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THE LODGE (2020) review

February 7, 2020

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written by: Sergio Casci, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
produced by: Simon Oakes, Aliza James and Aaron Ryder
directed by: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
rated: R (for disturbing violence, some bloody images, language and brief nudity)
runtime: 108 min.
U.S. release date: February 7, 2020

 

Premiering just over a year ago at Sundance 2019 as one of the Midnight selections, “The Lodge” is finally seeing a release date here in the States. Granted, it’s not a wide release, but that’s not surprising considering the marketing from Neon has been slim. However, the reports from the film’s debut there was relatively good, giving me hope for another bizarrely twisted horror flick from Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, the directing pair behind the creepy slow-burn of “Goodnight Mommy” from 2015. Like that film, the directors focus on the after effects of family trauma, this time in a wintry remote location during Christmas. Needless to say, unless your family is particularly twisted with a lean towards psychological madness and dread, this won’t be a holiday classic in the coming years.

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Top Ten Films of 2019

February 4, 2020

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2019 was definitely a different year at the movies for me. Maybe you noticed my written reviews had become sparse around June or maybe you didn’t – you never know who’s following this thing. Regardless of what I didn’t write about, movies still came out each week. That’s a constant. Another constant is how people often reflect on the year in film and complain for one reason or another, shrug it off and move on. Well, I may not have written about many movies for the second half of last year, but I’ve certainly seen enough to know that it was a great year of cinema – from indies to blockbusters there was definitely more than a handful that rose to the top. Read more…

Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts (2020) review

February 3, 2020

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I say it every year and I’ll say it again…the Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts collectively offer the best viewing experience of any category. Most of the them are heartbreaking and some of them are uncomfortable to watch, but all five nominees provide an important look at humanity, for better or worse. All of the real life stories told here are emotional and inspiring, yet some are definitely more frustrating than others. As usual for this category, all five nominees deal with timely (and often troubling) subject matter through personal dramas from around the world. Read more…

Oscar-Nominated Live-Action Shorts (2020) review

February 3, 2020

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A running theme amongst all the Live-Action Shorts this year is a longing for connection or to be connected with others. This theme is explored in various different settings and stories. There is one in which people are in conflict with each other and another where people are struggling to figure out life in the aftermath of war. One short focuses on one individual relying on another for survival without ever meeting in person and another wherein ignorance leads to an unexpected conclusion for the another individual. Another short examines how our lives can change when we become enraptured by the way in which others live. There’s something to be gleaned from each of these shorts, yet ultimately their are unique stories to experience here regardless of the situations characters are in here. Read more…

Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts (2020) review

February 2, 2020

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It’s that time of the year again, when the Oscar-Nominated shorts are in select theaters for a short window of time leading up to the telecast on Sunday, February 9th. That is…if you’re in a major metropolitan city here in the states. If not, you can probably find some of these shorts online if you’re resourceful enough, but it is traditionally (and unfortunately) a challenge to track them down. Obviously, seeing them in the theater is the most ideal setting, so if you’re an Oscar completist, you’ll want to get yourself to one of the theaters showing the collection of Animated, Live-Action and/or Documentary Shorts. Read more…

THE FAREWELL (2019) review

January 27, 2020

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written by: Lulu Wang
produced by: Anita Gou, Daniele Tate Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turletaub, Lulu Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng
directed by: Lulu Wang
rated: PG (for thematic material, brief language and some smoking)
runtime: 100 min.
U.S. release date: July 12, 2019

 

“Chinese people have a saying, when people get cancer they die. It’s not cancer that kills them. It’s the fear.”

 

Just like every family has its secrets, every family also has its reasons for keeping those secrets. Americans don’t have the same societal reasons for keeping secrets that the Chinese may have, but that doesn’t make the other’s reasons any less valid or any more unique. The family at the center of writer/director Lulu Wang’s film “The Farewell” certainly have their reasons for keeping a secret from its matriarch Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao), but they’re a hard sell on Billi (Awkwafina), her only granddaughter. Read more…

CATS (2019) review

January 9, 2020

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written by: Lee Hall and Tom Hooper (screenplay),  Andrew Lloyd Webber (music), T.S. Eliot (poetry collection “Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats”)
produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Tom Hooper
directed by: Tom Hooper
rated: PG (for sci-fi violence and action)
runtime: 110 min.
U.S. release date: December 20, 2019

 

“Jellicles are and Jellicles do. Jellicles do and Jellicles would. Jellicles would and Jellicles can. Jellicles can and Jellicles do.”

 

When running down the list of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals that might eventually get turned into movies, I assumed the roller skating musical “Starlight Express” was the only thing keeping “Cats” from ranking dead last. The ludicrousness of turning “Cats” into a movie is more or less the inciting incident of another play turned into a film, “Six Degrees of Separation,” and it’s played for a laugh in that piece. Surely no one in their right mind would actually turn “Cats” into a film*, let alone an Oscar winning “capital-P Prestige” filmmaker. Read more…