Friday, April 16, 2021

What to Watch This Weekend: Jakob's Wife, The Year Earth Changed, Ren & Stimpy, In The Earth, Songbird, Willy's Wonderland, Synchronic, Honest Thief

For The Return Of A Horror Icon: Jakob's Wife (Theaters and Digital)
Jakob's Wife has an old school feel, strong characters, a great balance of dark comedy and horror, and a well-paced story that has plenty to sink your teeth into.  For more information, check out the review!

For The Planet Earth Fans: The Year Earth Changed (Apple TV+)
The Year Earth Changed chronicles this strange year and the profound effect that it has had on the planet, with amazing and eerie images of this dramatic natural transformation.  For more information, check out the review!

For The 90s Kids: Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story (Vudu Free With Ads)
Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story is an insightful documentary about a show that changed all of animation, its rise and fall, and the genius and dark flaws of its creator through the unfiltered insights of those who worked on it.  For more information, check out our review!

For An Environmental Horror Fan: In The Earth (Theaters)
In The Earth is a visual and auditory trip, with an unpredictable characters, great effects, and an unsettling story that merges folk tales, science fiction, and horror.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Surprisingly Good Pandemic Drama: Songbird (Hulu)
Songbird's interesting take on a post-apocalyptic world and its stellar cast deliver a thrilling and sadly timely quarantine adventure.   For more information, check out the review!

Because You Know You Love Nic Cage: Willy's Wonderland (Redbox)
It has Nick Cage beating up animatronics.  I mean, what else do you want?  Think Five Nights At Freddy's except with more Nic Cage!

For A Genre and Time Bending Sci Fi Film: Synchronic (Netflix)
Synchronic takes you on a mind-bending time travel trip with a dark, gritty style, fantastic performances by Mackie and Dornan, and a powerful score.  For more information, check out the review!

For Those Hoping For A Fresh Start: The Honest Thief (Redbox)
The Honest Thief is classic Liam Neeson, with an interesting premise and plenty of tense, cat and mouse scenes.  For more information, check out the review!

Beate Review: A Film That Humorously Stitches Together Nuns And Lingerie

Donatella Finocchiaro	...	Armida Felicitè Mbezelè	Felicitè Mbezelè	...	Suor Prediletta Paolo Pierobon	Paolo Pierobon	...	Loris Maria Roveran	Maria Roveran	...	Suor Caterina Lucia Sardo	Lucia Sardo	...	Suor Restituta

Release date: April 16, 2021
Running time: 90 minutes
Directed by: Samad Zarmandili
Written by: Antonio Cecchi, Gianni Gatti, Salvatore Maira
Cast: Donatella Finocchiaro, Paolo Pierobon, Maria Roveran, Lucia Sardo, Betti Pedrazzi

Partially inspired by several true stories, the comedy BEATE is a modern social fairytale set in Northeast Italy. When the employees of the Veronica lingerie factory discover they’re about to be fired, they take matters into their own hands and “borrow” equipment to produce their own garment line. Lead by plucky forewoman, Armida (Donatella Finocchiaro), they’re determined to overcome the odds and make their business a success despite their lack of resources.  Together with a nearby convent of nuns, they join forces for a surprising collaboration: an artisanal line of sexy embroidered lingerie. However, they soon come under attack from all sides and have to band together, and pray for a miracle!

Produced by  Dario Formisano	...	producerMusic by  Francesco De Luca	 Alessandro Forti	Cinematography by  Cristiano Natalucci	Film Editing by  Fabio Nunziata	Casting By  Marita D'Elia	Makeup Department  Rudia Cascione	...	key makeup artist Lucia Patullo	...	makeup artist Vittorio Sodano	...	special makeup effects artistSecond Unit Director or Assistant Director  Tiziana Forletta	...	second assistant director Federico Giorgio Ridolfi	...	first assistant director
Beate has a whimsical style that lets you know that this quirky lingerie / nun comedy is a light hearted endeavor.  The film has a soundtrack that sounds classic, evoking older comedic films, and whimsical, fitting the tone of Beate.  And the interactions between the lingerie makers and the nuns are fun to see.  The film touches on changing times and trying to keep tradition in an increasingly secular world, and seeing these clashes of ideas forms a lot of the fun in this movie.  And reliance on others forms a central focus of this movie as both the workers and the nuns need and learn from each other.  

And Beate is filled with quirky characters to tell this unique story.  They are well acted and fun to see on screen, especially Armida (Finocchiaro).  And although the nuns are generally more reserved, Lucia Sardo was fun to watch as an outspoken aunt to Armida.  These two form the basis of the culture clash, and seeing these strong women collide provided plenty of drama and humor.  And the film should be lauded for telling an empowering female story with an almost all female cast.  It was fun to see these ladies take matters into their own hands and sell a sexy product, but one that they designed and promoted themselves.  And although the cast was almost all female, Pierobon as Loris (one of the few males in the film) was a lot of fun to see.  He acted as their sales manager and was the right balance of sleazy but genuine.  I really liked seeing how he treated Armida and their relationship throughout the film.  

However, although Beate has a great style and comedic overtones, the comedy just did not hit for me.  Maybe some of it is lost in translation (and generally, comedy is tougher to watch in another language since you don't always get the tone and timing of things) but I wanted to like this movie a lot more than I did.  Perhaps for native speakers or those with more exposure to Italian, these will make more sense.  And the film also seems to introduce some unnecessary drama in the middle of it, which just seemed to come out of nowhere.  It caused a central conflict in the film and just felt a little rushed and out of left field.  Now this drama does come full circle in the end but it definitely caused me to scratch my head when it happened.  And along those lines, the film also has a strange scene towards the end that was supposed to be helpful / funny but just felt off with the rest of the movie's tone.  And it also didn't accomplish much for the storyline.  But those minor issues aside, this film is definitely a unique one with its mostly female cast and strange, empowering story.

Beate weaves a unique story with its lighthearted tone, mostly female cast, and funny, empowering story of nuns and lingerie!

Rent it.

Corinth Films Italian Italy Beate Lingerie Bras Panties Nuns Catholic Priest Nun
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Beate is playing in virtual cinemas across the country.  For more information and for showtimes click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

T11 Incomplete Review: Plenty of Broken Characters In An Unconventional Relationship Drama

Kristen Renton	...	Laura Karen Sillas	Karen Sillas	...	Kate Murphy Zachary Booth	Zachary Booth	...	Jack Katy Sullivan	Katy Sullivan	...	Elizabeth Yvonne Jung	Yvonne Jung	...	Veterinarian Colin Bates	Colin Bates	...	Steve Lauren Russell	Lauren Russell	...	Kristy Maxim Swinton	Maxim Swinton	...	Brady Brenda McCullough	Brenda McCullough	...	Gloria Gregory M. Brown	Gregory M. Brown	...	Policeman Maya Guacci	Maya Guacci	...	Diner patron George Morafetis	George Morafetis	...	Mr. Bronson Lou Chimelli	Lou Chimelli	...	Billy (as Louie Chillemi) Edward Hanlon	Edward Hanlon	...	Party Guest Lisa Meckes	Lisa Meckes	...	Mrs. Jackson

Release date: April 13, 2021
Running time: 105 minutes
Written and Directed By: Suzanne Guacci
Starring: Kristen Renton, Karen Sillas, Zachary Booth

Kate (Sillas), a visiting home health aide and recovering alcoholic, strives to rebuild her broken life, only to have it fall apart once again when she falls in love with her young, paraplegic patient Laura (Renton) then betrays her trust.

Brenda McCullough	...	Gloria Gregory M. Brown	Gregory M. Brown	...	Policeman Maya Guacci	Maya Guacci	...	Diner patron George Morafetis	George Morafetis	...	Mr. Bronson Lou Chimelli	Lou Chimelli	...	Billy (as Louie Chillemi) Edward Hanlon	Edward Hanlon	...	Party Guest Lisa Meckes	Lisa Meckes	...	Mrs. Jackson Joe Mankowski	Joe Mankowski	...	Paulie Leonard Delorenzo	Leonard Delorenzo	...	Diner patron James Liszanckie	James Liszanckie	...	Diner manager Julia Galotti	Julia Galotti	...	Vet cashier Marta Wyszynski	Marta Wyszynski	...	Brenda
T11 Incomplete is an interesting movie about self discovery and rebuilding.  Not only is Kate helping to rehab and assist Laura, but Kate herself is working on her own life after some questionable decisions in the past.  These bad choices continue during the film, but the movie does a decent job of showing what she is going through and the reasons for these choices.  The movie has a slow start, but I didn't mind that as it spends a good amount of time on Kate's character.  After laying a solid groundwork for Kate's predicament and her current life, it introduces us to Laura.  And when the main relationship is introduced, the film has a lot of very sweet moments.  I enjoyed seeing these characters on screen and experiencing the unconventional nature of the story.  

However, the movie has some strange aspects as well.  For one, it starts off in a 16:9 aspect ratio, then switches very quickly to 4:3 for almost the rest of the movie.  I was wondering if there was a problem with the screener but this appears by design.  It is an odd choice and I think I know what they were going for, but I don't necessarily know if the more limited aspect ratio helped achieve that.  Additionally, the film has a lot of emotion but it can feel forced at times.  Some character's moods and attitudes shift very quickly with little provocation, leading to an emotional rollercoaster but one that also feels like an unnatural one.  And I liked the characters and the underlying relationship, but the progression of the romantic aspects also did feel a little rushed.  Maybe some more build up had to be cut due to the film spending more time on Kate's initial situation, but for a movie that is focused on the emotional aspects of the story, those just didn't hit with the kind of force that I think the movie was going for.  

T11 Incomplete's story of rebuilding touches all of its slightly broken characters, with an inclusive message and plenty of drama fueling this unconventional relationship.

Rent it.

Theresa Aquilina	...	producer Suzanne Guacci	...	producer Kevin Hanlon	...	producer Nic Novicki	...	producer
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T11 Incomplete is available digitally and on demand on April 13, 2021. 

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Touch Review: A Promising Start Cannot Massage The Lumps Of The Second Half

Aleksandra Szczepanowska	...	Fei Fei Jun Yang	Jun Yang	...	Zhang Hua Jiangwei Yuan	Jiangwei Yuan	...	Bai Yu Beckhan	Beckhan	...	Mo Mo Aixian Teng	Aixian Teng	...	Nanny Yuqiao Liu	Yuqiao Liu	...	Ming Zhu Yahui Liu	Yahui Liu	...	Bing Qiao

Release date: June 7, 2020
Running time: 97 minutes
Written and Directed By: Aleksandra Szczepanowska
Starring: Aleksandra Szczepanowska, Jun Yang, Jiangwei Yuan

Fei Fei (Szczepanowksa), a married Caucasian western woman meets Bai Yu (Yuan), a Chinese blind masseur. When they come together in an intense love affair they find the demons they've created implode in a clash of violent impulses.

Produced by  Gordon Shearer	...	executive producer Aleksandra Szczepanowska	...	executive producer / producerMusic by  Andrew Barkan	Cinematography by  Wei Ji	Film Editing by  Zimo Huang	 Xue Xue	Art Direction by  Wei Wu	Costume Design by  Wei Zhou	Makeup Department  Liping Cheng	...	hair and makeup head
I think the most interesting aspect of Touch for me was seeing Szczepanowksa's take on being a foreigner in China.  Being American and living in a very America-centric world, I was fascinated to see some of the issues that Fei Fei encountered trying to adopt China as her home country.  The distrust that she experienced, the endless bureaucracy, and the fact that if she was someone of important cultural character, she could have been pushed to the front of the line were all issues that I was fascinated to see.  I also loved seeing her interact with her Chinese friends early in the film, some of the banter that they had, and how she adopted a Chinese name, a perfectly normal occurrence for Chinese people living in America but also one I had never thought of for immigrants to China.  

And the movie builds on this interesting start to emphasize Fei Fei's loneliness and disconnection with her adopted homeland.  She wants to be treated equally with those around her, but is thwarted by Chinese culture and customs.  I loved when she tried to converse with the men at a party but was gently and not so gently rebuked by her husband.  And even when she meets Bai Yu, the build up is interesting.  I liked the connection to her loneliness and how that connected to her desire to continue her massage sessions.

However, the film transitions after she meets Bai Yu into something more akin to a horror thriller.  Although I appreciated the love affair aspects with Bai Yu, that progression felt a little quick and disproportionate to their respective interests.  I couldn't understand why she was risking so much but gave it the benefit of the doubt.  However, when the movie turns into a horror thriller, the film goes off the deep end.  Bai Yu seems almost omnipotent and moves like a villain in most horror films, which was strange to me because he cannot see.  The film hints that maybe he has some vision or uses his other sense to accomplish this, but even with this his movements and tactics feel too unrealistic.  And Fei Fei's fear and obsession over this also feels a bit extreme.  I appreciated what the film was trying to do, but I found the cultural aspects of the earlier part of the movie to be completely abandoned when it moves into its thriller side.  And the thriller parts weren't unsettling enough or realistic enough to keep my attention after it made this transition.

Touch's promising premise, strong performance by Szczepanowska, and interesting cultural perspective on China are dulled in the second half switch to erotic thriller.

Rent it.

Directed by  Aleksandra Szczepanowska	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Aleksandra Szczepanowska
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Touch is playing in festivals around the world and should be in general release later in 2021.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

In the Earth Review: A Trippy Blend of Folk, Sci-Fi, and Horror

Joel Fry	...	Martin Lowery Reece Shearsmith	Reece Shearsmith	...	Zach Hayley Squires	Hayley Squires	...	Olivia Wendle Ellora Torchia	Ellora Torchia	...	Alma Mark Monero	Mark Monero	...	Frank John Hollingworth	John Hollingworth	...	James Produced by  Andrew Starke	...	producer Jeff Deutchman	...	executive producer Michael S. Constable	...	line producer Tom Quinn	...	executive producer

Release date: April 23, 2021
Running time: 107 minutes
Starring: Joel Fry, Ellora Torchia, Hayley Squires, Reece Shearsmith, John Hollingworth, Mark Monero
Written and Directed By: Ben Wheatley

As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist and park scout venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them.

horror trippy nature dark camping camp science scientist folk folksy atmosphere effects
In The Earth is a trippy sci fi / horror film that will get under your skin and into your head.  The film is set in a near future (it seems) time period where a virus has devastated the world.  But the fact that the film is set out in the forest obscures the timeline as it has a decidedly lower tech feel.  This is definitely not a knock as I think it was a smart choice to do a near future film on a lower budget.  Overall the film has a lot of very smart choices that help to build a very unsettling mood and keep you on your toes.  The film's main thread has you following the scientist and the park scout as they become closer to nature, sometimes unwillingly, and learn more about the sounds and sights of the forest.  The film has several sequences that might be dream sequences or hallucinations letting you experience some of the mind bending episodes that these scientists go through.  And the camera work during these is phenomenal, disorienting you and transporting you to these strange sequences and letting you experience what the characters do.  

And overall, the characters in Into The Earth are all unique and well acted.  It was especially great to see Joel Fry take on a leading role, although his character does have a tendency to fade into the background.  Ellora Torchia was dynamic, and had to go through a range of emotions during her harrowing, trippy ordeal.  And Reece Shearsmith is very unsettling as an unpredictable captor who seems to be listening to something that no one else can hear.  He is magnetic on screen and causes you to be drawn to him but also worried about him!

But one thing to keep in mind is that this film lets you follow a psychedelic journey with intense colors, visuals, and sounds.  If you are prone to epilepsy or have issues with flashing lights and strange occurrences, then you will want to skip this one.  The scenes are harsh, like nature, and they can be jarring even if you are normally comfortable with bright and flashing lights.  And there is also plenty of brutality.  The film shows its horror roots during some of the more visceral scenes.  There aren't a lot of them but when they come, they can be tough to watch.  But that is definitley not a knock.  The brutality was realistic with great practical effects, and the scenes were put to good use to show both the unsettling nature of some of the characters and the brutality of the nature that they were studying.

But Into The Earth's biggest problem is its story.  The film is a wonderful, atmospheric and interesting scifi / horror blend that just never really comes together.  There are paganistic and scientific ideas spliced throughout, as well as some mental health ideas, but I did not feel that these ideas gelled in the end.  The movie is still a visual and auditory treat, but I was left feeling a little unsatisfied after experiencing this journey.  

In The Earth is a visual and auditory trip, with an unpredictable characters, great effects, and an unsettling story that merges folk tales, science fiction, and horror.

Rent it.

Directed by  Ben Wheatley	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Ben Wheatley	Cast (in credits order)   Music by  Clint Mansell	Cinematography by  Nick Gillespie	Film Editing by  Ben Wheatley	Casting By  Shaheen Baig	Production Design by  Felicity Hickson	Costume Design by  Emma Fryer
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In The Earth premieres in theaters on April 16, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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Vanquish Review: Morgan Freeman's Stylish Action Film

Ruby Rose	...	Victoria Morgan Freeman	Morgan Freeman	...	Damon Patrick Muldoon	Patrick Muldoon	...	Agent Monroe Nick Vallelonga	Nick Vallelonga	...	Detective Stevens Julie Lott	Julie Lott	...	Governor Ann Driscoll Ekaterina Baker	Ekaterina Baker	...	Galyna Joel Michaely	Joel Michaely	...	Rayo Paul Sampson	Paul Sampson	...	B.J. Chris Mullinax	Chris Mullinax	...	Detective Kehoe Miles Doleac	Miles Doleac	...	Erik Ele Bardha	Ele Bardha	...	Max Richard Salvatore	Richard Salvatore	...	Stunt driver, Sniper Juju Journey Brener	Juju Journey Brener	...	Lily Reg Rob	Reg Rob	...	Johnny Bill Luckett	Bill Luckett	...	Father Thomas

Release date: April 16, 2021
Running time: 77 minutes        
Starring: Morgan Freeman (Se7en) and Ruby Rose (“Orange Is The New Black”)
Directed By: George Gallo
Written By: George Gallo and Samuel Bartlett 

 A mother, Victoria (Rose), is trying to put her dark past as a Russian drug courier behind her, but retired cop Damon (Freeman) forces Victoria to do his bidding by holding her daughter hostage. Now, Victoria must use guns, guts, and a motorcycle to take out a series of violent gangsters — or she may never see her child again.

Dylan Flashner	...	Detective Childs Yvan Gauthier	Yvan Gauthier	...	Marcel G. Tremain Merrell	G. Tremain Merrell	...	Billy Smalls Leonard Waldner	Leonard Waldner	...	Bodyguard Marty Wilson	Marty Wilson	...	Curtis Marcus Moss	Marcus Moss	...	Marcel Worker #2
Vanquish has an all star cast and I went in really hoping for an exciting movie.  I loved the idea of Freeman in an action role and seeing a badass female lead in Rose was another plus. However, Vanquish just doesn't feel like it has the production values to justify the all star cast.  The film doesn't get off on the right foot, with an opening involving newspapers and screens that feels more like it was out of a television program than a feature film.  And although the film has some interesting ideas and some beautiful shots and locales, overall the movie just doesn't catch your attention.  The main conflict--Victoria trying to save her daughter--doesn't have much gravity after the initial shock.  And the film is billed as an action film, with a Stallone or Schwarzenegger type poster, but the action itself just isn't that exciting.  Gun battles generally do not last nor do they have the quick camera work and loud effects to really draw you attention.  

And Vanquish has this blue tint to most of the scenes, possibly because it takes place at night, that just gives it a lack of variety despite the film moving to various locales.  It feels like the tint was meant to give the film a near future, cyberpunk type of style but it just causes the movie to feel like it doesn't go many places.  It doesn't help that the film has a sameness to the scenarios; with Rose going into these dangerous locales, having some issue come up, and then quickly dispatching of whatever shows up.  And along the lines of movie magic effects, the overall effects in the film just did not feel up to snuff.  And even a scene involving snuff just felt cheesy.  The movie has noticeable CG for the gunshots and some very obvious cuts during the action scenes.  There is a motorcycle scene that takes a noticeable cut right after the stunt to try and imply that the rider landed the trick.  But the audience never sees this so doesn't get a sense of excitement and wonder; to the audience it just looks like the rider slid on their bike to a crash.  Overall, I wished that Vanquish could have been more and was excited after seeing the poster.  But despite this, the movie just did not live up to the cast and hype.

Vanquish has an all star cast and some beautiful shots, but is brought down by action that doesn't live up to the star power and effects that take you out of the film .  

Pass on it.

Directed by  George Gallo	Writing Credits   George Gallo	...	(written by) and Samuel Bartlett	...	(written by)   Samuel Bartlett	...	(story by)
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Vanquish is available in select theaters on April 16, 2021, on Digital and On Demand on April 20, 2021 and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 27, 2021.  For tickets, click here.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Jakob's Wife Review: A Small Town Wife Finds Her Fangs

Barbara Crampton	...	Anne Fedder Larry Fessenden	Larry Fessenden	...	Pastor Jakob Fedder Bonnie Aarons	Bonnie Aarons	...	The Master Nyisha Bell	Nyisha Bell	...	Amelia Humphries Sarah Lind	Sarah Lind	...	Carol Fedder Mark Kelly	Mark Kelly	...	Bob Fedder Robert Rusler	Robert Rusler	...	Tom Low Jay DeVon Johnson	Jay DeVon Johnson	...	Sheriff Mike Hess C.M. Punk	C.M. Punk	...	Deputy Colton Omar Salazar	Omar Salazar	...	Oscar Angelie Simone	Angelie Simone	...	Eli (as Angelie Denizard)

Release date: April 16, 2021
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed By: Travis Stevens
Written By: Mark Steensland, Kathy Charles, Travis Stevens
Starring: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Nyisha Bell, Mark Kelly, Sarah Lind, Robert Rusler, Bonnie Aarons, Phil Brooks 

Anne (Crampton) is married to Jakob (Fessenden), a small-town minister and feels like her life and marriage have been shrinking over the past 30 years. After a chance encounter with “The Master,” she discovers a new sense of power and an appetite to live bigger and bolder than before.  As Anne is increasingly torn between her enticing new existence and her life before, the body count grows and Jakob realizes he will have to fight for the wife he took for granted.

Angelie Simone	...	Eli (as Angelie Denizard) Ned Yousef	Ned Yousef	...	Naveed Al Amin Giovannie Cruz	Giovannie Cruz	...	Mariana Al Amin Armani Desirae	Armani Desirae	...	Little Girl Monica L. Henry	Monica L. Henry	...	Dr. Meda Skeeta Jenkins	Skeeta Jenkins	...	Butcher Kathe Newcomb	Kathe Newcomb	...	Mattie Morgan Peter Brown	Morgan Peter Brown	...	Actor
Jakob's Wife is a clever film that has a lot of old school style.  The film clearly takes inspiration from 80s horror films with a text and shot style that evoke classic horror.  And some of the music also evokes this time period with a stylized music to fit the stylized text.  The director said that he wanted to evoke classic horror films when making this and he succeeded.  The film has plenty of over the top gore (such as gratuitous amounts of blood shooting from every bite victim), some corny acting, and some strong characters that further feel like call backs to a different time.   

But although Jakob's Wife has a classic feel to it, it also has plenty of more modern themes.  The story is one of a small-town wife learning to find her own voice and trust her own choices.  And this is brought to life by Barbara Crampton's wonderful performances as Anne.  She goes from a timid, supportive partner to a strong willed, vivacious character.  And in order to do that, she has to make a lot of tough choices as she learns to adapt to her new situation.   And she is perfectly paired with Fessenden as Jakob, who is initially seen as boring but we find out has more going on than we originally thought.  Despite his plain persona, he has more of a rebellious side than he initially lets on.  

Jakob's Wife has a great balance of horror and dark comedy.  A lot of this is due to Anne's dry sense of humor.  But the movie also has a lot of little comedic touches that let you know that this film is not taking itself too seriously. From some small town humor, to the over the top characters, and Anne's reactions to her slow change, the film has a wonderful balance that will keep you entertained and hooked on this story.  And overall the story of the film is perfectly paced.  It develops deliciously slowly as Anne comes to terms with the changes that are happening to her.  And the story also reveals more about the vampire that bit her and its motivations.  It doesn't pile on anything too fast, letting the story move at a good pace and keeping the viewer engaged.  And this lets you watch as Anne transforms into a more confident, determined, and vocal character.  This film has an empowering aspect that is not just from Anne's physical transformation.  Her character transforms emotionally as well.  But I also love that as her character evolves, she still retains some of what grounded her.  She becomes confident and opinionated, but uses it to adapt to her current life and not have a full break from it.  She moves from a follower in the relationship, to a true partner; one with agency and an idea of what she wants in life.  

Jakob's Wife has an old school feel, strong characters, a great balance of dark comedy and horror, and a well-paced story that has plenty to sink your teeth into.

Watch it.

Kim Barnard	...	co-producer Morgan Peter Brown	...	co-producer Barbara Crampton	...	producer Nina Kolokouri	...	executive producer Rick Moore	...	executive producer James Norrie	...	executive producer Bob Portal	...	producer Inderpal Singh	...	producer Travis Stevens	...	producer Joe Wicker	...	co-producer   Directed by  Travis Stevens	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Kathy Charles	 Mark Steensland	 Travis Stevens
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Jakob's Wife is releasing in theaters, digitally, and on demand on April 16, 2021.  For showtimes, click here

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The Banishing Review: A Stylish Haunting In Classic England

Jessica Brown Findlay	Jessica Brown Findlay	...	Marianne Sean Harris	Sean Harris	...	Harry Price John Lynch	John Lynch	...	Malachi John Heffernan	John Heffernan	...	Linus Adam Hugill	Adam Hugill	...	Frank Jason Thorpe	Jason Thorpe	...	Dr. Sutter Anya McKenna-Bruce	Anya McKenna-Bruce	...	Adelaide James Swanton	James Swanton	...	Monk Cokey Falkow	Cokey Falkow	...	Barman Seamus O'Neill	Seamus O'Neill	...	Old Man Amy Trigg	Amy Trigg	...	Agnes Nigel Travis	Nigel Travis	...	Burt Sara Apostolaki	Sara Apostolaki	...	Woman in Rags Danny Shayler	Danny Shayler	...	Monk Jean St. Clair	Jean St. Clair	...	Betsy Matthew Clarke	Matthew Clarke	...	Reverend Stanley Hall Jacqueline Foster	Jacqueline Foster	...	Church goer (uncredited)

Release date: April 15, 2021
Running time: 96 minutes
Starring: Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Sean Harris (Mission: Impossible franchise), John Lynch (The Secret Garden, Black Death), and John Heffernan (Eye in the Sky)
Directed By: Christopher Smith (Creep, Severance, Triangle).

From acclaimed director Chris Smith comes THE BANISHING, which tells the true story of the most haunted house in England. A young reverend and his wife and daughter move into a manor with a horrifying secret. When a vengeful spirit haunts the little girl and threatens to tear the family apart, the reverend and his wife are forced to confront their beliefs. They must turn to black magic by seeking the help of a famous Occultist or risk losing their daughter.

Maya Amsellem	...	producer David Beton	...	executive producer Laurie Cook	...	producer Ed Fraiman	...	executive producer Sharon Harel	...	producer Neil Jones	...	co-producer Dot Kyle	...	Pre-Production Line Producer Adam Nagel	...	executive producer Jason Newmark	...	producer Kenneth O'Toole	...	associate producer Beata Saboova	...	executive producer
The Banishing transports you to a different time and place.  The setting and attention to detail in this film are amazing.  From the old style house, to the little touches like old electrical buttons and switches, to the wonderful classic cars, you really feel like you are in a classic English countryside.  And the actors do a good job with these roles, selling their characters and helping to contribute to the sense of transportation.  There are not a lot of characters, but they are well cast and interesting.  Most of them have backstories that you slowly learn about and all of them are not what they originally appear.  And the movie does a great job with practical effects so you don't ever need to break your suspension of disbelief.

However, the story of The Banishing takes a long time to develop and feels disjointed at the beginning.  It really jumped around at the start of the film and I didn't get a great sense of the characters and their situation.  And the film takes a long time to get to any sort of scares, despite the initially good tension.  They do come eventually, but the film is a much more subdued haunting movie than I was expecting.  That is not to say the movie is devoid of scares and unsettling images, but these scares are fleeting and over quickly.  And the movie does try to address the issue of the treatment of women, tying it to the overall haunting, but this doesn't really hit on an emotional level.  Part of this might be the lack of historical context in the story.  The film is supposed to be a true story, but the story seems far fetched and there is no indication at the end of the film that any of these characters were real people.  It feels like more of an "inspired by" telling rather than a true story.  And finally, the film's supernatural side is over far too quickly.  The movie starts to pick up and then feels like those scares are over and done right when the film starts to get exciting.  I really liked the opening and felt that this film has all the components of something I would like.  But in the end, it was just a stylish, great setting for a story that did not grab me.  

The Banishing has a great setting, nuanced characters, and a definite sense of style, transporting you to a classic English town to witness this haunted story. 

Rent it.

Directed by  Christopher Smith	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   David Beton	...	(written by) Ray Bogdanovich	...	(written by) Dean Lines	...	(written by)

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The Banishing is available to stream on Shudder starting April 15, 2021. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Year Earth Changed Review: A Stunning Look At This Past Year

Release date: April 16, 2021
Running time: 49 minutes
Narrator: David Attenborough
Director: Tom Beard
Executive Producers: Mike Gunton and Alice Keens-Soper

Showcasing footage from around the world after an unprecedented year, “The Year Earth Changed” is a timely documentary special that takes a fresh new approach to the global lockdown and the uplifting stories that have come out of it. From hearing birdsong in deserted cities and seeing whales in Glacier Bay, to meeting capybara in suburbs across South America, people worldwide have had the chance to engage with nature like never before. In this documentary special, viewers will witness how the smallest changes in human behavior – reducing cruise ship traffic, closing beaches a few days a year, identifying more harmonious ways for humans and wildlife to coexist – can have a profound impact on nature. The documentary, narrated by David Attenborough, is a love letter to planet Earth, highlighting the ways nature’s resiliency and ability to bounce back can give us hope for the future.

If you are a fan of the Planet Earth series or any of the nature focused spin offs, then you will love this movie.  It is a similar style to those features, with the film moving around to various locales to showcase nature with beautiful cinematography and interesting stories.  However, whereas those previous films usually focused on a type of land or region of the world, The Year Earth Changed focuses on the effect that a worldwide lockdown has had on the Earth and its animal inhabitants.  And the short answer is that it has had a dramatic effect.

The film goes to various regions of the world to see the profound impact that this year has had.  And it is extremely eerie to see some of these changes.  Seeing cities that are normally bustling stand empty, and seeing animals return to areas that they would never go a year ago was fascinating.  I love that this film was made and that is has chronicled this bizarre period in our human history.  The changes to the cities and surrounding natural settings are amazing to see, and to see them in this quality is truly a treat.  

But the film doesn't just chronicle the changes.  It also looks at how some humans are studying and adapting to these changes to try and make lasting impacts on the Earth and the health of its inhabitants.  Seeing the changes in the last year is an amazing sight, but trying to learn from and prolong the natural transformation is an important goal going forward.  This year has shown that even one year of reduced human effect on the planet can have a profound impact; if we can harness those lessons and adapt them to our society, then perhaps we can make lasting positive changes to our planet.

The Year Earth Changed chronicles this strange year and the profound effect that it has had on the planet, with amazing and eerie images of this dramatic natural transformation.

Watch it.

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The Year Earth Changed is available to stream on Apple TV+ starting April 16, 2021.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Interview: Sam & Mattie Make A Zombie Movie: Sam Suchmann, Mattie Zufelt, Jesse Suchmann, and Bobby Carnevale

Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt, the writers and stars, and Jesse Suchmann and Bobby Carnevale, the directors of Sam & Mattie Make A Zombie Movie join for a fun and interesting interview! We find out more about how this and Spring Break Zombie Massacre were made, as well as learn more about Sam and Mattie's friendship. And we also get some hints for what the pair are thinking for the sequel to Spring Break Zombie Massacre! So give it a watch and make sure to check out Sam & Mattie Make A Zombie Movie, digitally and on demand on April 6, 2021! Directed By: Jesse Suchmann, Robert Carnevale Starring: Sam Suchmann, Mattie Zufelt, Peter Farrelly Synopsis: Sam & Mattie Make a Zombie Movie is a feature-length documentary that follows Sam & Mattie, two best friends with Down syndrome, on an epic 10 year journey to storyboard, script, produce, cast, and star in their own dream movie -- "Spring Break Zombie Massacre." Their film, earned national attention from "Today,", Time, "Conan," "PBS News Hour," and many more when it was released in 2016. The project highlights the process to get this film made and then also presents their film to the public in its entirety for the first time.

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Friday, April 9, 2021

Interview: Jesse Noah Klein Writer and Director of Like A House On Fire w/ Sarah Sutherland, Jared Abrahamson

Jesse Noah Klein, the writer and director of Like A House On Fire, discusses the inspiration for his film, assembling this stellar cast, and writing a character-focused drama! We also discuss what it was like filming this and also some of the origins for the ideas in the movie! So give it a watch and make sure to check out Like A House On Fire, digitally and on demand on March 30, 2021! Directed and Written by: Jesse Noah Klein Starring: Sarah Sutherland, Jared Abrahamson, Dominique Provost-Chalkley Synopsis: Dara (Sutherland) returns home to reconnect with her husband Danny (Abrahamson) and her young daughter, whom she left two years earlier. When she arrives, she discovers that a woman who is seven months pregnant has taken her place and that her daughter no longer recognizes her. Like A House On Fire tells the story of a woman's struggle to regain the life she left behind.

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What to Watch This Weekend: House On Fire, Sam & Mattie, Violation, Held, The Power, Know Fear, Barb & Star, Nomadland

For A Realistic, Grounded Drama: Like A House On Fire (Digital)
Like A House On Fire is a lot like life: beautiful, painful, and bittersweet; it has all the components you want in a great drama while still feeling relatable and down to earth.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Uplifting Zombie Documentary: Sam & Mattie Make A Zombie Movie (Digital)
Sam & Mattie Make a Zombie Movie shows an unfiltered, uncompromising look at the creative process for a unique zombie movie, and the beautiful friendships behind it.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Brutal Revenge Film: Violation (Shudder)
Violation is some parts absolutely beautiful and other parts intense, with an accuracy and brutality rarely seen in film.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Indie Horror With A Deeper Meaning: Held (Digital)
Held will capture your attention with its strong, nuanced performances, perfect setting, and engaging story that entertains while exploring important societal norms.  For more information, check out the review!

For An Old School Feeling Indie Horror: Know Fear (Amazon)
Know Fear is just a well done indie horror film, with smart practical effects, enjoyable characters, and an old school feel.   For more information, check out the review!

For An Atmospheric Horror Experience: The Power (Shudder)
The Power's atmospheric setting, perfectly realized characters, and chilling message show how this genre can be used to highlight some very real life horrors.  For more information, check out the review!

For A Colorful Middle Aged Trip: Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar (Redbox)
Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar is the type of laugh-out-loud ridiculousness we need right now, with fantastic characters and a bright style to help jump start your 2021.   For more information, check out the review!

For Those Longing To Go Outside: Nomadland (Hulu)
Nomadland highlights a different, beautiful lifestyle with a very human performance by McDormand, amazing cinematography, and a wonderful sense of community.  For more information, check out the review!

Wheeler Review: Savor the Music and Soul of Stephen Dorff's Transformation

Stephen Dorff	...	Wheeler Kris Kristofferson	Kris Kristofferson	...	Self Audrey Spillman	Audrey Spillman	...	Self Bobby Tomberlin	Bobby Tomberlin	...	Self Bart Herbison	Bart Herbison	...	Self Jim Norman	Jim Norman	...	Self (as Jim Ed Norman) Travis Meadows	Travis Meadows	...	Self Anastasia Munoz	Anastasia Munoz	...	Jill Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Josh Adelstein	Josh Adelstein	...	Bobby T's Friend William Todd Austin	William Todd Austin	...	Toddzilla

Release date: March 30, 2021 (Digital re-release)
Running time: 98 minutes
Director: Ryan Ross
Writers: Stephen Dorff, Ryan Ross
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, Audrey Spillman

Wheeler (Stephen Dorff) is an aspiring musician from Kaufman, Texas who travels to Nashville with the lifelong dream of trying his hand at country music. By embodying the title character under prosthetic make up, actor Stephen Dorff successfully infiltrates Music City and takes his character on an authentic singer/songwriter journey. With the help of key allies on the ground, “Wheeler” converses with real people in real locations, with every musical number performed live. The line between reality and fiction blurs as Wheeler chases his dream in this touching tribute to old school country legends.

David Bates	...	Curb Studio Assistant Engineer Eddie Bayers	Eddie Bayers	...	Self Frances Bell	Frances Bell	...	Self Dena Brown	Dena Brown	...	Bobby's Idle Hour Bartender Sherri Callahan	Sherri Callahan	...	Hermitage Waitress Dorothy Daniel	Dorothy Daniel		 Jennie DiDominzio	Jennie DiDominzio	...	Music City Bar Bartender Ron Harman	Ron Harman	...	Bus Tour Guide Mary Haynes	Mary Haynes	...	NSAI Receptionist Mike Johnson	Mike Johnson	...	Self Jeff King	Jeff King	...	Self Jennifer Lewis	Jennifer Lewis	...	Audrey's Friend Dossett Marchese	Dossett Marchese	...	Mike Speedy Meister	Speedy Meister	...	Self Marsha Miller	Marsha Miller	...	Self (as Dr. Marsha Miller) William Minor	William Minor	...	The Lodge Caretaker Meredith Mosley	Meredith Mosley	...	Self
Wheeler is an interesting project; a documentary style film that has Stephen Dorff completely transforming into an aspiring country music singer.  The film has an overarching story that involves actors and musicians interacting with Wheeler, but the musical performances are Dorff performing live.  It's a strange scenario as it is not simply a documentary style film, but rather a film that has aspects of real performances.  And Dorff is really good as Wheeler.  He does come off as sounding like he's from another time, but he can play multiple instruments and has a great voice.  I really enjoyed hearing his songs and even if you're not a country music fan, you will find plenty to like about his singing.  

And although the film is an odd one, it is different enough that I enjoyed my time with Wheeler.  Although the film follows Wheeler's rise in the music scene, it does have a nice, slow pace.  The film invites you to just enjoy the slow pace and live in the moment.  And I also really liked the Wheeler character, someone who is so joyful and heartfelt about his music that he can't help but rub off on you.  The film felt like a labor of love by all involved.  And Wheeler's experience in Nashville were heartening to see; the local music community embraced him and cheered him on.  It didn't seem competitive despite how difficult that industry is.  It felt like a genuinely supportive climate of music fans.  

However, the documentary style of the film can seem off, especially when there are some people who are not in on the experience.  It was tough to tell where the movie ended and where the performances began, and who was in on the story.  My general thought is that everyone who plays any role in this film is in on it, but is the nice waitress Wheeler meets part of the crew or a random person?  This leads to other questions about the movie.  I loved the supportive atmosphere by the musicians and music executives, but were those simply for the camera?  Nashville came off as a wonderful place to explore music, but I couldn't help but think it was a partial marketing message.  And the slow pace of the film could definitely be a negative as sometimes Wheeler will just go off on tangents; something that would not be too uncommon in a real documentary but it felt a little odd in a movie.  And the film is a fun journey but does seem to end too quickly for my liking.  I wanted to see more of Wheeler's story and hear more of his songs.

Wheeler is an interesting experiment with a transformative performance by Stephen Dorff, letting you follow the wonderful music and savor the views of his alter ego.

Rent it.

Meredith Mosley	...	Self Erika Wollam Nichols	Erika Wollam Nichols	...	Bluebird Host Jimmy Nichols	Jimmy Nichols	...	Self Wayne Pierce	Wayne Pierce	...	Self Harold Ross	Harold Ross	...	Self Ryan Ross	Ryan Ross	...	Bobby Ross Jimmie Lee Sloas	Jimmie Lee Sloas	...	Self Jimmy Stegall	Jimmy Stegall	...	Self Blair Thomas	Blair Thomas	...	Self Marcia Campbell Thomas	Marcia Campbell Thomas	...	Radio DJ Biff Watson	Biff Watson	...	Self Craig White	Craig White	...	Curb Studio Engineer Michael Woodrum	Michael Woodrum	...	Kristofferson Studio Engineer Roxie Randle	Roxie Randle	...	Extra (uncredited)   Directed by  Ryan Ross	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Stephen Dorff	 Ryan Ross
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Wheeler was originally released in 2017, but has been rereleased on Bluray and digital on March 30, 2021.

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

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Giveaway: Win Tickets To See Voyagers In Theaters And A Prize Pack!

Tye Sheridan	...	Christopher Lily-Rose Depp	Lily-Rose Depp	...	Sela Fionn Whitehead	Fionn Whitehead	...	Zac Chanté Adams	Chanté Adams	...	Phoebe Quintessa Swindell	Quintessa Swindell	...	Julie Archie Madekwe	Archie Madekwe	...	Kai Isaac Hempstead Wright	Isaac Hempstead Wright	...	Edward Viveik Kalra	Viveik Kalra	...	Peter Madison Hu	Madison Hu	...	Anda Archie Renaux	Archie Renaux	...	Alex Wern Lee	Wern Lee	...	Tayo Colin Farrell	Colin Farrell	...	Richard April Grace	April Grace	...	Mission Director Laura Dreyfuss	Laura Dreyfuss	...	IVF Technician Veronica Falcón	Veronica Falcón	...	Marianne Sancar

We have partnered with Lionsgate for an OUT OF THIS WORLD giveaway.  Enter now for your chance to win a pass to see Voyagers in theaters and a Voyagers Prize Pack!  Voyagers is a new science fiction film in theaters now that is a near future Lord of the Flies (check out the review).  With the future of the human race at stake, a group of young men and women, bred for intelligence and obedience, embark on an expedition to colonize a distant planet. But when they uncover disturbing secrets about the mission, they defy their training and begin to explore their most primitive natures. As life on the ship descends into chaos, they’re consumed by fear, lust, and the insatiable hunger for power.  It stars Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan, Fionn Whitehead, and Lily-Rose Depp!  

The prize packs will include:

Various Promotional Items (tank top, fanny pack, wireless charger)

(1) Atom ticket code to be redeemed for a pair of passes to see VOYAGERS in theaters.

The contest runs from now until April 14, 2021.  Winners will be notified on April 14, 2021 so I can verify the entry and get a mailing address.  

The Atom ticket codes are valid through April 30.

Patrick Bucur	...	Christopher - 4 years old Rufus Bateman	Rufus Bateman	...	Zac - 4 years old Jaquelin Capusan	Jaquelin Capusan	...	Sela - 4 years old Rafi Wilder	Rafi Wilder	...	Christopher - 8 years old (as Raphael Wilder) Antonia Dragoman	Antonia Dragoman	...	Sela - 8 years old Lou Llobell	Lou Llobell	...	Zandie Reda Elazouar	Reda Elazouar	...	Mallick Mariska Ariya	Mariska Ariya	...	Maya Theodor Soptelea	Theodor Soptelea	...	Paul (as Theadore Soptelea) Andrei Cristian Anghel	Andrei Cristian Anghel	...	Andrei (as Andrei Anghel) Vu Hoang Viet	Vu Hoang Viet	...	Vu Saleh Mohamed Daoud	Saleh Mohamed Daoud	...	Moos (as Saleh Mohamed) Pan Jiaqiang	Pan Jiaqiang	...	Pan Nicholas Samuel Sealey	Nicholas Samuel Sealey	...	Sam (as Samuel Sealey) Elena Raducanu	Elena Raducanu	...	Elena Ioana Brumar	Ioana Brumar	...	Mihaela Julienne Kadima	Julienne Kadima	...	Kadima Phan T. Thao	Phan T. Thao	...	Phan Petruta Petrea	Petruta Petrea	...	Petra