s Wonderland’

WILLY’S WONDERLAND

When his car breaks down, a quiet loner agrees to clean an abandoned family fun center in exchange for repairs. He soon finds himself waging war against possessed animatronic mascots while trapped inside Willy’s Wonderland.

So we can all agree that Nicolas Cage is now firmly his own genre, right? I can’t believe this is the same guy from Raising Arizona and National Treasure. He is a force of nature. When you’ve reached this cool of a status you can pretty much pick whatever project you want. Bless Nic Cage for providing the masses with his particular set of skills on screen. WILLY’S WONDERLAND is the perfect place for us to experience this latest chapter of “Cage rage’ with some popcorn on our couches.  As “The Janitor”, Cage’s combination of nonchalance and violence is pure badass. This is a dude comprised of mystery and soda. But for a significant part of the film, we’re actually watching him clean this place. This Academy Award-winning actor clean urinals. It’s the weirdest bit of intrigue to witness but talk about commitment. Alongside a vat filled with horror tropes, all used masterfully, this film is sure to be a cult classic. Dare I say, even franchise potential for his character? With a ragtag group of teens, townspeople in on the rouse, evil possession a la Child’s Play, WILLY’S WONDERLAND is a damn good time. The cast is so committed to this story you just get to sit back and watch with giddy energy as the mayhem ensues. The final third of the film is relentless chaos, highlighted by a 3-minute interlude of Cage improvising at a pinball machine. It’s pure magic. This is why we watch movies.

G. O. Parsons‘ screenplay is so batshit it works. A possessed weasel, a fairy, a turtle, an alligator, a chameleon, a gorilla, a knight, and an Ostrich provide us with hilarious and gruesome kills and calamity. The Janitor’s mission of cleaning this damn place will not be deterred. There will undoubtedly be comparisons to the Five Nights at Freddy’s games and The Banana Splits movie but who cares. WILLY’S WONDERLAND has execution that is out of this world. The creature, set, and prop builds are wild. Attention to detail is award-worthy. My mother used to work at a Chuck E. Cheese. The atmosphere built for Cage and company to exist in is spot on. The handheld camerawork is dizzying and fantastic. The lighting is often enhanced with a black light hue that is simply delicious. It’s a funhouse of horrors. This is a genre fan’s dream watch. The practical FX are bloodsoaked and brutal. The soundtrack is epic. You will be singing Willy’s theme over and over because it balances on the edge of maniacal, weird, and wonderful. Where can I buy that and an official Willy’s Wonderland t-shirt? I’m as deadly serious as The Janitor.

WILLY’S WONDERLAND is now available on VOD platforms

Amazon Prime series: Twisted and dark ‘Tell Me Your Secrets’ Season 1 is available today!

TELL ME YOUR SECRETS

An intense, morally complex thriller revolving around a trio of characters, each with a mysterious and troubling past: Emma (Rabe) is a young woman who once looked into the eyes of a dangerous killer, John (Linklater) is a former serial predator desperate to find redemption, and Mary (Brenneman) is a grieving mother obsessed with finding her missing daughter, Theresa (Baker). As each of them is pushed to the edge, the truth about their pasts and motives grows ever murkier, blurring the lines between victim and perpetrator.

Emma Hall is a new woman, or at least she hopes to be. Recently released from prison, she is the former girlfriend of a notorious serial rapist and murderer. With a new identity and the help of a mysterious man, she attempts to start over in a small Louisiana town where no one knows who she is or what she’s done, including Emma. All we know is that she claims to have memory gaps when it comes to her boyfriend’s crimes. Mary lost her daughter 7 years ago and is convinced Emma holds the key to her disappearance. When reformed rapist John is denied a volunteer position at her foundation, Mary emotionally blackmails into tracking Emma down. The audience is in for one hell of a mystery.

With multiple timelines, you aren’t sure what to believe. Tell Me Your Secrets is loaded and dizzying. The end of episode one had me catching my breath. I need to know what happened to Theresa and how Emma is connected. I can tell as a Mother, this story intrigues me. As a true crime fan, I’m invested. As a critic, I am impressed at the storytelling style. If this is just the introduction to this series, I’m hooked.

The cast is top-notch. Amy Breneman‘s woman in the edge performance is terrifying. Hamish Linklater‘s anxiety-driven reformed act gives me pause. I’m dying to see more from him already. Lily Rabe‘s perfect balancing act of darkness and trauma makes Tell Me Your Secrets as captivating as it is. If you’re a fan of The Killing or True Detective, this could be your new binge.

All 10 episodes of Season 1 of TELL ME YOUR SECRETS are now available on Prime Video

Review: ‘White Lie’ catches you in the web.

A university student who fakes a cancer diagnosis for the attention and financial gain struggles to maintain her secret.

Sir Walter Scott said it best in his poem “Marmion”, ‘Ohwhat a tangled web we weave,/ When first we practice to deceive!’ The genius of this script is the storytelling structure. Minutes in you understand that our leading lady is caught in a web so large she cannot get out now. The relentless danger he allows herself to be in is astounding. The audience is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Now that I have had time to sit on my viewing, I am actually aghast at the pace of the film. It barrels along in its deception and doesn’t let up for a minute. While there is clearly a backstory that predates the present timeline in White Lie,  I found the lack of information all the more intriguing. I was forced to make assumptions thus leading to, perhaps, a completely different take than anyone sitting next to me. Bravo to writers/directors  Yonah Lewis, Calvin Thomas for being bold enough to make such choices.

Kacey Rohl‘s performance as Katie makes the film as enthralling as it is. Her ability to make you loathe her and sympathize with her is uncanny. You understand that the complexity of this role is massive. She absolutely nails it. White Lie will have you uncomfortable from start to finish. It will be impossible to look away even though you’ll feel as entangled in the lies as Katie. It’s quite masterful.

Rock Salt Releasing will release it on various digital streaming platforms on 1/5/2021 (DirecTV, Amazon, InDemand, iTunes, FlixFling, AT&T, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, Fandango & Google Play).

Review: ’18 To Party’ spans generations and is one of the best of 2020.

It’s 1984 and outside a small-town nightclub, a group of 8th graders gather, grappling with a spate of recent suicides, UFO sightings, their absentee parents, and each other.

The eclectic personalities represented in 18 To Party put me right back in 8th grade. I knew or was all of these kids at one point or another. This ensemble cast is unreal. There is an incredible mix of nonchalance, awkwardness, boldness, and fear. All the hormones and adolescent rage are there in its purest form. It is impossible not to think of Richard Linklater‘s films. Writer/director Jeff Roda‘s dialogue touches on nothing and everything all at once and it is delicious. The pacing is brilliant. You’re fully into these kids and all that’s occurring in their small town circle. I remember when every little thing had the weight of the world because my world was only so large. 18 To Party has a familiarity that lets the viewer live in the film. It’s on real stand out in 2020. Any fellow Gen Xer will be fully in flashback mode, nodding and smiling and cringing along with these kids. It’s totally awesome but in an understated cool way. Wait until you hear the soundtrack. So yeah, Jeff Roda nails it. Watch it with your kids. Their reaction might surprise you. Catch 18 To Party on VOD platforms today.

VOD (December 1)
Platforms including: Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, Fandango, and more to follow.

OFFICIAL SELECTION: WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL, FLORIDA FILM FESTIVAL (Winner! Special Jury Award/ Ensemble Cast), BIG APPLE FILM FESTIVAL, LIVERPOOL FILM FESTIVAL, and more.

DIRECTOR/ SCREENWRITER: Jeff Roda

STARRING: Alivia Clark, Tanner Flood, James Freedson-Jackson, Oliver Gifford, Nolan Lyons, Sam McCarthy, Ivy Miller, Taylor Richardson, and Erich Schuett.

INCLUDING MUSIC BY: The Alarm, Big Audio Dynamite, Mick Jones, The Velvet Underground, and many more.

Review: ‘Volition’ begs the question of fate.

VOLITION is a time-bending cerebral science-fiction thriller where a man afflicted with clairvoyance tries to change his fate when a series of events leads to a vision of his own imminent murder.

The storyboarding that had to occur for this to succeed must have been painstakingly detailed. Think Looper meets 12 Monkeys. Do not blink while watching this film. The writing is on the wall (literally in some cases.) Volition is an incredibly high octane, sci-fi thriller. It challenges fate and consequences. It’s a never-ending stream of entertaining moments that build and build. The editors deserve a major high five.

Clearly written with some serious precision, Tony Dean Smith, who also directs, and Ryan W. Smith has given us a time-warped mindbender. Our leading man, Adrian Glynn McMorran is phenomenal. Beat to beat he nails the emotional uphill battle this script becomes. Speaking of which, the pacing is really a feat. The complexity will keep you glued to your seat. Volition is aptly named not only for its plot but for everyone involved in making the film as successful as it is. Check out the trailer below for a sneak peek!

You can be seen on Apple TV, Prime Video, and other digital platforms this Friday, July 10th.

 VOLITION is the feature directorial debut for Tony Dean Smith (Rakka), who co-wrote the script with his brother and producing partner Ryan W. Smith (Next Gen).  The film stars Adrian Glynn McMorran (The Revenant), Magda Apanowicz (You), John Cassini (The Possession), Frank Cassini (Watchmen), Aleks Paunovic (War for the Planet of the Apes), and Bill Marchant (Godzilla).  It was produced in association with Paly Productions and Smith Brothers Film Company.

 

Review: Award-winning documentary ‘The Push’ now available on VOD platforms.

The Push


Grant Korgan is a scientist and a professional athlete. Grant Korgan should not be able to do the things he does. After sustaining a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the belly button down, his entire spirit was deflated. Until he discovered other disabled athletes were training to continue their sports and beyond. Along comes an opportunity of a lifetime; go to The South Pole, and not just go, traverse 100 miles across the polar plateau of Antarctica using only his arms to pull himself on a sled. It had never been done by someone like Grant. His entire journey, from the accident on is documented. He literally had a camera on his person as he hit the ground and, unbeknownst to him, became paralyzed. Not only does he have a camera, but his best friends and extreme sports buddies are also filming him from the bottom of the mountain. The Korgans have a camera running for all the good, the bad, the ugly of recovery and training. The Push is a story of the human spirit and the determination of Grant, his wife Shawna, and Tal, Grant’s trekking partner, and ultimate caretaker on the ice. The bond forged between these two people is unreal. Teamwork doesn’t accurately define their relationship. Tal essentially becomes the lifeguard that Shawna had been. Now she’s not there and Tal has to make decisions for the both of them. Things do not go as planned. It’s impossible to predict how Mother Nature will treat you. Faith is a real driving force in this story. Not the religious kind of faith but the belief that anything can be achieved if you just persist hard enough, long enough. The Push will make you root for these guys to succeed. Challenge after challenge will they make it to the South Pole?  And at the point of real-life danger and all the odds against them, and after all they’ve already achieved, does it even matter? Not only do we experience Grant’s South Pole excursion, but the aftermath. This is where it comes back to the human spirit, once again. There is a lot of soul searching and as Grant says, ” there is a beauty in being broken” and how you choose to view your circumstances. If you’re not crying at the end of this film I don’t even know if you’re a human being. The Push is inspiring and a film that should be shared far and wide for anyone struggling. It’s truly uplifting.

A Gravitas Ventures release, the film has just landed on Amazon and Netflix and other VOD platforms.

THE PUSH

Winner of “Best Documentary” at AmDocs Palm Springs, Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, The Impact DOCS Awards, Long Beach International Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Sonoma International Film Festival, and the Vero Beach Wine & Film Festival.

Following Nationwide Sell-Outs ‘OASIS: SUPERSONIC’ is Now Available on iTunes and On Demand!

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Audiences across the country fell in love with OASIS: SUPERSONIC this past Wednesday night, with numerous sold-out shows and incredible viewer response nationwide. The film is now available on iTunes and On Demand, and it will also be extending its theatrical run in many major markets including NY & LA due to popular demand!

From the Oscar® winning producers of Amy comes this essential and entertaining look at the meteoric rise of the seminal ’90s rock band Oasis.  The film immerses us in the raucous rock stars’ fast-paced world of electrifying music, wild debauchery, and epic fraternal feuding, weaving never-before-seen concert footage with candid interviews and an astonishing firsthand account of the backstage sibling rivalry that threatened to destroy the band.

Make sure to check out Michael’s review of the film here

Review: Unveiling an international empire in the astounding documentary “Tickled”

TICKLED

Catfish meets Compliance in David Farrier and Dylan Reeve’s jaw-dropping documentary Tickled. David Farrier is a New Zealand journalist who stumbled upon what seemed like just an unusual sport of men’s competitive tickling but instead triggered an incredibly, threatening backlash as he decided to dig deeper for more information on this funny entertainment piece.

After Farrier discovered the world of men’s competitive endurance tickling he felt compelled to interview Jane O’Brien Media who hosted the tickling videos. After reaching out, Farrier and Reeve started receiving defensive responses from the company stating that the videos are of an “exclusively heterosexual athletic endurance activity”. Amazed by some of the responses Farrier felt even more compelled to dig deeper into his research. After the two journalists began receiving legal threats, they knew there was so much more to this story; together they unveiled an empire.

I highly recommend this documentary. Not only is this an oddly enticing film, but on top of it all, it has amazing cinematography. It is just incredible how far these two journalists went to understand the world of Jane O’Brian’s competitive tickling only to discover so much more. It is one of the best films that I have seen all year, and for those of you who get reeled in by the trailer, I am certain that you will enjoy it as well. Check out Tickled on VOD, iTunes and Amazon Video on November 1st, 2016. 

4.5 / 5 Stars 

New trailer for Woody Allen’s latest movie ‘Cafe Society’ – Premiering at Cannes & releasing in Amazon July 15th

Cafe Society

CAFÉ SOCIETY will have its world premiere on opening night of the 69th Cannes Film Festival

Amazon Studios & Lionsgate will release CAFÉ SOCIETY on July 15, 2016

Directed and Written by Woody Allen

Starring Jeannie Berlin, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, and Ken Stott

Produced by Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, and Edward Walson

Set in the 1930s, Woody Allen’s bittersweet romance CAFÉ SOCIETY follows Bronx-born Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) to Hollywood, where he falls in love, and back to New York, where he is swept up in the vibrant world of high society nightclub life.

Centering on events in the lives of Bobby’s colorful Bronx family, the film is a glittering valentine to the movie stars, socialites, playboys, debutantes, politicians, and gangsters who epitomized the excitement and glamour of the age.

Bobby’s family features his relentlessly bickering parents Rose (Jeannie Berlin) and Marty (Ken Stott), his casually amoral gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll); his good-hearted teacher sister Evelyn (Sari Lennick), and her egghead husband Leonard (Stephen Kunken). For the hooligan Ben, there are no questions that can’t be answered with brute force, but the others are more likely to ponder deeper matters, like right and wrong, life and death, and the commercial viability of religion.

Seeking more out of life, Bobby flees his father’s jewelry store for Hollywood, where he works for his high-powered agent uncle Phil (Steve Carell). He soon falls for Phil’s charming assistant Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), but as she’s involved with another man, he settles for friendship. Bobby also befriends Rad (Parker Posey), a model agency owner, and her husband Steve (Paul Schneider), a wealthy producer.

When Vonnie’s boyfriend breaks up with her, Bobby seizes the opportunity to romance her, and she ultimately returns his affections. When he asks her to marry him and move to New York, she is tempted, but things do not go as smoothly as planned.

Heartbroken, Bobby returns to New York, where he begins working for Ben, who has muscled his way into owning a nightclub. Bobby displays natural talents as an impresario and swiftly promotes the club into the hottest in town, renaming it “Les Tropiques.”  Rad introduces him to the beautiful socialite Veronica (Blake Lively) and he courts her assiduously. Although he is still carrying a torch for Vonnie, when Veronica reveals she’s pregnant, they marry and begin a genuinely happy life together.

Everything seems to have fallen into place for Bobby until the night Vonnie walks into “Les Tropiques.”

Poignant, and often hilarious, CAFÉ SOCIETY, a film with a novel’s sweep, takes us on a journey from pastel-clad dealmakers in plush Hollywood mansions, to the quarrels and tribulations of a humble Bronx family, to the rough-and-tumble violence of New York gangsters, to the sparkling surfaces and secret scandals of Manhattan high life.

With CAFÉ SOCIETY, Woody Allen conjures up a 1930s world that has passed to tell a deeply romantic tale of dreams that never die.

For more info Facebook | Twitter

Review: Now available on VOD, film festival favorite ‘ANGEL OF NANJING’ soars.

Balance Films and Blue Bus Productions PresentsANGEL OF NANJING

In the US, depression is a subject we either tackle with prescription drugs or after a suicide. Most of us are so consumed with our own lives, we oftentimes fail to look beyond the emotional scope of our own noses. In a new documentary by Jordan Horowitz and Frank L. Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING, one solitary man makes it his mission to save the souls on The Yangtze River Bridge.

SYNOPSIS:

The Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing is one of the most famous landmarks in China. It is also the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. After hearing reports about this from the news, Chen Si, an average man with no professional training, decided to do something about it. On September 19, 2003, he went to the bridge with a heart-shaped sign that read, “Nothing is impossible. When God closes a door he opens a window.” That morning he saved someone, and has dedicated his life to standing vigil on that bridge ever since. Incredibly, he’s saved over 300 lives since he began.

 

Despite all the lives he’s saved, Chen’s mission has taken an unexpected toll on him. He feels incredible guilt when he learns someone committed suicide while he wasn’t at the bridge, and even more when he is there and is still unable to save them. He’s become a heavy smoker and drinker, and often finds himself battling with depression. He is also under growing pressure from his family to quit, who cannot understand why he spends so much time and money helping others when he has his own family to worry about.

ANGEL OF NANJING

The film has an incredibly organic feeling from its handheld camera work to the pulled back moments when Chen is speaking to the men and women so seemingly desperate to jump. Once rescued, the audience feels as if they’re part of the healing as they are treated to intimate face to face conflict resolution. It is a perfect snapshot into the Chinese culture. Suicide is considered extraordinarily shameful. Chinese media always refers to a desperate or depressed individual as in a “bad mood” in any aftermath coverage. Once you accept the familial implications of a suicide, you begin to understand Chen’s pragmatic approach. Cultural tactics are perfectly balanced with genuine tenderness resulting in incredibly touching rescues. Chen is a complex man, struggling with the sense of responsibility to those in such despair and his own happiness. Horowitz and Ferendo do absolute justice to Chen and this unique scenario. As an added bonus, the film’s score is both haunting and glorious. It is something I would seek out on its own. As a whole, ANGEL OF NANJING is a beautiful story of hope and humanity.

ANGEL OF NANJING

ANGEL OF NANJING is now available! Check out the trailer below…

Award-winning documentary debuted on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play) February 16

Winner – Best Documentary, Phoenix Film Festival
Wi
nner – Best Documentary, Catalina Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, SaMo Indie Fest
Winner – Best Documentary, Big Apple Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, New Jersey Film Festival

Directed by Jordan Horowitz and Frank Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING tells the story of an ordinary man doing something extraordinary, and at great personal sacrifice. It is a personal portrait of a man, who in a country of over one billion people, has chosen to dedicate himself to making a difference, one person at a time. 

Jeff Lipsky’s Controversial and Critically Acclaimed ‘Mad Women’ Coming to Amazon and Vimeo-on-Demand on October 10th

Christina Starbuck 1

Mad Women is a dark satire about Harper Smith, a middle-aged mom who, following a one-year prison sentence for having committed an act of conscience, becomes a local hero and folk legend in her small community of Iris Glen, NY. She runs for local office but has much grander aspirations up her sleeve. She is a woman accustomed to personal challenges: She lost her third child at the age of three to cancer, her first-born daughter, a pediatrician, is in Ukraine having joined Doctors Without Borders, her own mother lost an eye in her youth in an archery mishap, and her husband, a successful and beloved dentist, commits statutory rape under the influence of LSD at a rock concert.  It’s up to Harper and her middle daughter, Nevada, to persevere, and they do, as a most unlikely mother/daughter bond emerges.

About the genesis of Mad Women Lipsky explains:

“I began writing Mad Women in early 2013, just after President Obama’s second inaugural, moments after a season of political drivel came to an end, and seemingly seconds before cable outlets began their non-stop palaver about the 2016 election.  So I set out to conjure up my personal candidate, one whose idealism can’t be blunted, even as the world would be playing whack-a-mole with her. When I finished the script I knew there could never be a ‘Harper Smith.’ But now that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are front-runners, well, now I’m not so sure anymore!”

Mad Women marks the third consecutive collaboration between Lipsky and co-star Reed Birney (“House of Cards,” 2014 Tony Award nominee “Casa Valentina”). It also spotlights three extraordinary actresses – Kelsey Lynn Stokes, Christina Starbuck, and Sharon Van Ivan (John Cassavetes’ “Opening Night”) and marks a reunion for Lipsky with Jamie Harrold who co-starred in “Flannel Pajamas.” Lipsky’s previous films include Twelve ThirtyMolly’s Theory of Relativity, and Once More With Feeling, which along with Flannel Pajamas, have starred Justin Kirk, Julianne Nicholson, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Chazz Palminteri, Drea deMatteo, Linda Fiorentino, Cady Huffman, Rebecca Schull, Halley Feiffer and Barbara Barrie.

MAD WOMEN Theatrical Poster

3 New Movies You Can Rent Tonight – 3.10.15

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I’ve been dying to see this ever since I missed it at New York Film Festival. Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce? Not to mention those in the trailer! Quirky to the nth degree, I say, Listen Up Philip!

I have yet to take advantage of my Amazon Prime membership, but I don’t have to pay for it, it’s free for Prime members!


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John Hawkes has not stopped making those tiny gems and he’s brought a whole cast with him this time.

I swear this was on Netflix two days ago, but now I can’t find it.


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Liz reviewed this heart-stopper back in December. It’s from the producers of Headhunters, one of my favorite movies of 2011. (Now on Netflix)

Don’t Rent That, It Might Be Free – 8 New Releases On Netflix & Amazon Prime

Netflix

[imdb id=”tt2238050″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “White Bird in a Blizzard” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.


amazon-prime-logo

[imdb id=”tt1441395″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “Under the Skin” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.


Netflixamazon-prime-logo
[imdb id=”tt1976000″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “Two Faces of January” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.


amazon-prime-logo
[imdb id=”tt2910274″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “Obvious Child” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.


Netflixamazon-prime-logo
[imdb id=”tt1772264″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “Stonehearst Asylum” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.


amazon-prime-logo
[imdb id=”tt2345737″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “The Rover” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.


amazon-prime-logo
[imdb id=”tt3093546″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “Listen Up Philip” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.


Netflix
[imdb id=”tt1205537″ plot=”short”] See where you can watch “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” now, or set an alert to be notified once it’s available on additional platforms.