Monday, November 29, 2021

The Humans Review: An All Star Cast In A Slow Burn Play

Release date: November 24, 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Written and Directed By: Stephen Karam
Starring: Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun and June Squibb

Erik Blake has gathered three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the group’s deepest fears are laid bare. The piercingly funny and haunting debut film from writer-director Stephen Karam, adapted from his Tony Award-winning play, The Humans explores the hidden dread of a family and the love that binds them together.

The Humans feels very much like a play, and for good reason.  The film is an adaptation of a play and you can feel those roots throughout this movie.  It has a small, but phenomenal cast. It takes place almost entirely within a single apartment.  And it has a voyeuristic camera style that makes it seem like you are watching this family from another room.  Of those points, the cinematography was the standout for me.  I loved seeing these interesting, unconventional shots; you had a lot of instances of shots that were through doorways or in another room looking into the family.  It had a voyeuristic quality that made it feel like you were observing this family and their interactions.  There were some shots from lower angles and other shots that had a blurred perspective.  Overall it was a very interesting experience.  And on top of the cinematography, the writing was also an enjoyable aspect.  It definitely felt like a film that was converted from a play, with some funny statements, plenty of heartwarming family scenes, and lots of drama.  And it's strange to say this, but the film also had some natural conversation that did actually feel like how a family might converse over a Thanksgiving meal.

However, the Humans is a slow burning film, one that you will have to be in the right mindset to be in.  The story develops slowly and although it often does feel reasonably organic, it still could be tough to hold your interest.  Additionally, this slow burn feel is not helped by some sinister aspects that are introduced in the movie.  I couldn't tell if The Humans wanted to be a horror movie, but it had these moments that felt very much like the setup for something darker.  These felt clunky and ultimately didn't lead to much, and the additional concern is that these scenes felt unnecessarily drawn out.  The movie is not bad, but it does make this feel like an unnecessarily long experience despite the modest run time. 

The Humans has a fantastic cast and some very interesting cinematography, but the film's slow pace and strangely dark elements might make this a family meal you don't travel for. 

Rent it.

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The Humans is available in theaters and on Showtime on November 24, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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Screening: See Being The Ricardos Early And Free!

We have partnered with Focus Features for an early screening opportunity to see Wolf!  The film is coming to theaters on December 3, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Being The Ricardos

SYNOPSIS: Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) are threatened by shocking personal accusations, a political smear and cultural taboos in Academy Award®-winning writer and director Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama Being the Ricardos. A revealing glimpse of the couple’s complex romantic and professional relationship, the film takes audiences into the writers’ room, onto the soundstage and behind closed doors with Ball and Arnaz during one critical production week of their groundbreaking sitcom “I Love Lucy.” Featuring J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda.

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Writer: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, JK Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy 

 Screening Info:

Being The Ricardos
Monday, December 6

7:00 PM
Landmark E-Street

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Thursday, November 25, 2021

What to Watch This Thanksgiving: Feasts, Family, and Festivities Films

It's Thanksgiving in America and families all over are gathering for big meals and awkward drama!  Here are some suggestions for Thanksgiving / Family related movies to entertain you in between the awkward small talk.  

The Humans (Theaters, Showtime)
Some interesting family drama around Thanksgiving time leads to some new secrets from a dysfunctional family, in this cinematic experience.  

A Christmas Feast / Feast of the Seven Fishes (Digital, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Tubi)
This wonderful holiday movie involves family, drama, and a big feast at the end.  Although it is Christmas related, it is a great choice to scratch that family feasting itch. For more information, check out our review!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Digital, AMC+)
The quintessential Thanksgiving movie, this classic follows someone trying to get home to the family for Thanksgiving, and all the roadblocks and obstacles that happen along the way.  It is available to stream on Amazon Prime with AMC+, which has a 30-day free trial if you just want to watch this today!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Apple TV+)
A classic kids Thanksgiving film that you can stream for free on Apple TV+.  This is another classic and one for the kids to enjoy while you are putting the finishing touches on your Thanksgiving meal.

The Binge (Hulu)
On a night when families eat excessive amounts of food, a movie about excessive indulgences seems fitting.  It also is a very funny film that should raise your spirits on a somewhat lonelier Thanksgiving!  
For more information, check out our review!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 (Netflix)
A movie about giant, alive food seems like a fitting way to celebrate Thanksgiving. It helps that it is a surprisingly good movie for kids and adults to enjoy!  
For more information, check out our review!

Spirited Away (HBO Max)
One of the best animated films of all time also starts with a massive feast and has several prominent instances of gluttony.  It is also an imaginative and heartfelt journey that will rekindle your sense of wonder. 

Broil (Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube)
A film about a large meal and family issues, with a decidedly darker take on it all, Broil is the perfect Thanksgiving movie for someone looking for a more horror-themed night.  It also has some wonderful performances, great music, and some delicious food.  
For more information, check out our review!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Screening: See Encounter Starring Riz Ahmed Early And Free!

 

We have partnered with Amazon for an early screening opportunity to see Encounter!  The film is coming to theaters on December 3, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Encounter

Desperate to save his two young sons, Jay and Bobby, from a mysterious threat, decorated Marine Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) packs them in a car and sets off on a perilous journey across the western U.S. But while racing toward a secret military base in Nevada that may hold the key to safety, the trio encounters danger at every turn. Staying one step ahead of a group of government agents, Malik and the boys find themselves bonding in unexpected ways. As their relentless pursuers close in, and with time quickly running out, each of them must confront hard truths about the world, forcing Jay and Bobby to leave their childhoods behind. A gripping story of a father’s mission to keep his children safe at all costs, ENCOUNTER is at once a riveting thriller and a powerful drama about a family dealing with a seemingly unstoppable enemy.

Directed by: Michael Pearce (Beast)
Script by: Joe Barton (The Ritual, “Giri/Haji”) and Michael Pearce
Starring: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal “The Night Of”), Octavia Spencer (The Help, Hidden Figures), Rory Cochrane (Argo, Hostiles), Janina Gavankar (The Way Back, “The Morning Show”), Lucian-River Chauhan (“Heartland,” “Gabby Duran & the Unsittables”) and Aditya Geddada.
Produced by: Derrin Schlesinger (American Animals, The Nest), Piers Vellacott (Dream Horse, Three Identical Strangers) and Dimitri Doganis (American Animals, Three Identical Strangers). 

   Screening Info:

Encounter
Monday, November 29

7:00 PM
Landmark E-Street

Screening Link!

Screening: Howl At The Moon And See Wolf Early and Free!

We have partnered with Focus Features for an early screening opportunity to see Wolf!  The film is coming to theaters on December 3, 2021, but you can see it early and free!!  Details and entry form are below!

Wolf

WOLF is a surreal and mysterious tale of self-discovery. Jacob (George MacKay) is convinced that he is a wolf trapped inside a human body and lives his days as he believes a wolf would. When he’s sent to a “curative” clinic for treatment, Jacob is determined to escape his confines -until he meets the beguiling Wildcat (LilyRose Depp). As their relationship deepens, Jacob quickly realizes that he must choose between being himself and staying with the only person who’s ever understood him. 

Writer/Director: Nathalie Biancheri 
Producers: Jessie Fisk, Jane Doolan 
Cast: George MacKay, Lily-Rose Depp, Paddy Considine, Eileen Walsh 

 Screening Info:

Wolf
Wednesday, December 1

7:00 PM
AMC Tysons Corner

Screening Link!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Lair Review: Strong Leads and Unsettling Start

Release date: November 9, 2021
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Adam Ethan Crow
Cast: Corey Johnson (Steven), Oded Fehr (Ben), Alexandra Gilbreath (Wendy), Sean Buchanan (Det. Pitt), Aislinn De'ath (Maria), Kashif O'Connor (Ola), and newcomers Anya Newall (Joey) and Alana Wallace (Carly)

When Ben Dollarhdye is accused of murder, saying he was possessed by a demonic force, Steven Caramore investigates his friend's claims, setting off a chain of events that forces a young family into a terrifying battle for survival.

Lair has a suspenseful start that sets the tone very well.  This horror movie focuses on demonic possession, with a hint of voyeuristic intentions.  The main characters are in a sort of experiment, to see if ghosts are real.  This causes some suspense as you wonder what will happen next and if they will become victims of this strange experiment.  And the characters are generally well done.  I especially liked seeing a lesbian couple as the main characters in a horror film.  It seems that more and more films are coming out with diverse protagonists, and Lair continues this trend with a set of strong female leads to propel this horror movie forward.  

But although Lair starts off interesting, the film does have some odd quirks.  For example, although the writing is generally fine, there are some instances with odd lines or character turns. And the film starts off as a demonic possession type movie, but then changes into a very different type of haunting film.  I didn't love this for a few reasons.  For one, it caused the movie to escalate very quickly after a long setup of this scenario.  And this move from possession to haunting causes the situations to just be too different to feel related.   And this caused the type of situation to not match up with the introductory scene.  The whole concept behind why this family is being observed in this apartment just feels too disconnected from the initial scenario to make sense.  And although the film escalates quickly, it kind of goes off the rails in the end.  It seems like the film wants to try and go for a shock ending rather than one that seems consistent with the film.  

Lair has strong LGBTQ protagonists, a slow build up, and a decently unsettling setting that are let down by the story's disjointed nature and attempt at a shock ending.  

Rent it.

If you liked this review and want to see more from Watch or Pass, please consider 
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Lair is available digitally and on demand on November 9, 2021.  

For 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.  

Ida Red Review: A Strong Start That Quickly Stalls

Release date: November 5, 2021
Running time: 111 minutes
Written and Directed By: Josh Swab
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Sofia Hublitz, William Forsythe, Deborah Ann Woll, Frank Grillo, and Academy Award winning actress Melissa Leo

Crime boss Ida "Red" Walker (Oscar® winner Melissa Leo*) turns to her son, Wyatt (Josh Hartnett), to pull off one last heist to get out of prison. But with the FBI closing in, Wyatt must choose between family and freedom in this high-octane thriller.

Ida Red will get your attention right off the bat with an exciting opening and a stellar cast.  I really loved seeing Josh Hartnett and Frank Grillo in this film, and combined with the rest of the cast you have the makings of an exciting experience.  The opening scene gets this movie going with a bang and gives the viewer instant insight into the way that these brothers live.  And the brothers are the highlight of this movie.  Frank Grillo was amazing with a strange combination of unpredictability and charisma that made his character so fun to watch.  I was always holding my breath when he was on screen because I wasn't sure what he would do, but I loved every second of it.  And it was great to see Josh Hartnett back on the big screen opposite Grillo; his character was the perfect foil to Grillo's unpredictable, volatile persona.   Additionally, Ida Red has some very good music that sets the stage for this story to unfold.  It heightens the drama and action when needed, keeping the viewer invested in what is happening.  The music has a good mix of country and blues tones to set the stage and then some more tense music when jobs are happening.

But although Ida Red starts with a bang, it quickly grinds to a halt.  The story develops slowly as this family tries to figure out a way to get to their objective, but what started with a high energy, high tension encounter slowly turns into a drama with little action.  I kept wondering what would happen next and quickly lost the momentum that the opening gave.  There were glimpses after it but nothing that approached that opening scene.  And there is a large action sequence towards the end of the film that was disappointing.  The CG used made the fight look very unrealistic, and it just did not have the care and precision that was evident in earlier parts of the film.  And the story of the overall movie just does not progress quickly enough and with enough purpose.  I sat there wondering when it would pick up but it just seemed to be idling. 

Ida Red has an all star cast and a high tension start, but then quickly turns inconsistent as the slow story and questionable effects cause this film to stall. 

Rent it.

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
Ida Red is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand on November 5, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

For 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.  

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