HBO Original review: Heed the warning and relive the trauma as never before seen footage in Ed Perkins’ stunning doc ‘THE PRINCESS’ flags the danger of history repeating itself.

‘The HBO Original documentary film THE PRINCESS is an intimate and immersive look at the life of Princess Diana, directed by Academy Award® nominee Ed Perkins (“Black Sheep” “Tell Me Who I Am”) and produced by Lightbox, Academy Award®-winning Simon Chinn (“Man on Wire” “Searching for Sugar Man”) and Emmy®-winning Jonathan Chinn (“LA92” HBO’s “Tina”). The film debuts on SATURDAY, AUGUST 13 (8:00-9:50 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death, and will be available to stream on HBO Max. THE PRINCESS had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. HBO Documentary Films presents THE PRINCESS, in association with SKY, produced by Lightbox. Directed by Ed Perkins; produced by Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn; editors, Jinx Godfrey and Daniel Lapira; co-producer, Vanessa Tovell. For HBO: coordinating producer, Anna Klein; executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.


The precise moment I realized what was happening in the opening footage of The Princess, my blood ran cold. The tragedy of Diana, Princess of Wales is something I’ve always held close to my heart. I remember the morning of her death like it was yesterday. My mother entered my bedroom, speechless, holding up the headline on the front page. I had Princess Diana paper dolls as a child. The booklet contained a replica of the crown she wore at her wedding. I mourned her like so many across the globe, understanding her cultural impact even more as my father and I watched her funeral live. I’d never seen him weep before that day. 

The film chronicles Diana’s life in the media from the days before her engagement until her horrific death. There are no talking heads, no overarching narration, simply thousands of hours of archival footage edited together with care and great intention. Studying the body language of Diana, Charles, and the royal family is fascinating. The commentary comes in the form of media voiceovers that are equally adoring and scathing. Feeling as if we know Diana and understanding the revelations that have since come to light, I was seething as I witnessed the treatment of an uncaring husband and the fickle media. 

The score is breathtaking. The editing is an award-worthy triumph. Watching the downward spiral of a young woman thrown to the wolves is daunting. I found myself shaking my head, filled with sadness and anger at those who failed spectacularly to protect her. And therein lies the double-edged sword of this film. Our obsession with a woman so special and fascinating makes us accomplices. The Princess is a cautionary tale as relevant today as it was then. Maybe more so. Harry and Meghan deserve more respect than we ever showed his mother and equal parts adoration for the change they are trying desperately to implement in a family stuck in the dark ages. We, the audience and fellow human beings, must remind ourselves to take a step back and let them live their lives in peace. 

HBO ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY THE PRINCESS 
Debuting SATURDAY on HBO & HBO Max (8:00-9:50 p.m. ET/PT)

Review: Diane Keaton stars in ‘Mack & Rita,’ a coming-of-age story that’s as heartfelt as it is hilarious.

MACK & RITA

The most unexpected coming-of-age film, quite literally. 70 is the new 30 as far as writer Mack is concerned. She’d rather stay home and nap than suffer through any Gen Z activity. While attending her best friend Carla’s bachelorette party, Mack reaches her introvert wit’s end. Seeking respite, she wanders into the tent of a past life “guru” only to bring her inner maturity to life. Enter Aunt Rita. Now, unexpectedly hip on the internet, Mack must navigate between influencer status and her true self.

Simon Rex brings a brilliant eccentricity to Luca. Patti Harrison is hilarious as Mack’s agent, Stephanie, especially since 75% of her role happens via facetime. Sharp-eared cinephiles will catch a voice cameo from Martin Short, bringing Father Of The Bride costars back together for a trippy encounter.

Elizabeth Lail, as Mack, shows us her range. It’s a far cry from her time as Beck in YOU. She’s a sweet delight I can relate with as the mother hen of my group of friends. Taylour Paige plays best friend Carla, and she is darling. Her genuine chemistry with every cast member makes her deliciously watchable.

Dustin Milligan is Jack, Mack’s cute neighbor, with a surprisingly down-to-earth attitude. He’s kind of a dork, and I loved his authenticity. He is the personification of the plot. Milligan’s comfort level with Keaton is beyond charming. Diane Keaton, ladies, and gentlemen. The icon brings all her quirky glory to the role of Aunt Rita. Would I watch her do pilates every day? Yes. Keaton’s physical comedic ability makes Mack and Rita engaging and a breezy watch. It’s a fun film that will undoubtedly connect with audiences of any age and stage.


WIDE THEATRICAL RELEASE ON AUGUST 12, 2022

When 30-year-old self-proclaimed homebody Mack Martin (Elizabeth Lail) reluctantly joins a Palm Springs bachelorette trip for her best friend Carla (Taylour Paige), her inner 70-year-old is released — literally. The frustrated writer and influencer magically transforms into her future self: “Aunt Rita” (Oscar®-winner Diane Keaton). Freed from the constraints of other people’s expectations, Rita comes into her own, becoming an unlikely social media sensation and sparks a tentative romance with Mack’s adorable dog-sitter, Jack (Dustin Milligan). A sparkling comedy with a magical twist, Mack & Rita celebrates being true to yourself at any age.

Directed By: Katie Aselton

Written By: Paul Welsh & Madeline Walter

Starring: Diane Keaton, Taylour Paige, Elizabeth Lail, Loretta Devine, Simon Rex, Dustin Milligan, Amy Hill, Lois Smith, Wendie Malick, Patti Harrison, Martin Short, Addie Weyrich, Aimee Carrero, and Nicole Byer

Produced By: Alex Saks, Diane Keaton, Stephanie Heaton-Harris, Jina Panebianco, and Dori A. Rath

Executive Produced By: Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Jean-Luc De Fanti, R. Wesley Sierk III, Joseph Panebianco, John D. Straley, Jojo Ryder, Lauren Beveridge, Brett Beveridge, Jackie Shenoo, Joseph Restaino


Review: Heart-stopping thriller ‘FALL’ opens in theaters this Friday. Hold on tight.

FALL

What could possibly go wrong attempting to traverse a rusty 2000-foot tower in the middle of nowhere? Only everything. In Scott Mann‘s FALL, Becky is a year out from watching her husband plummet from a climbing mishap before her very eyes. Mired in grief, best friend and climbing partner Hunter convinces her to do the unthinkable to heal. The two plan on climbing the 4th tallest structure in the US while Hunter films it for her budding YouTube channel. One loose screw at a time, and the entire plan goes to hell. FALL will take your breath away. 

The seemingly simple premise becomes one of the most intense and harrowing films I’ve ever seen. I didn’t have a fear of heights before Fall. I sure as hell do now. Every second of this film is a goddamn horror. If there was a moment’s lull, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. (No pun intended.) My heart was in my throat. I was sweating uncontrollably. I went weak in the knees over and over again. FALL is a nonstop cinematic panic attack.

The screenplay by Mann and Jonathan Frank does an impeccable job of wrapping the action in grief, unresolved trauma, forgiveness, and authenticity. The relationship between Becky and Hunter feels like a level playing field until secrets cause additional emotional conflict. It’s a carefully crafted script, many of its moments foreshadowed in the earlier dialogue. Virginia Gardner, who was spectacular in Starfish, plays Hunter with fearless energy. She’s the perfect foil for Grace Caroline Currey. As Becky, she sits in an entirely different headspace. Gardner and Currey’s chemistry is key to the film’s believability. 

The sometimes sparse, menacing score by Tim Despic combined with Alex Joseph and David Barber‘s sharply executed sound editing ramps up the inevitable impending doom we came to experience. The cinematography by MacGregor is a wonder. The juxtaposition of tight close-ups and wide landscape shots fills you with fear, placing you inside the bodies of Becky and Hunter. I cannot stress this enough, FALL deserves a viewing on the widest and tallest screen possible, but even on a laptop, the terror is paralyzing. FALL will take your breath away. Hold on tight.


Lionsgate’s FALL will open on 1200+ screens across the country on Friday, August 12.

This includes all key regional cities including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington DC, Houston, Austin, Boston, Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Seattle, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Orlando, Tampa, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Sacramento and more.

Find a theater near you: https://fandan.co/3cYz8zu

OFFICIAL SITE:  http://www.lionsgate.com/movies/fall

FOLLOW FALL ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
https://www.instagram.com/fallmovie/
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Hashtag: #FallMovie


Review: ‘Bullet Train’ delivers satisfying summer thrills.

BULLET TRAIN

David Leitch’s Bullet Train is not high art, but it’s a damn fine way to spend 126 minutes. There are times in life when you might order a side salad with your meal, but we all know what your heart really wants is the fries. Well, Bullet Train is what happens when the fries are the centerpiece of the meal. It won’t inspire deep revelations about the human condition, but it is a flashy and fun journey that satisfies (just don’t pretend it’s something it’s not.)

 

The plot concerns 5 assassins whose objectives and fates converge on a bullet train speeding from Tokyo to Kyoto. Brad Pitt stars as Ladybug, a hitman in a serious career funk, convinced he’s cursed with bad luck (don’t worry, he’s getting some therapy for it.) Pitt, fresh off his first career Oscar win (Best Supporting Actor, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) seems to be having an absolute blast. Ladybug gets to indulge in more physical comedy than any other character and delivers some of the film’s best lines (“Hurt people hurt people“) The speed with which Pitt can develop easy chemistry with a new co-star is foundational to the success of Bullet Train‘s ensemble.

The rest of the ensemble is stacked with talent (there are also some amazing cameos I won’t spoil.) Zazie Beetz and Bad Bunny hop on for a brief stop or two, to hilarious effect.  Brian Tyree Henry and Aaron Taylor Johnson are excellent as killer brothers, Lemon and Tangerine. Although Lemon’s obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine wears thin at times, his easygoing rapport with Tangerine is one of the film’s greatest strengths. Joey King is less successful as the steely and sociopathic Prince, but she’s not given much to do other than glower and explain her devious plans. Hiroyuki Sanada brings a much-needed seriousness that somewhat balances the otherwise gonzo atmosphere of the film.

Despite the film’s comedic tone, it’s important to acknowledge that is also extremely violent. Barely 5 minutes go by without somebody being shot, stabbed, bitten, gored, or otherwise demolished. The overall comedic attitude of the film does lessen the impact of the violence itself, but nobody would call this a family-friendly movie. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those willing to take the trip,  Bullet Train is an absolutely worthwhile thrill ride. Sometimes it feels good to just order the damn fries.


Release date: August 5, 2022 (USA)
Director: David Leitch
Adapted from: Bullet Train
Cinematography: Jonathan Sela

Fantasia 2022 review: ‘Incredible But True’ is another ludicrously comical creation from filmmaker Quentin Dupieux.

INCREDIBLE BUT TRUE

Quentin Dupieux brings his unique level of absurdity to audiences once again with Fantasia 2022 film Incredible But True. Alain and Marie’s new home comes with one hell of a caveat; a tunnel in the basement that transports the individual 12 hrs forward in time. But that’s not all it does. This sharp comedy manages to be socially relevant through its silliness. 

The meandering dialogue is hilarious and infuriating. Dupieux has characters constantly waiting to get to the damn point already, and you know what? It works like gangbusters. Performances are outstanding across the board. They feel effortless through the profound theme of chasing vanity. His previous films RubberKeep An Eye Out, and Mandibles are cult classics. Incredible But True is a brilliantly bizarre addition to his signature storytelling style. You’ll want it in your Dupieux catalog. 


To find out more about Incredible but true screening at Fantasia 2022 click here!

Incredible But True sees a husband and wife move into a suburban house of their dreams only to discover that a mysterious secret is hidden in the basement, which may change their lives forever.
The quirky French comedy stars Alain Chabat (The Science of Sleep, Mood Indigo), Léa Drucker (Custody, The Man of My Life), Benoît Magimel (The Piano Teacher, Thieves) and Anaïs Demoustier (Sweet Evil, Alice and the Mayor).

Review: Rebecca Hall stars in ‘Resurrection,’ a terrifying portrait of trauma and control.

RESURRECTION

Written and directed by Andrew Semans, Resurrection is the story of one woman’s decades-long torment. When a man from Maggie’s past appears, her perfectly buttoned-up life turns upside down. Maggie’s hyper-structured existence hides severe unresolved trauma. Resurrection is a sick and twisted story of psychological damage and revenge.

Grace Kaufman is Abbie. As a college student, she possesses a casual abandon to her behavior. Her age-appropriate nonchalance is perfectly balanced with Hall’s ever-evolving intensity. Tim Roth is a master manipulator as David. He’s downright frightening. His backstory as a groomer is beyond upsetting. Roth gives off a slimy aura that makes the viewer’s full body cringe. Rebecca Hall‘s performance is immaculate. Hall’s idiosyncrasies are impeccable. Anyone familiar with PTSD will recognize the guarded physicality, the body at attention in a millisecond, and the sudden, sharp tone change in the voice. Panic attacks are all-consuming, and Hall lives inside them throughout the film. But it is her confessional monologue that will split your soul in two. It’s simultaneously heart-wrenching and matter-of-fact.

The heightened sound editing chills the senses. It’s a palpable stress-inducing choice that accosts the audience. You’ll have to remember to breathe while watching Resurrection. Andrew Semans‘ writing astounds me. He understands the fear and gaslighting so many women live with daily, then takes it to the nth degree. It’s also about telling your story. Resurrection is relentlessly terrifying and grossly relevant. Believe women.


RESURRECTION will be released by IFC Films in theaters on July 29th and on Demand on August 5th.  Shudder will be the exclusive streaming home in November 2022.

Screenwriter and director Andrew Semans’ jaw-dropping sophomore feature, RESURRECTION had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Margaret (Rebecca Hall) leads a successful and orderly life, perfectly balancing the demands of her busy career and single parenthood to her fiercely independent daughter Abbie. Everything is under control. But that careful balance is upended when an unwelcome shadow from her past, David (Tim Roth) returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past. Battling her rising fear, Margaret must confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades who has come to conclude their unfinished business.


 

Fantasia 2022 review: ‘The Breach’ is gooey and gruesome.

The Breach

Just before he leaves for the big city, Chief of Police John Hawkins (Allan Hawco) is asked to consult on a strange case. A body is found in a boat on the Porcupine River with unsettling wounds.


Director Rodrigo Gudiño brings the gross and engrossing to Fantasia 2022 with The Breach. A genre mash-up of sorts that’s as gooey as it is mindboggling. When a body washes up on shore, the small-town Chief of Police follows the clues that lead him to an isolated house in the woods. With his pseudo-girlfriend and her ex in tow, the mystery grows deeper (and weirder) with strange writings, the home in shambles, mutilated bodies, and supernatural happenings. 

The film begins with a bang. Sweeping shots of a seemingly abandoned canoe quietly floating down the river. The title is reminiscent of classic horror films like The Blob. We become familiar with the townspeople pulled into this bizarre case. Suddenly the pace feels like it goes off a cliff. 

Here is where I struggled. In the film’s final third, the screenplay takes three very different concepts and tries to mash them together. It was a real head-scratcher for me, as I was all in with the body horror ala The Fly idea. Everything sort of implodes from there. Ian Weir and Craig Davidson‘s screenplay is based on an audible original of the same name by Nick Cutter. (Cutter is Davidson, Davidson is Cutter) It makes me want to go back to the source material to compare the work. 

The best performance comes from Natalie Brown as Laura. She is a mother mired in grief and desperate for answers from her physicist ex-husband. Her vulnerability, anguish, and badassery should be applauded.

Yes, that kickass music you hear is by executive producer and rick legend, Slash. It’s nothing short of epic. Arguably the best aspect of The Breach is the design team. The main set is a spectacularly dressed mess with peeling wallpaper and inches of dust. Practical FX and makeup are literally gag-worthy. These are the things Fantasia audiences eat for breakfast.


Click here for all things Fantasia 2022!


Fantasia 2022 review: ‘Moloch’ brings unique folklore horror to viewers.

MOLOCH

A sinister score from Ella Van Der Woude and sweeping cinematography by Emo Weemhoff immediately let us know we’re in for something truly frightening. Perhaps cyclical in nature, unresolved trauma rears its ugly head in the form of a supernatural creature and a celebrated legend. Moloch is a keenly written and beautifully performed horror.

Sallie Harmsen plays Betriek with an unbridled nuance. Existing in a caretaker role for her mother and young daughter, we are privy to childhood trauma that everyone in town seems to know more about than Betriek. Harmsen is raw and determined. She encapsulates a woman mired in distress.

It’s not an exaggeration to say my mouth was agape at the final reveal. So many seemingly minute details in the script came rushing into my brain. Writer-director Nico Van Den Brink and writer Daan Bakker have given Fantasia 2022 audiences a moody, atmospheric folklore horror. Lucky for Shudder fans, Moloch is now available to stream.


38-year-old Betriek lives at the edge of a peat bog in the North of the Netherlands. When she and her family are attacked by a random stranger one night, Betriek sets out to find an explanation. The more she digs, the more she becomes convinced that she is being hunted by something ancient.

Premieres July 21 on Shudder


Click here for more info on Fantasia 2022!


Review: ‘NOPE’ showcases sights just as much as frights.

NOPE

With Nope, Jordan Peele further solidifies his standing as the modern horror auteur. Who else is making movies like Peele right now? A better question might be, who else do the studios trust to make big budget, non-franchise films like this? (the list is very short.) With his third feature, Peele again delivers on that trust with another compelling narrative that pairs thrills with dazzling cinematography, as well as a willingness to subvert the expectations of his audience.

Siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) Haywood are co-owners of Haywood’s Hollywood Horses, horse trainers serving the entertainment industry and descendants of a proud legacy. They are struggling to keep their heads above water in a competitive, dwindling industry (after all, a CGI horse is way easier to train, right?) They also have to contend with the long reputational shadow of their late father (Keith David), as well as the pressures of their family’s place in cinematic history (legend has it that they are direct decedents of the jockey featured in one of the very first motion pictures.)  When OJ thinks he may have discovered UFO on the edges of their family ranch, he seizes on an opportunity to capture (and profit from) photographic evidence of their discovery.

The cinematography and performances in this film are top-notch. Hoyte Van Hoytema will receive Oscar consideration for his enthralling cinematography. The visuals are equally inspired by westerns and classical blockbuster thrillers. They are the foundation upon which the film’s success is built – especially the last 20 minutes (an absolute white-knuckle thrill ride.)

Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer give tremendous lead performances. Working with Peele for the second time (after 2017’s prolific Get Out), Kaluuya gives a subtle showcase. I can’t get enough of this pairing – I hope they work together 20 more times. Kaluuya’s  OJ is quieter and more introverted than Palmer’s Emerald. Given his screen-time, he has minimal dialogue in the film – most of his performance comes from his eyes, his facial expressions, and his body language. I was reminded of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name character – someone who listened more than he spoke but was deliberate (and often lethal) in his action. Palmer’s Emerald is a ball of kinetic energy but also delivers poignant moments as well (especially in the film’s final act.) The two siblings have an easy, unfussy chemistry with each other.

Steven Yeun is phenomenal in the supporting role of former child star turned ranch/amusement park owner Ricky “Jupe” Park. When he was younger, Ricky was part of a TV sitcom co-starring a chimpanzee named Gordy. A tragedy occurred on set, and Ricky has spent his adulthood profiting off the memory of this trauma. While this incident fits with the film’s overall theme of spectacle (and the ways that humanity tries, and fail, to contain nature) it is an awkward fit. There are some haunting images associated with Ricky’s story (especially a moment where Gordy looks directly into the camera lens), but the resolution of this sub-plot doesn’t fit seamlessly with the action occurring on the Haywood ranch. Perhaps there is a larger intention here from Peele, but it just didn’t connect with me.

Ultimately, Nope showcases Peele delivering on another compelling and thoughtful entry. You’ll be staring at the sky when you walk out of the theater.


NOPE – Only in Theaters 7.22.22

https://www.nope.movie/

“What’s a bad miracle?”

Oscar® winner Jordan Peele disrupted and redefined modern horror with Get Out and then Us. Now, he reimagines the summer movie with a new pop nightmare: the expansive horror epic, Nope.

The film reunites Peele with Oscar® winner Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah), who is joined by Keke Palmer (Hustlers, Alice) and Oscar® nominee Steven Yeun (Minari, Okja) as residents in a lonely gulch of inland California who bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.

Nope, which co-stars Michael Wincott (Hitchcock, Westworld) and Brandon Perea (The OA, American Insurrection), is written and directed by Jordan Peele and is produced by Ian Cooper (Us, Candyman) and Jordan Peele for Monkeypaw Productions. The film will be released by Universal Pictures worldwide.


Fantasia 2022 short film reviews: ‘Deiji Meets Girl’ and ‘Summer Ghost’ are whimsical and complex

Deiji Meets Girl

Deiji meets girl

Sixteen-year-old Maisie Higa works at the front desk of her family’s hotel, and she’s bored out of her mind. Then a familiar-looking teenage boy from Tokyo checks in, and Maisie’s summer break gets weird. She is scrappy, emotional, enthusiastic, and dramatic, and I could not get enough of her. Maisie has the perfect foil in the character of Ichiro Suzuki, who is overly nonchalant and annoyed about their whimsical predicaments. The two offer nonstop laughs and smiles as they experience their ever-evolving surroundings. I would eat this up as a feature. It has a lot of similar qualities as the Prime Video series Upload. In its current micro-series form, Deiji Meets Girl is the perfect lighthearted and creative entry for Fantasia 2022 audiences to enjoy. 


Summer Ghost

This stunning 40 minutes film about mental health comes to us in a gorgeously told mystery. When three young people meet in hopes of catching a glimpse of a local legend of a ghost girl, emotions run high as each carries the weight of sadness only known to them. With an ethereal score from Akira Kosemura and nuanced storytelling, Summer Ghost took my breath away, quite literally. It’s one of those films that run away with your attention before you have a moment to notice the runtime. With thoughtful writing from Otsuichi and a gasp-worthy ending, this one will be with me for a long time.


Both films screen as part of the Anime no Bento 2022 program


 

Fantasia 2022 review: The brutality of ‘Megalomaniac’ is burned into my brain.

MEGALOMANIAC

Offspring of the most notorious and elusive serial killer in Belgium’s history, Martha must navigate her brother taking up the family mantle, working a job where she is the victim of sexual abuse, and the fragility of her sanity. Writer-director Karim Ouelhaj gives Fantasia 2022 audiences one of the most brutal and brilliant films of the year.

The sumptuous score from Gary Moonboots and Simon Fransquet is a push and pull between heaven and hell. The production design and camera work will haunt your nightmares. Simultaneously hideous and magnificent, the vast family mansion Felix and Martha reside in has cracking plaster walls, carved mahogany structures, and a plethora of aggressively posed taxidermy creatures. It’s Dracula’s wet dream.

Actress Eline Schumacher leaves her soul on the screen. The slow, deliberate fracturing of the human psyche is breathtaking. It’s a brave, emotionally wrought, and award-worthy performance.

It’s an understatement to say that the imagery in Megalomaniac made my blood run cold. I winced as I witnessed unapologetic violence on women’s bodies. The fear Martha experiences had a visceral effect on me. The film examines the patriarchal power structure in a heartbreaking and infuriating way. Ouelhaj nails it. The term “triggering” is not one I use often, but Megalomaniac encompasses that word from start to finish. The cyclical nature of evil cannot be denied.


To find out more about Fantasia 2022 click here!


Fantasia 2022 review: Zombies, comedy, remakes, Oh My! ‘Coupez!’ brings bloodbath and laughs.

COUPEZ!

*Full disclosure, I have not seen Shinichiro Ueda‘s One Cut of The Dead (Fantasia 2018). This review is solely my take on COUPEZ!*

An eccentric director who activated a curse in order to get the best film possible? Sounds more like an industry documentary than a horror comedy to me. Coupez! turns filmmaking on its head with a structure that keeps on giving. Do not get comfortable because you’re about to enter the world of money, fame, indulgence, and the ridiculous in three distinct acts. 

Coupez! is unafraid to make fun of the collective zombie/ horror genre. At times, it’s like watching Film Twitter arguing with itself. This meta take on the industry will delight to no end. The handheld camera puts the audience into the action in a one-take, real-time unfolding of hilarious chaos. One can only imagine the amount of rehearsal it required to coordinate. The practical FX are cleverly achieved just out of sight. 

These actors give 200% in this splatterfest. The cast’s unwavering commitment sells this film. Romain Duris as Remi is just trying his best to make the movie he created on the page. But, like Hollywood, everyone has their hand/opinion in the proverbial pot. Duris has an upbeat energy that pulls you into his story. In truth, Coupez! is a masterful ensemble film. The double entendre dialogue never misses. It’s kind of like an amped-up version of Shawn of the Dead meets Noises Off. It was a risky move for writer-director Michel Hazanavicius to bring Coupez! to Fantasia 2022, but a massively successful one.


Click here for all things Fantasia 2022!


Fantasia 2022 review: ‘The Harbinger’ is a waking nightmare.

THE HARBINGER

Mo is taking every precaution possible in lockdown with her father and brother. When summoned to the city by an old friend, Mo’s loyalty takes precedent over her protesting family. She arrives to find a strung-out Mavis claiming something is controlling her dreams. When Mo then begins to have her dreams invaded by a hooded figure in a plague mask, things go from bad to downright terrifying. Writer-director Andy Mitton, who brought The Witch In The Window to Fantasia in 2018, dives headfirst into his new supernatural horror and extra creepy Fantasia 2022 entry, The Harbinger

The script slickly combines historic iconography from the plague to mirror current events and builds upon the concept of mass hysteria and mental health. Mitton introduces demonology and then mixes in the idea of viral internet posts, an issue directly addressed in Jane Schoenbrun‘s brilliant film, We’re All Going To The World’s Fair. Combined with the rapid spread of misinformation, internet challenges like Momo, and urban legends like Slenderman, the spread of evil becomes exponential. But this is really simplifying the fear in The Harbinger

Gabby Beans gives us every ounce of herself as Mo. She is the heartbeat of this plot. Beans brings a grounded vulnerability, and I cannot imagine any other performer in this role. The film has everything and then some. Jarring imagery, thoughtful camera work, cool-as-hell production design, and meticulously placed jump scares keep your pulse pounding as this story unfolds. On top of the authentic terror we all experienced at the beginning of the covid lockdown, The Harbinger is a masterfully crafted, waking nightmare. 


DIRECTOR

Andy Mitton

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Cassidy Freeman, Clark Freeman

PRODUCER

Jay Dunn, Richard W. King

WRITER

Andy Mitton

CAST

Gabby Beans, Cody Braverman, Emily Davis, Ray Anthony Thomas, Myles Walker

CINEMATOGRAPHER

Ludovica Isidori

COMPOSER

Andy Mitton

EDITOR

Andy Mitton

For all things Fantasia 2022 click here!


Review: ‘The Nan Movie’ is a raunchy and rebellious road movie, with genuine heart and humor.

THE NAN MOVIE

Listen, if you’re a fan of Catherine Tate, you’ll constantly smirk while watching the feature version of her iconic character, Joanie Taylor, better known as Nan. After finding out her estranged sister is dying, nephew Jaimie offers to drive her to see her ailing sibling. During the journey, we learn about her childhood, her subsequent falling out with Nell, and the reason Nan’s personality exists in the first place.

Jaimie’s genuine intentions lead Nan to interactions with a varying pool of hilarious people and ridiculous scenarios. Her irreverent behavior never ends. Nan does shots with a rowdy rugby team, attends a rave, and runs from police, just for starters. The clever transitional handcrafted 2D animation sequences are a hilarious ode to Jaime’s occupation and Monty Python. Mathew Horne as Jaime is the perfect foil for Tate. He essentially sits in as the audience in his failed attempts to keep Nan in check, emotionally and politically. Horne is so watchable. He has a natural charm.

It is the first time we hear Nan’s history. And boy, it is quite telling. It also allows Tate to shine her stellar acting skills with varying impressions, accents, and plenty of acerbic wit. You have to wonder how much dialogue is actually written by Tate and Brett Goldstein and how much is Tate’s famous improv abilities.

I first fell in love with her as a Whovian. Anyone who knows Tate’s performance as Donna Noble and, like me, did a deep dive into her extensive career understands what a pure delight she is. If you’ve seen her portrayal of Beatrice alongside David Tennant in the stage version of Much Ado About Nothing in 2011, you know the depths of her talent. Nan allows her to let loose in the most inhibited ways possible. In long form, The Nan Movie is a raunchy and rebellious road movie, with a side genuine of heart and humor. It is an undeniably fun watch, so get ready to sit back, relax, and laugh.


In Theaters and On Demand
July 22

Written by: Catherine Tate and Brett Goldstein (“Ted Lasso”)

Starring:
Catherine Tate (“The Office”, “Doctor Who”)
Mathew Horne (“Agatha Raisin,” “Gavin & Stacey”)
Katherine Parkinson (The Boat That Rocked, “The IT Crowd”)
Parker Sawyers (Southside With YouWorld On Fire)
Tom Vaughn-Lawlor (Avengers: Infinity War, “Peaky Blinders”)
Jack Doolan (“The Boys,” “The Green Green Grass”)
Niky Wardley (“The Catherine Tate Show”)


Fantasia 2022 review: ‘Swallowed’ is any LGBTQ person’s nightmare… and then some.

SWALLOWED

Cooper Koch and Jose Colon play best friends, Benjamin and Dom. In order to send Benjamin off to L.A. with some extra cash, Dom coordinates a drug mule operation that complicates everything. When the packages turn out to be something far more sinister, things get much darker than anyone imagined.

Swallowed is a genre-obliterating film with fantastic performances. Jena Malone adds gritty believability. To no one’s surprise, she manages to bring charm and intensity. Koch and Colon have spectacular chemistry, and you 100 percent buy their relationship. Koch possesses an accessible vulnerability. Colon’s honesty feels grounded. Bravo for their openness to go full frontal nude. We all know how rare that is, and it makes complete sense given the plot. The film also features a solid villainous turn from Mark Patton, a genre legend from A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. One line, in particular, is slyly redemptive given his status in the horror canon.

The camera work has visceral intimacy. Writer-director Carter Smith (The Ruins) gives audiences a unique genre entry, with the leads being LGBTQ male characters in scenarios we usually see female characters tackle. Swallowed is part crime thriller, part coming-of-age, and body horror. This film is an LGBTQ scenario of nightmares. Fantasia 2022 audiences, get ready to squirm.


Click here for all things Fantasia 2022


Fantasia 2022 review: ‘All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms’ is gagworthy arthouse horror.

ALL JACKED UP AND FULL OF WORMS

Writer-director Alex Phillips brings a special kind of WTF to Fantasia 2022 with micro-budget arthouse horror, All Jacked Up and Full of Worms. In a wicked multiple narrative of some seriously messed up people, we are party to some of the sickest storylines we never signed up for. Roscoe, a motel maintenance man in a creepy, sexually adventurous throuple, a mentally ill man named Benny looking to be a father, a violent addict couple, the former pagan member giving an endless interview, and his sex worker daughter all collide. The throughline of these stories is that the characters ingest worms like drugs. The consequences will make you as queasy as you think. If David Cronenberg and Requiem for a Dream had a baby, you might get All Jacked Up and Full of Worms in the bassinet. The likelihood that you’ll be looking around the theatre to check if everyone else is just as horrified as you are incredibly high. Would I recommend you watch high? I’m not not saying it’s a good idea. Films like this bring audiences to Fantasia in the first place. Am I jacked up to see what Alex Phillips does next? Yup.

All Jacked Up and Full of Worms also stars Eva Fellows, Mike Lopez, Carol Rhyu, and Sammy Arechar. The film was produced by Phillips, Georgia Bernstein, and Ben Gojer.


Click here for more information about Fantasia 2022


Review: ‘She Will’ spells witchy revenge for Alice Krige.

SHE WILL

Dario Argento executive produces Charlotte Colbert‘s IFC Midnight title SHE WILL, starring Alice Krige is a role to die for. With the aid of her nurse, Krige plays an aging movie star seeking solitude post-surgery in the Scottish countryside. Following her arrival, spirits from the past take hold, intent on revenge.

Kota Eberhardt, as Desi, holds her own against Krige. Her presence is equally as fierce as her costar. Something about her performance demands your attention. Eberhardt could easily carry a film on her own. Alice Krige is the epitome of genius as Veronica Ghent. The nuance she radiates is breathtaking.

The film possesses a mesmerizing score from Clint Mansell. Something Argento would approve. Jaime Ramsay‘s camera work is dizzying and invasive. The juxtaposition of striking visuals and memory fragments represents unresolved trauma, new and ancient. She Will feels like a victory cry for the #MeToo movement. Slick editing heightens the film’s themes of nature, instinct, suppression of power, and interconnected female experience. Charlotte Colbert‘s debut with co-writer Kitty Percy is a rage-shedding catharsis. She Will is the witchy stuff of dreams.


*IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND FRIDAY, JULY 15*
From Executive Producer Dario Argento
Directed by Charlotte Colbert
Written by Kitty Percy & Charlotte Colbert
Starring Alice Krige, Kota Eberhardt, Malcolm McDowell, Rupert Everett


Netflix review: Avi Nesher’s sweeping Israeli war drama based on true events, ‘Image of Victory,’ releases tomorrow.

IMAGE OF VICTORY

Synopsis:

 Inspired by true events. 1948: Hassanin, an Egyptian filmmaker, is tasked with documenting a raid on the isolated kibbutz Nitzanim. When the kibbutz learns of the impending army raid, Mira, a young but valiant mother, is forced to reckon with the true cost of war and make an impossible choice.


The two diverging stories give us perspectives on each end of the spectrum of war. One glamorized for the media. The other portrays the suffering and survival tactics of everyday existence in the kibbutz. Image of Victory is as relevant today as it was back in 1948, pitting religion, territorial disputes, and tradition against one another. 

The film overflows with fearless female characters, each unique and bold. Joy Rieger plays Mira with undeniable star quality. She is a woman confident in her skin, owning her sexual power. Like most women in Image of Victory, Mira shirks the patriarchal structure. She is an authentic feminist icon. 

Amir Khoury plays Hassanin with eccentric flair. As the sophisticate among soldiers, he is a “fish out of water.” His narration provides a stark contrast to each group’s reality. In truth, Image of Victory is a brilliant ensemble piece. The pure emotion of these characters will remain long after the credits roll. Knowing the film is based on actual events tears at your heart. 

The look of the film is beautiful. The attention to detail, lighting, costumes, and cinematic framing, right down to the closing credits, all scream period era, sweeping drama. The script has everything from war scenes to relationships in which you’re bound to feel invested. A lingering dread looms over the narrative, keeping the audience on their toes. But, the genuine portrayal of humanity at its most desperate keeps you in awe. Isreal’s most expensive production fits perfectly into Netflix’s awards season slate. Image of Victory is the kind of film they need to reel in cinephiles for the long haul. 


Please tune in to Netflix to watch IMAGE OF VICTORY
on Friday, July 15th!
Directed by Avi Nesher (Past Life, The Other Story)
Produced by Ehud Bleiberg (The Band’s Visit, The Iceman)
Screenplay by Avi Nesher
Inspired by true events and story by Liraz Brosh and Ehud Bleiberg
Starring:
Joy Rieger (Best Actress, Vierges, Tribeca 2018)
Amir Khoury (Fauda)
Ala Dakka (Fauda)

Fantasia International Film Festival is back with its 26th edition to rescue us from reality. Here’s what we’re excited to see! #Fantasia2022

It’s no secret that all the best genre films come through Fantasia Film Festival. 2022’s fest comes just in time to distract us from all the actual horrible things happening in the world.

Welcome to a list of things we’re excited about playing this year. Some are already on our best of the year lists and some we anticipate adding. Check out our picks below.

For all things Fantasia Film Festival 2022 stay tuned to Reel News Daily with some special posts from our friends at Unseen Films


Six films we’ve seen at previous festivals and their reviews can be found below. Highly recommend each of them for a myriad of reasons.

Next Exit
Legions
Sissy


Honeycomb
Hypochondriac
Speak No Evil (One of the year’s most brutal films)



FREAKS OUT (Italy)

– Dir: Gabriele Mainetti

Rome, 1943. A pack of sideshow performers with supernatural powers face off against occupying Nazis in the most unusual superhero film you will ever see. This fantastical and gutsy celebration of the different that walks an electrifying tightrope between blockbuster filmmaking and edgier, more subversive genre work. From the director of THEY CALL ME JEEG. Winner of the Leoncino d’Oro at last fall’s Venice Film Festival. Canadian Premiere. 

Sounding like a genre fan’s wet dream, FreaksOut is a priority watch this year.



Princesse Dragon

Bristle is a little girl raised by dragons. But when her father, Dragon, has to pay the Sorcerog using his second most valuable asset, he offers her Bristle – Throwing her into an infinite sadness and forcing her to flee the family cave. Bristle then embarks on a journey to discover the world of men.

Feminist anime? Give it to me all day, every day.


Polaris

Set in 2144 against the harsh backdrop of a frozen wasteland, Sumi, a human child raised by Mama Polar Bear, narrowly escapes capture from a brutal Morad hunting party and sets out across the vast winter landscape. When Sumi stumbles across Frozen Girl, an unlikely friendship is forged and together they race ahead of the vindictive hunters towards the only guiding light Sumi knows, the Polaris star.

All female-led opening film. Sold.


One Cut of the Dead

(French remake of the cult classic)

After opening this year’s Cannes, FINAL CUT (Coupez!), Michel Hazanavicius’s riotous remake of Shinichirou Ueda’s ONE CUT OF THE DEAD, is coming to North America. Starring Romain Duris, Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Finnegan Oldfield, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, and Yoshiko Takehara reprising her beloved role from the original film as a producer, this hilarious ode to the do-or-die spirit of filmmaking is a joy to behold. It is especially noteworthy for the film’s North American journey to be starting at Fantasia, as the festival was among the first to popularize the original Audience Award-winning ONE CUT OF THE DEAD in the West. Poetically, Ueda’s latest, POPRAN, will also be having its North American Premiere at the festival this year. Bet your viewfinder that FINAL CUT is going to bring the house down in cheers. North American Premiere.

Without knowing the original, the buzz around this remake is out of this world. Will it live up to its predecessor? I guess we’ll all find out together.

Huesera

Pregnant with her first child and consumed by terrifying visions, Valeria (Natalia Solián) believes that she may be cursed by a supernatural entity. A brilliant and frightening breakout debut as important as Jennifer Kent’s THE BABADOOK, HUESERA firmly announces Mexico’s Michelle Garza Cervera as one of the leading new voices of the genre. A scorching personal vision that asks complex questions with ferocious honesty, this profound, nightmarish blessing comes to Fantasia hot off its award-winning Tribeca launch and is already one of the most talked-about genre works of the year.  Canadian Premiere. 

A big winner out of Tribeca 22, this is a slick film tackling identity and motherhood in a surprising way. If you’ve ever been pregnant and didn’t love every single second of it, this one will cut extra deep.



Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

Also screening as part of Fantasia’s closing night events will be Halina Reijn’s wildly entertaining and gloriously twisted BODIES BODIES BODIES. A party game leads to murder when young and wealthy friends gather at a remote family mansion in this instant classic comedy horror joyride that maintains a taut balance of uneasy tension and wicked humor. Starring Amandla Stenberg (THE HATE U GIVE), Maria Bakalova (BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM), Myha’la Herrold (INDUSTRY), Rachel Sennott (SHIVA BABY) and comedy superstar Pete Davidson. Special Screening.

When people cannot stop talking about a film, you know you have to see it. Coming to theaters August 5th.

 DIRECTOR: Halina Reijn CAST: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, with Lee Pace and Pete Davidson


Piggy

Laura Galán appears in PIGGY by Carlota Pereda

During the sweltering summertime of rural Spain, Sara carries an extra load of teenage agony due to the perpetual bullying from her peers. She’s also an outsider at home—her parents and little brother just don’t understand her—so, feelings internalized, she’s often found buried in her headphones, drowning out her surroundings. One day, Sara’s usual solo dip at the local pool is disrupted by the presence of a mysterious stranger in the water and an exceptionally grueling bout of abuse at the hands of three girls. But, in a strange twist of fate, along the way home Sara witnesses her bloodied tormentors being kidnapped in the back of the stranger’s van.

Another buzzy title, this one focusing on mean girls and morality is a star vehicle for actress Laura Galán.


The Pez Outlaw

Steve Glew spent the 1990s smuggling rare pez dispensers into the USA from Eastern Europe, making millions of dollars. It was all magical until his arch-nemesis, The Pezident decided to destroy him.

Who wouldn’t want to watch a film about rival pez dispenser smugglers is really the question.


Everybody Goes To The Hosptial (short film)


Based on a true story, EVERYBODY GOES TO THE HOSPITAL is a stop motion animated exploration of physical, psychological, and familial trauma, telling the tale of 4-year-old Little Mata (writer/director Tiffany Kimmel’s mother) as she’s taken to the hospital in late 1963 with appendicitis.

This is s personal pick for me, as someone traumatized by hospitals more than once in my life. The first time was when I was diagnosed with appendicitis. Check out a teaser here.


For all things Fantasia 2022 stay tuned to Reel News Daily with some special posts from our friends at Unseen Films.


 

Review: Shannon Alexander’s candid covid dating doc ‘Sex, Love, Misery: New New York’ has a title that says it all.

Synopsis:
Swiping. Dating. Ghosting. Have you wondered what was really going on in your date’s head? “Sex, Love, Misery” reveals candid thoughts and encounters between singles looking to mingle or marry, from initial texts to hook ups and beyond.


Dating in the city was a complicated nightmare when I was in college. That was 20 years ago now. I do not envy Millenial/Gen Y’s attempts to find love nowadays. Certainly not with the complexities of COVID added into the mix. Filmmaker Shannon Alexander gives audiences a new documentary, SEX, LOVE, MISERY: NEW NEW YORK, in which he follows six people navigating relationships with one another during the pandemic. An up-close and personal confession booth through the lens of modern dating manages to be fresh and timeless all at once. 

The film follows Troy, Camilla, Jack, Izzie, Aisha, and our French transplant Emile. The openness these young people have with Shannon speaks to the power of his humanity. They feel comfortable sharing their most intimate thoughts and insecurities. They are totally unfiltered. It is their willingness to take chances that creates an engaging viewing experience. 

There are glaring differences in communication. Hearing each reaction to the exact same date is eye-opening. The assumptions made about one another by the forms of communication and interaction are like watching a modern-day version of the HBO docu-series Taxicab Confessions. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain. From 1995 to 2006, the cable network aired a show that featured hidden camera conversations from the back of a cab. Often sexual, it was a series that aired late at night and was one of a kind. SEX, LOVE, MISERY feels similar, except that our six subjects speak directly to Shannon in true cinéma vérité style.

What makes SEX, LOVE, MISERY so intriguing is even though these people are ten to fifteen years my junior, I know them. I was them. We all were. SEX, LOVE, MISERY: NEW NEW YORK is a fantastic proof of concept. I would watch this expanded into series form in a New York minute.


Sex, Love Misery: New New York is a light-hearted/comedic piece covering dating and relationships in NYC during the pandemic,
now streaming on TubiTV.