Review: Out on Digital tomorrow, ‘LUX ÆTERNA’ is pure Gaspar Noé chaos.

LUX ÆTERNA

LUX ÆTERNA takes place backstage of a French film production, often utilizing split-screens to follow two characters at once. Charlotte Gainsbourg, acting as herself, plays the film’s — and the film-within-a-film’s — leading role of an actress taking on the role of a witch burned at the stake while French actress Beatrice Dalle, playing a version of herself as well, takes on the on-screen role of director. The film progresses with mounting tension as the set descends into aggressive chaos— both in style, form, and plot. Actress and model Abbey Lee (The Neon Demon), Karl Glusman (Love), Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull (Climax), Félix Maritaud (Sauvage / Wild, Knife + Heart), and Clara Deshayes also appear as interpretations of themselves.


Narcissism, gaslighting, sexism, celebrity, the industry as a whole, everything is on the line in this 50 minutes of coordinated chaos. Toxicity and ass-kissing intermingled with personal drama, as each actor in LUX ÆTERNA plays a version of themselves. As the tension mounts, who and how will each player respond when “art” is on the line?

The lighting, which comes with a trigger warning before the film begins, is undeniably jarring. Combined with the incessant ringing of an alarm, it’s a visceral invasion. In tandem with the distress of Charlotte on screen, the viewer slowly finds themselves on sensory overload. 

Charlotte Gainsbourg can do no wrong in my book. She possesses a vulnerability that is unsurpassed. The amount of trust she has in Gaspar Noé astounds me with each additional project. Gainsbourg understood the assignment.

In true Gaspar Noé fashion, LUX ÆTERNA  pushes the boundaries of color, sound, and content. Few filmmakers have a style that screams their name, and Noé has cultivated that skill. In a short runtime, LUX ÆTERNA  has a lot to say. Welcome to one of the most unexpected and raw moments of exploitation.


Following a successful theatrical run across the United States from May into early June that put the film in the top 10 indies at the box office, Yellow Veil Pictures will release Gaspar Noe’s LUX ÆTERNA on digital platforms including Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and more this Friday, June 10th in North America, followed by a 2-disc Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray available summer 2022. LUX ÆTERNA is currently available for digital pre-order on Vimeo on Demand.


Review: ‘THE POLICEMAN’S LINEAGE’ sends ‘Parasite’ stars deep-undercover.

THE POLICEMAN’S LINEAGE

SYNOPSIS: Parasite’s Woo-sik Choi stars as Choi Min-Jae, a rookie police officer and a man of principle, who teams up with Park Gang-Yoon, the chief of an investigation team that has an unrivaled arrest record but includes corrupt methods. Together, the two very different policemen dive deep into a massive case that shakes the police force upside down.


The Policeman’s Lineage is a straightforward cop thriller that manages to keep its head above water despite a reliance on some overused genre themes. To be fair, there have been so many variations of the undercover cop film that innovation is practically impossible.  Director Kyu-mann Lee wisely leans into two key strengths: fresh-faced lead Choi Woo-shik (flush from the success and recognition of the brilliant Parasite), and the theme of paternal mentorship that drives the film’s best moments.

Choi Woo-shik stars as Choi Min Jae, a young, 3rd generation cop with strong morals. He is shown early on to prioritize what he believes to be right above all else, which does not endear him to his fellow officers. Facing bleak career prospects, he is given the opportunity to go (you guessed it) undercover to investigate a special unit touting a top arrest record. Sounds like a great promotion, right? Well, the Internal Affairs chief planning the operation (a steely, understated Park Hee-soon) believes the unit has crossed over the line in its pursuit of justice. It isn’t hard to be suspicious of the unit’s chief, Detective Park (Cho Jin-woong.) Park drives around in a shiny Mercedes, wears designer clothes, and flashes the cash at high-stakes poker tables. Must have a great financial planner!

Choi agrees to go undercover partly out of principle, and partly in exchange for information about his deceased father, who died years ago under mysterious circumstances while working with Detective Park. Detective Park’s team is surprisingly keen to welcome Choi into the fold despite his reputation as a straight-laced, scrupulous officer.

What follows is a mash-up of Point Break meets Platoon, as Choi’s resolve wobbles under the dueling influences of his two opposing supervisors.  Will he stick to his morals and Internal Affairs, or will he grow to sympathize and understand Detective Park’s take-no-prisoners approach to justice? All 3 leads bring compelling performances to the table. Choi Woo-shik is the film’s center of gravity, and he does admirable work digesting all of the necessary plot exposition on behalf of the audience. He continues to be a talent to watch.  Cho Jin-woong has the toughest job of the 3, shouldered with making Detective Park believably warm while simultaneously steely and terrifying. He mostly manages, but countless scenes of him gifting Choi clothes or taking the rookie for a ride on his big boat make it harder to buy in when he has to switch gears over to “bad cop”. I wish there had been more scenes between Detective Park and Internal Affairs.

The film drags a bit at nearly 2 hours in length – especially in the final 20 minutes, where too many twists are introduced too late. Ultimately, The Policeman’s Lineage represents an appropriate addition to the cop thriller genre, even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel.


The Policeman’s Lineage will be on digital, VOD and cable* June 7, 2022 from Echelon Studios.


CAST: Woo-sik Choi (Parasite), Cho Jin-woong (The Handmaiden), Park Myeong-hoon (Parasite), and Hee-soon Park (Apple TV+’s Dr. Brain)

CREDIT: The Policeman’s Lineage is directed by Kyu-mann Lee (Wide Awake), produced by Han-seung Lee (The Tower), and executed produced by Hyun-joo Jung (The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil). The production team includes production designer Chae Kyoung-sun (Squid Game), editor Nam Na-young (Squid Game) costume designer Kyeong-mi Kim (Okja), composer Young-gyu Jang (Train to Busan), and makeup artists Hyo-kyun Hwang & Tae-Yong Kwak (Parasite)


The Policeman’s Lineage will be available on:

*Cable and Digital Transactional Video On Demand including:

Comcast

Charter-Spectrum

Directv

iTunes

Cox Cable

Dish Network

Sling TV

Google Play

Verizon Fios

Fandango / VUDU

InDemand

Vubiquity

Rogers

Vimeo on Demand


 

Review: ‘Tales From The Other Side’ is spooky fun for horror lovers.

I love a good horror anthology. With a classic Halloween trope of three kids getting pulled into the town legend’s Victorian mansion, Tales From The Other Side finds Scary Mary spinning tales of terror for her eager guests. Six separate stories send shivers down their spines and sweets into their bellies. 

“Petrified Boy”

A ringmaster takes advantage of a tragedy.

“Flicker”

An aspiring filmmaker takes a job making memorial videos for a funeral home. 

“Crystal Ball”

A couple in turmoil steals the coveted object of a fortune teller. 

“Either / Or”

Trae Ireland, Tonya Cornelisse, and James Duval pack a punch in a story about a mental facility patient claiming to be the prophet, Elijah. This segment is the epitome of masterful performance. The finale will blow you away. 

“Blood Red”

An artist’s triste gets bloody complicated. 

“Krampus Vs. Elf”

A visually jarring stop motion battle between good and evil. It’s pretty disgusting, but the ending is chef’s kiss. 

Our three young leads are fantastic. Brooklyn Anne Miller, in particular, is flawless. Get that girl a show on Nickelodeon ASAP. Roslyn Gentle, as Mary, is a superstar. I’d watch an entire franchise with her as the center. 

Tales From The Other Side has a solid “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” vibes. It’s tricky to stand out amongst hits like The Mortuary Collection and the VHS franchise, but Tales From The Other Side gives it an honest-to-goodness try. The filmmakers are clear classic genre fans working on a micro-budget. The makeup and scores are great additions. The opening title sequence from Sean Wyn is creative and disturbing. What more could you ask for setting up scary stories with anything but horrifying drawings from children? It’s not as if you don’t know where the overarching narrative around Scary Mary is going. Tales From The Other Side is still a gruesome delight.


ON DIGITAL AND DVD JUNE 7


Directors: Pablo Macho Maysonet IV, Jamaal Burden, Scotty Baker, Jacob Cooney, Lucas Heyne, Kern Saxton, Frank Merle

Cast: Ros Gentle, Michael Broderick, Rafael Delgado Jr., James Duval, Chelsea Vale, Vernon Wells, Andreas Rodriguez


Review: ‘A SEXPLANATION’ is the single most sex positive lesson of my entire life.

Just your typical queer, Asian American, comedic sex education documentary about the universal search for love, connection, and family acceptance.


Gloriously raw and unapologetic, A Sexplanation was the most informative lesson on sex I’ve ever seen. Like director Alex Liu, my parents never had “The Talk” with me. My Catholic school elementary sex-ed class was in 5th grade. Separating the boys and girls, we got the basics on menstrual health and body parts. That was it. I think I got that same lesson in my high school health class. Why are those classes always taught by gym teachers, anyway? Seriously, why don’t schools bring in experts? In A Sexplanation, Alex Liu does all the groundwork for those left to their own devices at slumber parties, sleep-away camps, and dial-up internet. 

Liu sits down with folks across the sexuality information spectrum; doctors, scientists, therapists, activists, a politician, and a priest! Some of the most intriguing moments happen when Alex speaks with his parents. They are honest, unfiltered, and make the viewer feel the need to talk to their parental figures to clear some shit up. The film also introduces us to programs like INclued, an LGBTQ-centered evidence-based sexual health education program for youth ages 14-19. I wish that existed when I was a teen!

Along with the interviews, visual gags featuring phallic objects and vibrant cartoon animation from Woodenmarker serves as quirky transitions. The biggest challenge in watching the film will be the same for everyone, and Liu understands this. Getting past our ingrained biases, owning each cringe at an image or word, and diving deep into the reasons those reactions occur in the first place. Tackling family dynamics, “The Talk” is so important and how we learn to talk about sex. Statistics do not lie. States teaching abstinence-only have higher teen pregnancy and STI rates. Families need to normalize open lines of communication. We need to step out of our comfort zones and embrace our own sex positivity to better the world. 

 Liu makes himself the guinea pig in a project that could actually save lives. The amount of information in the doc is mind-blowing. The lack of shame makes A Sexplanation a glorious watch and an honest-to-goodness celebration of sexual literacy.


Available on Digital Download from 6th June

Director’s Statement

Alex Liu, writer and director: “A Sexplanation follows my quest to confront my sex education — by finally getting a real one.

Growing up, sex felt shameful. My parents never brought it up. School focused on disease, pregnancy, and abstinence. By my 30s, I was surprised by how much shame I still carried. After talking with friends, I realized I wasn’t alone.

  The film documents my attempt to strip away this shame, no matter how awkward it might get — even masturbating in an MRI machine (for science!).

Through honest conversations with scientists, educators, and even my parents, I try to uncover some naked truths and hard facts that will get us to a healthier, sexier future.”

asexplanation.com

A Sexplanation will be available on Digital Download from 6th June on iTunes on GooglePlay.


Review: ‘Paulie Go!’ is a genre-bending, fish-out-of-water story.

After being rejected letter from the AI robotics program he’s worked his entire life towards, Paulie won’t take no for an answer. He steals his uncle’s van and drives to Minnesota in an attempt to track down one Professor Chuck Shikenjansk and change his mind. 

As Cheryl, Tracie Thoms is a joy, possessing aspects of Paulie and Avery’s personalities. Her character brings Paulie Go! to another level of storytelling. Madison Wolfe plays Avery with an effortless cool. She’s slick and savvy. Without even knowing it, she’s a role model. Ethan Dizon as Paulie is so much fun to watch. He’s a master of awkward social-emotional interaction and a victim of extreme overconfidence. Dizon’s energy is infectious. He and Wolfe have perfect chemistry. 

Director Andrew Nackman brings audiences a fish out of water road (or boat) movie that is relatable and family-friendly. In truth, it’s a genre-defying delight. That small-town Minnesota energy lends itself to genuine and funny dialogue. Paulie Go! is a film about two teens who have more in common than they realize. Jake Greene‘s script ( story also by Nackman and David J. Lee) subverts all expectations as it overflows with nuance. Paulie Go! deals with adolescence, loss, and self-discovery. Watch it with the entire family. 


Available to Rent or Own on Digital Platforms May 24, 2022


Directed by ANDREW NACKMAN

Written by JAKE GREENE

Produced by LAUREN TAIT HOGARTH, LAURA IVEY & JAKE GREENE

Starring ETHAN DIZON, MADISON WOLFE, DAVID THEUNE, BERNARD WHITE & TRACIE THOMS


Review: Inconsistencies aside, ‘ESCAPE THE FIELD’ is a solid horror maze of madness.

ESCAPE THE FIELD

The fear is inescapable in Emerson Moore’s horror-thriller about six strangers who suddenly awaken in a remote, endless cornfield. Stripped of their possessions, they are left with only six items: a gun with a single bullet, matches, a lantern, a knife, a compass, and a flask of water. As mysterious sirens blare in the distance and traps appear at every turn, the group realizes it’s been plunged into a cat-and-mouse game with an unseen evil, and survival depends upon solving a diabolical — and deadly — puzzle.


With reminiscent aspects of the cult favorite The CubeEscape the Field is an intriguing foray into the escape room genre. A cornfield is our game board, making for an entirely different dynamic in a scenario we’ve seen for years. An eclectic group of people comprises this cast. Writer-director  Emerson Moore, alongside screenwriter Joshua Dobkin and Sean Wathen, take a different approach, mixing ideas from past films to brand new and exciting elements. There’s a lot to chew on in Escape The Field. 

Shane West plays Ryan with intimidation and alpha male toxicity. West ups the anty with emotional unpredictability elevated by a clever script device. Theo Rossi plays Tyler. If you haven’t been paying attention to indie cinema or mainstream television series, Rossi has become a familiar face and a damn fine actor. Escape the Field is no exception. Rossi has this undeniably accessible aura about him. Jordan Claire Robbins plays Sam, a doctor whose skills are pertinent to the group’s survival. Robbins’ neighborly energy brings trustworthiness and ease to the viewers. You’re rooting for her. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Tahirah Sharif. Her presence drastically improves Escape The Field every second she’s onscreen. 

The solutions to the puzzles evolve from difficult to unchallenging and back again. This inconsistency is forgivable from someone who is an avid winner of ‘Escape The Room’ experiences. (*Nerd alert)  Escape The Field has all the raw elements of a spectacular franchise. I’d watch a prequel and a sequel, as long as the next film’s evolution takes notes from its incarnation. Make sure you stick around after the credits begin to roll. You don’t want to miss one final moment of goodness. 


U.S. Release Date: In Select Theaters, On Digital and On Demand on May 6, 2022.


Cities:                                    New York (Cinema Village), Los Angeles (Lumiere Cinema), and key cities nationwide.           

Cast:                                      Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi, Tahirah Sharif, Julian Feder, Elena Juatco, and Shane West

Directed by:                           Emerson Moore         

Written by:                             Emerson Moore and Joshua Dobkin & Sean Wathen

Produced by:                        Andrew Davies Gans, Michael Philip, Jason Moring and Emerson Moore

Genre:                                    Thriller            

Rating:                                   R

Running Time:                      88 minutes


Review: Despite fantastic performances, ‘The Ravine’ takes a turn for the worse.

presents

In THE RAVINE, when an unspeakable crime rocks a peaceful community, family and friends are left to wonder if they overlooked the murderer among them or if there might be more to the story. Inspired by true events, this haunting thriller stars Eric Dane, Teri Polo, Peter Facinelli, and Leslie Uggams.


Based on a true story, The Ravine skillfully creates a tense atmosphere. The film opens to ominous phone messages, tight-knit relationships, and one pulse-pounding vignette. It’s a familiar panic for someone who has lost a friend in the prime of their life; the unanswered phone tag, the swirl of shock, and unadulterated, unfiltered emotion. Performances are heartbreaking from the children to the adults. They are raw and riveting. All these positive aspects cannot save the film from a failed ending.

Director Keoni Waxman writes the script based on Robert and Kelly Pascuzzi‘s novel of the same name. Its structure utilizes flashbacks and present-day fallout. Through police work, past regressions, and the unexpected introduction of a gifted and religious psychic, The Ravine takes a turn in genre and never fully recovers. The script leans on religious redemption in the end, but the audience does not expect the hard right turn in the narrative. As a choice in storytelling, regardless of how close these depictions are to true events, it doesn’t match with the repetitive scenes of violence. The final 20+ minutes of the moment-by-moment explanation felt rushed and overwhelming. For a film that begins like an episode of True DetectiveThe Ravine ends in a preachy manner. It soured the entire experience. 


Cinedigm will release THE RAVINE in theaters and on Demand and Digital on May 6, 2022.


 
The film stars Eric Dane (“Euphoria”), Teri Polo (Meet the Parents), Peter Facinelli (The Vanished), Byron Mann (The Big Short), Leslie Uggams (Deadpool), and Kyle Lowder (“Days of Our Live”).

THE RAVINE was written and directed by Keoni Waxman (The Hard Way). It was co-written with Kelly Pascuzzi and Robert Pascuzzi whose book “THE RAVINE” is the basis for the film.


Review: Malin Akerman and Lorenza Izzo star in the taut thriller ‘THE AVIARY.’

THE AVIARY

SYNOPSIS: Malin Akerman and Chris Messina star in the twisted journey of two women’s desperate flee to escape the clutches of Skylight, an insidious cult. Lured in by the promise of “freedom” in the isolated desert campus called “The Aviary”, Jillian (Akerman) and Blair (Lorenzo Izzo) join forces to escape in hopes of real freedom. Consumed by fear and paranoia, they can’t shake the feeling that they are being followed by the cult’s leader, Seth (Messina), a man as seductive as he is controlling. The more distance the pair gains from the cult, the more Seth holds control of their minds. With supplies dwindling and their senses failing, Jillian and Blair are faced with a horrifying question: how do you run from an enemy who lives inside your head?


Two women attempt to escape a cult by hiking through the desert. When plans go awry, deception, confusion, and brainwashing pit them against one another. 

While we only see Chris Messina as cult leader Seth in brief moments, they are undoubtedly impactful. With his calm yet persuasive demeanor, it is easy to see why these characters fell under his spell from the very beginning. Lorenza Izzo plays Blair with unbridled, vibrating energy that is captivating. You clock every single beat in her eyes. Malin Akerman‘s confidence as Jillian makes her a perfect foil for Izzo. Akerman walks a fine line between vulnerable and secretive. She’s frighteningly good. 

The screenplay’s wordplay, score, and scene blocking heightened every moment. There was never a dull moment. The endless mindfuckery rubbed my nerves raw. I found I had left fingernail impressions on my palms without realizing it. The paranoia and tension in the dialogue had my head spinning. Are these women gaslighting one another, is one of them a villain and is this even real? These are some of the questions I had while sorting through the madness that is The Aviary

You cannot ignore the comparisons with Scientology and Rajneeshees. The final 20 minutes had me on the edge of my seat. If you think you know where this story is going, think again. The Aviary is a whirlwind of manipulative tactics. It’s fantastic. 


In Theaters, on Digital, and On Demand April 29, 2022


WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY: Chris Cullari & Jennifer Raite

STARRING: Malin Akerman, Lorenza Izzo, Chris Messina, Sandrine Holt

RUN TIME: 96 minutes

RATING: Rated R for language and some violent content.

GENRE: Thriller


OPENING THEATERS INCLUDE:

NEW YORK CITY – Cinema Village

LOS ANGELES – Lumiere Cinema

 

ATLANTA – Studio Movie Grill Marietta

CLEVELAND – Atlas Diamond Center

DETROIT – Emagine Royal Oak

HOUSTON – Studio Movie Grill Pearland

MINNEAPOLIS – Emagine Eagan

ORLANDO – Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk

PHILADELPHIA – Westown Movies

TAMPA – Studio Movie Grill Seminole


Review: Family-friendly folklore ‘Jesse and The Elf Boy’ is available now.

A teenager becomes a renowned hairstylist with the help of an unexpected friend – a forest elf.

Inspired by Scottish legend, this feel-good comedy follows the antics of the solitary forest elf Ghillie Dhu who becomes friends with a girl lost in the woods. When she is unexpectedly whisked away by her mother, a forlorn Ghillie sets out on a quest to find his lost companion. Years later, in the city, Ghillie meets Jessie Macrae, a plucky teenager determined to win favor with her high-flying mother by becoming a renowned hairstylist. When Jessie discovers that Ghillie has a gift for hairstyling, they strike up a unique partnership which causes chaos for the manager of the chic hair salon and catapults Jessie to fame. Thanks to Ghillie, Jessie’s dreams are within reach, but will this meeting of two worlds be enough to overcome the deep hurts of broken relationships through the generations?


A spirited, family-friendly film with notes of Peter Pan whimsy, Jesse and the Elf Boy brings laughter and unexpected depth. The script is a sweet story of friendship, loyalty, family dynamics, and a bit of magic. 

While perhaps a tad random, with the premise that Jesse is a hairstylist, the film has a similar vibe to Edward Scissorhands with a touch of Rumplestiltskin. Performances illicit genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. The script teems with kooky, larger-than-life characters that will make audiences, young and old, giggle. The score from David Shaw is lovely. The standout costume belongs to Ghillie Dhu. It perfectly evokes a childlike wonder, if not a bit noisy for the sound editing. Whittle dons it with an ease that makes it believable.  

Julia Brown is phenomenally charming as Jesse. Her chemistry with Whittle makes for an easy watch. Speaking of our other titular character, Huck Whittle plays Ghillie with a darling innocence. Reminiscent of Jeremy Sumpter in Peter Pan (2003), Whittle is a star.

Getting to the main plot of a mother-daughter reconnection is a bit convoluted, as there are a handful of subplots. But, if you let that go, you’ll be completely charmed. The final reveal makes any inconsistencies worth the watch. 


https://fellowshipfilm.com/


21 eclectic films featuring a rabbit… ya know, for Easter.

Could we put together a cuddly list of family-friendly Easter films? Probably. But where’s the fun in that? Here is a list of films where a rabbit is featured in one way or another. Most are straightforward. A few, well, I guess you’ll have to watch them and figure out why they’re there. Happy Easter, and happy hunting for those pesky wabbits.


Space Jam

Swackhammer (Danny DeVito), an evil alien theme park owner, needs a new attraction at Moron Mountain. When his gang, the Nerdlucks, heads to Earth to kidnap Bugs Bunny (Billy West) and the Looney Tunes, Bugs challenges them to a basketball game to determine their fate. The aliens agree, but they steal the powers of NBA basketball players, including Larry Bird (Larry Bird) and Charles Barkley (Charles Barkley) — so Bugs gets some help from superstar Michael Jordan (Michael Jordan).


Fantastic Mr. Fox

After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids the farms of their human neighbors, Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Giving in to his animal instincts endangers not only his marriage but also the lives of his family and their animal friends. When the farmers force Mr. Fox and company deep underground, he has to resort to his natural craftiness to rise above the opposition.


The Matrix

Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the most dangerous man alive, can answer his question — What is the Matrix? Neo is contacted by Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), a beautiful stranger who leads him into an underworld where he meets Morpheus. They fight a brutal battle for their lives against a cadre of viciously intelligent secret agents. It is a truth that could cost Neo something more precious than his life.


Us

Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them.


Peter Rabbit

Peter Rabbit and his three sisters — Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail — enjoy spending their days in Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden. When one of McGregor’s relatives suddenly moves in, he’s less than thrilled to discover a family of rabbits in his new home. A battle of wills soon breaks out as the new owner hatches scheme after scheme to get rid of Peter — a resourceful rabbit who proves to be a worthy and wily opponent.


WATERSHIP DOWN

When a young rabbit named Fiver (Richard Briers) has a prophetic vision that the end of his warren is near, he persuades seven other rabbits to leave with him in search of a new home. Several obstacles impede their progress, including predators, a rat-filled cemetery, and a speeding river. Upon arriving at their final destination, a hill dubbed Watership Down, the rabbits find that their journey is still far from over. Realistically drawn, this British animated film carries an emotional weight.


Donnie Darko

During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days. When Donnie returns home, he finds that a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom. Is Donnie living in a parallel universe, is he suffering from mental illness – or will the world really end?


Miss Potter

Based on the life of early 20th-century author Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit. As a young woman Potter rails against her parents’ wishes for her to marry and settle down. Instead, she continues to write about and draw the animals she has adored since childhood. Her early attempts to find a publisher for her children’s stories are unsuccessful, but an offer from a small firm will turn her into a literary phenomenon.


Night of the Lepus (1972)

Arizona rancher Cole Hillman (Rory Calhoun), dealing with massive rabbit overpopulation on his land, calls on a local college president, Elgin Clark (DeForest Kelley), to help him. In order to humanely resolve the matter, Elgin brings in researchers Roy (Stuart Whitman) and Gerry Bennett (Janet Leigh), who inject the rabbits with chemicals. However, they fail to anticipate the consequences of their actions. A breed of giant mutant rabbits emerges and starts killing every human in sight.


Harvey

Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) is a wealthy drunk who starts having visions of a giant rabbit named Harvey. Elwood lives with his sister Veta (Josephine Hull) and her daughter (Victoria Horne), and Veta worries that Elwood has gone insane. In the process of trying to have him committed, Veta admits that she occasionally sees Harvey herself. The director of the mental home, Dr. Chumley (Cecil Kellaway), tries to reconcile his duty to help Elwood with his own growing experiences with Harvey.


Zootopia

From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a wily fox who makes her job even harder.


Fatal Attraction

For Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas), life is good. He is on the rise at his New York law firm, is happily married to his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), and has a loving daughter. But, after a casual fling with a sultry book editor named Alex (Glenn Close), everything changes. Jilted by Dan, Alex becomes unstable, her behavior escalating from aggressive pursuit to obsessive stalking. Dan realizes that his main problem is not hiding his affair, but rather saving himself and his family.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Down-on-his-luck private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) gets hired by cartoon producer R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) to investigate an adultery scandal involving Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner), the sultry wife of Maroon’s biggest star, Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer). But when Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), Jessica’s alleged paramour and the owner of Toontown, is found murdered, the villainous Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) vows to catch and destroy Roger.


Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The plucky characters from a series of animated shorts, Wallace (Peter Sallis) and his dog, Gromit, make their feature debut here. After starting a pest control business, the duo soon lands a job from the alluring Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) to stop a giant rabbit from destroying the town‘s crops. Both Wallace and the stuffy Victor (Ralph Fiennes) vie for the lady’s affections. If Wallace wants to please his pretty client, and best Victor, he needs to capture that pesky bunny.

The Favourite

In the early 18th century, England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne, and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.


Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s beloved fantasy tale is brought to life in this Disney animated classic. When Alice (Kathryn Beaumont), a restless young British girl, falls down a rabbit hole, she enters a magical world. There she encounters an odd assortment of characters, including the grinning Cheshire Cat (Sterling Holloway) and the goofy Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn). When Alice ends up in the court of the tyrannical Queen of Hearts (Verna Felton), she must stay on the ruler’s good side — or risk losing her head.


Jojo Rabbit

Jojo is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.


Caveat

A desperate drifter suffering from partial memory loss agrees to look after his landlord’s psychologically troubled niece in an isolated island mansion.


HOP

Beneath Easter Island, in a giant factory that manufactures the world’s Easter candy, the popular rabbit is preparing to pass the mantle to his son, E.B. (Russell Brand). But E.B. has no interest in the job and would rather be a drummer. He runs away to Los Angeles, where an unemployed slacker named Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) accidentally runs into him. Feigning injury, E.B. tricks Fred into giving him shelter, but an oversized chick is planning a coup back on Easter Island.


Monty Python and The Holy Grail

A comedic send-up of the grim circumstances of the Middle Ages as told through the story of King Arthur and framed by a modern-day murder investigation. When the mythical king of the Britons leads his knights on a quest for the Holy Grail, they face a wide array of horrors, including a persistent Black Knight, a three-headed giant, a cadre of shrubbery-challenged knights, the perilous Castle Anthrax, a killer rabbit, a house of virgins, and a handful of rude Frenchmen.


A Christmas A Story

(Don’t argue with me, this film 100% falls under this odd list. In fact, it’s the second film with a hideous bunny suit.)

Based on the humorous writings of author Jean Shepherd, this beloved holiday movie follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley), who spends most of his time dodging a bully (Zack Ward) and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a “Red Ryder air rifle.” Frequently at odds with his cranky dad (Darren McGavin) but comforted by his doting mother (Melinda Dillon), Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact.


HOPPY EASTER


Review: ‘WYRMWOOD APOCALYPSE’ screams franchise potential.

WYRMWOOD: APOCALYPSE

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


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

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

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

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


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


Genre: Horror

Country: Australia

Runtime: 90 mins

Year: 2022

Language: English

Rated: NA


Review: Mayim Bialik’s directorial debut ‘As They Made Us’ is relatable in its drama.

AS THEY MADE US

As They Made Us follows Abigail (Agron), a divorced mother of two, who is struggling to find sanity in her dysfunctional family as she attempts to cultivate new love. Her father, Eugene (Hoffman), has a degenerative condition that he and his wife, Barbara (Bergen), refuse to accept. Her brother Nathan (Helberg) has been estranged from the family for decades. A self-appointed fixer, Abigail attempts to mend her complicated family before it’s too late.


Mayim Bialik‘s feature debut packs an emotional punch. As They Made Us feels like a fresh wound for anyone with childhood trauma. Brilliantly structured with flashbacks and present-day chaos, Bialik weaves a portrait of a family existing in turmoil. 

Simon Helberg plays the son who escaped the weight of negativity. Estranged from the family, he leaves Abigail (Agron) behind to take the brunt of the aggression. Helberg plays a vastly different role from Bialik’s costar on The Big Bang Theory, and her script allows Helberg to show his range. Dustin Hoffman is patriarch Eugene. Navigating his cognitive decline, Hoffman plays dual roles in a way. At times, happy go lucky and defiant, others violent and loud. His journey is the most outwardly complex. Candace Bergen is the epitome of Jewish mother cliches, with a real mean streak. She lands somewhere in between abrasive and meddling. Still managing to be charming, Bergen brings heightened energy to the film. 

Dianna Agron is the default child, the emotional packhorse. Taking on caregiver roles that ought to belong to Bergen’s Barbara, Agron must shift between daughter, nurse, and wife roles to ease Eugene’s suffering. These are all at her own cost as she carries these scars. Agron is the star of this film. Even with Hoffman and Bergen, she steals the show. Her exhaustion is palpable. 

The family’s Jewish faith is a significant plot point. It becomes a large part of Abigail’s coping mechanisms, parenting, and healing. The character reminds me a lot of my Mother. Replace Judaism with Catholicism, and I’ve witnessed this same story play out a generation before. As They Made Us speaks volumes in roughly 90 minutes. Tackling forgiveness, acceptance, and mortality, Bialik’s voice as a filmmaker is pretty striking for her first time out. I am eager to see what comes next.



OPENS APRIL 8, 2022
IN THEATERS AND DIGITAL / VOD


Writer & Director: Mayim Bialik

Cast: Dianna Agron and Simon Helberg, with Candice Bergen, Dustin Hoffman, Justin Chu Cary, Charlie Weber, and Julian Gant

Producers:  Jordan Beckerman, Ash Christian, Anne Clements, Michael Day, Jordan Yale Levine, Mark Maxey

Runtime Time: 96 minutes

Rated: R for language


 

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

NITRAM

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


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

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


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

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


 

Review: Chris Pine helmed action thriller ‘The Contractor’ has franchise potential.

THE CONTRACTOR

SYNOPSIS: Chris Pine stars in the action-packed thriller as Special Forces Sergeant James Harper, who is involuntarily discharged from the Army and cut-off from his pension. In debt, out of options and desperate to provide for his family, Harper contracts with a private underground military force. When the very first assignment goes awry, the elite soldier finds himself hunted and on the run, caught in a dangerous conspiracy and fighting to stay alive long enough to get home and uncover the true motives of those who betrayed him. Also starring Kiefer Sutherland, Ben Foster, Gillian Jacobs and Eddie Marsan.


If you’re a fan of hit franchise films like The Bourne Identity and TakenTarik Saleh’s new film The Contractor is right in your wheelhouse. J. P. Davis’ script gives us a top-tier espionage and black ops storyline, creating an emotionally taut thriller with Chris Pine as our hero.

Keifer Sutherland does his effortless badass thing, and you’ll be on your toes every second he’s on screen. Ben Foster, who I attended Interlochen Arts Camp with when we were young, is a star yet again. Ben has that “it” factor. I knew it the second I met him. As Mike, Pines’ former Sargent and best friend, he’s charming and funny. He, too, handles the physical aspects of the film like an expert. You cannot help but focus on Foster when he appears onscreen. His presence is undeniable. 

Chris Pine gives James Harper all the qualities we need. Harper is a fully fleshed-out, flawed human being. He’s layered and complex, and Pine gives him life. The action sequences are just as hard-hitting as the emotional ones. It should come as no surprise, given Pine’s natural ability to pull you into any role. I’d love to see The Contractor become its own franchise. Pine has the chops. 

The film’s plot comes at an auspicious time in history. To give any more detail would be spoiling it for the audience. The fight choreography is enthralling. The twists and turns and emotional impact glue you to your seat. The Contractor is a solid action thriller with the heart to back it up. You can catch the film in theaters, Digital, and On-Demand on April 1st.

IN THEATERS, ON DIGITAL AND ON DEMAND: April 1, 2022
DIRECTOR: Tarik Saleh
WRITER: J.P. Davis
CAST: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gillian Jacobs, Eddie Marsan, JD Pardo, Florian Munteanu and Kiefer Sutherland
RUN TIME: 103 minutes
RATING: R for violence and language
GENRE: Action, Thriller

DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures


Review: Feminist horror ‘THE YELLOW WALLPAPER’ available today on Digital release.

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER

The debut film THE YELLOW WALLPAPER from creative duo—Alexandra Loreth and Kevin Pontuti—is a chilling and boldly original vision of madness. Jane, a writer and young mother, is prescribed a rest treatment by her physician husband John, who takes her to a remote country estate for the summer. She becomes obsessed with the peculiar yellow wallpaper in the bedroom he has chosen for her. In her isolation, she secretly writes about a woman trapped in the wallpaper—that she must free.


Opening with a disturbing turn, The Yellow Wallpaper is a slow burn horror about Postpartum Depression and gaslighting. New mother Jane and her physician husband rent a summer home in hopes of settling Jane’s nerves after giving birth. Jane becomes obsessed with the wallpaper in the couple’s bedroom. As her behavior becomes more and more erratic, she is less understood by all those around me. Perhaps, it is because they are not truly listening. 

The score from Robert Coburn haunts with heavy, ear-piercing strings, oboe, and maybe even bagpipe? I almost wish there were more music for me to contemplate. Era records, perhaps, to contrast such a purposeful and grating score. The slow, lingering closeups of the titular wallpaper are chilling. The costumes and set are outstanding. Bravo, to the hair and make-up team for their meticulous work. It did not go unnoticed. 

Alexandra Loreth evenly plays Jane with the nuance of PPD topped off with gaslighting. Postpartum depression was not yet a diagnosis in the Elizabethan era. Nor is it acknowledged as much as it should be today, quite frankly. Loreth’s voiceovers are a nice reprieve from the predominant silence. Her performance hits its peak as her isolation and writings increase. The faster editing and closeups help greatly. 

While the film opens with a bang, that same energy feels sapped in the one hour and forty minutes runtime. The Yellow Wallpaper would benefit from a 20 to 30-minute cut. I found myself glancing at the clock more than once. The final 20 minutes are, by far, the most intriguing. The variation and mounting intensity make The Yellow Wallpaper meaningfully upsetting. Loreth and director Kevin Pontuti penned the screenplay together. There’s a lot of depth and potential. You could easily make this a franchise with some tweaking. 


 

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is a dark and disturbing contemporary adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s well-known and controversial gothic feminist horror story about patriarchy and mental health. The film is a collaboration between partners Alexandra Loreth and Kevin Pontuti and stars Alexandra Loreth, Joe Mullins, Clara Hart, and Jeanne O’Connor. The film was written by Alexandra Loreth and Kevin Pontuti and directed by Pontuti. THE YELLOW WALLPAPER has a running time of 99 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA. The film World Premiered at Cinequest followed by a successful festival run. Mutiny Pictures will release the film on March 29.

Review: English language version of animated charmer ‘POUPELLE OF CHIMNEY TOWN’ is coming to VOD, Digital, Blu-ray, & DVD in May.

POUPELLE OF CHIMNEY TOWN

Poupelle of Chimney Town is the story of young Lubicchi living among the thick smoke from the chimneys of his isolated town, yearning to see the “stars” — to know the truth — his father always told him about. One Halloween night he meets Poupelle, a man-made of garbage, and together they look to the sky as their adventure begins. Spectacularly beautiful, filled with inspiring performances and splendid music and sound effects, and produced at Tokyo’s famed STUDIO4ºC, Poupelle of Chimney Town brings laughter, tears, and joy.


Perfect for audiences that like their cartoons dramatic and dark, Poupelle of Chimney Town uses polished Japanese animation to tell a complex story of friendship, acceptance, environmentalism, and– the folly of authoritarian states? 

 While many American audiences are familiar with gripping emotional narratives in animation thanks to Pixar’s penchant for powerful tearjerkers, this film elicits a similar pathos but doesn’t pair that with anything cute or cuddly. Instead, the main character is a lonely, friendless child that befriends a foul-smelling creature literally made of trash. Together, the pair adventure around a smog-blanketed city on a mission to open the hearts and minds of Chimney Town and defy the dystopian mind police roving the neighborhoods and assassinating free thinkers. 

To be honest, I found these all to be heavy concepts for a kids’ movie! My most generous comparison is to the subgenre of dark cartoons from the 1980s like “The Secret of Nimh” or “All Dogs Go to Heaven” which– full disclosure– gave me nightmares for most of my childhood. Like those films, “Poupelle of Chimney Town” has many moments of lighthearted fun, comedic dialogue, friendship, and ultimately a ragtag group of kids fighting to do what’s right. The action sequences borrow visuals from beloved video games with nostalgic effects and are loads of fun in particular. Overall, more sophisticated kids and adults will probably find it all charming; I may be a wimp.


The rights in the U.S. and Canada are controlled by Eleven Arts which has appointed Shout! Factory to handle distribution. The film’s home entertainment release will kick off with a premium VOD outing on May 3, 2022,

Digital download availability from May 17,

and  Blu-ray and DVD combination from May 31.


The English-language voice cast of Tony Hale (“Being the Ricardos,” “Veep”), Antonio Raul Corbo (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), Stephen Root (“Finding Nemo,” “King of the Hill”), Misty Lee (“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order,” “Ultimate Spider-Man”), and Hasan Minhaj (“The Daily Show,” “The Morning Show”).


Review: Charlotte Gainsbourg’s directorial debut ‘Jane By Charlotte’ is a beautiful ode to her mother.

Charlotte Gainsbourg looks at her mother Jane Birkin in a way she never did, overcoming a sense of reserve. Using a camera lens, they expose themselves to each other, begin to step back, leaving space for a mother-daughter relationship.


A love letter from a daughter to mother, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s directorial debut, Jane By Charlotte, is one of the most intimate looks at the international icon, Jane Birkin. Through photographs, home movies, and quiet, casual sit-down interviews, we learn things about Jane right along with Charlotte. It is as if we are experiencing the same revelations. Seeing Jane and Charlotte perform, you’d never guess they were so soft-spoken in real life. There’s breezy energy about the film that is difficult to describe. As a mother, it touched me in a very personal way. At 41, I’m only just becoming comfortable with questions like Charlotte asks of Jane. As an American, I acknowledge the cultural differences with which we discuss intimacy. In the conversations between Jane and Charlotte, I am in awe of their relationship. Will I be more comfortable having such an open line of communication with my daughter? My daughter, also named Charlotte, is just about to turn five, but it is something I aspire to attain.

Jane and Charlotte find common ground in parenting styles and celebrity. They speak openly about Jane’s lifelong dependency on sleeping pills, inspiration for songs, and her various marriages. The loss of her daughter Kate was perhaps the most impactful event in her life. The grief she carries is palpable. Jane and Charlotte discuss maternal guilt. It’s one of the most poignant through lines in the film. Charlotte’s eye and adoration for her mother are written all over this doc. It’s a lovely ode to a beloved icon from a daughter who continues to idolize her. As a mother, Jane By Charlotte has a revelatory feeling of intimacy. Gainsbourgs documentary makes me jealous in the best way possible.


Opens Friday, March 18th at the Quad Cinema in New York and
March 25th at the Landmark Westwood in Los Angeles
Expands to additional cities in April + Available on Digital May 6th (Mother’s Day weekend)


About Jane Birkin
A native of London, Jane Birkin began her career as an actress appearing in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (1966), and Kaleidoscope (1966). In 1968, she began a years-long working and personal relationship with Serge Gainsbourg; The duo released their debut album Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg in 1969, and Birkin also appeared in the film Je t’aime moi non plus (1976) under Gainsbourg’s direction. Birkin later starred in the Agatha Christie adaptations Death on the Nile (1978), and Evil Under the Sun (1982), and continued to work as both an actress and a singer, appearing in various independent films and recording numerous solo albums. In 1991, she appeared in the miniseries “Red Fox,” and in the American drama film, A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries in 1998. Having lived primarily in France since the 1970s, Birkin is the mother of photographer Kate Barry, actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, and musician Lou Doillon.

About Charlotte Gainsbourg
Charlotte Gainsbourg grew up on film sets as both of her parents, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, were involved in the film industry. At the age of 13, she debuted in her first motion picture playing Catherine Deneuve’s daughter in the film Paroles et Musiques. In 1986, Charlotte won a César Award for Most Promising Actress for An Impudent Girl. That same year she appeared in the film Charlotte For Ever written and directed by Charlotte’s father Serge Gainsbourg. From 1988 until today, Charlotte expanded her career with various projects such as The Cement Garden, Jane Eyre, 21 Grams, Ma Femme Est Actrice, I’m Not There, The Science of Sleep, Golden Door, The Tree, Samba, Mon Chien Stupide, and Lars von Triers’ films Melancholia, Antichrist and Nymphomaniac. In 2009, she won the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for Antichrist. While Charlotte has been working on film projects, she led another rich career in Music as a singer and a composer and released several albums: Charlotte for Ever (1986), 5:55 (2006), IRM (2009), Stage Whisper (2011), Rest (2017).


 

Review: Mickey Keating’s ‘OFFSEASON’ is selling scary from start to finish.

OFFSEASON

Upon receiving a mysterious letter that her mother’s gravesite has been vandalized, Marie quickly returns to the isolated offshore island where her late mother is buried. When she arrives, she discovers that the island is closing for the offseason with the bridges raised until Spring, leaving her stranded. One strange interaction with the local townspeople after another, Marie soon realizes that something is not quite right in this small town. She must unveil the mystery behind her mother’s troubled past in order to make it out alive.


What makes this film so unsettling is a brilliant mix of Shawn Duffy‘s heightened sound editing, Shayfer James‘ music selection, and isolated locations. If you’re a genre fan, particularly gaming-wise, OffSeason is like watching Marie walk through a new live-action version of Silent Hill, down to the radio, the flashlight, and the fog. As short bursts of information are leaked to us through flashbacks, Marie is trapped in a nightmare.

Melora Walters as Ava is powerful in her manic behavior. She’s such a presence in any role. This casting was perfect. Richard Brake is brilliant. He’s so nonchalantly terrifying you’re just mesmerized by his performance. Jeremy Gardner is one of the best parts of this film. He’s a savior figure cloaked in mystery. His delivery of dialogue drives the greater mystery forward. He is an integral piece to this gothic puzzle. Jocelin Donahue has anxiety written all over her face. She has this throwback horror look from the hair, to the wardrobe, giving the entire film a timeless feel.

Mac Fisken‘s cinematography is amazing. The long lingering shots, the close-ups, and the static camera work are stunning. Watching the actors run into view and away again is such an effective stylistic choice. Writer-director Mickey Keating‘s creation lives and breathes in the audience’s ability to take the ride. I actually went back and watched the beginning again and there is one very Ari Aster moment. Keating smartly gives you a visual reference but it’s tricky to decipher right off the bat. OffSeason is worth multiple viewings. Make sure to have your volume turned up when you do.


In Select Theaters, On Demand and Digital:
 March 11, 2022


Starring: 
Jocelin Donahue, Joe Swanberg, Richard Brake, Melora Walters, Jeremy Gardner
Directed and Written By:
Mickey Keating
Run Time: 83 minutes | Rating: Not Rated


Review: The one reason to watch ‘Gasoline Alley’… Devon Sawa.

GASOLINE ALLEY


Devon Sawa plays Jimmy Jayne, a tattoo parlor owner with a cop’s instinct in his blood. When he becomes the main suspect in the brutal murder of three sex workers, he does the legwork detectives are ignoring.

Luke Wilson plays detective Freddy Vargas with a vigor and smartass attitude. It rings awkward most of the time, especially set against Sawa’s rebel do-gooder. Knowing Wilson’s abilities, I don’t blame this on him. As for Bruce Willis as Detective Freeman, if he is on-screen all of ten minutes, I’d be surprised. His name still has pull, despite the string of mediocre (and cop-centric) roles over the past few years. In truth, it could have been any actor.

Devon Sawa is a chameleon. Every role in the past few years, and there have been A LOT, Sawa has fully immersed himself. He’s just so good at what he does. Even surrounded by Wilson and Willis, there’s no denying Gasoline Alley is his vehicle. He’s a certified badass. I would love to see him in a Punisher reboot. I know, I know that sounds insane. But he’s got the chops for a franchise of that ilk. 

Emotional revenge propels the script forward. Although, if I’m being honest, I found myself getting bored and distracted when Sawa wasn’t speaking. The film feels convoluted until the final 30 minutes, and then it’s an avalanche of violence. It’s almost videogame cliché. As a whole, Gasoline Alley feels long, but Sawa earns every single frame.


GASOLINE ALLEY

In Theaters, Digital, and On Demand February 25, 2022


Review: ‘KING KNIGHT’ is an unlikely story of self-acceptance.

KING KNIGHT

SYNOPSIS: “Thorn (CRIMINAL MINDS’ Matthew Gray Gubler) and Willow appear to have it all as the revered high priest and priestess of a coven of new-age witches. But a secret from Thorn’s past throws their lives into turmoil and sends them on a trippy, hilarious journey.”


Committed coven leader Thorn is hiding a secret. How will his partner Willow and fellow coven members react when the truth comes to light? King Knight is a film about acceptance and growth against the backdrop of Wiccan comedy. Yes, Wiccan comedy. 

Writer-director Richard Bates, Jr. flips the script on societal norms with a humor reminiscent of Christopher Guest’s films. King Knight has a killer ensemble cast. The eclectic nature of the members will make you grin, with each actor given their time to shine. A highlight performance comes from Barbara Crampton as Thorn’s mother, and it’s simply magic. The horror icon, who seems to appear in one film after another without a break, can do no wrong in my eyes. She is hilarious in her brief but memorable screentime. 

Angela Sarafyan as Willow is delicious. She’s ethereal and grounded. Is she a practicing Wiccan? You could have fooled me. Her energy counters Gubler with the ease we needed. Matthew Gray Gubler as Thorn is fantastic. His dedication to the absurdity of the script draws you into King Knight. He’s suave and funny, and I want more of him on my screen. I would watch him dance any day of the week.

It’s easy to see why this was a Fantasia 2021 selection. The use of tarot cards as transition devices is super slick. Quirky and colorful animation adds another element of cool. Oh, the soundtrack is fire, as the kids say. While it struggles a tad from pacing issues, King Knight is a perfectly weird and fun film.


In Select Theaters, On Demand and Digital:
February 17, 2022
Starring:
Matthew Gray Gubler, Angela Sarafyan, Andy Milonakis, Kate Comer, Johnny Pemberton, Josh Fadem, Nelson Franklin, Emily Chang, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Swati Kapila, Shane Brady, AnnaLynne McCord, Alice Glass, with Barbara Crampton, and Ray Wise
Directed and Written By:
Richard Bates, Jr. 
 
Run Time: 81 minutes | Rating: Not Rated