October Programming on MUBI – thrills and chills for everyone.

October Programming on MUBI

Includes exclusive streaming premiere of Martine Syms’ art-school satire The African Desperate, Julie Ha and Eugene Yi’s rousing documentary Free Chol Soo Lee, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Lynchian horror, Earwig

Plus a month-long Halloween programming with George A. Romero, Michio Yamamato’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy, and more!

EXCLUSIVELY ON MUBI

Tuesday, October 4

Invisible Demons, directed by Rahul Jain

[Viewfinders] A visually immersive exploration of the global threat of climate change, Invisible Demons (Cannes ‘21) is the stunning sophomore film from filmmaker Rahul Jain. Told through striking images and eye-opening accounts from everyday citizens, Jain delivers a visceral journey through the stories of just a few of Delhi’s 30 million inhabitants fighting to survive, as he offers a deeply experiential and new perspective on the clear and present climate reality. A MUBI Release.

 

Friday, October 7

Free Chol Soo Lee, directed by Julie Ha and Eugene Yi

[Viewfinder] A highlight of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Free Chol Soo Lee finds award-winning journalists Julie Ha and Eugene Yi excavating the largely unknown yet essential history of the case of Chol Soo Lee, a 20-year-old Korean immigrant who, in the 1970s, was racially profiled and convicted of a Chinatown gang murder in San Francisco. A stirring testament to the power of local journalists and the collective political action, this breathtaking true story ignited an unprecedented push for social action that would unite Asian Americans and inspire a new generation of activists, and serves as an urgent reminder that his legacy is more relevant than ever. A MUBI Release. 

Wednesday, October 12

Rosa Rosae. A Spanish Civil War Elegy, directed by Carlos Saura

[Brief Encounters] Legendary Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura (Cria Cuervos) recovers and manipulates more than thirty images, drawings and photographs to recreate the Spanish Civil War in his new animated short Rosa Rosae: A Spanish Civil War Elegy (2021). The montage of images set to the music of singer-songwriter José Antonio Labordeta pays tribute to those childhoods stolen by the Spanish Civil War, reflecting the horrors of universal warfare and resonating with the urgent topic of conflict in today’s world. A MUBI Release. 

 

Saturday, October 15

Earwig, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic

[MUBI Spotlight] Loosely adapted from Brian Catling’s novella of the same name, Lucile Hadžihalilović (EvolutionInnocence) conjures a surrealist Lynchian nightmare in her first English-language feature Earwig – a macabre tale of a young girl with melting teeth and her cadaverous caretaker who molds and refits her dentures each day. Sumptuously-produced and fitted with a hypnotic soundtrack by Augustin Viard (in collaboration with Nicolas Becker & Warren Ellis), Hadžihalilović’s latest beguilingly hermetic world captures the same elusive and hallucinatory fixations on isolation and the horrors of adolescence as her previous work.

 

Friday, October 21

The African Desperate, directed by Martine Syms

[Debuts] The electrifying feature debut from renowned artist Martine Syms, The African Desperate (2022) brings her razor-sharp satire and vivid aesthetic invention to a riotous coming-of-age comedy. Tracking one very long day for Palace Bryant (an expertly deadpan Diamond Stingily), a newly minted MFA grad whose final 24 hours in art school become a real trip, the result is a shocking original vision that becomes a hazy, hilarious, and hallucinatory night-long odyssey, stumbling from academic critiques to backseat hookups while revealing Martine as a major new voice in American independent filmmaking. A MUBI release. 

 

Wednesday, October 26

Spectre: Sanity, Madness and The Family, directed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier

[Debuts] The debut feature from music producer and longtime Céline Sciamma collaborator Jean-Baptiste de Laubier (Para One), Spectre: Sanity, Madness and the Family (2021), is an intimate docudrama inspired by De Laubier’s own family history. Following the youngest son of a large family whose childhood was dominated by intense spiritual fervor, who receives a mysterious package from his sister that leads to the awakening of long dormant memories, this kaleidoscopic work mixes real and fictional archival footage with a mesmerizing electro soundtrack to reveal the power of buried personal histories. A MUBI Release. 

Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

This Halloween, MUBI presents Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors, a new series covering the vast range of genre cinema, from classic films to recent arthouse sensations and everything in between. From gothic frights in James Whale’s essential classic The Old Dark House, to the matriarchal anxiety of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s and Austrian sensation Goodnight Mommy, and the haunting technological paranoia of Japanese master Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s cult classic, Pulse, these gems provide an opportunity to come together and celebrate the autumnal ritual of coming together to enjoy the many thrills that the cinema can offer us.

Goodnight Mommy (Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala, 2014) – October 1

Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001) – October 5

When a Stranger Calls (Fred Walton, 1979) – October 13

The Old Dark House (James Whale, 1932) – October 23

Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) – October 31

George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

Legendary horror master George A. Romero returns to MUBI with a gruesome double feature with a generous amount of blood, guts, and sociopolitical allegory to satisfy any zombie movie cravings. From the final two chapters of Romero’s epic five-decade long Dead series: the “found-footage” shot Diary of the Dead (2007) is riddled with media anxieties as a group of film students document their way through a zombie apocalypse, while Survival of the Dead (2009) chronicles two families warring over whether the dead and the living can coexist. 

Diary of the Dead (2007) – October 5 

Survival of the Dead (2009) – October 30

From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

This October, as the days grow shorter and the air grows colder, MUBI presents a double feature celebrating some of the very best of contemporary Icelandic cinema, which has recently experienced a resurgence of sorts in the international festival circuit. In Rams (Prix Un Certain Regard, Cannes ‘15), Grímur Hákonarson crafts a hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of two warring brothers whose lifelong animosity explodes when confronted with a new disease on their farm, while in Hlynur Palmason’s critically acclaimed A White, White Day, an off duty sheriff begins to suspect a local neighbor of having an affair with his recently deceased wife which spirals into obsession in this singular story of grief, revenge and unconditional love.

Rams (Grímur Háknarson, 2015) – October 9

A White, White Day (Hlynur Palmason, 2019) – October 10

Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

To celebrate the Halloween spirit, this October MUBI presents Michio Yamanto’s aptly titled Bloodthirsty Trilogy. Presented here are three tails sure to delight, with The Vampire Doll, which follows a woman and her boyfriend in search of her missing brother in a creepy mansion with a dark history, Lake of Dracula, which finds a young woman’s adolescent nightmares revealing a hellish prophecy, and Evil of Dracula, which sees Yamamato relocating his vampiric frights into an all girls school. Inspired by the British and American gothic horror films of the 1960s, this series represents Toho’s answer to Hammer Studios, with an emphasis on atmospheric thrills and chills that help bridge the gap between gothic classics and Japanese genre cinema.

 

The Vampire Doll (1970) – October 11

The Lake of Dracula (1971) – October 20

Evil of Dracula (1974) – October 27

Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

British experimental artist, critic, and writer Morgan Quaintance explores cinema as collective memory. Through his texturally rich short films, Quaintance focuses on hidden or forgotten history through the reconstruction of archival materials, moving image, photographs, written text and disconnected sounds. This month MUBI presents a double bill of his most recent work: Surviving You, Always (2020), contrasting the proposed metaphysical highs of psychedelic drugs versus the harsh actualities of concrete metropolitan life in 1990s London, and A Human Certainty (2021), playfully following the neurotic ramblings of a death-obsessed romantic in the throes of post-breakup blues.

 

A Human Certainty (2021) – October 24

Surviving You, Always (2020) – October 25

Glitch Zone: Films by Martine Syms

To celebrate the release of The African Desperate, Martine Syms’ acclaimed feature debut, this month MUBI spotlights two essential shorts from one of the most exciting new voices in filmmaking. Part of her ongoing series She MadBitch Zone takes us to an empowerment program for teenage girls founded by supermodel and business mogul Tyra Banks, while Soliloquy finds the artist delivering a scathing anti-capitalist manifesto that touches on questions the possibility of change in a society dominated by social media.

She Mad: Bitch Zone (2020) – October 17

Soliloquy (2021) – October 19 

The African Desperate (2022) – October 21

I Don’t Like You Either: A Pialat Retrospective

This month, MUBI continues its ongoing retrospective of misunderstood French master Maurice Pialat with Van Gogh, his bruising and deeply felt portrait of the esteemed Dutch painter. Pialat’s work is marked by a sense of realism that locates them somewhere between his compatriot, Jean Renoir, and the working-class naturalism of Ken Loach, which lends a sense of authenticity to this singular portrait of an artist that emphasizes the everyday labor of the craftsman over the final work. 

Van Gogh (1991) – October 2

Now streaming

Loulou (1980) – September 10 

The Mouth Agape (1974) – September 21

Under the Sun of Satan (1987) – September 27

 Complete list of films premiering on MUBI this month:

October 1 – Goodnight Mommy, directed by Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 2 – Van Gogh, directed by Maurice Pialat | I Don’t Like You Either: A Maurice Pialat Retrospective

October 3 – The Great Buster: A Celebration, directed by Peter Bogdanovich | Portrait of the Artist

October 4 – Invisible Demons, directed by Rahul Jain | Viewfinders

October 5 – Pulse, directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 6 – Diary of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero | George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

October 7 – Free Chol Soo Lee, directed by Eugene Yi, Julie Ha | Viewfinder

October 8 – Tucker & Dale vs Evil, directed by Eli Craig

October 9 – Rams, directed by Grímur Hákonarson | From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

October 10 – A White, White Day, directed by Hlynur Palmason | From the Land of Fire and Ice: An Icelandic Double Bill

October 11 – The Vampire Doll, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 12 – Rosa Rosae. A Spanish Civil War Elegy, directed by Carlos Saura | Brief Encounters

October 13 – When a Stranger Calls, directed by Fred Walton | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 14 – Center Stage, directed by Stanley Kwan

October 15 – Earwig, directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic | MUBI Spotlight

October 17 – She Mad: Bitch Zone, directed by Martine Syms | Martine Syms: Short Films

October 18 – The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain, directed by Ridham Janve

October 19 – Soliloquy, directed by Martine Syms | Martine Syms: Short Films

October 20 – Lake of Dracula, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 21 – The African Desperate, directed by Martine Syms | Debuts

October 23 – The Old Dark House, directed by James Whale | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors

October 24 – A Human Certainty, directed by Morgan Quaintance | Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

October 25 – Surviving You, Always, directed by Morgan Quaintance | Artist Focus: Morgan Quaintance

October 26 – Spectre: Sanity, Madness and The Family, directed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier | Debuts

October 27 – Evil of Dracula, directed by Michio Yamamoto | Fears and Fangs in Japan: Michio Yamamoto’s Bloodthirsty Trilogy

October 28 – The Commune, directed by Thomas Vinterberg

October 29 – Dear Diary, directed by Nanni Moretti

October 30 – Survival of the Dead, directed by George A. Romero | George A. Romero: Double of the Dead

October 31 – Deep Red, directed by Dario Argento | Thrills, Chills and Exquisite Horrors


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Fantastic Fest 2022 review: ‘BRUTAL SEASON’ brings unresolved trauma and mystery in this theatrically immersive film.

BRUTAL SEASON

It’s the summer of 1948 in Redhook, Brooklyn, and the Trouth family exists in quiet peace until Louis Jr. appears after years away. Old wounds have festered, and now he’s back for revenge. Guilt is his weapon. Well, that and a unique knife with a Turkish inscription belonging to younger brother Charles. BRUTAL SEASON is like an immersive theater experience on film. This slow-burn thriller is not what I expected, in all the right ways.

Performances across the board are stellar. One is particularly inescapable. The subtle manipulation Houston Settle brings into the fray, you know he’s up to no good. Jr.’s bitterness is palpable. His passive-aggressive nature turns vicious. 

The lighting is extraordinary. The sound editing, filled with waterway traffic, barking dogs, and seagulls, serves as a constant din in the background. It’s impeccable. Andrew Burke‘s oboe and trumpet-heavy score bring a tense noir feeling.

There’s no denying that BRUTALSEASON has a similar energy to Death Of A Salesman. The narration harkens back to Our Town. Writer-director Gavin Fields brings an ambiguity that strings you along until the end. I’d love to see this performed live and feel the vibration from these actors pouring off the stage. BRUTAL SEASON is a welcome addition to this year’s Fantastic Fest 2022. It’s a standout for theatre lovers. 


You can still catch BRUTAL SEASON at FF@Home!


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.


Review: Writer-director Valerie Buhagiar brings the enchanting tale of ‘CARMEN’ to life with help from Natascha McElhone.

CARMEN

In a small Mediterranean village, Carmen has looked after her brother, the local priest, for her entire life. When the Church abandons Carmen, she is mistaken for the new priest. Carmen begins to see the world, and herself, in a new light.


A tongue-in-cheek story of sacrifice and reward inspired by actual events, CARMEN finds Natascha McElhone recapturing the youth she lost to familial duty and heartache. After a life spent taking care of her brother, the local priest in Malta, his death pushes Carmen, quite literally, out the door.

Carmen’s years of demure nature allow her to become a ghost, eavesdropping on the townsfolk that ignored her. With the unlikely help of a pigeon, Carmen takes control of the very church that kicked her to the curb, fooling the locals for personal entertainment. But, her mischievous advice from the confessional booth changes everything.

Natascha McElhone is elegant and effortlessly charming. CARMEN is essentially a later coming-of-age tale. McElhone’s wide-eyed exploration of life is enchanting, funny, and honest. Shot on the beautiful island of Malta, which if you’ve never been, I suggest you visit. The script’s structure utilizes flashbacks of Carmen’s elusive backstory. Writer-director Valerie Buhagiar brings unbridled joy and hidden complexity to audiences. CARMEN is a delight.


CARMEN will be released in the US Theatrically in major cities and on VOD in the US and Canada on Friday, September 23.

Director: Valerie Buhagiar

Starring: Natascha McElhone, Michaela Farrugia, Steven Love.

 

Theaters include:

NEW YORK – Cinema Village

LOS ANGELES – Laemmle Monica

With exclusive engagements in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco (Bay Area), Columbus and more.

 

VOD Platforms include:

US: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, XFinity Cable, and more.


 

Review: ‘The Justice of Bunny King’ is a tale of morality, redemption, and unconditional love.

Bunny King (Essie Davis, THE BABADOOK), a headstrong mother of two with a sketchy past, earns her keep by washing windows at traffic lights. Using her razor-sharp wit to charm money from gridlocked motorists, she saves every cent to get back the custody of her kids. After promising her daughter a birthday party, Bunny must fight the social services and break the rules to keep her word, but in doing so risks losing her children altogether. Accompanied by her niece Tonya (Thomasin McKenzie, Film Independent Spirit Award nominee, LEAVE NO TRACE, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO), a fierce teenager running away from home, Bunny is in a race against the clock and headed towards an epic showdown with the authorities.


Essie Davis helms this tale of morality, redemption, and love. Davis’ no holds bar performance of raw reactive emotion will have you on your feet. You cannot help but root for Bunny. Every opportunity comes with an unexpected challenge, but Davis’ slick attitude and ingenuity keep the audience in the palm of her hand. Bunny’s backstory is heartbreaking. The weight of her unresolved trauma is in every breath. It’s a stunning turn.

The Justice of Bunny King pits a broken system against a desperate mother. Boasting a heart-pounding climax, The Justice of Bunny King is an intriguing dive into survival and unrelenting determination.

Opens in Theaters September 23rd

Director: Gaysorn Thavat
Story By: Gregory David King, Gaysorn Thavat, Sophie Henderson
Writer: Sophie Henderson
Producer: Emma Slade
Director of Photography: Ginny Loane
Editor: Cushla Dillon

Country: New Zealand
Genre: Drama
TRT: 101 minutes


 

Review: ‘THE SILENT TWINS’ is an imaginative interpretation of The Gibbons’ sisters haunting history.

THE SILENT TWINS

The real-life story of twin sisters June and Jennifer Gibbons continuously confounds psychologists and curious onlookers alike. As young girls from Barbados whose father transferred for work, they were the only Black family in their Wales neighborhood. The girls experienced insurmountable isolation and bullying. As a result, they turned inward, refusing to speak to anyone other than each other, and exhibited succinct behavior, almost catatonic at times. With each passing year, The Gibbons sisters enigmatic relationship wreaked havoc on their families, communities, and each other. The Silent Twins creatively illustrate their experiences. Theirs is a story that baffles the world.

The only time they spoke aloud was in their bedroom, as they created magnificent plays, poems, and short stories. The Silent Twins utilizes mixed media stop motion animation to illustrate the girls’ elaborate writing. When you hear their diary entries, you soon realize their astonishing level of intellect.

Following their dismissal from school, the girls enter a specialized education program (which later proved useless), followed by separate residential schools. June struggles to adjust due to the separation, becoming despondent. Once reunited, things regress to the status quo in their childhood bedroom for the next few years.

The dynamic between the two is clear; Jennifer exerts all power over June. Adolescent jealousy brings a new level of vengeful animosity to Jennifer and June’s relationship. Jennifer’s infatuation with an influential bad boy brings drugs and pyromania into their lives. The consequences of these behaviors lead them to their eleven-year admission to Broadmoor Hospital. The publication of June’s book further drives their competitive nature.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you’d like to stay in the dark about the story, skip the following paragraph!!

The Gibbons made a pact in childhood stating that if one of them died, the other should begin to speak and live a “normal life.” On the day of their release from Broadmoor, Jennifer passes away in the transport van. While the circumstances did not sit well with anyone, her autopsy would later reveal a case of undiagnosed myocarditis. Rather than sink into grief, the death of Jennifer frees June from a lifelong emotional and physical prison.

** Continue below…

Performances from Letitia Wright and Tamara Larance will blow you away. Their vocal specificity is imperative to understanding the real-life twins’ dialect and speech patterns. Their volatile chemistry jumps off the screen. Each actress has their time to shine.

Prior knowledge of this bizarre case proved to be a blessing and a curse. A few things felt stylistically superfluous, especially a runtime of nearly 2 hours. I almost wish this haunting tale were a touch more straightforward. The stop-motion sequences are such a powerful device that the added songs and whimsical choreography appear overkill. I’m unsure if The Silent Twins works as a whole. Perhaps, a viewer with zero previous understanding of The Gibbons’ strange existence might come to a different conclusion. If you fall into that category, I recommend going into the film blind. Either way, director Agnieszka Smoczynska displays a unique vision of two mind-boggling women.


Silence was their bond. Imagination set them free.

Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance star in #TheSilentTwins, only in theaters September 16.


A version of this review first appeared on AWFJ.org. To read more insights from the amazing women in the alliance, click here!


 

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


TIFF 22 review: Bill Nighy’s glorious performance in ‘LIVING’ sends a universal message of love and kindness.

LIVING

Director Oliver Hermanus brings TIFF22 audiences LIVING, a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru. This beautifully life-affirming script from Nobel- and Booker Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro captures the heart. The legendary Bill Nighy helms this film as Mr. Williams. A typical mid-level government bureaucrat in 1952, Williams never ruffles any feathers and maintains a routine to the point of soulless monotony. After he receives a terminal diagnosis, he must reassess his years of playing by the rules and learn how to begin living.

Alex Sharp is Peter Wakeling, the newest member of Mr. Williams’ team. He is the audience’s lens through which to observe Nighy’s reputation. His ability to understand the bigger picture showcases Sharp’s talents. He is simply lovely here. Aimee Lou Woods plays Nighy’s spirited office mate, Margaret Harris. Her young enthusiasm and gentle nature present an intriguing foil for Nighy. Woods displays a wide-eyed honesty that gives way to genuine companionship. She becomes a shoulder to cry on and a replacement for his estranged son. Their chemistry is a delight. 

Bill Nighy gives a quietly profound performance as Mr. Williams. Each beat overflows with complexity, regrets, and thoughtfulness. Nighy breathes life into this role with passing moments. His heartfelt rendition of the Scottish folk song Rowan Tree moved me to tears. It is an award-worthy turn.

A community playground becomes the symbol of a life worth living. An apology for the inconvenience, an offer of assistance, and a kind word; the impact of these seemingly small gestures have a ripple effect. The structure of the script is surprising and relentlessly engaging. I found myself lost in the quiet dignity of it all. 

The sumptuous score from Emelie Levienaise – Farrouch is enveloping. Beautifully framed and lit cinematography from Jamie Ramsey suits this story perfectly. I felt the final shot in my gut.

LIVING is not a boisterous film. It is a story that makes you want to be a better person. It is a lesson in human connection, mutual respect, and taking a breath to enjoy each moment. LIVING speaks volumes about leaving a legacy of kindness.


United Kingdom, 2022
English
CANADIAN PREMIERE
102 minutes
Director
Oliver Hermanus
Cast
Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke
Cinematography
Jamie D. Ramsay
Editing
Chris Wyatt
Producers
Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen
Production Company
Number 9 Films
Production Designer
Helen Scott
Screenplay
Kazuo Ishiguro


TIFF22 review: Marie Clements’ ‘BONES OF CROWS’ is an exquisite cinematic experience of trauma and hope.

BONES OF CROWS

Centuries of trauma reveal themselves on the big screen in the TIFF22 feature film BONES OF CROWS by writer-director Marie ClementsIt’s a visceral but undeniably important watch. The film occurs over the span of 100 years. Watching the Catholic church, aided by the government, nonchalantly discussing the planned eradication of the poor is infuriating. Indigenous children were ripped from the arms of their parents, under threat of incarceration, and placed in residential homes run by severe priests and nuns. Children were stripped of their culture and used as lab rats. The number of children buried in unmarked graves is unfathomable. 

In the film, we bounce in time as unresolved trauma and abuse rear their ugly head through decades. Actress Grace Dove plays Aline Spears beginning at age 16. Once a promising concert pianist, her hopes and dreams were dashed by physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Her memories, accompanied by those of one of her siblings and husband, intertwine to paint a harrowing picture of torture and fear. But, the pain inflicted upon her never extinguishes her soul. As she endures continued racism, Aline has the last word through a chance visit to the Vatican and the legacy of her children. 

While BONES OF CROWS predominantly follows the fallout of one family, their story is tragically universal. Dove carries the weight of the film on her shoulders, reminding the audience of the strength of the Canadian native population. Her unrelenting and raw bravery lets the audience reside in her psyche with a quiet discomfort needed for BONES OF CROWS to succeed as it does.

The beauty and triumph of BONES OF CROWS occur in unexpected moments. The appearance of the titular birds becomes a recurring theme of hope. You cannot ignore the striking cinematography. The film’s finale is a much-needed emotional catharsis. When you hear and feel the song “You Are My Bones,’ co-written by Marie Clements, you won’t be able to hold back any longer. Bones of Crows is a soul-changing film. It’s simply exquisite storytelling. TIFF22 audiences are privileged to experience this first. BONES OF CROWS is a jaw-dropping cinematic experience. 


An epic account of the life of Cree matriarch Aline Spears that spans generations, Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows is a powerful indictment of the abuse of Indigenous peoples as well as a stirring story of resilience and resistance.

This programme 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.


Canada, 2022
English, Cree, ʔayʔajuθəm, Italian
WORLD PREMIERE
127 minutes
Director
Marie Clements
Cast
Grace Dove, Phillip Forest Lewitski, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Michelle Thrush, Glen Gould, Gail Maurice, Carla Rae, Cara Gee, Rémy Girard, Karine Vanasse, Jonathon Whitesell, Patrick Garrow, Summer Testawich, Sierra McRae, Tanaya Beatty, Joshua Odjick, Alanis Obomsawin


TIFF22 review: ‘MY SAILOR, MY LOVE’ boasts beautifully complex performances.

MY SAILOR, MY LOVE

In Klaus Härö‘s TIFF22 feature, My Sailor, My Love, Grace hires a much-needed housekeeper for her curmudgeonly father, Howard. When Annie enters their lives, the family dynamic reaches a breaking point.

The friction between Howard and Grace slowly comes to light. Grace’s bitterness towards Annie stems from an inability to let her father move on in life. As his lifelong caretaker, her deep-seated resentment proves a daunting hurdle for everyone. Catherine Walker gives a nuanced performance. You can feel the weary weight of the years. Anyone who has cared for an aging family member will recognize emotional exhaustion and perhaps a touch of martyrdom. Walker bears all in the role.

This endearing later-stage love story is as lovely as can be. Annie and Howard’s earnest chemistry come to life with the extraordinary performances by James Cosmo and Bríd Brennan. Beautifully paced histories of their former selves lend to its authenticity. So much of the script occurs in things unsaid.

Brennan plays Annie with a generous disposition. Anyone would be lucky to have her as a scene partner. Her presence fills the screen with warmth. Brennan is spectacular.

Howard exists through the emotional redemption of James Cosmo. Cosmo gives us every bit of himself as a man mired in hurt, fear, and shame. As Howard, he longs for happiness and must come to terms with past regressions to heal. It is an award-worthy turn.

The score from Michelino Bisceglia has a classic elegance. The thoughtful cinematography by Robert Nordström includes breathtaking ariel views and impactful tracking shots. The care and intention are impossible to miss. My Sailor, My Love will capture the hearts of TIFF22 audiences.


Finland, Ireland, 2022
English
WORLD PREMIERE
103 minutes
Director
Klaus Härö
Cast
James Cosmo, Bríd Brennan, Catherine Walker


Review: Vicky Krieps captivates in ‘HOLD ME TIGHT’

HOLD ME TIGHT


Hold Me Tight is the newest film from French actor-director Mathieu Amalric. It centers around the emotional and physical break between a mother, her two children, and her husband. The film is a gripping narrative with your heart in your throat from beginning to end. You are constantly questioning reality. Grief is a monster known only to those who live it. Hold Me Tight journeys through regret with gusto. The editing is an absolute triumph, using fractured storytelling and poetic voiceovers. The dizzying pace is warranted by Amalric’s screenplay structure of time hopping.

The entire cast is breathtaking. Our leading lady, Vicky Krieps, gives a mesmerizing performance as a woman unraveling. Each beat is carefully curated, mired in sadness and pure love. Krieps’ unadulterated vulnerability demands your attention. It is an award-worthy turn. Hold Me Tight is an extraordinary study of grief and moving forward. You cannot walk away from this film unchanged.


Opens September 9 in NY at
Film at Lincoln Center & Angelika Film Center
 
Opens September 16 in LA at Laemmle Royal

 

France | 2021 | 97 min | Color | 1.85:1 | In French and German with English subtitles
 
Directed by Mathieu Amalric. Screenplay by Mathieu Amalric, based on the play by Claudine Galéa, Je reviens de loin. Cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne. Editing by François Gedigier. Production Design by Laurent Baude. Produced by Laetitia Gonzales and Yaël Fogiel with Félix Von Boehm (Les Films du Poisson). A Kino Lorber release.

New Trailer: In ‘TO LESLIE,’ Andrea Riseburough stars as a woman desperate for a second chance. Coming to theaters and on VOD October 7th.

TO LESLIE

Leslie (Andrea Riseborough) is a West Texas single mother struggling to provide for her son (Owen Teague) when she wins the lottery and a chance at a good life. But a few short years later the money is gone and Leslie is on her own, living hard and fast at the bottom of a bottle as she runs from the world of heartbreak she left behind.

With her charm running out and with nowhere to go, Leslie is forced to return home to her former friends Nancy and Dutch (Allison Janney, Stephen Root). Unwelcome and unwanted by those she wronged, it’s a lonely motel clerk named Sweeney (Marc Maron) who takes a chance when no one else will. With his support, Leslie comes face to face with the consequences of her actions, a life of regret, and a second chance to make a good life for her and her son.


IN THEATERS AND ON VOD OCTOBER 7, 2022

STARRING Andrea Riseborough, Allison Janney, Marc Maron, Andre Royo, Owen Teague, Stephen Root, James Landry Hebert, Matt Lauria, Catfish Jean

DIRECTED BY Michael Morris

WRITTEN BY Ryan Binaco

PRODUCED BY Claude Dal Farra, Brian Keady, Kelsey Law, Ceci Cleary, Philip Waley, Jason Shuman, Eduardo Cisneros

*2022 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL – WORLD PREMIERE*

Run Time: 119 Minutes | Distributor: Momentum Pictures  | Rating: R


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


Capsule Review: Henrika Kull’s ‘BLISS’ (Glück) is a raw and realistic depiction of love.

BLISS

An unconventional LGBTQ love story set in the world of sex workers, Bliss is set in a world where femininity is considered a commodity. Two sex workers fall in love with each other while working in a Berlin brothel. Together – and yet each on her own – they experience the one moment when happiness seems possible – but their love is threatened by different ideas of life and their own abysses.


In private, there is an uncomplicated intimacy between Maria and Sascha, but judgment bubbles to the surface once in mixed company. Self-loathing and regret are deep-seated, a deadly combination for sabotage. The script slowly but slickly reveals Sascha’s inner demons, putting Maria and the audience in an uncomfortable position. The second half of Bliss deals with the ripple of her emotional instability. It’s tricky but familiar. Performances from Katharina Behrens and Eva Collé are spectacular, fearless, and raw. It’s stylistically similar to a docu-drama, and I dug the energy of the entire film. Writer-director Henrika Kull gives audiences a gem.


Available On Digital August 16th

 

Directed by Henrika Kull

Starring Katharina Behrens, Eva Collé (as Adam Hoya), Nele Kayenberg, Jean-Luc Bubert


 

Review: Based on a harrowing true story, ‘Breaking’ showcases John Boyega in an award-worthy performance.

BREAKING

*A version of this review originally appeared on AWFJ.org. To see more of their coverage of Breaking click here!*


Director Abi Damaris Corbin brings to life the true story of Brian Brown-Easley. John Boyega plays the real-life ex-Marine who, in a last-ditch effort to get the money the VA owes him, threatens to blow up a Wells Fargo with two female managers inside with him. Breaking is an intense thriller that keeps your heart in your throat from beginning to end. It is one of the most extraordinary stories of principle I’ve ever seen.

Performances across the board are magnificent. The women in the film elevate the complexities. Connie Britton is Lisa Larson, a news producer with whom Easley speaks in great detail. Like all of her roles, she is a solid addition to the cast. Olivia Washington plays Cassandra Easley, Brian’s ex-wife. A woman in an unthinkable crisis attempting to protect their daughter, Kiah, Washington is fantastic.

Selenis Leyva plays bank teller Rosa Diaz. She is the audience. Her fear is palpable. Coming from her role on Orange is the New Black, Leyva swaps prison sass for an entirely different brand of vulnerability. Nicole Beharie is a grounding force in Breaking. Her calm strength reminds you to take a breath between scenes. Her arc is breathtaking.

In one of his final roles, Michael Kenneth Williams plays Sargent Eli Bernard, the police negotiator. Williams’ relatable nature is of utmost importance. His chemistry with Boyega is imperative.

John Boyega presents the audience with a masterclass of human desperation. Each beat screams off the screen, even in his silence. This man has clear signs of PTSD, but his sincerity and circumstance have you rooting for him. The emotional nuance blew me away as Boyega is simultaneously patient and commanding. This performance deserves every award possible. You cannot ignore it.

Abi Damaris Corbin and cowriter Kwame Kwei-Armah understood the stakes in telling this story with urgency and respect. The social commentary about this country’s despicable treatment of our veterans could not be louder. Breaking is a story of one man’s dignity, but it is also an undeniable megaphone for tens of thousands of men and women being placed on the back burner every day. The system is disgraceful. Shockingly, these incidents aren’t more frequent.

Equally as relevant is that this story did not need to play out this way. Beharie’s character speaks directly to this issue, asking Easley how long she has to keep her son away from the news stories. Suspects of color are never treated the same way as white individuals. Breaking is yet another glaring example of racism. The final minutes of the film will rattle your soul.


In Theaters August 26th, 2022

 

Review: ‘Get Away If You Can’ provides a sea-side meditation on gender and love.

GET AWAY IF YOU CAN


Hopeful that an open-ocean sail might relight the spark of their passion, a troubled married couple (played by filmmakers Terrence Martin and Dominique Braun) hits a breaking point when one’s refusal to explore a foreboding deserted island sends them on a deep internal journey that will require drastic decisions in order to survive.


With a title like Get Away if You Can, I sat down expecting a 90-minute sea-set thriller with the potential for a high body count. Instead, I was treated to a thoughtful meditation on love, purpose, and gender.

Co-directors (and real-life spouses) Dominique Braun and Terrence Martin star as a married couple on a solo sailing trip. The journey is long, and the destination is unknown, but Martin’s TJ is in a hurry to get them there. When he resists his wife’s request to take a few days to explore a deserted island, things quickly spiral out of control.

The filming locations are stunning – the filmmakers deftly navigate the cramped interiors and deck of the sailing yacht, giving a sense of scale and place at all times. The island drawing Domi’s (Dominique Braun) attention might be part of the “islands of despair”, but it is truly gorgeous. As in, I can understand having a fight with your spouse over an island like this. If despair looks like this, sign me up. Scenes away from the boat and island are purposeful, and further our associations with the two leads. Through flashbacks and phone calls, Domi’s world is shown to be lush, green, and free. TJ’s flashbacks, on the other hand, are grounded in steel, machinery, and work. The settings smartly reinforce the opposing dynamics pulling at the two lovers.

Since much of the film’s plot finds TJ and Domi in conflict, we don’t get to see much direct chemistry between the two leads. Braun’s Domi has a heavy load to carry, and we feel her appetites and frustrations. Martin’s TJ is given less to work with, expressing his frustrations by guzzling red wine and gorging himself on saltines. Ed Harris gives a compelling supporting turn as Alan, the father of Martin’s character. Alan is a stern man from a military background. But, more than this, he seems to embody toxic masculinity itself. Harris’ restrained physical performance speaks volumes – this is a man who can make chewing a piece of steak simultaneously hilarious, intimidating, and hostile. Harris’ energy lurks even in scenes where is physically absent.

I found the film’s climax to be brave and thoughtful. You may not agree with the choices the characters make, but you can understand the journey that has brought them to that moment. Despite some choppy waves, there’s ultimately a lot to like about this boat trip.


IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DIGITAL
Friday, August 19 

Los Angeles, CA // Laemmle Monica
Colorado Springs, CO // Icon 14
Middletown, DE // Westown Movies
Rogers, MN // Emagine Rogers 18
Chicago, IL // Cinema 14 Chatham
Birmingham, MI // Emagine Palladium 15

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: Terrence Martin and Dominique Braun
STARRING: Terrence Martin, Dominique Braun, Ed Harris, Riley Smith, Martina Gusman 
EXECUTIVE PROUCED BY: Andrew Davies Gans, Cary Wayne Moore
PRODUCED BY: Terrence Martin and Dominique Braun
CINEMATOGRAPHY BY: Lucio Bonelli, Michael Lockridge, Guillermo Nieto
EDITING BY: Russell Lichter, Andrés Quaranta


 

Popcorn Frights 2022 review: Calls for help fall by the wayside in Christine Nyland and Terence Krey’s ‘Distress Signals’

DISTRESS SIGNALS

**World Premiere**

Synopsis: When a fall down a steep rock face separates her from her friends, Caroline finds herself stranded. Now, alone and with a dislocated shoulder, she must make her way out of the woods — and contend with how she got there. Distress Signals is the second feature film from Terence Krey and Christine Nyland, the team behind 2021 Shudder Original An Unquiet Grave

What would you do to survive all alone in the woods? Do you have enough common knowledge to rescue yourself? A visceral watch, Distress Signals takes Popcorn Frights 2022 audiences on an undoubtedly intriguing journey. The title alone plays double duty in this surprisingly nuanced film focused on survival. Distress Signals is a complete genre shift from Terence Krey and Christine Nyland‘s previous film festival hit, now streaming in Shudder, An Unquiet Grave. Equally complex, Distress Signals relies on Nyland’s ability to reel the audience into a plausible scenario. Essentially carrying this film alone is astounding. Even the most minute idiosyncrasies scream off the screen. The lack of dialogue forces you to focus on Nyland, which isn’t a challenge considering her attention to detail.

Daniel Fox‘s cinematography (particularly the nighttime scenes) combined with a triumphant score by Shaun Hettinger is something to behold. Filmmakers used the elements to their storytelling advantage. The light, the terrain, the flora, and the weather become characters in the plot. Don’t get too comfortable. The final act will flip the script into one intensely harrowing narrative.


Popcorn Frights 2022 Online Screening Info
– Available online from Thursday, August 18th – Sunday, August 21st

 

Writer/Directors: Terence Krey, Christine Nyland
Starring: Christine Nyland, Jonathon Strauss, Stephanie Hains
Runtime: 80 min


 

Review: ‘The Immaculate Room’ is a thoughtful and dark locked-room story.

The Immaculate Room is a sleek and thoughtful feature, a great example of doing more with less. Due to COVID restrictions these past few years, there has been a distinctive uplift in what I would call “locked-room” movies – films with relatively few characters who remain in a single setting for the entire run-time. Many other plots have faltered or crumbled under this weight. The Immaculate Room leans into these restrictions by making themes of isolation, alienation, and the human psyche central to the film’s plot.

Kate Bosworth and Emilie Hirsch star as Kate and Mike, a couple competing in a psychological experiment. If they can last 50 days isolated within a blank white room, they win 5 million dollars. If either one of them leaves the room, the prize instantly drops to 1 million. If they both leave, they get nothing. No possessions are allowed into the room, and there is nearly zero contact with the outside world (other than the disembodied voice of the room itself, which chimes in to remind them of the rules) Food (if you can call it that) is dispensed via a slot in the wall. The whole thing looks a little like IKEA’s marketing department designed a prison.

Both leads deliver strong performances. Hirsch’s Mike is an artist. While he wants the prize money, his easygoing demeanor hints at a more privileged background. Hirsch gives a grounded performance – his career has taken some strange turns since his bravura turn in 2007’s Into the Wild. Here he again proves he will excel when given roles where he can use physicality to convey emotion. Bosworth’s Kate is more guarded and driven – she recites mantras to herself every morning in the bathroom mirror. I loved the versatility of Bosworth’s performance – keep an eye on the techniques Kate employs to motivate and keep Mike focused on the prize throughout the film.

Writer-director Mukunda Michael Dewil’s script deserves a lot of credit for the success of the film. The simplicity of the challenge alone is not very exciting, and the audience is braced for twists and turns. They come at the right intervals and build slowly from the familiar to the inevitably more disturbing. The rules set for the room are simultaneously simple and incredibly clever. Each participant has access to two “treats” they can access at any time. The catch? A treat deducts 100k from the prize fund. A “treat” for Mike might be pretty different from Kate’s. Some are innocent, and some are dangerous.

The film’s conclusion lands awkwardly and feels a bit divorced from the rest of the plot. I’m not sure I fully believed the resolution. The concept of the film naturally lends itself to bigger questions (how far would you go for money, how well do you know yourself, etc.) I appreciated that Dewil doesn’t allow the film to become a black and white morality tale. If any of us was stuck in a room for this long, I’m sure we’d all have our off-days.


In Theaters & On Demand August 19th

 

*Best Feature & Best Actor Award – Mammoth Film Festival*
*Best Feature Award – London Independent Film Awards*


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: ‘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