Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Wake of Light Review: A Beautiful Film With Some Amazing Accompaniment

 Lincoln Bodin	...	Baby Rome Brooks	Rome Brooks	...	Mary Matt Bush	Matt Bush	...	Cole William Lige Morton	William Lige Morton	...	Stanley Paula Rhodes	Paula Rhodes	...	Cole's Ex Sandra Seeling	Sandra Seeling	...	Laura Tyler Steelman	Tyler Steelman	...	Russell

Release date: January 15, 2021
Running time: 85 minutes
Starring: 
Rome Brooks, Matt Bush, William Morton
Written and Directed By: Renji Philip

A young woman starting to lose hope while caring for her aging father and their broken down farm meets a charismatic young man on a cross country road trip, who falls for her and asks her to join him. Now she has a choice to make.

Produced by  Jared Drake	...	co-producer Renji Philip	...	producerMusic by  Josh Kramer	...	(composer, piano music) Josh Mancell	...	(original score)
This is a tough film to really rate because there are so many good components to it.  The cinematography is just beautiful, with some really amazing camera shots and wonderful scenes.  The film takes place in this picturesque, American heartland town that has all the natural beauty you would expect.  And the camera captures it all so perfectly, really highlighting how amazing this looks.  On top of the beautiful camera work, you have some wonderful accompaniment.  The soundtrack features a host of beautiful classical arrangements that shine their brightest when paired with the amazing camera work.  Seriously, the connective tissue here is just stunning and makes you appreciate this film so much more when it is on full display.

The Wake of Light is filled with some quirky and unique characters.  They might not be for everyone, but they are all fully realized.  And the story, although a little odd and linear, provides enough of a setup to get all the characters to interact.  However, the acting can be relatively stiff at times and the writing did not flow as well as I was hoping.  But those scenes then recede to a beautiful shot of the characters interacting in nature and that is when this movie shines.  It really feels like the lines are just there to connect these amazing shots and generally I was OK with that.  And the story, although odd at first, really comes into its own as the movie progresses.  When the characters really start to grow and make choices, that is when this film is at its best.  But overall it feels like a beautiful art house piece with splashes of dialogue here and here.  I actually wish the film had eschewed dialogue altogether for a purely visual and musical experience.

The Wake of Light's beautiful camera work and music will make you appreciate just how precious health and life truly are!

Rent it.

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The Wake of Light is available on virtual cinema on January 15, 2021. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Alone Review: A Tense and Creepy Thriller

Jules Willcox	...	Jessica Marc Menchaca	Marc Menchaca	...	Man Anthony Heald	Anthony Heald	...	Robert Jonathan Rosenthal	Jonathan Rosenthal	...	Eric Katie O'Grady	Katie O'Grady	...	Officer (voice) Betty Moyer	Betty Moyer	...	Mom (voice) Shelly Lipkin	Shelly Lipkin	...	Dad (voice) Emily Sahler	Emily Sahler	...	Catherine (voice) Laura Duyn	Laura Duyn	...	Little Girl (voice) Brenton Montgomery	Brenton Montgomery	...	911 Operator (voice) Nico Floresca	Nico Floresca	...	911 Operator (voice) Laura Baker	Laura Baker	...	Extra Kayla Banks	Kayla Banks	...	Extra Brett Barron	Brett Barron	...	Extra Grace Birdwell	Grace Birdwell	...	Extra

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 98 minutes
Starring: 
Jules Willcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald 
Director: John Hyams
Writer: Mattias Olsson

A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her.

Directed by  John Hyams	Writing Credits   Mattias Olsson	...	(written by)        Produced by  Ben Cornwell	...	executive producer Jordan Foley	...	producer (produced by) (p.g.a.) Victoria Hadeler	...	associate producer Mike Macari	...	producer (produced by) (p.g.a.) Martin Persson	...	executive producer Jonathan Rosenthal	...	producer (produced by) (p.g.a.) Nick Smith	...	co-producer (co-produced by) Yeardley Smith	...	executive producer Kevin Sullivan	...	executive producer Thom Zadra	...	co-producer (co-produced by) Henrik JP Åkesson	...	producer (as Henrik JP Akesson) (produced by) (p.g.a.)Music by
Alone has a slow, methodical start that introduces you to Jessica (Willcox) and her predicament.  It doesn't reveal a lot, but shows her packing for a new life and slowly leaving the city.  And this seems intentional as it ratchets up the tension as she makes her way out of the city and onto the back roads.  And when we are introduced to the man (Menchaca), it is so innocuous and off putting that you can't help but feel creeped out.  But the thing that Alone does so well is it makes you wait for the inevitable.  There are several encounters initially that seem both normal and creepy, causing you to slowly tense for the inevitable.  And this is brought to life by both Willcox and Menchaca.  Willcox is believable as a solo traveler trying to move to a better life, and Menchaca is great as a quiet, boring person with just something off.  He looks so normal yet has a sinister aspect to him that is tough to describe but perfectly creepy on screen.  And the film reveals little pieces about both of their lives as it progresses, slowly introducing more and more to the viewer.  

And when the film gets going, it keeps the tension going.  There are some very tough to watch parts that will have you holding your breath as you wonder what will happen next.  Will he get her, will she be able to hold on?  And the film's camera work deliberately makes you think that something will happen, keeping you on the edge of your seat the entire time.  And when there is action or violence in the film, it is portrayed frankly and brutally.  There are some tough scenes to watch, but they do a good job of framing the overall conflict and the stakes.  Sure, some of what is survivable seems a bit extreme, but it is nothing out of the ordinary for the horror genre.  Finally, this movie will make you tense and jump at every sound due to the good sound design.  The sounds of the forest, random branches breaking, and predators stalking prey are quite well done and will keep you on edge throughout.

Alone is a tense survival horror film with great performances by Willcox and Menchaca, a slow burning story, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen next.

Watch it.

horror thriller kidnap toybox toybox killer brutal gore effect wilderness

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Alone is available digitally and on demand. 

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

What to Watch This Weekend: My Little Sister, If Not Now, When, Go / Don't Go, One Night in Miami, Jungleland, High Note, King of Staten Island, American Animals

For A Heartfelt and Heart Wrenching Family Drama: My Little Sister (Virtual Cinema)
My Little Sister has a heartfelt and heart wrenching story brought to life by the powerful and dynamic performances of Edinger, Hoss, and Albinus.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Movie About Friends And Drama: If Not Now, When? (Digital)
If Not Now, When highlights an all black female led cast with characters that are strong individually and because of each other, with realistic problems and emotional moments.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Apocalyptic Indie Gem: Go / Don't Go (Digital)
Go / Don't Go weaves a mysterious, slow-burning story fueled by beautiful cinematography and the introspective performance of Knapp, Luccardi, and Davis, in this indie apocalypse gem.  For more information, check out the review!

For Great Actors Playing Legends: One Night in Miami (Amazon)
One Night in Miami highlights four great actors as four iconic figures, with sharp, funny, and still relevant dialogue and a slow burning, emotional, and inspiring story.  For more information, check out the review!

For Those Trying To Change Their Life: Jungleland (Redbox)
Jungleland pits some good actors in a bare knuckle fight to better their lives.  It earns good marks for its stars and its classic sets.

For Those That Just Want To Sing: The High Note (HBO)
The High Note is a phenomenal feel good musical drama with fantastic characters, a story with plenty of surprises, and a soulful, wonderful soundtrack that will stay in your head long after the credits roll.  For more information, check out our review!

For Those Living Their Best Life - The King of Staten Island (HBO)
The King of Staten Island was one of the first films to go direct to on demand, and Pete Davidson's semi-autobiographical comedy-drama received rave reviews for Davidson's fantastic performance.  

For Those Looking For A Second Job: American Animals (Hulu)
Barry Keoghan shows why he is such a dynamic actor in this heist movie based on true events.  The film is stylish and high energy with a great cast and plenty of suspense.  

Friday, January 15, 2021

My Little Sister Review: A Poignant and Powerful Family Drama

Nina Hoss	...	Lisa Lars Eidinger	Lars Eidinger	...	Sven Marthe Keller	Marthe Keller	...	Kathy Jens Albinus	Jens Albinus	...	Martin Thomas Ostermeier	Thomas Ostermeier	...	David Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Isabelle Caillat	Isabelle Caillat	...	Assistant general manager Paulo dos Santos	Paulo dos Santos	...	Doctor Moritz Gottwald	Moritz Gottwald	...	Lukas Jenna Hasse	Jenna Hasse	...	Shopkeeper Urs Jucker	Urs Jucker	...	Actor Linne-Lu Lungershausen	Linne-Lu Lungershausen	...	Linne-Lu Noah Tscharland	Noah Tscharland	...	Noah

Release date: January 15, 2021 (American Streaming Release)
Running time: 101 minutes
Starring: Nina Hoss, Lars Eidinger, Marthe Keller, Jens Albinus, Thomas Ostermeier, Linne-Lu Lungerhausen, Noah Tscharland
Written and Directed By: Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond

A once successful playwright sacrifices her life and career for her dying brother in My Little SIster, a poignant, affecting drama from writer-directors Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond, nominated for the Golden Bear and Teddy Awards at the 2020 Berlinale. Lisa (Nina Hoss), once a brilliant playwright, no longer writes. She lives with her family in Switzerland, but her heart remains in Berlin, beating in time with that of her twin brother Sven (Lars Eidinger), the famous theatre actor. Since Sven has been suffering from an aggressive type of leukemia, the relationship between them has become even closer. Lisa does not want to accept this blow of fate, and she does everything in her power to bring Sven back on stage.  Her relationship with her husband starts to fall apart, but Lisa only has eyes for her brother, her mirror, who connects her back with her deepest aspirations and rekindles her desire to create, to feel alive again.

Directed by  Stéphanie Chuat	 Véronique Reymond	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Stéphanie Chuat	 Véronique Reymond	  Produced by  Ruth Waldburger	...	producerMusic by  Christian Garcia
This film is a dramatic powerhouse that deals with difficult subject matter.  From legacy, to career, to wants versus needs, this movie has it all.  And it explores these with a depth that you rarely see, a testament to the writing and the main actors.  The standout is Sven (Edinger) who is transformative in this movie.  Not only does he play a famous theater actor, but his character has several personas that come out in the film.  He has a persona when he is out and about, trying to show how strong he is and this plays into his theatrical roots.  He wears a stage wig and is much more dynamic and putting on a show.  But he also has a more personal persona that is reserved for his twin sister, and also a less exuberant, tired persona reserved for family.  And Edinger goes through these seamlessly and convincingly and transforms as his illness affects his body.  Lisa (Hoss) is also a well developed and complicated character.  Like her brother, she has a few personas that are showcased in this film.  Her professional persona, the one she has for her brother where the two can drop their guards, and her private wants and desires.  She goes through just as much of a physical and emotional journey as Sven, and changes her life and priorities because of this.  And Lisa's husband Martin (Albinus) has a more reserved role but no less emotional.  All of these characters highlight the public versus private duality, with their public life faces and selves and their more intimate, private personas.  

The story of My Little Sister is an interesting and emotional one that goes through several phases as Sven's illness develops and he and his sister explores the options available.  But throughout it all, you have this powerful connection between the two siblings as they navigate their lives and health together.  The dialog is sharp and weighty, with some really fantastic writing even when read through subtitles.  And it is fitting that Sven is a stage actor in this movie as at times it feels like a play due to the dramatic nature of the dialog and the extended speaking sequences.  And I loved having the contrast between Lisa and Sven's relationship and that of Lisa and Martin.  She can be much more open with Sven than she can with her own husband, which was an interesting contrast to see.  

My Little Sister is a slow burn but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  It has very moving and powerful situations that these characters have to encounter, yet feels understated and real.  It explores family and duty, because Lisa is constantly torn between caring for her family and what she truly wants and needs.  But some of the compromises and ultimatums in this film did seem a little forced.  It could just be my perspective on life, but the major conflict that caused her marriage to start falling apart seemed to be easier to resolve than it was made out  But overall, this is a potent drama with emotional and dynamic performances by all involved.  

My Little Sister has a heartfelt and heart wrenching story brought to life by the powerful and dynamic performances of Edinger, Hoss, and Albinus.  

Watch it.

Swiss Switzerland Oscar Drama Leukemia Chemo Chemotherapy Cancer Bone Marrow Life Family

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My Little Sister is playing in virtual cinemas across the country.  For more information and for showtimes click here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hunted Review: A Brutal, Raw Horror Fairy Tale

Release date: January 14, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Lucie Debay, Arieh Worthalter, Ciaran O'Brien 
Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud
Written by: Vincent 
Paronnaud and Léa Pernollet

A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.  What started as a flirtatious encounter at a bar turns into a life-or-death struggle as Eve becomes the unknowing target of a misogynistic plot against her. Forced to flee as two men pursue her through the forest, she’s pushed to her extremes while fighting to survive—but survival isn’t enough for Eve. She will have revenge. A modern and radical take on the Little Red Riding Hood fable, Hunted is an exhilarating, transcendent, and frequently brutal survival tale that elevates itself with the power of myth and magic, while still holding an exacting mirror to present-day society. 

You can tell from the start that Director Vincent Paronnaud has a comic background as the introduction features an animated style that is really fun to see.  It is part live action and part hand drawn animation that instantly tells the audience this film is going to have aspects of fairy tales and aspects of modern movies.  And the film carries that forward through the movie as there is some fairy tale inspired symbolism throughout.  For example, Eve is wearing a striking red jacket that evokes Little Red Riding Hood.  And in fitting nature, the other main character is more of a big bad wolf.  Arieh Worthalter is a disturbing antagonist through and through.  It is fitting that he looked similar to Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker as his character was unpredictable, maniacal, ruthless, and occasionally personable.  He was so disturbing because you never quite knew what he was going to do.  And Lucie Debay as Eve was sometime to behold.  She goes through an insane ordeal in this film and her character becomes both broken and stronger throughout.

As you would expect from a movie about hunting, the film has a really creepy setup as the predator and the prey are established.  The film has a longer setup than I expected, but it is a good way to lay the groundwork for this story and also keeps you guessing what will happen next.  And once things get going, the film becomes unpredictable and brutal.  There are some intensely violent scenes that were tough to watch.  There were also some scenes of sexual assault that fit with the story, but were also difficult to stomach.  And the visuals aren't the only thing that is intense and tough to watch, the dialogue can also get rough to match some of the brutality on screen.

And in order to make the hunting scenes work, the filmmakers did a great job with the camerawork, giving the pursuit scenes a sense of motion and velocity.  You get the sense that you are running for your life, as that is what is evoked on screen.  The whole film has a raw, wild aspect to it that fits with the hunting mentality.  And also going with the fairy tale themes, there are some scenes towards that end that do feel right from a fairy tale.  The story of the movie builds and builds, with a definite progression to a climactic final confrontation.  However, although I did find the antagonist compelling he sometimes just seems too driven without much explanation.  His interests and motivations are explored, but not in a ton of depth.  And also, although the film is brutal, some of the deaths and fights are more out of a traditional horror movie than something that is not supernatural.  And finally, some interesting characters and themes are only touched on, and come in and out of the film far too quickly. 

Hunted's brutal, raw style and intense, sometimes disturbing performances make for a decidedly different horror fairy tale. 

Rent it.

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Hunted is available to stream on Shudder starting January 14, 2021. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Interview: Meagan Holder from If Not Now, When, Black Female Led Film with Mekia Cox, Tamara Bass, and Meagan Good

Meagan Holder, who stars in If Not Now, When discusses the film, her friendship with her costars, and working with young fresh directors. We also discuss what makes this movie different and dealing with Hollywood stereotypes in movies!

So give it a watch and make sure to check out If Not Now, When in theaters, digitally, and on demand! Starring: Meagan Holder (Fox’s “Pitch”), Mekia Cox (ABC’s “The Rookie”), Tamara Bass, Lexi Underwood (Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere”), Niles Fitch (NBC’s “This Is Us”) and Meagan Good Writer: Tamara Bass Director: Meagan Good (Think Like a Man) and Tamara Bass (“All That Matters”) Synopsis: Four friends, who met in high school and are bonded by an event, are suddenly forced back together when one of them suffers a crisis. It’s a story of love, forgiveness and the incredible bond between women.

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If Not Now, When Review: A Powerful All Black Female Led Drama

Joelle Ashley	...	Johanna Tamara Bass	Tamara Bass	...	Patrice (as Tamara LaSeon Bass) Shamicka Benn	Shamicka Benn	...	Clerk Jon Chaffin	Jon Chaffin	...	Trevor Mekia Cox	Mekia Cox	...	Suzanne Li Eubanks	Li Eubanks	...	Teenage Tyra Niles Fitch	Niles Fitch	...	Michael McKinley Freeman	McKinley Freeman	...	Jackson La'Myia Good	La'Myia Good	...	Erica Meagan Good	Meagan Good	...	Tyra Iyana Halley	Iyana Halley	...	Teenage Patrice Edwin Hodge	Edwin Hodge	...	Walter Meagan Holder	Meagan Holder	...	Deidre Josephine Lawrence	Josephine Lawrence	...	Teenage Deidre Amanda Mayfield	Amanda Mayfield	...	Teenage Suzanne

Release date: January 8, 2021
Running time: 114 minutes
Starring: 
Meagan Holder (Fox’s “Pitch”), Mekia Cox (ABC’s “The Rookie”), Tamara Bass, Lexi Underwood (Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere”), Niles Fitch (NBC’s “This Is Us”) and Meagan Good
Writer: Tamara Bass
Director: Meagan Good (Think Like a Man) and Tamara Bass (“All That Matters”)

Four friends, who met in high school and are bonded by an event, are suddenly forced back together when one of them suffers a crisis. It’s a story of love, forgiveness and the incredible bond between women.

Tamara Bass	...	producer (as Tamara LaSeon Bass) La'Myia Good	...	associate producer Meagan Good	...	producer James Henderson	...	executive producer Nieman Johnson	...	executive producer Victor Oladipo	...	executive producer Jijo Reed	...	post executive producer Sway	...	producer Rizi Timane	...	producer Datari Turner	...	producer Joyce Washington	...	co-producer     Directed by  Tamara Bass	...	(as Tamara LaSeon Bass) Meagan Good	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Tamara Bass	...	(as Tamara LaSeon Bass)
If Not Now, When is frankly better than the sum of its parts.  It has good writing, with some great scenes and characters, but sometimes it can be a little over dramatic.  It has good acting, with some great scenes and some misses.  And it has a few minor things here an there, audio issues, distracting delivery, small issues that you might expect from first time directors.  But what you do get is an interesting, heartfelt, and refreshing black relationship film that has strong women helping strong women.  The movie has four characters with varying degrees of success trying to live their dreams of life and family, but running into the obstacles that we all run into.  From health, to financial difficulties, to balancing career and family, If Not Now, When presents characters that feel like they have real problems.  

And the best thing is that you have these female lead characters who support each other and are not jealous of each other's success,  but are genuinely happy for each other.  Each main character has had some sort of major wrench thrown in their way, and the film is about how they deal with these individually and together.  It was so refreshing to see a supportive black film with female characters that knew what they wanted.  This felt similar to a female Best Man, but with stronger, more realistic characters.  Sure the film starts off with a little extra drama, and it was tough to get invested in the characters at the start, but after a little bit of time the film really grows on you.  And I loved seeing female characters who don't melt at the sight or whims of a man.  There is one scene where a character prioritizes her own life and career over a life with a seemingly perfect man, which I really appreciated.  

And although the film has lots of emotion, it feels more measured than some of what Hollywood puts out.  You don't have characters that completely break down in the face of crisis, which shows the character's strength and also makes the emotions feel much more real.  The film really caught my attention partway through with a speech by one character.  It is indicative of this whole experience.  The writing is good and there are some audio issues with it such as voice over happening when the character isn't speaking.  But the combination of the message, the character's powerful delivery, and some really beautiful accompanying piano music made me sit up, take notice, and rewatch that speech 3 or 4 times.  And the film is filled with moments like this; powerful moments of self reflection, of characters finding strength in themselves and those around them.  And for that, If Not Now, When should be celebrated for what it tries and succeeds in accomplishing. 

If Not Now, When highlights an all black female led cast with characters that are strong individually and because of each other, with realistic problems and emotional moments. 

Watch it.

drama female women strength strong stronger together black all black film

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If Not Now, When is available digitally and on demand January 8, 2020. 

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