Review: ‘Keep An Eye Out (Au Poste!) is an uproarious meta masterpiece.

KEEP AN EYE OUT (Au Poste!)

Belgian funnyman Benoît Poelvoorde (Man Bites Dog) is Commissaire Buran, a good, bad cop interrogating Fugain, (Grégoire Ludig), an average Joe who discovered a dead body outside his apartment building. As the film begins, Fugain must, on an empty stomach, explain how and why he happened to leave home seven times in one night before coming across a corpse in a puddle of blood. Since he’s the investigation’s only suspect, Fugain’s anxiety is already sky-high when Buran leaves him alone with Philippe, a one-eyed rookie cop with bizarre speech patterns and a few minutes to live.

The 110% commitment to the absolute absurd is what makes Keep An Eye Out (Au Poste!) so phenomenal. It has an authentic Monty Python level of rapid-fire, totally ridiculous tone to the dialogue. You’re just smirking the entire time. Whatever these guys were selling I was buying. I gutturally laughed out through the entire 73-minute run. Also, can we please normalize these kinds of runtimes? Great, concise storytelling. I’m here for it.

Chief Inspector played by Benoît Poelvoorde is a real prick but in the best way possible. The perfect foil for Ludig. He isn’t really listening to anyone and meanders between genius and complete moron. His presence is commanding. Grégoire Ludig plays the completely unsuspecting Fugain. His character goes on the journey of a lifetime. Ludig is the “straight man” of the cast, which isn’t saying much. In an American version, he’d be played by Paul Rudd; genuine comic timing in an everyman sort of way. His charming panic becomes our panic. It’s a true testament not only to his talents but the magnificent script. The nonchalance of the entire thing will floor you. Enter Philippe, the underling assigned to watch Fugain when the Chief is called away. Actor Marc Fraize was honestly my favorite thing about the entire film. I wanted to put him in my pocket and take him with me. His loveable, quirky oaf delivery was something unto itself. He really completed the circle of greatness for me, personally.

The storytelling style is a mix of interrogation and creative recreations of Fugain’s official statement. All while attempting to hide another matter in plain sight. The cinematography is beautiful; something akin to a Wes Anderson film with its very distinct color palette. The visual gags are to die for. You will not know which end is up. It’s dizzying and meta, and once it takes off it doesn’t let up for a minute. It’s like watching a tennis match of wit and weirdness. I could not recommend KEEP AN EYE OUT more.

KEEP AN EYE OUT (Au Poste!) opens tomorrow in theatres and virtual cinemas nationwide.

A list of theatres and virtual cinemas can be found HERE.

Apple TV+ review: ‘CHERRY’ has Tom Holland spiralling.

CHERRY

The wild journey of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging life circumstances.

Tom Holland plays the titular role in Cherry. The character feels like what might have happened to a modern-day Holden Caufield after the end of Catcher In The Rye. Cherry is classified as an American crime drama, but for me, it’s a genre-bending film that flows similarly to the Nico Walker novel it’s based on. Presented in parts, prologue and epilogue included, the screenplay moves at a rapid pace so you never have time to get too settled. Color is an important part of the structure, as red indicates each chapter shift. The lighting choices are smart and help create the overall mood of the film. There is a palpable heaviness to the story. The camera work is fantastic. Closeups are intentional and amazing. The score is also a huge highlight.

There’s an intense charm about Tom Holland. He commands the screen with his ability to both put you at ease and surprise you. You just believe him. If that’s not the very definition of great acting, I’m not sure what is. His narration controls the overall atmosphere of the film from the get-go. While Holland gets to explore the dark humor in it all, you’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop for Cherry. The military PTSD exacerbates his already existing sadness which inevitably leads to addiction… Which leads to a string of bank robberies.

Cherry is a self-destructive story of a young man with no sense of direction, controlled by impulse rather than logic. It could just as easily been an entire series. There’s a lot jammed into its two hour and twenty-minute run. If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s almost too much. With 30 minutes left, I had to pause and come back later. To clarify it was very engaged it was just a lot to ingest in one sitting. Had this played in theaters, I worry an audience wouldn’t be able to stick with the length. Outside of that one concern, Cherry is highly entertaining thanks to Holland’s full commitment to Jessica Goldberg, and Angela Russo-Otstot‘s phenomenal screenplay, and the stylistic choices of The Russo Brothers’ overall aesthetic choices.

Apple will release the movie in theaters on February 26 then on Apple TV+ on March 12. Customers can view Apple TV+ on any Apple device, recent smart TVs, set-top boxes, or on the web.

 

Review: ‘I BLAME SOCIETY’ is weird, smart, and dark as hell. I’m obsessed.

I BLAME SOCIETY

Synopsis
Gillian (Gillian Wallace Horvat) is one of those many struggling filmmakers in L.A. who just can’tseem to get the money for their first feature. Feeling like her friends and her partner (Keith Poulson) are losing faith in her abilities, she decides to resurrect her abandoned documentary based on a pseudo-compliment she once received that she would make a good murderer. But while she documents what makes “the perfect murder” a hitherto unseen dark side of Gillian emerges and grows. Furthermore the problem with being a successful serial killer, she discovers, is keeping the whole thing stealth, denying her the recognition that she craves… and that unhinges her even more. After accidentally-ish killing her best friend (Chase Williamson), Gillian goes on a killing spree culminating with a final bloody act that nobody would dare deny her credit for.

There is no female equivalent for the phrase “Ballsy”. What would that even look like? Lippy? I BLAME SOCIETY is extra lippy. Starring as a version of herself, filmmaker Gillian Wallace Horvat says all the quiet parts out loud. Then she acts on them just to make a point. And goddamnit, virtual high five from me. This script is unapologetic, bold, and genuinely hilarious. It’s the “die for your art” meets “tell me I can’t and see what happens” mashup I didn’t know I wanted. Highlighting the ridiculously misogynistic side of the industry in the smartest ways. When the phrases, “This is a really big opportunity for you!” “You’re like the female him!” “We need an ally on your side!” I died laughing and I died inside. But the film also tackles social media, communication, and ambition all inside a twisted presentation of Dexter-esque mayhem.

The pace leading to murderous activities works so well to build up a tense WTF feeling. It’s just so imaginative and absolutely terrifying. You get to a point where you stop thinking it’s funny and start genuinely worrying about everyone she encounters. Wallace Horvat is awesome. I wanna hang out with her in real-life and make fun of everything that she makes fun of in this film. She knows exactly what she’s doing even as she leads you to believe otherwise. She has an overtly narcissistic sociopath nuance to “Gillian” and nothing short of that would have worked as well. When she references makeover sequences, I laughed out loud and then immediately gasped exclaiming, “Holy Shit! That’s her actual hair!” When you see it you’ll fully understand.

The DIY look of the camerawork makes it even more relatable, especially after last week’s Twitter battle claiming “you can’t make a film with just an iPhone.” I BLAME SOCIETY is a giant middle finger to still male-dominated and faux #MeToo accountability in Hollywood. And not just the film industry. I’ve been on the other end of these conversations, yes in writing rooms and screening rooms, but also retail jobs, teaching jobs, do I need to go on? Even outside that theme, I BLAME SOCIETY is for every single person obsessed with true crime yelling at the TV, “The Husband did it,” or “You know what I would have done…” We get to sit back, relax, and watch someone else live out our darkest fantasies and that’s satisfying and entertaining.

I BLAME SOCIETY Debuts February 12th on VOD
For More Info Visit HERE

Review: ‘The Mimic’ is like nothing else you’ve seen or heard.

THE MIMIC

mimic: noun mim∙ic <\‘mi-mik \>

: a person who copies the behavior or speech of other people

: a person who mirrors other people

: an animal that naturally looks like something else

Based on a true story, this clever, intriguing, and hyperbolic comedy follows the main character – ‘the Narrator’ (Thomas Sadoski) who is befriended by his young new neighbor ‘the Kid’ (Jake Robinson), after he joins the local newspaper team.

Obsessed with the idea that the Kid may be a sociopath, the Narrator goes to extreme lengths to uncover the truth about him and his wife, a woman he ultimately begins to fancy. Between long walks down the street, a twisted dinner date, and a car drive gone terribly wrong, the Narrator gets closer and closer to the truth about the Kid. But the truth, as he finds, is anything but what he expected.

With a genuine laugh out loud, “Who’s On First?” meets  Adaptation (2002) energy, THE MIMIC so damn quirky you’re sort of hypnotized by its rhythm. It hums like a David Sedaris story that he’s narrating himself. The back and forth, rapid-fire dialogue is a bit dizzying but it certainly leaves you perched on the edge of your seat trying to keep up with the antics of these two gentlemen. You are so invested in them and their dynamic, you get swept up in this completely unexpected and magnetic film. I’m not exactly sure why there’s essentially a Febreze commercial halfway through the script but at that point you sort of just shrug and say, “Sure, why not.” We also experience a very meta scene, not including the moment when The Narrator turns to look straight into the camera. I was obsessed with it. Writer/Director Thomas F. Mazziotti’s screenplay has a rich theatrical feel. There is no doubt this could be an award-winning stage production. I would buy tickets to watch this live over and over just to feel the electricity between two actors up close and personal.

The ancillary cast of The Mimic is truly unreal. But the main focus is on our two leads; Thomas Sadoski and Jake Robinson. Sadoski’s mix of morose and obsessive behavior barrels the plot forward. Robinson’s overtly sunny disposition is so cringe-worthy (especially to this New Yorker critic) that you’re immediately placed in The Narrator’s (and Sadoski’s) mindset that something is off with The Kid. I first fell in love with Thomas Sadoski on The Newsroom. He’s just so goddamn good at what he does. He lives in a character’s skin with what looks like such ease. In The Mimic, you can see it all in his pained facial expressions. The Kid must be a sociopath. Jake Robinson looks like an ad for toothpaste from the 1950s. He’s got this classically handsome, old Hollywood charm that’s infectious, which is exactly why he was the perfect choice for this role. His comic timing is magic. The chemistry between these two men at odds is like a ticking time bomb. I was mesmerized by their report.

There is just something about this film that makes it special. I think it will garner a bit of a cult following. I can hear it being quoted in the same way Swingers still gets quoted among a certain age group of cinephiles. It’s got that same buzz about it. The Mimic will not be replicated and that’s what makes it so fantastic.

THE MIMIC will be screening in select theaters, and available on VOD beginning Friday, February 5, 2021.

Review: ‘The Reckoning’ – The good, the bad, and the terrifying.

The Reckoning

SYNOPSIS: Set against the backdrop of the Great Plague and subsequent witch-hunts against women, Grace Haverstock (Charlotte Kirk) must grapple with the tragic untimely death of her husband Joseph (Joe Anderson) in a society completely consumed by fear and death. Because she rejects her landlord Squire Pendleton’s (Steven Waddington) advances, she is falsely accused of being a witch and thrown in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. Grace must endure physical persecution at the hands of England’s most ruthless witch-hunter Judge Moorcroft (Sean Pertwee) and face her own inner demons as the Devil himself starts to work his way into her mind.

The Reckoning shines brightest in its performances and the attention to historic details. Firstly, without a doubt, the best aspect of this entire film is Sean Pertwee. His commitment to righteousness and torture without apology is what makes The Reckoning worth your time. Every second he is onscreen, he owns it. Watching him work is a masterclass. Charlotte Kirk does all the right things. But now for the bad… The amount of makeup on a person of her character’s social standing is completely unrealistic. It’s an unnatural amount for anyone outside of a royal court. It was genuinely distracting. This detail is a letdown considering the overall look of the film. One thing that is very clear is the amount of research that Kirk and Neil Marshall did to make The Reckoning as fact-based as possible. Kirk is stunning enough without a full face, so I am a bit baffled at the choice.

Now, the scary. This is a double-edged sword for me. While the creature makeup of The Devil is one of the most successful parts of the film visually, the ways in which he is utilized felt cheap. For me, it was a reason to exploit Kirk. It makes zero sense to have her fornicate (probably the first time I’ve used that word in earnest) with The Devil, without that being a major plot point that comes to fruition. It takes away from the overall feminist narrative of the film. I absolutely loved being terrified by the appearance of The Devil. Those moments stick in my head for their fright factor but make me cringe when used tom over sexual a character who is already sexually harrassed over and over for her appearance. This film might fair better if those scenes are cut altogether. The climax is most certainly unexpected and incredibly satisfying. Although with a runtime of 1 hour and 51 minutes, The Reckoning could lose a good 30 mins. Neil Marshall and Charlotte Kirk set out to highlight the atrocities committed against women in a time of fear, sickness, and paranoia. They are able to tell this story through the experiences of Grace and even a few ancillary characters associated with her. The real-life horrors are enough.

WATCH THE TRAILER:

RLJE Films and Shudder will release the action / horror THE RECKONING In Theaters, On Demand and Digital February 5, 2021. 

THE RECKONING stars Charlotte Kirk (Ocean’s 8, How To Be Single), Joe Anderson (Across The Universe, The Crazies), Steven Waddington (The Imitation Game, “The Tudors”) and Sean Pertwee (Dog SoldiersEquilibrium). The film was directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent), who co-wrote the film alongside Charlotte Kirk, making her feature screenwriting debut, and Edward Evers-Swindell (Dark Signal).

Review: ‘Happy Cleaners’ is a gem.

HAPPY CLEANERS

Members of the Choi family navigate personal struggles, cultural clashes and inner angst while trying to keep their dry cleaning business open in Queens, N.Y.

Hands down the most engaging character is Mom. Hyanghwa Lim owns every single minute of screentime. She is a fireball. The way she interacts with her family members is magic. Each relationship is specifically curated. She makes some of the best choices, performance-wise, in Happy Cleaners. They are honest and funny and ultimately filled with love. The film tackles a bunch of relatable topics; generation gaps, cultural expectations, pride, the changing times, and food, glorious food. There aren’t enough Korean American stories being told right now, so Happy Cleaners has the honor to stand out a little extra. If you don’t fall in love with the Choi family, I’ll be shocked. Directors Julian Kim and Peter S. Lee has given audiences a fresh perspective on modern family dynamics and very real discrimination living right here in NYC. Happy Cleaners pushes past cliche and honors tradition.

IN THEATERS
Feb 5-11, 2021

ON DEMAND
Feb 12, 2021

 

 

Review: ‘PG: Psycho Goreman’ celebrates a genre-bending romp of relentlessly violent, gore-filled, sci-fi weirdness.

Siblings Mimi and Luke unwittingly resurrect an ancient alien overlord who was entombed on Earth millions of years ago after a failed attempt to destroy the universe. They nickname the evil creature Psycho Goreman (or PG for short) and use the magical amulet they discovered to force him to obey their childish whims. It isn’t long before PG’s reappearance draws the attention of intergalactic friends and foes from across the cosmos and a rogues’ gallery of alien combatants converges in small-town suburbia to battle for the fate of the galaxy.

Mimi is me as a kid; overly dramatic, kooky, aggressively brimming with sass. I played with all the boys, digging holes, making forts, playing with stick lightsabers. Am I obsessed with the fact that PG: Psycho Goreman is energized by a truculent little girl?! Hell yes. Do I love the fact that it’s over-the-top in every single way? You betcha. Is this one of the most fun viewing experiences I’ve had in lockdown? 100%.  It’s a genre-bending romp of relentlessly violent, gore-filled, sci-fi weirdness and I am here for it all.

Essentially, if you’ve ever been a genre nerd, you’ll love this film. Think Peter Jackson‘s splatstick trilogy, add a pinch of The Gate, with a side of Saturday morning cartoon realness and you can begin to comprehend what this film is. The costume and creature builds are out of this world fun. Every single detail of Psycho Goreman screams an homage to fans. It feels like it was tailormade for my 40-year-old self, and I will continue to tell myself this lie.

The chemistry between cast members is outstanding. The family dynamics are hilarious. I hope I talk to my kids that way when they get to be Mimi and Luke’s age. The dialogue is delivered with such commitment, it’s magical. The kids interacting with PG will force a grin that just won’t go away. Writer/director Steven Kostanski, who I already knew from his ABC’s of Death 2 segment, really gets it. You can tell from his extensive resume that he’s a fan that not only writes for an audience but for himself and I cannot wait to see what’s next.  PG: Psycho Goreman is destined for cult classic status. If I don’t see this costume pop up at a future Comic-Con, I will be shocked.

RLJE Films will release the Horror/Comedy PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on January 22, 2021.

Written and directed by Steven Kostanski (The Void, The Divide, Father’s Day), PG: PSYCHO GOREMAN stars Matthew Ninaber (Transference), Nita-Josee Hanna (Books of Blood, 4teen), Owen Myre (NOS4A2”, Alternate Ground), Adam Brooks (The Return Father’s Day) and Steven Vlahos (“Alien House”, The Apprentice).

Review: IFC Midnight’s ‘Hunter Hunter’ is one of the most intense films of 2020.

HUNTER HUNTER

HUNTER HUNTER follows a family living in the remote wilderness earning a living as fur trappers. Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), and their daughter Renée (Summer H. Howell) struggle to make ends meet and think their traps are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf. Determined to catch the predator in the act, Joseph leaves his family behind to track the wolf. Anne and Renée grow increasingly anxious during Joseph’s prolonged absence and struggle to survive without him.  When they hear a strange noise outside their cabin, Anne hopes it is Joseph but instead finds a man named Lou (Nick Stahl), who has been severely injured and left for dead. The longer Lou stays and Joseph is away, the more paranoid Anne becomes, and the idea of a mysterious predator in the woods slowly becomes a threat much closer to home.

The contentious relationship between Devon Sawa and Camille Sullivan is what makes the initial framework of this film so intriguing. With Anne longing for more traditional stability for her family, Joe thrives in the wilderness. Trapping is just not meeting their monetary needs any longer. With their daughter Renee to protect, they are in for a bigger surprise than running out of food and a rogue wolf on the prowl. Hunter Hunter goes to a place so dark, you won’t be able to get it out of your head.

The survivalist and tracker methods ring true. Sawa, who has been churning out films the past few years, once again holds the audience captive with his presence. I’ve stated before that his talent is often overlooked. His commitment to a role is stellar and he’s a lovely human in real life. Here his portrayal of Joe is steadfast and loyal, with a side of heroic intention. His chemistry with Summer H. Howell as daughter Renee is a touch reminiscent of Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie in Leave No Trace. Howell gives a “raised off the grid”, tough as nails, but thoroughly innocent age-appropriate performance. It’s just right. Nick Stahl and Devon Sawa in one movie together, have made my schoolgirl fantasies a reality… in the most satisfying, genre nerd girl way. Stahl is downright scary. You can read the unspoken backstory he’s given himself in his posture and gaze. It’s startling.

Camille Sullivan has been written as a fully nuanced woman, forced to activate her Mother Bear instincts. The power she brings to this film is unmatched. This cast has to not only contend with a terrifying script but the elements of filming in the wilderness. I have so many questions since the credits rolled but the mystery that remains isn’t even relevant when the screen goes black. You are simply left in shock.

That sharp turn in the plot blows up everything you think you know about how this story will end. Your heart will be in your throat for the final 3rd. Writer/director Shawn Linden has given us one of the most disturbing films of 2020. The utter carnage, both emotional and physical, inflicted on this cast is brutal. The visceral horror of that befalls the viewer is skin-crawling and nausea-inducing. Hunter Hunter is complex and precisely crafted. Camille Sullivan‘s performance will go down as one of the most iconic final girls, ever.

STARRING:

Devon Sawa – Nick Stahl – Camille Sullivan – Summer Howell

DIRECTED AND WRITTEN BY:

Shawn Linden

IN SELECT THEATERS, ON DIGITAL & ON DEMAND – DECEMBER 18, 2020

Review: ‘Archenemy’ is not your average super hero tale.

Max Fist (Manganiello) claims to be a hero from another dimension who fell through time and space to Earth, where he has no powers. No one believes his stories except for a local teen named Hamster. Together, they take to the streets to wipe out the local drug syndicate and its vicious crime boss known as The Manager.

After hitting indie badass status with Daniel Isn’t Real, one of my top ten films of 2019, writer/director Adam Eqypt Mortimer has given us a new feast for the eyes. Enter Archenemy. If a script can keep you guessing until the very last scene that’s quality screenwriting and directing. Mortimer revamps the superhero genre. This is something that straddles the line between a classic comic book approach and an altogether fresh origin story… with a seriously kickass soundtrack. If you saw Daniel Isn’t Real, and dammit you should have by now, you’ll notice a penchant for saturated jewel tones and dark lighting…  and opening with a wormhole. With the heightened voiceovers from Skylan Brooks, you feel as if you’re watching a graphic novel playing out in real-time. Instead of using cartoony “BAM!” and “POW”, Brooks’ hyped narration does that for you. Add in some specifically stylized animation during Joe Manganiello’s dialogue, Archenemy challenges the audience to take in a larger picture and really use their brains. In my humble opinion, the character of Hamster is not-so-secretly a little slice of Adam. You get that genre fanboy brightness that makes Archenemy as cool as it is. Hamster is also a master storyteller, that’s his art. I don’t think this theory is such a stretch.

The underlying social commentary cannot be missed. Social media monsters and drugs are the newest and loudest villains ( besides this effing pandemic) around presently. All that aside, the story itself is complex in the best way possible. It builds a narrative in which you’re constantly asking questions like, “Is he who he says he is?”, “Is this a mental illness?”, “Does it even matter?!”. The answers are actually beside the point when you’ve got great acting to back up the script. Joe Manganiello is perfection in this role. Once you realize that he’s half hero half megalomaniac your mind explodes. It is in the flaws of these characters where we fall in love with them in earnest. Skylan Brooks brings this “kid in a candy store vibe” that never gets old. I cannot wait to see more of him and Zolee Griggs. She has this mature presence that makes you care for her and understand what a badass she already is.

Archenemy has all the makings of a franchise. I hope we see more of this crew! Amy Seimetz, Glenn Howerton, and Paul Sheer level up this film. Every single cast member gives a nuanced performance. It’s dark and complex and nothing like you think it’s going to be. How often do we genuinely get to say that? You can check out Archenemy today!

Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for interviews with Adam Eqypt Mortimer and Skylan Brooks by our awesome colleague Matthew Schuchman! In the meantime, you can check out the trailer below:

RLJE Films will release the action/thriller ARCHENEMY In Theaters, On Digital and On Demand December 11, 2020. 

 

Review: ‘Parallel’ is thrilling genre greatness.

A group of friends stumble upon a mirror that serves as a portal to a “multiverse”, but soon discover that importing knowledge from the other side in order to better their lives brings increasingly dangerous consequences.

Rarely, does a film get me to holler, “Oh, Shit!” in the first few minutes. Parallel had me on my toes from start to finish. The early dialogue is a framework for what’s the come. It’s a smart script that challenges the audience’s moral compass, easily asking, “What would you do?” As a Doctor Who superfan and Back to the Future franchise nerd, I’ve seen multiverse storylines again and again. Parallel sets itself apart in every way possible. What could possibly backfire by messing with an alternate timeline? Nothing is that easy. The action starts right away. You understand the dynamics of this group, each serving a purpose. Ambition, self-worth, regret, sadness, and sheer curiosity all drive our leads to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of. I loved that the focus is no solely on one person. It lends depth to this sci-fi screenplay. A genre that is often heavy-handed in cliche when it comes to an ensemble piece.

The camera work is decisively cool and the subtle lighting change when they enter the parallel world is key. The truly minimal CG is pretty spectacular. The visual reminder that the mirror is but a reflection of the outside is featured prominently throughout. The cast has genuine chemistry based on their backgrounds. They walk the perfect balance of guarded when necessary and enamored with their past dynamics. It feels like a choose your own adventure but with the highest of consequences. Director Isaac Ezban (who ingeniously slips in a nod to his brilliant film The Similars), teamed with writer Scott Blaszak, has curated a complex script that begs you to sit up and pay attention. If you don’t you’ll be lost in the chaos. The only thing missing is another film. I want an origin film. I need to know more. Parallel is easily the beginning of an entire sci-fi franchise. It’s a genre standout in a year filled with fantastic content. My heart was pumping from the very beginning and did not let up until it blacked out to roll credits. You’re constantly waiting for something to go awry. It’s phenomenally unnerving.

Available In Select Theaters & On Demand December 11, 2020

 

 

Review: ‘The Stand In’ pits Drew Barrymore against Drew Barrymore.

The Stand In

When ordered to serve a year in rehab, actress Candy (Drew Barrymore) hires her on-set stand-in to take her place. The unassuming woman flips the script and steals her identity, career and boyfriend in this hilarious comedy about trading places.

Drew Barrymore gets to play two polar opposite roles. Candy Black is character number one. For sure a nod to Drew’s vast collection of lovable characters over the years but with a seriously jaded mean streak. And perhaps also a not-so-hidden, tongue-in-cheek riff on Melissa McCarthy, who gets named dropped immediately in the best way possible. For Barrymore’s character Candy, 5 years after a breakdown on set, she is another person. Her sadness has consumed her. She is a recluse who is court-ordered to go to rehab for 90 days. Frankly, she has other plans. Her second character is the titular role. Paula is seemingly lovely, sweet, and bright, but now also out of a job until she gets an auspicious call to get back on the horse for Candy. Both women get the opportunity to reshape who they are… for better or for worse. You think you know where this story is going, but you’re in for a big surprise.

When they play the same scenes it’s an excellent dynamic. Watching Drew commit to these two women is really fun. You’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. It makes for a heightened watch. It becomes unexpectedly dark. Drew is actually scary to watch. The marketing is doing a disservice to the film. There is so much more to The Stand In than the trailer offers viewers. I hope they can appreciate what comes their way.

It is definitely an interesting commentary on fame and notoriety. There are innumerable moments that will make you cringe but you have to ride them out. The Stand In makes fun of itself in a thoughtful way. The cameos are aplenty and each person is given the opportunity to highlight the trappings of Hollywood with their dialogue. I think that’s what I appreciated most. The dark honesty is what sticks with me as the credits rolled. The entire success hangs on Barrymore’s ability to play two characters we’ve never seen from her before. Congratulations to director Jaime Babbitt for helping a film that’s much deeper than an audience is expecting.

In Select Theaters, On Demand, and on Digital December 11, 2020

Fathom Events review: Movie musical ‘STAND!’ only in theaters tonight, December 1st.

STAND!

In Theaters Only on December 1, 2020

Directed by: Robert Adetuyi (Stomp The YardBring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack)

1919. Stefan and his father Mike fled Ukraine for the New World, where they struggle to earn enough to reunite the family. Stefan is instantly smitten with the Jewish suffragette neighbour, Rebecca – but Rebecca’s brother Moishe and Mike oppose the would-be Romeo and Juliet. Returned soldiers, angry at the lack of jobs after the war, violently threaten the city’s immigrants, including Emma, the refugee from racist violence in Oklahoma. When a movement develops for workers to leave their jobs in protest, AJ Anderson, a wealthy lawyer, pits all against each other in a dramatic and inspirational final stand.

The potential in this story is obvious. Catchy numbers and an intriguing premise based on a true story. Unfortunately, it needs to stage to fully bloom. As someone who graduated from a musical theatre conservatory in Manhattan, I recognize the over-the-top gesture and intonation that is needed to reach the back row. But because the audience is experiencing it from a screen, it comes off as forced at times. The energy is lost in translation and it feels uneven. Theater broadcasting LIVE in a movie theater is different. Here, it’s actually the camera that ruins that genuine connection. Performances are outstanding so they deserve that give and take electric feeling. It also lacks in one major area where most musicals thrive; choreography. With a large and varied immigrant ensemble, this was a lost opportunity leading to momentary lulls in pacing. I kept hoping something was coming, some big number highlighting the different facets of people coming together. The moments definitely presented themselves over and over and not a single number. I think it could have pushed STAND! across the finish line.

The issues in the stage play turned screenplay is still incredibly relevant. This is the most successful aspect. Taking pages from Ragtime, Newsies, Parade, and Hamilton, stories of immigrants, race, religious persecution, classism, and the right to strike are all still ripe for vibrant storytelling in 2020. STAND! shines brightest when it sings. By far the best numbers belong to Lisa Bell. Get this girl on Broadway the minute it’s officially back. The Romeo and Juliet aspect between Rebecca and Stefan is charming enough but not as powerful as Emma or Mike Sokolowski’s emotional journey, whom the original stageplay STRIKE! is based upon. STAND! needs an Off-Broadway run and a workshop. But be the first movie theater audience to get chills while Lisa Bell belts out the theme in the final moments of the film, for sure. It’s worth the ticket price.

Music, Lyrics and Score: Danny Schur (Made In Winnipeg: The Terry Sawchuk Origin Story)

Featuring Lisa Bell’s show-stopping performance of the protest song Stand!

Starring:
Marshall Williams (“Glee”, “How to Build a Better Boy”)
Laura Wiggins (“Shameless”, 20th Century Women)
Lisa Bell (No Time Like Christmas, “Canadian Idol”)
Gregg Henry (“Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Scandal”)
Erik Athavale (Fractured, Breakthrough)
Paul Essiembre (“Covert Affairs”, “Silver Surfer”)
Hayley Sales (Deadpool 2, “The Good Doctor”)

Tickets and a list of participating theater locations will be available at www.FathomEvents.com.

RT: 110 Minutes

Review: ‘Echo Boomers’ pushes all the boundaries.

Two-time Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (Knives Out) stars in this gripping crime-thriller filled with pulse-pounding twists and turns. A recent college graduate Lance Zutterland (Patrick Schwarzenegger) leaves school in debt, realizing everything he had worked towards was built on a lie. When he is pulled into a criminal underground operation, he finds his peers fighting the system by stealing from the rich and giving to… themselves. With nothing to lose, they leave behind a trail of destruction but with the cops closing in, tensions mount and Lance soon discovers he is in over his head with no way out.

With superb writing and slick editing, Echo Boomers is intoxicating. With Patrick Schwarzenegger’s voice-over narration the flow feels like a novel, and I do mean that as a compliment. This could easily be further developed into a long-running series. There is a lot to unpack in all the right ways. There’s a psychological subtext to each character that is carefully crafted. The cinematography is sharp, combined with the immersive score, you cannot help but love this crew.

Michael Shannon does what Michael Shannon does best. He lives and breathes every role. He is somehow terrifying and more approachable all at once. Patrick Schwarzenegger is amazing. He grabbed my attention in last year’s Daniel Isn’t Real. I recommend casting him in everything he has time for. He has the innate ability to connect with his castmates on a truly grounded level. He is comfortable in his own skin. You feel like you know him. He is undeniably magnetic. The nuanced dynamics in the screenplay let everyone have impactful moments. You can easily argue this is a true ensemble piece.

I cannot stress enough how fantastic the writing and directing is. This could have gone off the rails in a heartbeat or come off as an Ocean’s franchise ripoff but it holds its own and then some. It’s wildly entertaining. There’s something about Echo Boomers that makes it unique from any other film in 2020. It’s brimming with complexity, action, drama, suspense, and some unbelievable performances. The stakes keep getting higher and higher and even though you know it’s morally reprehensible, you’re all in. You can watch Echo Boomers now in Theaters, On Demand, and Digital from Saban Films.

ECHO BOOMERS stars Patrick Schwarzenegger (Daniel Isn’t Real, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), Gilles Geary (“The I-Land”), Hayley Law (“Riverdale,” “Altered Carbon”), Jacob Alexander (I Don’t Know How She Does It), Oliver Cooper (Project X), Kate Linder (“The Young and the Restless”), Lesley Ann Warren (“In Plain Sight,” Victor Victoria), Alex Pettyfer (The Last Witness, I Am Number Four), and Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, 99 Homes).  The film is directed by Seth Savoy (“Blood Brothers”) from a script by Kevin Bernhardt (Shiner, Peaceful Warrior), Jason Miller (“The Whisperers”) and Savoy.

Interview: André Øvredal for his latest film ‘Mortal’

From acclaimed filmmaker André Øvredal (The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark), MORTAL stars Nat Wolff (The Fault In Our Stars) as a young man discovering he has God-like powers based on ancient Norwegian mythology.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Our amazing colleague and friend Matthew Schuchman had the opportunity to sit down with director André Øvredal to talk all things Mortal. Here is their interview. Find out how long André took to make the film, how Nat Wolff was cast, and what it’s like to compete with big-budget studio films like Marvel. If you’re a fan of his work, you’ll get a quick peek into André’s creative and humble energy.

Saban Films releases MORTAL today in theaters and On-Demand

WATCH THE TRAILER:

Release dateNovember 6, 2020 (USA)
NorwegianTorden
LanguagesNorwegian, English

 

Review: IFC Midnight’s ‘KINDRED’ will make you scream.

PRESENTS

Written and Directed by Joe Marcantonio

Starring Tamara Lawrance, Jack Lowden, Fiona Shaw, and Edward Holcraft

KINDRED follows vulnerable mother-to-be Charlotte (Tamara Lawrance) as she is taken in by her recently deceased boyfriend’s mother (Fiona Shaw) and her stepson (Jack Lowden), who seem increasingly obsessed with her every move. Plagued by mysterious hallucinations, Charlotte’s suspicions grow about Margaret and Thomas’ intentions for her unborn child.

As someone who had not one, but two traumatic birth experiences, Kindred spoke to me on an entirely different level. The innate fear you experience when you are growing a small human inside your body is enough without the opinions and actions from those who have ulterior motives. Tamara Lawrance embodies the visceral panic that occurs on the physical, emotional, mental plains of waiting for what a mother hopes will be an inevitably hopeful outcome. But the most evocative aspect of Kindred is the gaslighting pregnant women often endure. Your instinct is ignored constantly, questions deemed silly or paranoid. Doctors and perfect strangers are poking and prodding you with advice and sometimes, touching you without your permission. Pregnancy is a very invasive experience no matter how you look at it. Kindred tackles all this and so much more in an intelligent and terrifying way.

The camera work, colors, and music all create an ambiance that feels foreboding. You don’t even know how completely off-kilter you’ll be by the cinematography until it’s too late. You will question your own opinions about what is real and what is not due to the brilliant and carefully crafted script from writer-director Joe Marcantonio.  His work with this cast is award-worthy. He is able to bounce your opinion about these characters like a ping pong ball as the plot rolls along. Perhaps with the exception of Fiona Shaw’s portrayal of Margaret. She is overbearing and loathsome throughout. Her backstory is a smartly written foil for Lawrance’s Charlotte. Jack Lowden performance as Thomas lies somewhere in between the two. Desperately needing to be useful and loved, his loyalty is fickle and all the more disturbing. Tamara Lawrance wins the day with her perfect portrayal of Charlotte. Grief-stricken, imprisoned, bedrest restricted woman, whose internal alarms are ringing ad nauseam, she is phenomenal and represents the confused and delirious viewer, as well. Kindred is dark and scary. It will get under your skin as it slowly drives you into your own madness.

KINDRED will open in select theaters, digital and VOD on November 6th.

Directed by: Joe Marcantonio
Written by: Joe Marcantonio and Jason McColgan
Produced by: Dominic Norris and Jack Lowden
Cinematographer: Carlos Catalan
Edited by: Fiona Desouza
Starring: Tamara Lawrance, Jack Lowden, Fiona Shaw, Edward Holcroft
Runtime: 100 mins

Interview with Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson for ‘SYNCHRONIC’

Synchronic

Synopsis:
When New Orleans paramedics and longtime best friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are called to a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents, they chalk it up to the mysterious new party drug found at the scene. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed psychedelic that will challenge everything he knows about reality—and the flow of time itself.

Here is our great friend and colleague Matthew Schuchman interviewing Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson about their newest film Synchronic. Wait until you hear about how they split the creative duties, how their epic films come to fruition, and that they’re making a new movie right now! Enjoy!

You can read more about the film in Liz’s review of Synchronic. Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for the latest info.

In Theaters & Drive-Ins October 23rd

Directed by: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton, and Ally Ioannides

Review: ‘Synchronic’ will surprise you time and time again.

SYNCHRONIC

Synopsis:
When New Orleans paramedics and longtime best friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are called to a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents, they chalk it up to the mysterious new party drug found at the scene. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed psychedelic that will challenge everything he knows about reality—and the flow of time itself.

At this point, all I really need to see to get excited is “A Moorhead and Benson Film” on my screen. You literally never know what you’re going to get except that it will most likely make you question your own reality. Synchronic is yet another visual and storytelling mindfuck. After the success of Spring and The Endless, Jaime Dornan and Anthony Mackie headline their newest trippy installment. The camera work is as dizzying as the plot. You are plunged into the darkness immediately. The editing is a damn triumph. You cannot look away in fear of missing the smallest clue. When the plot is actually revealed, an entirely new layer of insanity is unleashed. It is a head trip of epic proportions. It’s what fellow Whovians like to call “Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Wimey”. Now that my nerd is sufficiently showing, I can gladly report that the awesome flows throughout the film will nuance and heart. These men are flawed. Fully fleshed out human beings with serious issues. Throw in a mystery drug that’s is traumatizing users, oftentimes killing them in the most bizarre ways and you’ve gone from drama to sci-fi spectacular. Synchronic is beyond engrossing for all of the reasons above… and so much more.

Dornan is great as the privileged guy who takes his family for granted. When his daughter disappears into thin air, the performance ramps up. Mackie has the challenge of not only portraying a man whose body is failing him but to convey the magnitude of Synchronic to the audience. Both performances give us very different things. Their chemistry is spot on. But it is Mackie that must be the driving force for Moorhead and Benson’s creation. Their films are so carefully crafted in story and visual treats that we are compelled to sit up a little straighter as we audibly exclaim, ‘WFT!” That’s the beauty of this team. The breadcrumbs are there. The social commentary is unmissable. Synchronic will be lauded as another fantastic notch in the belt of Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, there is no doubt about that. It may be the film that moves them from indie genre filmmaker crushes to household names.

In Theaters & Drive-Ins October 23rd

Directed by: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton, and Ally Ioannides

 

Coming Soon… Matthew Schuchman‘s interview with Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson.

Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for the inside info on SYNCHRONIC!

Review: ‘The Disrupted’ puts a face to wealth disparity across the United States.

THE DISRUPTED dives deep inside the lives of of three Americans working harder than ever, as their place in the middle class slips away.  For a farmer, a factory worker, and an Uber driver, rising income inequality betrays the American Dream.

What does the American Dream even look like anymore? When  I was a child, it was always something cliche like, “Married, with a house, a dog, and 2.5 kids.” When I graduated college in 2002, I moved back in with my parents for a few months transitioning from NYC to California. When I began to hear how many of my classmates had done the same, I was less embarrassed and more surprised. I began to notice my parents discuss money for the first time. How fellow upper middle class families were in  way over their heads with newly built McMansions and more than one kid in college at the same time. My mother checked out a scholarship book from the library the size of three phones books put together. (Did you know you can get one for being left handed?) This time, it was for my two youngest sisters that were merely in 7th and 8th grade at the time. It was very eye-opening. Over the last almost 20 years, this has become the norm. Getting a job immediately following graduation and then working at that job until retirement wasn’t a thing people were doing any longer. Now in 2020, with a global pandemic, the economic wealth gap in more front and center than ever before. Gen Xers knew things were bad. Now that we’re parents and the luckiest of us is homeowners, we’ve come to understand that there is nothing equal in this country. In Sarah Colt’s debut documentary The Disrupted, we follow three different workers struggling to keep food on their table and maintain dignity for themselves.

The harsh reality is that while the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the rich keep it that way. The dichotomy of the working place is unmissable. Attempting to get an entry level job only to be told that it requires years of experience in that position is baffling. Companies like Uber are using drivers as a temporary solution. “Employees” will become completely obsolete once self-driving cars are fully on the market. Their exploitation is rampant and growing worse as each month passes, not to mention the massive hit they’ve since taken from the pandemic with its subsequent lockdowns and travel bans (albeit necessary ones for health and safety). Farmers have been feeling a massive strain since President Obama was in power and the current administration’s “bailout” doesn’t save the most vulnerable of family farms. These hardworking people, the people who feed America should not be pawns in a trade war. The Disrupted speaks to depression, guilt, frustrations, and anger, at its tipping point. If you care about human beings at all, it will crush your soul. You cannot help but feel invested in these people’s lives. Colt and co-director Josh Gleason’s editing walks a delicate line in filming the tumultuous highs and lows of how money has weight over a family dynamic. What it can do to your health, marriage, children, self-esteem, the way we speak to others, and how we are perceived by society. At times it feels intrusive but that’s what great documentary filmmaking is all about. It is a deeply personal look into how our system is broken. We are hopeful that this upcoming election brings forth change for the better. We cross our fingers for equal justice and more realistic economic policies. The Disrupted is a reminder that we’re more alike than we are different. We’re all trying to have pride in ourselves. We’re all trying to leave a better future for the next generation. We’re all looking for a chance.

The Disrupted – Trailer from Sarah Colt Productions on Vimeo.

Directed by Emmy® Award-winning NY filmmaker SARAH COLT and co-directed by JOSH GLEASON the film will be released exclusively in over 20+ Virtual Cinemas by PASSION RIVER FILMS and 8 ABOVE starting September 25th, 2020, followed by a Digital VOD release on October 13th, 2020!

 

Review: ‘S#!%HOUSE’ is one of the most genuine films of 2020.

IFC Films

presents

Alex (Cooper Raiff) is a lonely, friendless college freshman who is seriously contemplating transferring to a college closer to his mom (Amy Landecker) and sister (Olivia Welch), to whom he is still extremely tethered. Everything changes one night when Alex takes a leap and attends a party at his campus’ party house ‘Shithouse’, where he forges a strong connection with his RA, Maggie (Dylan Gelula).

When a movie opens with a silent conversation with a stuffed animal, you’ve got me. Alex hates college, so, so much. Admittedly, it’s awkward as hell. Sharing bathrooms, still eating in a cafeteria, living with weird roommates. Leaving home for the first time can be really hard. The college experience is not for everyone.

S#!%HOUSE is an amazingly honest coming-of-age dramedy. The dialogue is hilarious. The bizarre exclamations of sloppy drunk people. The random hook-ups. The desperate attempts to connect with literally anyone else. The performances are spot in. They are down-to-earth and possess a familiarity that is necessary for this to be truly successful. It doesn’t shy away from reality. The sadness and fear and loneliness that comes along with being on your own in an entirely new setting. The entire plot, while seemingly centered on a romance, is truly about finding yourself.

Dylan Gelula, as Maggie, has a whole lot more under her cool girl facade. Her performance feels grounded and sincere. She brings confidence that few can convey with such ease and was an awesome casting choice for Maggie. Writer/director/star Cooper Raiff is someone to watch for all the reasons I mentioned above. He is responsible for a film that feels like it could be any one of our stories from college. He takes real care with Alex. This is a character we need to see more of. He allows him to be sensitive, honest, confused, hopeful, vulnerable. Frankly, he’s one of the most brilliantly written characters this year. S#!%HOUSE shines in its authenticity.

In Theaters + On Demand October 16th

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize (Narrative Film) at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.

About Cooper Raiff
Cooper Raiff is a 23-year-old filmmaker from Dallas, TX. He and his two best friends made a short film from stolen equipment, and in a burst of bravery, tweeted the link of their short film to Jay Duplass. To their surprise, Duplass liked the film and helped them develop it into the feature-length version of S#!%THOUSE that is about to make its World Premiere at SXSW. Raiff wrote, directed, edited, and starred in S#!%THOUSE, his feature debut.

Review: Shut up, sit down, and watch ‘The Antenna’

In a dystopian Turkey, the Government installs new networks throughout the country to monitor information. The installation goes wrong in a crumbling apartment complex and Mehmet (Ihsan Önal), the building intendant, will have to confront the evil entity behind the inexplicable transmissions that threaten the residents.

Unsettling, oftentimes ear-piercing sound editing mixed with a 1984-esque storyline makes The Antenna an eerie watch. Set in an unnamed city in Turkey, this film is clearly an allegory for the current (yet timeless) right-wing propaganda spreading like a disease throughout today’s politics. Oppression is the name of the game. The government is installing new tv antennas so that hourly bulletins can more easily be broadcast to citizens. Accompanied by an evil black sludge coming from the new installation that seeps into the pores of high-rise tenants. Once they come in contact with it, their indoctrination is viscerally permanent. The Antenna represents the death of free speech.

The attention to detail in editing (both audio and visual), close-up shots, are all carefully crafted to induce madness in the residents and the viewer. The inspiration writer/director Orçun Behram has taken from Cronenberg and Ben Wheatley is unmistakable. I don’t know how this film was made on a $200, 000 budget. I am genuinely impressed. The Antenna is a highly stylized dystopian horror that will excite genre fans. Its smart script and dark as hell visuals are a real meal unto themselves. I will be waiting with bated breath for whatever comes next from Orçun Behram. You can watch the film in Virtual Cinemas this Friday, October 2nd, and On-Demand/VOD October 20th. Check out the trailer for some more insight.

THE ANTENNA

OPENING IN VIRTUAL THEATERS FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2  WITH A NORTH AMERICAN VOD RELEASE TO FOLLOW ON OCTOBER 20  ON ALL MAJOR PLATFORMS.

 VIRTUAL THEATERS (October 2)-Including: Los Angeles (Laemmle), New York and major cities (Alamo On Demand) and Philadelphia (Film Society).

VOD (US & Canada) (October 20): Including: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu, Dish Network and all major cable providers.

DIRECTED & WRITTEN BY: Orçun Behram

CAST:  Ihsan Önal, Gül Arici, Levent Ünsal, Isil Zeynep, Murat Saglam, Elif Çakman, Mert Toprak Yadigar and Eda Öze .

RT: 115 minutes; Color; Language: Turkish with English subtitles; Rating: Not Rated (Horror)

 Distributed in North America by: Dark Star Pictures