Monday, November 23, 2020

The Croods: A New Age Review: Some Great New Characters, Same Beautiful Animation, and Lots of Silliness

Nicolas Cage	Nicolas Cage	...	Grug (voice) Emma Stone	Emma Stone	...	Eep (voice) Ryan Reynolds	Ryan Reynolds	...	Guy (voice) Catherine Keener	Catherine Keener	...	Ugga (voice) Cloris Leachman	Cloris Leachman	...	Gran (voice) Clark Duke	Clark Duke	...	Thunk (voice) Leslie Mann	Leslie Mann	...	Hope Betterman (voice) Peter Dinklage	Peter Dinklage	...	Phil Betterman (voice) Kelly Marie Tran	Kelly Marie Tran	...	Dawn Betterman (voice) Kailey Crawford	Kailey Crawford	...	Sandy (voice) Chris Sanders	Chris Sanders	...	Belt (voice) (as Christopher Sanders) James Ryan	James Ryan	...	Sash (voice) Gabriel Jack	Gabriel Jack	...	Young Guy (voice) Melissa Disney	Melissa Disney	...	Guy's Mother (voice) Joel Crawford	Joel Crawford	...	Guy's Father (voice)

Release date: November 25, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, 
Catherine Keener, Cloris LeachmanClark DukeLeslie MannPeter DinklageKelly Marie Tran
Directed By: 
Joel Crawford

The prehistoric family the Croods are challenged by a rival family the Bettermans, who claim to be better and more evolved.  In this follow up to the prehistoric family hit, the Croods discover a new member of the pack and try to find a new home.  However, when they find some place that seems like paradise, they learn that maybe this might not be all that it is cracked up to be.

The Croods: A New Age continues the same trend of the first movie with some amazingly beautiful animation.  The film, like the previous one, starts in a desert but eventually moves into a more lush environment that really showcases what this film has to offer.  The New Age also adds some new characters, and they are all good additions.  The original Croods voice cast was surprisingly good with Nic Cage and Emma Stone being the standouts.  This movie adds characters voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, and Kelly Marie Tran.  I really liked Ryan Reynolds's character, and the other new characters are well voiced, despite me not loving their overall demeaner.  But overall, the voice acting is convincing and entertaining.

Directed by  Joel Crawford	...	(directed by)Writing Credits   Kevin Hageman	...	(screenplay by) & Dan Hageman	...	(screenplay by) and Paul Fisher	...	(screenplay by) & Bob Logan	...	(screenplay by)   Kirk DeMicco	...	(story by) & Chris Sanders	...	(story by)     Produced by  Mark Swift	...	producer (produced by) (p.g.a.)
And the story of the Croods: A New Age has an interesting dynamic between prehistoric times and more modern times.  It is fun to see the Croods contend with modern technology and interact with it.  Some of the changes are funny to see, like how one of the children becomes obsessed with screens.  But what characterizes this story the most is the utter silliness of it all.  The movie has some very random aspects, such as animals that communicate only in punches, strange mash up creatures, and some odd fruits and vegetables. They are all very colorful and should be very entertaining for kids and adults.  

The story of the film has a modern technology versus old ways push and pull, and a lot more family drama than I thought it would have. But don't worry about these somewhat heavy story points, the movie itself is very silly.  There is a really funny 80s / KISS type call out towards the end that is really entertaining.  And the whole film seems to be characterized by a lot of random and ridiculous scenes.  And this silliness is something that made my kids laugh out loud.  Your kids will love it and there is enough in here for adults to enjoy as well.

The Croods: A New Age adds some great new characters and plenty of silliness in this prehistoric family animated adventure.

Rent it.

Family Prehistoric Croods Animated Animation Modern
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The Croods: A New Age is available in theaters on November 25.  
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Uncle Frank Review: A Coming of Age Film With An All Star Cast and Painful, Heartfelt Story

Paul Bettany	...	Frank Bledsoe Sophia Lillis	Sophia Lillis	...	Beth Bledsoe Peter Macdissi	Peter Macdissi	...	Walid 'Wally' Steve Zahn	Steve Zahn	...	Mike Bledsoe Judy Greer	Judy Greer	...	Kitty Bledsoe Margo Martindale	Margo Martindale	...	Mammaw Bledsoe Stephen Root	Stephen Root	...	Daddy Mac Lois Smith	Lois Smith	...	Aunt Butch Jane McNeill	Jane McNeill	...	Neva Caity Brewer	Caity Brewer	...	Marcia Hannah Black	Hannah Black	...	Janis Bledsoe Michael Banks Repeta	Michael Banks Repeta	...	11-Year-Old Bullet (as Banks Repeta) Isabella Pambianchi	Isabella Pambianchi	...	8-Year-Old Mae Ray Burgess Jenkins	Burgess Jenkins	...	Beau Zach Strum	Zach Strum	...	Tee Dub

Release date: November 25, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring: 
Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale
Director: Alan Ball

In 1973, when Frank Bledsoe (Bettany) and his 18-year-old niece Beth (Lillis) take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina for the family patriarch's funeral, they're unexpectedly joined by Frank's lover Wally (Macdissi).

Director: Alan Ball Writer: Alan Ball    Produced by  Alan Ball	...	producer Bill Block	...	producer Michael Costigan	...	producer Isaac Ericson	...	executive producer Andrew Golov	...	executive producer Peter Macdissi	...	producer Stephanie Meurer	...	producer Bob Osher	...	executive producer Josh Peters	...	executive producer Christopher Tricarico	...	executive producer Jay Van Hoy	...	producer
Uncle Frank mainly revolves around a small town South Carolina family, despite having detours in New York.  And the family is perfectly set up by the all star cast.  It really draws you into the whole dynamic with the way that everyone interacts.  And the standout of this family is Frank (Bettany), who definitely feels like a different character compared to the rest of the group; he stands out but you are not sure why at the beginning.  He is reserved but charismatic, someone that you want to know more about but who might not let you learn any more.  And his interactions with his niece Beth (Lillis) form a large part of the film.  As Frank and Beth grow closer and more trusting of each other, you gain a deeper understanding of both of their characters.  And the friendship between Frank and Wally (Macdissi) is also wonderful.  It is layered and nuanced, with Wally being the more caring and outgoing of the two and Frank the more cautious and quiet.  But Macdissi is wonderful as Wally, adding so much heart and emotion to this otherwise fairly reserved film.  

As you would expect with a movie about family, there is plenty of heart, love, and drama.  And this movie is first and foremost a drama; it is front and center during the film despite there being snippets of heartfelt and humorous parts.  The movie is broken into a few parts, with an introduction, some time in New York, and a road trip ultimately ending up back in South Carolina.  And through this all you learn more about the characters and their background.  This is helped along by some really fantastic writing.  It is tight and definitive, nothing is wasted in this film.  Each line gives you a new dimension to the characters and their relationships.    

And this movie is an interesting coming of age film, but not like you would expect it to be.  In this film, you have multiple characters coming into their own as they test themselves and their relationships with their family.  The journey is both entertaining and painful to watch, but it is one that will captivate you from the start.  And the cinematography throughout this journey is really wonderful, with plenty of thoughtful, understated shots.  The film is set in some very beautiful areas and the camera makes that clear from the beginning.  And on top of that, the movie has a wonderful soundtrack to effectively amplify the drama.   

Uncle Frank is a wonderful, period coming of age with an all star cast, fantastic writing, and a painful family story filled with heart, humor, and drama. 

Watch it.

Coming of Age South South Carolina New York Family Drama Queer LBGTQ Gay Relationship Humor Comedy Road Trip Love
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Uncle Frank will be released on Amazon Prime Video on November 25, 2020.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sword of God Unboxing Video Thanks To Film Movement

Unboxing video for the DVD version of Sword of God thanks to our friends at Film Movement. Details of the film below.

Sword of God:

Two men in the early Middle Ages come to a pagan land: one to bring Christianity, the other to find his way of living. They choose two different ways of reaching the pagans. Their conflicting approaches cause issues between themselves and their new flock, and might result in consequences that neither of them anticipated. Cast: Krzysztof Pieczynski, Karol Bernacki, Wiktoria Gorodecka, Jacek Koman Director: Bartosz Konopka Writers: Bartosz Konopka, Przemyslaw Nowakowski, Anna Wydra

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Carmilla Unboxing Video Thanks To Film Movement

Unboxing video for the DVD version of Carmilla thanks to our friends at Film Movement. Details of the film below.

Carmilla:

An atmospheric, coming-of-age love story steeped in eerie mystery and inspired by the gothic novel of the same name. Cast: Tobias Menzies, Jessica Raine, Greg Wise, Hannah Rae, Daniel Tuite, Devrim Lingnau, Colin Blumenau, Lorna Gayle Director: Emily Harris Writers: Emily Harris, Sheridan Le Fanu

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Friday, November 20, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: Orange Years, Higher Love, Run, Leap of Faith, Last Vermeer, Dating Amber, Over the Moon, The Secret

For That 90s Nostalgia - The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story (Digital)
The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story had me revisiting my childhood, with plenty of clips, insights, information, and enough slime to remind me why this network played such an important part of my young life!  For more information, check out the review!

For A Window Into Addiction - Higher Love (Digital)
Higher Love is an unfiltered, raw, and emotional look at the effect of drugs and addiction on an American family and all the highs and lows that come from that.  For more information, check out our review!

For The Thriller Fans - Run (Hulu)
Run has some fantastic performances by Paulson and Allen in a tense, psychological thriller that will have you holding your breath and your heart rate running.   For more information, check out our review!

For The Horror Fans - Leap of Faith (Shudder)
Leap of Faith is a fascinating and frank dialog about one of the most influential films ever made, with wonderful insights and amazingly honest critiques from the director.  For more information, check out our review!

For The History Buffs - The Last Vermeer (Theaters)
The Last Vermeer is a work of historical art, with meticulously crafted characters, an attention to historical detail, and a mystery that slowly reveals itself with each story brushstroke.  For more information, check out our review!

For Those Looking For Identity - Dating Amber (Digital)
Dating Amber is a quirky, funny, and heartfelt story of love, sexuality, and identity that puts a new twist on the queer coming of age tale.  For more information, check out our review!

For the Kids - Over the Moon (Netflix)
Over the Moon is out of this world amazing, with beautiful animation, classic Disney influences, catchy musical numbers, and a lunar adventure that kids and adults will learn from and love.  For more information, check out our review!

For The Romantics - The Secret: Dare to Dream (Redbox)
The movie that stars Katie Holmes and follows a woman looking to follow their dreams, this film has a very high viewer score and is now available at Redbox!

Higher Love Review: A Raw, Unfiltered, and Emotional Look at Addiction in America

Release date: November 3, 2020
Running time: 78 minutes

A blue collar worker tries to rescue his pregnant, heroin-addicted girlfriend from the notorious streets of Camden, NJ and her close-knit group of drug users. Once their son is born, he forces her to choose between her life with her drug "family" and one with him and their child.

Higher Love is a painful documentary to watch, with a story that is probably all too common in America today.  A family is torn apart by drugs, and the film follows the drug addict's attempts to kick the habit.  Despite knowing everything that the drugs are doing and how it is affecting their lives, the drugs or the lifestyle always call them back.  And the film documents this in painful detail, showing both parties and their lives in stark, real situations.  You see how it affects them day to day, and the barriers that they put up for recovery.  The film mainly focuses on the family, but it also brings in stories from other individuals affected by drugs.  From recovering people, to those who are on and off the wagon, the movie follows a variety of stories that coincide and interact with the main family.  And it also includes interviews with those individuals, allowing them to speak freely and honestly about the drug habits and what that does to them and those around them.  It paints a very real, very painful, and ultimately unfiltered picture of drugs and addiction in America.

And what this movie does so beautifully and sadly is that it tells these stories carefully and honestly, with no prejudgment or influence by the film.  The actions of the individuals involved are shown with care and clarity, leaving the viewer to take it in.  Judgment might be made, but it is not the filmmakers who are trying to force those.  And the story of the film is a slow one, but that just lets you experience this little slice of life to the fullest.  There are some time jumps, but generally the movie shows day to day life for those experiencing and living with addiction.  And it follows them for enough time that you really see the effects that drugs can have on a family, and what that means for more of America.  It is an unfiltered look into what is happening all over the country, and might give you an appreciation of just how bad this crisis is.  And in that unfiltered look you see some frank conversations and some very emotional moments.  

Higher Love is an unfiltered, raw, and emotional look at the effect of drugs and addiction on an American family and all the highs and lows that come from that.  

Watch it.
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Higher Love is available digitally and on demand November 3, 2020.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

My Summer As A Goth: A Quirky Coming of Age Comedy

Mike Vaughn	Mike Vaughn	...	Additional voices Natalie Shershow	Natalie Shershow	...	Joey Javitts Rachelle Henry	Rachelle Henry	...	Molly Natasha Duvall	Natasha Duvall	...	Shelley Tristan Decker	Tristan Decker	...	Aaron Eduardo Reyes	Eduardo Reyes	...	Antonio Jack Levis	Jack Levis	...	Victor Ireland Parker Green	Parker Green	...	Additional voices Connor Muhl	Connor Muhl	...	Iggy (Industrial Goth Guy) Neil Green	Neil Green	...	Additional voices Jonah Kersey	Jonah Kersey	...	Additional Voices (voice) Kristin Taylor	Kristin Taylor	...	Additional voices Carson Verity	Carson Verity	...	Additional voices Kyle Stoltz	Kyle Stoltz	...	Cafe Patron / Club Medusa Dancer / 40th Anniversary Guest Carter Allen	Carter Allen	...	Cob

Release date: November 11, 2020
Running time: 104 minutes
Starring: Natalie Shershow, Jack Levis, Fayra Teeters, Jonas Israel, Jenny White, Carter Allen, Eduardo Reyes, Rachelle Henry, Lorraine Bahr, Michael Biesanz, Sophie Giberson and Sarah Overman.
Director: Tara Johnson-Medinger
Writers: Brandon Lee Roberts, Tara Johnson-Medinger

From director Tara Johnson-Medinger, and starring award-winning actor Natalie Shershow (“Leverage”, “American Vandal”), My Summer as a Goth is a coming-of-age story about the sometimes painful—often entertaining—search for identity and love in adolescence.  After the sudden death of her father, 16-year-old, Joey Javitts is sent to stay with her eccentric grandparents while her author mother promotes her latest novel. Joey promptly falls for the beguiling Goth boy next door, Victor, and is transformed by him and his merry band of misfits in black.  Set in present-day Portland, My Summer as a Goth navigates Joey’s relationships with her new friends, her family and herself, and will resonate with anyone who survived the social alienation of adolescence—and that first summer heartbreak.

Directed by  Tara Johnson-Medinger	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Tara Johnson-Medinger	 Brandon Lee Roberts	...	(as Brandt Dureau)Cast     Megan Clare Foster	...	producer (as Megan Clare Johnson) Kymberley J. Franklin	...	line producer Tara Johnson-Medinger	...	producer Gary Nolton	...	producer Brandon Lee Roberts	...	producer (as Brandt Dureau)
The film has an interesting premise.  Joey is trying to deal with her own dark thoughts so decides to begin hanging out with a group that she thinks understands this part of her.  And as she gets more into goth culture, she begins to question how much she actually wants to change.  The film has a fun cast of characters, including the various goth kids and Joey's grandparents, who are much more hip and understanding than most grandparents would be given Joey's change.  The grandparents are pretty funny and do have some fun little quips here and there.  And Victor is an odd kid, but he also is generally funny.  The film has a lot of quirky little comedic moments that will make you chuckle as you remember how difficult it was to navigate growing up.  Overall, this comedy will give you something a little more quirky to enjoy as you reminisce about your teenage years.  And as you would expect from a movie about goth culture, the music is very good.  It's more like techno-light Marilyn Manson, and a fitting, very listenable goth-style soundtrack.

However, like adolescence and growing up, the film does have some rough patches.  First, the voice acting and general acting feel stiff at the start.  It begins to get better as the film progresses but it still also feels a little unnatural at times.  And Joey begins the film as not likeable or sympathetic, but that does change.  Additionally, the goth characters generally seem less goth and more like drama kids (which I understand probably often include goths).  However, the film's characters just seem like odd ducks and less like dedicated goths.  Maybe that is just how modern goths are.  And Joey's transformation into a goth happens very quickly; I would have liked for a more nuanced change to occur rather than a full on redo.  And the film also has a good number of scenes that feel heavy handed.  But those are equally balanced by some genuinely fun scenes and some dramatic moments and scenes with real emotion.

My Summer As A Goth is a quirky comedy with some fun characters and emotional scenes that will remind you of how awkward growing up and coming into your own can be.  

Rent it.

Coming of Age Goth Goth Culture Goth Rave Darkness Dark Make up drama rebellion rebel growing up growth
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My Summer As A Goth is available to rent or buy on November 11, 2020. 

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Run Review: A Tense Thriller With Some Standout Performances

The film stars Sarah Paulson and newcomer Kiera Allen.

Release date: November 20, 2020
Running time: 89 minutes
Starring: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen
Directed by: Aneesh Chaganty
Written by: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian

They say you can never escape a mother’s love... but for Chloe, that’s not a comfort — it’s a threat. There’s something unnatural, even sinister about the relationship between Chloe (newcomer Kiera Allen) and her mom, Diane (Sarah Paulson). Diane has raised her daughter in total isolation, controlling every move she’s made since birth, and there are secrets that Chloe's only beginning to grasp. From the visionary writers, producers and director of the breakout film Searching, comes a suspense thriller that shows that when mom gets a little too close, you need to RUN.

RUN is directed by Aneesh Chaganty and written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian. The film is produced by Natalie Qasabian, p.g.a. and Sev Ohanian, p.g.a. The film will make its debut on Hulu later this year.
Run is a lot more of a thriller than I anticipated.  The story starts off normal enough, then builds slowly as more and more uncertainty and tension are added.  Like a fire, it starts off relatively small but keeps growing and growing as more information is revealed.  I love how little bits of uncertainty are introduced throughout.  The audience has a little inkling at the start, but everything generally appears to be normal.  However, as the tension builds, you quickly learn that something is not right here.  And once that switch flips, it starts to turn into an exciting thriller.  And this is all helped along by some good, atmospheric music that does a great job increasing the tension when needed.  There isn't a ton of music in this film, but when it is included it does a wonderful job of setting the ton and amplifying the emotions and excitement.

But a lot of the excitement comes from the great performances in Run.  Both Sarah Paulson and newcomer Kiera Allen are fantastic in this film, giving believable, and when needed emotional, performances that really help to sell this.  There aren't that many characters in Run, but the ones we do have are perfectly cast and acted.  And the subtle push and pull between mother (Paulson) and daughter (Allen) is really fun to watch.  And as their relationship changes, there are more subtle and not so subtle hints introduced to the film that affect their dynamic.  The push and pull exists throughout this movie, and it makes for some very exciting moments.

As mentioned, Run is a lot more psychological and thriller than I expected.  The story is well done with a few surprise twists that might catch you off guard.  The film does a great job of seeding some doubt without actually giving away the reveal.  It's not an overly long or complex story, but it is one that is exiting to watch and will keep you engaged as you learn more and more about Diane and Chloe.  And this story is all capped off by a satisfying ending to the whole thing.

Run has some fantastic performances by Paulson and Allen in a tense, psychological thriller that will have you holding your breath and your heart rate running

Watch it.

Run Thriller Runfilm Horror Paulson Allen tension tense disabled disability child mother college
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Run is available to stream on Hulu starting November 20, 2020.

Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds Review: A Documentary About Out of This World Objects

Release date: November 13, 2020
Running time: 100 minutes

Following their Academy Award-nominated work on “Encounters at the End of the World” and Emmy-nominated “Into the Inferno,” Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer’s new film “Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds” takes viewers on an extraordinary journey to discover how shooting stars, meteorites and deep impacts have focused the human imagination on other realms and worlds, and on our past and our future.

Fireball explores meteorites and other objects that come from space and looks at how people find them, what those objects look like, and also the historical perspective of how those objects have affected people and cultures.  The historical aspect is very interesting, looking at how objects from space have been noticed by cultures and developed into myths for generations.  And the filmmakers really explore these, going to many different locales in their search for more and more history.  And they're not just looking for historical examples, but also go all over the world in their search for out of this world objects.  If you want to see some really interesting places and footage from all over, this is a great way to do it.  And I also enjoyed how the filmmakers spoke to various interstellar object hunters and looked into how they go about locating their objects and some of their best finds.  I really liked a clever individual who found the most likely place for space material to hit and goes there regularly trying to find anything that might have accumulated there.  

However, Fireball--while being an interesting and insightful documentary--is relatively slow paced.  It goes to a lot of places but sometimes it seems like it lingers a little too long on points.  And this is just a personal opinion, but the narration felt a little too serious at times.  It made it hard to really get invested in the film and also made the sections that lingered on feel that much longer.  It is probably just me personally, but if it is something that did affect my overall enjoyment of the documentary.

Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds travels all over the world looking for out of this world objects and the myths and effect that those have on our world.

Rent it.
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Bruce Springsteen: Letter to You is available to stream on Apple TV+ starting November 13.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Killing Floor and Hero On The Front Unboxing Video Thanks To Film Movement

Unboxing video for both Hero On the Front and The Killing Floor. Details of the films below.

Hero On The Front Details: An Allied soldier, stranded behind enemy lines during the La Lys battle in 1918 during World War I, struggles by himself through dozens of German offensives so he can guarantee the safety of his companions. Based on the true story of Private Milhões. Starring: João Arrais, Lúcia Moniz, Miguel Borges, Ivo Canelas The Killing Floor Details: Praised by The New Yorker as "a revelatory historical drama" and by The Village Voice as the most “clear-eyed account of union organizing on film,” THE KILLING FLOOR (1984/1985) is the first feature film directed by Bill Duke and explores a little-known true story of an African American migrant in his struggle to help build an interracial union in the Chicago Stockyards. The screenplay by Obie Award-winner Leslie Lee is from an original story by producer Elsa Rassbach and is based on actual characters and events, tracing ethnic and class conflicts seething in the city’s giant slaughterhouses, when management efforts to divide the workforce fuel racial tensions that erupt in the deadly Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Director: Bill Duke Starring: Damien Leake, Alfre Woodard, Moses Gunn, Clarence Felder

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Dirty God Review: An Emotional Story With An Amazing Debut By Knight

Vicky Knight	...	Jade Katherine Kelly	Katherine Kelly	...	Lisa Eliza Brady-Girard	Eliza Brady-Girard	...	Rae Rebecca Stone	Rebecca Stone	...	Shami Bluey Robinson	Bluey Robinson	...	Naz Dana Marineci	Dana Marineci	...	Flavia Tachia Newall	Tachia Newall	...	Kieran Frieda Thiel	Frieda Thiel	...	Ronit Shystie	Shystie	...	Tal (as Chanelle Calica) Karl Jackson	Karl Jackson	...	Eli Alys Metcalf	Alys Metcalf	...	Daisy Wendy Albiston	Wendy Albiston	...	Pat Malique Warner	Malique Warner	...	Damo Jake Wheeldon	Jake Wheeldon	...	David Rosie Akerman	Rosie Akerman	...	Stacey

Release date: November 13, 2020
Running time: 104 minutes
Starring: Vicky Knight, Katherine Kelly, Eliza Brady-Girard 
Director: Sacha Polak
Writers: Sacha Polak, Susie Farrell 

A young British mother struggles to reclaim her life after a brutal acid attack leaves her severely scarred. Jade (Knight) is still recovering from a terrible acid attack that has scarred her face, body, and her spirit.  She attempts to rebuild her life, but the constant ridicule and pain are tough for her to take, and life begins to slowly bear down on her.  How she deals with this unique and painful situation forms the main crux of the film, and gives dirty god much of its inherent heart.  

EN Director: Sacha Polak Writers: Sacha Polak, Susie Farrell (as Susanne Farrell)     Isabel Davis	...	executive producer Clea De Koning	...	executive producer Michael Elliott	...	producer Celine Haddad	...	executive producer Chris Jorna	...	line producer Frank Klein	...	executive producer Donna Mabey	...	line producer Dries Phlypo	...	co-producer Marleen Slot	...	producer Eva Yates	...	executive producer
This movie is the acting debut of Vicky Knight and what a debut it is.  Knight gives a powerful, difficult performance.  A burn victim herself from her childhood, Knight added some additional scars for this role but approaches it with an understanding and care that you expect from this situation.  Her performance and gait are realistic, because they are.  She walks with a little bit of a hitch that looks realistic.  Her performance touches on some very real emotions because they are likely hers.  And this film is the perfect film to showcase her talents.  The story is heartfelt, chronicling a recently injured mother coping with the cruel, disfiguring injury and her new reality.  Jade goes through physical and emotional turmoil as she tries to cope with what happened and rebuild her life.  And this emotional story is accompanied by some great music that helps to set the mood and increase the drama.

However, the film itself, while emotional and well put together, is very slow and sometimes doesn't seem to have a purpose.  The film at times feels like a chronicle of her life, rather than a journey of what is happening.  Bits and pieces of what occurred are revealed throughout the film, but you really don't get a full picture until the end of the movie.  But before that, you are left with a story that feels slow if realistic.  And I also found it difficult to tell what was going on at times, partially because I did not have the backstory.  Not all movies need to be emotional roller coasters, but this one felt like it could have done with a bit more exposition and adventure.  

Dirty God is an emotional journey of abuse and reconstruction, with a powerful acting debut by Vicky Knight.  

Rent it.

Drama Movie Burn Victim Love Family Sadness Rebirth Rebuild Abuse
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Dirty God is available on November 13, 2020. 

For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.
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Leap of Faith Review: A Fascinating and Frank Conversation About The Exorcist

Release date: November 19, 2020
Running time: 95 minutes
Starring William Friedkin
Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe

A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.  A lyrical and spiritual cinematic essay on The Exorcist, Leap of Faith explores the uncharted depths of William Friedkin’s mind’s eye, the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography. The film marks the sixth feature documentary from Philippe (78/52, Memory: The Origins of Alien), continuing his thoughtful analysis of iconic genre films. 

Leap of Faith is a thoroughly honest conversation with Friedkin on his inspiration for and experience shooting the Exorcist.  Friedkin is very frank and doesn't pull any punches.  He also does not try to puff up his own intent or make his ideas sound more lofty than they are.  What I loved most about this is that he is very stark in his assessment; if he did something simply because he thought it was the right thing to do or it made sense at the time, he says it.  He doesn't try to sugar coat or add film weight to some of his choices, he just accurately relays what happens.  But in this conversation you can see the genius of Friedkin.  From his reasonable and important choices, to the references he uses, to his amazing recall of the filming process, Friedkin's talent shines through despite him not attempting to make it so.  

The Exorcist is one of the most iconic films in any genre, and is likewise one of the greatest horror films, and seeing this documentary lets you experience that over again.  The documentary is peppered with clips from the film interjected into Friedkin's conversation, which gives you great context to what he is discussing.  I enjoyed hearing the stories and seeing the clips from the movie, and having Friedkin's dialogue over them made it that much better.  He also tells some inside stories about actors he chose and didn't choose, and the reasons for it.  Some of this has probably already been published, but it was wonderful to hear this straight from the director's mouth.  It is a fascinating journey and one that I wouldn't normally expect to enjoy as much as I did.  

Leap of Faith is a fascinating and frank dialog about one of the most influential films ever made, with wonderful insights and amazingly honest critiques from the director.

Watch it.

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Leap of Faith is available to stream on Shudder starting November 19, 2020. 

Noemi Gold Review: An Understated, Relatable Story With Quirky Characters

Release date: November 19, 2020
Running time: 80 minutes
Starring: Catalina Beraducci, Paula Astorga, Daniel Powell, Dan Rubenstein and Alex Bach
Written and Directed By: Dan Rubenstein

Noemí Gold follows Noemí Goldberg who, after experiencing what she believes to be an allergic reaction to Misoprostol (commonly known as the abortion pill), Noemí seeks out the help of a gynecologist, who promptly reports her to the police. To Noemí’s relief, she is not charged with any crime—attempted abortion is not a prosecutable offense in Argentina—and to her dismay, she’s still pregnant. This news coincides with the arrival of Noemí’s estranged cousin from Los Angeles, a social media influencer with millions of followers and dubious talent. With little support from her scatter-brained roommate and self-involved circle of friends, Noemí has only herself to rely on while navigating her present straits.

Noemi Gold feels like a slice of life, understated film.  Noemí's situation is relatable to a lot of people and the whole encounter feels very real (aside from some of the interesting characters that participate in her story).  Noemí herself is reserved despite everything that is going on in her life, and seems to roll with the punches as they come.  As mentioned in the synopsis, Noemí is seeking an abortion, an incredibly personal and difficult decision.  And this film was an interesting window to see abortion rights are like in other countries.  The idea that an abortion could be a prosecuted offense was discomforting to see, and these types of movies are great for giving that insight into other countries and cultures, especially when many of us are not able to travel.  And although the film is understated, it does have some funny aspects.  The characters talk about things that affect everyday life and very modern topics, such as influencers, money, and the wealth disparity between different countries.

However, Noemí is generally a reserved person, and this translates into her not showing much emotion.  It was admirable that she seemed to not be too affected by the circumstances and events happening around her, but it also caused me to not get as emotionally invested in her character and predicament as I expected to be.  And the film also, for whatever reason, skips some pivotal aspects of her story.  There is a scene that I thought was an important point that occurred completely off camera.  And the opposite of this is that some scenes will seem to linger a little longer than I thought.  Two people staring into the distance for 3 or 4 seconds longer than anticipated, an awkward scene that continues for a little bit longer than I had hoped, there are all these little additions that contributed to the story seeming slow.  A film that was released earlier dealing with a similar topic, Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always, had a similar feel, except it really let the emotions fly when it was time, leading to a sequence of events that did affect you and stayed with you long after the film.  Noemi Gold is a well put together movie with interesting characters, but I just didn't have the same emotional investment.  

Noemi Gold has an understated, relatable story with a host of interesting, quirky characters in a slice of life drama that provides a window into life and abortion rights in Argentina. 

Rent it.

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following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube.   Noemi Gold premieres on Topic on Thursday, November 19.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Saturday Night Live (SNL): The Early Years Seasons 1-5 DVD Set Unboxing

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” The first five years of Saturday Night Live featured some of the most beloved cast members of all time, including Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, and Laraine Newman - the "Not Ready For Prime Time Players.” They set the stage for some of the most hilarious television comedy, and it was all live! Now the best of the original cast is available unlike ever before. They’re still not ready for prime time, but now you can watch them any time! This 12-DVD Collector’s Set Includes:

  • 11 DVDs of the best episodes from Seasons 1-5
  • 30 Complete Episodes
  • The original groundbreaking, irreverent, hilarious cast
  • All-time classic sketches including “Land Shark,” “Word Association,” “The Killer Bees,” “Super Bass-o-Matic,” “Weekend Update,” and so many more
  • Iconic characters including Coneheads, Samurai, Emily Litella, Chevy Chase as President Ford, Shower Mike, The Blues Brothers, Baba Wawa, and more!
  • Plus rare footage of the original cast, including screen tests and interviews
  • Guest Hosts include George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Candice Bergen, Paul Simon, and more!
  • 28-Page Collector’s Book telling the story of the show and all of your favorite “Not Ready For Primetime Players”
  • FREE Bonus DVD with three more classic episodes, including Chevy Chase's return to SNL with music icon Billy Joel, plus the historic 100th episode!
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The Last Vermeer Review: A Meticulously Crafted Historical Mystery

Daan Aufenacker	...	Officier Firing Squad Claes Bang	Claes Bang	...	Captain Joseph Piller Matt Beauman-Jones	Matt Beauman-Jones	...	Lieutenant Colonel (as Matt Jones) Mark Behan	Mark Behan	...	Bulldogs Friend Paul Bentall	Paul Bentall	...	Chief Judge Daniël Brongers	Daniël Brongers	...	Civillian Witold Brzoska	Witold Brzoska	...	German Officer Kim Chapman	Kim Chapman	...	Party Girl Richard Curtis	Richard Curtis	...	Lieutenant US Marine Corps Peter Dawson	Peter Dawson	...	American Soldier Truus de Boer	Truus de Boer	...	Photographer Dieuwke de Mooij	Dieuwke de Mooij	...	Stand-In for leading actress Vicky Krieps Guido Den Broeder	Guido Den Broeder	...	Civilian August Diehl	August Diehl	...	Alex De Klerks Richard Dillane	Richard Dillane	...	Colonel Jenkins

In Theaters: November 20, 2020
Run Time: 118 Minutes
Rated: R
Starring: Guy Pearce, Claes Bang, Vicky Krieps
Director: Dan Friedkin

While Joseph Piller (Bang), a Dutch Jew, was fighting in the Resistance during the Second World War, the witty, debonair aesthete, Han van Meegeren (Pearce) was hosting hedonistic soirées and selling Dutch art treasures to Hermann Goring and other top Nazis. Following the war, Piller becomes an investigator assigned the task of identifying and redistributing stolen art, resulting in the flamboyant van Meegeren being accused of collaboration — a crime punishable by death. But, despite mounting evidence, Piller, with the aid of his assistant (Krieps), becomes increasingly convinced of Han's innocence and finds himself in the unlikely position of fighting to save his life.

Produced by  Sabine Brian	...	producer: the Netherlands Gino Falsetto	...	executive producer Danny Friedkin	...	producer Ryan Friedkin	...	producer Richard Goodwin	...	co-producer Peter Heslop	...	executive producer Elwin Looije	...	line producer Ridley Scott	...	executive producer    Directed by  Dan Friedkin	Writing Credits   Jonathan Lopez	...	(based on the book "The Man Who Made Vermeers" by)   John Orloff	...	(as 'James McGee') James McGee	 Mark Fergus	 Hawk Ostby
The Last Vermeer is based on a historical event, and the film definitely errs on the side of accuracy.  The Last Vermeer has a meticulously crafted post-World War II Holland that feels like a country trying to fix itself after the war.  There are period appropriate touches throughout that make you feel like you are watching history unfold.  And the film has some fantastic acting that is headlined by Guy Pearce's amazing performance as Han van Meegeren.  As you would expect, he convincingly portrays the controversial figure with a flair and arrogance that seems exactly as I expected the man to be.  And he also completely transforms, changing his mannerisms and appearance to portray this man.  And Claes Bang does a great job as Piller, the man tasked with tracking down stolen art and ultimately who comes to believe Meegeren.  Piller is more by the book, but he does give Bang some opportunities to stretch his dramatic chops.  And Piller's friend and bulldog also does a great job, taking the hits for Piller when needed and helping to move the story along.  The acting in this film is really crucial to keep your interest; the movie is a slow one but the acting and attention to the period will keep you interested and keep your attention.

The story of The Last Vermeer is slow to develop.  Like the time itself, the movie focuses a lot on reconstructing Holland after the war.  But it is not just a structural reconstruction, but also focuses on renewing the faith of the people and on the personal growth of those who fought in the war.  And this is highlighted by the aforementioned attention to detail.  It really does transport you to post-war Holland, and lets you experience the reconstruction and all the internal conflicts that occurred after the war.  And despite the film's story being relatively slow, like any great work of art, it slowly layers on the elements stroke by stroke, to paint you a whole picture.  I did not mind the slow pace, and I especially liked the trial scene towards the end.  It was well done and entertaining and picked up the pace from the story.  And another aspect of this movie that helped focus your interest was the stellar score, which really didn't overpower any aspect of the film, but just helped to add another layer on it. 

The Last Vermeer is a work of historical art, with meticulously crafted characters, an attention to historical detail, and a mystery that slowly reveals itself with each story brushstroke.

Watch it.

Art Forgery Art History World War II Nazis Germany Holland Dutch Vermeer Painting Paint oil Paint Forge swindle steal movies movie in theater theaters
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The Last Vermeer is available in theaters on November 20, 2020.  For showtimes, click here.

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Monday, November 16, 2020

Dating Amber Review: A Quirky, Funny, and Heartfelt Queer Coming of Age Film

Fionn O'Shea	...	Eddie Lola Petticrew	Lola Petticrew	...	Amber Sharon Horgan	Sharon Horgan	...	Hannah Barry Ward	Barry Ward	...	Ian Simone Kirby	Simone Kirby	...	Jill Evan O'Connor	Evan O'Connor	...	Jack Ian O'Reilly	Ian O'Reilly	...	Kev Emma Willis	Emma Willis	...	Tracey Anastasia Blake	Anastasia Blake	...	Janet Lauryn Canny	Lauryn Canny	...	Sarah Shaun Dunne	Shaun Dunne	...	Cian Adam Carolan	Adam Carolan	...	Geoff Peter Campion	Peter Campion	...	Sweeney Ally Ni Chiarain	Ally Ni Chiarain	...	The Nun Tara Flynn	Tara Flynn	...	Reporter

Release date: November 10, 2020
Running time: 92 minutes
Starring: Fionn O'Shea, Lola Petticrew, Sharon Horgan 
Written and Directed By: David Freyne

A closeted gay teen and his lesbian counterpart pretend to be a couple to avoid suspicion.  Eddie (O'Shea) is trying to live in his father's military shadow, hoping to follow in his footsteps while avoiding his own desires.  And in order to avoid suspicion and harassment about his lack of a love life, he starts "dating" Amber (Petticrew), a lesbian who is less closeted but also trying to grow into her personality and dreams.  Together, the two embark on a fake relationship that will help them discover themselves.  

Jean-Louis Billard	...	Visual Effects Producer David Claikens	...	associate producer Will Clarke	...	executive producer Rory Dungan	...	executive producer David Freyne	...	executive producer John Keville	...	producer Philippe Logie	...	associate producer Andy Mayson	...	executive producer Ivan McMahon	...	line producer Rachael O'Kane	...	producer Dearbhla Regan	...	executive producer Benoit Roland	...	co-producer Mike Runagall	...	executive producer Alex Verbaere	...	associate producer    Director - David Freyne
Dating Amber has a wonderful charm and muted style.  The film takes place in a small town in Ireland where being different is frowned upon, and being queer will make you a social pariah.  Additionally, Eddie's parents are supportive, but his dad is oblivious and his mom is loving, but not outspoken about her son's clear homosexual tendencies.  This leads to a character who is trying to fit his square personality into a round hole, and dealing with the pain that shaving off those corners and denying their existance will do.  The characters are really fantastic in this movie.  O'Shea is absolutely wonderful and believable as Eddie, and it was interesting to see a character who is so clearly queer but trying to deny it to himself.  The internal struggle that Eddie goes through leads to some laughs, some tears, and some very dramatic scenes as he comes to grips with himself and his place in the world.  And that is helped along by Petticrew's amazing performance as Amber.  Whereas Eddie is denying who he is, Amber is more sure of herself and where she wants to go.  But together, the two find the comfort and companionship that they have both been looking for but not finding in their small town.  And they also are able to grow together.  The movie has really fantastic, heartfelt acting with characters that truly feel like awkward teens growing into their own.

Dating Amber not only has fantastic characters, it has a wonderfully written story.  The writing is clever and sharp, with plenty of callbacks to old ideas of sexuality and love.  There are some really amazing scenes, including a vintage sex education video that, according to writer and director David Freyne, was a reproduction of something that he was shown as a kid.  The lines are pointed with plenty of humor and heart, and help move this story along.  And the whole film has a wonderful, muted style that is perfect for this film.  Everything is a little drab, except for certain scenes that really help to emphasize the way that neither Eddie or Amber fit into this world.  And the use of colors is perfect, with certain characters wearing clothes that definitely clash with the general monotony of the small town.  Dating Amber also has a wonderfully funny take on the high school experience, with a certain sense of cynical humor that shines through.  Eddie and Amber's journey of discovery and growth is an innocent and charming one, and you can see their natural chemistry shine through in this film.  And when the film tries to tackle the two finding themselves and becoming confident in who they are, the movie stretches its dramatic chops.  When the story goes that way, the film showcases some serious drama and heart as the two painfully discover who they are and what they really want.  

Dating Amber is a quirky, funny, and heartfelt story of love, sexuality, and identity that puts a new twist on the queer coming of age tale.

Watch it.

Teenage Drama Queer Gay Lesbian LGBT LGBTQ Coming of Age Ireland Irish
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Dating Amber is available digitally and on demand November 10, 2020.

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

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