Monday, September 21, 2020

All Roads to Perla Review: A Beautiful and Tense Texas Noir

Release date: September 25, 2020
Running time: 108 minutes
Starring: Addison Timlin, Corin Nemec, Dash Mihok, Alex MacNicoll

A Texas town awakes when Brandon (MacNicoll) a high school wrestler gets entangled with a drifter named Pearla (Timlin) and her psychopathic lover Oz (Mihok).  Lives then intertwine and spiral violently out of control once he becomes her escort driver.  The two outcasts form a quick friendship, but the danger lurking around them closes in as they try to leave this small town.

All Roads Lead to Perla is an understated movie.  There are a lot of very small touches throughout that really help to contribute to the overall feel of this film.  First off, the cinematography is breathtaking.  As expected from a director who has a history in photography, the shots are framed perfectly and composed with absolute care.  There are a lot of small touches about the Texas landscape that shine through and really draw your eye to the natural beauty.  Even seemingly mundane shots are so well composed that they look stunning.  There is an early scene showcasing just a standard grocery store, but the lighting and sun shining above it make this seemingly mundane scene pop.  Another small touch is the absolutely beautiful music, which really helps to augment the dramatic scenes.  It is never overpowering and it softly starts up, but it is really touching and helps to push the audience's emotional buttons.  

ALL ROADS LEAD TO PEARLA had its world premiere at the 2019 Austin Film Festival. The crime thriller stars Alex MacNicoll (VICE, THE SOCIETY), Addison Timlin (LIKE ME, LITTLE SISTER), Corin Nemec (MARRIAGE OF LIES), Nick Chinlund (TRAINING DAY) and Dash Mihok (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, RAY DONOVAN).
The cast of All Roads to Pearla do a great job telling this multifaceted story.  Although there are several great performances in this film, Timlin definitely commands the viewer's attention with her portrayal of Pearla.  Pearla is a complicated character with many different layers: she is at times a bubbly friend with hopes and dreams, sometimes she is a defiant woman who is standing up against the forces against her, and other times she is a broken shell.  Timlin portrays all of these personas perfectly and breathes life into this character with her dramatic prowess.  That is not to say that the other actors are not standouts, and in particular Alex MacNicoll does a great job as a conflicted wrestler trying to leave his small town and dealing with far more than a high school kid should.  But Timlin outshines them all and in this case, all roads and all eyes lead to Pearla.

As with any good Noir film, the story in All Roads to Pearla has several intertwining and connected threads that wind together.  It is really an interesting contrast, seeing the lives of "normal" high school kids mixed with the complicated and dark world of this underground.  This is made even more stark by the small town aspect, where everyone knows everything but often don't talk about it.  But this does provide a great platform for showcasing a kid dealing with far more than he should, and a woman with dreams that were prematurely squashed trying to fight to get them back.  If there is a negative with this film, it is that the story leaves some things unsaid.  There are certain threads that are left up to the audience to connect so you sometimes don't know exactly what occurred.  And although the sound and music are generally very good, the film has a weak sounding gun.  However, don't let those dissuade you from seeing this dramatic, understated, and beautiful film.

All Roads to Pearla is a beautiful noir film fueled by Timlin's powerful, dramatic performance, beautiful cinematography and music, and a complicated story.

Watch it
ALL ROADS LEAD TO PEARLA had its world premiere at the 2019 Austin Film Festival. The crime thriller stars Alex MacNicoll (VICE, THE SOCIETY), Addison Timlin (LIKE ME, LITTLE SISTER), Corin Nemec (MARRIAGE OF LIES), Nick Chinlund (TRAINING DAY) and Dash Mihok (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, RAY DONOVAN).
If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutubeFor additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site. 

Also make sure to check out our interviews with Addison Timlin (who plays Pearla) and director / writer / producer Van Ditthavong!

Gutterbug Review: An Emotional Human Journey of Homelessness, Self Medication, and Rebellion

 

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Release date: September 9, 2020 (VOD)
Running time: 101 minutes
Starring: Andrew Yackel, Justin Pietropaolo, Hannah Mosqueda

A crust punk named Bug (Yackel) grapples with the realities of homelessness, mental health, drug use, and toxic friendships.  Bug and his friend Slim (Pietropaolo) spend most of their time scrounging for money, doing drugs, and going to rock shows.  However, on his 21st birthday he resolves to find his way home, a decision that leads him and his misfit crew down a dangerous path.  But getting to his home will be tough for Bug, Slim (Pietropaolo), and Jenny (Mosqueda) as it seems like every attempt to get there is met with societal issues, their own poor decisions, or wear that living on the streets has done to them.  

Gutterbug starts with a bang, filling you with some really amazing music that will get your blood flowing and set the stage for this film.  The music matches the style of the movie perfectly, with a rebellious nature that permeates the entire film.  And that energy and rebellion fuel a lot of the early part of Gutterbug.  Bug and Slim live on the streets, scrounge and do drugs, and try to live life as they can.  They are honest, tired, hungry, and downtrodden but also free.  And Bug is a good main character / narrator.  He narrates aspects of the film and provides insight into the overall happenings.  And it helps that his character is an interesting one.  Yackel puts on a great performance and really shows the conflicted parts of homelessness.  He highlights the camaraderie and the freedom, but also the constant worry for food and shelter, as well as the need to medicate through less than legal means.  And when Bug is joined by Slim and Jenny, then the film really starts to open up.  All these characters are wonderfully acted and their interactions are funny and heartfelt.  The three really do become a family, with the ups and downs associated with that.

And these characters don't just come alive due to the acting.  The costumes and make up transform these actors into their homeless counterparts perfectly.  Their hair looks greasy; their clothes are a mishmash, dirty, and scream youth in rebellion; and when they are under the effects of various substances, it shows through.  The story of Gutterbug definitely highlights a path that can lead to homelessness and the effects of poor decision making.  Bug left home years ago and has chosen to live on the streets, and the film does a good job of highlighting aspects of his youth and of the effect that his decision has had on his family.  And after the initial intense and high energy parts, the story builds slowly, with a solid introduction to the characters before progressing into the overall journey of the film.  The film is also told out of order so you get hints of different time periods that eventually coalesce.  And although the film does devolve into craziness towards the end, the ending really pulls you back in and focuses on the characters.  It is a satisfying end to an interesting, thoughtful, and very human story about mental illness, love, and survival.

Gutterbug tells a very human story, with complicated characters, plenty of youthful rebellion, and a satisfying conclusion. 

Watch it.

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Friday, September 18, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend - The Racer, Political Dramas and Documentaries, Antebellum, Spiral, The Social Dilemma

For the Sports Enthusiast - The Racer (Digital)
The Racer tells an honest sports story, with inspirational moments, plenty of interesting insights into conflicted athletes, and a story that paces itself nicely before a photo finish.  For more information, check out our review!

For the Political Scientist - All In: the Fight for Democracy (Amazon)
All In; The Fight for Democracy is an important film about modern voter suppression techniques, with poignant examples and valuable advice to ensure that all Americans are able to exercise their rights to vote.  For more information, check out our review!

For the Political Historian - The Way I See It (Theaters)
The Way I See It highlights the power of photography and the unprecedented access that Souza was given during the Obama presidency, and visually shows the stark differences between Reagan, Obama, and Trump.  For more information, check out our review!

For the Political Drama Fan - Les Sauvages (Topic)
Les Sauvages has an interesting cast of characters, complicated story, and plenty of drama in this French political thriller with parallels to events happening in America and on a global stage.  For more information, check out our review!
 
For the Fan of Stylized History - Antebellum (Theaters)
Antebellum is an imaginative mind game that explores the sins of the past and present through strong performances, a mysterious story, and some fantastic, dread-inducing music.  For more information, check out our review!

For the 90s Horror Fan - Spiral (Shudder)
Spiral's attention to 90s detail and refreshingly diverse main characters help you lose yourself on this descent into madness and dread.  For more information, check out our review!

For the Drama Fan - I'm Thinking of Ending Things (Netflix)
Strong performances from Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons and good writing from Charlie Kaufman highlight this movie that has wide critical appeal but mixed audience reactions.  

For the Social Media Addict - The Social Dilemma (Netflix)
The Social Dilemma has universal praise and presents a sobering, clear look into our datamined world in a dramatic form that should appeal to all.  

For the Thriller Fan - The Invisible Man (HBO)
The Invisible Man is a new take on the classic film, with great, minimalist effects, wonderful tension, and an amazing performance by Elisabeth Moss.  For more information, check out our review! 

Les Sauvages Review: A French Political Thriller With Shades of World Issues

Marina Foïs	...	 Marion6 episodes, 2019  Roschdy Zem	Roschdy Zem	...	 Idder Chaouch6 episodes, 2019  Amira Casar	Amira Casar	...	 Daria6 episodes, 2019  Souheila Yacoub	Souheila Yacoub	...	 Jasmine6 episodes, 2019  Dali Benssalah	Dali Benssalah	...	 Fouad6 episodes, 2019  Sofiane Zermani	Sofiane Zermani	...	 Nazir6 episodes, 2019  Farida Rahouadj	Farida Rahouadj	...	 Dounia6 episodes, 2019  Karimouche	Karimouche	...	 Rabia6 episodes, 2019  Lyna Khoudri	Lyna Khoudri	...	 Louna6 episodes, 2019  Shaïn Boumedine	Shaïn Boumedine	...	 Slim6 episodes, 2019  Ilies Kadri	Ilies Kadri	...	 Krim6 episodes, 2019  Romain Levi	Romain Levi	...	 Romain Ramos

Release date: September 17, 2020 (Streaming)
Running time: 60 minute episodes, 6 total
Starring: Marina Foïs, Roschdy Zem, Amira Casar, Dali Benssalah, Sofiane Zermani, Souheila Yacoub

Set in present-day France, Les Sauvages follows the first presidential candidate of Algerian descent who is in a heated election.  The series follows the election and the events that occur after the election that touch on politics, identity, and France as a nation.  

Thriller, politics, french, france, political, drama, mini-series, series
A drama like this will live and die by its characters, and Les Sauvages has a lot of interesting and conflicting ones.  It follows the Algerian political candidate Idder Chaouch (Zem), a charismatic politician who appears to have some influence from Obama.  Idder is running on a campaign of hope and change, and there are definite attacks on him about his nationality and whether he is French enough.  On top of Idder, we are introduced to his daughter and political campaign manager Jasmine (Yacoub) and her longtime boyfriend and successful actor Fouad (Benssalah).  Early in the series we meet Fouad's family, who includes a brother (Zermani) who is politically opposed to Chaouch's ideals and candidacy.  This is just scratching the surface and, as with any good drama, there are plenty of other characters to meet along the way that add to the overall intrigue and drama.  And despite the dramatic nature of the series, it doesn't feel like characters are overacting for it.  There is a general likable nature to the individuals, which makes you want to root for them that much more.  

And drama is one thing that this series has in spades.  Full disclosure, I have only watched two of the episodes, but those episodes do a really great job of establishing the world, the major conflicts, and all the characters.  If you are looking for a lot of action, this is not it.  But if you are looking for interactions between characters and plenty of threads to follow, then this show might be for you.  And part of what makes the threads so fun to follow is the writing.  Although I am watching it subtitled, the dialogue is interesting and dramatic, and the story line is easy to follow despite the plethora of characters and events.  And the camera work and production values are quite good, with some nice shots of France and good lighting for a show that has a lot take place at night.  There are some poor decisions that happen, but that is also how you get the drama to take place.  And some of the themes, despite being French issues, are ones that are relatable to the world at large.  The series deals with isolationist policies, nationalism, and identity politics, all of which are relevant on a global scale.  And as I said, I definitely saw shades of American political issues in this French series.  And overall, despite being two episodes in, I am excited to see where it goes next.

Les Sauvages has an interesting cast of characters, complicated story, and plenty of drama in this French political thriller with parallels to events happening in America and on a global stage. 

Watch it.

Thriller, politics, french, france, political, drama, mini-series, series

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube.   LES SAUVAGES premiered on Topic Thursday, September 17.

God of the Piano Review: A Subtle Aria That Crescendos To A Fortissimo Finale

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 80 minutes
Starring: Naama Preis, Andy Levi, Ze'ev Shimshoni

For Anat (Preis), music is everything. She is a promising pianist, but is not able to match the accomplishments of her famous musical father.  Having never been able to reach her father's musical standards, she rests her hopes on the child she's about to have.  When the baby is born deaf, Anat succumbs to extreme measures to keep the dream alive.

God of the Piano is a subtle, slow burning film that starts with a bang and then builds back up again.  The first choices that Anat make really showcase the lengths she will go to succeed and start the movie off with a very dramatic moment.  And when Idan (Levi) begins to show some musical promise, there are some really amazing piano moments that are highlighted.  I really liked Idan's natural talent and effortless musical ability, as well as some of the ideas that his youth brought.  There is a wonderful scene where his young views on music and youthful flair clash with some older ideas of composition.  It is a great little push and pull and one that I wish had been explored more.  The film also has a tough story about choice and the consequences that can stem from that.  There are a lot of choices in this film, and many of them have very real effects on Anat and those around her.  And director Itay Tai has a subtle, understated style that really shines through in this film.  There isn't a lot of excess drama and the film feels carefully crafted.  It is beautifully crafted some subtle shots that help to highlight what is being shown.  But that being said, the story definitely crescendos as Anat's many choices begin to weigh on her, and the consequences of those choices come full circle.

However, one problem that I had with God of the Piano is that Anat is not a very likable character and her struggles to raise a musically inclined child did not hit me with the amount of emotional drama that I think they were supposed to.  It is a natural parental instinct to want your children to do better than you and succeed where you might have failed, but this film did not really frame that struggle for me.  Now the lengths that Anat goes for her son, and her son's clear musical talent, are well documented in the film and definitely show you what she would do to succeed.  But the overall struggle just did not resonate with me because it didn't feel like enough groundwork was laid.  I wish there was a little more on her own musical struggles, the disappointment that she had, or something to show why she is so in need of musical adoration.  And maybe that is just how Tai builds his films, I can't have a wonderfully subtle film and hope for explicit points.  There are several mentions of Anat not living up to her father's examples, and some subtle examples of her musical limitations, but I just wish that more was laid out earlier.  But that being said, Tai's style is at least consistent.  Additionally the film does have some temporal jumps that seem to happen quickly without many changes in the cast other than Idan's character.  He will age considerably but everyone around him looks the same and with no hint given to the audience other than an older child in the room.

But that being said, this film is a unique experience that has a subtle style and care to the story that we don't normally see.  God of the Piano is a film that we don't see often, one that has subtle touches, parental struggle that crescendos throughout, and some amazing musical performances.

Rent it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
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For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out here

Thursday, September 17, 2020

All In: The Fight for Democracy Review: An Important Look At Modern Voter Suppression

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 102 minutes

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY examines the issue of voter suppression in the United States. The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that many people don’t even know are threats to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.

All In starts with a historical perspective on the suppression of the vote.  It looks at some of the worst past practices and then what was done to eventually overcome them.  This provides a thorough and critical look at what has been tried in the past and how it might relate to current practices of voter suppression.  It also interweaves personal experiences from the narrators with voting issues, and other prejudicial instances that happened.  Stacey Abrams has a particularly powerful personal anecdote about her own experiences with discrimination that helps to frame the overall movie.  

However, the film really picks up on the second half when it looks at modern examples of voter suppression. The use of Abrams as a narrator is not simply her star power, but the film uses her experiences in the Georgia gubernatorial race to frame what modern steps have been taken to suppress the vote.  It shows a shocking number of examples and then shows how they were put to use in that election.  And the film also shows what else has been done in other states that mirror these changes.  The film ends with practical advice on how you can protect yourself and your right to vote.  

What makes this film so important is that often times, voter suppression techniques will seem reasonable or logical, but taking a step back and seeing their impact can really show you why they are so insidious.  It might make sense to limit voting to those who have voted recently, but then you have to think what happens if your name comes up as inactive on election day in error?  Requiring an ID sounds reasonable, but what if you were born in a time when you didn't get a birth certificate or you can't take a half day off of work to go secure an official ID to then take a day off of work to vote?  All of these are important issues that strike at the core of the democratic process.  And the important message of this film is one that will hopefully ensure people protect their right to vote, and perfect it in the short time before the next election.  

All In; The Fight for Democracy is an important film about modern voter suppression techniques, with poignant examples and valuable advice to ensure that all Americans are able to exercise their rights to vote.  Make sure to watch this with plenty of time to follow its advice! 

Watch it.

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All In: The Fight for Democracy is available to stream on Amazon Prime now.

George Janko Interview for No Escape, Social Media Thriller with Keegan Allen and Holland Roden

Watch or Pass Interview with George Janko, who plays Dash in the new social media escape room thriller, No Escape, starring Keegan Allen (“Pretty Little Liars,” Palo Alto), Holland Roden (“Teen Wolf”, “Channel Zero”), Denzel Whitaker (“The Purge”, Black Panther), Ronen Rubinstein (“911: Lone Star” Some Kind of Hate), Pasha Lychnikoff (“Deadwood”,”Shameless”, A Good Day to Die Hard), George Janko (“NCIS: Los Angeles,” Millennial Mafia) and Siya (The First Purge). The film is written and directed by Will Wernick (Escape Room).  We discuss why he chose this role, how he got started in acting and social media, and how he ultimately got this role!  We also get insights and a review of the film from Mama Janko!


So give it a watch and make sure to check out the film on September 18 on demand and digitally.

A social media star travels with his friends to Moscow to capture new content for his successful VLOG. Always pushing the limits and catering to a growing audience, he and his friends enter a cold world of mystery, excess and danger. As the line between real life and social media is blurred, the group must fight to escape, and survive.

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If you liked this interview and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube.  

Murder in the Woods Review: A Latino Love Letter to Slasher Films

José Julián	...	Jesse Jeanette Samano	Jeanette Samano	...	Fernanda Chelsea Rendon	Chelsea Rendon	...	Chelsea Catherine Toribio	Catherine Toribio	...	Celeste Kade Wise	Kade Wise	...	Jule Jordan Diambrini	Jordan Diambrini	...	Gabe Soledad St. Hilaire	Soledad St. Hilaire	...	Nana Kurt Caceres	Kurt Caceres	...	Raul Rolando Molina	Rolando Molina	...	Jesus Max Chavarria	Max Chavarria	...	Kid Yelyna De Leon	Yelyna De Leon, Danny Treo

Release date: September 18, 2020 (VOD)
Running time: 90 minutes
Starring: José Julián, Jeanette Samano, Chelsea Rendon, Danny Treo 

MURDER IN THE WOODS is centered on a group of college friends who plan a getaway to celebrate a birthday party at a desolate cabin in the woods. Against his grandmother’s (Soledad St. Hilaire) demands, Jesse (José Julián), decides to go on a trip with his friends. He is immediately smitten with Fernanda (Jeanette Samano), a sweet girl from Chicago who he hasn’t seen in years. She is in town visiting her loudmouth cousin, Chelsea (Chelsea Rendon), who is ready to celebrate her birthday and plans to let loose with her boyfriend Gabe (Jordan Diambrini). Tagging along at the last second are Jule (Kade Wise), a funny and not serious class clown, and the very out-of-his-league Celeste (Catherine Toribio). Soon after arriving to the mysterious cabin in the woods, the group of teens discover the dark secret it holds, which forces them to fight for their lives.  

Latino Horror Slasher Film Homage Gore Thriller Suspense
Murder in the Woods has a lot going for it.  From the start it sets the tone right with a seriously epic soundtrack that gets you excited for what will happen next.  The music plays a big part of setting the scene and lets you know that something seriously dangerous is going to happen.  And the music changes to a few genres throughout, but is always a welcome addition.  It also has some good, old school horror effects and make up, with realistic looking wounds and blood.  I'm glad that the attention was placed on that as poor effects can make or break an indie horror film.  And one of the main draws for this film is that it is a horror film featuring a Latino cast, with touches here and there to show it.  You get some interesting cultural references, diverse characters, and just a different character from your typical horror movie.  And with this young cast, the film has a decidedly younger, fresh feel to it.  And it also includes Danny Treo!

Murder in the Woods also has plenty of camp, and that is both good and bad.  You can tell that this is meant to be a old school slasher film, with all the pros and cons that come with that.  Poor decisions, some cheesy dialogue, a little overacting, and plot twists are all present here.  The film tries to have a big twist at the end, but I thought it was projected pretty clearly throughout. And you have a cast of characters that are cookie cutter horror tropes, almost to a T.  Your love or dislike of this will determine how much you enjoy the film.  For my part, I liked parts of it but some of the overacting and poor decision making I didn't love.  But you take the good with the bad if you are making this type of homage and Murder in the Woods does commit to this style.  And I was definitely still entertained by it even with some of the hit or miss acting. 

Murder in the Woods is a Latino love letter to slasher flicks, with plenty of gore, a fresh young cast, and all the horror tropes you would expect from this genre. 

Rent it.

Horror, Slasher, Film, Fun, College, Party, Drinking, Smoking, Gore, Campy, Camp

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Antebellum Review: An Imaginative Mind Game That Explores The Sins of the Past

Arabella Landrum	Arabella Landrum	...	Little Blonde Girl Jena Malone	Jena Malone	...	Elizabeth Eric Lange	Eric Lange	...	Him Janelle Monáe	Janelle Monáe	...	Eden Tongayi Chirisa	Tongayi Chirisa	...	Eli / Professor Achok Majak	Achok Majak	...	Amara (Ghanaian Queen) Jack Huston	Jack Huston	...	Captain Jasper Kiersey Clemons	Kiersey Clemons	...	Julia T.C. Matherne	T.C. Matherne	...	Purcell Robert Aramayo	Robert Aramayo	...	Daniel Marque Richardson	Marque Richardson	...	Nick London Boyce	London Boyce	...	Kennedi Bernard Hocke	Bernard Hocke	...	Talking Head Dayna Schaaf	Dayna Schaaf	...	Yoga Teacher Gabourey Sidibe	Gabourey Sidibe	...	Dawn

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 105 minutes
Starring: Janelle Monáe, Eric Lange, Jena Malone 

Successful author Veronica Henley (Monáe) finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality and must uncover the mind-bending mystery before it's too late.  She seems to be stuck between worlds and figuring out the relationship between the two might be her only hope.  But she has to be patient because of the forces around her, including a dangerous overseer (Lange) and madame (Malone).  

Antebellum is an imaginative mind game, one that explores the sins of the past with a decidedly modern touch.  The film straddles two worlds and effectively portrays them and draws connections between them.  The story goes back and forth between these two, and you are always wondering where you will end up.  But regardless of which world you end up in, the film has an amazing style to it.  It has a wonderful color palate that causes splashes of beauty in some very ugly scenes.  There are bright colors, natural embellishments, and a generally bright mood for a movie that can be so dark.  And ever present in this film is some really fantastic, powerful music.  It hits you from the very first scene and doesn't let up throughout.  It really highlights the filmmakers background in music videos and they definitely show that they can make even very ugly themes visually beautiful.  The opening sequence of this film instantly sets the tone that this is going to be a beautiful movie that has an ever present sense of dread.  But it is definitely a welcome reminder that although the two worlds are very different, they have touches and similarities that appear throughout.

Arabella Landrum	Arabella Landrum	...	Little Blonde Girl Jena Malone	Jena Malone	...	Elizabeth Eric Lange	Eric Lange	...	Him Janelle Monáe	Janelle Monáe	...	Eden Tongayi Chirisa	Tongayi Chirisa	...	Eli / Professor Achok Majak	Achok Majak	...	Amara (Ghanaian Queen) Jack Huston	Jack Huston	...	Captain Jasper Kiersey Clemons	Kiersey Clemons	...	Julia T.C. Matherne	T.C. Matherne	...	Purcell Robert Aramayo	Robert Aramayo	...	Daniel Marque Richardson	Marque Richardson	...	Nick London Boyce	London Boyce	...	Kennedi Bernard Hocke	Bernard Hocke	...	Talking Head Dayna Schaaf	Dayna Schaaf	...	Yoga Teacher Gabourey Sidibe	Gabourey Sidibe	...	Dawn
Antebellum is not only a wonderfully stylish movie with an amazing atmosphere and fantastic music, but it truly is a world come alive.  And this is partly due to the performances.  Monáe is a revelation in this film, forced to do double duty but commanding the screen whenever she does.  Like the film, she straddles the two worlds perfectly and her character is very different depending on where she is.  Many of the characters are forced to balance this dichotomy, including Lange and Malone, but no one has to do it with as much force or variation as Monáe  And on top of the solid performances, the sets of Antebellum equally contribute to the world coming alive.  No matter which side of the film you are on, the sets look wholly authentic and real.  It helps to draw you into this film and fully embrace this unique and interesting setting. 

But Antebellum, despite being a beautiufl film with solid performances, also has a lot of darkness to it.  Aside from the aforementioned sense of dread, there are a lot of terrible, ugly scenes in both worlds.  They are decidedly more brutal in one, but there are still disturbing scenes and observations throughout.  The opening scene tied this altogether, and made the film feel like a terrible, but beautiful dance.  And despite all these touches, the story line maintains an air of mystery throughout until a conclusion that tries to tie everything together.  A lot of criticism about this film is that there is not a wider, more overarching message that is explored, and if you are hoping for something more historically accurate or more prophetic, then this is not the movie for you.  I enjoyed the horror take on the story and the brutal depiction of some terrible sins of the past, and did not feel let down by the ending as other critics have.  It is unfortunate that in a time when there is so much focus on progressive social issues and the treatment of black individuals, that Antebellum couldn't have a stronger message or more relevant conclusion.  But if you just experience this movie without trying to draw a larger message from it, then you will enjoy it. 

Antebellum is an imaginative mind game that explores the sins of the past and present through strong performances, a mysterious story, and some fantastic, dread-inducing music.

Watch it.

Antebellum, Get out, horror, thriller, suspense, movie, movies, entertainment, video on demand, digital,

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
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For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Luke Eve (Director) Interview for I Met a Girl, Mental Illness Romantic Dramady starring Brenton Thwaites Lily Sullivan Joel Jackson

Watch or Pass Interview with Luke Eve, director of I Met a Girl, a new romance drama comedy revolving around love and mental illness.  We discuss why Luke decided to direct this film, some of the choices he had to make to film this epic movie on a budget, and what he has been doing to keep himself busy during quarantine!

So give it a watch and make sure to check out the film (review here), which is available on all major digital distributors.  

I Met a Girl stars Brenton Thwaites, Lily Sullivan, Joel Jackson, Zahra Newman. 

Devon (Thwaites), an aspiring musician, embarks on an epic, cross-country journey to find the woman of his dreams Lucy (Sullivan) - who may be all in his head.  Devon's history of mental illness has put a strain on his family, including his brother Nick (Jackson) and Nick's expecting wife Olivia (Newman).  After the girl of Devon's dreams suddenly abandons him, he picks up and goes on a journey of love and discovery, a journey that is painful and enlightening for himself and those around him.  

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The Racer Review: An Honest Sports Drama That Gets The Blood Flowing

Louis Talpe	Louis Talpe	...	Dominique Chabol Matteo Simoni	Matteo Simoni	...	Lupo 'Tartare' Marino Tara Lee	Tara Lee	...	Dr. Lynn Brennan Iain Glen	Iain Glen	...	'Sonny' McElhone Karel Roden	Karel Roden	...	Viking Timo Wagner	Timo Wagner

Release date: September 18, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Louis Talpe, Matteo Simoni, Tara Lee, Iain Glen

The Racer follows Dom (Talpe), a rider who is racing the Tour de France in a team managed by his long time friend Sonny (Glen).  Being However, Dom is what is known as a domestique, someone who will never win a leg but is there to make sure that the star of the team finishes first.  He takes care of the details and the team, ensures everyone is hydrated during the race, and leads the pack so that the star Tartare (Simoni) can have just that little bit extra to push through to victory.  However, Dom is tired from never winning the race, of being the adult in the room, and from the constant strain on his body.  But a new relationship with Lynn (Lee) and a plethora of personal challenges cause him to rethink his priorities and his life.  

I am a sucker for sports movies, but I often fall for the inspirational variety.  However, this movie is not so much an inspirational sports movie as a dramatic telling of the life of an athlete.  This film has some inspirational moments, but what struck me about this is the honesty in the film.  First off, the film says at the start that this is a fictional film based on a real historical event.  Rather than trying to say it was inspired by real events or something along those lines, it is up and honest.  Additionally, the Racer has some really fantastic details on racing that lend it an air of authenticity, such as when the racers viciously diet before a race, train at all hours, and go to extreme lengths to hide their doping.  The team features racers from a variety of nations coming together, and I loved that there were a mix of languages used throughout to represent this.  These riders have lived all across Europe for their sport, and come from different countries, so it makes sense that they would be comfortable communicating in a variety of tongues.  

The Racer, Movie, Sports, Drama, Inspirational Sports, Sports Drama, Racing, Biking, Tour de France, Indie, Indie film, competing, doping
The Racer tells the relatable life of a struggling athlete, someone who is comfortable in what he is doing but yearns for more.  And the movie really does an amazing job of showing the extent that athletes will go to for their sport, including the personal, professional, and physical sacrifices they make to keep competing.  This is helped by some wonderful performances headlined by Talpe's portrayal of Dom.  He really transforms for this role and perfectly encapsulates the struggles, scares, and overall pain that an athlete at this level could experience.  As Dom he passes the eye test, looking like he could be an athlete competing in races.  He is thoroughly convincing as a grizzled racer and displays a really good emotional depth throughout. I also very much enjoyed Lee's portrayal of Lynn, and her conflicted feelings as both a team doctor and friend to Dom.  Iain Glen is also wonderful as Dom's old friend and coach on the team; the two have a natural chemistry that shines through in this film.  

And the film also does a good job of pulling together some distinct riders with larger than life personalities.  Some are there for comedic relief, but I enjoyed the very different backgrounds and priorities that they had.  Although there is plenty of drama, there is also a lot of humor between the various team members.  They are at times truly like a family, with all the pranks, humor, ribbing, and caring that you would expect.  The racers are conflicted in that they are members of the team but also individual athletes striving for glory.  And that is where some of the most interesting aspects of this film are, in that push and pull between overall team success and personal aspirations and survival.  The movie presents a lot of challenges and conflicts that put these two competing interests front and center.  And in doing so also tells a fantastic sports story that is different enough from the rest of the inspirational sports pack.  

The Racer tells an honest sports story, with inspirational moments, plenty of interesting insights into conflicted athletes, and a story that paces itself nicely before a photo finish.

Watch it.


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Spiral Review: An Authentic 90s Descent Into Madness And Dread

Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, American Horror Story), and Aaron (Ari Cohen, It: Chapter Two), a same-sex couple, move to a small town in search of a better environment for them and their 16-year-old daughter (Jennifer Laporte, Web of Dreams). But nothing is as it seems as something sinister lies behind the picturesque homes and welcoming faces of their new neighbors. With Ty Wood, Chandra West and Lochlyn Munroe. Written by Colin Minihan (writer of the Shudder Original Z and the upcoming new Urban Legend) and John Poliquin, directed by Kurtis David Harder (Summerland). A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.

Release date: September 17, 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Starring:  Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Ari Cohen, Jennifer Laporte

Malik (Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Cohen), move to a small town in search of a better environment for them and their 16-year-old daughter (Laporte). But nothing is as it seems as something sinister lies behind the picturesque homes and welcoming faces of their new neighbors.  And the more Malik delves into the weird occurrences and strange neighbors, the more he realizes that this is not the first time this has happened.   

This film is set in the 1990s and I was really impressed with the attention to detail that it had.  It featured plenty of authentic 90s touches including the technology, the decor, and the general overall setting. Great care was taken to make the town feel like a real small town, with the right balance of caring and nosy neighbors.  And there were some amazing details including tube TVs, older video game systems, old computers, and a disc that was burned with Nero burning rom, a program I haven't thought about in two decades.  And setting it in the 90s was more than just a stylistic choice, it is critical to the overall story.  

I really liked all the characters, but Malik (Bowyer-Chapman) was amazing as a proud, outspoken gay man in the 90s.  His character was one that instantly stands out for all the right reasons and I really liked seeing his portrayal.  It is especially fun to see his back and forth with Laporte as the two spar for their place in the overall family structure.  And having a nontraditional family and diverse gay couple as the main characters in a horror movie was a refreshingly different premise than what I am used to.  Although horror films are as progressive as most movies, it was still great to see a different protagonist than what I am normally used to.  However, the Spiral is not just trying to be progressive for progressive sake (although that is a notable goal and one that should be applauded), but it also uses the couple's identity as a key aspect of the overall story.

And the story of Spiral builds slowly and features plenty of psychological terror.  The movie doesn't feature gore, but rather slowly draws you into its strange setting with mind games and an ever present sense of dread.  As Malik explores further and further into the goings on of the family's new town, he realizes just how much danger is lurking around him.  Spiral does a great job of starting with a lot of unknown information that is gradually revealed as you work your way down this dark vortex.  You watch without a sense of what is going on, but happy to experience it nonetheless.  And when aspects of the story are revealed, they clear up previous questions nicely.  And at the center of this spiral is a reveal that ties a lot together, while still leaving you with questions as any good horror film should.

Spiral's attention to 90s detail and refreshingly diverse main characters help you lose yourself on this descent into madness and dread.   

Watch it.

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following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube. Spiral debuts on September 17, 2020 exclusively on Shudder.

Holland Roden Interview for No Escape, Social Media Thriller with Denzel Whitaker and Keegan Allen

Watch or Pass Interview with Holland Roden, who plays Erin in the new social media escape room thriller, No Escape, starring Keegan Allen (“Pretty Little Liars,” Palo Alto), Holland Roden (“Teen Wolf”, “Channel Zero”), Denzel Whitaker (“The Purge”, Black Panther), Ronen Rubinstein (“911: Lone Star” Some Kind of Hate), Pasha Lychnikoff (“Deadwood”,”Shameless”, A Good Day to Die Hard), George Janko (“NCIS: Los Angeles,” Millennial Mafia) and Siya (The First Purge). The film is written and directed by Will Wernick (Escape Room).  We discuss why she chose this role, where she drew inspiration for her character, and what she is doing outside of Hollywood.  We also discuss some of her own interesting travels and experiences!

So give it a watch and make sure to check out the film on September 18 on demand and digitally.

A social media star travels with his friends to Moscow to capture new content for his successful VLOG. Always pushing the limits and catering to a growing audience, he and his friends enter a cold world of mystery, excess and danger. As the line between real life and social media is blurred, the group must fight to escape, and survive.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Death of a Vlogger Review: An Indie Found Footage Film Dials Up The Scares

Release date: September 15, 2020
Running time: 88 minutes
Starring:  Graham Hughes, Annabel Logan, Paddy Kondracki

An ambitious vlogger experiences the dark side of the internet when his latest video, which features an alleged haunting, goes viral.  Graham (Hughes) has been trying to go viral for years, and when strange occurrences start happening during his vlogs, he finally gets the fame that he is hoping for.  The haunting not only affects him, but also his friend Erin (Logan) and his new collaborator Steve (Kondracki).  However, this is a double edged sword when he realizes that it is not all perfect when both the haunting and the internet fans take a more sinister turn.

Death of a Vlogger is a social media found footage based haunting film, from a well done documentary style perspective.  Although we have had a few of these types of films recently (the amazing Host, the promising Followed, and the newly sinister No Escape), this film takes a different perspective to showcase it as a retrospective documentary that is analyzing what occurred with Graham.  You get some after the fact insights, clips from the haunting itself, and interviews with the people involved.  It is an interesting way to approach it and although they could give away a lot of the story, they choose not to with carefully worded answers that introduce enough ambiguity to keep you guessing about what will happen next.  I did enjoy the documentary aspect as it gives you a sense of dread and unease, thinking that something bad will happen without explicitly saying it.  And this is also born out in the footage itself, which has a similarly sinister character to it.  There are enough strange occurrences and haunted aspects that it keeps you guessing what will happen next.  And you are constantly looking to see where the next thing will come from.  And these paranormal occurrences do have a variety of happenings, with several jump scares along the way.

Death of a Vlogger is a decidedly indie film, with what appears to be a small budget.  However, the film was very smart in how it used that budget, with good production and a decided lack of CG.  The film focuses on smart effects, found footage, and some interesting costumes for the scares and not on expensive and unnatural looking effects.  It does a good job dialing up the creepy with this, although it would have been nice to have a few more characters.  And there are some scares that don't look as sinister as they could, like someone dressed in a costume rather than an actual spirit.  But it makes up for this by having the jump scares genuinely be scary.  And some interesting camera tricks that will have you guessing at times.  The characters and the story have enough surprises that it will keep your interest and the overall ending is ambiguous enough that it can have multiple interpretations.  

Death of a Vlogger is a suspenseful found footage documentary with smart effects, interesting characters, and plenty of unease and jump scares.

Rent it.

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