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: ‘Girl With No Mouth’ has so much to say.

GIRL WITH NO MOUTH

In Girl With No Mouth, a group of children who suffer from deformities due to a toxic explosion, embark on an adventure in a war-torn post-apocalyptic region. The Turkish production comes from Can Evrenol, director of the successful TIFF Midnight Madness selection Baskin, and the horror film Housewife (currently available on Shudder).

This beautifully shot film tells the tale of a ragtag group of deformed children running from the evil Corporation responsible for their plight. Each is missing a key feature on their face, making for creative ways to communicate with one another. Captain finds Peri (our titular character) after she has fled her corrupt uncle’s clutches. With her father murdered and her uncle tracking her down to kill her, she escapes alongside her newfound friends. Captain is without eyes, Yusuf is missing his nose, and little Badger has no ears. This band of “Pirates” protects each other in search of sanctuary. Peace is coming, which means The Corporation must find any remaining children and destroy “the evidence” of wrongdoing.

Each child brings a different strength to their journey. Captain is a master tracker and relies on his heightened hearing to map. Peri uses science. Yusuf cooks and Badger scavenges. They happen upon an adult who is not a complete psychopath. The widow of the man responsible for all the agony caused by The Corporation. With her help and Peri’s engineering, can our group reach safety in time? The script is carefully crafted by director Can Evrenol and Kutay Ucun. There is undoubtedly a Peter Pan and The Lost Boys vibe to it. Add the tragic post-apocalyptic aspect and it goes from enchanting to unbelievably thrilling. You would never think this is the kind of film that would come from the director of Baskin. I’m so happy this film is now on people’s radars. I think it truly extraordinary.

This cast is outstanding. Their chemistry is pure magic. The film’s cinematography is simply stunning combined with a fantastic script, Girl With No Mouth is a captivating take of resilience and guts. You will be rooting for these kids. Their ingenuity and spirit are what hold you tightly to your seat. The finale strikes a gorgeous balance between heartbreaking and triumphant. Girl With No Mouth speaks volumes in a year where death and capitalism reign supreme. This film will have you cheering out loud at your screen. Do not sleep on this one.

 Girl With No Mouth is due to release on Blu-Ray, DVD and VOD across North America on December 8th via Indiecan Entertainment

 

INDIECAN ENTERTAINMENT focuses on independent, low-budget films. As a distributor, Avi Federgreen follows the same principle that earned him his reputation as a filmmaker; bringing audiences films they want to watch. Aside from the traditional distribution route, INDIECAN leans heavily on digital delivery. INDIECAN helps films find more opportunities with audiences through TV, Netflix, iTunes, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. The jarvee provide the best tools to improve the growth of your social media platform.  INDIECAN’s vision is to not only support Canadian production but to encourage the viewing of quality independent films by North American audiences. Indiecanent.com

Book Review: Filmmaker Steve Balderson’s ‘Filmmaking Confidential’ should be on your holiday shopping list.

Reel News Daily Holiday recommendation:

FILMMAKING CONFIDENTIAL

Steve Balderson gets back to the basics. You don’t need a fancy budget or a studio’s money to get your film made. This book is unpretentious and essentially a step-by-step guide for any age. With chapters like ‘Needs Stars?“, “Product Placement“, and “Marketing: You Vs The Big BoysFilmmaking Confidential is a down and dirty look into how Hollywood works and how you can get into the game. The chapters are short and concise, I’m talking 3-5 pages. It would make an awesome holiday gift for anyone in your life that wants to enter the industry. This is the perfect year as indie films are on top of everyone’s list. The more creative, the better. Balderson is actually the perfect person to write this book. His career is comprised of award-winning, risky, and visually striking films that have since become cult classics. He strips back the cliche and gets to the heart of it all. With Filmmaking Confidential you’re getting a guerilla-style film school class in 208 pages. It’s great.

I spoke with Steve in 2016 about three of his films. You can find our interview and the reviews of Hell Town, El Ganzo, and Firecracker here

Filmmaking Confidential

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Fantasia International Film Festival 2020 is here!!!

If you did not sing the title of this article, then shame, shame, I know your name. It is no secret that Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite of the entire year. While this year the fest is strictly virtual (because that’s the responsible thing to do), there are a plethora of amazing films to check out from the comfort of your own couch. Fantasia is always a sure bet for the films that will be talked about nonstop all year. Since we’re all stuck inside we might as well escape the scary reality with some scary unreality. Throw in the weird and wonderful and you’ve got yourself an annual good time.

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Here are just a few titles that should pique your interest, people.

MORGANA

How does one woman go from lonely housewife to Feminist pornstar? Morgana is an extraordinary documentary about sex positivity, self-worth, mental illness, and new beginnings. Stunningly visual and creatively edited, Morgana will knock your socks off… and maybe more. *Wink, wink. You can find our coverage of the film here.

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MINOR PREMISE

Attempting to surpass his father’s legacy, a reclusive neuroscientist becomes entangled in his own experiment, pitting ten fragments of his consciousness against each other.

 

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THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND

Something terrifying is happening off the coast of Block Island. A strange force is thriving, influencing residents and wildlife alike. Birds are dropping out of the sky. Some people have been dropping too, into inexplicable emotional collapse. Harry Lynch (Chris Sheffield, THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT) has always been a bit of an outsider in town. Now, he watches in dread as his father (Neville Archambault, 13 CAMERAS) grows increasingly forgetful and confused. And angry. Very, very angry. His sister Audry (Michaela McManus, THE VILLAGE), whose work in marine biology will soon prove invaluable, returns to town with her daughter and immediately sees what Harry sees. Her explorations into the increasingly grisly wildlife phenomena intersect with the triggers of her father’s actions, leading them all towards chilling revelations that no one is prepared for. Revelations that will affect her family in unimaginable ways.

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BLEED WITH ME

With BLEED WITH ME, her feature debut, director Amelia Moses invites us on an intimate cabin trip where boundaries and relationships collapse. Rowan (Lee Marshall), a shy and awkward young woman, struggles to integrate herself on a weekend getaway with her best friend, Emily (Lauren Beatty) and her unfriendly boyfriend, Brendan (Aris Tyros). Feeling like a third wheel, she drinks to calm her nerves, pushing her body and mind deep into a hazy trance, where she begins to witness nightmarish late-night visions that make her feel increasingly unwelcome, unsure and unstable. A slow-burn thriller with arresting visuals, BLEED WITH ME, captures a vulnerability and discomfort as it explores issues related to self-harm and social isolation. Set against a wintry backdrop, BLEED WITH ME uses the limits of a small budget to its full potential.

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YUMMY

The young woman wants a breast reduction. … Wandering through an abandoned ward the boyfriend stumbles upon a young woman, gagged and strapped to an operating table; she is the result of an experimental rejuvenation treatment.

 

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THE MORTUARY COLLECTION

A kid is being interviewed for a job at the local mortician’s office and is asked to tell his scariest stories. What results is a collection of 4 of the scariest stories ever told spanning into 4 decades starting from the 50s to the 80s.

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LUCKY

Luck doesn’t seem to be with self-help author May Ryer (Brea Grant) lately. Her books aren’t selling like they used to, and one night, a masked intruder breaks into the house she shares with her husband Ted (Dhruv Uday Singh). To make matters worse, Ted seems strangely unconcerned about the incident, talking about it in matter-of-fact terms as if it’s just something to be accepted, and an investigating cop actually says they’re lucky things didn’t go worse. Then things do become worse as the attacker appears again… and again… and again, continuing to terrorize May no matter how valiantly she fights back. He seems to have supernatural properties, and when May seeks help, she’s met with indifference and condescension. One of her books is called Problem Solving for Staying Alive, and now she’s faced with a dilemma that seems to have no solution, and that may indeed claim her life.

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Shorts Programs

Do not miss out on the amazing short film programs. I am always partial to the Born Of Woman section, myself.

 

Fantasia 2020 officially opened last night.
You can purchase tickets and check out the amazing lineup of films and events at https://fantasiafestival.com/en/

 

 

Review: ‘FAIRYTALE’ is nothing short of magic.

Synopsis: United States, the 50s. Amongst stuffed poodles, whiskey-infused teas, sinful mambo lessons, and threats of alien invasion, Mrs. Fairytale spends her days locked in her dream home and without a moment to breathe. A surreal world where anyone can finally be who they want to be, but behind which hides another upsetting reality.

Sebastiano Mauri‘s directorial debut, based on Filippo Timi‘s play, Fairytale is a deliciously eccentric cinematic experience. The glorious opening shots where Mrs. Fairytale’s face is hidden are simply genius. The over-the-top 1950’s sets, with their saturated color schemes and patterns, not to mention the glaringly flat and ever-changing window visuals, make for the highly stylized wonder that is Fairytale. And that is the literal first minute of this film. The sheer absurdity of every single aspect of this film is magic. The physical theatricality of the blocking, performances, and lighting is such a deliberate choice it must mirror Timi’s original staged version. I could not imagine this film being presented in any other way.

Mrs. Fairytale is what happens when you combine Miss Yvonne and Pee-Wee Herman and make them take the Playhouse scenario seriously. I genuinely mean this as a compliment. Fairytale has all the markings of a cult classic. The visual transitions between scenes are colorful dreams. The underlying message is what’s most important. Fairytale is about living your truth and loving who you want to love. It’s wrapped in a farce, making it all the more entertaining. The very final act takes a sharp left turn, but it more of a “why not?” moment. It is equally as enchanting and impactful.

Filippo Timi as our lead is perfection. If someone doesn’t give him an award I will be angry. I said it, angry. You cannot overlook the specificity of his individual beats. They are so funny because they are so genuine. Think Lucille Ball level of hilarity. If you aren’t belly laughing, someone needs to check your pulse. Supporting cast members are all spectacular. The costumes are a beautiful mix of garish and period-accurate. They add another element to the performances you’ll have to see to understand.  Trust me when I say they have weight to them.

You can watch Fairytale today on DVD and VOD. There is nothing like it. I see 100’s of films a year. I have no doubt Fairytale will land in my top ten list in 2020.

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 Shorts Program review: ‘Update Required’

Tribeca Film Festival 2020 Shorts Program- UPDATE REQUIRED

Out of this world Sci-Fi shorts.

Playing in this program:

Toto

Rosa Forlano, a 90-year-old Nonna, falls in love with a Robot while teaching it how to make spaghetti. Unfortunately, her recipe is forgotten after a software update.

A charming look at companionship through the eyes of a 90-year-old woman and her robot. Marco Baldonado, writes, directs, produces, and voices our titular character. It’s a lovely look at generational relationships in more ways then you’d expect.

Abducted

A tongue-in-cheek Southern thriller about a rookie cop’s (Jenna Kanell) first date gone horribly wrong.

This film immediately sent me into panic mode as a woman. Never leave your drink unattended. Don’t worry, the universe works in mysterious ways.

Jack and Jo Don’t Want to Die

Jack (Justin Kirk) works at a suspension facility where people choose to halt their lives. On the night of his suspension, Jack’s life takes a turn when he meets Jo.

Justin Kirk plays a heartbroken man who is confronted with his own mortality. This film beautifully explores the small moments that make living so wonderful.

A Better You

Living in a dystopian, neo-steampunk world, a shy young man named Douglas (Seán T. Ó’Meallaigh) invests in a customizable carbon clone to help him win the girl of his dreams.

This shirt is a gorgeously stylized look at being confident in your own skin. It’s one of the most endearing performances of the festival this far.

Carmentis

An injured and grief-stricken miner (Ben Mortley) on the desolate planet Carmentis must overcome his personal demons in order to survive, but can he get there before the planet freezes?

Human instinct Vs the AI created to protect it. This short is completely unpredictable. It’s a beautiful commentary on the fragile human spirit.

The Light Side

An aging Sith Lord (Joseph Ragno) must come to grips with his past and discover why humility may be the greatest force in the galaxy.

Utilizing a booming voice over from Tim Plewman combined with lead actor Joseph Ragno’s physical performance, this film shines with true humor. It is pure fandom fun with a side order of redemption.

System Error

George works at a convenience store, desperately hoping for a friend. But George is a robotic service unit, and robotic service units do not have friends. Not yet, anyway.

This short challenges how emotion and information alter a being’s perception of others. It will leave the imagination running wild. I can safely say I would watch an entire series or full-length feature based on the storytelling laid out in this 13-minute cut. It sounds like I’ll be getting my wish, as the filmmakers have a development deal at Screen Australia for a dystopian rom-com TV show based on the characters in System Error. I could not be more excited. There is so much more to explore and laugh at here.

I’m Baaaaaack….and Here’s My Top 50 of the Decade

Hello all! It’s been nigh on four years since I last dropped some knowledge on you here at Reel News Daily. I went off and got a Master’s degree, new job and all that, but have still been rocking films from all over the world. I’m happy to be back in the fold here at Reel News Daily and look forward to contributing more this year. Don’t you feel lucky?

So, I figured my phoenix rising from the ashes post should be something that might start a little conversation – my Top 50 films of the last decade. There were so many great films to choose from, which made this list very difficult. After two days of whittling it down and moving films around, I feel confident with what I decided on. I’m sure I missed a few of your favorites, but this is my list so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Here we go:

50) Shoplifters (2018) dir. by Hirokazu Koreeda
49) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) dir. by Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
48) Gone Girl (2014) dir. by David Fincher
47) A Hidden Life (2019) dir. by Terrence Malick
46) Annihilation (2018) dir. by Alex Garland
45) Under the Skin (2013) dir. by Jonathan Glazer
44) Her (2013) dir. by Spike Jonze
43) The Favourite (2018) dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos
42) Take Shelter (2011) dir. by Jeff Nichols
41) Leviathan (2012) dir. by Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel
40) Upstream Color (2013) dir. by Shane Carruth
39) Death of Stalin (2017) dir. by Armando Iannucci
38) Columbus (2017) dir. Kogonada
37) Holy Motors (2012) dir. by Leos Carax
36) Shame (2011) dir. by Steve McQueen
35) Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (2010) dir. by Edgar Wright
34) Midnight in Paris (2011) dir. by Woody Allen
33) Stories We Tell (2012) dir. by Sarah Polley
32) Cold War (2018) dir. by Pawel Pawlikowski
31) Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) dir. by George Miller
30) Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) dir. by Ethan & Joel Coen
29) The Look of Silence (2015) dir. by Joshua Oppenheimer
28) We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) dir. by Lynne Ramsay
27) BlacKkKlansman (2018) dir. by Spike Lee
26) First Reformed (2017) dir. by Paul Schrader
25) Carol (2015) dir. by Todd Haynes
24) Winter’s Bone (2010) dir. by Debra Granik
23) Citizenfour (2014) dir. by Laura Poitras
22) Animal Kingdom (2010) dir. by David Michôd
21) A Separation (2011) dir. by Asgar Farhadi
20) Meek’s Cutoff (2010) dir. by Kelly Reichardt
19) La La Land (2016) dir. by Damien Chazelle
18) Phantom Thread (2018) dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson
17) The Lobster (2015) dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos
16) Calvary (2014) dir. by John Michael McDonagh
15) Best of Enemies: Buckley Vs. Vidal (2015) dir. by Robert Morgan & Morgan Neville
14) Looper (2012) dir. by Rian Johnson
13) Frances Ha (2013) dir. by Noah Baumbach
12) Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) dir. by Benh Zeitlin
11) Lady Bird (2018) dir. by Greta Gerwig
10) A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) dir. by Ana Lily Amirpour
9) Moonlight (2016) dir. by Barry Jenkins
8) Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) dir. by Jim Jarmusch
7) Zero Dark Thirty (2012) dir. by Kathryn Bigelow
6) The Tree of Life (2014) dir. by Terrence Malick
5) You Were Never Really Here (2017) dir. by Lynne Ramsay
4) Ex Machina (2014) dir. by Alex Garland
3) Melancholia (2011) dir. by Lars Von Trier
2) The Act of Killing (2012) dir. by Joshua Oppenheimer

1) The Master (2012) dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson

So there you have it. It was a tough job, but I was happy to do it. Here are a few that nearly made the list: Everybody Wants Some!! (underrated Richard Linklater that more people should watch), Tomas Alfredson’s slow burn spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Paul Thomas Anderson’s hippie noir adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. Admittedly, it was hard to weave many of the films from 2019 into the list as they’ll need to sit me a longer. I will say that Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story nearly edged their way on.

Here’s to hoping that the next ten years brings as many great films as the last ten have.

BHFF 2019 review: ‘The Shed’ wows at first sold out screening.

THE SHED

North American Premiere
USA | 2019 | 99 Min | Dir. Frank Sabatella

Stan, Roxy and Dommer are lifelong friends whose bond is being tested by the ever-taxing rigors of high school. For Stan and Dommer, in particular, the daily bullying they encounter comes in second only to watching Roxy’s popularity grow, and, in turn, her closeness to them dissipate. But there’s an unexpected possible solution to their problems in Stan’s backyard: a nondescript-looking toolshed, which houses something inhuman. Centered around the unlikeliest of villains, Frank Sabatella’s THE SHED takes what could have been a gore-drenched monster movie romp and layers it with potent coming-of-age anxiety and youth-in-crisis urgency. Don’t worry, though: There’s still carnage aplenty. —Matt Barone

Awesomely jarring nightmares, a killer soundtrack, combined with insanely good performances by the entire cast makes for a fantastic indie horror. There is more than face value to The Shed. Yes, there is a sick monster and buckets of blood, but all that aside the film speaks to much bigger issues. Our lead Stan has all the makings of a kid that’s about to lose it on society. He lost his parents, he’s in the custody of an abusive grandfather, he gets bullied at school. Stan and best friend Dommer are just trying to survive high school.

The cyclical nature of abuse and bullying is statistically proven. The Shed utilizes classic movie monster canon as a metaphorical weapon rather than making Stan another school shooter cliche. It’s a unique commentary on the kids that are far too often ignored. What happens when these kids taste power? The lines are quickly and easily blurred when revenge seems like the sweetest option. The Shed is a surprising and one of a kind film. It’s a hell of a sophomore venture from Frank Sabatella. Even though the two screenings at Brooklyn Horror Film Festival already sold out, RLJE will be releasing it soon. Do not miss this when it comes to theaters in November.

The film will open in cinemas and on VOD nationwide from RLJE on November 15th.

 THE SHED is written and directed by Frank Sabatella, and stars Jay Jay Warren, Cody Kostro, Sofia Happonen, Frank Whaley, Timothy Bottoms, and Siobhan Fallon Hogan. It is produced by Peter Block and Cory Neal.

Color

English Language

98 Minutes

Not Rated

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2019 is upon us!

The 4th edition of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival officially opened last night. Clearly, I want to tell you to go see all the films but as it is highly unlikely you are a Timelord I’ve made some suggestions. Narrowing down 5 films to see at this festival is insanely difficult. BHFF is a unique fest that brings genre filmmaking from around the world to fans who love horror and have an appreciation for the art and passion that goes into getting indie films made and seen! Without further ado, here are a handful of treats you can catch this starting tomorrow!


FESSENDEN’S DEPRAVED: MAKING FRANKENSTEIN IN A BROOKLYN LOFT

World Premiere
USA | 2019 | 75 Min | Dir. Larry Fessenden

With the release of Larry Fessenden’s DEPRAVED, horror fans have finally seen a new film from one of New York City’s, let alone that of the horror genre as a whole, most influential indie filmmaking legends, his first since 2013’s BENEATH. But for Fessenden himself, the journey to get his audacious and Brooklyn-set modernization of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN made has taken much longer and proven the values of both dedication and determination. In this feature-length documentary, Fessenden offers an intimate look at bringing his most ambitious passion project yet to life. It’s an all-access dive into one of 2019’s best horror films, and BHFF will have Fessenden himself on hand to break DEPRAVED’s production story down even further. Frankly, it doesn’t get more authentically “Brooklyn Horror” than this. —Matt Barone

Director Larry Fessenden in attendance.

DEPRAVED was nuts awesome and you can read my full review here! To hear straight from our local hero’s mouth about making this will be some true epicness.


THE SHED

North American Premiere
USA | 2019 | 99 Min | Dir. Frank Sabatella

Stan, Roxy and Dommer are lifelong friends whose bond is being tested by the ever-taxing rigors of high school. For Stan and Dommer, in particular, the daily bullying they encounter comes in second only to watching Roxy’s popularity grow, and, in turn, her closeness to them dissipate. But there’s an unexpected possible solution to their problems in Stan’s backyard: a nondescript-looking toolshed, which houses something inhuman. Centered around the unlikeliest of villains, Frank Sabatella’s THE SHED takes what could have been a gore-drenched monster movie romp and layers it with potent coming-of-age anxiety and youth-in-crisis urgency. Don’t worry, though: There’s still carnage aplenty. —Matt Barone

Director Frank Sabatella in attendance.

The buzz surrounding this film is legit. BHFF added a second screening because the first SOLD OUT in minutes. Then that one sold out, too! If you’re lucky enough to get a seat this weekend, virtual high five. If you didn’t score big, fear not, the film is coming to theaters in November!


GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR

New York Premiere
USA | 2019 | 93 Min | Dir. Travis Stevens

For married man Don Koch (Philip “CM Punk” Brooks), remodeling his new home gives him the chance to start anew while trying to overcome legal troubles and fidelity struggles. Once inside the fixer-upper, Don is helpless against the house’s goo-dripping walls, sordid history and inner demons, the latter hideously exposing those of its new owner. Utilizing the expertise acquired from producing several critically acclaimed indie horror films, including STARRY EYES and WE ARE STILL HERE, Travis Stevens makes his directorial debut with a slick and wildly entertaining haunted house movie that’s truly like no other. —Matt Barone

Director Travis Stevens and lead actor Phil “CM Punk” Brooks in attendance.

I cannot have a discussion about horror lately without hearing about this film. People are dying to see this. If Travis Stevens picked up an ounce of energy from Ted Geoghegan producing WE ARE STILL HERE, then run to the theater. Do yourself a solid and grab tickets before they sell out!


A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO

North American Premiere
Argentina, New Zealand | 2019 | 100 Min | Dir. Luciano and Nicolás Onetti, Sergio Morcillo, Joshua Long, Jason Bognacki, Adam O´Brien, Matt Richards, A.J. Briones, Pablo S. Pastor and Oliver Park.

As the host of a popular horror-themed radio show, disc jockey Rod shares tales of terror with his eager listeners, and although this particular night is no different, there’s also the unexpected wrinkles of alarming calls from a scared-to-death child. How that all ties together is part of the magic behind A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO, an anthology constructed by Argentinian duo Nicolas and Luciano Onetti, who’ve assembled an impressive lineup of recent festival-touring horror shorts to deliver a refreshingly unique new kind of omnibus. —Matt Barone

Something about an anthology gets me. It forces you to be alert because the narrative is constantly challenging you. Having been exposed to a solid array of shorts this season, I’m incredibly eager to see what Nicolas and Luciano Onetti have curated.


SWALLOW

USA | 2019 | 94 Min | Dir. Carlo Mirabella-Davis

Pregnant housewife Hunter (Haley Bennett) suddenly develops a case of pica—a psychological disorder involving the desire to consume inedible objects. The more her husband and his family try to stop her compulsions, the gruesomely deeper she falls into this harmful obsession until her perfect home becomes a patriarchal prison. Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ metaphorically rich feature debut is a body horror film that feels utterly essential from its timely commentary down to Bennett’s jaw-dropping lead performance. —Joseph Hernandez

Director Carlo Mirabella-Davis in attendance

After winning Best Actress award at Tribeca this year, Haley Bennett has been a name on everyone’s lips. As a mother, pica is something you hear about and think, “What in the actual f*ck?” You have enough going on literally making a human being but add this horror and you’ve got one hell of a script.


You can find out more about Brooklyn Horror Film Festival here. 

A badass genre film festival taking place in Brooklyn, NY October 17-24, 2019

Hold onto your butts, Fantasia International Film Festival is back!

To give you an idea of why Fantasia International Film Festival is my favorite redheaded stepchild of a festival, here are a few films from my youth that still haunt/entertain the crap out of me. 1. Poltergeist: the film my father thought a 2-year-old should watch. 2. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: because a sci-fi musical with Tim Curry in drag should be shown in every Kindergarten class on the planet I inhabit. 3. Princess Bride: one of the most quotable and inconceivable films, I mean that with the utmost respect and if you say otherwise I will fight you (with a sword). 4. Pulp Fiction: a film whose dialogue is filled with sermon, innumerable expletives, drug overdose, and bloody violence for days was just the beginning of a long career of effed up magic. Love it or hate it, it was original. So, for me, Fantasia encompasses all that is weird, wonderful, wacky, wtf, and any other “w” descriptor I’m missing out on in this precise moment.

Fantasia is in its 23rd year and with every passing fest, the films you’re talking about all year play here. This festival gives genre fans something to look forward to and never disappoints. Last year, CAM, The Night Eats The World, Mega Time Squad, and Relaxer just to name a few, all rocked my socks. This year, I’m jonesing to catch a list of films that have already been buzzing for months. There are too many to share in just one post, so here are ten (ish) features I’m fired up for.


Bliss– Joe Begos brings us a blood-soaked trip. Handheld 16mm, punk rock, and vampires? Sign me up for this visceral ride. Check out the trailer in all its glory.


Ready or Not– is this a weird twist on The Most Dangerous Game meets You’re Next? All I know is that I don’t know, and I cannot wait for the mayhem to begin.


Little Monsters– who would have thought that Lupita Nyong’o would be a repeat horror heroine? And Josh Gad, beloved voice of Olaf alongside her? As a former teacher, I’m all in.


AstronautRichard Dreyfuss plays a grandfather trying to fulfill his dream of going into space. With his family as only one if his obstacles, Dreyfuss a genre legend in his own right, is sure to dazzle once more.


1BR– this is already on the Sold Out Screening list. Need I say more about a finding an apartment and the horrors that inevitably surround that experience. My guess is that this goes above and beyond the normal hassle.


Black Magic for White BoysOnur Tukel (we once described one another as “delicious and super natural” in an interview for Applesauce) is sheer perfection for Fantasia. His IDGAF attitude in his writing and directing style are ripe for genre fans. This looks absolutely… well, magical.


The LodgeVeronika Franz and Severin Fiala follow up the haunting Goodnight Mommy with their first English-language horror film. Starring a heavy-hitting cast including Richard Armitage, Alicia Silverstone, Riley Keough, and Jaeden Lieberher, trying to figure out a new family dynamic amidst a trip to a secluded lodge… On Christmas… In a blizzard. Sounds like nothing could possibly go wrong here.


Tone-Deaf– Politics has spiraled into horror in real-life since the orange garbage person cheated his way into the White House. Seems apropos for a MAGA white man and millennial to duke it out over a living situation.


Paradise Hills– With hints of A Handmaid’s Tale, this pink saturated nightmare has another phenomenal big-name cast including Mila Jovovich, Emma Roberts, and Awkwafina, to name a few. Young women being groomed in any fashion doesn’t lend itself for happy tidings.


Culture Shock– Part of Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology series (under the Blumhouse production name), this take on America’s “Dreamers” is killing it already. Not to mention it stars cult icon Barbara Crampton who in real-life is clearly some magical sorceress because she never ages.


And finally, every year, I personally look forward to the Born of Woman program. This year there will be 9 short films from around the globe. This year Fantasia is showcasing films from Australia, Netherlands, USA, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Fantasia’s annual showcase of intimate, auteur genre visions returns with nine extraordinary works from an array of international talents who will leave you gobsmacked and amazed.


The number of women represented behind the camera is growing exponentially. And everyone benefits from that.

Fantasia will run from this Thursday, July 11th until August 1st. To find out more information on all the films and if you’ll be in Montreal over the next three weeks, you can purchase tickets at www.fantasiafestival.com

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Blow The Man Down’ is one of the year’s best films.

Blow The Man Down

While grieving for the loss of their mother, the Connolly Sisters suddenly find they have a crime to cover up, leading them deep into the underbelly of their salty Maine fishing village.

Growing up in a small New England town, I have a full appreciation for the glorious specificity in Blow The Man Down. From the regional slang to the understanding that everyone knows everyone else’s business, this film is filled with surprises and its very own version of a Greek chorus in Maine fisherman form. A completely femme-centric story boasts magnificent performances from the entire ensemble cast. June Squib, Annette O’Toole, Marceline Hugo, Margot Martindale, Sophie Lowe, Morgan Saylor, and Gayle Rankin. Co-directors and screenwriters Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy have created a suspenseful, funny, incredibly dark murder mystery. It’s only after walking away from the screening did I realize the small clues that were sprinkled along the way and but honestly had no idea what would happen from moment to moment. It was refreshing. Martindale plays the dominant town matriarch with the skill we’ve come to expect from her. Squib, O’Toole, and Hugo are a smart trio. They cleverly play their hand close to the chest and become the saving grace of our two young leads. Sophie Lowe and Morgan Saylor are fantastic foils as sisters. Their chemistry is spot on. Gayle Rankin’s emotional journey is much larger than it might first appear. She continues to be one to watch. Blow The Man Down is in my Top 3 films from the festival this year.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘ONLY’ in an emotional gut punch worth waiting for.

ONLY

Will (Leslie Odom, Jr.) and Eva (Freida Pinto) seem destined for a storybook life together, so pure and supportive is their mutual love. But their alone time is suddenly interrupted when Eva’s roommate, Carolyn (Tia Hendricks), bursts through the door and collapses as torrents of mysterious ash fall from the sky. During a chaotic trip to the hospital, Will learns what he needs to do, quickly covering Eva in a hazmat suit, then rushing home with her and hermetically sealing the doors and windows. Weeks become months become years and, after Eva makes a desperate move, the couple is forced to run for their lives.

Only is a mysterious, dreamy post-apocalyptic love story told elegantly and in non-sequential order by director Takashi Doscher. Tony Award-winner Odom, Jr. (Hamilton) and Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) play the doomed couple whose fear that their secret will be revealed unveils the layers of pain and longing between them. As Will and Eva struggle to reach a beloved waterfall from their past, the couple attempts to survive in a new world where she is a commodity of unparalleled worth.

While watching Only, I was furiously taking notes because I wanted to remember every little nuance I was experiencing. From the opening scene, the imagery is haunting and a sense of doom and urgency sit in the pit of your stomach. The phenomenally edited film builds its intensity through non-linear storytelling. While it can be a challenge to follow at times, it is an effective way to make sure you are paying full attention. At every turn in the script, I was surprised. Its dark premise will take you down a rabbit hole of needing to find answers. Once the puzzle is solved and all the pieces are in place, your stomach will drop and your soul will weep. The captivating performances from Frieda Pinto and Leslie Odom, Jr. help Only stand apart from Tribeca’s other selections this year. Their chemistry is electrifying. With subtly suggested elements of Handmaids Tale weaved into the narrative, this post-apocalyptic tale has an eerie patriarchal theme that makes it all the more upsetting. Only is easily one of the best of the fest this year.

Remaining screenings:
2:45 PM – SAT 5/4

Where to Watch Obama’s 2018 Movie List – Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, EPIX, Rent/Buy

Artist: Joe Burdick

All the movies on Obama’s list are the best of the best. From the Best Foreign Film Entry from South Korea, Burning to the female badasses of Annliation, there’s guaranteed you’ll find one of these movies worth your time. As I looked at Obama’s favorite movies of 2018, I’ve only seen 7, and I wondered where I could see the rest of them. As of this posting, I discovered that 12 of the 15 can be seen online right now! Two of them are on Netflix: Black Panther & Roma (also in select theaters). Minding the Gap can be seen on Hulu, The Death of Stalin on Showtime and The Rider. Three are only available in theaters: Burning, Shoplifters and If Beale Street Could Talk.

Here’s a quick recap of where you can watch each.

  • Annihilation – EPIX, Rent, Buy 4K – SCI-FI  DRAMA
  • Black Panther – Netflix, Rent, Buy 4K ACTION SCI-FI
  • BlacKkKlansman – Buy 4K, Rent 4K DRAMA  ACTION
  • Blindspotting – Select Theaters, Buy 4K, Rent 4K DRAMA  COMEDY
  • Burning – Select Theaters DRAMA
  • The Death of Stalin – Showtime, Rent, Buy COMEDY
  • Eighth Grade – Buy 4K, Rent 4K DRAMA
  • If Beale Street Could Talk – Select Theaters DRAMA
  • Leave No Trace – Rent, Buy DRAMA
  • Minding the Gap – Hulu DOCUMENTARY
  • The Rider – Starz, Rent, Buy DRAMA
  • Roma – Select Theaters, Netflix 4K DRAMA
  • Shoplifters – Select Theaters DRAMA
  • Support the Girls – Rent, Buy COMEDY DRAMA
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Rent, Buy DOCUMENTARY

Four of these movies are on AFI’s Top Ten list of 2018: Black PantherBlacKkKlansmanEighth Grade, If Beale Street Could Talk.

Burning is the Best Foreign Film Entry for South Korea.

Ten of the movies have been nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award. BlacKkKlansman, Blindspotting, Eighth Grade, Leave No Trace, Minding the Gap, The Rider, Roma, Shoplifters, Support the Girls, Won’t You Be My Neighbor

As for festivals, 11 of the 15 we either in Cannes, Sundance, New York Film Festival or Toronto International Film Festival.

Check out the table below to discover more about Obama’s list of movies.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 starts this week! Here are 10 films that are getting us excited.

The Fantasia International Film Festival officially begins in two days. If you don’t already know about the fest, you are in for a cavalcade of horror, sci-fi, action and the out of this world twisted with the strange and unusual. How’s that for a description? Some of last year’s hits include LowlifeThe EndlessMohawkGood TimeSpoor, and Mayhem to name a few. If you haven’t seen any of these yet, do yourself a huge favor and seek them out. 2018’s lineup is no exception with films like Under The Silver Lake from David Robert Mitchell, which takes us into a neo-noir surreal romp and a complete 180 from It Follows. Nicholas Cage stars in Mandy, already being touted as a genre-bending blood fest of epic proportions. Hint, it’s already sold out. Let us not forget the enormously popular Fantasia Shorts Program. One, in particular, that was phenomenal last year was the Born of Woman section. As the title might suggest, these are shorts made exclusively by female filmmakers. They were as disturbing as they were profound and they are not to be missed. Fantasia has something for everyone. Cinephiles easily plan their year around this one festival and we don’t blame them. Here are a few titles we are stoked to check out over the next few weeks.
​​Blue My Mind
Blue. Of the bewildered spirit intermediating between child and sea. Blue is the colour of Mia (Luna Wedler), 15 years old, newly arrived in a town that looks like all the others. Breaking away from the sterile environment provided by her parents, she is drawn to the pack of popular kids, the ones who smoke, shoplift, mess around. Mia has everything, yet she suffocates. Then comes an odd thirst, an irresistible instinct that has her reaching out for air where there is none. In her head are the turbulent sounds of crashing water against the pebble beach. In her tortured flesh, the alienation of nature, the terrifying and unstoppable transformation of her body conflicting with the need for stillness, to press pause on the perfect breath.
Heavy Trip
Life has its downsides in a small, northern Finnish town. The local bros give long-haired, leather-clad Turo a tough time, and his job at the mental hospital is literally shitty. His crush on Miia at the flower shop is thwarted by the tacky lounge singer Jouni, and his band jams in the back of a reindeer slaughterhouse. In the plus column for Turo, well… there’s the band, even if these black-metal true-believers have never gigged in all their 12 years together (Turo’s concealed but crippling stage fright hasn’t helped). A miraculous crack at a major metal festival in Norway jumpstarts the quartet’s dreams, and Impaled Rektum set out on a metallic mission that will make them confront not only doubts, detours and difficulties, but also Vikings in longships (plus an elf), graverobbing, Swedish rocket launchers and wolverine-wrestling (dangerous… and awkward!).
Cold Skin
In the early years of the 20th century, a young man (David Oakes) takes over the responsibility of surveying the weather of a secluded island in the Antarctic. Hoping for isolation and time for self-reflection, he instead finds a crazed and weathered person named Gruner, played by genre favourite Ray Stevenson (DEXTERTHORDIVERGENT). Gruner quickly reveals that there is more to this island than meets the eye and that below the icy depths, a terrible scourge lurks. The extent of Gruner’s madness slowly becomes more and more pronounced as his bloodlust for the creatures becomes apparent. Struggling for survival, the surveyor must choose between a madman and a legion of creatures he does not fully understand.
Tokyo Vampire Hotel

Set in 2021 as the Dracula family and another family of vampires, the Corvins, prepare for the end of the world by getting into a massive rumble.

The Draculas wear billowy pirate blouses, are scared of crucifixes, and have retreated into an interdimensional salt mine beneath Transylvania. The Corvins are pop-idol hot and have retreated into a posh hotel located inside the interdimensional vagina of their leader. There, theyve invited a herd of humans they’ll force to breed at a “Special Coupling Party” to ensure an endless future supply of blood. Enter Manami (Ami Tomite), a girl looking to fit in someplace, who has special vampire blood, and suddenly everyone wants to shoot each other in the face to stash her in their apocalypse bunker first.

Tales from the Hood 2
Horror is back in the hood! The sequel to the groundbreaking original film TALES FROM THE HOOD reunites executive producer Spike Lee (Honorary Academy Award® winner) and writers/directors/producers Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott for an all-new gripping, horrifying and oftentimes devilishly comical anthology. Keith David stars as a contemporary Mr. Simms to tell bloodcurdling stories about lust, greed, pride, and politics through tales with demonic dolls, possessed psychics, vengeful vixens, and historical ghosts. Mr. Simms’s haunting stories will make you laugh… while you scream.
Mega Time Squad
Johnny (Anton Tennet) lives an underwhelming life. He is a low-level drug dealer in Thames, New Zealand, he lives in his mother’s garage, his time is spent with a blundering friend Gaz (Arlo Gibson) at the local bowling alley and doing petty errands for the local kingpin Shelton (Johnny Brugh of WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) and his henchmen (including Milo Cawthrone of DEATHGASM and ASH VS. EVIL DEAD). When a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a big score reveals itself, Johnny finds himself wondering, “Do I have what it takes to pull off a caper?” He quickly realizes no, he doesn’t. That is, not until he stumbles upon an ancient relic that allows him to travel across time. With the power to bend time in Johnny’s hands, a hodgepodge of hilarity ensues and the “bogans” (Kiwi for loser) sets his sights once again on the wealth just beyond his grasp. However, what are the consequences of this temporal insanity, and does Johnny have what it takes to face off against Shelton and his henchmen?
Nightmare Cinema
At a forgotten, haunted bijou, a group of strangers have assembled to watch a series of macabre vignettes unspooled by the mysterious Projectionist (Mickey Rourke). Like the best anthology films (DEAD OF NIGHTCREEPSHOWTRICK ‘R TREAT), the stories’ tones range from truly deep, dark, psychological, demented horror to ones with a lighter, satirical spin. Witness a ghost story that will chill you to the bone; an exorcism story guaranteed to make your head spin; a B&W descent into clinical madness; a plastic surgery gone horrifyingly awry; and a cabin-in-the-woods slasher ditty with a unique twist you’ll never see coming.
A Rough Draft
Over a mere handful of hours, successful Moscow video-game designer Kirill has watched his life vanish. There is no longer any official record of his existence. His colleagues, his loved ones, even his dog no longer recognize him. Homeless, heartbroken, battered and framed for murder, Kirill is at the mercy of a mysterious cabal, and they have a new life planned for him. He is now to reside in a dismal old tower near the Kremlin, and there he will serve as an interdimensional gatekeeper, opening the doors to a myriad of possible Moscows that could have been, would have been? or should never have been. Kirill discovers that he now has the power to manipulate the material world around him. But who is manipulating Kirill?
The Night Eats The World
Sam (Anders Danielsen Lie) is not legend, though he may be the last man on earth. After falling asleep in a back room of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, he wakes up to discover that the world, or at least Paris, has been overrun by a zombified populace. Barricading himself inside the building, he faces life as the sole survivor of the plague, gathering the supplies he can as the ghouls stagger and slaver outside. He can sustain his body, but can he sustain his mind as the days alone in a world gone to hell stretch out endlessly before him? He finds “companionship” and a sounding board in a zombie (Denis Lavant) trapped in an elevator, while facing an existential crisis: “Being dead is the norm now. I’m the one who’s not normal.”
Summer of ’84
“The suburbs are where the craziest shit happens,” 15-year-old Davey Armstrong (Graham Verchere) tells us at the beginning of SUMMER OF ’84,, and he should know. It’s June of the eponymous year in Ipswich, Oregon, and Davey is spending his days and nights hanging out, talking about sex and the finer points of STAR WARS sequels, and playing “manhunt” with best friends Eats (Judah Lewis), Woody (Caleb Emery) and Curtis (Cory Gruter-Andrew). The innocent fun ends when Davey begins to suspect that his next-door neighbour, outwardly friendly cop Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer), is the Cape May Slayer who has been preying on kids his age in the area. Davey recruits his pals to help investigate and expose Mackey, initiating an adventure that threatens to turn dangerous and deadly for the boys at any moment.

We could keep naming films but that would be a bit overkill, don’t you think? But seriously, see whatever you can. We’ll be bringing you reviews of everything we’re able to catch. You can find out more info about the full program and tickets at fantasiafestival.com
​​
The Fantasia International Film Festival, North America’s largest and longest-running genre film fest, will be celebrating its 22nd year in Montreal this summer, taking place from July 12 through August 2.

 

Michael’s Top 25 Movies of 2016

25- The Witch

In this exquisitely made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic and possession are innovatively brought together to tell the intimate and riveting story of one family’s frightful unraveling in the New England wilderness circa 1630.

24- Captain Fantastic

Deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, isolated from society, a devoted father (Viggo Mortensen) dedicates his life to transforming his six young children into extraordinary adults. But when a tragedy strikes the family, they are forced to leave this self-created paradise and begin a journey into the outside world that challenges his idea of what it means to be a parent and brings into question everything he’s taught them.

23- Snowden

Academy Award (R)-winning director Oliver Stone, who brought Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July, Wall Street and JFK to the big screen, tackles the most important and fascinating true story of the 21st century. Snowden, the politically-charged, pulse-pounding thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, reveals the incredible untold personal story of Edward Snowden, the polarizing figure who exposed shocking illegal surveillance activities by the NSA and became one of the most wanted men in the world. He is considered a hero by some, and a traitor by others. No matter which you believe, the epic story of why he did it, who he left behind, and how he pulled it off makes for one of the most compelling films of the year.

22- Deadpool

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, DEADPOOL tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

Check out my review here

21- I am Not a Serial Killer

Sixteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are) is not a serial killer-but he has all the makings of one. Keeping his homicidal tendencies and morbid obsessions with death and murder in check is a constant struggle that only gets harder when a real serial killer begins terrorizing his sleepy Midwestern town. Now, in order to track down a psychopath and protect those around him, John must unleash his darkest inner demons. Based on the cult novel by Dan Wells, this twisted, genre-bending thriller co-stars Christopher Lloyd and Breaking Bad’s Laura Fraser.

20- Moana

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli’i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

19- Nocturnal Animals

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival. From writer/director Tom Ford comes a haunting romantic thriller of shocking intimacy and gripping tension that explores the thin lines between love and cruelty, and revenge and redemption. Academy Award nominees Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star as a divorced couple discovering dark truths about each other and themselves in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.

18- Jackie

JACKIE is a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman). JACKIE places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well.

17- Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

The magic of Harry Potter lives on in this Warner Bros. spin-off penned by {J.K. Rowling}

Check out my review here

16- Doctor Strange

A disgraced former surgeon named Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes a powerful sorcerer under the tutelage of a mystic known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, and Chiwetel Ejiofor co-star in this entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister).

Check out my review here

15- Sing Street

From director John Carney (ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN), SING STREET takes us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised – calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the decade, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their heart into writing lyrics and shooting videos. Inspired by writer/director John Carney’s life and love for music, SING STREET shows us a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life and transform us into something greater.

14- Hidden Figures

HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)-brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

13- Hacksaw Ridge

HACKSAW RIDGE is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss [Andrew Garfield] who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Check out my review here

12- Lion

Five-year-old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of Kilometers across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty-five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

11- Hell or High Water

Texas brothers–Toby (Chris Pine), and Tanner (Ben Foster), come together after years divided to rob branches of the bank threatening to foreclose on their family land. For them, the hold-ups are just part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that seemed to have been stolen from under them. Justice seems to be theirs, until they find themselves on the radar of Texas Ranger, Marcus (Jeff Bridges) looking for one last grand pursuit on the eve of his retirement, and his half-Comanche partner, Alberto (Gil Birmingham). As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their scheme, and with the Rangers on their heels, a showdown looms at the crossroads where the values of the Old and New West murderously collide.

10- Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. Equal parts road comedy and rousing adventure story, director Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, upcoming THOR: RAGNORAK) masterfully weaves lively humor with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. A hilarious, touching crowd-pleaser, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way.

9- Green Room

GREEN ROOM is a brilliantly crafted and wickedly fun horror-thriller starring Patrick Stewart as a diabolical club owner who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band. Down on their luck punk rockers The Ain’t Rights are finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour, and are about to call it quits when they get an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when they witness an act of violence backstage that they weren’t meant to see. Now trapped backstage, they must face off against the club’s depraved owner, Darcy Banker (Stewart), a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise.

8- Fences

Denzel Washington directed and stars in this adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which centers on a black garbage collector named Troy Maxson in 1950s Pittsburgh. Bitter that baseball’s color barrier was only broken after his own heyday in the Negro Leagues, Maxson is prone to taking out his frustrations on his loved ones. Both Washington and co-star Viola Davis won Tonys for their performances in the 2010 revival of the play. Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, and Mykelti Williamson round out the supporting cast.

Check out my review here

7- The Edge of Seventeen

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN is a new coming-of-age movie in the vein of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club – an honest, candid, often hilarious look at what it’s like to grow up as a young woman in today’s modern world. Everyone knows that growing up is hard, and life is no easier for high school junior Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), who is already at peak awkwardness when her all-star older brother Darian (Blake Jenner) starts dating her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). All at once, Nadine feels more alone than ever, until the unexpected friendship of a thoughtful boy (Hayden Szeto) gives her a glimmer of hope

Check out my review here

6- Oasis: Supersonic

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.

Check out my review here

5- Arrival

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team–lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams)–are brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers–and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Check out my review here

4- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

Check out my review here

3- Moonlight

The tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself, told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality.

2- La La Land

Written and directed by Academy Award (R) nominee Damien Chazelle, LA LA LAND tells the story of Mia [Emma Stone], an aspiring actress, and Sebastian [Ryan Gosling], a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.

Check out my review here

1- Manchester by the Sea

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 16-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without him.

Tribeca Film Festival Review: Audience Award winner, ‘HERE ALONE’ wrenches a mother’s instinct.

Tribeca Film Festival logo 2016here alone still tribeca

Being a new mom has had it’s toll on my brain. I’ve forgotten to eat. I’ve put the milk carton in the oven. I’ve gone days without showering or changing into socially acceptable attire. Being alone with an almost 4 month old baby all day makes your mind do/think weird things. Stir-craziness is very real. Isolation can ravage the senses. One the up side, this also means I have “a lot of time” (I know, I laughed as I typed that, too) to watch, or at least play films in the background. As a horror buff, I was excited about one film’s description in particular from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival Midnight Section, even if the plot sounded similar to ones that have cone before it. Like The Walking Dead, Rod Blackhurst‘s Tribeca World premiere HERE ALONE, is not about “zombies” but more about the people left behind.

After a terrible virus ravages human civilization, Ann finds herself living alone in a forest, foraging for supplies, and accompanied only by a radio that broadcasts a single transmission in French. Few animals even remain; the only survivors seem to be the roving hordes of infected creatures with a taste for human flesh. One fateful day, Ann crosses paths with two more survivors, Chris and Olivia. But after surviving on her own for so long, she struggles to relate to them and and their desire to settle down and start a new community.

here alone still chris and annAlmost entirely shot in the woods, our lead character Ann has only her vehicle and two small camps on a lake. Screenwriter David Ebeltoft’s immensely effective script, utilizes intermittent flashbacks to show us how Ann came to be on her own. Once traveling with her husband and infant daughter, the audience must allow themselves to be with Ann in the present in order to feel emotionally connected. She is smart and resilient. She has learned that practicality is the only way to survive. Her newly gained skills sometimes fumble, adding to the realism factor. The minute she allows her emotions to control her path, things are bound to go awry. When Ann stumbles upon Chris and his step-daughter Olivia, her motherly instinct may be her undoing. Two mindsets are at play; Stay put or keep moving. Which would you choose? Blackhurst’s use of nudity is never without purpose. There is no glamour factor here, which is much appreciated in the genre in general. Lucy Walters‘ lead performance is breathtaking. It’s not until the very end that we discover what happened to Ann’s daughter. That particular scene, which we know from the very beginning we’ve been building up to, is one of the most gut-wrenching I’ve seen on film. Maybe it’s the new Mommy hormones, maybe it’s Ebeltoft specifically crafted script, or maybe it’s the perfect storm of the two. I don’t think I have ever wept while watching a horror film until now. In a “what would you do?” scenario from hell, HERE ALONE tears your heart out and challenges how you think you’d react in a doomsday situation. When you’re down to your last bullet, it’s life or death.

HERE ALONE is one to catch. It may not necessarily be a new idea, but it is told from a fresh perspective. (Mothers be warned.)

‘CAROL’ comes to life on the silver screen today. Here are a few reasons why we think it shouldn’t be missed.

Carol poster

As one of the most anticipated films of this year’s New York Film Festival, CAROL most certainly blew everyone’s expectations out of the water. Here are just a few reasons why we adore this elegant film…Carol still Cate and RooneyThe Plot:

 In an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, CAROL follows two women from very different backgrounds who find themselves in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Kyle Chandler) begins to question her competence as a mother as her involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) come to light.

ROONEY MARA and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

ROONEY MARA and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

The Cinematography:

Edward Lachman is a genius behind the camera. Having worked hand in hand with Director Todd Haynes on Far From Heaven in 2002, his visual landscape for Carol is unmatched. Shot in 16mm, perfectly framed, with delicate but specific shots through windows and the focus on the color of crimson and corals, make this a true feast for the eyes.

You can watch Ed discuss his experience in an interview from NYFF53 here.Carol still Kyle Chandler

The Performances:

We’re not shy about our love for Cate Blanchett, nor is The Academy. In truth, there is not a single loose thread in the casting of this film. In the film’s press conference this week, you could see and hear the passion the entire cast held for the project and the respect they had for Phyllis Nagy‘s immaculate adaptation. This is not a story about a lesbian couple, this is a story of two people falling in love. The effortless nature of Blanchett, Mara, Chandler, Paulson, and Lacy as an ensemble evokes the kind of emotion so rarely experienced in the cinema these days. Both Cate and Rooney landed on my Top Female Performances of NYFF53 list. Lacy’s boyish charm and naivete bound off the screen. Chandler’s masculinity and energy are a powerful match for both the period and Blanchett. And as for Sarah Paulson (my favorite player in American Horror Story, every season), well, I wanted to put her in my pocket and place her in every film from here on out. It’s the kind of presence that should not be overlooked, ever. These actors are extraordinarily great at their jobs. There is no doubt about it, CAROL is a timeless film.

(L-R) KYLE CHANDLER and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

(L-R) KYLE CHANDLER and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL

For a mere taste of what you’re in for, here is the trailer:

CAROL– Opening In Limited Theaters November 20, 2015

Rated R | Runtime 118 minutes

Carol still Sarah PaulsonCarol still Rooney

Carol still Todd Haynes and Cate Blachett

 

10 movies to stream this Memorial Day weekend

AMERICAN SNIPER

  1. American Sniper (Movie, 2014) – Sniper and U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle saves many lives on battlefields in Iraq while striving to be a good husband and father to his loved ones back in America. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, M-GO and Vudu.
  2. Saving Private Ryan (Movie, 1998) – A World War II captain and his squad risk all to locate and send home a soldier whose three brothers died in combat. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, M-GO and Vudu.
  3. Good Morning, Vietnam (Movie, 1987) – In 1965, disc jockey Adrian Cronauer turns Armed Forces Radio on its ear with his irreverent brand of humor. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow and Vudu.
  4. Flags of our Fathers (Movie, 2006) – Some of the servicemen who raised the U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima at the end of World War II live to hear their status as heroes. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, HBO GO, M-GO and Vudu.
  5. Glory (Movie, 1989) – Robert Gould Shaw trains and leads an all-black regiment during the U.S. Civil War. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video,CinemaNow, M-GO and Vudu.
  6. Fury (Movie, 2014) During World War II, a battle- hardened Army sergeant leads the crew of a Sherman tank on a deadly mission behind enemy lines to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, M-GO and Vudu.
  7. Kingsman: The Secret Service (Movie, 2015) – A top-secret spy agency recruits an uncouth but promising street kid into its highly competitive training program, just as a twisted technological genius threatens the world. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, M-Go and Vudu.
  8. Strange Magic (Movie, 2015) – A king who hates love orders the destruction of primroses, an essential ingredient of love potions; however, a feisty fairy princess challenges everything he believes. Available to watch on M-GO and Vudu.
  9. Seventh Son (Movie, 2014) – A supernatural champion has little time to train a new apprentice for a battle against a malevolent and vengeful witch. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, M-GO and Vudu.
  10. Maggie (Movie, 2015) – After his daughter is infected with a virus that transforms her into a zombie, a small-town farmer will stop at nothing to save her. Available to watch on Amazon Instant Video, M-GO and Vudu.

h/t Top 10 new releases and recommendations via Roku blog

45 movies about Mothers from the last 77 years! Happy Mother’s Day!

happy-mothers-day

 

Good, bad or just plain crazy, these movies with a mom as the central character have been entertaining us in the movies for quite a long time. My favorite would have to be Mother with Debbie Reynolds and Albert Brooks. What’s yours?

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Best of the Fest: Liz & Melissa’s 22 Favorite Narratives & Documentaries from the Tribeca Film Festival!

tribeca film festival 2015 logo

It was a fabulous eleven days filled with movies and interviews, and now it’s time for us to reflect on our favorites. Enjoy!

Favorite Comedies

Grandma_Press_1 TribecaGrandma – releasing August 21st

Reeling from a recent breakup and still mourning the loss of her longtime partner, once-famous poet Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) is surprised to find her teenage granddaughter on her doorstep in need of $600 and a ride. The two embark on an all-day road trip that ends up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets all over town. Co-starring Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, and Sam Elliott.

We’ve only gotten a tease of Tomlin over the past few years, but she’s back with a comedic performance that rivals any dramatic one. So wrong, yet so perfect, her delivery gives the dialogue an extra edge that almost makes you feel guilty as you laugh out loud. I can’t wait to see her and Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie on Netflix. – Melissa

 

Tomlin is an indisputable legend. Her comic timing is like watching Mozart create a symphony. This film is an absolute gem that tackles so many relevant issues without one ounce of preachiness. I have always been a huge fan and I am crossing my fingers this garners her an Oscar nod. -Liz

Jack (Simon Pegg) and Nancy (Lake Bell) in Ben Palmer’s Man UpMan Up – releasing May 29th in the UK, no US release set

When perpetually single Nancy (Lake Bell) is mistaken for a charming stranger’s (Simon Pegg) blind-date, she just goes with it, leading to a series of escalating adventures for the two mismatched lovebirds in Ben Palmer’s hilarious romantic comedy.

This could have been another boring rom-com, but the trifecta of story, dialogue and performances make it my new favorite “meet cute.” – Melissa

 

Pegg and Bell are an unlikely duo but let me say this is perfect casting. Their chemistry is super believable and laugh out loud funny from start to finish. Do not pigeon hole this flick, it is a riot for everyone. -Liz

OVERNIGHT_Press_2 TribecaThe Overnight – releasing June 19th

Alex and Emily have just moved to LA with their young son. Eager to make new friends, they accept an invitation to a party from the father of their son’s playground mate. After the kids fall asleep, the “playdate” takes a bizarre turn in this racy and hilarious romp. Featuring Judith Godrèche, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Adam Scott.

Filled with many twists and turns, you won’t know where the next laugh will take you as these two couples get to know each other. Sharing their hopes, fears and extracurricular hobbies, it all happens so naturally and with the utmost hilarity. – Melissa

 

This crazy funny adult comedy puts to rest the notion that hyper-sexual has to be boring or slapstick. This is actually a really thoughtful script and with a cast like this, you cannot go wrong. -Liz

Sleeping With Other People_Press_1 TribecaSleeping With Other People – releasing August 21st

Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie star as two romantic failures whose years of serial infidelity and self-sabotage have led them to swear that their relationship will remain strictly platonic. But can love still bloom while you’re sleeping with other people? Writer/director Leslye Headland’s (Bachelorette) sexy romantic comedy co-stars Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, and Natasha Lyonne.

The “platonic friends” comedy is so overdone, but it’s been reborn with Jason Sudekis and Alison Brie. With over-the-top intimate dialogue, honesty is the best policy when it comes to modern relationships. One of the funniest movies of the year. – Melissa

 

This film may appear to be formulaic at first glance, but I assure you, you have no idea what you’re in for. One of the best and most honest pieces of dialogue since This is 40, Sudeikis and Brie kill it with the funny as two people with some serious intimacy issues. -Liz


Favorite Dramas

ANESTHESIA_Press_2 TribecaAnesthesia

On a snowy night in New York City, a Columbia professor is brutally mugged on the doorsteps of an apartment building. Director Tim Blake Nelson’s haunting meditation of city life traces the chain of events that precipitate the attack, examining the inextricable and unforeseen forces that bring a group of disparate individuals together. Featuring a star-studded ensemble including Sam Waterston, Kristen Stewart, Glenn Close, and Cory Stoll.

Make sure you pay attention and get ready for dialogue that is a hyper-intellectual mental workout. It’s heavy but hopeful and filled with brilliant performances.- Melissa

 

This film’s multiple narrative style is something reminiscent of Traffic or Third Person. Beautifully based on philosophical notions, the audience is treated to a peak inside the lives of a handful of New Yorkers. With a jam packed cast of superb talent, Tim Blake Nelson brings everything to the table and succeeds, wildly. – Liz

Bare_Press_1 TribecaBare

Sarah’s (Dianna Agron) mundane life in a Nevada desert town is turned upside down with the arrival of Pepper (Paz de la Huerta), a mysterious female drifter, who leads her into a life of seedy strip clubs and illicit drugs. Their passion inspires Sarah to break free of her past and seek out a new life of her own.

It’s a story that could be told of any small town. It never attempts to explain anything, which actually gives it much more credibility.  – Melissa

 

In Agron’s first truly adult role, she shines as a small town girl trying to find her escape. Big dreams and little self esteem lead to a complex script and a stellar performance.   -Liz

The Driftless AreaThe Driftless Area

Pierre Hunter (Anton Yelchin), a bartender with unyielding optimism, returns to his tiny hometown after his parents’ death. When he falls for the enigmatic Stella (Zooey Deschanel), Pierre is unknowingly pulled into a cat-and-mouse game that involves a duffel bag full of cash, a haphazard yet determined criminal (John Hawkes), and a mystery that will determine all of their fates. With Alia Shawkat, Frank Langella, Aubrey Plaza, and Ciarán Hinds.

To say that The Driftless Area is cryptic is an understatement. I’m still not quite sure what happened, but the characters are so complex and interwoven that even though you’re confused, you can’t wait to see what happens next. – Melissa (read full review here)

Meadowland_Press_1 TribecaMeadowland

Sarah and Phil’s son goes missing, shattering their life together and forcing each to find their own way to cope. Cinematographer-turned-director Reed Morano presents a masterfully crafted contemplation on a relationship strained to the breaking point. Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson capture the unraveling emotions with remarkable power, alongside Kevin Corrigan, John Leguizamo, Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple, and Merritt Wever.

This emotionally heavy story will kick you in the gut. How does one cope after the loss of a child? Do marriages survive? Can we be saved? These are all questions in an intense script lead by a masterful performance from Wilde. Following up her insane roller coaster role in Third Person, Wilde proves once again that she’s way more than a pretty face. Cast her in all the things, immediately! – Liz

Tumbledown_Press_1 TribecaTumbledown

Years after the accidental death of her folk-singer husband, Hannah (Rebecca Hall) has yet to fully accept her small-town life without him. Then she is approached by a charming New York writer (Jason Sudeikis) intent on penning a biography of her late husband’s life, and Hannah finds herself opening up again. Also featuring performances by Dianna Agron, Blythe Danner, Griffin Dunne, Joe Manganiello, and Richard Masur.

This was a film near and dear to my heart, based on plot and circumstance. The filmmakers and cast hit the nail on the head when it came to recreating a small New England town in Maine and the effect a death has upon it’s entire population. Loss and grief are combined with super smart writing. Sudeikis and Hall own these roles. – Liz

(read full review & podcast of interviews here)

Virgin Mountain TribecaVirgin Mountain

Fúsi is a mammoth of a man who at 43-years-old is still living at home with his mother. Shy and awkward, he hasn’t quite learned how to socialize with others, leaving him as an untouchable inexperienced virgin. That is until his family pushes him to join a dance class, where he meets the equally innocent but playful Sjöfn.

Heartbreaking, yet hopeful, this Jury award winner for narrative and lead performance will grab ahold of you and squeeze. – Melissa

 

This was one of the most endearing films I’ve seen lately. The “I think I can” attitude and transformation of the lead is so compelling from the very beginning. You cannot help but root for this character. -Liz

When I Live My Life Over Again-00002 TribecaWhen I Live My Life Over Again

Jude (Amber Heard) is a would-be singer-songwriter still struggling to make her mark. Cash-strapped and homeless, she begrudgingly returns to the Hamptons home of her father (Christopher Walken), an over-the-hill crooner desperately charting his musical comeback, in this spunky, soulful dramedy about the personal costs of artistic ambition and the bonds that carry us through.

Christopher Walken is charming and tragic. The dialogue is so subtle and natural, you’d think you were watching a documentary. The dining table scene alone is worth the price of admission. – Melissa

 

The tremendously organic dialogue in this film is top notch. It’s an honest portrait of family dynamics we can all relate to on some inherent level. Walken is a gem, as always, and I was blown away by Heard’s level of comfort behind a guitar and piano. Color me impressed.- Liz


Favorite Scary

Backtrack_Press_2 TribecaBacktrack – acquired by Saban Films

In this spine-tingling supernatural thriller, troubled psychotherapist Peter Bowers (Adrien Brody) is suffering from nightmares and eerie visions. When he uncovers a horrifying secret that all of his patients share, he is put on a course that takes him back to the small hometown he fled years ago. There he confronts his demons and unravels a mystery 20 years in the making.

I liked this film as the credits rolled. Speaking of credits, the opening sequence is one of the most beautiful and creative I’ve seen in some time. As I hashed out all the little moments in the script, the makeup, the music, I adored this film. Very smart writing and some really nicely timed jump scares. File this film under paranormal- thriller. -Liz

Hungry Hearts_0341Hungry Hearts – releasing June 5th

After a chance meeting and a whirlwind romance in New York City, Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher) become pregnant. Convinced their child will be harmed by the pollutions in the outside world, Mina becomes consumed by protecting her baby, forcing Jude to recognize a terrible truth about why his son’s life could be in danger.

Told like a 70s horror flick, this is a Rosemary’s Baby kind of scary. Crazy camera angles and eerie music make this a very unsettling story that will leave you shivering. – Melissa


Favorite Documentaries

Birth of Sake_Press_2The Birth of Sake

Traditional and labor-intensive, the production of Saké has changed very little over the centuries. Erik Shirai’s love song to the artisans who have dedicated their lives to carrying on this increasingly rare artform follows the round-the-clock process for six straight months, offering a rare glimpse into a family-run brewery that’s been operating for over 100 years.

The gorgeous imagery is enhanced by slowmotion and a calming score. Whether you’re a lover of saké or not, you’ll appreciate the amount of work that goes into its creation. – Melissa (3 docs you must see)

 

Visually breathtaking  with a whole lot of heart, this doc was so enjoyable  for me to watch. It is  akin to a work of art and could easily (and should be) shown on a constant loop in museums. -Liz

Code_web_02CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap

At a time in the United States when the tech sector outpaces the overall growth of the employment market, CODE asks the important question: Where are all the women?

Instead of focusing on one aspect of the gender gap in coding, this film really shows that everyone has something to give. The field of information technology is only getting bigger and we need all hands on deck. The more diverse the people building the future technologies are, the better the world is for it. – Melissa (3 docs you must see)

Crocodile Gennadiy imageCrocodile Gennadiy

Crocodile Gennadiy, real-life, self-appointed savior, who works tirelessly to rescue homeless, drug-addicted youth from the streets of Mariupol, Ukraine. At the same time, he challenges dealers and abusers. Despite criticism, Gennadiy is determined to continue his work. Sundance Award-winning director Steve Hoover’s second feature is a bold portrait of a man on a mission.

Doing what’s right is the main point of this extraordinary documentary. Saving the lives of innocent children that are being taken advantage of by a broken system mired in poverty, Gennodiy is the perfect example of what religion should look like. – Liz  (read interview here)

Democrats stillDemocrats

In the wake of Robert Mugabe’s highly criticized 2008 presidential win, a constitutional committee was created in an effort to transition Zimbabwe away from authoritarian leadership. With unprecedented access to the two political rivals overseeing the committee, this riveting, firsthand account of a country’s fraught first steps towards democracy plays at once like an intimate political thriller and unlikely buddy film.

The bravery of these people to be on film, speaking in the manners they do is enough to cheer for. Getting an honest look inside a corrupted political system outside our own is astonishing. Take note America.- Liz  (read review here)

DREAM KILLER_Press_1 TribecaDream/Killer

In the fall of 2005, 21-year-old Ryan Ferguson received a 40-year prison sentence for a murder that he did not commit. Over the next ten years, his father Bill engages in a tireless crusade to prove Ryan’s innocence. Interspersed with footage from the Ferguson family archive, Andrew Jenks’ film looks at the personal consequences of a wrongful conviction.

One of the most frustrating docs to watch, you learn just how lost our justice system can be. Unexpected and shocking, the combination of footage, audio, and interviews makes for one hell of a story. -Liz  (read review & interview here)

Exclusive Closing Night "Monty Python Live (Mostly)"Monty Python: The Meaning of Live

While perhaps best known for its eminently quotable films, Monty Python has performed its signature, surreal humor in live shows since the group’s earliest days. Dive into the history of Python’s stage work and the genesis of some of its most well-known pieces as they prepare for their last-ever live show. Monty Python: the Meaning of Life is a hilarious and illuminating survey of the process behind the Python.

I saw my first Monty Python films at the age of 13. Why it took me that long, I’ll never know. I have my theater friends to thank for introducing me into a world of absolute insanity and brilliance. This is an awesome look inside  the relationships between some of your most memorable laughs and the men behind them. -Liz

Orion is his iconic eagle suit. Photo credit Sun Records

Orion is his iconic eagle suit. Photo credit Sun Records

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King

Millions of Americans clung to the hope that Elvis Presley faked his death. For the executives at Sun Records that fantasy became an opportunity in the form of Orion, a mysterious masked performer with the voice of The King. But who was the man behind the mask? In this stranger-than-fiction true story, Jeanie Finlay explores a life led in service to those who couldn’t let Elvis go.

Everyone has heard of Elvis, but only a fraction have heard of Orion aka Jimmy Ellis. When Jimmy Ellis sang, he sounded like the legendary Elvis. His talent was brought to new heights when Elvis died and people didn’t want to let go. Never an impersonator, Jimmy did capitalize on this coincidence and attempt stardom on his own. – Melissa (read review here)

Artwork from "That Dragon, Cancer".Credit: That Dragon, Cancer

Artwork from “That Dragon, Cancer”.Credit: That Dragon, Cancer

Thank You For Playing

For the past two years, Ryan and Amy Green have been working on That Dragon, Cancer, a videogame about their son Joel’s fight against that disease. Following the family through the creation of the game and the day-to-day realities of Joel’s treatment, David Osit and Malika Zouhali-Worrall create a moving testament to the joy and heartbreak of raising a terminally ill child.

Fair warning: bring an entire box of tissues with you to this truly important and thoughtfully crafted film. If most of us are being honest, usually when we see commercials for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital we change the channel, but in this instance we come to know and love the members of the Green family. Understanding “That Dragon Cancer ” is the only way to help save lives and support those  on their journey. Using art as an outlet for grief is a transformative way to share an experience, good or bad. – Liz

Wolfpack_Press_1 TribecaThe Wolfpack – releasing June 19th

Everything the Angulo brothers know about the outside world they learned from obsessively watching movies. Shut away from bustling New York City by their overprotective father, they cope with their isolation by diligently re-enacting their favorite films. When one of the brothers escapes, the world as they know it will be transformed.

Something about this film grabbed my heart and held it for it’s entirety. These kids are among us here in NYC, but you’d never know since they’ve been essentially held captive their entire lives. The intense detail  in which these brothers re-create their favorite films is unreal. Their passion and intelligence should be on view for all the world to see and enjoy.- Liz