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Archives for : Horror

Top 10 Best Films of 2019

10. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Right off the bat, I’m already intrigued by any film about Charles Manson and the infamous murders. But if you slap on Tarantino’s name and his all-star cast, I’m pretty much sold. “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” is hilarious, surprising and a whole lot of fun.  Not to mention, Brad Pitt is my favorite male supporting performance this year.

9. Honey Boy

“Honey Boy” is a therapy session we have no business sitting in on, but we’re grateful to be there. The film gradually reveals the tragedies and misdeeds that shaped Shia LaBouf. We gain a better and beneficial understanding of the actor, as well as empathy for his father, who ended up being a blessing and a curse in his life. “Honey Boy” is still my favorite original screenplay of the year. It’s intense, powerful, and an all-around great film.

8. Bombshell

Okay, before anyone gets political about this movie, let me remind you that the film is about the lawsuit again Roger Ailes and the other men involved in sexually harassing certain female employees at Fox News. It’s a gripping “ripped from the headlines” story that depicts abuse of power and the struggles women face in the work place. Theron, Robbie, and Kidman shine, while Charles Randolph’s script pulls you in and holds you tight.

7. Knives Out

“Knives Out” showcases Rian Johnson’s remarkable artistry as a writer/director. The film follows a fairly standard murder mystery formula in its initial set up. But as the mystery begins to unfold, there’s enough twists and turns to prove nothing is what it seems. Audiences are left guessing till the very end. Throw in a stellar cast and great social commentary, and you’ve got one of the best whodunit movies.

6. Booksmart

At first glance you may be thinking that this is just a female version of “Superbad”. While there are times that it feels reminiscent of that film, “Booksmart” is its own kind of wonderful. There’s a great message about balancing hard work and a social life, and through Kaitlyn Dever’s and Beanie Feldstein’s chemistry and quick-witted performance, we also learn that if you can go through life with just one good friend then you can count yourself lucky.  Olivia Wilde succeeds in making a hilarious, raunchy teen comedy from a female perspective. It’s a rarity that’s a true pleasure to watch.

5. Little Women

Why make another “Little Women” adaptation? Because we all needed Greta Gerwig’s magical touch on this delightful tale. Gerwig taps into the same honest vulnerability she succeed in through her Oscar nominated film, “Lady Bird”. Because the truth is, she knows how to write complex and emotional characters.”Little Women” is a beautiful and uplifting movie with a message that women’s stories and their endeavors are worth telling.

4. Long Shot

I’ve said this before, but romantic comedies are a dying genre. So when there’s actually a refreshing spin on one with a good story, I have to give it credit. Honestly, I just enjoyed the hell out of “Long Shot”. And believe it or not, Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen make a great couple. The film goes beyond the clichés of a “Pretty Women” storyline. Fred (Rogen) doesn’t get some big makeover to become a socially acceptable partner for Charlotte (Theron). Instead, the film is about being with someone who you’re truly yourself with and loves you for YOU. Whether it be at a raging night club or elegant gala, the two are always goofing around in a flirty/romantic manner that everyone can admire.

3. Avengers: Endgame

This one doesn’t need much of an explanation, because this film was AWESOME! After 10 years and 21 films, Marvel carefully weaved all these characters and storylines together to create one of the best super hero movies of all time. Watching these beloved characters fight together in the battle we’ve anticipated for so long brought me tears of joy and sadness. More than anything, I’m proud of “Avengers: Endgame”.

2. Marriage Story

Yes, this film is about a couple, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) getting a divorce. But, there’s so much more to this movie. First off, Driver and Johansson give two of the best performances of the year. There is a screaming match between these two that makes me want to give them both the Oscar right now. There’s also so much to learn. You can take “Marriage Story” as a lesson in love. Get to know these characters, understand why they didn’t work as a couple and avoid their mistakes. A major one being lack of communication. And remember, this is a dark comedy.  So, even though there’s dark times, there’s also some laughs and sweet, lighthearted moments.

1. Jojo Rabbit

Director/writer/actor, Taika Waititi, plays an imaginary friend version of Hitler to a young boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis). Jojo is a Nazi fanboy who idolizes Adolf Hitler like a celebrity. But things change for Jojo when he discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a teenage Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. “Jojo Rabbit” is a satire that reminds audiences how comical and ridiculous it is to discriminate against people who are different from you. The film also does a wonderful job at relaying the message that kindness can prevail over evil. Stop the hate and open your hearts. “Jojo Rabbit” is an enlightening story with uplifting and positive values.

The Best of the Rest:

11. The Peanut Butter Falcon

12. The Perfection

13. Late Night

14. The Art of Self-Defense

15. Dolemite is My Name

16. Brittany Runs a Marathon

17. Parasite

18. Fighting with My Family

19. Blinded by the Light

20. Waves

Top 5 Worst Films of 2019

5. Greta – One of the worst Lifetime movies I’ve ever seen.

4. Dumbo –This was just so boring.

3. Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Lots of people died in this movie, but I can’t remember who any of them were.

2. Lucy in the Sky – The 3 men who made this might as well have blamed everything on Lucy’s period. God awful script.

1. Dora and the Lost City of Gold – No! Just no!

Trevor’s Top 10

Honorable Mention: Parasite
10. Little Women
9. Ready or Not
8. Dolemite is My Name
7. Bombshell
6. The King
5. Marriage Story
4. Jojo Rabbit
3. Long Shot
2. Rocketman
1. Avengers: Endgame

25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards Nominees

“THE IRISHMAN” LEADS FILM NOMINATIONS FOR 25TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

NETFLIX GARNERS 61 TOTAL NOMINATIONS, HBO EARNS 33

GALA EVENT WILL AIR LIVE ON THE CW NETWORK SUNDAY, JANUARY 12, 2020 FROM THE BARKER HANGAR IN SANTA MONICA

 The Critics Choice Association (CCA) announced today the nominees for the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards. The winners will be revealed at the star-studded Critics’ Choice Awards gala, which will once again be hosted by film, television, and stage star Taye Diggs, and broadcast live on The CW Television Network on Sunday, January 12 from 7:00 – 10:00 pm ET (delayed PT).

FILM NOMINATIONS FOR THE 25TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

BEST PICTURE

1917

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit

Joker

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Parasite

Uncut Gems

BEST ACTOR

Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory

Robert De Niro – The Irishman

Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Adam Driver – Marriage Story

Eddie Murphy – Dolemite Is My Name

Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems

BEST ACTRESS

Awkwafina – The Farewell

Cynthia Erivo – Harriet

Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story

Lupita Nyong’o – Us

Saoirse Ronan – Little Women

Charlize Theron – Bombshell

Renée Zellweger – Judy

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse

Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes

Al Pacino – The Irishman

Joe Pesci – The Irishman

Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Laura Dern – Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit

Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers

Florence Pugh – Little Women

Margot Robbie – Bombshell

Zhao Shuzhen  – The Farewell

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS

Julia Butters – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Roman Griffin Davis – Jojo Rabbit

Noah Jupe – Honey Boy

Thomasin McKenzie – Jojo Rabbit

Shahadi Wright Joseph – Us

Archie Yates – Jojo Rabbit

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE

Bombshell

The Irishman

Knives Out

Little Women

Marriage Story

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Parasite

BEST DIRECTOR

Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story

Greta Gerwig – Little Women

Bong Joon Ho – Parasite

Sam Mendes – 1917

Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie – Uncut Gems

Martin Scorsese – The Irishman

Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story

Rian Johnson – Knives Out

Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won – Parasite

Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Lulu Wang – The Farewell

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Greta Gerwig – Little Women

Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Anthony McCarten – The Two Popes

Todd Phillips & Scott Silver – Joker

Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit

Steven Zaillian  – The Irishman

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Jarin Blaschke – The Lighthouse

Roger Deakins – 1917

Phedon Papamichael   – Ford v Ferrari

Rodrigo Prieto – The Irishman

Robert Richardson – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Lawrence Sher – Joker

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran – Joker

Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales  – 1917

Jess Gonchor, Claire Kaufman – Little Women

Lee Ha Jun – Parasite

Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Bob Shaw, Regina Graves – The Irishman

Donal Woods, Gina Cromwell – Downton Abbey

BEST EDITING

Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie – Uncut Gems

Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker – Ford v Ferrari

Yang Jinmo  – Parasite

Fred Raskin – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Thelma Schoonmaker – The Irishman

Lee Smith – 1917

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Ruth E. Carter – Dolemite Is My Name

Julian Day – Rocketman

Jacqueline Durran – Little Women

Arianne Phillips – Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson – The Irishman

Anna Robbins – Downton Abbey

BEST HAIR AND MAKEUP

Bombshell

Dolemite Is My Name

The Irishman

Joker

Judy

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Rocketman

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

1917

Ad Astra

The Aeronauts

Avengers: Endgame

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

The Lion King

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Abominable

Frozen II

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I Lost My Body

Missing Link

Toy Story 4

BEST ACTION MOVIE

1917

Avengers: Endgame

Ford v Ferrari

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Spider-Man: Far From Home

BEST COMEDY

Booksmart

Dolemite Is My Name

The Farewell

Jojo Rabbit

Knives Out

BEST SCI-FI OR HORROR MOVIE

Ad Astra

Avengers: Endgame

Midsommar

Us

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Atlantics

Les Misérables

Pain and Glory

Parasite

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

BEST SONG

Glasgow (No Place Like Home) – Wild Rose

(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again – Rocketman

I’m Standing With You – Breakthrough

Into the Unknown – Frozen II

Speechless – Aladdin

Spirit – The Lion King

Stand Up – Harriet

BEST SCORE

Michael Abels – Us

Alexandre Desplat   – Little Women

Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker

Randy Newman – Marriage Story

Thomas Newman  – 1917

Robbie Robertson – The IrishmanN

TELEVISION NOMINATIONS FOR THE 25TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE AWARDS

BEST DRAMA SERIES

The Crown (Netflix)

David Makes Man (OWN)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

Pose (FX)

Succession (HBO)

This Is Us (NBC)

Watchmen (HBO)

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC)

Mike Colter – Evil (CBS)

Paul Giamatti – Billions (Showtime)

Kit Harington – Game of Thrones (HBO)

Freddie Highmore – The Good Doctor (ABC)

Tobias Menzies – The Crown (Netflix)

Billy Porter – Pose (FX)

Jeremy Strong – Succession (HBO)

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Christine Baranski – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

Olivia Colman – The Crown (Netflix)

Jodie Comer – Killing Eve (BBC America)

Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies (HBO)

Regina King – Watchmen (HBO)

Mj Rodriguez – Pose (FX)

Sarah Snook – Succession (HBO)

Zendaya – Euphoria (HBO)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Asante Blackk – This Is Us (NBC)

Billy Crudup – The Morning Show (Apple)

Asia Kate Dillon – Billions (Showtime)

Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones (HBO)

Justin Hartley – This Is Us (NBC)

Delroy Lindo – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

Tim Blake Nelson – Watchmen (HBO)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Helena Bonham Carter – The Crown (Netflix)

Gwendoline Christie – Game of Thrones (HBO)

Laura Dern – Big Little Lies (HBO)

Audra McDonald – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)

Jean Smart – Watchmen (HBO)

Meryl Streep – Big Little Lies (HBO)

Susan Kelechi Watson – This Is Us (NBC)

BEST COMEDY SERIES

Barry (HBO)

Fleabag (Amazon)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

Mom (CBS)

One Day at a Time (Netflix)

PEN15 (Hulu)

Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Ted Danson – The Good Place (NBC)

Walton Goggins – The Unicorn (CBS)

Bill Hader – Barry (HBO)

Eugene Levy – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Paul Rudd – Living with Yourself (Netflix)

Bashir Salahuddin – Sherman’s Showcase (IFC)

Ramy Youssef – Ramy (Hulu)

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Christina Applegate – Dead to Me (Netflix)

Alison Brie – GLOW (Netflix)

Rachel Brosnahan – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

Kirsten Dunst – On Becoming a God in Central Florida (Showtime)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep (HBO)

Catherine O’Hara – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge – Fleabag (Amazon)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)

Anthony Carrigan – Barry (HBO)

William Jackson Harper – The Good Place (NBC)

Daniel Levy – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Nico Santos – Superstore (NBC)

Andrew Scott – Fleabag (Amazon)

Henry Winkler – Barry (HBO)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Alex Borstein – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)

D’Arcy Carden – The Good Place (NBC)

Sian Clifford – Fleabag (Amazon)

Betty Gilpin – GLOW (Netflix)

Rita Moreno – One Day at a Time (Netflix)

Annie Murphy – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Molly Shannon – The Other Two (Comedy Central)

BEST LIMITED SERIES

Catch-22 (Hulu)

Chernobyl (HBO)

Fosse/Verdon (FX)

The Loudest Voice (Showtime)

Unbelievable (Netflix)

When They See Us (Netflix)

Years and Years (HBO)

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Brexit (HBO)

Deadwood: The Movie (HBO)

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)

Guava Island (Amazon)

Native Son (HBO)

Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)

BEST ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Christopher Abbott – Catch-22 (Hulu)

Mahershala Ali – True Detective (HBO)

Russell Crowe – The Loudest Voice (Showtime)

Jared Harris – Chernobyl (HBO)

Jharrel Jerome – When They See Us (Netflix)

Sam Rockwell – Fosse/Verdon (FX)

Noah Wyle – The Red Line (CBS)

BEST ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Kaitlyn Dever – Unbelievable (Netflix)

Anne Hathaway – Modern Love (Amazon)

Megan Hilty – Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)

Joey King – The Act (Hulu)

Jessie Mueller – Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)

Merritt Wever – Unbelievable (Netflix)

Michelle Williams – Fosse/Verdon (FX)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Asante Blackk – When They See Us (Netflix)

George Clooney – Catch-22 (Hulu)

John Leguizamo – When They See Us (Netflix)

Dev Patel – Modern Love (Amazon)

Jesse Plemons – El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)

Stellan Skarsgård – Chernobyl (HBO)

Russell Tovey – Years and Years (HBO)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

Patricia Arquette – The Act (Hulu)

Marsha Stephanie Blake – When They See Us (Netflix)

Toni Collette – Unbelievable (Netflix)

Niecy Nash – When They See Us (Netflix)

Margaret Qualley – Fosse/Verdon (FX)

Emma Thompson – Years and Years (HBO)

Emily Watson – Chernobyl (HBO)

BEST ANIMATED SERIES

Big Mouth (Netflix)

BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix)

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix)

The Simpsons (Fox)

Undone (Amazon)

BEST TALK SHOW

Desus & Mero (Showtime)

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS)

The Kelly Clarkson Show (NBC)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)

Late Night with Seth Meyers (NBC)

BEST COMEDY SPECIAL 

Amy Schumer: Growing (Netflix)

Jenny Slate: Stage Fright (Netflix)

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons (ABC)

Ramy Youssef: Feelings (HBO)

Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby (Netflix)

Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia (Netflix)

Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (Netflix)

Fantastic Fest Reviews: “The True Adventures of Wolfboy” & “Homewrecker”

Martin Krejci’s “The True Adventures of Wolfboy”

The True Adventures of Wolf Boy

“The Adventures of Wolfboy features an all-star cast including Jaeden Martell, Chris Messina, and Chloe Sevigny. The film is about Paul (Martell), a young boy with Hypertrichosis – a disease that causes him to have hair all over him, making him look like a wolf. Paul is bullied and feels alone in this world, even though he has a supportive and loving father (Messina) who only wants to make Paul happy.

On Paul’s 13th birthday, he receives a mysterious gift from his estranged mother. He sneaks out of the house on a journey to find her, and hopes she has an explanation for his condition. In an attempt to make money, he stops at the local circus. He ends up gaining an enemy in Mr. Silk (John Turturro). While on the run, Paul eventually makes some new friends, including Aristiana (Sophie Giannamore). This adventure quickly turns into a wild ride.

The film is far from original, and it’s a pretty basic story. Luckily, there are one or two surprises in there that make up for its predictability. And even though the premise is familiar, “The True Adventures of Wolfboy” finds a sweet way to portray the message of self-acceptance.

Side note: This film’s soundtrack was the best of the fest!

Rating: 3.5/5

Zach Gayne’s “Homewrecker”

Homewrecker

Lifetime should pick up this movie right way. It is basically made for TV gold.

“Homewrecker” follows Michelle (Alex Essoe), a young woman who has clearly been stalked by a slightly older and unhinged Linda (Precious Chong). After a “chance encounter” at a cafe, Linda persuades Michelle to stop by her house for a business opportunity. What was supposed to be a quick visit, turns into a nightmare.

There are a lot of problems with this movie. The editing is questionable. Mainly the bath bomb transitions that throw off the flow of the film. The script is hardly original or good, and everyone besides the two leads are weak actors. At the same time, there’s a lot to like!

Essoe is a terrific actress; quite possibly too good for this movie. Chong does a fantastic job at playing a deranged stranger whose blank stares are enough to freak anyone out. It’s actually these two who make the film a pleasure. Watching these two go from one extreme to another is a lot of fun. Bouncing from a friendship, to jealousy, to hate, to sympathizing with one another, and the emotions go on.

This is honestly a ridiculous film and an avoidable situation. But somehow, Essoe and Chong make it work. So much so, that I didn’t want their madness to end. If you like the typical Lifetime movie formula, then you’ll enjoy the hell out of “Homewrecker”.

Rating: 3/5

Fantastic Fest Reviews: “First Love”, “The Golden Glove”, & “Butt Boy”

Takashi Miike’s “First Love”

First Love

Leo (Masataka Kubota) is a young boxer who lacks almost any kind of emotion, even when he wins a match. But when he discovers he doesn’t have much time left to live; an unexpected chain of events happens that involve drugs, the Yakuza, corrupt cops, and Monica- a female escort who is need of a hero. It’s a hell of night to say the least.

I’ll admit, this was my first Miike film and I was told this one was tame in comparison to his other movies like “Audition” and “13 Assassins”. However, “tame” isn’t the word I would use to describe this movie. It’s an action packed bone crushing, head cutting, blood fest!

Not only was I entertained by the graphic violence, but the screenplay is hilarious. The film is very self-aware of how comical this chaotic situation has gotten. It’s John Wick meets Guy Ritchie in Japan! I highly recommend this one.

Rating: 4/5

Faith Akin’s “The Golden Glove”

The Golden Glove

Oh man this movie was gross! I just have to start by saying, it’s been a while since a film made me physically gag, and I’m still not certain if that’s a good or bad thing. I guess I can say “The Golden Glove” is affective.

“The Golden Glove is about Fritz Honka (Jonas Dassler), the serial killer who murdered four elderly prostitutes in Germany during the 1970’s. Fritz isn’t the most appealing man to look at. He lives like a slob, and his murders are gruesome. There are many reasons why this film will have your stomachs churning. Beginning with the opening scene. Let’s just say it sets the tone perfectly for what you’re about to endure for the next two hours.

The film has already received a lot of backlash for being too vile, and unnecessarily disgusting. Though Honka’s actions are vile, how else would you have a film about this psychotic murder portrayed?

“The Golden Glove” will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an unforgettable one and done for myself. I can’t say I enjoyed watching this film, but I’m pretty sure my reactions throughout the movie were probably what the filmmaker was going for. So in that sense, I can respect this movie.

Rating: 3/5

Tyler Cornack’s “Butt Boy”

Butt Boy

Yes, the title of the film “Butt Boy” insinuates what you’re probably thinking. This film is about a man, Chip (Tyler Cornack), who goes in for his first prostate examine and discovers he likes it more than he expected. Suddenly a little boy has gone missing, and the connection between the two instances will have you dumbfounded.

I hate to say that I was so disappointed in this film. The premise and the beginning had me sucked in, but the second half of the film went straight to shit (pun intended). The acting is mediocre. And though the plot is unique, it’s far too ridiculous to even enjoy.

With the right mind set, “Butt Boy” could appeal to a particular audience. Remind yourself that this is more of a sci-fi comedy, and maybe you’ll gain some entertainment value.

Rating: 2/5

Movie Review: “It Chapter Two” & “Brittany Runs a Marathon”

“It Chapter Two” is darker, scarier, and longer than the first. “Brittany Runs a Marathon” is a heartfelt dramedy that you sprint to see. Check out my full review of both films in video below.

“It Chapter Two” & “Brittany Runs a Marathon” hit in theaters September 6.

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Movie Review: “Pet Sematary”

 

The horrors keep on coming! The past two months we’ve been treated to two highly anticipated “scary movies”. Pet Sematary that might have been better left dead, but there are still a few scares. Check out my ICTN review of the film, along with Jordan Peele’s box office smash, “Us”.

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Movie Review: “Us” Cuts Deep and Beyond the Superficial Scares

Image result for us movie

Coming off of a critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated directorial debut (Get Out), Jordan Peele had a lot riding on his sophomore feature, Us. But let’s just get the question that’s on your mind out of the way now. Us is not better than Get Out, and don’t go into the movie expecting it will be. If you enter the theater with that mindset from the start, you’re more likely to enjoy this all new twisted, weekend getaway.

Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) and her husband Gabe (Winston Duke) have taken their two children, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and Jason (Evan Alex) to their family beach house expecting to unplug and unwind. Still scared from events that happened at the Santa Cruz boardwalk when she was a child, Adelaide is on edge from every strange or coincidental occurrence. And as the day turns to night, Adelaide’s suspicions turn into reality when eerie, uninvited guests show up in their driveway. Here’s the kicker; they look exactly like Adelaide and her family. From then on, these doppelgangers have turned what was supposed to be a relaxing trip into a horrifying nightmare.

It comes as no surprise that the cast does an incredible job. Nyong’o impresses with versatility and standout performance. Duke shows off his comedic chops; and newcomers, Joseph and Alex, give breakout performances that will likely have them, once again, on our movie screens.

Us takes you on an intense, chaotic thrill ride that will keep you physically and emotionally on the edge of your seat till the very end. Compared to his previous movie, Peele cranks up the scares, the gore, and the humor. It’s a combination that absolutely delivers. His visual techniques and writing have the essence of a modern day Hitchcock, but Peele still stays true to his own unique style of film-making. However, after seeing Us, I think we might be looking at the new master of horror.

Just like one of the many themes in Us, with the good comes the bad. Unlike Get OutUs is not a “perfect” movie.  Besides the fact that it may run a tad longer than it should (this is forgivable), there is A LOT to take in at first viewing. Get Out was straightforward and easy to understand, even though it had a complex narrative. To call Us “complex” would be an understatement. I’m still trying to figure out all the hidden meanings behind this one.  There are many layers you will only be able to peel back through multiple viewings. I already plan to watch the movie again this weekend. That being said, there are elements you’ll probably be able to figure out after first watch. One very obvious one is in the title. There’s a reason why Us has the same initials as the United States. Peele might be trying to tell us how he feels about the current status of our country and the way society treats outsiders.

Us cuts deep and leads you down a rabbit hole of theories. What has the world come to?  Do we need a fresh start? Do I have an evil, dark side? Though the questions you might have could be overwhelming, there’s no denying that Us is a witty and wickedly, entertaining horror flick.

I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele has in store for us next!

Rating: 4.5/5

Us hits theaters March 22!

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Movie Review: “Happy Death Day 2U” isn’t a Film I’d Want to Relive Again

It sadness me to write this review, because I really loved the first “Happy Death Day”. It was such a pleasant surprise. It was reminiscent of the “Scream” era and provided the same kind of “whodunit” feel that kept you guessing till the very end.

In “Happy Death Day”, sorority girl, Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe), wakes up hungover on her birthday in her nerdy classmate, Carter’s (Isreal Broussard) dorm room. We got a peek into her daily life and learned she ignored her father’s call, she was sleeping with her married professor, and constantly belittled others. That night Tree was stabbed to death by someone in a disturbing baby mask. She then wakes up, and was forced to keep reliving her birthday with each day ending in her being murdered in some gruesome way until she discovered who was trying to kill her.

In “Happy Death Day 2U” Jessica Rothe reprises her role as Tree for a second helping of death day cake only to have it spoiled. Tree believes she has finally broken the loops after killing the person who was trying to murder her.  She’s now a different person. A better person in fact. Unfortunately, she’s wrong. Her now boyfriend, Carter’s roommate, Ryan (Phi Vu) has been working a college science project that was actually the cause of the repeated days. It’s even causing another loop into a parallel dimension. Tree gets sucked into that parallel world, and must relieve another murderous day until she discovers the new killer and the algorithm (will go right over your head) to get back to her original reality.

As I describe the premise, I’m already losing interest. The minute I saw this time machine, the exact thought that popped in my head was, “CRAP!” This sequel immediately feels more like a Disney Channel movie rather than a comedy/horror. All of the sudden we’re watching a cheesy comedy about girl deciding what’s more important, her boyfriend or her mom. And when the new killer is finally revealed, you could care less!  I honestly forgot about the killer because they become irrelevant. And the slapstick comedy is so cringe-worthy at times. Just look out for a scene with a fake blind girl and you’ll know what I mean.

At this point you might think I just hated the film all together, but there are some salvageable parts. Rothe is just as charismatic and enjoyable as she was the first time around. This girl really has a knack for comedy. And though I harped a little on it earlier, there are some mother/daughter sequences that hit you right in the feels.  Had the film gone in a different direction, I would have appreciated that story-line a lot more.

Yes, I would have been perfectly fine if they didn’t make “Happy Death Day 2U”, but they did. So should you see it? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but sure…ONLY if you saw and liked its predecessor. It’s not a must watch, but there are some interesting developments. That being said, I would recommend you save your money and make this one a rental.

Rating: 2/5

“Happy Death Day 2 U” opens in theaters February 13.

Fantastic Fest Reviews: “Halloween”, “An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn” & “Cam”

Halloween (2018)

The opening night film at Fantastic Fest was none other than the highly anticipated sequel, Halloween (2018). Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode to come face-to-face with masked serial killer, Michael Myers, who has haunted her since the traumatic night four decades ago.

The film is inspired by John Carpenter’s classic. But filmmakers David Gordon Green and Danny McBride decided to ignore all the other sequels that followed the original Halloween from 1978, and create a story that changes Laurie’s past. In other words, 40 years later Laurie is a bad ass. Michael Myers is not her brother. And, she’s prepared to take on whatever he throws her way.

Laurie Strode is one hell of a grandma in Halloween (2018). Though her daughter (Judy Greer) still resents her for making her grow up as a survivalist since childhood, her granddaughter, Allyson, (Andi Matichak) adores her. This creates tension anytime the family is all together. It isn’t until Halloween night that Michael Myers returns to wreak havoc, and finally finish the job he started 40 years ago. Only this time he’s up against 3 generations of Strode women.

Halloween (2018) far from a stand out horror flick. We’re basically seeing the same formula just different ways of murder. However, this film is a lot of fun! McBride’s writing shines throughout the film, and it’s the comic relief that provides any sort of originality. But don’t get me wrong, I love this formula and it’s great to see Curtis back in action in a role she handles so naturally. The movie entertains the whole time through and will leave you satisfied.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn

Surprisingly enough, the people that brought us The Greasy Strangler, which I hated; has now made An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, which I really liked a lot. Jim Hosking is back with a second feature that maintain his same style and his same personal dialect. Only this time, he let go of the nauseating grease murderers and swapped it out for characters we could actually care for.

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) stars a Lulu Danger, a recently unemployed woman who is unsatisfied with her marriage to sleazy Shane Danger (Emile Hirsch) and life all together. In an attempt to fix the couples financial troubles, Shane steals from his brother-in-law. Which then makes him the target of the world’s worst hitman (Jermaine Clement). But Lulu sees this as an opportunity, she runs off with the hitman in hopes that he can help her track down her old flame, Beverly Luff Linn (Craig Robinson).

This offbeat comedy takes a minute to warm up to. You might not be sure of the flow it’s taking. But once it gets going, it’s actually quite delightful. The all-star cast does a fantastic job, and this might be my favorite performance by Aubrey Plaza. There’s a very unique and corky chemistry between Plaza and Clement that’s almost endearing.

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is the light-hearted deadpan comic relief that I was craving during a marathon of graphic horrors at Fantastic Fest.

Rating: 4/5

 

Cam

After letting Cam marinate for a bit, it quickly became one of my favorite films of the fest. Daniel Goldhaber’s feature debut is smart, sexy, and disturbing.

The film stars Madeline Brewer (Orange is the New Black and The Handmaid’s Tale) as Alice, a young web cam girl who is on the rise to breaking top 50 rank on a pornographic site.  Alice lives a normal life by day, but at night she is “Lola” and constantly comes up with wild narratives to spice up her online shows. She is anxious to reach the top and beat out the other cam girls in the network. However, she never breaks her 3 rules: No public shows, no fake orgasms, and never telling “her guys” that she loves them.

Just when Alice is moving up in her ranking, she has an unwelcoming surprise when she sees a girl who looks just like her live on her web cam profile. Frantic and paranoid, Alice is on a mission to find out who has taken her identity and stolen her top rank.

Even though 60 percent of Cam consists of a bunch of web cam girls performing erotic acts, the film is incredibly magnetizing. It’s as if you’re in a trance the minute the film begins and you can’t stop watching. The neon lighting, the shocking sequences, and the captivating performance by Brewer is enough to suck you in.

Cam is the movie you didn’t know you wanted to see. It’s a tantalizing thrill-ride with a bone-crushing end that will leave you wanting more.

Rating: 4.5/5

Fantastic Fest Interview: Allison Williams & Richard Shepard talk “The Perfection”

Richard Shepard, Allison Williams, and Logan Browning on the red carpet at Fantastic Fest for the premiere of “The Perfection”.

 

This was my first year at Fantastic Fest and I was treated to a lot of great movies. But the one that stands above the rest was Richard Shepard’s (The Matador and Dom Hemingway) horror-thriller, The Perfection.

The film follows Charlotte (Allison Williams), a former child prodigy cellist, who after a decade returns to the people that helped train and groom her into the powerhouse sensation she once was. However, another woman Elizabeth (Logan Browning), has taken her place and what unfolds after the two’s meeting is better left a mystery until viewing.

Director Richard Shepard explained his inspiration behind the movie came from the structure of Korean movies like Old Boy and The Handmaiden. “American movies don’t do that sort of structure and I had been itching to do a film with horror elements.”

Allison Williams (Girls and Get Out) stars alongside Dear White People’s, Logan Browning. Both give unforgettable performances that will have audiences squirming in their seats. While the two were magnetic on screen, they were also helpful behind the scenes. “I invited both Allison and Logan in the editing room because I felt, Oh they’re going to be able to help me see things I may not see. Because an actor inherently has a bullshit detector that a lot of people don’t have. Because it’s so hard to be an actor. Actors really have to lose themselves and if something feels false, they know it almost more than anyone,” said Shepard.

Without giving too much away, you’re never certain which direction this intense thrill ride is going take until the very end. But the journey getting there is a good one. “I wish there was a way, and I guess there is, to attach some kind of monitoring system to audiences watching this movie. About like who they trust, what they think the plot is, throughout the movie; and it would be like an EKG and like spiking, you know? And I think that’s one of the things Richard does so well. As an audience member watching, you know that whoever made it is in control of it. So it’s not that awful feeling of I don’t know what’s going on and I think I’m supposed to know what’s going on. You’re like I know exactly as much as the filmmaker wants me to know in this moment, and it’s really fun not knowing anything more than that,” explained Williams.

Finding the balance of making a movie that keeps the audience on its toes while still maintaining focus is a rare skill.  And often times, a film that tries to trick the audience too much can result in a mess. Luckily, The Perfection never veers off track. “I believe that if that we can keep the audience off kilter, but at the same time have them care about the characters even when their doing stuff that they can’t believe their doing; they still care for them. It’s also challenging because you don’t want to lose your audience. You want to make the surprises feel fun as opposed to confusing.” said Shepard.

Williams then went on to explain how the film immediately will have you hooked, “It takes guts to start it off with the film’s opening shots of just static like locked frames, and its muted colors and it’s clearly a sad scene. For a film buff, there’s sort of an embarrassment of riches in there. It sort of tells you everything you need to know about the movie, but you just have no idea yet. Most opening scenes of movies are sort of tangential to the actual plot of the movie, but hopefully they’re of the same caliber. This is much more informative than anyone will know until they finish watching the movie.”

Williams added that The Perfection is a film that should be seen twice as you will gain respect for it after a second viewing and realizing how deliberate everything was. “We labored over this. We cared about every millisecond of the movie. And it wasn’t until yesterday. There was a group of us that thought about every second we put into this. And it’s so vulnerable to care so much about something. And now it doesn’t belong to us anymore; it belongs to you guys.”

Though The Perfection may be baffling at first, just relax and let the film string you along. This is a performance that’s worth sitting through.

Rating: 5/5 (The title is self-explanatory, this film is a perfect score)

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