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

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


Space Jam

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


Fantastic Mr. Fox

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


The Matrix

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


Us

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


Peter Rabbit

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


WATERSHIP DOWN

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


Donnie Darko

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


Miss Potter

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


Night of the Lepus (1972)

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


Harvey

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


Zootopia

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


Fatal Attraction

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


Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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


Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

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

The Favourite

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


Alice in Wonderland

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


Jojo Rabbit

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


Caveat

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


HOP

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


Monty Python and The Holy Grail

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


A Christmas A Story

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

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


HOPPY EASTER


Sundance 2022: Some of what we’ll be watching at this year’s festival, and it’s a lot.

Having switched from in-person to completely virtual, audiences of Sundance 2022 will have the opportunity to see a plethora of entertainment that will terrify, tantalize, and remind you of why we love storytelling so much. From horror to drama, television series to shorts, documentaries to VR experiences, we’ll be watching as much as our eyes can consume from January 20-30th. Things are finding distribution left and right, with is always great news. That means even if you miss something during the festival, it will most likely be coming to a theater or streaming platform very soon.

There is something for everyone. Genre favorite filmmakers, writers, actors, and wearers of all the hats,  Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, are bringing their latest film Something In The Dirt. Cooper Raif‘s newest Cha Cha Real Smooth is one we’re stoked for. His debut feature Shithouse was one of the most accurate films about college life I’ve ever seen. The shorts lineup this year is bound to blow you away. Do not overlook them, I beg you. There are feature documentaries on Kanye West and Princess Diana, the rise of TikTok, and Slave to Sirens (the first and only all-woman thrash metal band in the Middle East).

Without further ado, here is a list of some of the amazing content we’re excited about this year.


 U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Cha Cha Real Smooth / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Cooper Raiff, Producers: Dakota Johnson, Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Jessica Switch, Cooper Raiff) — A directionless college graduate embarks on a relationship with a young mom and her teenage daughter while learning the boundaries of his new bar mitzvah party-starting gig. Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Vanessa Burghardt, Evan Assante, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann. World Premiere.

Besides Raiff being an obvious phenom, I suspect this one will hit harder for those with children on the spectrum. I’m particularly excited for Vanessa Burghardt’s performance, as she is on the spectrum herself. Representation matters, across the board.

Dual / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Riley Stearns, Producers: Nate Bolotin, Aram Tertzakian, Lee Kim, Riley Stearns, Nick Spicer, Maxime Cottray) — After receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah commissions a clone of herself to ease the loss for her friends and family. When she makes a miraculous recovery, her attempt to have her clone decommissioned fails, and leads to a court-mandated duel to the death. Cast: Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, Beulah Koale. World Premiere.

This plot sounds like something out of West World and Doctor Who. Did I just mention those because of Paul and Gillan? Happy coincidence.


U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

I Didn’t See You There / U.S.A. (Director: Reid Davenport, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency. World Premiere.

I fell into advocacy for those with disabilities when my son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I have a feeling that this film will give me a deeper understanding of not only my son’s perspective on society but the ever-present need for awareness and empathy.


WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Brian And CharlesU.K. (Director: Jim Archer, Screenwriters: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Producer: Rupert Majendie)  — A story of friendship, love, and letting go. And a 7ft tall robot that eats cabbages. A comedy shot in documentary format. Cast: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie, Lowri Izzard, Mari Izzard. World Premiere.

Prediction: Brian And Charles will be one of the most endearing films of the entire festival. This unlikely buddy comedy is sure to capture everyone’s heart.

 

Leonor Will Never DiePhilippines (Director and Screenwriter: Martika Ramirez Escobar, Producers: Monster Jimenez, Mario Cornejo)  — Fiction and reality blur when Leonor, a retired filmmaker, falls into a coma after a television lands on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay. Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon. World Premiere.

As a writer, I’m selfishly looking forward to this. There’s always a bit of myself in my fiction, and who wouldn’t want to become an action hero?


WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Calendar GirlsSweden (Directors, Screenwriters, and Producers: Maria Loohufvud, Love Martinsen) — A coming-of-golden-age look at Florida’s most dedicated dance team for women over 60, shaking up the outdated image of “the little old lady,” and calling for everyone to dance their hearts out, while they still can. World Premiere.

Dancing since the age of three, this 41-year-old is looking for a few new role models.

 

Nothing Compares / Ireland, U.K. (Director: Kathryn Ferguson, Producers: Eleanor Emptage, Michael Mallie) — The story of Sinéad O’Connor’s phenomenal rise to worldwide fame and subsequent exile from the pop mainstream. Focusing on Sinéad’s prophetic words and deeds from 1987 to 1993, the film reflects on the legacy of this fearless trailblazer through a contemporary feminist lens. World Premiere.


NEXT

Something In The Dirt / U.S.A. (Directors: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Screenwriter: Justin Benson, Producers: David Lawson, Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson)  — When neighbors John and Levi witness supernatural events in their Los Angeles apartment building, they realize documenting the paranormal could inject some fame and fortune into their wasted lives. An ever-deeper, darker rabbit hole, their friendship frays as they uncover the dangers of the phenomena, the city, and each other. Cast: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead. World Premiere. Fiction.

Genre fans will recognize these household names for their spellbinding skills. I’ve yet to watch away from their films without chills or an audible “WTF.”

The Cathedral / Italy, U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Ricky D’Ambrose, Producer: Graham Swon) — An only child’s account of an American family’s rise and fall over two decades. Cast: Brian d’Arcy James, Monica Barbaro, Mark Zeisler, Geraldine Singer, William Bednar-Carter. North American Premiere. Fiction.


MIDNIGHT

Hatching / Finland (Director: Hanna Bergholm, Screenwriter: Ilja Rautsi, Producers: Mika Ritalahti, Nico Ritalahtit) — While desperately trying to please her demanding mother, a young gymnast discovers a strange egg. She tucks it away and keeps it warm, but when it hatches, what emerges shocks everyone. Cast: Jani Volanen, Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä, Saija Lentonen, Reino Nordin, Oiva Ollila. World Premiere. Fiction.

 

PIGGY / Spain (Director and Screenwriter: Carlota Pereda, Producers: Merry Colomer, David Atlan-Jackson) — Sara deals with constant teasing from girls in her small town. But it comes to an end when a stranger kidnaps her tormentors. Sara knows more than she’s saying and must decide between speaking up and saving the girls or saying nothing to protect the strange man who spared her. Cast: Laura Galán. World Premiere. Fiction.

Speak No Evil / Denmark (Director and Screenwriter: Christian Tafdrup, Screenwriter: Mads Tafdrup, Producer: Jacob Jarek) — A Danish family visits a Dutch family they met on a holiday. What was supposed to be an idyllic weekend slowly starts unraveling as the Danes try to stay polite in the face of unpleasantness. Cast: Morten Burian, Sidsel Siem Koch, Fedja van Huêt, Karina Smulders, Liva Forsberg, Marius Damslev. World Premiere. Fiction.


KIDS

Maika / Vietnam (Director and Screenwriter: Ham Tran, Producers: Jenni Trang Le, Duy Ho, Anderson Le, Bao Nguyen) — After a meteor falls to earth, 8-year-old Hung meets an alien girl from the planet Maika, searching for her lost friend. As Hung helps her otherworldly friend search, the alien inadvertently helps Hung make new friends and heal a broken heart. But danger lurks everywhere… Cast: Phu Truong, Diep Anh Tru, Tin Tin, Ngoc Tuong, Kim Nha. World Premiere. Fiction.


INDIE EPISODIC PROGRAM

The Dark Heart / Sweden (Director: Gustav Möller, Screenwriter: Oskar Söderlund, Producers: Anna Carlsten, Caroline Landerberg) — Sweden: in a mythological landscape, search parties roam through forests of spruce, secret conversations are whispered in open fields, and verbal duels fought on narrow country roads. A story of family feuds, inheritances, and forbidden love. Cast: Aliette Opheim, Clara Christiansson Drake, Gustav Lindh, Peter Andersson. World Premiere. Fiction. 

Sweden’s true crime game is above and beyond. The US had already remade series like The Killing and The Bridge. Sundance 2022 audiences can dive headfirst into The Dark Heart. The series is a five-part psychological drama-thriller about how an old family feud clashes with a young, forbidden love story, leading to a tragedy with a deadly outcome, ultimately solved by a private investigator who gets obsessed with the case. The story is based on journalist Joakim Palmkvist’s book “The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator”, which delves into the story about how a mysterious missing person’s case is investigated and solved by a local Missing People-volunteer involved in the searches.


INTERNATIONAL LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS

Warsha / France/Lebanon (Director and Screenwriter: Dania Bdeir, Producer: Coralie Dias) — A Syrian migrant working as a crane operator in Beirut volunteers to cover a shift on one of the most dangerous cranes, where he is able to find his freedom. Cast: Khansa. World Premiere.

Once in a blue moon, a short film takes your breath away and Warsha might be that film in 2022.


U.S LIVE ACTION SHORT FILMS

Huella / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Gabriela Ortega, Producers: Helena Sardinha, Rafael Thomaseto) — When the death of her grandmother unleashes a generational curse, a disenchanted flamenco dancer resigned to a desk job is forced to experience the five stages of grief through a visit from her female ancestors. Cast: Shakira Barrera, Denise Blasor, Carla Valentine. 


U.S. NONFICTION SHORT FILMS

Long Line of Ladies / United States (Directors: Rayka Zehtabchi, Shaandiin Tome, Producers: Garrett Schiff, Pimm Tripp-Allen, Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis, Dana Kurth) — A girl and her community prepare for her Ihuk, the once-dormant coming of age ceremony of the Karuk and Yurok tribes of Northern California. World Premiere. DAY ONE


For Sundance 2022 full line-up, tickets, and more click here!


 

Review: ‘Welcome To The Show’ begs your attention and challenges your morality.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW

An invitation to a mysterious theatre piece, “The Show,” sends four best friends down a rabbit hole of mistrust and madness as they try to figure out who are the actors, who is the audience, who is doing this to them, and why.

One lie, 4 best friends, and a mysterious theatrical invitation lead to existential conversations and life-changing consequences in this unusual indie film. Relationships are pushed to their breaking points when the truth is impossible to escape. Welcome To The Show begs your attention and challenges your moral compass. Writer-director Dorie Barton, whose film Girl Flu is a must-see, gives audiences a whole lot to chew on in her sophomore feature.

A notable pattern in the dialogue sees the group using a word association device to both play and calm one another. At first, it feels quirky. This carefully curated choice becomes one of the most meaningful aspects of the script. You’ll be undoubtedly confused at times but as revelations spill into reality, the bigger picture is altogether shocking. Welcome To The Show is easily a double entendre for life. If you think you know where this film is going, think again. It veers from funny and relatable to dark and completely unexpected. The cast is extraordinary. Each of our four leads gives a distinct and powerful performance. Their emotional journeys are thoroughly surprising. Richard Follin, Dillon Douglasson, Keegan Garant, and Christopher Martin, bravo, gentleman. That final shot is physically jarring and brilliant. Welcome To The Show is the epitome of independent film in the best ways.

 

Review: What is ‘Fire Bones’? It’s almost gleefully indescribable.

We’re all stuck at home, binge-watching crime doc, reading books, listening to music and podcasts like fiends. What if we could take all of those things and combine them into one incredible immersive theatrical experience? Enter FIRE BONES, a multi-media project utilizing film, music, audio, visual art, and even poetry as it tells a whimsical Southern Gothic tale via a road trip to solve a crazy mystery. The project was created by poet and Director of Creative Writing at SMU, Greg Brownderville, and features the narrative directorial debut of Bart Weiss, the Founder of Dallas Video Fest and a Professor of Film at University of Texas, Arlington. FIRE BONES is a visual feast. The Chapter pages have small, striking mixed media tags that are strung as clues. I would hang each one of them on my walls. When you click through, each numbered to avoid confusion, you are treated to something unique that pushes this mystery along.

The story revolves around the disappearance of an extraordinary woman named Amra. She was a pilot, a leader of the town’s Pentecostal church “Fire Bones”, and a local legend that everyone knew… or so they thought. We follow Greg and Bart’s search for answers as accusations fly and information slowly comes to light in this unusual town filled with eccentric residents. The commitment to this unique format by this cast is magic. It’s weird and wonderful and I guarantee you have never seen or heard anything like it. Each clue gets better and better. Two standouts from the first half of this journey are Chapter 4: Clue #13 – Trainbow – Poetric dialogue set against breathtaking swamp and train imagery. And Chapter 5, Clue #15 Sign of the Times –  A hilarious song with a tongue-in-cheek take on church board messaging.

If the pandemic had never happened, this could have easily been one of the most popular in-person attractions in immersive theatre history. If you’ve ever experienced a show like Sleep No More, which is an intense, live walkthrough of Macbeth in which the scenes play out from room to room as the audience wears masks and is encouraged to interact with the cast, you’d understand what I mean. FIRE BONES could easily adopt this presentation. It could be a permanent exhibit at MoMA. In our current circumstances, it’s a fun thing to do with family members. Fare warning, if you are listening with younger ears, there is a bit of profanity from time to time. While it is ultimately 4 1/2 hrs of content, you easily breeze from one piece to the next. The audio style wavers between true crime and radio drama. The videos are stunning to look at. Sharply shot and puzzling in content, you cannot help but we swept up in the mystery. Because each chapter is short, you never have time to get distracted. And because the format changes, you’re constantly engaged. FIRE BONES has massive expansion potential, but in its current form is undeniably entertaining. In an unpredictable world, some predictable fun is welcome.

Fire Bones trailer from Fire Bones on Vimeo.

 

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

Reel News Daily Holiday recommendation:

FILMMAKING CONFIDENTIAL

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

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

Filmmaking Confidential

Review: ‘If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth’ is a short film every parent needs to watch.

If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth

Adapted from The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts column
Featuring narration by Jon Hamm

 

If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth is a short film adapted from the hilarious and heartwarming humor essay written by Toronto-based comedian Sophie Kohn (CBC Comedy), which was featured in The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts column in June, 2018. It features a monologue from a man who appears first as a stereotypical, overprotective patriarchal figure, but through clever turn of phrase, is quickly revealed to be a progressive, boundary-respecting father of a teenage daughter named Raina.

As someone who was forbidden to date until the age of 16 (which turned into me being too terrified to defy my strict Catholic parents), I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was 18 years old. My Parents are amazing. I’m very lucky and I know it. While I always felt comfortable as a young girl discussing crushes, into the teen years, I was no different than my peers in keeping secrets and feelings to myself. In hindsight, that fear and lack of open communication ultimately led me to have zero understanding of who I was in a romantic relationship dynamic and what I deserved. This forward-thinking short film melted my heart with its honest humor. As a 40-year-old Mom (yes, I just wrote that) with a three-year-old daughter, I immediately sent this to my husband and explained how this would have been incredible to experience as a young woman. I am hoping he studies up on this very smart, modern take on parenting, especially girls. Body autonomy is absolutely key to a healthy mental state, not to mention a great parent/child relationship. In 3 minutes and 18 seconds, it manages to capture the raw emotion of being a parent and attempting to protect your offspring. Its message is important without being overly preachy. With its sharp humor, quick cuts, and its genius delivery by Jon Hamm, If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth is pure delight. We can all afford to learn and grow and as parents. Aren’t we all determined to do better this time around?

Shot in Montclair, New Jersey, the short film features voiceover narration from actor Jon Hamm, alongside performances from lead actors David Afflick (Father), Alani Waters (Raina), and James Denzer (Jaxsen). New Jersey-based production company Brave Makers produced the short, led by a team including company founder and executive producer Justin Ross (Girls Leadership #MyVoiceMyPower), and director, producer, and Austin-based comedian Meghan Ross (An Uncomfortable Woman), who also moonlights as Justin’s sister.

Review: ‘Dear…’ Apple Tv+ new series is coming this Friday!

Dear…

One person’s story can change the world. From Emmy-winning filmmaker R.J. Cutler, this ten-part docuseries profiles game-changing icons and the people whose lives they’ve inspired.

 

Dear… is a brand new docuseries featuring letters to some of the most influential people of our time. These fan letters affect the reader as profoundly as the author. ‘DEAR…’ explores the histories of our subjects, what inspired them to be artistic, brave, and to step into the unknown. Like each letter illustrated, the series is one of a kind, and having a good TV to watch it is important, as you can also get a standing tv mount for purposes like this.

Episode 2:

Lin-Manuel Miranda understood that if you don’t tell your story, someone will do it for you in a way that might not be as authentic. He talks about creating In The Heights and literally changing the face and sound of musical theatre. He learned how to say, “No”, and how to wait for the right opportunity. Finally, Latinos were able to see themselves onstage. His fans’ letters speak to the ability to celebrate their heritage. Wait until you see how and where he shares the first 16 bars from Hamilton. Through this show and his subsequent speech at the Tony Awards, he gave renew voice to the LGBTQA+ community. Love is love is love is love is love.

Episode 6:

Jane Goodall is a huge figure for someone so small in real life. What she has done for research and extinction awareness is a gift to the Earth. In her Dear… episode, her letters tell the stories of other people and their journey to protect the planet and its creatures. Jane’s love of animals and Tarzan inspired her to study Africa. Footage of Goodall in 1960 in Tanzania in search of chimpanzees is gorgeous. Thus began her life’s work. Her fans span generations, creating foundations, becoming conservation activists and journalists, mentors, and environmentally progressive teens. Her message through Roots and Shoots is about encouraging each child to be part of the solution and have the courage to raise awareness to those who don’t understand the effect humans have on climate.

Episode 7:

Big Bird, yes our giant 8-foot tall Sesame Street herald, has his very own episode of Dear… Big Bird is technically only 6 years old, but he’s been around since the incarnation of Jim Henson and PBS’ children’s series in 1969. Children follow the social-emotional growth of someone just like them. In 1982, the actor who played Mr. Hooper passed away, and Sesame Street used it as an opportunity to teach young kids about death. Whenever major events happen in the world, Sesame Street deals with them head-on using Big Bird as their universal child. He shows the same vulnerability that a viewer would. His letters are from the adults that grew up with him. With 2 toddlers of my own, we watch Big Bird learn new lessons every day. He teaches them how to be a good friend, how it’s ok to make mistakes, and how to be accepting of those who are different from us. Now that Sesame Street has Julia, a character with autism, my connection with Big Bird is stronger than ever. I am a Mom with a child on the spectrum. He has taught us that being yourself is the best way to be, that would celebrate how special and unique each of us truly is. In a way, this review is my very own letter saying Thank You for continuing to teach us all.

DEAR… also showcases the lives and letters of Spike Lee, Aly Raisman, Misty Copeland, Oprah Winfrey, Yara Shahidi, Jane Goodall, Stevie Wonder, and Gloria Steinem. The beautiful juxtaposition of the authors’ letters dramatized while reading them is stunning. You’ll have chills. The show is hopeful and real. It’s incredibly well done. It’s a series we need right now, in this moment of history. DEAR… can be seen beginning June 5th in its entirety on Apple TV+.

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2019 is upon us!

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


FESSENDEN’S DEPRAVED: MAKING FRANKENSTEIN IN A BROOKLYN LOFT

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

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

Director Larry Fessenden in attendance.

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


THE SHED

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

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

Director Frank Sabatella in attendance.

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


GIRL ON THE THIRD FLOOR

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

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

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

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


A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO

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

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

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


SWALLOW

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

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

Director Carlo Mirabella-Davis in attendance

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


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

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

Review: ‘KILL ORDER’ feels unfinished in a good way.

In KILL ORDER, chaos erupts when a group of armed men break into a high school classroom. They target David, a quiet kid who secretly suffers from unexplained memories of a horrifying past. Tapping into a previously unknown strength, David fights off his attackers and goes on the run. With his life and the lives of his loved ones in jeopardy, David must master the use of his new superhuman strength and fighting skills to find the people responsible and get his revenge.

The Mark brothers have given us an incredibly fun and action-packed martial arts indie. Writer/director James Mark brings his stuntman background to the big screen with a film filled with intrigue and some seriously intense fight sequences. The CG actually adds to the Resident Evil video game feel of the flashbacks. Younger Mark brother, Chris, in the role of David is able to utilize his own stuntman skills to his character’s advantage. The fight choreo is high impact and just downright cool to watch. Mark’s moment to moment emotional ride is also pretty impressive. It’s a really great initial jump into the world of leading man. The superb editing builds upon the script’s mystery. And while the ending leaves much to be answered, the film feels like the first in a series of graphic novel inspired stories. There is a ton of potential for Kill Order to become a franchise.

You can check out the trailer below and catch the film today!

RLJ Entertainment, Inc. is set to release the action/sci-fi film KILL ORDER on VOD, Digital HD and on DVD on Feb. 6, 2018.  Written and directed by James Mark (Jumper), KILL ORDER stars Chris Mark (Suicide Squad), Daniel Park (Pacific Rim), Denis Akiyama (Pixels), Melee Hutton (Beautiful People), Jessica Clement (“Pure”), Jason Gosbee (Suicide Squad), Reuben Langdon (Ant-Man) and Alain Moussi (Kickboxer: Vengeance).

ABOUT RLJE FILMS

An RLJ Entertainment, Inc. brand (NASDAQ: RLJE), RLJE Films features include Once Upon a Time in Venice starring Bruce Willis, Bushwick with Dave Bautista and Brittany Snow, Pilgrimage with Tom Holland, Jon Bernthal and Richard Armitage, and Brawl in Cell Block 99 from writer/director S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) and starring Vince Vaughn, Don Johnson and Jennifer Carpenter. These titles are distributed in multiple formats including theatrical, VOD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download. www.us.rljentertainment.com.

Review: ‘DRIFTWOOD’ is anything but hollow.

You might think that a film without a single word of dialogue would be difficult or tedious to watch. You’d be completely wrong in the case of festival favorite, Driftwood. After a young woman washes up on shore, an older man “rescues” her and brings her to his home to recoup. But all is not what it seems from the very beginning. The relationship between the two is unsettling at every turn. Is the woman an amnesiac? Performances from all three cast members are equally intriguing. Each wanting for something completely different. Again… all without dialogue! The viewer’s insinuations make this story a unique emotional journey. Writer/director Paul Taylor has done something so new and strange, easily running the gambit of humorous to patriarchal grotesque, Driftwood will leave you scratching your head and wanting to watch again and again. The impact is undoubtedly endless.Check out the film’s chilling trailer below…
DRIFTWOOD is now available on ITUNES

_____________________________________________________

Paul Taylor’s DRIFTWOOD was the 2016 Slamdance Jury Prize winner for Best Narrative Film

Review: ‘GIRL FLU’ is contagious fun.

Growing up is awkward. No one is ever really prepared to deal with puberty, whether it’s the child or the parent. In Dorie Barton‘s brilliant directorial debut, Girl Flu, one little girl isn’t the only one that comes face to face with what it means to become a woman.

Synopsis:

Bird, 12, has to become a woman whether she wants to or not when – in the worst week of her life – she gets her first period, is ditched by her impulsive, free spirited mom, and learns that you can never really go back to The Valley.

 

Girl Flu is truly an endearing film. Funny, relatable, and just enough edge to surpass the afterschool special pigeonhole, it’s a directorial debut that Dorie Barton can be proud of. Whether the reality of the plot is who is really raising whom, we are treated to some incredibly sold performances from the entire cast. Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) brings Jenny to life; an ill-equipped, young mother, raising a 12-year-old, who never quite grew up herself. Her crunchy and pot smoking morning rituals annoy the hell out of her daughter and her boyfriend, played by Jeremy Sisto (Waitress). Sackhoff is a beautiful balance of super flighty and genuinely sincere. Sisto, solid as ever, navigates his evolving feelings for mother and daughter alike adding to the heart and humor of a universal milestone. Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse), as mom Jenny’s best friend, is damn hilarious. Not surprising for Matarazzo, as she lights up the screen in every role she plays. The real breakout star, without a doubt, is our major lead Jade Pettyjohn (School of Rock) as Bird. Humiliated and bullied, surviving on the resiliency she’s been forced to develop, she is whip-smart, vulnerable, and a total pro in this role. Irrational child logic is what makes this script so honestly entertaining. We laugh because we’ve been there. The cool soundtrack is the perfect addition. It’s been a fan favorite at over two dozen film festivals so far and it’s easy to see why. You can catch GIRL FLU on VOD (Amazon, iTunes, Google Play) today, September 29. Check out the trailer below!

 

Review: ‘Love At First Child(Ange et Gabrielle) is a charming familial rom com.

Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, July 11 on all major platforms includingiTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

Gabrielle (Isabelle Carré) is a single mother, her 17-year-old daughter Claire is pregnant, however the child’s father Simon has no desire to be involved with his future baby. When Gabrielle takes matters into her own hands and asks Simon’s father Ange (Patrick Bruel) for help, an unexpected relationship begins.

Oozing with charm, Love At First Child is heartwarming and funny. The story of a hypochondriac womanizing architect and a down to earth pharmacist coming together over a grandchild couldn’t be more interesting. It’s a story of familial redemption. it’s another chance at living the life these characters always wanted deep down. Isabelle Carré as Gabrielle is a lovely foil for Patrick Bruel‘s stubborn Ange. Revealing much more about the plot would spoil the film. For me, it harkens back to Three Men and a Baby in the best way possible.This script could easily find itself in a position for an American remake with a similar audience as the upcoming Toni Erdmann. Though, trying to recreate the chemistry for both films again doesn’t seem possible. Delightfully scored and beautifully shot, you simply cannot go wrong with this little gem.

 

91mins / Comedy /France /Color / Distributor: Under The Milky Way

DIRECTED BY: ANNE GIAFFERI

In French with English Subtitles

__

ALSO RELEASED BY UNDER THE MILKY WAY ON ALL MAJOR VOD PLATFORMS ON JULY 11 AS A PART OF THIER “COMEDIES À LA CARTE” COLLECTION:

– DYKE HARD (Directed by: Bitte Anderson, Comedy, Sweden, 90 mins)

– NOT MY DAY (Directed by:Peter Thorwarth, Comedy, Germany, 110mins)

– ONE MAN AND HIS COW (Directed by: Mohamed Hamidi, Comedy, France, 91 mins)

– WINWIN (Directed by: Daniel Hoesl, Comedy, Austria, 84 mins)

Review: ‘Maudie’ brings Sally Hawkins into the Oscar race.

Based on a true story, MAUDIE charts the unlikely romance between Maud Lewis, a folk artist who blossoms in later life, and the curmudgeonly recluse, Everett.

Maud, bright-eyed but hunched with crippled hands, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. When she answers an ad for a housekeeper for the reclusive Everett, a local fish peddler, the two strike up an unlikely romance. Maud’s determination for her art, along with her partnership with Everett, blossoms into a career as a famous folk artist, bringing them closer together in ways they never imagined.

Maudie is the story of two misunderstood people who yearn for physical and emotional connection. Finding one another at their loneliest, Maud and Everett form a seemingly unlikely bond navigating their way from work relationship to honest intimacy. The script has a quiet beauty, with cinematography that is as vibrant as Maud’s unique artwork. Sally Hawkins‘ performance in the titular role is nothing short of award-worthy. While portraying real life folk artist stricken with severe arthritis, each movement seems both physically pained and balletic all at once. Ethan Hawke steps outside his usual cool guy fare to portray a rather rough around the edges fishermonger. Their chemistry on screen is an absolute joy to watch. Maudie is an unusual love story that will capture your heart and touch your soul.

Original Art from Maud Lewis

** Official Selection of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival **

In Theaters June 16, 2017

Starring:
Sally Hawkins (HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, BLUE JASMINE)
Ethan Hawke (BOYHOOD, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN)
Kari Matchett (“Covert Affairs”, “24”)
Gabrielle Rose (THE SWEET HEREAFTER, IF I STAY)
Zachary Bennett (“Orphan Black”)

Directed by: Aisling Walsh
Written by: Sherry White

Exclusive Clip from the upcoming film FOR HERE OR TO GO? coming to theaters this Friday! The battle over legal immigration and the H-1B visa has many familiar faces.

Reel News Daily is exclusively premiering a clip from the politically relevant film, FOR HERE OR TO GO?, a film about a young Silicon Valley software engineer Vivek Pandit, who is poised to become a key hire at a promising healthcare startup, but when the company realizes his work visa has less than a year remaining, the offer disappears. American in mind and Indian at heart, FOR HERE OR TO GO? is a contemporary story of ambition and ambivalence fueled by one’s immigration status that characterizes the dilemma of modern cultural displacement.
The clip could actually be considered a hilarious metaphor for the rest of the film, check it out below:

Starring: Ali Fazal  (Furious 7), Melanie Chandra (CBS’s “Code Black”), Omi Vaidya  (TV’s “Brown Nation”), Amitosh Nagpal (in his International Debut), Rajit Kapur (Making of the Mahatma) and Samrat Chakrabarti (Viceroy’s House)

The film will be released in theaters on March 31st.

Review: ‘When The Bough Breaks’ takes an emotionally impactful look at PPD.

Presents

I remember the disappointment when after 16 hrs of laboring, I wasn’t progressing with my son. C-section it would have to be. Okay. As long as he’s healthy, that’s all that matters. After what seemed to be a routine surgery, as soon as my husband was about to bring our son around to show me his little face, my body had a reaction to the Pitocin and anesthesia combination and I began getting sick while trapped down and numb. So much so that I was unable to turn to see my newborn son’s face for the first 24 hrs. Getting up after essentially becoming the lady sawed in half is harder than you think, despite the copious amounts of drugs being pumped into your IV. When I did finally shuffle slowly towards the NICU and saw him, so small and helpless and covered in monitors, there was an unfathomable feeling. Nothing. I felt a total disconnect and has no idea why. It took me months to come to terms with having a traumatic birth and becoming one of those healthy moms. Through breastfeeding challenges, a baby that would not sleep (thus Mom and Dad that didn’t sleep either) I was losing it. While I did get into the swing of things, I had other very close friends who were telling me that they were experiencing Post Partum Depression. “Baby Blues” are what I was going through. I wasn’t crying every day or having horrible thoughts. I was getting better. PPD is not something we talk about because of its stigma. That is not ok. For total health and fitness tips visit site.

When The Bough Breaks is a feature length documentary about postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.  Narrated and Executive Produced by Brooke Shields, this shocking film uncovers this very public health issue which affects one in five new mothers after childbirth.
The film follows Lindsay Gerszt, a mother who has been suffering from PPD for six years. Lindsay agrees to let the cameras document her and give us an in-depth look at her path to recovery. We meet women who have committed infanticide and families who have lost loved ones to suicide.
Babies are dying, women aren’t speaking out and the signs are being missed.  When The Bough Breaks takes us on a journey to find answers and break the silence.  This film also features stories from singer Carnie Wilson, actress Tanya Newbould, celebrity chef Aarti Sequeira and Peggy Tanous of The Real Housewives of Orange County.

Lindsay Gerszt‘s story is not as uncommon as one might think. PPD is not something we talk about enough. This doc does an exceptional job of mixing intimate sit down interviews and actual science behind this mental illness. There are some interviews with mothers who never got the help they needed. As a mom, it is very difficult to hear and to watch. To be honest, I had to step away for a moment because I started to cry. But, it’s important not to ignore. This is truly valuable information. Treatments, from every kind, are discussed. Groups and reach out programs highlighted. It’s a treasure trove of knowledge in about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The film’s impact will stay with me always and I will now become an advocate for this issue, as it doesn’t just affect the mother and child, but everyone connected to them. If someone you know seems like they are struggling, you need to reach out. Most women will not admit how bad things really. Offer help, check in, be a good friend. When The Bough Breaks is available today on iTunes.

Available on iTunes March 14th  

WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY:
Jamielyn Lippman 

PRODUCED BY:
Lindsay Gerszt and Tanya Newbould

FEATURING:
Singer Carnie Wilson
“The Next Food Network Star” chef  Aarti Sequeira 
Real Housewives Of Orange County” star Peggy Tanous

NARRATED BY:
Brooke Shields 

RT: 93 Minutes

Website: 
www.whentheboughbreaksfilm.com

Social Media:
Twitter: @boughbreaksdoc
Official Facebook Page

Review: ‘THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT’ has haunting visual appeal.

the-possession-experiment-poster

SYNOPSIS:  THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT tells the story of Brandon (Minor), who has always been drawn to the supernatural.  So when asked to pick a topic to base his final world theology class project on, he decides to explore the dark world of exorcisms. Teamed up with three classmates, the group investigates a multiple homicide that they eventually discover was an exorcism gone horribly wrong. Brandon becomes obsessed with the event, and in a strange turn of events, decides the only way to research this topic is to undergo an exorcism himself.

possession-experiment-image Scott B. Hansen‘s film is a visual feast for most of its run. At moments, it appears to be two different films with any scenes specifically involving the occult are spectacular. They rival any big budget film like The Conjuring. On the other hand, the scenes that are not directly linked to these moments come off as afterthoughts with a low quality to them. The difference between the two is rather astounding. The acting from the majority of the cast is down right atrocious, with three perfromances withstanding this criticism. Lead Chris Minor, who carries the film on his shoulders, does a great job taking on a familiar horror trope with his emtional heart on his sleeve. Jake Brinn, as stoner sidekick Clay, gives a down to earth portrayal.  You could easily think he was plucked from a local college to play this role overnight. Our lady of the hour in The Possession Experiment is actress KT Fanelli. Her commitment to playing a woman too far gon  to save is, frankly, award worthy. Color me impressed with her ability to take on the physicality required to make this a convincing performance. the-possession-experiment-chris-minor-still

While the screenplay may not seem to be anythign new, there is one heck of a clever twist. And the ending, which really doesn’t arrive until you get into the credits, is fantastic. The highest praise I am eager to share about The Possession Experiment is the phenominal practical effects. I actually cringed and looked away several times. As someone who lives and breathes new horror films 3-5 times a week, that’s saying something. Two more positives come with the effective sound editing and an updated live stream concept that brings the script into the 21st century. Not so hidden are the homages to A Nightmare on Elm Street and Rosemary’s Baby. If the acting had been up to par and the ancilary shots matched in quality, this film would most defintely hod its own weight in a world where horror standards get higher every day.

TITLE: THE POSSESSION EXPERIMENT
AVAILABLE ON VOD AND iTUNES:  December 6, 2016
DIRECTOR: Scott B. Hansen
WRITER: ,  Mary J. Dixon, Scott B. Hansen
CAST:  Chris Minor, Jake Brinn, Nicky Jasper with KT Fanelli and Bill Moseley
GENRE: Horror
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

Review: ‘RUN THE TIDE’ dives into lost childhoods and abuse.

runthetide_posterSome if us had great childhoods. Others, perhaps a rocky road. Abuse in a family can cause rifts both seen and unseen. How far would you go to protect your loved one? In Soham Mehta‘s new film, RUN THE TIDE, a young man is faced with the biggest nightmare so far. The return on his abusive mother now threatens the life he’s provided for his younger brother. Can time heal everything?runthetide_1RUN THE TIDE stars Taylor Lautner (The Twilight Saga, “Scream Queens”), Constance Zimmer (“UnREAL,” “Entourage“), Kenny Johnson (“Bates Motel,” “Secrets and Lies”), Johanna Braddy (“UnREAL,” “Greek”) and introducing Nico Christou. Lautner gives a viscerally raw performance as the older brother who endured years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his mother, played beautifully by Zimmer. It’s a far cry for both, as we’re used to seeing Lautner is action roles these days. He easily wears his heart on his sleeve and proves we’ve been taking his acting chops for granted for far too long. Zimmer’s role is about as unglamorous a departure from the hit series UnReal as you can get also showing her immense talent. The chemistry between Lautner and newcomer Nico Christou is out of this world.  Their bond feels anything but forced and they make the film what it is. Christou’s natural abilities are vastly beyond what you’d expect from someone his age. The soundtrack is one of the first things that captures you in this film. The thoughtfully chosen songs are ones that make you want to close your eyes and breathe. Writer Rajov Shah takes the entire film to present the back story and it comes off as completely organic in pacing. Run The Tide is a nice film about second chances and the realities for sacrifice.runthetide_10

  You can catch it in theaters and On Demand/Digital HD this Friday, Dec 2nd. 

TITLE: RUN THE TIDE
IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND / DIGITAL HD: December 2, 2016
DIRECTOR: Soham Mehta
WRITER: Rajiv Shah
CAST:  Taylor Lautner, Constance Zimmer, Kenny Johnson, Johanna Braddy, Nico Christou
SYNOPSIS: When their drug abusing mother is released from prison determined to rebuild their family, Rey kidnaps his younger brother Oliver and escapes their desert home for the California coast.
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures, Orion Releasing

Review: ‘THE SIMILARS’ (LOS PARECIDOS) is one effed up Twilight Zone tribute.

the-similars-poster04The Twilight Zone is still one of my favorite shows in television history. Each episode has an unpredictable storyline and a twist ending. The new film THE SIMILARS (LOS PARECIDOS) might be using the beloved series as a blueprint for its overwhelmingly creepy premise. Director Isaac Ezban gives us a glorious gift is shock and awe in this homage to one of the greats. the-similars-irene-old-woman-bus-interior-still The film opens with a visual precision that is truly impressive. It is set in 1968, in a bus station, 5 hours outside of Mexico City. A massive rain storm has stranded an eclectic group of strangers. No buses are arriving at the station and vague messages are streaming from a radio connected to the speaker system. The singular phone is connecting sporadically and everyone is on edge. The mood gets more tense when the group begins experiencing odd symptoms, one by one. Why is this happening? Can it be stopped? the-similars-martin-stillFrom the lighting to the costumes and the superb writing, the story zooms into action from opening to end credits. Constantly making you guess and jaw drop, The Similars is one hell of a ride into the unbelievable. The cast is a director’s dream and their chemistry and delivery is both period appropriate and fantastic. There is not one single moment in its entire run that bored me or lost my attention. I was impressed at the level of weird and wanted desperately to know how it would all end. Writer/Director Isaac Ezban has given us a real gift with this film and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

XLrator Media will be releasing THE SIMILARS (“Los Parecidos”) on Cable VOD on Nov. 15, 2016 and on iTunes and Digital on Nov. 22, 2016.  It will also have one-night screenings in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

THE SIMILARS (“LOS PARECIDOS”) – XLrator Media
DIRECTED BY: Isaac Ezban
CAST: Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Cassandra Ciangherotti, Fernando Becerril, Humberto Busto
SYNOPSIS: On the rainy night of October 2, 1968, eight people waiting in a remote bus station for a bus heading to Mexico City start experiencing a strange phenomenon. Threatened by paranoia and fear, the strangers show the best and worst of themselves as they try to unravel the mysterious condition that is invading each of them like a virus.
GENRE: Sci-Fi
DISTRIBUTOR: XLrator Media

Review: ‘MAX ROSE’ sees legend Jerry Lewis in his first live-action film in two decades.

Paladin logo

Presents

 MAX ROSE

Max Rose Poster starring Jerry Lewis

In Theaters September 2nd

Starring: Jerry Lewis, Claire Bloom, Kevin Pollak, Kerry Bishé, Dean Stockwell, Mort Sahl, Illeana Douglas, Rance Howard, and Lee Weaver

Written and Directed by: Daniel NoahMax Rose still Jerry LewisDrawing on personal experiences tends to be a pretty successful way to tell a story. Raw emotion tends to translate from page to screen, especially if you have a legend bringing your words to life. Jerry Lewis makes Daniel Noah‘s new film a beautiful and heart-wrenching winner. MAX ROSE tells the story of a retired jazz pianist whose world is sent into a tailspin after he finds a letter given to his wife. Who is the mysterious author? This could change everything he’s ever known.kerry bishe and kevin pollak

After the death of his beloved wife Eva, Max finds a relic from her past, along with a love letter from a man who is not him. Adjusting to a new life in which everything feels like a lie wreaks havoc on everyone connected to Max. His granddaughter Annie  becomes his surrogate caretaker, while he pushes away any attempt from his son to help. Max is on a mission to find the truth while attempting to maintain any sense of self or fraction of happiness. Noah’s script is delicate and intense. There is possibly  no other actor able to fill this role other than Lewis, who returns in his first live-action role since Funny Bones in 1995.

The cast is unreal. Kevin Pollak as Max’s son Christopher, is solid as ever. He plays a pragmatic man who yearns for the affection and approval of his Dad. The volatility between the two is so palpable on screen, it’s a joy to watch from any cinephile’s perspective. Kerry Bishe plays Annie. Soft and loving and seeking her own way in the world. Dean Stockwell‘s appearance, is surprising and welcome. Since Stockwell will forever be “Al” from Quantum Leap, seeing him as a much more emotionally stunted man on his death-bed was fantastic.Max rose still

The entire film revolves around the ability of Jerry Lewis to be on his toes. He does not disappoint. This film is a reminder of how truly incredible this man is. It’s not easy to tell the story of an octogenarian in a new and interesting way. There are so few films that center around an elderly main character. Cocoon and Driving Miss Daisy (both starring Jessica Tandy), Nebraska, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Amour, and Harold & Maude are a few wonderful examples, but even they must have a been a hard sell at some point. With Lewis as our main man, we happily sit up and take notice. Everything from tone to timbre is perfection. Noah should be proud of this exemplary sophomore film. MAX ROSE deals with many relevant issues, such as loss, life transition, and hope. No matter the age of the viewer, there will be an instant connection in both story and performance.

MAX ROSE comes to opens Friday, September 2nd

MAX ROSE, featuring the legendary Jerry Lewis in his first starring role in over two decades, is a deeply moving drama about a retired jazz musician whose beloved wife of nearly six decades has just passed away. Though his career wasn’t everything he hoped for, Max always felt like a success because his beautiful, elegant Eva was by his side.  Then, while going through her effects, he discovers a love note from another man, a shocking revelation that leads him to believe his entire marriage, indeed, his entire life, was built on a lie. Following a period of anger and withdrawal, Max decides to confront the man who “stole” his wife in the hope that what he learns will provide the answers he so desperately needs.  A film about reconciling the past, living in the present, and never stopping to plan for the future, MAX ROSE was written and directed by Daniel Noah,   Rounding out the cast are Claire Bloom (as Eva), Kevin Pollack, Kerry Bishe, Mort Sahl, Dean Stockwell, Rance Howard, and Lee Weaver.

Review: ‘SUN CHOKE’, is a mind melding thriller. In Theaters and on VOD.

SC-Poster-04Nothing makes me happier while watching a film than thinking I’m watching one story and then getting hit with a proverbial 2×4 in plot. It’s a ballsy move that either pays off or loses the audience. In Ben Cresciman‘s sophomore feature as both writer and director, a young woman’s health and sanity are in serious question. With the watchful eye from her lifelong caretaker, can she conquer what lies deep down. Welcome to the oddity that is SUN CHOKE.

Sarah Hagan as Janie in the thriller film SUN CHOKE an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

Sarah Hagan as Janie in the thriller film SUN CHOKE an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

This is was truly unexpected and shocking thriller. As the story unravels, we are privy to piecemeal information. Margo has a past, but what it entails is shrouded in mystery. It is PTSD? Why is she under house arrest? Irma is her 24hr watcher, mental health guidance, using extreme tactics to cleanse her body and soul of whatever is haunting Margo. When she is allowed to exit the house after a year, things get weird as Margo attaches herself to  a stranger. Will this woman be Margo’s saving grace or is there something else driving the fascination?

(L-R) Sarah Hagan as Janie and Barbara Crampton as Irma in the thriller film SUN CHOKE an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

(L-R) Sarah Hagan as Janie and Barbara Crampton as Irma in the thriller film SUN CHOKE an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

This script takes a sharp left turn and to Crescimun’s credit as a writer, it is pretty out there. While the film has left me with more questions than answers, that is precisely why I enjoyed it so immensely. It bares zero resemblance to anything I’ve seen before. With a crisp, almost sterile, and yet angelic look from Mathew Rudenberg’s cinematography, combined with the chilling original score from Boom Bip, to the  off kilter sound design by Michael Solano, SUN CHOKE will make your skin crawl.

Barbara Crampton as Irma in the thriller film SUN CHOKE an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

Barbara Crampton as Irma in the thriller film SUN CHOKE an XLrator Media release. Photo courtesy of XLrator Media.

Sarah Hagan, you I know best from her time of Freaks and Geeks, and the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a beautiful mixture of helpless and frightening.  With a pretty face and a soft demeanor, her actions throughout the film throw your head into a tailspin. And let’s talk about horror goddess, Barbara Crampton, as Irma. Similar to the character of Margo, the audience is unsure of her intentions. Her timeless elegance and style make her a scene-stealer with what seems like very little effort. I cannot express how wonderful she is in this role. If you want to see the pure acting ability and witness her chops as an actor and chameleon, check her out in one of my favorite films from last year, We Are Still Here, from our friend Ted Geoghegan. I am convinced she is a Time Lord or something akin to a magical creature.

 SUN CHOKE
IN THEATERS: August 5, 2016
AVAILABLE ON VOD and iTUNES: August 2, 2016
DIRECTOR: Ben Cresciman
WRITER:  Ben Cresciman
CAST: Sarah Hagan, Sara Malakul Lane and Barbara Crampton
SYNOPSIS: As Janie recovers from a violent psychotic break, she’s subjected each day to a bizarre holistic health and wellness regimen designed, and enforced, by her lifelong nanny and caretaker. But when she develops an obsession with a stranger, Janie’s buried demons begin to surface.