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ANNE AT 13,000 FEET (2021) review

September 24, 2021

 

written by: Kazik Radwanski and Deragh Campbell
produced by: Daniel Montgomery and Kazik Radwanski
directed by: Kazik Radwanski
rated: not rated
runtime: 75 min.
U.S. release date: September 17-26, 2021 (Facets Cinematheque, Chicago, IL)

 

When we meet Anne at the opening of “Anne at 13,000 Feet”, she seems to be in an environment that’s fitting for her. The camera moves in close and circles around her as she has a gentle and calm moment outside with a group of children as she shares with them a mesmerizing butterfly she has cupped in her hands. Director Kazik Radwanski fluidly shifts to a thrilling moment when Anne is about to sky dive out of a moving plane for best friend’s bachelorette party. It’s as if both moments are happening at the same time and the more time we spend with Anne, the more we realize that could be the truth for her. In these moments, she comes across as engaging and adventurous, but we will soon be reminded that there is so much more going on. Read more…

THE NOWHERE INN (2021) review

September 18, 2021

 

written by: Annie Clark and Carrie Brownstein
produced by: Joshua Bachove, Danny Harris, Carrie Brownstein, Annie Clark, Lana Kim & Jett Steiger
directed by: Bill Benz
rated: not rated
runtime: 91 min.
U.S. release date: September 17, 2021 (Music Box Theatre, digital & on-demand)

 

“The Nowhere Inn” premiered at the Midnight Section back in 2020 at Sundance. That usually indicates a hard R-rating, a horror flick, or a film hopeful to make it as a cult classic. “The Nowhere Inn” is none of those things, but for most of its runtime, it’s a visually compelling experience. The mockumentary directed by Bill Bentz is a look at the world of rock singer/songwriter St. Vincent, who is actually Annie Clark from Texas, or at least how the artist wants to be presented. Just as the she has gone out of her way in real life to provide access to who she is when not in front of a live audience or a camera, the enigmatic attempt here is to keep viewers guessing, while making a commentary on the relationship between performer and fan. Read more…

PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND (2021) review

September 16, 2021

 

written by: Aaron Hendry and Rexo Sixo Safai
produced by: Nate Polotin, Michael Mendelsohn, Ko Mori, Laura Rister & Rexo Sixo Safai
directed by: Sion Sono
rated: not rated
runtime: 103 min.
U.S. release date: September 17, 2021 (Music Box Theatre)

 

At this point anything with Nicolas Cage should be seen just to see what level of Cage-isms he’s dropping. Sure, you expect him to kind of go over-the-top and that can definitely be a fun ride, but in he can still deliver Oscar worthy performances like his latest turn in the recent “Pig”. But, that’s just one of three releases this year for the actor and his role in the apocalyptic Western tale “Prisoners of the Ghostland” is more along the lines of the type of outright crazy we hope for in a Cage flick. He’s teamed up with Japanese auteur Sion Sono (“Tokyo Vampire Hotel” and “The Forest of Love”) here, who’s known for his idiosyncratic choices and creates a strange and enigmatic atmosphere that almost upstages our main man. Read more…

THE YEAR OF THE EVERLASTING STORM (2021) review

September 12, 2021

 

written by: Jafar Panahi, Anthony Chen, and David Lowery
produced by: Anthony Chen, Brad Becker-Parton, Matthew Cherchio, Jeff Deutchman, Yoni Golijov, Keetin Mayakara, Laura Poitras, Andrea Roa, Si En Tan, & Meng Xie
directed by: Jafar Panahi, Anthony Chen, Malik Vitthal, Laura Poitras, Dominga Sotomayer, David Lowery, & Apichatpong Weerasethakul
rated: not rated
runtime: 115 min.
U.S. release date: September 3, 2021 (limited) & September 10, 2021 (wide)

 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit on a global level back in March 2020, it was clear that life would change for most of us. While concern for health and safety for ourselves and loved ones was paramount, those of us who are film enthusiasts couldn’t help but to also wonder how this would impact our viewing. Of course, those who make films would be impacted as well, with productions halted and releases rescheduled or postponed. There’s already been a handful of films released (primarily on streaming services) that were shot during the pandemic, but only a couple of them had stories set in the pandemic or about the pandemic. It would be easy to make an apocalyptic tale in a world full of shutdowns and quarantines, but “The Year of the Everlasting Storm” offers something that today’s viewers will likely find quite familiar and quite intriguing and reflective. Read more…

WHITE AS SNOW (2019) review

September 4, 2021

 

written by: Anne Fontaine and Pascal Bonitzer
produced by: Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer, and Phillippe Carcassonne
directed by: Anne Fontaine
rated: not rated
runtime: 112 min.
U.S. release date: August 12, 2021 (limited) and August 20, 2021 (select theaters)

 

The Brothers Grimm introduced the world to many twisted tales and no doubt one of the most popular is the story of Snow White, originally published in 1812 and has since been made into countless iterations of musicals, plays, live-action and animated feature films. Every generation, every decade, has seen a new version of Seven Dwarves or a Huntsmen, all of whom are enamored by the young and beautiful protagonist, who is watched closely by the evil queen, whose jealousy and envy has eroded superseded her own beauty. The latest attempt at doing something different with the story is “White as Snow” and it’s a sexy, funny, and bizarrely brazen romance thriller from co-writer/director Anne Fontaine. Read more…

DEMONIC (2021) review

August 22, 2021

 

written by: Neil Blomkamp
produced by: Neil Blomkamp, Mike Blomkamp, Stuart Ford & Linda McDonough
directed by: Neil Blomkamp
rated: R (for language, some violence and bloody images)
runtime: 104 min.
U.S. release date: August 20, 2021 (select theaters – Music Box and available to rent on Digital and VOD on most major digital platforms, including Amazon Prime VideoYouTubeDIRECTVSpectrum OnDemandGoogle Play, and Vudu)

 

What has writer/director Neil Blomkamp been up to since his last sci-fi feature, “Chappie” released in 2015? Better yet, what has he been up to during the pandemic? The answers to both questions can be found in his latest film, “Demonic”, a peculiar science fiction/horror thriller that revolves around a woman with a complicated and estranged relationship with her mother. Although there are attempts to incorporate some unique and quite fascinating concepts to the horror subgenre of demon possession, it falls subject to recognizable formulaic trappings and predictable moves that limit the potential for the film to embrace potential for weirdness and dread. Read more…

BLOOD CONSCIOUS (2021) review

August 21, 2021

 

written by: Timothy Covell
produced by: Christina Behnke
directed by: Timothy Covell
rated: not rated
runtime: 81 min.
U.S. release date: August 20, 2021 thru September 2, 2021 (streaming at Facets Cinemathaque)

 

In “Blood Conscious”, writer/director Timothy Covell, aims to enthrall viewers with a psychological thriller that relies heavily on themes of confusion, mistrust and paranoia in an extreme survival situation. In a remote setting with characters encountering an unexpectedly horrific course of events, these themes are easily amplified. It’s a small-budget thriller that’s being described as “Get Out” meets “The Thing”, but the latter is a real stretch and the former comparison never really reaches the tension of the John Carpenter classic. Read more…

ANGÉLICA (2016) review

August 19, 2021

 

written by: Marisol Gómez-Mouakad
produced by: Marisol Gómez-Mouakad, Rocia Zambrano and Ignacio Decerega
directed by: Marisol Gómez-Mouakad
rated: not rated
runtime: 100 min.
U.S. release date: August 20, 2021 thru September 2, 2021 (streaming at Facets Cinematheque)

 

After screening at film festivals in Puerto Rico and New York City back in 2016 and 2017 (respectively), the identity crisis drama “Angélica” arrives in theaters, well, virtually at least. It just so happens to focus on a woman who finds herself having to choose between those two locations. This feature-length debut from writer/director Marisol Gómez-Mouakad, who also serves as co-producer and editor, finds the Pierto Rican filmmaker making a deliberate effort to shine a light on race and sex discrimination with an even sharper focus on colorism amongst Latin American culture. The themes may be tackled in a not-so-subtle manner, but one can’t help but notice that they are specific themes that are long overdo for consideration. Read more…

EMA (2019) review

August 15, 2021

 

written by: Guillermo Calderón and Alejandro Moreno
produced by: Juan de Dios Larraín
directed by: Pablo Larraín
rated: R (for strong sexual content, nudity and language)
runtime: 107 min.
U.S. release date: 2019 (Venice International Film Festival) & August 13, 2021 (limited theaters)

 

While Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín’s last feature film was “Jackie”, his English-language debut from 2016, which created an immersive and emotional portrait of Jackie Kennedy days before and after her husband’s assassination, the filmmaker has been quite busy as a co-producer (Sebastián Lelio’s last two films,”A Fantastic Woman” and “Gloria Bell”) and helming all eight episodes of “Lisey’s Story”, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel that dropped last month on Apple TV+. His latest and eighth feature is the hypnotic and artful “Ema”, which finds Larraín returning to Chile to tell an unsettling albeit intoxicating tale that revolves around guilt, manipulation, and self-destruction, while weaving creative freedom and pyromania throughout. Read more…

A QUIET PLACE PART II (2021) review

June 15, 2021

 

written by: John Krasinski
prodiced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller & John Krasinski
directed by: John Krasinski
rated: PG-13 (for terror, violence and bloody/disturbing images)
runtime: 97 min.
U.S. release date: May 28, 2021 (theatrical)

 

You should be able to watch any sequel without knowing anything about a movie that came before it. A movie should ideally stand on its own with a story that is comprehensible, like picking up a comic book issue and being able to understand who’s who and what’s happening. John Krasinski‘s “The Quiet Place Part II” is one such movie where it is essential to have watched the first movie. Okay, maybe “essential” is extreme. How about “preferable”? It’s hard to imagine a viewer who hadn’t seen the previous movie getting the same viewing experience that someone who has possibly will. Of course, viewing experience is subjective and Krasinski does something a little different this time, which may benefit first timers to this world where being quite keeps you alive. Read more…