Tallgrass Film Festival 2022 review: Death complicates friendship in ‘THE CIVIL DEAD’

THE CIVIL DEAD

The indie film that’s been killing it on the festival circuit, Clay Tatum’s The Civil Dead, sets friendship and tomfoolery against the everyday moments. All Clay wants to do is chill out when his wife leaves for a week. But an old friend mysteriously appears out of nowhere, complicating both relationships. You see, one of them is dead.

You immediately fantasize about all the fun things you would do together. There’s an undeniably brilliant poker scene. But things get weird, and Clay has second thoughts about helping Whit for eternity. The chemistry between Whitmer Thomas and director Clay Tatum is otherworldly. Pun intended. They make awkward endearing.

The script, penned by our two leads, might seem straightforward at first but do not get comfortable with the buddy comedy genre. The Civil Dead goes in a direction I did not see coming, though, in retrospect, I should have. From hilarious to shockingly dark, the film tackles loneliness in a brutally honest way. This one is going to haunt you in the best way possible.


DIRECTOR:
CLAY TATUM

WRITTEN BY:
CLAY TATUM
WHITMER THOMAS

EXEC PROD:
KASANDRA BARUCH
MIKE MARASCO

PRODUCED BY:
KASANDRA BARUCH
MIKE MARASCO
CLAY TATUM
WHITMER THOMAS

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY:
JOSHUA HILL

MUSIC BY:
MAX WHIPPLE

103 mins


Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS’ stays grounded with compelling performances from Matthew August Jeffers and Sarah Hay.

UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS

Winona knocks on Peter’s door, begging to borrow his car. With the promise of cash and the passenger seat to Canada, this unlikely duo goes on a trip of self-discovery involving aliens and personal redemption. A road movie that’s as universal as it is unique, UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS sticks the landing. 

Sarah Hay plays Winona with a free-spirited urgency that is entirely endearing. She pulls you into her sphere with an indescribably genuine allure. Her chemistry with co-star Matthew Jeffers makes for a ceaselessly engrossing watch. They share an intimate vulnerability that creeps up on you.

Matthew August Jeffers couldn’t be funnier as Peter. I had a permanent smirk pasted on my face listening to his natural delivery of dark, acerbic wit. His curmudgeonly aura is merely a facade for unresolved trauma. A few LP actors come to mind off the top of my head. Honestly only two; Warwick Davis and Peter Dinklage. Jeffers enters the arena with ease. The nuance we witness as he plays Peter is a star-making turn.

The script tackles guilt, a longing for acceptance, prejudice, and a willingness to take a chance. The otherworldly score by Sebastián Zeluta is hypnotic. It’s a touch transcendent. The handheld camera work, particularly during emotionally wrought scenes between our two leads, is a specific and keenly impactful choice. It also highlights the progressing surreal chaos occurring along Peter’s journey.

Fantastic Fest 2022 is the perfect platform for UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS. Writer-director Juan Felipe Zeluta and co-writer Leland Frankel creatively capture the longing of two seemingly different people brought together by universal circumstance. Pun intended.


Fantastic Fest 2022 capsule review: Martika Ramirez Escobar brings every writer’s fantasies to life in ‘LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE’

LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE

Fiction and reality blur when retired filmmaker Leonor falls into a coma after a television lands on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay.

As a writer, this script is essentially a dream, pun intended. Leading lady Sheila Francisco is an absolute joy to watch, and her energetic narration/script reading is a blast. In her coma, she is living inside her story. The recreations of 80s action films are astounding, from the perfectly hokey score to the fight sequences. The visual jump from these to real life and then to memories keeps you on your toes. The semi-autobiographical nature of Leonor’s writing makes for a haunting, present circumstance. The nonchalance in which her son and ex-husband converse with their lost loved one is bizarre. But that’s only half of the wackiness that ensues. Leonor Will Never Die is weird meta fun. You cannot help but adore the heart behind it.


 
 
A film by Martika Ramirez Escobar
Philippines / Filipino / 2022 / 99 minutes
 
Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon.
LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE Screening Schedule
 
Festival Screening
Sat, Sep 24th, 1:50 PM @ Theater 1 
Sat, Sep 24th, 1:50 PM @ Theater 5 
 
 
Festival Screening
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 3 
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 4 
Wed, Sep 28th, 11:30 AM @ Theater 7

TIFF22 review: Midnight Madness selection ‘THE PEOPLE’S JOKER’ is a trans coming-of-age tale with eye-popping visuals and laughs to spare.

THE PEOPLE’S JOKER

An aspiring clown grappling with her gender identity combats a fascistic caped crusader, in writer-director Vera Drew’s uproariously subversive queer coming-of-age origin story.


Vera Drew‘s TIFF22 Midnight Madness feature, THE PEOPLE’S JOKER, is a visual explosion of mixed media deliciousness. Creatively autobiographical, watching the film is like taking ecstasy while simultaneously receiving an important message. Drew’s script overflows with biting satire about gender politics, comedy, and emotional healing. While we’re busy laughing and wondering how she got away with parodying DC, Disney, and other trademarks, she slyly exposes cyclical and deep-seated trauma.

 

I have to mention Nathan Faustyn by name. He plays Penguin with an unfiltered edge. Faustyn has incredible comic timing, and his chemistry with Vera is perfect. I want to see more of him in anything. Vera Drew speaks truth to power in a raw and undeniably hilarious manner. The writing is fearless, the performance is vulnerable, and her vision as a filmmaker is endlessly engrossing and quirky.

I adored the “bleeping” to avoid deadnaming. It was a quietly powerful device allowing Drew to address it head-on later in the film. Keep your ears sharp for voice cameos from Tim Heidecker and Bob Odenkirk. The original music is super catchy. Stick around through the credits for some extra treats. You’ll finally realize how expansive THE PEOPLE’S JOKER is. Each visual aspect comes from a different creative’s brilliant mind. This wild fandom mash-up is part confessional therapy session and another part cult coming-of-age indie.


United States of America, 2022
English
WORLD PREMIERE
92 minutes
Director
Vera Drew
Cast
Vera Drew, Vera Drew, Lynn Downey, Kane Distler, Nathan Faustyn, David Liebe Hart, Christian Calloway, Griffin Kramer, Phil Braun, Tim Heidecker, Ember Knight, Sarah Sherman
Cinematography
Nate Cornett
Editing
Vera Drew, Vera Drew
Executive Producers
Lindsay Cohen, Brian Alkerton, Bee Frederickson, Leo Kovalik, Jr., Johnee Reyna
Producer
Joey Lyons
Production Company
Haunted Gay Ride Productions
Production Designers
Laura Wheeler, Courtney McIntosh, Amy Smoot, Yesi Rego, Lauren Kezon
Screenplay
Vera Drew, Bri LeRose
Sound
Jake Robinson
Original Score
Justin Krol, Quinn Scharber, Ember Knight, Danni Rowan, Elias and the Error

TIFF 22 review: ‘CHARCOAL’ is a fiery and biting feature debut from writer-director Carolina Markowicz.

CHARCOAL

In her brilliant feature-film debut, writer-director Carolina Markowicz brings TIFF22 audiences a one-of-a-kind dramedy in CHARCOAL (CARVÃO). Irene and Jairo find themselves barely scraping from the money earned from their Charcoal factory, saddled with an ailing father and precocious 9-year-old son, Jean. Suddenly offered money to hide an Argentinian drug kingpin, things get weird for everyone. 

Rômulo Braga plays Jairo with passion, but not for his wife. Jairo is a miserable soul. Braga brings a slovenly and combative manner that breaks in private. 

How do you keep a nine-year-old from spilling the beans? Jean Costa brings the perfect amount of sass to the role of young Jean. His performance is so natural you might think he’s improvising each line. 

Cesar Bordon is Juan. His confusion only matched by his oblivious, holier-than-thou nature. His scenes with Costa are incredibly amusing. But it is his feisty chemistry with Jinkings that you’ll remember most.

Maeve Jinkings plays Irene with slick confidence and a fearless attitude. She is never intimidated by Juan’s presence. On the contrary, she sees him as a nuisance and a necessary means to an end. Jinkings casual delivery under pressure makes Markowicz’s screenplay shine. It’s a real wow.

I was entirely unprepared for the dark humor in this undeniably genius script. You’ll find yourself smirking as Juan prepares for his unexpected pitstop. After his arrival, the hilarity ensues with the utmost seriousness. Almost every scene drips with sarcasm, and it is glorious. One of the best films at TIFF22, CHARCOAL boasts twist after twist. Part satire, part social commentary, do not miss it.


Brazil, Argentina, 2022
Portuguese, Spanish
WORLD PREMIERE
107 minutes
Director
Carolina Markowicz
Cast
Maeve Jinkings, Cesar Bordon, Jean Costa, Romulo Braga, Camila Mardila, Pedro Wagner, Aline Marta
Cinematography
Pepe Mendes


Found-footage horror-comedy ‘DEADSTREAM’ is coming to Shudder October 6th! Check out the newest trailer.

One of my favorite SXSW 22 films, DEADSTREAM is making its way to Shudder audiences on October 6th. Zero surprise the horror platform picked up the film. I know their audience will eat it up. Filmmaker couple Vanessa Winter & Joseph Winter gives up laughs and jump scares galore, taking advantage of internet narcissism. The duo’s work can next be seen in a segment from Shudder’s hotly-anticipated V/H/S/99, the latest installment in the celebrated found-footage horror series, which premieres out of TIFF’s Midnight Madness later this month. Deadstream is produced by Joseph and Vanessa Winters, alongside cinematographer Jared Cook and actress Melanie Stone, who also star in the film. The Winters co-edited the film, with Joseph contributing to music for the project as well.

Check out the newest trailer for the film and our original SXSW22 coverage below. Put this one on your calendar for sure. 

DEADSTREAM

Directed byJoseph and Vanessa Winter (V/H/S/99)  DEADSTREAM Streams Exclusively on Shudder Thursday, October 6, 2022

Available on Shudder U.S., Shudder CA, Shudder UKI, and Shudder ANZ


Review:’Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul’ is In Theaters and streaming only on Peacock now!

HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL.

To overcome a scandal, a viral pastor and his wife hire an up-and-coming festival filmmaker to revamp their image with a cinema verité documentary. Their goal is to refill their megachurch with its previous 25000 parishioners. But, it quickly becomes evident that Lee-Curtis and Trinitie are out of touch with reality. Based on writer-director-producer Adamma Ebo’s short film of the same name, Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is gloriously biting satire to the nth degree.

As revelations of the allegations against Lee-Curtis come to light, the complex nature of the story gets stickier. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Ebo makes full use of righteous indignation to excuse/cover sins. The script mirrors real life so accurately it is shocking. The hidden shame, faux outrage, and especially the hypocrisy, every character in Honk For Jesus is lying to themselves.

Regina Hall plays Trinitie Childs. Doing her best dutiful wife with a plastered smile, Hall is perfection. Each beat jumps off the screen. But there are cracks beneath the surface, waiting for the precise moment to break free. Sterling K. Brown as Lee-Curtis Childs is an explosive ball of energy. It’s a powerful and physical performance. Brown’s relentless commitment to the absurd makes this film as intriguing as it is funny. The chemistry between Hall and Brown is spectacular. It is an equal partnership of fierceness. The support they give to one another in every scene is palpable.

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is a fight for the Childs’ last remaining shred of dignity. The balance of over-the-top farce and deep-seated issues creates a hell of a story. Blind faith is a dangerous thing. Adamma Ebo knows it, and so too shall audiences.


Written and Directed by Adamma Ebo

Produced by Adanne Ebo, Daniel Kaluuya, Rowan Riley, Amandla Crichlow, Jesse Burgum, Matthew Cooper

Starring Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown


For more coverage of Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul from AWFJ members, click here!

Film lovers unite! TIFF 2022 is upon us. Here’s what we’re excited to see. #TIFF22

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2022 has arrived! This year there is a little bit (or a lot) for everyone, from In Conversation With Taylor Swift and a screening of All Too Well: The Short Film on 35mm, Viola Davis in The Woman King, to the Midnight Madness world premiere of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. TIFF never disappoints and this year, in its 47th edition, the stars come out to entertain the masses. With so many options, here are a few titles we’re keeping our eyes on.


CHARCOAL (PLATFORM SECTION–WORLD PREMIERE)

Brazil, 2022. In a remote area in São Paulo’s countryside, a rural family who lives beside a charcoal factory accepts a proposal to host a mysterious foreigner. The home soon becomes a hideout as the so-called guest happens to be a highly wanted drug lord. The mother, her husband and child will have to learn how to share the same roof with this stranger, while keeping up appearances of an unchanged peasant routine.

Writer-director Carolina Markowicz has had many of her short films play the festival. This will be her feature debut and I cannot wait to experience her storytelling in long form.


BONES OF CROWS (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)

 

Unfolding over 100 years, BONES OF CROWS is a feature film told through the eyes of Cree Matriarch Aline Spears as she survives a childhood in Canada’s residential school system to continue her family’s generational fight in the face of systemic starvation, racism, and sexual abuse.

We’re all aware by now of the horror stories of the children forced to live in Canada’s residential schools. So much so that the Pope apologized for the abuse the children endured after innumerable graves were discovered on the former grounds. Bones of Crows is a vastly important story.

*This program contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.


BROTHER (Special Presentations, World Premiere)
Propelled by the pulsing beats of Toronto’s early hip hop scene, BROTHER is the story of Francis (Aaron Pierre) and Michael (Lamar Johnson), sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men. Director Clement Virgo expertly tackles themes of masculinity, identity and family as a mystery unfolds during the sweltering summer of 1991, and escalating tensions set off a series of events that change the course of the brothers’ lives forever.

Writer-director Clement Virgo brings TIFF audiences a tale more relevant today than ever. A study in grief, Brother is bound to impact viewers is a visceral manner.


DALÍLAND (Gala Presentation, World Premiere, **Closing Night**)
Mary Harron’s DALÍLAND is both a coming of age story and a searing, funny and sympathetic portrait of crisis in the late life of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Experienced through the eyes of young gallery assistant James Linton (Christopher Briney) as he is invited into a glamorous new world, audiences will uncover the true Dalí (Sir Ben Kingsley) – the complex, flawed, and deeply human man behind the brilliant paintings, wild theatrics, and iconic mustache and explore his especially tempestuous relationship with Gala (Barbara Sukowa), his wife and muse.\

Sir Ben Kingsley releases Dali from an enigmatic caricature and humanizes the genius, his life, and his work.


THE PEOPLE’S JOKER (Midnight Madness, World Premiere)
After years numbing herself with irony and an inhalant called Smylex, an unfunny aspiring clown grapples with gender identity, first love, and old foes all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City. It’s a queer coming-of-age Joker Origin story. Completely unlicensed by DC and Warner Brothers. Starring and directed by Vera Drew (“Beef House,” “Who Is America”) and featuring the work of 200 independent artists on three separate continents, all made during a global pandemic!

A queer coming-of-age satire and multi-media extravaganza, this mashup of fandoms I never knew I needed.


MY SAILOR, MY LOVE (Contemporary World Cinema, World Premiere)
MY SAILOR, MY LOVE is a heart-warming drama on timeless love and forgiveness. Howard (James Cosmo) is a retired sailor and widower, his daughter Grace (Catherine Walker) hires a caregiver Annie (Bríd Brennan). Reclusive and stubborn, Howard rejects Annie’s company, but eventually opens his heart and gives final love a chance.

A raw and compelling family drama, My Sailor, My Love is teeming with complexity and outstanding performances.


THE WOMAN KING  (World Premiere — Gala Presentations)

Synopsis: The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…

Listen, if you tell me that Viola Davis is starring in a film, my butt is in a seat. Based on a true story? Well, that’s solidly in Davis’ wheelhouse, but really what isn’t? This is one highly anticipated film already.


ALLELUJAH (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

This glorious reunion of Oscar winner Judi Dench and director Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal) is a spirited homage to the idiosyncrasies of old age and the noble fortitude of health-care workers everywhere. Adapted by Heidi Thomas from Alan Bennett’s stage play, Allelujah assembles a stunning ensemble of veteran British actors, including Jennifer Saunders, David Bradley, and Derek Jacobi.

There is every chance this will be an absolute crowd pleaser. The premise alone has me making up scenarios in my head of pure shenanigans. With a hell of a cast, Allelujah cannot go wrong.


FIXATION (Contemporary World Cinema)

Maddie Hasson (Malignant) plays a young woman committed to an unorthodox institution by a pair of enigmatic doctors (Genesis Rodriguez and Stephen McHattie).

Another feature debut from a female filmmaker, Mercedes Bryce Morgan brings to life an ambitious physiological thriller that will mesmerize with wild production design. I don’t think any of us are ready for such treatment. (pun intended)


LIVING (CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA)

In this exquisitely realized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, director Oliver Hermanus teams with Nobel- and Booker Prize–winning author Kazuo Ishiguro to renew a classic. LIVING is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful – into one he can say has been lived to the full

The magnificent Bill Nighy helms this film about humanity and mortality. With Mothering Sunday vets, cinematographer Jamie Ramsay and production designer Helen Scott, Living will undoubtedly be a feast for the eyes.

THE LOST KING (SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: In the archaeological find of a century, the remains of King Richard III — presumed scattered over 500 years ago — were discovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester in 2012. The search had been conceived and motivated by an amateur historian, Philippa Langley, whose passion and unrelenting research were met with skepticism. THE LOST KING is the inspiring true story of a woman who refused to be ignored and who took on Britain’s most eminent historians, forcing them to rethink the legacy of one of the most controversial kings in England’s history. A tale of discovery, obsession, and stolen glory (both then and now), THE LOST KING is a magical adventure illuminated by one woman’s growing sense of purpose.

My husband and I are history nerds. We’ve seen the documentary of this very story and it was nothing short of fascinating. For those who may not know the vile things said about King Richard III, it’s rather shocking. Sally Hawkins is the perfect choice to capture Philippa Langley‘s determined journey to uncover the truth.

MOVING ON (GALA PRESENTATIONS)

Synopsis: Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in this fusion of audacious comedy and bracing drama about estranged pals who are reunited when a beloved mutual friend dies, leaving her widower the target of a revenge plan.

Perhaps some of the most notable chemistry we’ve seen between two women in years bounds off the screen when Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda work together. These two powerhouse ladies bring heart and humor to a story much more complex than at first sight. TIFF audiences are bound to cheer for Moving On.


ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE (Discovery)

Based on the book by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, two teenage Mexican-American loners in 1987 El Paso explore a new, unusual friendship and the difficult road to self-discovery.

Another female director’s feature debut (in case anyone is counting and cheering along with me), Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is more than a queer coming-of-age story. You’d never guess Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales were first-time leads. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins a powerhouse team of producers after narrating Sáenz‘s audiobook in 2013 and then reading writer-director Aitch Alberto’s screenplay. He knows a little something about quality writing, so his seal of approval is huge.


TIFF 2022 runs from September 8th to the 18th.

For more information on the fest, visit tiff.net


Disney+ review: Marvel Studios ‘SHE-HULK: Attorney At Law’ (Episode 1) Judging from the pilot, Tatiana Maslany flexes her muscles.

 

A quippy takedown of misogyny, the highly anticipated She-Hulk: Attorney At Law had its first trial run. Episode 1, titled “A Normal Amount of Rage,” is another way for Tatiana Maslany to flex her muscles, not just the new green ones. The dialogue is unapologetically specific to gender dynamics. It’s like watching incel fanboys argue with any female online but in a more to-the-point and genuinely humorous way. And from the 30K+ reviews on the internet, those same dudes are what we ladies call “Big Mad.” You know Disney has done something right.

The improvements to the CG are hella cool. I think She-Hulk looks better than Hulk! Sorry, Mr. Ruffalo. I still love you, and I hope we see more of you in the remaining episodes.

After watching Maslany wow the world in Orphan Black over and over, She-Hulk allows the audience to appreciate her unequivocal comedic skills. Her take on Jennifer Walters is perfection. She’s at a place in her life and career where she’s fearless in her speech. She’s a new feminist hero that millions, myself including, can cheer on.

Breaking the fourth wall is another device that sets this series apart. Written and created for television by Jessica Gao and directed by Kat Coiro (who both executive produce), the structure of the pilot is straightforward; a flashback to a few weeks ago when Jennifer became a hulk. The final scene takes us full circle, and it’s everything you’d want in a Marvel series starring a badass lawyer with acerbic wit who just so happens to have gamma rays in her bloodstream. No big deal.

If you pay attention to the credits, and you always should in any Marvel film or series, you’ll notice how many women are part of the crew in every aspect of She-Hulk. And, we have to talk about the credits scene without spoilers. Jessica Walters is a Captain America fangirl, and damnit, it’s hilarious. Could this rival Jessica Jones as my favorite female comic book development? Yeah, I think there’s a solid argument to be made.

New episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law will release on Disney+ every Thursday.

In Marvel Studios’ “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany)—an attorney specializing in superhuman-oriented legal cases—must navigate the complicated life of a single, 30-something who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk. The nine-episode comedy series welcomes a host of MCU vets, including Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination, and Benedict Wong as Wong, as well as Jameela Jamil, Josh Segarra, Ginger Gonzaga, Jon Bass and Renée Elise Goldsberry. The series is directed by Kat Coiro (Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9) and Anu Valia (Episodes 5, 6, 7) with Jessica Gao as head writer. Executive producers are Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, Coiro and Gao, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” streams exclusively on Disney+ beginning August 18, 2022.


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Review: ‘Spin Me Round’ is a film that’s tough to swallow, but the cast is chef’s kiss.

SPIN ME ROUND

Alison Brie is Amber, a manager of an Olive Garden-Esque restaurant chosen to attend an elite training week at the Italian villa of the company’s founder. Hoping to find love and epic adventure, she joins a rather eclectic group of folks. But the trip isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when the idea of romance turns into some no one saw coming.

This insanely talented ensemble gets thrown into a blender of bizarre. Writer-director Jeff Baena co-writes with Brie. I cannot figure out if Spin Me Round means to be a modern take on Office Space or just a misstep into empowerment. It all feels rather icky whenever Nick (Alessandro Nivola) comes on screen. With an abundance of genuinely hilarious dynamics between cast members, those moments often become overshadowed by inconsistent storytelling, leaving you cringing.

Molly Shannon is Deb, and she is perfectly Molly Shannon. Her unpredictability makes her one of the highlights of the entire film. Zach Woods brings a fantastic arc to the character of Dana. He transforms from fanboy to puppy love to man on a mission and effortlessly captivates. Ben Sinclair lands somewhere between villainous sidekick and smarmy eccentric, and I loved it. Tim Heidecker, Ayden Mayeri, and Fred Armisen provide plenty of memorable moments.

Aubrey Plaza makes every film she appears in exponentially better. She is the most intriguing character in this film. You cannot ignore the comparisons to Ghislaine Maxwell, whether intentional or not. I want to see an entire movie on her backstory. Alison Brie is wonderful in everything. Her performance as Amber is no exception. She possesses simultaneous versatility and familiarity for audiences. Ultimately, the cast prevents Spin Me Round from leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Show up for the acting, and you can’t go wrong.


IN THEATERS, ON-DEMAND, AND STREAMING ON AMC+
August 19, 2022

SPIN ME ROUND, stars Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Molly Shannon, Zach Woods, Ayden Mayeri, Ben Sinclair, Tim Heidecker, Debby Ryan, and Lil Rey Howery.


Review: Latvian film ‘SQUEAL’ is one twisted tale.

SQUEAL

Told through the lens of a man searching for his father, a small village with a medieval mindset, and a pig, the Latvian film SQUEAL is a wild blend of storytelling elements. One part fairytale and one part romanticized Stockholm Syndrome, trust me, you have never seen anything quite like this. Alongside co-writer Aleksandr Rodionov, writer-director Aik Karapetian brings to life a story of belonging under the strangest circumstances.

In search of his father in rural Eastern Europe, Samual is far from home and does not speak the language. After getting lost on his journey, he gets into a car accident. Sidelined by the local farmer’s daughter, he finds himself chained in a pigsty, forced to work as a farmhand. As jealousy and misogyny cause a rift among family members and the locals, Sam must use everything at his disposal to escape or adapt.

The cast is magnificent. Knowing full well of the bizarre nature of this twisted tale, they amazed me. The script is an ever-evolving, emotional rollercoaster. Your feelings about each character change from scene to scene as the screenplay progresses. The narration from Uldis Verners Brūns is delicious. His voice is like a warm hug. The soundtrack is a sumptuous mix of classical pieces from Handel to Vivaldi. Squeal is undoubtedly a unique story that will have you questioning your morality. With an ending that leads to more questions than answers, you’ll leave thinking about this film long after the credits roll.




Official Selection: FANTASTIC FEST 2021 and many more.

SQUEAL will be released in the US theatrically in New York and Los Angeles and on VOD in the US and CANADA on August 19.

Theaters Include (August 19):
Lumiere Music Hall – Los Angeles
Alamo Manhattan- New York

VOD Platforms Include (August 19):
US: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Xfinity Cable, and more.
Canada: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play

Director: Aik Karapetian

Scriptwriter: Aik Karapetian,Aleksandr Rodionov

Cast: Kevin Janssens,Laura Siliņa,Aigars Vilims,Normunds Griestiņš,Juris Bartkevičs,Guntis Pilsums


Filmmaker Aik Karapetian’s dark fairy tale SQUEAL  centers on Samuel (Kevin Janssens), who is far from home, searching for his father. Lost in remotest Eastern Europe, on the edges of a mythical forest, a minor road accident leads to a chance meeting with a pig farmer’s daughter Kirke (Laura Siliņa). Sam soon learns that his priorities must change if he wants to survive. Her initial hospitality is a smoke screen to capture him and make him a forced laborer on the farm. Alone, unable to speak the language, and chained up 24/7 with the pigs, he learns to adapt. Fortunately, a seemingly magical piglet gains Sam’s confidence and shows him the way to freedom and true love. 

Filmmaker Aik Karapetian is a graduate of the Latvian Academy of Culture and has a master’s degree in film direction from the Académie Internationale des Arts – ESEC (Paris). His first feature film, PEOPLE OUT THERE gained international acclaim after its premiere at the Karlovy Vary film festival in competition in 2012. After the successful horror feature THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET (Fantastic Fest 2014, BFI London Film Festival), Aik released the thriller FIRSTBORN (Sitges, Fantastic Fest, Paris International Film Festival 2017). 

Aik has also staged two successful opera productions at the Latvian National Opera house, THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, which was awarded as the Best stage production of the season in 2011 and FAUST, which premiered in September 2016. His version of Bizet’s CARMEN premiered at the Opera National de Montpellier (France) in 2018 followed by Gounod’s FAUST at the Trondheim Symfoniorkester & Opera (Norway) in 2019.


ABOUT GOOD DEED ENTERTAINMENT
Good Deed Entertainment (GDE) is an Ohio-based independent studio dedicated to producing, financing, and distributing quality entertainment for under-served audiences. Its distribution slate includes recent releases Summertime, Ma Belle, My Beauty, and Lucky Grandma, in addition to the Academy Award-nominated, Loving Vincent, and Spirit Award-nominated, To Dust.

Website: http://www.gooddeedentertainment.com/


Connect with Cranked Up Films: WEBSITE: http://www.crankedupfilms.com/ FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/crankedupfilms/ TWITTER: https://twitter.com/crankedupfilms/ INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/crankedupfi…


 

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: ‘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).

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!


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 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.

Bentonville Film Festival 2022 reviews: Short films ‘Anniversary’ & ‘The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night’ celebrate sisterhood in all its messy glory.

ANNIVERSARY

Laugh out loud funny short film Anniversary finds two best friends and next-door neighbors getting glam together in preparation for what Carla thinks is a surprise 25th-anniversary dinner with her husband.

This unapologetic and unfiltered look at friendship is hysterical. The film possesses timeless energy. The costumes are bright, and the camera work is notably fun. Actresses Johnnie Mae and Lin Tucci have magical chemistry. Director Lain Kienzle highlights the importance of female bonding. In the end, it’s pure delight.


The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night

Three very different sisters collide during holiday festivities. Seeking the approval of her eldest and feistiest sister, Noor hopes her partner Luz makes a good impression. 

The cinematography and editing are super fun. Instagram-style stories add a modern touch. It is what I do with my siblings during game nights. The cast is spectacular. For a short film, these characters are lush and eclectic. Director Fawzia Mirza and writer-producer Kausar Mohammed absolutely nail the family dynamic. The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night will make you laugh, cringe, and nod your head knowingly. Bentonville Film Festival 2022 audiences will love it.


 

Tribeca 2022 reviews from Unseen Films: ‘Space Oddity’

SPACE ODDITY

One of my favorite films of this year’s Tribeca was a film I wasn’t planning on seeing. It wasn’t until I decided to focus on the films not in the press library that it jumped onto my dance card…. and right into my heart.

The story follows Alex, a young man in a broken family, who is planning on heading to Mars on a one-way mission.  He wants to go to get away from the troubles of the world, but also from the reminders of his brother who died saving his life in a car crash. Unfortunately for him, his plans end up crashing into Daisy, a young woman new to the town. Now that Alex has met Daisy will he give up his plans and stay on earth.

Do you have to ask?

Yea, you know how this will go but it’s so well done you won’t care. I mean you really won’t care because you will be so absolutely in love with everyone on screen. These are wounded people we know. They are us. God bless director Kyra Sedgwick for keeping everyone real and not insisting that everyone gets fixed by the end. Yea there is hope but the damage is still there. As a result, the film resonates deeper.

What a glorious film.

The performances are across the board wonderful Kevin Bacon may have his best role here. Yea it’s nothing special on the face of it but watch all of the shading he gives it. Listen to the emotion in his voice. Alexandra Shipp is magical. She makes Daisy the person we all want to fall in love with.

I love this film. I really do.

It’s a joy.

Highly recommended.


DIRECTOR
Kyra Sedgwick
PRODUCER
Valerie Stadler, Kyra Sedgwick, Meredith Bagby, Richard Arlook, Jack Greenbaum, Mark Maxey, Mickey Schiff
SCREENWRITER
Rebecca Banner
CINEMATOGRAPHER
Alar Kivilo
EDITOR
Stefanie Visser
COMPOSER
Travis Bacon and Scott Hedrick
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Paolo Mottola Jr., Joe Z. Crosby, Ibrahim Alhusseini, JL Pomeroy, Daryl Roth, Brent Emery
CAST
Kyle Allen, Alexandra Shipp, Madeline Brewer, Carrie Preston, Simon Helberg, Kevin Bacon, Andrew Polk