SXSW 2021 reviews: Two of our favorite comedies from this year’s virtual SXSW fest ‘Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break’ & ‘Recovery’ bring the belly laughs.

PAUL DOOD’S DEADLY LUNCH BREAK

A weedy charity-shop worker is set on winning the big national talent show. But when the actions of 5 selfish people cause him to miss his audition, he sets out to seek deathly revenge. It’s 1 lunch break, 5 spectacular murders.

Paul and his enthusiastic Mum have stars in their eyes as they audition for their most famous talent show. The audience can feel Paul’s frustration as he deals with imbecilic behavior from every person that crosses his path. You’ll be screaming with laughter while you seethe on his behalf. Poor Paul is the victim of hilarious and slow-moving circumstances. People are wrecked but Paul is a saint until he reaches his limit. This film is hilariously what we’d all love to do to horrible people. Tom Meeten as Paul is brilliant. He’s vulnerable, funny, sweet, and pushed completely past his breaking point. The performance becomes so nuanced. The script allows Meeten to not only establish his character acting ability but to dive headfirst into madness. It’s relentlessly weird and wonderful. Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break is a genre-bending ride for SXSW21 audiences. You will go through the wringer of emotional turbulence while watching this film. You get everything in this film. Every single ancillary performance is a knockout. The editing is thoroughly engaging and the practical FX are gruesome. The soundtrack is triumphant. Reminiscent of last year’s Spree, in that it utilizes live social media to motivate the protagonist. But it’s not that simple. Paul Dood succeeds in its lovable lead. You’re just rooting for him to have anything go right. It’s irreverent, clever, and endlessly fun. Stay for the credits.


RECOVERY

Two directionless sisters brave a cross-country road trip to rescue their grandmother from a COVID outbreak at her nursing home.

Crisp cinematography and genuinely laugh-out-loud situational comedy make RECOVERY a real gem at this year’s virtual SXSW. It’s an appropriate way to watch a film that directly deals with the pandemic with completely relatable hilarity. If you’re not doubled over watching this movie, I will be shocked. The soundtrack is kickass eclectic. The writing and performances are most likely so hilarious based on the fact that writers/stars Whitney Call and Mallory Everton have been best friends forever. It would be impossible to determine what is scripted and what is improvised. I thought a film directly dealing with COVID would drive me bonkers. In this instance, it was just the opposite. Whitney Call and Mallory Everton manage to find levity in the ways (albeit necessary) we have been forced to adapt. Dealing with those who are, shall we say, less than committed to other’s safety, finding ways to keep ourselves motivated, coming to the rescue of our loved ones. This is a classic road movie on crack. It is everything you need it to be and a million tiny things more. I could have easily watched an entire series based on this script. As it stands, RECOVERY will more than satisfy my funnybone. I formally request to be their third best friend when this thing is over.

 

SXSW 2021 review: ‘HOW IT ENDS’ tackles reconciliation with laughter and tears.

HOW IT ENDS

On the last day on Earth, one woman goes on a journey through LA to make it to her last party before the world ends, running into an eclectic cast of characters along the way.

After watching How It Ends, I feel a physical yearning to create a list of people that I would talk to if I had one day left to live. The entire structure of How It Ends revolves around Liza making peace with or confronting people in her life. Every encounter is unique. Some crazy, some touching, some heartbreaking, but all accompanied by the physical manifestation of her younger self. Who wouldn’t love to be forced to deal with your past… or not. What would you want/need to do on your last day?

Cailee Spaeny as younger Liza is fantastic. She’s grounded, relatable, and a total natural. Her character is crafted in the spirit of the unspoiled young mind but carries the weight of adult curated anxieties, fear, and regret. She’s a star. Zoe Lister-Jones is one of my favorite people, generally speaking. After Band Aid, I started following her on social media. I vibe with her humor, aesthetic, writing, singing, and overall attitude of goodness. Her comic timing is everything. There’s just something about her that puts you at ease and yet continually keeps you on your toes. She can do no wrong.

Written and directed by Lister-Jones and her husband Daryl Wein, this script is phenomenal. The conversations with her younger self go from fun to revelatory. Oh, the things I would tell my younger self if given the opportunity! We’re all just hurt kids deep down. I also adored the fact that Liza walks everywhere. It gives the day an actual sense of time. Alongside Lister-Jones and Spaeny, the ancillary cast is packed with household names like Whitney Cummings, Bradley Whitford, Helen Hunt, Colin Hanks, Olivia Wilde, and Fred Armisen. Ultimately, How It Ends is about self-acceptance, resilience, and forgiveness. You will laugh and cry. It’s as fun as it is important.

SXSW 2021 reviews: ‘Language Lessons’ translates universally, and ‘Violet’ silences the voices that haunt us.

LANGUAGE LESSONS

A Spanish teacher and her student develop an unexpected friendship.

Unique, shocking, insightful, complex, beautiful, these are a few words that describe one of the best films from this year’s SXSW virtual festival. Two strangers become connected through chance and a gift of Spanish lessons. Cariño and Adam communicate through zoom, voicemail, genuine human connection. Mark Duplass plays Adam. Unsurprising that he is completely natural and down to earth. You’re instantly enamored with his performance. Natalie Morales is charming and honest. She’s funny and relatable. Their chemistry is the stuff of movie magic.  I would love to see them paired up again and again. They completely work around the entire subject of Covid. This could be happening at any point in time and that’s nice to feel right now. Ultimately, this screenplay is about the human spirit without a filter. Written by Morales and Duplass, and directed by Morales, Language Lessons is profound and revealing. It will touch you in ways you won’t expect.

 

VIOLET

A film development executive realizes that “guiding voice” inside her head has been lying to her about everything.

I don’t know if a film could be any more relatable to everyone. My husband used to point out how negatively I spoke about myself. Once I noticed the self-deprecating behavior, I started noticing my mother doing the same thing. It’s a learned behavior. One we permit to exist. Olivia Munn, who wowed me back in The Newsroom, represents so many of us. This issue is ageless, ingrained, suffocating. Her vulnerability and honesty shine and we’re better for it. Justin Theroux‘s voice acting is the dickheaded tone we all know too well. What a fantastic choice. The internal battle of never feeling like we’re enough is universal. In Violet, the visual juxtaposition of handwritten thoughts, like a right-brain/left-brain battle, and Theroux as “The Voice” is perfection. When you finally catch onto the overall picture, it’s really quite genius. It’s telegraphed without our knowledge early on. Writer-director Justine Bateman nails her feature debut. What a complex and carefully curated script. Women, in particular, are going to be locked into this film.

Review: Watch with glee as Nicolas Cage battles evil animatronics in ‘Willy’s Wonderland’

WILLY’S WONDERLAND

When his car breaks down, a quiet loner agrees to clean an abandoned family fun center in exchange for repairs. He soon finds himself waging war against possessed animatronic mascots while trapped inside Willy’s Wonderland.

So we can all agree that Nicolas Cage is now firmly his own genre, right? I can’t believe this is the same guy from Raising Arizona and National Treasure. He is a force of nature. When you’ve reached this cool of a status you can pretty much pick whatever project you want. Bless Nic Cage for providing the masses with his particular set of skills on screen. WILLY’S WONDERLAND is the perfect place for us to experience this latest chapter of “Cage rage’ with some popcorn on our couches.  As “The Janitor”, Cage’s combination of nonchalance and violence is pure badass. This is a dude comprised of mystery and soda. But for a significant part of the film, we’re actually watching him clean this place. This Academy Award-winning actor clean urinals. It’s the weirdest bit of intrigue to witness but talk about commitment. Alongside a vat filled with horror tropes, all used masterfully, this film is sure to be a cult classic. Dare I say, even franchise potential for his character? With a ragtag group of teens, townspeople in on the rouse, evil possession a la Child’s Play, WILLY’S WONDERLAND is a damn good time. The cast is so committed to this story you just get to sit back and watch with giddy energy as the mayhem ensues. The final third of the film is relentless chaos, highlighted by a 3-minute interlude of Cage improvising at a pinball machine. It’s pure magic. This is why we watch movies.

G. O. Parsons‘ screenplay is so batshit it works. A possessed weasel, a fairy, a turtle, an alligator, a chameleon, a gorilla, a knight, and an Ostrich provide us with hilarious and gruesome kills and calamity. The Janitor’s mission of cleaning this damn place will not be deterred. There will undoubtedly be comparisons to the Five Nights at Freddy’s games and The Banana Splits movie but who cares. WILLY’S WONDERLAND has execution that is out of this world. The creature, set, and prop builds are wild. Attention to detail is award-worthy. My mother used to work at a Chuck E. Cheese. The atmosphere built for Cage and company to exist in is spot on. The handheld camerawork is dizzying and fantastic. The lighting is often enhanced with a black light hue that is simply delicious. It’s a funhouse of horrors. This is a genre fan’s dream watch. The practical FX are bloodsoaked and brutal. The soundtrack is epic. You will be singing Willy’s theme over and over because it balances on the edge of maniacal, weird, and wonderful. Where can I buy that and an official Willy’s Wonderland t-shirt? I’m as deadly serious as The Janitor.

WILLY’S WONDERLAND is now available on VOD platforms

Review: ‘The Mimic’ is like nothing else you’ve seen or heard.

THE MIMIC

mimic: noun mim∙ic <\‘mi-mik \>

: a person who copies the behavior or speech of other people

: a person who mirrors other people

: an animal that naturally looks like something else

Based on a true story, this clever, intriguing, and hyperbolic comedy follows the main character – ‘the Narrator’ (Thomas Sadoski) who is befriended by his young new neighbor ‘the Kid’ (Jake Robinson), after he joins the local newspaper team.

Obsessed with the idea that the Kid may be a sociopath, the Narrator goes to extreme lengths to uncover the truth about him and his wife, a woman he ultimately begins to fancy. Between long walks down the street, a twisted dinner date, and a car drive gone terribly wrong, the Narrator gets closer and closer to the truth about the Kid. But the truth, as he finds, is anything but what he expected.

With a genuine laugh out loud, “Who’s On First?” meets  Adaptation (2002) energy, THE MIMIC so damn quirky you’re sort of hypnotized by its rhythm. It hums like a David Sedaris story that he’s narrating himself. The back and forth, rapid-fire dialogue is a bit dizzying but it certainly leaves you perched on the edge of your seat trying to keep up with the antics of these two gentlemen. You are so invested in them and their dynamic, you get swept up in this completely unexpected and magnetic film. I’m not exactly sure why there’s essentially a Febreze commercial halfway through the script but at that point you sort of just shrug and say, “Sure, why not.” We also experience a very meta scene, not including the moment when The Narrator turns to look straight into the camera. I was obsessed with it. Writer/Director Thomas F. Mazziotti’s screenplay has a rich theatrical feel. There is no doubt this could be an award-winning stage production. I would buy tickets to watch this live over and over just to feel the electricity between two actors up close and personal.

The ancillary cast of The Mimic is truly unreal. But the main focus is on our two leads; Thomas Sadoski and Jake Robinson. Sadoski’s mix of morose and obsessive behavior barrels the plot forward. Robinson’s overtly sunny disposition is so cringe-worthy (especially to this New Yorker critic) that you’re immediately placed in The Narrator’s (and Sadoski’s) mindset that something is off with The Kid. I first fell in love with Thomas Sadoski on The Newsroom. He’s just so goddamn good at what he does. He lives in a character’s skin with what looks like such ease. In The Mimic, you can see it all in his pained facial expressions. The Kid must be a sociopath. Jake Robinson looks like an ad for toothpaste from the 1950s. He’s got this classically handsome, old Hollywood charm that’s infectious, which is exactly why he was the perfect choice for this role. His comic timing is magic. The chemistry between these two men at odds is like a ticking time bomb. I was mesmerized by their report.

There is just something about this film that makes it special. I think it will garner a bit of a cult following. I can hear it being quoted in the same way Swingers still gets quoted among a certain age group of cinephiles. It’s got that same buzz about it. The Mimic will not be replicated and that’s what makes it so fantastic.

THE MIMIC will be screening in select theaters, and available on VOD beginning Friday, February 5, 2021.

HBO Max original review: ‘Superintelligence’ reminds us to be grateful for Melissa McCarthy.

original
When an all-powerful Superintelligence (James Corden) chooses to study the most average person on Earth, Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), the fate of the world hangs in the balance. As the A.I. decides to enslave, save, or destroy humanity, it’s up to Carol to prove that people are worth saving.

75% of this film is Melissa McCarthy speaking directly into the camera and it’s brilliant. The social commentary is what grabs you. It’s presented in an accessible, funny, and genuine way. The script is straight-up hilarious. I mean ceaselessly laugh out loud hysterical. The timing of the release is frankly just what we needed in this dumpster fire of a year. McCarthy plays a woman who left big tech to do better. She is simply living her life when it is interrupted by an AI that doesn’t grasp the totality of humanity. And can you blame it? These days? Technology has caused a lot of drama, heartache, hatred, and sadness over the past few years in particular. Superintelligence tackles it all but makes it funny.

Bobby Cannavale is charming as ever. His chemistry with Melissa is enchanting. Jean Smart, clearly modeled after Hillary Clinton, is obviously incredible. Brian Tyree Henry as Dennis is magic. His comic timing is something a director dreams about. He is a delight. James Corden’s smart-alecky demeanor is the perfect foil for Melissa McCarthy. He pushes her buttons and her limits allowing the plot to barrel forward. As for McCarthy…You cannot help but adore the character of Carol. You will instantly connect with her. She is down-to-earth, anxiety-ridden, and sincere.  All of Melissa McCarthy‘s positive energy shines off the screen. She embodies all that is good. McCarthy proves, once again, she is a comic genius. But outside the laughs is a very human character that hits home, reminding us what a well-rounded actor she truly is.

At first glance, the script appears to focus on technology. At the heart of it, the story is about just the opposite. Superintelligence breaks down the human experience from the superficial to the profound. The small moments that become monumental in the grand scheme of life. It chooses kindness and self-sacrifice over hatred and selfishness. It will make you smile from ear to ear. It’s one of the year’s best family films. Superintelligence reminds us all of what we should be grateful for.

Premieres on HBO Max on November 26, 2020

 

DIRECTOR: Ben Falcone
WRITTEN BY: Steve Mallory
PRODUCED BY: Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone, and Rob Cowan
CAST: Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Brian Tyree Henry, and James Corden

Fantasia 2020 review: Short film’ You Wouldn’t Understand’ is aptly named.

YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND

An idyllic picnic of one is upended after the arrival of a stranger.

9 minutes of sci-fi absurdity is what I Iive for during Fantasia International Film Festival. You Wouldn’t Understand no matter how hard you try. Impeccably shot and hilariously acted, the only thing wrong with it is that it ends! And that is entirely the point. This is one of the best treatments for an entire series I’ve ever seen, even if that was never the intention. I would watch the hundreds of other iterations of the same story with absolute giddiness. I knew it owned me when I exclaimed, “What the hell?” halfway through. I was as completely weirded out as I was confused… but also had a stupid grin on my face that wasn’t going anywhere even after the credits rolled. Then I watched it again. I cannot stop talking about this film which is also ironic seeing as how I don’t want to give too much away to an audience. Because YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND.

The film is a true collaboration. Director Trish Harnetiaux, also co-wrote the script with actor Jacob A. Ware, while co-star Anthony Arkin edited the short. No surprise the three formed the production company Steel Drum In Space. Which is a hilarious moniker of its own… for obvious scientific reasons. If Monty Python gets your goat, if great writing is your jam, if superb cinematography gets your engine revved, then You Wouldn’t Understand will make complete sense as a viewing experience.

WORLD PREMIERES AT
FantasiaYellow_Transparent.png

YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND

Color
English Language
9 minutes
Not Rated

For more information on the film and to find out about Fantasia 2020 click HERE

Review: Take the ride of your life with ‘SPREE’

SYNOPSIS: Meet Kurt (Joe Keery), a 23-year-old rideshare driver for Spree, who is so desperate for social media attention that he’ll stop at nothing to go viral. He comes up with a plan to livestream a rampage as a shortcut to infamy – coining his evil scheme “#thelesson”, he installs a set of cameras in his car and begins streaming his rides. Wildly miscalculating the popularity that would come from his lethal scheme, Kurt’s desperation grows as he tries to find a way to overcome the plan’s flaws. In the middle of all this madness, a stand-up comedian (Sasheer Zamata) with her own viral agenda crosses Kurt’s path and becomes the only hope to put a stop to his misguided carnage.

Our favorite Stranger Things ex-boyfriend, Joe Kerry, is taking social media to the extreme. Eugene Kotlyarenko’s new film is what would happen if CAM had a baby with American Psycho. Spree is a found footage post Livestream extravaganza of crazy. It hilariously holds an unfiltered phone screen up to our faces and chokes us with our own carefully curated reality. Approximately 26 minutes in my mouth literally dropped open. It would not be the last time. Spree has incredibly fun kills. The editing is head-spinning. Extra points for the double entendre title.

Joe Keery is amazing. He is in almost every shot of this film. This would not be as successful without him. Cast him in everything from here on out. The nonchalance he has with this level of violence ups the anty. Stockholm syndrome because Keery’s portrayal of Kurt is something I fully endorse. Sasheer Zamata is the audience, the antagonist, and the protagonist. This is only something that will make sense when the credits roll. She is fierce from every angle. The script is so well developed it will blow you away with its sardonic wit. The setup is pure genius. The cast is superb. It’s a nonstop adrenaline ride of gore and laughs. Spree will kick you in the teeth with its irony. And now, the only way to end this… #thelesson #KurtsWorld96 #Spree #FiveStarRating

RED BAND YOUTUBE TRAILER:

SPREE is available in select theaters, drive-ins, on-demand and digital August 14th.

IN THEATERS: August 14, 2020

AVAILABLE ON DEMAND AND DIGITAL: August 14, 2020

DIRECTOR: Eugene Kotlyarenko

WRITER: Gene McHugh, Eugene Kotlyarenko

CAST: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, Mischa Barton, John DeLuca, Josh Ovalle, Lala Kent, Frankie Grande with Kyle Mooney and David Arquette

RUN TIME: 92 min

RATING: NR

GENRE: Thriller

DISTRIBUTOR: RLJE Films

Review: ‘LIFE IS EASY’ – a Queer “Body Swap” Comedy Series World Premieres today on Global LGBTQ+ Network Revry.

Welcome to the world of Jamie-Li and Curtis: Yin and Yang; Potato and gravy; BFF’s since childhood. Jamie-Li, a straight Chinese-Kiwi woman, and Curtis, a gay white man, have a friendship that defies race, gender and sex…or so they think. After a night of wet and wild partying on their joint 25th birthdays, the two Gemini’s wake up to find themselves in each other’s bodies–revealing a hot mess of unexplored issues that unravels the way they see others, one another, and themselves. They thought they were “woke”–until they woke up in each other’s bodies! LIFE IS EASY (LIE) is a smart, funny, sexy, wholesome, and thought-provoking 8-episode satire series exploring the complexities of race, gender and sexuality in today’s seemingly “woke” society.
Body swap comedies are always pretty funny but I’ve never seen one so real and raunchy as this Life Is Easy (LIE). In a world where gender identity and sexual choices are both more accepted and more heavily judged all at once, this series is outrageous in all the best ways possible, Writers and stars Chye-Ling Huang and Cole Jenkins nail the natural comedy of assigned gender mentalities and physicalities. Making a period joke genuinely funny and enjoyably grotesque is quite a feat. The complexities of relationship status figure prominently and are all the more interesting when you remember that Jamie-Li and Curtis are in the wrong bodies. Through the nonstop laughs are serious issues that provoke thought and discussion. Sexual harassment, homophobia, racism, emotional abuse, family dynamics, and finding your voice all jump off the screen. Huang and Jenkins are perfect foils for one another. Besides the fantastic writing, the performances are vibrant and over-the-top when they need to be. But don’t just take the shows for face value since the sincerity in the script allows them to bring their drama chops to the table. With a current 8 episode arch, and a runtime of 15 minutes on average, you will inhale Life Is Easy (LIE). I want more as soon as possible.

Revry Original comedy series from New Zealand, LIFE IS EASY – a FREAKY FRIDAY-esque body swap commentary on race, gender, and sex, world premiering July 19th at 5 pm & 8 pm (PST) on Revry’s Live TV Channels or the full season on Revry Premium July 17th.

About Revry
Watch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network. Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news, and exclusive originals all in one place! Revry is currently available globally in over 250+ million households and devices and on seven OTT, mobile, and Desktop platforms. Revry can also be viewed on nine live and on-demand channels and Connected TVs including: The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Dell, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo+, and as the first LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on Littlstar (available on PlayStation devices). The company–an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort–is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @revrytv. Revry.tv.

 

Review: ‘Zombie For Sale’ is a genre-bending riot. Now playing on the Arrow Video Channel!

 

Synopsis:  When the illegal human experiments of Korea’s biggest pharmaceutical company go wrong, one of their “undead” test subjects escapes and ends up in a shabby gas station owned by the Park family – a band of misfits spanning three generations who hustle passersby to make ends meet. When the Park family uncovers their undead visitor, he bites the head of their household, who instead of transforming into an undead ghoul becomes revitalized and full of life! The family then hatch a plan to exploit this unexpected fountain of youth, allowing locals to pay to be bitten too… until things go wrong.

Boasting moments of Shaun of the Dead-like physical comedy, this film is beyond hilarious. Outstanding editing and cinematography add to the overall greatness. The filmmakers did not cut corners in storyboarding. The quick takes are all part of the film’s success. I’ve never found a zombie film more charming. A score that is reminiscent of anything composed by Danny Elfman for a Tim Burton movie, Zombie For Sale has more elements of genre fun than you thought you’d need in a single film.

Our zombie friend has a higher than usual self-awareness, as his ability to understand love, fear, and pain feature prominently in the storyline. He is being used for a “get rich quick” scheme and your empathy is with him. I’ve never wanted to put a zombie in my pocket before, and yet here we are. This absurdity makes it all the funnier. When our clueless family looks up a clip from Train to Busan, I literally guffawed. Each member has a distinctly different personality, besides being con artists. It’s safe to say that our two female leads wield the most power in this screenplay. Outside of the typical “final girl” scenarios, this was refreshing as hell. This is a true ensemble cast. You will not know what’s coming next. It’s safe to call this a genre-bending film. It is a zombie apocalypse redemption rom-com. These performances are laugh out loud funny from start to finish. Zombie For Sale is colorful and zany and it’s one of my favorite zombie films of the year.

The Arrow Video Channel is available on Apple TV in the UK and US, as well as on Amazon in the UK.

ABOUT THE ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL

The ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL gives cult movie fans the opportunity to watch a wide selection of movies that the ARROW VIDEO brand has been famous for – personally curated by members of the Arrow team. From horror to sci-fi, thrillers to westerns, the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL is home to cutting edge cult and undiscovered gems such as Takashi Miike’s “Audition,” Wes Craven’s seminal masterpiece “The Hills Have Eyes,” George A. Romero’s contagion classic “The Crazies,” Edwin Brown’s slice-and-dice staple “The Prey” and so much more. In the coming months, the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL will be adding more cult classics from East Asia such as Shinya Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo: The Iron Man” and “Bullet Ballet” and a collection of the Japanese classic “Gamera” movies.  In addition to crowd-pleasing cult movies on the service, the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL will continue to give you an exclusive platform to brand new genre as part of a new global strategy.

The ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL also hosts a growing collection of documentaries, interviews and never-before-seen content from the Arrow Video archives, as well as newly produced material. These documentaries will breathe new life on the ARROW VIDEO CHANNEL, giving movie fans an immersive look into the creation of many cult movie classics such as “Donnie Darko” and “Hellraiser.” The service will be updated regularly with new content, new curation focus and never-before-seen content, all hand-picked by the Arrow Video team.

 

 

Review: ‘TIME WARP: VOLUME 3 COMEDY AND CAMP’ is now available for your viewing pleasure.

SYNOPSIS: The final volume of Time Warp digs deep into what makes us laugh over and over again as we reveal the greatest cult comedies and campy classics of all-time. From “Fast Time at Ridgemont High” and “Office Space” to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and “Showgirls.”

 

This is the longest in the Time Warp series. Starting off with Fast Times and the insight from Amy Heckerling, it’s a cinephile’s film class from the very beginning. Focusing first on high school films, we get a great mix from Rock N Roll High School to Napoleon Dynamite. Then we dive into Clerks and how a single film made on credit cards for $30K launched Kevin Smith’s career. The late Fred Willard talks Best In Show. The Bill Murray stories from King Ping are epic. John Cleese‘s presence for Monty Python and The Holy Grail reminds us that the best comedy is smart through its silliness. The first half focuses on Comedy for an HR and 15 minutes. The last 45 is Camp cult films. Rightfully so, Showgirls is covered. Gina Gershon’s character study background for Cristal Connors is masterful. Ed Wood’s editing style and relationship with Bela Lugosi made him one of the greatest cult filmmakers of all time. He was way ahead of his time when you look at his body of work. Speaking of being ahead of its time, Hedwig and the Angry Inch still has such an impact in so many ways. It may be more relevant right now than it was in its original run for the trans community. I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count, as to which film gets the final curtain call.

With Volumes 1 & 2, as with this third installment, these docs are like the YouTube rabbit hole we all fall into. Hours of different behind the scenes clips and stories all in one glorious place. You cannot go wrong with these films. You’ve seen more of them than you’ll realize. Feel a little cooler and a whole lot more informed after viewing. Then tell a friend so they can tell a friend and so on. All three docs are now available to stream.

TITLE: TIME WARP: THE GREATEST CULT FILMS OF ALL-TIME VOLUME 3 COMEDY AND CAMP
ON DEMAND AND DIGITAL: June 23, 2020
DIRECTOR: Danny Wolf
DISTRIBUTOR: Quiver Distribution
HOSTS: Joe Dante, John Waters, Ileana Douglas and Kevin Pollak
CAST: Gina Gershon, John Cleese, Ron Livingston, Jim Gaffigan, Fred Willard, Jon Heder, David Cross, Mary Woronov, Michael McKean, Kevin Smith, Amy Heckerling, Mike Judge, Peter Farrelly, John Cameron Mitchell
RUN TIME: 128 minutes

Review: ‘International Falls’ explores the fine line between comedy and tragedy.

A woman stuck in a small, snowbound border town has dreams of doing comedy when she meets a washed-up, burned-out comedian with dreams of doing anything else.

International Falls is funny from the very first scene. The jokes are witty and rapid-fire. But you can feel a sense of sadness lingering over the comedy. Rachael Harris and Rob Huebel experience feelings of remorse and betrayal, all while making jokes. This script is a nuanced look into depression, ambition, and longing. It’s about choices, both right and wrong. The cool, sometimes awkward, sometimes heartwarming chemistry is awesome to see. I don’t know how much if any, of the dialogue was improvised but Harris and Huebel were perfect casting choices. The location adds to the plot in a massive way. The snow-covered and isolated, smalltown feel, impacts not only the characters and audience. Whether directly or indirectly, the viewer feels as trapped by International Falls as our two leads. There are essentially three main sets, the hotel (predominantly the room), the quaint downtown exteriors, and the stage. The later is intercut throughout the film with Tim’s stand up routines. The combination of Amber McGinnis’ directorial debut and writer Thomas Ward’s screenplay makes for an insightful, laugh-out-loud, dramedy.  There is so much more than meets the eye with this film. Its authenticity will stick with you.

INTERNATIONAL FALLS stars Rachel Harris (Lucifer, Suits), Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital, Transparent), and Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan, Weeds)

The film has been an official selection at 22 film festivals across the country and has won multiple awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at 5 different festivals. The film festivals giving the film their highest honor, include the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the Naples International Film Festival, the New York No Limits Film Series, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Tallgrass International Film Festival in Wichita.

The award-winning film opens Friday, March 20 in Austin,
Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Houston,
Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Seattle

 

Review: Indie Sci-Fi Comedy ‘The Wave’ starring Justin Long and Donald Faison, directed by Gille Klabin is one insanely weird trip.

Justin Long (Die Hard 4.0, Accepted) and Donald Faison (Scrubs, Clueless) lead the unique modern-day parable that follows Frank (Long), an opportunistic insurance lawyer, who thinks he’s in for the time of his life when he goes out on the town to celebrate an upcoming promotion with his co-worker, Jeff (Faison). But their night takes a turn for the bizarre when Frank is dosed with a hallucinogen that completely alters his perception of the world, taking him on a psychedelic quest through board meetings, nightclubs, shootouts, and alternate dimensions. As Frank ping-pongs between reality and fantasy, he finds himself on a mission to find a missing girl, himself… and his wallet.

Visually intoxicating, The Wave hits you like a ton of bricks. Justin Long plays Frank, an insurance lawyer, underappreciated at work and at home and stuck in the loop of the mundane, decides to go out on the town for once. When the shit hits the fan, we’re all on drugs with Long. The highs and lows, the mysterious chase, the lost time. It’s all insane and wonderful.

Sheila Vand, star of my one my all-time favorite film’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, plays Theresa with a cool ease that the perfect foil for Long’s quick-witted corporate cynicism. Her energy is electric. Donald Faison as Frank’s best friend is was a smart choice from a sidekick standpoint. Their chemistry is awesome. He stands as a representation of the viewing audience in the sense that we’re just as confused (in the best way possible) as he is. This script is jarring and electric. Justin Long, once again, owns whatever role he takes on. I buy every second he is on screen. I don’t know if any other actor would have resonated as truthfully. Long’s ability to live moment to moment in each character is nothing short of genuine and delicious talent. Time jumping, drug-induced, comment on karma, The Wave is simply cool.

IN THEATERS AND ON VOD JANUARY 17TH

Review: ‘After Class’ pits generational activism against itself with thoughtful writing and a lot of laughs.

Synopsis:
AFTER CLASS follows a New York City professor (Long) as he spends a week reconnecting with his family while defending his reputation over controversial behavior at his college.

After Class is one hell of a film. Lead by Justin Long as an adjunct professor of creative writing, the plot revolves around a moment in class that triggers his students. While the script deals head-on with the MeToo movement, it’s complexity must be experienced first hand. It’s about loyalty and family and standing up for what you believe in with some goddamn conviction. While Long leads the way, this feels like an ensemble cast because of the amount of talent stacked up. There is not a loose thread in this film. I’ve never seen Fran Drescher in a role so opposite her iconic days on The Nanny. Cast this fabulous lady in all the things. Richard Schiff is excellent in his attempt to keep the peace with families old and new. Watching him keep it together (or not) is a delight. Kate Berlant is perfection as Long’s feisty sister. She feels like she’s been doing this for ages. She easily steals the attention in every scene she’s in. And now to Long. As far as I’m concerned, Juston Long can do no wrong. His eclectic body of work always catches me off guard. While we get to see his quirky comedy, we also get some serious drama and vulnerability I didn’t know would affect me as much as it did. I was particularly amused by the fact the Berlant’s character has a podcast since Long’s newest venture (and fun as hell to listen to I might add) is a podcast with his brother titled Life Is Short. Drescher appeared on an episode I have not listened to yet and now I know why. He is undeniably charming as ever in After Class, but incredibly nuanced making it easy to remember how he is able to helm so many films. The script is constantly challenging your thought process, perhaps even making you roll your eyes, depending on what generation you relate most to. That’s kind of the beauty of this film. It’s got a lot going on in all the best ways possible. Congrats to the cast as well as a big round of applause for writer-director Daniel Schechter for a sincerely heartfelt indie. Everyone should be proud.

**Official Selection – Tribeca Film Festival**
**Official Selection – Rome Film Festival**
**Official Selection – Traverse City Film Festival**
**Official Selection – Fort Lauderdale Film Festival**
**Official Selection – Greenwich Film Festival**
**Official Selection – San Francisco Jewish Film Festival**
**Official Selection – Boston Film Festival**
**Official Selection – Nantucket Film Festival**

—————————————–

Gravitas Ventures is set to release Daniel Schechter’s smart comedy/drama AFTER CLASS (formerly SAFE SPACES) in theaters and on VOD beginning December 6, 2019. The film stars Justin Long, Fran Drescher, Richard Schiff, and Kate Berlant.

The film is a compelling study of a well-intentioned millennial-aged teacher overstepping the line in class in the MeToo era and dealing with the repercussions. This comes in the middle of a family emergency when his grandmother requires hospice care, and family chaos begins to consume his life. The film provides raw moments of emotional turmoil that switches between loss, comedy, and drama, providing glimpses of beautiful and awkward moments that happen in life.

Release Date:                     December 6, 2019 – In the theaters below and on digital/VOD nationwide:
Los Angeles – Arena Cinelounge and Galaxy Mission Grove
Orlando – Old Mill Playhouse
Cleveland – Tower City Cinemas
Boston – Entertainment Cinemas Leominster
Minneapolis – Emagine Rogers 18, East Bethel 10 and Lakeville
Seattle – Galaxy Monroe
Dallas – La Gran Plaza 8
Reno – Galaxy Victorian
Las Vegas – Galaxy Theaters Luxury and Galaxy Cannery
San Francisco – 4 Star Theater
Santa Barbara – Galaxy Colony Square
Directed by:                        Daniel Schechter
Written by:                          Daniel Schechter 
Cast:                                    Justin LongKate BerlantLynn CohenBecky Ann BakerFran Drescher &
Richard Schiff
Genre:                                 Comedy, Drama
Specs:                                 93 min
Distributor:                         Gravitas Ventures

Review: ‘Satanic Panic’ reaches (oc)cult classic status.

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SATANIC PANIC

SYNOPSIS:

Sam’s first day as a pizza delivery driver is not going according to plan. At the end of a long day and not enough tips, her last delivery turns out to be for a group of Satanists looking for someone to sacrifice. Now in a fight for her life, Sam must fend off witches, evil spells and demonic creatures, all while trying to keep her body – and soul – intact.

Poor Satanists, just trying to sacrifice a virgin to bring a hell beast to walk the earth. But that darn virgin keeps getting away! Satanic Panic has practical effects that are an awesome combination of mildly silly and completely, on-point disgusting. The sets and costumes absolutely rock. But, it’s the performances and writing that kick major ass. Rebecca Romijn is goddamn spectacular. Her commitment to physical comedy is pure genius and her timelessly gorgeous face is a delight to watch on-screen. Ruby Modine gets the best, rapid-fire dialogue in the film. She’s so nonchalant you’ll be fully immersed into the wacky plot- which actually has this unexpected emotionally redemptive element involved. It is classic occult set up at its finest with extra surprising moments sprinkles in. Haley Griffith as our ingenue Sam is refreshingly innocent. She is the representation of loyalty and street smarts. Seamlessly mixed into entertaining genre goodness, the film also takes aim at generational headbutting and classism. Director Chelsea Stardust guides Satanic Panic into the cult genre with humor and a bit of magic storytelling from Grady Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan.

RLJE Films will release the horror film SATANIC PANIC in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on September 6, 2019.

SATANIC PANIC stars Hayley Griffith (“The Loudest Voice”, “The Mysteries of Laura”), Ruby Modine (“Shameless”, Happy Death Day franchise), Rebecca Romijn (X-Men franchise, “Star Trek: Discovery”), Arden Myrin (“Insatiable”, “Shameless”) and Jerry O’Connell (Stand By Me, “Billions”). The film was written by popular horror author Grady Hendrix (“We Sold Our Souls,”  “My Best Friend’s Exorcism”) and directed by up-and-coming director Chelsea Stardust (“Into The Dark”, Seeing Green).

World Premiere at the 2019 Overlook Film Festival 

Official Selection of 2019 Fantasia Film Festival 

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘HARPOON’ is a wild ride of deceit on the high seas.

Wealthy Richard (Christopher Gray) is prone to fits of violent anger, particularly when he believes his girlfriend Sasha (Emily Tyra) is cheating on him with his best friend Jonah (Munro Chambers) — who’s been having worse luck than even his Biblical namesake. Once they reassure him that his fears are unfounded, Richard invites Sasha and Jonah on an excursion aboard his yacht The Naughty Buoy to make amends. What starts out as a pleasure cruise becomes a fateful trip when festering suspicions and resentments bubble to the surface, and the trio become stranded on the open sea with a dead motor, extremely limited food and water, and one of them grievously injured. Unconsciously violating any number of maritime superstitions, they are soon at the mercy not so much of the elements, but of each other.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 has had some instant hits this year. Saturday night was no exception as HARPOON wowed audiences at its Quebec premiere. From the incredible opening shot, this film comes at you like a rabid animal. Amazing, quippy, profanity-laced dialogue kicks off a ride we are are now ready for. This love triangle at sea plays off a classic dynamic of a wealthy asshole, girlfriend, and third wheel best friend where suspicion fuels jealousy. The script utilizes literary references, voiceover narration by Brett Gelman, and the kind of honest intimacy in dialogue that you only find between best friends. But, secrets are the one thing that can be a real friendship killer, even for those not stuck out in the middle of the ocean. Our three cast members are phenomenal. I completely buy these performances. Each is funny, vulnerable, and kind of dickheaded in their own unique way. The practical fx are gruesome and awesome. Writer-director Rob Grant has given us a goddamn indie gem. It’s got a twisted ending you will never “sea” coming. What’s a little murder between friends, after all? Fantasia International Film Festival fans will go overboard for Harpoon.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Come To Daddy’ is everything you’d want an Ant Timpson film to be.

COME TO DADDY

Elijah Wood plays an emotionally overwhelmed uber hipster attempting to reconnect with his estranged father. Summoned to a secluded home via a mysterious letter from his dad, he finds himself in an unexpected situation. Wood, as always, is vulnerable and funny. I’ll buy anything he’s selling. His body of work is so eclectic and wonderfully bizarre, what’s not to love? Now let’s talk about Ant Timpson‘s amazing directing. As a producer, The ABC’s Of Death is off the wall fun and don’t even get me started on the insanity that is The Greasy Strangler. Come To Daddy, Timpson’s directorial debut is a genre-bending funhouse. Tribeca’s Midnight section is the perfect slot for Timpson’s work and I do mean that as a compliment. This film takes a sharp turn at 30 minutes in, then hurtles from mysterious to funny, unsettling to WTF, and it is a delight. The camera work is top-notch. There is mayhem for days. Wonderfully timed plot treats fall into our laps like a busted piñata. I simply cannot express how damn fun this film is. You will not have any clue where this is going.

Norval’s (Elijah Wood) life has been, to put it lightly, difficult. Currently living home with his mother, the troubled young man is coming off alcohol-related struggles. So when he receives an unexpected letter from his estranged father requesting a visit, Norval catches a bus up to his dad’s secluded and scenic waterfront home. Maybe reconnecting with his father will give Norval the emotional fulfillment he’s been lacking. Before long, though, he notices something off about his dad, an uneasy feeling triggered by inappropriate comments and a possible over-dependence on booze. Norval quickly realizes that his hope of father/son bonding is doomed. Instead of a family reunion, he finds himself in waking nightmare.
FILM INFO

Review: ‘The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’ is Terry Gilliam’s fantastic passion project.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote 

Toby (Driver), a cynical advertising director, finds himself trapped in the outrageous delusions of an old Spanish shoe-maker (Pryce) who believes himself to be Don Quixote. In the course of their comic and increasingly surreal adventures, Toby is forced to confront the tragic repercussions of a film he made in his idealistic youth – a film that changed the hopes and dreams of a small Spanish village forever. Can Toby make amends and regain his humanity? Can Don Quixote survive his madness and imminent death? Or will love conquer all?

Decades in the making, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is finally coming to the big screen. It was worth the wait. Adam Driver plays a young director taking on his own passion project under the financial thumb of studio execs, locals, and his own ego. No doubt is the film about as metaphorical as you can get for the wild ups and downs the legendary Terry Gilliam has endured in bringing this film to fruition. Poking fun at itself and the industry at every turn, it must have been truly cathartic for Gilliam to shoot. The visuals and writing are all so satisfying you’ll want to applaud at the twists and turns along the way. Though admittedly, you’ll most likely be just as confused as both Driver and “Don Quixote” himself, Jonathan Pryce. One of the film’s best moments perfectly sums up the controlled chaos that is this epic story. “Try to keep up with the plot.’ To which Adam Driver‘s Toby replies, “There’s a plot?!”

Having watched, there is no way these roles would have been better served by other actors. Pryce walks the perfect line between madness and sadness. His commitment from beat to beat is the glue that keeps the story moving along its absurdist pace. But it is Driver who had me belly laughing every time a “FUCK” was spewed with genuine intention. I’ll have to go back and watch again if only to count the number of “F” words, each precisely placed and completely warranted. It’s sheer perfection. There is no doubt that Toby is Terry… and Don Quixote. The love that is so obviously infused within the film will be evident to anyone familiar with Gilliam and his fantastic passion project. It’s a combination of hilarity and insanity. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and filmmakers like Terry Gilliam are the reasons we go to the movies.

Screen Media will then give the film a theatrical run starting April 19th.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote stars Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Stellan Skarsgard, Olga Kurylenko and Jordi Molla.

Trailer for ‘BLOODFEST’, in Theaters and On Demand August 31st!

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BLOODFESTSynopsis:

Fans flock to a festival celebrating the most iconic horror movies, only to discover that the charismatic showman behind the event has a diabolical agenda. As attendees start dying off, three teenagers with more horror-film wits than real-world knowledge must band together and battle through every madman, monstrosity, and terrifying scenario if they have any hope of surviving.

In Theaters & On Demand on August 31, 2018

 Written and Directed by: Owen Egerton

Starring: Tate Donovan (The Untouchables, The Only Boy Living in New York,”The O.C.”), Robbie Kay (“Once Upon a Time”), Seychelle Gabriel (The Last Airbender, “Falling Skies”, “Sleepy Hollow”), Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War, Every Day, and The True Don Quixote), and Barbara Dunkelman (RWBY), Nick Rutherford, Chris Doubek, Rebecca Wagner and Zachary Levi

Executive Producers: Matt Hullum, Burnie Burns, and Ryan P. Hall

Producers: Seth Caplan, Will Hyde, and Ezra Venetos

 

Review: ‘IDEAL HOME’ is filled with love and laughs.

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IDEAL HOMEA film by Andrew Fleming

Synopsis: IDEAL HOME is the touching and humorous story of Erasmus and Paul (Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd), a bickering gay couple whose life is turned inside out when a ten-year old boy shows up at their door claiming to be Erasmus’ grandson. Neither Paul, nor Erasmus, are ready to give up their extravagant lifestyles to be parents, but maybe this little kid has thing or two to teach them about the value of family.

Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd make a convincing couple in this absurdly hilarious and heartwarming comedy. Coogan plays eccentricity to the max as reality tv chef and newfound grandfather. His commitment to a joke, visually or otherwise, has definitely met its match in costar Paul Rudd. What makes Rudd’s performance so spectacular is the subtle mannerisms and genuine emotional connection to his character’s backstory. Redemption and the desire to make the relationship between Erasmus and Paul last drives the performance’s authenticity. Jack Gore as mistreated young Bill is the epitome of a child with no filter. Although still so young, he possesses the maturity that any writer or director would die to work with. The comic chemistry is delicious and the film’s message that a family is about love and learning is front and center through raunchy humor and tender truth. It’s a gorgeous nod to the LGBT community and their families. We need more of these stories. I have to say that Ideal Home is undoubtedly one of my favorites of the year. I am sold. 

Opening in theaters and VOD on June 29th

Written & Directed by Andrew Fleming (The CraftDickHamlet 2)
Starring Steve Coogan, Paul Rudd, Jack Gore (BillionsWonder Wheel), Jake McDorman (Lady Bird, CBS’s 2018 revival of Murphy BrownLimitless the TV series, Shameless), Alison Pill
Produced by Aaron Ryder, Maria Teresa Arida,
Clark Peterson, Maxime Remillard
Executive Producers Steve Coogan, Gabrielle Tana, Lisa Wolofsky