Thursday, December 31, 2020

Watch or Pass's Top 10 Movies of 2020: Weathering With You, Onward, All About Who You Know, The High Note, Host, Emma, Fishbowl, Sword of God, Gutterbug, Soul

2020 has been a unique year and one that has brought lots of hardship and challenges, but also some titanic changes in the movie industry.  With theaters essentially closed this year, the risse of digital distribution and indie films filled the void that theaters used to fill.  Here are my top 10 movies I saw this year. 

Weathering With You
My absolute favorite movie of this year!  It came out right at the start of 2020 but was such an amazingly beautiful, heartfelt animated film that it stuck with me all year.  It is absolutely the film I watched the most in 2020 and its lessons about burdening future generations is an important one.  For more information, check out the review!

One of the first casualties of theaters closing, Onward opened at the absolute worst time and led to an early Disney+ release.  It ushered in a more digital focus for releases and led to hours and hours of entertainment for kids and adults stuck at home.  And as a nerd, the fantasy modern setting and wonderfully heartfelt and heart wrenching story cast a spell over me from the first time I saw it.  For more information, check out the review!

What a wonderful burst of color right before the pandemic started.  Emma was a wonderful retelling of the Jane Austin classic with some amazing performances and a confident costume design that brought the story to life.  It was an enjoyable film even if you have no experience with the story and had an absolute charm that brought a smile to my face throughout.  For more information, check out the review!

All About Who You Know
This wonderful film was the first indie I saw this year to knock my socks off.  In a year that saw a huge uptick in indie films, this movie was such a refreshingly different love story that I had to take notice.  The characters, the writing, the acting, and the overall anit-Hollywood take on romantic films was so much fun to see and has held up on repeated viewings.  For more information, check out the review!

The High Note
This film had the combination of wonderful characters, performances, and some truly amazing music.  A chance for Tracie Ellis Ross to show that she is both an amazingly funny actor and wonderful singer, this film had so much heart and a soundtrack that I listened to for months after the film was over.  For more information, check out the review!

No film captured the pandemic quite like Host.  A film that was filmed completely during the early months of lockdown, Host showed what could be done even without the ability for people to gather on a set.  Filmed completely remotely, the movie had an amazingly modern take on life because it was filmed during that time.  The references were timely and the effects were still exciting and scary.  For more information, check out the review!

Few movies this year spoke to me like this one did.  From the wonderful shot choice and fantastic characters, to the focus on small town and religious angst, this movie touched on some weighty topics with a dramatic and sometimes darkly comedic style.  The film is a special one and so smartly done.  It is a master of telling you about the story without overtly saying it, and the iconography and cinematography are truly amazing.  For more information, check out the review!

Sword of God
I called this a devoutly atmospheric masterpiece and I stick by it.  The movie has a horror aesthetic that is more primal than supernatural, but it just does everything so well.  It has a smart use of colors to really make the intense scene pop, and a story that evolves slowly as you learn more and more about this situation.  And the sets and costumes are perfectly done, completely transporting you to this unsettling medieval village.  For more information, check out the review!

What a high energy film about mental illness and youthful rebellion, Gutterbug is fueled by an amazing performance by Andrew Yackel and a confident filmmaking that belies the indie nature of this film.  And underneath this all, it tells a very human story about many of societies vices and issues, and the trouble with coming to terms with your choices and changing your life.  For more information, check out the review!

What a way to close out the year.  In a year filled with so much uncertainty, we were given a hopeful, beautiful film about finding your purpose in life.  And it also marked a milestone being Pixar's first film with a black lead character and a wonderful animated portrayal of black culture.  But it also showed the beauty in the world, for a year with so much ugliness just stopping to appreciate what is around you and our short time on Earth is a gift in itself.  For more information, check out the review!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Climate of the Hunter Review: An Homage To Classic Horror Films

Ginger Gilmartin	Ginger Gilmartin	...	Alma Mary Buss	Mary Buss	...	Elizabeth Ben Hall	Ben Hall	...	Wesley Jacob Ryan Snovel	Jacob Ryan Snovel	...	BJ Beavers (as Jacob Snovel) Laurie Cummings	Laurie Cummings	...	Genevieve Sheridan McMichael	Sheridan McMichael	...	Percy Danielle Evon Ploeger	Danielle Evon Ploeger	...	Rose

Release date: December 18, 2020
Running time: 81 minutes
Starring: Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss, Ben Hall, Danielle Evon Ploeger, and Jacob Ryan Snovel
Directed By: Mickey Reece
 Mickey Reece, John Selvidge

Two sisters, Alma and Elizabeth, along with a dog who’s described as a “philosopher,” have come to Alma’s remote house to reconnect with Wesley after twenty years. Alma is recently divorced, Elizabeth is a workaholic in Washington, D.C., while Wesley lives in Paris dealing with a wife recently struck with a fatal disease. When the three come together for dinner it has all the makings of a lovely adult melodrama about loneliness, and the desire to connect and share our lives with someone… but we must add to the mix one otherworldly piece of information: Wesley could be a vampire.

Produced by  George Adams	...	executive producer Beth M. Alonso	...	executive producer Laurie Cummings	...	executive producer Sascha Drews	...	executive producer Uwe Feuersenger	...	executive producer Greg Gilreath	...	executive producer Brooks Hall	...	executive producer Adam Hendricks	...	executive producer Peter Kuplowsky	...	associate producer Zac Locke	...	executive producer James Paulsgrove	...	associate producer Jacob Ryan Snovel	...	producer (as Jacob Snovel) Ron Sutor	...	executive producer Mikey Bill Taylor	...	executive producer
Climate of the Hunter has a definite old style that is fun to see.  From the 4:3 aspect ratio, film grain, classic style dramatic effects, and zooming camera work, the film feels like it is from a different time.  I really enjoyed this take as the film felt like a throwback to classic horror films.  Shots and acting were more dramatic, the setting was about 30 years in the past, and a classic car has a prominent appearance.  And the setting is perfectly tuned to make this feel like it is from a different time.  The movie is set in a few cabins in the woods, where technology is already not a focus, and the characters do not indulge in modern technology.  I don't think a cell phone makes an appearance in this film, and the participants spend most of their free time talking or telling stories.  

The movie also has a few characters, and they are definitely characters.  The main protagonists are the sisters Alma and Elizabeth, and the mysterious family friend Wesley.  They all are unique and have a deliberate delivery and style that evokes some aspects of Wes Anderson.  It was fun to see and contributed to the older feel, but I could also see someone growing tired of this after a little bit.  And the film introduces a few additional participants here and there, but the core of the movies stays with the same small group.  And throughout the film, the core group evolves and you learn more about them as the movie progresses.  And the writing is deliberate and smart.  I really liked the various hints that were dropped that evoked a vampire feel.  The whole film has you wondering whether or not Wesley is a vampire, and the little tidbits here and there are wonderfully ambiguous in this regard.  And the film does have a very smart use of CG; it is there but it is not distracting and is only used in limited parts.  

However, the story of this film and the overall style might not appeal to everyone.  Climate of the Hunter's older feel and exaggerated style could be off putting.  And although the film does keep the story moving, it sometimes moves slower than normal.  And although I generally liked the characters, some of them were less enjoyable.  Some of them had a strange fake-feeling tan that I wasn't sure if it was by design or just odd make up choices, which made it distracting when seeing them on screen.

Climate of the Hunter has a 70s horror style and feel, exaggerated characters, and deliberate dialogue, to construct a mystery that is an homage to old school horror.

Rent it.

vampire old school conversation old drama comedy wes anderson
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Climate of the Hunter is available in select theaters on December 18, 2020 and digitally on January 12, 2021.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Twentieth Century Review: A Wonderfully Different And Strange Experience

Dan Beirne	Dan Beirne	...	Mackenzie King Sarianne Cormier	Sarianne Cormier		 Catherine St-Laurent	Catherine St-Laurent	...	Ruby Eliott Mikhaïl Ahooja	Mikhaïl Ahooja	...	Bert Harper Brent Skagford	Brent Skagford	...	Arthur Meighen Seán Cullen	Seán Cullen	...	Lord Muto Louis Negin	Louis Negin	...	Mother Kee Chan	Kee Chan	...	Dr. Milton Wakefield Trevor Anderson	Trevor Anderson	...	Mr. Justice Richardson Emmanuel Schwartz	Emmanuel Schwartz	...	Lady Violet Richard Jutras	Richard Jutras	...	Father Satine Scarlett Montaz	Satine Scarlett Montaz	...	Little Charlotte Charlotte Legault	Charlotte Legault	...	Angel of Britain Marc Ducusin	Marc Ducusin	...	A.A. Heaps Jadyn Malone	Jadyn Malone	...	Smoking Street Child

Release date: November 20, 2020
Running time: 90 minutes
Starring: Dan Beirne, Sarianne Cormier, Catherine St-Laurent
Written and Directed By: Matthew Rankin

Determined to become the leader of the Dominion of Canada, a young W.L. Mackenzie King rises to power.  However, will he be consumed by his vices as he gains the power he desires, or will he rise above it for the glory of the great Dominion of Canada?

The Twentieth Century is a wonderfully strange film.  The movie has an old style and a strange, irreverent humor about it.  The old style is an interesting touch.  It has a 4:3 aspect ratio, a film grain, and an exaggerated technicolor look that makes it feel like a 1960s propaganda film.  And the propaganda style is accentuated by the poorly designed sets and vibrant, stark colors.  But on top of this you also have characters who are very over the top.    

Writer: Matthew Rankin   Produced by  Emmanuel Hessler	...	line producer Menaic Raoul	...	producer (as Ménaïc Raoul) / producer Gabrielle Tougas-Fréchette
But then the humor comes in and you know this film is not a complete 1960s emulation.  The movie's humor is vulgar, strange, and satirical.  It makes fun of dictatorships, politics, people, and traditions.  It is set in Canada and much of the humor feels like a riff on Canadian culture.  I found it very funny and a little weird, but looking in from the outside provides an interesting window into this satire. I would be curious if the humor is more or less enjoyable for someone who is from that country.  The entire movie just feels like a fever dream, but an interesting and enjoyable one.  And much of the enjoyment comes from the over the top characters and the actors that portray them.  Bierne is amazing as King, with a thirst for power, a perfect attitude, and some deep, dark character flaws.  Cormier is likewise wonderful as King's live in nurse who believes in him above all else.  The other candidates vying for power are fun to see, and some of the politicians are so over the top that it makes it quite funny.

And the whole humor style is so out there that you have to appreciate it.  The movie feels like a more vulgar Monty Python, with strange situations and odd, exaggerated character flaws.  You also have some strange but humorous touches, like many of the female characters being played by poorly disguised men.  And often this makes the movie feel like a play.  On top of men playing female roles, the film also has some women who play male roles, and a low technology style to the sets that often feel like they would be right at home on the stage.  And this is doubly so because of the exaggerated acting and delivery of the movie.  But in the end, this is such a unique, strange film that it must be seen to be believed.  Just bring your sense of humor and your tolerance for weirdness.

The Twentieth Century is so wonderfully different and strange that you will laugh and cringe at the odd characters, technicolor style, and biting satire.  

Watch it.

movies satire humor twentieth century monty python canada strange disturbing
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The Twentieth Century is available on virtual cinema and digitally. 

For showtimes, via virtual cinema, click here.  For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.

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Monday, December 28, 2020

Screening: Promising Young Woman Starring Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie

In case you didn't quite get what you were hoping for this holiday season, we have screening passes for the phenomenal new dark drama / comedy Promising Young Woman!  The film stars: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chris Lowell, Sam Richardson, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown..  It debuted in theaters on December 25th, but you can see it FOR FREE by entering the contest for a virtual screening pass below.  And as you can see from our review, the film was very very good!


From ground-breaking director Emerald Fennell comes a delicious new take on revenge. Everyone said Cassie (Carey Mulligan) was a promising young woman...until a mysterious event abruptly detailed her future. But nothing in Cassie's life is what it appears to be: she's wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she's living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs of the past in this thrilling and wildly entertaining story. Check out the trailer here.


Promising Young Woman
 Thursday, January 14th
Check out the Trailer!

Screening Link!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 Review: A Strong and Loud 80s Style But A Less Than Super Super Hero Story

Gal Gadot	...	Diana Prince Chris Pine	Chris Pine	...	Steve Trevor Kristen Wiig	Kristen Wiig	...	Barbara Minerva Pedro Pascal	Pedro Pascal	...	Maxwell Lord Robin Wright	Robin Wright	...	Antiope Connie Nielsen	Connie Nielsen	...	Hippolyta Lilly Aspell	Lilly Aspell	...	Young Diana Amr Waked	Amr Waked	...	Emir Said Bin Abydos Kristoffer Polaha	Kristoffer Polaha	...	Handsome Man Natasha Rothwell	Natasha Rothwell	...	Carol (Co-Worker) Ravi Patel	Ravi Patel	...	Babajide Oliver Cotton	Oliver Cotton	...	Simon Stagg Lucian Perez	Lucian Perez	...	Alistair Gabriella Wilde	Gabriella Wilde	...	Raquel Kelvin Yu	Kelvin Yu	...	Jake

Release date: December 25, 2020
Running time: 150 minutes
Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig  
Director: Patty Jenkins

Rewind to the 1980s as Wonder Woman's next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.

Directed by  Patty Jenkins	...	(directed by)Writing Credits   Patty Jenkins	...	(story by) & Geoff Johns	...	(story by)   Patty Jenkins	...	(screenplay by) & Geoff Johns	...	(screenplay by) & Dave Callaham	...	(screenplay by)   William Moulton Marston	...	Wesley Coller	...	executive producer Jason Crain	...	associate producer Gal Gadot	...	producer (produced by) Walter Hamada	...	executive producer Toby Hefferman	...	associate producer Elise Iglesias	...	associate producer Marianne Jenkins	...	executive producer Patty Jenkins	...	producer (produced by) (p.g.a.) Geoff Johns	...	executive producer Stephen Jones	...	producer (produced by) (p.g.a.) Jim Lee	...	executive producer Rebecca Steel Roven Oakley	...	executive producer (as Rebecca Steel Roven) Anna Obropta	...	associate producer Charles Roven	...	producer (produced by) (p.g.a.) Deborah Snyder	...	producer (produced by) Zack Snyder	...	producer (produced by) Richard Suckle	...	executive producer
Wonder Woman 1984 is a tough movie to judge because it has all the spectacle of a super hero movie but the substance is lacking.  That is not to say that the film is short, far from it.  It feels like the movie could have been significantly shorter without losing much.  Focusing first on the style, the film is set in the 1980s and has a perfect setting for the time.  The clothes are neon and out there, the technology is recreated including some amazing television commercials, and the Washington, DC area feels fully realized.  Some of that is helped because the architecture does look like it is from the 80s, but it was a smart choice of where to set the film and how to keep it feeling authentic.  And I especially liked how the metro cars didn't need to be updated to look dated, though I'm not sure if the Green Line was in existence in 1984.  And the film has some very good effects, but also some very questionable ones.  There are some scenes with really amazing lighting and sound, but other scenes that feel a little too CG heavy.  But when it works, it works.  There is a scene involving fireworks part way through that will take your breath away.  But there is a fight scene at the end of the film that just feels like CG fest.  It's a tough balance and one that all super hero movies must go through.  I don't think Wonder Woman 1984 was any worse than the standard super hero movie in terms of reliance on CG, but I also expected a little more from this marquee release.

However, Wonder Woman 1984's story leaves something to be desired.  First off, the film is very long, which isn't always a bad thing but this one didn't feel like it had to be.  There is an extended sequence at the start that feels like it could have been completely cut without losing anything.  It starts the film off with an exciting event, but then it goes into another exciting scene and the film didn't relate back to the opening sequence.  And despite the exciting opening, the story feels off at the start.  Wonder Woman's character seems to have changed in this story and the setup for the film just didn't grab me.  Maybe to make this in line with the over the top 80s style, the movie just feels loud at the start for no reason which makes the whole story feel off from the start.  Thankfully the middle of the movie gets more interesting as Wonder Woman deals with some new challenges and she is reunited with Chris Pine.  The two of them have a great chemistry and seeing Pine's character learn about the world is a lot of fun.  However, after this better sequence, the ending is kind of a mess.  There are some character changes and events that happen that felt out of character and frankly did not make sense.  There is also a strange sense of time during the ending with people traveling very far distances in relatively quick time.  And one of the characters who is introduced at the end is an odd one.  It seems like the filmmakers were trying to relate a character to a DC entity, but it just felt strange.  And also, the ending of the film feels ridiculous, a little presumptuous, and also brought back memories of the slightly tone deaf "Imagine" video that went viral at the start of the pandemic for all the wrong reasons.  And aside from this there were several story and plot holes that seemed glaring when putting this movie into the greater DC superhero timeline.  You are going to want to watch this film for its relation to the greater DC timeline, and Warner Brothers should be applauded for releasing this film on HBO Max simultaneously as theaters, but that being said, this movie could have been so much more.  

Wonder Woman 1984 has a strong sense of the 80s with some wonderful sets, costumes, and sense of style, but the overly long film and story issues make this super hero film less than super.  

Rent it.

Wonder Woman Dc Super Hero DCU DC Universe Cheetah 80s 1980s Neon Music
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Friday, December 25, 2020

Soul Review: A Heartfelt and Soulful Animated Film

Jamie Foxx	...	Joe (voice) Tina Fey	Tina Fey	...	22 (voice) Graham Norton	Graham Norton	...	Moonwind (voice) Rachel House	Rachel House	...	Terry (voice) Alice Braga	Alice Braga	...	Counselor Jerry (voice) Richard Ayoade	Richard Ayoade	...	Counselor Jerry (voice) Phylicia Rashad	Phylicia Rashad	...	Libba (voice) Donnell Rawlings	Donnell Rawlings	...	Dez (voice) Questlove	Questlove	...	Curley (voice) (as Ahmir-Khalib Thompson a.k.a. Questlove) Angela Bassett	Angela Bassett	...	Dorothea (voice) Cora Champommier	Cora Champommier	...	Connie (voice) Margo Hall	Margo Hall	...	Melba (voice) Daveed Diggs	Daveed Diggs	...	Paul (voice) Rhodessa Jones	Rhodessa Jones	...	Lulu (voice) Wes Studi	Wes Studi	...	Counselor Jerry (voice)

Release date: December 25, 2020
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton 
Directors: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
Writers: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers, Mike Jones

A musician who has lost his passion for music, Joe (Foxx), is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul, 22 (Fey), learning about herself.  As the two explore life and living, Joe learns to see his life through the eyes of this soul and gets a better appreciation of his own existence.  

Disney surprised everyone by releasing Soul on Disney+ on Christmas day, rather than continue to delay it and deal with the uncertainty of movie theaters.  And what a great decision that was.  Soul is a Pixar film, so you already know that the animation will be absolutely stunning.  And it really is.  The film takes place partially in New York City and partially in the great beyond, and both are amazingly animated.  New York has bustling crowds, lights, and urban sprawl that looks perfect on the screen.  And the afterlife has bright colors, very different crowds, and some amazingly trippy effects that will take your breath away.  The afterlife has influences from art, other movies dealing with the afterlife, and some of Pixar's own whimsical nature.  But it is the New York scenes that are particularly interesting because they are accurate representations of New York, but also put it in its best light.  The city is beautifully rendered and the film really brings out some of the inner beauty of the city that can be missed in the day to day life.  

Directed by  Pete Docter	...	(directed by) Kemp Powers	...	(co-director) (co-directed by)Writing Credits   Pete Docter	...	(story and screenplay by) & Mike Jones	...	(story and screenplay by) & Kemp Powers	...	(story and screenplay by)     Produced by  Kiri Hart	...	executive producer Dana Murray	...	producer (p.g.a.) Dan Scanlon	...	executive producer
And along with the beautiful animation, the cast is wonderful.  Foxx and Fey are the stars and the highlights, and their interactions are natural and pure joy.  It is fun hearing their banter and seeing them both discover more about their characters as the film progresses.  But the movie has plenty of wonderful supporting characters in this journey too, ones that add diversity and heart to the film.  From some of Joe's students, to other musicians, to members of the great beyond, the whole film is wonderfully and enthusiastically voiced.  And speaking of the cast and the characters, Soul is Pixar's first film with a black protagonist, and the movie definitely dives feet first into diversity and inclusion.  The animated film has many prominent black members and has an emphasis on black culture and jazz music.  You can tell the care that was taken with this film in both the natural references and the number of creative and cultural consultants listed in the credits.  There are also prominent characters from a variety of races and cultures, but it is the care and natural inclusion of black culture in this film should be applauded.  

And as the film focuses on a hopeful jazz musician, it makes sense that jazz music is prominently and wonderfully featured.  There are so many great jazz numbers throughout that will make you tap your foot.  And the music accentuates both the performances where it is featured, but also when it is used to help keep the action moving and exciting.  And the story of Soul is one that will invigorate your own heart and soul.  As Pixar always does, it has some wonderful lessons about life and living it to the fullest.  There are some very heartfelt moments, along with some painful ones, but overall you get a film that will help you love the little things about our time on this rock.  There are so many small touches to appreciate, observations about life, funny little jokes that come naturally in films from this studio, and some important life lessons.  And through it all you will be amazed at another soulful hit from this amazing animation studio.

Soul will reinvigorate your heart and soul, with its stunning animation, wonderfully diverse characters and focus on black culture, and humorous and heartfelt story.  

Watch it.

animation animated pixar disney kids children family jazz black culture film black artists new york afterlife beyond
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Thursday, December 24, 2020

What to Watch This Holiday: Anna and the Apocalypse, Feast of the Seven Fishes, Dad's Christmas Date, Die Hard, Jingle Jangle, Klaus, Charlie Brown, Mickey

We have a special Holiday-themed What to Watch with suggestions for streaming movies so you can stay in, stay warm, and avoid the cold.  Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

Anna and the Apocalypse (Amazon and Hulu)
My go to Christmas movie!  Anna and the Apocalypse offers something refreshingly different from anything else out now, with the perfect combination of holiday cheer, catchy music, zombie action, funny characters, and high school drama.  And the soundtrack has become a holiday regular in my house!  For more information, check out the review!

A Christmas Feast / Feast of the Seven Fishes (Digital, Amazon Prime, Tubi)
This wonderful holiday movie involves family, drama, and a big feast at the end.  It is a great choice to scratch that family feasting itch if you are spending this holiday away from family. For more information, check out the review!

My Dad's Christmas Date (Digital)
My Dad's Christmas Date gives Barrett and Piven a chance to shine and brings an unconventional holiday story with great characters and plenty of emotion and heart.  For more information, check out the review!

Die Hard (HBO Max)
Some may debate whether or not this belongs on the list, but since it's our website we're including one of the best Christmas movies of all time, Die Hard.  Learn about the importance of perseverance, family, and trying to keep it a silent night with this holiday classic.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Netflix)
There are few better ways to get into the Christmas spirit than with Jingle Jangle, a film that is getting rave reviews for its holiday spirit and uplifting message!

Klaus (Netflix)
A beautifully animated holiday movie with a funny and heartwarming story, Klaus is a new Netflix film but will likely be on people's holiday schedules for years to come. 

A Charlie Brown Christmas (Apple TV+)
The Christmas classic is now streamable on Apple TV+. The music is pretty much the soundtrack of our household's Christmas, and the story is silly and heartfelt.

Mickey Christmas Carol (Disney+)
Another holiday classic that you can rewatch every year.  It has a universal message and will bring some holiday cheer to young and old!

Love Me Review: A Smart, Funny, and Realistic Look Into Love and Relationships

Release date: December 24, 2020
Running time: Six 45 minute episodes
Starring: Johan Ulveson, Josephine Bornebusch, Gustav Lindh, Ia Langhammer, Görel Crona, Dilan Gwyn, Sofia Karemyr, Sverrir Gudnason, Nina Zanjani, Christopher Wagelin, Eva Fritjofson
Writer/Director: Josephine Bornebusch

Love Me is about love and relationships at three distinct times of life. It looks at how people experience love and passion across different generations? A warm and humorous series about love, sex, fear, and pain. A series about life, from start to finish.  The series follows three main characters, Sten, Clara, and Aron and their journey through various types and stages of love.  

I didn't really know what to expect from a Swedish series about love and relationships but I was very pleasantly surprised to find this series!  The variety of both characters and life stages make this series enjoyable, nuanced, and relatable.  You have someone who is old and established in their relationship, someone who is starting to lose faith in the whole relationship process, and someone who is young and passionate.  And they are all in the same family so you get some really funny interactions between them as they support and bicker just like family members.  And part of this is accomplished because of the fantastic cast.  Everyone feels quirky but real and realized, with hopes, dreams, regrets, and all the essential ingredients of a good drama.  

And through this all you quickly fall in love with the characters and the scenarios because of the amazing writing.  It is sharp, clever, funny, and emotional.  Even though the original language is Swedish, the jokes are universal and I found myself laughing out loud at many of them as I was reading the subtitles.  But the writing also deals with real topics and issues; this is not just a sitcom, it is a smart exploration of love and relationships that explores relevant, current topics.  The series deals with some heavy and painful life problems as well and does so wonderfully.  It is a nice balance of humor and drama that will have you laughing one second and then crying the next.  

I also loved the shot choice and cinematography.  It is subtle, but the series does so much correctly that you can't help but appreciate it.  There are little touches, like a scene where two characters are talking and get into their cars.  The cars are parked in such a way that both characters can open their doors while staying in frame, a subtle but amazingly smart choice to keep the scene moving. And the series is filled with instances like this, just very smart choices that will help the series move and not distract you.  It makes everything engaging and very watchable. 

Love Me is a smart, realistic, and funny series about love and relationships that will touch both your funny bone and your heart.

Watch it.

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GetAWAY Review: A Fun If Generic Slasher Film

Emma Norville	...	Maddie Danielle Carrozza	Danielle Carrozza	...	Kayla Kyle Mangold	Kyle Mangold	...	Lando Franchesca Contreras	Franchesca Contreras	...	Harlowe Joshua Cody	Joshua Cody	...	Noah Michael Recchia	Michael Recchia	...	Krog Jon Rust	Jon Rust	...	Jacob Kristel Rachocki	Kristel Rachocki	...	Abigail Abigail Haggerty	Abigail Haggerty	...	Tabitha Kira Jackson	Kira Jackson	...	Catherine Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Daniel Rylee Bush	Daniel Rylee Bush	...	Rob Rylie Butzbaugh-Patrick	Rylie Butzbaugh-Patrick	...	Additional Voice Talent A.J. Cabbagestalk	A.J. Cabbagestalk	...	Cameron Marissa Chaffee	Marissa Chaffee	...	Ariel Ali Dougherty	Ali Dougherty	...	Laurie

Release date: December 22, 2020 (Digital)
Running time: 82 minutes
Starring:  Emma Norville, Danielle Carrozza, Kyle Mangold 
Written and Directed By: Blayne Weaver

Devastated by a sudden break-up, young actress Maddie needs a getaway from campus to help mend her broken heart. Her best friend lands her a role in the student slasher flick shooting this weekend at a camp deep in the Virginia forest. It’s the perfect place to unwind, but no matter how far into the woods she goes, her problems keep sneaking up behind her. Before the film’s crew can shoot their first frame, their production gains an unwelcome new crew member . . . and he’s out for blood! Props go missing, equipment is stolen, and the bodies pile up. A crazed maniac has zeroed in on the students of this film class, but nothing is truly as it seems in GetAWAY. The cast and crew turn on each other as they fight for their lives trying to escape the slaughter. And the bloodthirsty psychopath shoots each grisly demise for his own perverted movie. 

Paul Di Franco	...	producer Chad McClarnon	...	producer Blayne Weaver	...	producer     Directed by  Blayne Weaver	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Blayne Weaver
GetAWAY starts off right with a classic slasher film opening that is a fun compilation of the genre's history.  And the film definitely has a love of the genre.  There are some funny scenes in the opening that have film students dissing on various film and genre standards that will have anyone who follows the industry laughing.  And the movie is set with film students which is a nice touch as the entire film does feel like a fun film school project.  As you would expect with that type of setup, there is some overacting but it is not too distracting.  The cast pulls together a lot of different characters and personalities, which makes for a generally entertaining experience.  But it also means that when people start falling there is less of an impact because I didn't get too attached to many of them.

However, GetAWAY feels very indie.  The effects are so so and the overall film has a film project feel.  That's not altogether a bad thing, but it does hurt the overall engagement of the film.  And the main issue with the film is that it is a slasher that just feels like it goes through the motions.  Most of the deaths are isolated and quick, there isn't much tension or fear to build up.  The only one like this was the very first death, which definitely felt like the most planned of them.  But the remaining deaths just feel like each scene is a person hears something, killer shows up, killer kills them, next scene.  There isn't much time to be scared because everything just happens so quickly and mechanically.  And the effects aren't that great either, so the level of gore doesn't elevate the otherwise by the book deaths.  And finally, the reveal didn't have much effect on me or really make sense.  It was a surprise, but again, I didn't feel that emotionally invested in the characters at that point and the story justification just felt tacked on.  

GetAWAY has a large cast of potential victims and an indie feel in this fun slasher picture, but the by the book deaths and lack of tension make this an experience you might want to pass on.. 

Pass on it.

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GetAWAY is available digitally and on demand. 

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Interview: Alejandro De Hoyos from El Contratista / The Contractor, Also Starring Ana Layevska, Mario Zaragoza

Alejandro De Hoyos, the star and financier of El Contratista / The Contractor discusses the film, the quick turn around for the movie, and how he prepared for his role. We also discuss some of the crazy and lucky circumstances that occurred during filming and his next projects! So give it a watch and make sure to check out The Contractor digitally and on demand! Starring: Alejandro De Hoyos, Ana Layevska, Reinaldo Zavarce Writer & Director JoJo Hendrickson Synopsis: A group of young international military fighters join with their tough veteran leader to protect a young boy, whose family was murdered. Now they must figure out who are the good guys and bad guys before they all end up dead.

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El Contratista / The Contractor Review: An Enjoyable Low Budget Action Film

Alejandro De Hoyos	...	Cano Ana Layevska	Ana Layevska	...	Rusa Reinaldo Zavarce	Reinaldo Zavarce	...	Chamo Lyduan Gonzalez	Lyduan Gonzalez	...	Cubiche Manolo Travieso	Manolo Travieso	...	Rico Pedro Pano	Pedro Pano	...	Tijuas Mario Zaragoza	Mario Zaragoza	...	Sanchez Juan Ignacio Aranda	Juan Ignacio Aranda	...	Alfredo Ivonne Montero	Ivonne Montero	...	Sulema Daniel Edward Mora	Daniel Edward Mora	...	Gato Sebastián Cano	Sebastián Cano	...	Erasmo Jr. Yeniffer Behrens	Yeniffer Behrens	...	Elvia Laura Patalano	Laura Patalano	...	Maria Eliana Alexander	Eliana Alexander	...	Gloria Lorena Enríquez	Lorena Enríquez	...	Dr. Zaragoza

Release date: January 8, 2021
Running time: 99 minutes
Lead Actor & Executive producer: Alejandro De Hoyos
Starring: Alejandro De Hoyos, Ana Layevska, Reinaldo Zavarce 
Writer & Director JoJo Hendrickson

A group of young international military fighters join with their tough veteran leader to protect a young boy, whose family was murdered. Now they must figure out who are the good guys and bad guys before they all end up dead.

Toribio Barrera	...	associate producer Yeniffer Behrens	...	producer Nelly Castaneda	...	co-producer DeWayne Cox	...	producer Alejandro De Hoyos	...	executive producer Mario E. Garcia	...	associate producer Mauricio Mendoza	...	producer Pedro Pano	...	co-producer Laura Patalano	...	associate producer Manolo Travieso	...	co-executive producer Ray Verduzco	...	associate producer Reinaldo Zavarce	...	associate producer      Directed by  JoJo Henrickson	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   JoJo Henrickson
The film is a vehicle to showcase De Hoyos and a fun crew of mercenaries as they try to protect a young child.  The crew is enjoyable to watch and De Hoyos is very good as the boss of the outfit.  He has a quiet confidence that comes through in the film and the rest of the crew add some different personalities, diversity, and skills to the team.  I can see why they call him the Mexican James Bond, as he definitely looks the part.  On top of the team, there are also members of the household that add to the film, most notably the butler who does a great job as a caring member of the family.  And young Erasmo (Sebastián Cano) does a good job as a distant child who has to deal with a tragic event.  And the film has some nice touches that make this feel like a bigger film.  The movie has a yellow grain to it that makes it feel more action focused, making them a little more exciting while also making the flashbacks to Cano (De Hoyos)'s time in the middle east feel more authentic.  And the movie also showcases the effect that violence can have on kids.  It starts with video game violence, but as more and more violence creeps into their young ward's life, the effect that it has on him becomes more pronounced.

The Contractor is a low budget action movie that makes the most of its limited funding.  However, it still has a small budget and this is reflected in the film itself.  Many of the special effects are noticeably CG or has action that cuts away at certain times to trick the audience into thinking that there is most going on.  It does a good job but it can only do so much with the limitations that it had and leads to an action movie that just doesn't have a lot of action.  The film does have some tense moments and good characters, but an action movie should really have the excitement front and center.  Unfortunately here, the action is obscured due to the budget and just feels awkward.  That being said, the film does have solid characters and a decent story.  It just is not going to blow you away like I was hoping it would.  But it does make me excited for the next projects from these actors as you can see the potential here. 

El Contratista has a fun and diverse cast in a dangerous operation that makes the most of its limited budget.

Rent it.

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El Contratista / The Contractor is available digitally and on demand. 

Sylvie's Love Review: A Blend of Striking Classic Style and Modern Sensibilities

Tessa Thompson	...	Sylvie Nnamdi Asomugha	Nnamdi Asomugha	...	Robert Eva Longoria	Eva Longoria	...	Carmen Aja Naomi King	Aja Naomi King	...	Mona Wendi McLendon-Covey	Wendi McLendon-Covey	...	Lucy Jemima Kirke	Jemima Kirke	...	Countess Tone Bell	Tone Bell	...	Dickie Brewster Alano Miller	Alano Miller	...	Lacy Regé-Jean Page	Regé-Jean Page	...	Chico Lance Reddick	Lance Reddick	...	Herbert John Magaro	John Magaro	...	Sid Ron Funches	Ron Funches	...	Tank Ryan Michelle Bathe	Ryan Michelle Bathe	...	Kate Erica Gimpel	Erica Gimpel	...	Eunice MC Lyte	MC Lyte	...	Mikki

Release date: December 23, 2020
Running time: 99 minutes
Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Aja Naomi King, Jemima Kirke, Tone Bell, Alano Miller, Erica Gimpel, and Lance Reddick with Wendi McLendon Covey and Eva Longoria
Written and Directed By: Eugene Ashe

In Sylvie’s Love, the jazz is smooth and the air sultry in the hot New York summer of 1957. Robert (Nnamdi Asomugha), a saxophonist, spends late nights playing behind a less-talented but well-known bandleader, as member of a jazz quartet. Sylvie (Tessa Thompson), who dreams of a career in television, spends her summer days helping around her father’s record store, as she waits for her fiancé to return from war. When Robert takes a part-time job at the record store, the two begin a friendship that sparks a deep passion in each of them unlike anything they have felt before. As the summer winds down, life takes them in different directions, bringing their relationship to an end. 

Sylvie's Love has a fantastic old style that is evident from the start.  The film is not only set in the summer of 1957, it feels like a film from 1957 and that is a good thing.  The colors are bright and remniscent of a technicolor style, the sound effects feel classic and exagerated, and the entire movie has a wonderful film grain that gives it a classic feel.  The whole style is striking and sets the tone wonderfully.  And the music matches this classic feel, with some perfect jazz music accompanying the scenes.  Really, the whole package of this film is simply phenomenal and will make you appreciate just how much effort went in to making the movie feel both fresh and classic.

Eugene Ashe	...	producer Nnamdi Asomugha	...	producer Jonathan T. Baker	...	producer (as Jonathan Baker) Emmet Dennis	...	executive producer Jay Gaines	...	co-executive producer Akbar Gbajabiamila	...	executive producer Gabrielle Glore	...	producer Bobbi Sue Luther	...	executive producer / line producer Arinze Okwuadigbo	...	co-executive producer Obinna Okwuadigbo	...	co-executive producer Matt Rachamkin	...	executive producer Sidra Smith	...	executive producer Joe Suarez	...	associate producer Tessa Thompson	...	executive producer Matthew Thurm	...	producer Carl Daryl Washington	...	co-executive producer
And after you fall in love with the style, you will fall in love with the cast.  Both Tessa Thompson and Nnamdi Asomugha are perfect as a cautious but intense couple.  Their romance is so innocent at times, and it starts with a budding friendship before moving to more.  But it is not just the stars who shine in this film, although the stars are really fantastic.  The supporting cast feel like perfect transplants from the 1950s and add plenty of support and intrigue to the story.  And some of the extra characters are really fun to watch.  Wendi McLendon Covey in particular is a fun addition as she plays an over the top TV host who is more outspoken than you would expect from a person at this time.  

And examples like that are what make this such a great film.  It has a blend of old style and modern sensibilities.  Those are dulled somewhat for the film due to the time period, but you still have some more current ideas that creep into the movie, such as a woman having a career away from her husband and a female TV host telling dirty jokes.  It feels so fresh and fun that it makes for a wonderful film when placed against the classic backdrop.  And during this story, it also confronts some difficult life decisions and situations.  How much do you want to sacrifice for your happiness and what if that sacrifice causes pain to someone else?  But that being said, there are a few minor issues with the story, including that it feels like the romance starts and stops a little too quickly.  But these are all minor issues and shouldn't detract you from this otherwise wonderful film.

Sylvie's Love feels like a blend of modern sensibilities and a old time charm, with fantastic performances, wonderful music, and a striking classic film style.

Watch it.

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Sylvie's Love will be released on Amazon Prime Video on December 23, 2020.

Louis van Beethoven DVD Unboxing Video

Unboxing the DVD release of Louis van Beethoven sent to me by my friends at Film Movement! Louis van Beethoven was a surprise movie for me, one that I really loved and that had an amazing sense of authenticity as it recreated the time period perfectly. It also had an interesting story telling method that jumped between different time periods in Beethoven's life to draw parallels and tell more of the story. Check out the video to see what you get in each of these physical releases! 

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Louis van Beethoven: As the world commemorates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, Film Movement invites audiences to commemorate the musical prodigy’s rich and fascinating life with LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN, a lavish biographical drama which opens on the final stanza of his life. Despite Beethoven’s great successes, most recently with the Ninth Symphony, he struggles because his late work completely overwhelms his contemporaries. Now completely deaf, he looks back at missed opportunities throughout his life in this sweeping look the life and times of one of the world’s most renowned composers. Starring: Tobias Moretti, Colin Pütz, Anselm Bresgott, Ulrich Noethen Written and Directed By: Niki Stein

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Danny Simmons and Seb Zewdie Interview for Suffer For Good, Inspirational Boxing Documentary

Danny Simmons, the writer and director, and Seb Zewdie, the star, discuss their film, Suffer For Good, why they decided to make this documentary and what it was like to film. They also discuss some of the footage that didn't make the film and a possible sequel! So give it a watch and make sure to check out Suffer For Good digitally and on demand! Starring: Seb Zewdie Written and Directed By: Danny Simmons Synopsis: By teaching the sport he loves an aging boxing coach and diplomatic refugee rediscovers his dream to fight in the United States of America. Suffer For Good is all about hard work and that is embodied in Seb Zewdie's whole life. He has worked to support his family and hone his craft, but circumstances outside of his control prevented him from fulfilling his dream of going to the Olympics. Now, years later, he puts his love and effort into training future fighters, but now wants to reenter the ring for another bout.Please subscribe to be updated on the latest videos!