Monday, February 28, 2022

Long Walk (2021)


In trying to write up THE LONG WALK I turned to look at how my fellow writers handled discussing. I say that because the film is like an onion where each moment reveals something else that turns everything you thought you know on its head. Some people gave it all away and some people didn’t.

I’m going the I’m not saying anything route.

The film gets going as we meet a middle aged man who talks to ghosts. Picking up a crashed motorbike he meets one that can send him back to a time before his mother died. He then begins to travel back and forth…

And that’s all I dare say. There are numerous turns and I’m not going to spoil any of them.

I will say that this is a very good film that you should try to see. If you can, see it with as few distractions as possible. I say this because even though this is a low key film things happen. You really need to be focused on the film because you might miss something. I say this because I looked away for a moment and realized I missed a bit and had to back it up.

That said if you like quite genre bending films (this is kind of a character study with a thriller and drama mixed in) or films that are completely off the beaten path THE LONG WALK is a must.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FILM FESTIVAL 2022 CURTAIN RAISER


NYICFF is one of the  great film festivals of any year. Started by parents who wanted to get their kids into film the festival has grown over the years and it also spun off G-Kids one of the finest film distribution companies in the world.


This year the festival is back in person, with the films for Tots playing virtually, and I couldn’t be happier.


Because I am taking advantage of the in person our early coverage is only going to be reposts of films we saw at other festivals. However because I know the festival from the last 22 plus years of existence I have no trouble in saying if you see something that intrigues you buy a ticket and go…. And go to the short films  because honestly in almost every fetival they have contained most of the truly best films. There is a a reason this is an Oscar Qualifying festival, and that is their choices of films kicks serious bottoms.


For tickets and more information go here

A RENDEZ-VOUS WITH FRENCH CINEMA 2022 CURTAIN RAISER


The annual look at French movies starts Thursday night at Lincoln Center. This annual festival is some times poopooed by some snotty critics because it doesn’t always have the big  French films (largely because they have been snapped up by mainstream distributors)  but they always have the glitz and clamor by bringing in a lot of big stars to do Q&As. This year they have brought  in Claire Denis, Juliette Binoche,Arnaud Desplechin, Mathieu Amalric & Vicky Krieps. As for the films, they may not be the best known films but more time than not they are the better films with a number of the films this year ending up on my Best of the Year lists.

Because of circumstances I have only seen a couple of films so I’m going to refrain from doing a recommended list since everything I’ve seen is good.

Reviews will start later in the week and  I’m hoping to catch up with a few more films during the festival.

For tickets and more information go here

Brief thoughts on DIRTY FEATHERS (2021) Neighboring Scenes 2022


This a moving portrait of a homeless community of the Mexico US border.

Shot in stark black and white with an eye toward portraiture, the film pulls us in a way that walks a perfect line between typical documentary and a verité portrait. It’s a film with a great respect for everyone on screen, with director Carlos Alfonso Corral  giving us a beautiful film that transcends typical films like this, transforming it into a song of humanity and life.

This is absolutely lovely and highly recommended.

MY BROTHERS DREAM AWAKE (2021) Neighboring Scenes


Two brothers are sent to juvenile hall where they fall in with a group of friends who help keep things sane. However when a new rebellious teen arrives things begin to heat up.

Based on a an actual incident this is a solid drama about brothers, friendship and life in a lock up situation. Largely not following the typical conventions of “prison” films the film gives us a view of life we don’t typically see in the movies. Its a prison that is slightly less brutal than what we expect. Its not you typical band of harden kids. The result is more emotion and our leaning into the film because it's not doing what we expect. It also breaks our hearts when tragedy stikes.

I Really liked the film a great deal.

Recommended

Saturday, February 26, 2022

The Brink Of... (2022) Golden State Film Festival 2022


"He's probably better for you than me"

"But I'm not better for him"

 Lena and James are the band The Brink Of...  As they were ending a six month tour and right after an influencer tweets put them on the radar of the world at large, they disappear. As the film begins the duo is back and are on a radio show explaining what happened.

If you know director Patrick Meaney you will think either of his comic work both as a documenary filmmaker (he's profiled Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison and Chris Claremont) or as a writer, or you may know him as the director of the horror film HOUSE OF DEMONS. He would not be someone you instantly think of as a director of a sweet musical romance, but with THE BRINK OF.... he makes  romance films his own.

Beautifully acted and posessing a kick ass group of songs THE BRINK OF... soars. Director Meaney has fashioned a heartfelt and moving film. Its a film that had me misty at the end, not because it manipulated me but because it has given us a couple of people we can really root for. We like them  from frame one and are willing to go anywhere with them.


What I love is that in fashioning a love story Meaney has taken the romantic formula and used its tropes against us. I'm going to be honest and say there was a time when I just liked the film. The film was doing everything it was supposed to and hitting all the points exactly right but it didn't seem to be going the extra mile. It was technically great but it didn't seem to have all the emotion wired up to the power box... but at a perectly placed moment there is scene where the script clicks and you realize that while we were distracted with the songs and other things Meaney was laying in the heavy gauge wire so when the big moment cmes so do the the tears (and big yelp of joy which scared the neighbors). Everything that seemed to be throwaways cmed crashing it with a weight we never suspected. Simply put THE BRINK OF... does what few films do these days and gets the emotion and love of the audience by earning it and not manipulating us. 

Nicolette Norgaard and Tim Hoffman kick it out of the park. They make us believe that they coud be a  couple everyone knows are destined for each other but who refuse to see it. Indeed they manage to make that notion a perfectly played running gag. The pair also wrote their own songs and the emotion in them make the film even more special. Frankly while Patrick Meaney may have created the framework for the story, Norgaard and Hoffman's music, and their performances give the film life.

This film blew me away. Not just because I was sent the film totally blind and had no idea what it was at all, but because the film is just so damn good.

You must see this film because it will make you feel good.

The film World Premieres February 27 at the Golden State Film Festival and tickets and more information can be found here.

Look for mre on the film and an interview with director Patrick Meaney soon.

WORLD ENDS AT CAMP Z


In the wake of a camp ground being sold, the zombie apocalypse happens.

Uneven comedy horror film isn't really a horror film for a good portion of the film as we get a great deal of exposition and character development before the film shifts gears and the zombies attack. It's on odd mix in that the zombie material, while good kind of seems out of place. In a weird way it kind of feels like this was supposed to be one thing and then the producers kind of realized that more people would watch the film if we put some zombies in it. I know the monsters are what drew me to the film.

While the film isn't bad, it's actually pretty good as these sort of low budget films go, it is kind of schizophrenic in that its trying to be two things at the same time and sort of short selling both. 

That being said, it's still worth a look for zombie fans since it is better than many other zombie films out there.

Splinters (2021) Neighboring Scenes 2022

 


Not long after Natalia Garayalde's family got a video recorder the military factory in her hometown of Río Tercero, and which was hundreds of meters by her house, blew up destroying the factory and the neighborhood. Natalia Garayalde recorded the events. Years later she assembles the footage she shot into a document of what happened.

Frightening verité look at a terrifying event. It’s a you are there look where the intimacy is uncomfortable. I say this because we see things in ways that no news crew would ever show or shoot largely because they would never be instantly on location to see people staggering around in shock and unexploded bombs lying willy nilly. That anyone thought to record is some how a miracle. We the devastation and then Garayalde shifts gears and cuts in footage of the official response. As a result we get a sense of why it happened.

This film is devestating. Its a film that puts us front and center in a way most of us have never experienced. It will rock your world.

Recommended

Friday, February 25, 2022

Wish You Were Here (2021)


I love Shaun Clark. He is one of my all time favorite filmmakers. If you want to know why, it’s because every film I’ve ever seen from him is something completely different. He’s done takes on Poe and Shakespeare and now a simple day at the beach.

WISH YOU WERE HERE is a day at the beach. It begins with a single shot of a man digging by the water and then it becomes something else as more and more people show up.  Eventually they all leave… and in between it’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages. Its funny not just because of "jokes" but because of the "ah yes" connections that make you see things in new ways

Actually what it is completely out there as people play frisbee, deal with the rain, drive around on a chair, read and repeat.….if I had to compare it to anything it would be the Python animation of Terry Gilliam, however at the same time Clark’s sensibility is bent in a different way and his visual style is completely his own. If I walked into any of Shaun Clark’s films I would know it was his film even if he worked in someone else’s territory because it is always clearly his world view; as such the comparison to Python is purely is only used so you kind of have an idea of what  Clark is doing, the reality is the film and Clark's work is gloriously his own thing.(And it is on just as high a level)

Simply put this film is a masterpiece. Its  surreal treat of the highest order. It’s a film that makes you feel good in the best sort of way.

Brief thoughts on CREATION STORIES which opens today


With CREATION STORIES opening today here is the brief piece I wrote for last year's Tribeca

I've been asked to hold my review of CREATION STORIES for the release, which is fine by me since they want to give people a chance to discover it on their own. I completely understand that. The film is a stream of consciousness memory play as Creation Records founder Alan McGee remembers everything while on a drug fueled trip to LA. Its kind of like an amped up TRAINSPOTTING with history crashing in. Its got a kick ass sound track and is waiting to be discovered by anyone wanting a wild and crazy ride. Trust me on this- its a one of a kind film that no words can explain- you just have to see it- and that my friends is a rave. (notice its coming at the end of the must see list.)

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Brief thoughts on Me and the Beasts (2021) Neighboring Scenes


Andres is kicked out of his band for political reasons. As he tries to sort out what to do he encounters some people who make him want to compose new music.

I have been sitting on this review for a while now. While I like the film, I really don't knw what to say about it. The problem is that my thoughts of the film are nonverbal consiting of recalling some of the music and being hanted by the two figures clad in yellow (see above).  Say what you will it's the images that I remember.

DO yourself a favor become haunted and go see this film when it plays at Neighboring Scenes


Red Star (2021) Neighboring Scenes 2022


Cinematic essay about how 100 years ago Soviet thinkers thought the future would be red and that we would be living on Mars in a grand society.  Weaving together various streams of thought the film bounces from the wide open plains to the roofs of Russia to look at the past, how those living there saw the future and ponder how we ended up here.

Like most other essay films Red Star is hard to write up. Its not so much that there isn’t a lot to say, there is, the film is full of all sorts of thought and moments that will produce “ah ha”s from you; rather it’s simply that this is the sort of  film where you are taking a ride on a train. Yes I could tell you where it goes and what you’ll see, but that will take a great deal of fun out of the film. Personally I loved that I could go into the film more or less blind and simply allow the film to drive me across the world and on to Mars.

The best thing I can say is if you want to take a trip across time and space buy a ticket and take a ride.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

ABOUT EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW (2021) Neighbring Scenes 2022

 


The poet César Vallejo was born  in Santiago de Chuco in Peru. A group of filmmakers went to the small village in the Andes and interviewed the citizens and took in the local sights.  The result is a charming and very much alive film.

This is one of the hidden gems of Neighboring Scenes. It was a film I fell into and just went with smiling at it for the whole two or so hours. Its an insidious film that starts with two musicians talking on the street. We get swept up watching them talk. The film then switches to a man explaining how to play an old person. The discussion pulled me in and the next thing I new was I losing myself in the stories being told by the various people on screen.  Somehow the formalness of the interviews made it less so and it was like hanging out with someone you just met.

I was in heaven.

If you want to know why I love Neighboring Scenes it’s because every year I get to discovers wonders such as this.

Go see it.

Oxford Film Festival 2022 announces lineup of films, special events, and an honoree for March fest



 The 2022 Oxford Film Festival announces film lineup for 19th edition  (March 23-27, March 27-April 3)
 
Hugo Sobelman’s SOUL KIDS is the Opening Night selection, and Max Walker-Silverman’s A LOVE STORY takes the Closing Night slot.
 
Dale Dickey will be honored with the Breakthrough Acting Award
 
World premieres include Tara Thorne’s COMPULSUS, and Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi’s ROOTS OF FIRE
 
Oxford, MS (February 22, 2022) – The 2022 Oxford Film Festival (In-Person on March 23-27, Virtual on March 27-April 3)) announced the lineup of official selections for the 19th annual edition of the popular film festival which will bring back a hybrid presentation including screenings, parties, and special events. Hugo Sobelman’s Memphis-based documentary Soul Kids is the Opening Night selection, and Max Walker-Silverman’s Sundance and Berlin favorite A Love Song, featuring Oxford FF’s Breakthrough Acting Award honoree Dale Dickey, is the Closing Night Selection. 
 
The dynamic schedule will showcase 118 films, representing 18 countries, including 38 features (16 narrative and 22 documentary), 67 short films (narrative, documentary, LGBTQIA+, ambition and experimental, student, and Mississippi-based productions), and 13 music videos. Special events include a Secret Screening of a work-in-progress film, and a tribute to the late Bill Luckett, a beloved Mississippi film industry stalwart and a familiar presence at the Oxford Film Festival. 
 
On March 23-27, all screenings will be held at Malco Oxford Commons Cinema (206 Commonwealth Blvd.). From March 27-April 3, Virtual Cinema screenings will be offered via Eventive. 
 
Interim Executive Director Jim Brunzell, said, “We are excited to present this year’s films and special events to our local film fans here in Oxford, the state of Mississippi, and nearby in Memphis, as well. We have diligently built a program that include discovery titles, award winners, festival favorites from Venice, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin and SXSW film festivals, enlightening, innovative, and entertaining features and shorts that should inspire everyone to immerse themselves in the Oxford Film Festival world once again.” 
 
Opening the Oxford Film Festival will be Hugo Sobelman’s documentary Soul Kids. The film focuses on Memphis’ Stax Music Academy For two decades, the academy has continued the legacy of the legendary Stax Records, a soul label which was a refuge during the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. By learning and understanding soul music in after-school programs, the next generation of teenagers build a solid foundation on Black Americans’ legacy and create hope for their future. Closing the film festival will be Max Walker-Silverman’s romantic drama, A Love Song. The film stars Native American film legend Wes Studi and Oxford FF’s Breakthrough Acting Award honoree Dale Dickey as a couple, childhood sweethearts several years ago, who are now both widowed. They meet up at a campsite and reconnect, sharing stories, memories, and emotions during a night by a lake in the mountains.
 
One of Hollywood’s most coveted character actors, Dale Dickey forged a reputation for illuminating gritty, dark, and oftentimes damaged characters. Following inspired performances onstage, including the Broadway production of "The Merchant of Venice" (1989) and the 2009 stage adaptation of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Dickey has put together an enviable list of performances together in films like Sordid Lives (2000), Winter’s Bone (2010), Super 8 (2011), Iron Man 3 (2013), Hell or High Water (2016), and Palm Springs (2020), and on countless television shows like The X-Files, True Blood, Breaking Bad, and My Name is Earl. Her role in A Love Song is a well-deserved lead in a feature that has been critically acclaimed since its debut at Sundance earlier this year.
  
Additional highlights among the narrative features include; Dan Mirvash’s festival favorite 18½ is a crazy ride involving a White House transcriber trying to overcome hippies, swingers, and nefarious forces in order to leak the 18½-minute gap in Nixon's Watergate tapes; Iman Zawahry’s charming comedy Americanish set in Queens, where career-driven sisters Maryam and Sam and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera must navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family; and the world premiere of Tara Thorne’s Canadian thriller Compulsus, about a woman whose taste for violent revenge might 
become short-circuited when she falls for a woman who abides by the law. Anna Baumgarten’s Disfluency won Best Film at the Austin Film Festival. The film follows a promising language student who returns home without graduating due to a devastatingly emotional trauma that derailed her senior year. Jean Luc Herbulot’s horror-thrillerSaloum follows three mercenaries who run into deadly threats they never imagined while attempting to extract a drug lord out of a mysterious region in Senegal. Carl Andress and Charles Busch’s The Sixth Reel stars the latteras a down-on-his-luck movie collector whose discovery of a legendary lost film sends him hurtling into an outrageous adventure. The film also stars Margaret Cho and Tim Daly.
  
Among the documentary selections are; Lisa Hurwitz’s The Automat, which premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival, tells the 100-year story of the iconic restaurant chain Horn & Hardart, the inspiration for Starbucks, where generations of Americans ate and drank coffee together at communal tables - from the perspective of former customers like Mel Brooks, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Secretary of State Colin Powell; T.J. Parsell’s Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music explores the unsung story of the queer women behind some of country music’s greatest hits; and Alysa Nahmias’ Krimes from MTV Documentary Films, about artist Jesse Krimes, who secretly created monumental works of art—including an astonishing 40-foot mural made with prison bed sheets, hair gel, and newspaper, then smuggled out each panel piece-by-piece with the help of fellow artists. Clay Haskell and Dylan Nelson’s Mississippi Messiah looks at the surprising life and accomplishments of Civil Rights legend James Meredith, and Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi’s Roots of Fire will make its world premiere at the Oxford Film Festival, looking at five award-winning musicians as they push against stereotypes of the American South and move the music of their ancestors forward. 
 
Highlights among the creatively themed and musically-infused parties and special events include; a “Pop Up Partnership” with Thacker Mountain Radio featuring Michael Farris Smith, as well as an “Opening Night Stax Records Party” following the Soul Kids screening on Thursday, March 24 at The Atrium at Mike Overstreet Properties (265 North Lamar Ave.) with a Live Performance from 926, Stax Music Academy Alumni Band; and a “Roaring 20's Celebration” on Friday, March 25 at the same location, featuring a live performance from The Skid Rouges. On Saturday, March 26, Oxford Film Festival will host a Filmmaker Roundtable and Songwriters in the Round, both at the Malco Pavilion Auditorium (206 Commonwealth Blvd.), Later that evening, will be the “Casino Royale Party” at The Isom Place Oxford (1003 Jefferson Ave) with a Live Performance from The Bill Perry Trio. The always popular OXFF Awards will be celebrated as a brunch this year at The Lyric (1006 Van Buren Ave.) on Sunday, March 27.
 
The Oxford Film Festival would not be possible without the generous support from the following grants: Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), South Arts, Visit Mississippi and Visit Oxford.
 
The Oxford Film Festival/OxFilm (OXFF) will require all ticket and badge holders to show proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination regimen to enter any indoor screening or event held by OXFF. A negative COVID-19 test result will not be accepted. Mask-wearing is mandatory for all OXFF attendees indoors. The Oxford Film festival will continue to share updates as health guidelines evolve. For additional questions or assistance, please email info@oxfordfilmfest.com or call 877.560.3456 (FILM).
 
To buy passes or tickets or find more information, please go to: https://www.oxfordfilmfest.com/.
 
 
2022 Oxford Film Festival’s Official Selections

The excellent The Other Tom (2021) opens Neighboring Scenes 2022

 


THE OTHER TOM is a kick in the ass. 

The film is the story of Elena, a young mother who  is having trouble with her son. He is diagnosed with ADHD and is promptly put on meds. However the meds make the boy into a zombie and a mere shadow of his former self. Elena wants to get him off the drugs but the move to do so brings her into a battle with the authorities who want  “what’s best for the boy”. But is it really best?

In an age when everyone is on meds there aren’t many films discussing what all of the pills that are supposed to make us better are really doing to us. No one is really discussing how the pills are changing us. This is really the first time I've seen anyone mention it in anything more than a passing reference. The fact that this film deals with the side effects is really important. 

In the decade before my mother passed away she was on a weird cocktail of medicines that were supposed to keep her alive. All of them had the side effect of depression and suicidal thoughts. They turned my Mom into a depressed zombie who slept all day. When my mom talked to her doctor about the effect, the doctor prescribed an antidepressant with side effect of suicidal thoughts.  They never could get the mix right and the only way my mom could ever feel normal was not to take anything.

I was delighted to see a film that focused on the battle I saw waged on a daily basis. I love that someone finally has stepped up and brought the battle to the attention of a large audience.

But don't let me over sell that one aspect,  there is more to the film than that. It is a really good look at a single mom trying to take care of her son. It’s a film that seems to be digging at what its like to be the single parent more than many recent films. Things are not glossed over and I love that because it forces us to consider what it is showing us and not just move on to the next thing.

A lot of praise for this working needs to go to the great cast especially, Julia Chavez as Elena who gives us a character we can relate to and root for. They sell it all and seem to be living the story instead of just enacting it.

This is a super little film and is highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

THE UNNAMED FOOTAGE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FULL PROGRAM FOR 5TH EDITION


THE CELEBRATED FOUND FOOTAGE AND POV HORROR CINEMA FILM FESTIVAL RETURNS TO SAN FRANCISCO MARCH 17-20, 2022

Feat. The World Premieres of Jacob Aaron Estes’ YOU BELONG TO ME and David Torres’ PUTREFIXION A VIDEO OF NINA TEMICH, Special Pre-Festival Co-Presentation of BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON with Alamo Drafthouse New Mission, and More!

UFF5 FESTIVAL PROMO: 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/7zeszU3UKFc

Watch and Share!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 — San Francisco, CA // After a year in cyber captivity, the Unnamed Footage Festival is returning to theaters of San Francisco for four days of found footage horror, faux documentary, and first person POV programming from March 17th through March 20th. Opening night will be held at the screening room of the Mission District gallery Artist’s Television Access, followed by a late-night screening at the Roxie Theatre on Friday, and culminating at the historic Balboa Theater for two full days of shorts and features.

Following the success of last year’s virtual event, UFF has brought on Dread Central as the official media sponsor for the 2022 festival. Dread Central has shown an incredible enthusiasm for the found footage horror genre, making their team the perfect partner for exclusive coverage of the fest. 

The  5th edition of UFF will kick off on Thursday night with our annual Recalibration Party at the Artist’s Television Access. The party will begin with a screening of Ben Ben 7: Haunted Highway, followed by a Found Footage Horror Power Horror – 60 nonstop clips of strange and scary moments from our favorite movies – with free beer provided by our beverage sponsor, Lime Ventures Distribution.

As found footage continues gaining popularity and evolving into a broader genre, the UFF line-up has been diversified to highlight ARG (Alternate Reality Game) content, screenlife, and hybrid found footage. To commemorate this expansion, the Unnamed Footage Festival will be co-presenting Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon as a pre-festival Terror Tuesday screening at the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission. The much-loved cult classic is one of the most notable examples of hybrid found footage horror, with the footage of a documentary crew interviewing a movie monster bleeding into the monster’s real movie. 

While the scope of the festival has grown, the Unnamed Footage Festival promises to keep delivering what brought audiences to the event in past years: a chance to watch obscure, bizarre, and ambitious “in-world camera” movies on the big screen. In addition to Behind the Mask, this year’s repertory screenings also include a lost Italian plague movie titled The Gerber Syndrome (2011), the 2017 intimate base-jumping thriller Base, and screenlife pioneer The Collingswood Story (2002), with the cast and crew in attendance.

And the main slate titles will certainly not be overshadowed, including up-and-coming and established talent experimenting in this wild genre. Our 2022 selections will include the world premiere of Jacob Aaron Estes’ (Mean Creek) experimental pandemic haunted house movie You Belong To Me, a music video shoot gone wrong in an endless desert in The Outwaters, a young man’s document of his own abductions on a head-mounted camera titled The Alien Report, the world premiere of the first feature film shot entirely on 360-degree cameras, PUTREFIXION a video of Nina Temich, and the meta sequel to UFF2’s late-night serial killer stand-up comedy smash Muder Box, My Inner Demon: A Geraldson Tale. 

Short film selections include Kane Pixels’ viral creepypasta short Backrooms, the faux doc that launched an ARG about a lost N64 game, What Happened To Crow 64?, UFF alumni Thomas Burke’s screenlife oddity SHC Freak Accident, the stop motion animation feed of a night vision camera in the woods Posted No Hunting, and the world premiere of the new short film by Adrian Tofei (Be My Cat: A Film For Anne) titled The Lost Footage. 

In 2021, the Unnamed Footage Festival moved into the online space, breaking the mold with their 24-hour long hosted livecast of shorts and features accompanied by an ARG. Returning to theaters, the team still promises plenty of bizarre occurrences for badgeholders throughout the 4-day festival. Saturday and Sunday will include a marketplace of vendors and local artists in the lobby of the Balboa Theater. Be sure to visit with them and ask about any strange symbols you may have seen.

The sense of community that developed during the #UFF24HR livestream was undeniable and has inspired the organizers to continue a virtual component going forward. For those who cannot attend the in-person event and any attendees who want more, an online festival is set for April featuring a different program of films. Details will be announced soon.

Badges are now on sale for entry to all festival events except the Terror Tuesday screening at Alamo Drafthouse New Mission. Day passes are available for 3/19 and 3/20. Individual tickets for all showings will be available at the box office of each theater. More than half of this year’s screenings will have talent in attendance for Q&As and discussion. Visit the website for UFF5’s full schedule and more details. 

https://www.unnamedfootagefestival.com/

Tickets: https://filmfreeway.com/UnnamedFootageFestival/tickets

MAIN SLATE

YOU BELONG TO ME (2022, USA, dir. Jacob Aaron Estes)
WORLD PREMIERE - Filmmaker Jacob Aaron Estes (Mean Creek, Rings, Don't Let Go) transforms a pandemic quarantine into the groundwork for a household horror story. As brother and sister document their day-to-day life in isolation, the lines blur between a fun family project and a deeply disturbing work of avant-garde horror. Strategically breaking the format of in-world camera, You Belong To Me utilizes found footage horror storytelling to amplify the fears of parents separated from their children and children trapped in their own house forced to fend for themselves

PUTREFIXION a video of Nina Temich (2022, Mexico, dir. David Torres)
WORLD PREMIERE - After purchasing a 360 camera, Nina starts recording her daily life as a way of developing her skills as a director in hopes of getting accepted into film school. But while dancing and doing drugs, strange things begin to happen. PUTREFIXION utilizes the disorienting nature of a 360 lens to transform Mexico city, accentuate the ritual of dance, and open a new chapter of in-world camera narratives. As Nina, model and dancer Dalia Xiuhcoatl commands the space and movement of the camera, giving this portrait of a young woman's brush with the supernatural a mesmerizing feminine energy. 

THE ALIEN REPORT (2021, USA, dir. Patrick Donnelly)
WEST COAST PREMIERE - An alien abductee figures out a clever way to secretly record his own alien encounters revealing telepathic aliens, human hybrids and the elusive “men-in-black”. Shot guerrilla-style on the streets of Chicago with a small yet very dedicated crew, The Alien Report takes the raw energy of a found footage horror movie and combines it with a script influenced by testimonies from the UFO abductee community and the most wild alien special effects you’ve seen since Fire In The Sky. – Screening followed by Q&A

BOLT DRIVER W/ CRAIG FIXADA AMERICA (2021, USA, dir. Van Alpert & Nick Corirossi / 2019, USA, dir. Scott Gairdner)
An unofficial remake of TAXI DRIVER modernized for the social media era, BOLT DRIVER navigates Trumpism and incel culture through a collection of animal face Snapchat filters. Paired with CRAIG FIXADA AMERICA, an episode of a political satire show that never existed, in which international superstar and former Clip Cup host Craig Healy (Nick Corirossi) raises awareness about voting.

CURSE OF AURORE (2021, Canada, dir. Mehran C. Torgoley)
US THEATRICAL PREMIERE - While researching the historic murder of Aurore Gagnon for a script inspired by her story, three filmmakers cross a line. By the time they realize they've tampered with something they shouldn't have, their footage is already on its way to being sold in a mystery box on the dark web. – Screening followed by Q&A

DEADWARE (2021, USA, dir. Isaac Rodriguez)
THEATRICAL PREMIERE - Set in 1999, Deadware explores the early internet through masterful use of the screenlife format, following two friends who decide to play a questionable online point-and-click adventure game to test out their webcams and brand new DSL connection. – Screening followed by Q&A

MALIBU HORROR STORY (2021, USA, dir. Scott Slone)
A team of paranormal investigators search a sacred Native American cave for clues in the unsolved disappearance of four local teens. While celebrating the completion of their project in the cave and reviewing the documentary edited from the teens footage they discovered, the team begins to notice anomalies they missed on earlier watches, and begin to fear for their lives. A hybrid found footage/horror film narrative, Malibu Horror Story is the bombastic crowd-pleaser of UFF5 that will have the audience shrieking and leaping out of their seats in terror. – Screening followed by Q&A

MASKING THRESHOLD (2021, Austria, dir. Johannes Grenzfurthner)
An oddity of hybrid mockumentary, Masking Threshold tracks the descent-into-madness of an isolated would-be scientist, who sets out to understand a peculiar form of tinnitus he’s developed. Ostensibly a found vlog composed entirely of macro and extreme closeup footage, Masking Threshold is a deeply unsettling film with stomach-churning sequences of violence, depravity, and grossness.

MY INNER DEMON: A GERALDSON TALE (2022, USA, dir. Gerald Varga)  
This meta sequel to UFF2 selection Murder Box follows director Gerald Varga as he navigates his depression after the underwhelming reception of his first film. My Inner Demon is a crash course on found footage horror filmmaking by two old friends who are slowly driving each other insane. – Screening followed by Q&A

THE OUTWATERS (2022, USA, dir. Robbie Banfitch)
THEATRICAL PREMIERE - Four travellers encounter a menacing phenomena while shooting a music video in a remote stretch of the Mojave Desert. Filled with indescribable creatures squirming their way out of darkness, THE OUTWATERS is a dizzying slow burn of other-wordly terror caked in dried blood. – Screening followed by Q&A

WESENS (2020, South Africa, dir. Derick Muller)
Two days after an unidentified object landed on a farm in South Africa in December of 1967, four government agents, equipped with a Super 8 and 16mm camera, drove out to investigate it. What the agents treat as a concrete anomaly to be examined through Geiger counters, cameras, and beakers evolves into an all-encompassing, existential conundrum.

THE ZAND ORDER (2021, USA, dir. Sarah Goras Peterson) 
A grieving mother hires a filmmaker and a tracker to help document her search in the Florida jungle, as she hunts a cult she believes murdered her daughter. Imagine The Blair Witch Project except it's an all-female expedition and they hate each other… and it sure doesn’t help that each night they spend in their single tent something visits them to set up strange puzzles for them to solve. The Zand Order is a perfect example of the passionate, no-budget/no-rules filmmaking that can only happen in found footage horror.

REPERTORY SCREENINGS

BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006, USA, dir. Scott Glosserman)
The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo. A ground-breaking hybrid of mockumentary and traditional slasher movie, Behind the Mask has grown a well-deserved cult following of fans of horror comedy and slashers in the years since its release. 

THE COLLINGSWOOD STORY (2002, USA, dir. Mike Constanza)
Shown through turn-of-the-millennium desktops, The Collingswood Story is a pioneering digital horror film. Josh and Rebecca begin using webcams as a way to maintain a newly distanced relationship when a curious encounter with an internet psychic complicates their lives and uncovers dark secrets about Rebecca’s new home. Before Skype and MySpace existed, filmmaker Mike Constanza’s revolutionary, essential film embodies a phase of internet culture midway between the ‘90s acceptance that, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” and the unblinking, totalizing digital platforms of the present.  – Screening followed by Q&A

FTW (2010, USA, dir. Jorge Torres-Torres)
When Shep suddenly dies, Kristopher and Ryan become less attached to reality. As they wander the southern landscape of Louisiana they slowly descend into a state devoid of hope and order. Jorge Torres-Torres (Fat Tuesday, Sisters of the Plague, Toad Road) combines the heart of Errol Morris with the satire of Harmony Korine in this adolescent romp through above-ground cemeteries. Join us for this rare screening as we explore themes of life, death, and (faux) reality. – Screening followed by Q&A

THE GERBER SYNDROME: il contagio  (2011, Italy, dir. Maxì Dejoie)
A virus ravages Europe. Phase I brings flu-like symptoms. Phase II attacks the central nervous system. Phase III: withdrawal, irrationality, extremely violent behavior. There is no cure. Filmed like a documentary, The Gerber Syndrome captures one nation's desperate, under-resourced efforts to fight a disease it can barely understand, much less contain. Though made eleven years ago it offers images and moments that could have been lifted directly from our media in today's age of COVID. – Screening followed by Q&A

BASE (2017, USA, dir. Richard Parry)
Part love-triangle drama, part extreme sports vlog with a hint of horror, ex-war photographer turned filmmaker Richard Parry transports us into our own squirrel suit and launches us into the sky. BASE is a faux documentary about base jumping shot in actual dangerous situations.

BAD BEN 7: HAUNTED HIGHWAY (2019, USA, dir. Nigel Bach)
Tom Riley tries to take a break from the Paranormal and starts a job as a ride-share driver for DropUoff. The strange passengers and encounters he has on Halloween 2019 are all captured on surveillance cameras, dash cams, and his personal body cam. He encounters a blood-thirsty passenger, a young woman transporting something odd in a bag, a not-so-friendly scarecrow, and a witch.

The Sky is Red (2022) Neighboring Scenes 2022


This is a reconstruction of the 2010 San Miguel prison fire in Santiago, Chile that took the lives of 81 people. The fire started during an altercation between factions in the prison and officials didn’t spring into action to stop the violence or the flames. The film is a reconstruction using the evidence from court proceedings consisting of documents, CCTV footage, photographs, eyewitness testimony and news reports.

Slowly building and hypnotic in a way The Sky is Red is like watching a terrible car accident in slow motion. You know how it’s going to go but at the same time you are powerless to stop it. It is a kind of waking nightmare because very early on you realize that the whole thing was a kind of foregone conclusion with the construction of the “houses” in the prison dooming everyone from the outset.

I was horrified at how it went down with one prisoner saying that the guards he  was trying to tell about the fire didn’t care and effectively said let them burn.

While the pacing of the film can seem slow, there is no narration and you have to pay attention, the film is a kick in the chest of slowly building sadness. Yea the victims may have been prisoners but no one should die like that

Recommended.

Let Me Be Me (2021)opens Friday


This is a great portrait of Kyle Westphal who was diagnosed as having autism when he a boy, well before the current level of awareness. With his parents uncertain of what to do they began to try and figure out what was best for their son. They then began to try a special form of treatment. Thanks to years perseverance and love by her parents Kyle was able to overcome his illness and become a fashion designer.

Marvelous portrait of a young man who was lucky enough to have parents who let their son be who he was and thus was able to go out on his own. It is a triumphant tale of what can happen when parents are willing to do what they feel is best and not simply blindly follow the prevailing thought.

Recommended.

Monday, February 21, 2022

HellBender (2021) is hitting Shudder

 


The beginning of Hellbender is one of the most arresting starts to any film at Fantasia. It is also one of the most arresting starts to any film in decades. In all serious I dare you not to watch the opening and wonder what in the holy hell was going on. I’m not going to spoil this – just see it. After that you will be willing to follow one of the most beautiful horror films anywhere.

The film that follows is a coming of age story about a young witch being raised and sheltered by some older women. I won’t say any more other than something dark and sinister is going on, and odds are its not what you think.

Made by the same crew as one of my favorite films of the last few years The Deeper You Dig, Hellbender doesn’t behave as you  expect. For the first time outside of a fantasy film magic is deadly, one person is reduced to dust by hand gestures.  This is a film that takes something, witches, that never really were scary and turn them into something truly terrifying.  For the first time I was frightened by a witch tale by what I was seeing and not the obscure threat of the devil. Why no one had ever done this before is beyond me.

This film is great film in so many ways.

As I said I’m not going to spoil it I’m just going to say its one of the best horror films of the year and highly recommended.

The Neighboring Scenes 2022 Curtain Raiser


Neighboring Scenes the annual look at films from Central and South America returns Thursday to Lincoln Center with another sterling selection of movies.

I have been covering the series since it started and I have enjoyed the heck out of it every year. I love that the festival highlights al sorts of good films every year that hang with me for the rest of year. There is always one or two films every year that are in contention for my year end list. (I think ABOUT EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW may end up on the list in December)


I also love that not only do a good number of the films end up being launched into other festivals from this series but that a lot of them end up coming back when they get a regular theatrical run. Recently when EMA and WOLF HOUSE were released to general audiences I had people asking me if I was going to see review them because they were so good and I replied that I had seen them already at Neighboring Scenes.

While I am still working my way through the selections, I can say that everything I’ve seen is worth your time and money.


In addition to ABOUT EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW (which is a documentary about a small town in the Andes) the fest is also showing THE SKY IS RED (about a fire in a prison)  DIRTY FEATHERS (about a homeless community on the US Mexican Border), SPLINTERS (a look at an explosion at a military factory) and MY BROTHER DREAM AWAKE (the true story of what happened to two brothers in a reform school).

There really isn't uch ore I can say because the films are just so damn good they speak for themselves and the festival ust fine. Do yourself a favor and just buy some tickets and go, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information and tickets go here

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Now we are 12


Happy Birthday to Unseen Films. We made it to 12 and we are now damn close to being a teenager.

Yes, now we are twelve.

Happy Birthday to us.

As of today it’s been 12 years since I was sitting at the desk top computer in my father’s room putting together the first posts for Unseen Films. As I have said I had no idea that a few years down the road we’d be doing things we couldn’t have dreamt of on that Saturday in February 2010. I can ‘t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t started Unseen Films. Not sure if that’s a good thing or bad.

All kidding aside it’s been fun, even if it results in being bone tired and beyond bleary eyed every other week.

To be honest I have no idea where this is going to go. When I started I had certain films I wanted to write up. Then it was trying to do themed weeks. And then slowly I tossed the themes and just when with what came up. I’m at the point where I’m just trying to make sure I’ve had at least one post a day….and 12 years and almost 12,000 pieces later I think we are way beyond a post a day average.

I need to thank and give a big hug to everyone who came along on this crazy ride.

First to the original Unseen Films crew Ken, Eden Randi, John, Bully, the late Reg and Rob who jumped at the chance to play in the sandbox, a massive thank you and no socially distant hug. Your enthusiasm helped push this whole thing forward.

To those who signed up along the way Mondocurry, Mr C, Chocko, Ariela, Hubert, Alec, Peter, Leslie, Nate, Ben  and Kim equally big hugs and thanks for not only joining the site but my close circle of friends. I love you all.

I also need to hug the dickens out of the friends and some time co-conspirators who popped in for a post or two and stayed on the couch, Lesley, Lauren, Jared, Ernie, Lisa and Liz

And I can’t count the people I call friend as a result of Unseen. Not just the PR people and the filmmakers but the regular film fans. I am not going to attempt to name you all because to do so will result in some one’s hurt feelings--and take a couple of weeks

A big hug to everyone.

And now as I wait for Bully and Shelly to bring over the cake I'm going to crawl back into bed and take a rest - there are no reviews or other posts going up today so go out and have some fun

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Kaiju Kim is being really busy and you should be following her exploits.

I don't know how many of you are aware of Unseen's resident expert on giant monsters Kaiju Kim. She is a much in demand expert who not only has her own YouTube Channel where her weekly talk show, CHILL WITH KAIJU KIM streams live on Sundays at 7pm EST (and it's on Twitch ) but she is also a guest on various podcasts, and You Tube and Twitch channels where the world's giant monster problems are discussed. 

Each week on her own show she has some other expert on giant monsters or related subjects and the pair take what ever film, monster off the board subject they are talking about apart and put it back together.  Supported by viewers on Patreon, the show/channel is a great place to get rational and reasoned discussion about (mostly) kaiju. The fact that it's rational and reasoned  is important because if you haveever waded into the most on-line film discussions of any topic you know much of it is dominated by people who speak loudly and don't have a clue. Kim has clue which is what makes her stand out.She also has a depth of understanding and knowledge that makes tuning into her show always something different. Unlike many other film talk shows Kim doesn't focus just on one aspect of kaiju but branches out into all sorts of interesting areas. You need to start watching her show.

You can find out the state of Kim and her show on her Twitter feed. Its something I highly recommend. There is plenty of kaiju talk but also lots of really fun random stuff, that makes her one of my favorite people on Twitter.

I should also mention that Kim is currently working on a short film called 'CAINOPHOBIA' via her Nuclear Lizard Productions. You can follow production by following the Nuclear Lizard Productions Twitter. And she and her co-conspirators are launching the Nuclear Lizard Productions YouTube Channel (it goes live in April) where they will highlight a great slate of short films. 

And if that if that isn't enough Kim is selling some great Kaiju Kim Merch in her own web store

And on top of all of that Kim is an editor you can hire (go to  KH EDITS for details) 

I don't know where she gets the energy to do everything she does, but somehow she manages-and you need to be following her exploits because not only will you learn something but you'll have a great deal of fun.

Death On The Nile (2022)


Kenneth Branuagh's reinvention of Herciule Poirot continues with an adaption of the Agatha Christie's DEATH ON  THE NILE. 

Beginning with a flashback to World War One the film explains why Poirot has the mustache he does.  The film then jumps to the present and the story of Poirot helping a newly married socialite evade a jealous ex-friend whose fiance she had stolen and married. When the socialite is killed Poirot investigates.

While the central mystery remains the same as in the novel, the film juggles thing, bringing in new plot points and characters while removing others from the novel.

I really liked this adaption of the novel. Its different enough to stand on it's own legs. It's spectacular to look at and I was thrilled to get to see the film in 70mm. It is also strangely emotional for a murder mystery since in reinventing the narrative threads the film takes on a deeper emotional resonance. While the film is techincally much too open mined for the time period when it comes to some subjects (particularly with matters of race and sexuality) it perfectly fine for today's audiences.

What is a strong selling point for the film for me is the arcing of Poirot. He isn't static but changes, as can be seen by the whole thread of the mustache. I love how we get a deepening of the character. I love how we find out how flawed a person he is. If you think about this film and the previous in the series, Poirot solves the crimes, but he does so at a terrible personal cost. People die because he isn't fast enough. Several times I was deeply moved emotionally in unexpected ways. (I can not tell you lest I spoil a turn or two). Hopefully we can more films with the detective, if not several at least one, which I would hope to be the final tale CURTAIN, which would take the idea of Poirot's having his successes have a terrible cost to the logical conclusion.

If there is any real flaw in DEATH ON THE NILE it's in the editing of film. After it was finished actor Armie Hammer was charged with rape and assault. As a result the studiohad him removed from much of the promotional material. Additionally, it would seem that the film may have been edited to remove him since there is a point where his character goes completely missing for a long period of time, returning only for a couple of crucial scenes. While I haven't heard anything officially the film feels like bits were removed in the second half. 

Flaws or no, Branagh is the story here and his invention, or reinvention of the great detective is stunning and worth the price of admission.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Peacemaker (2022)

 


Picking up after the events of James Gunn’s Suicide Squad, Peacemaker follows John Cena’s character as he gets out of the hospital. Still a convicted felon he is forced by a group of agents working for Amanda Waller to act as an assassin on Project Butterfly. He is tasked with killing various people who are codenamed butterfly. Cena thinks its stupid until he finds out that evil insects from space are trying to take over  the earth.

Playing better than Gunn’s Suicide Squad the series the film still mixes juvenile humor with incredible violence and surprisingly good plotting. I say that last bit as someone who has kind of soured on Gunn’s films of the last few years. To me he’s been playing to the fanboys at the expense of everything else. While Gunn still does that here, allowing sequences to spin out in gross and vulgar ways for no discernable reason (I mean the whole ransacking of the apartment in episode 1, the shooting with Vigilante in episode 2 and the drawn out torture sequence in episode 3) the plot is actually rather well plotted and if he chopped out some of the fanboy service he could have had a tight five episode arc.

Quibbles about the stupid stuff aside I actually am enjoying Peacemaker enough to recommend it.

---

ADDENDUM

The above was written before I finished the series. I've now finished it and while I liked the first half of it I'm disappointed in the second. I think the story gets out of control and Gunn allows his baser instincts to shine (And while I thought the series pulled it together in the last episode the pointless cameos pushed it off the table since they are only there to play out an over used joke and to have the characters say fuck).  While I didn't hate the series I'm disappointed in where it went. I'm disappointed that the show went from one where I looked forward to seeing the next episode to one where when I was done I knew I would never give it a second thought.

Worth a try but expect your excitment to fall off.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Pact (2021)


The Pact is a film version of Thorkild Bjørnvig’s autobiographical; recounting of his relationship with author   Baroness Karen Blixen, who under the name Isak Dinesen wrote Out Of Africa. Blixen seemingly randomly picked Bjørnvig to be her protégé. In return for unwavering loyalty she promised to make him a well known writer. The cost was the partial destruction of his life away from  Blixen.

This is a well-made and well-acted film that I didn’t connect to. This is not to infer that that the film is bad, rather I didn’t connect emotionally. From the minute that Blixen told Bjørnvig that she had not read his book I disconnected because to me it was just a rich woman messing around  with a poor guy who didn’t know better. While I would be interested in getting help to become better known as a writer, I’ve seen too many Faustian bargains that went south in the lives of people around me and seeing it on the big screen didn’t give me any sort of pleasure.

While I know it’s a true story (more or less) the film never answered one of the questions I always ask myself when I see a film that I’m not sure of, which is why am I watching it? Specifically is there something in this story or film that gives me a reason to continue watching.  The film never answered that, and when I got to the end my over whelming thought was “that was a thing.”

I should point out that while I didn’t care for the film my friend Liz Whittemore at Reel News Daily liked the film a great deal (her review can be found here)

Reacher (2022)

 


The Amazon Prime series Reacher is a winner.

Way back when the initial embargo had lifted I wrote a short piece after I saw the first wo episodes saying that it was a great series and that you should watch it. Now that it’s out and I’ve seen the whole series I’m doubling down and saying it’s must see TV

Base on The Killing Floor the first Reacher novel the series has Jack Reacher wandering into a small town. Nominally he wants to track down the home of a legendary blue musician and perhaps connect with his brother. However he soon finds himself arrested for murder, he’s the lone stranger in town, and he discovers, his brother is one of the victims. This sets him off on the quest to get justice for his brother, which means fuffling a lot of feathers and killing a lot of people. (A running “gag” is the number of people who have died since Reacher came to town)

This is a great series and light years about the Tom Cruise Reacher films. While those film were fast moving action films there wasn’t room for character development and as a result it was all short hand. Here we get great characters and room to breathe. Lee Child who wrote the series is on record as being happy with the series and upset that Willa Fitzgerald can’t continue in the next series as Officer Roscoe because the series allowed the actress to improve his character.

Alan Ritchson is perfect as Reacher. He looks big but isn’t menacing but when things happen you realize how much of terror he is. He is also not the Cruise version of the character because it’s made clear on numerous occasions he just will bust you up or kill you because it’s easier. Yea Reacher is a hero but he has a black side

When I returned to the series after two film fests I rewatched the second episode and then did two more. I then got up in the morning and watched the remaining four before going out to do my things for the day. I simply had to see how it came out.

I love the series and hope Amazon continues it

Highly recommended

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Nightmare Alley (2021)


Nightmare Alley is the latest from Guillermo del Toro and it is a new cinematic version of the tale that inspired the classic Tyrone Power film.

The film has Bradley Cooper joining a traveling carnival, learning the tricks to fool the rubes. He then moves on from the carnival, reinventing himself as a psychic, enthralling the wealthy of Buffalo. He then begins a dangerous game of scamming several of the wealthy with the aid of a therapist.

This is a technically brilliant film that is stunning to look at. This is an old school Hollywood film done large as life and in full color. I absolutely love the craft of the film.

The cast is wonderful, with Bradley Cooper turning in an actual performance for the first time in many years. While I have always liked Cooper in the past, he has essentially been playing a version of himself for the better part of decade. This is the first time he actually disappears int the role and we are better for it.

As much as I like the film, I don’t love it.  While it is Guillermo del Toro operating at the top of his game, it is also his one film that doesn’t seem to have his fingerprints on it. If I were pressed to say who directed it I would never have guessed del Toro.

Another quibble I have is the structure of the film is odd. First the film is very much two films with the same characters. Yes I know it’s one story but the first hour seems like it’s a completely different film than the final hour and a half. The division for me  is such I almost wished there was an intermission once Cooper leaves the carnival. Additionally there is a forced sense of call and echo in the film where a number of plot points and statements made by characters in the first hour that come back to haunt everyone one in the second. You can feel the filmmakers working very hard to make sure that every warning given to Bradley Cooper comes back to haunt him from believing his own ability to how one becomes a geek. Its not done subtly by forcefully, and the instant Cooper id warned you know its gonna bite him. I wish it had been done better so I went “oh crap” instead of “saw that coming”

My quibbles don’t mean that the film is bad, it’s not rather it’s just an indication that the film is not as great as it thinks it is.

Worth a look for the curious.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

The Cursed (2021) (Formerly EIGHT FOR SILVER )

 

With THE CURSED opening Friday I'm reposting my Sundance review from last year. If you want to know how much I love this movie it was on my list of the best films from 2021

Wonderful horror thriller is kind of reinvention of the werewolf genre as a bunch of rich land owners wipe out a band of migrant Roma clan. Before the last one dies they curse their killers and the land setting up a horrifying nightmare of revenge.

Part historical drama, part horror film EIGHT FOR SILVER is a film that straddle genres and comes across as something truly special. Its so special that I was not prepared for it's refusal to play by any rules other than it's own. Its a game changing throw back to the sort of films that Hammer used to make except that it has its own style that makes you wonder why no one has done anything like this before.

Its a nail biting film that will have you on the edge of your seat as the film takes you places you've never been before. Its not the story, we've had the  sins of the fathers destroying the children before, rather its novelesque telling of  story that feels more real than the literary stories tat spawned it. This is a tale that felt like it could have been true.

Oh you have got to see this one. Trust me.

And please forgive me for not saying more because I am soooooo tempted to tell you everything. This is the sort of a film you want to grab the person nearest you and talk about for hours.

Hands down the best genre film at Sundance. It is an absolute must.

SEOBOK (2021)


Seobok is the name of a messenger of a Korean emperor who was looking for a means of becoming immortal. It is also the name of the first genetically created clone/hybrid who was designed so that he could never “die”. His cells reproduce  rapidly and he must  take a chemical to slow his cell division. He was also designed to have his tissues and blood harvested as means of giving other people immortality. After his creator is killed in a drone strike the company/government  bring in an agent to protect the boy at all costs. Of course it all goes horribly wrong.

Nihilistic comic infused philosophical action film is nothing we haven’t seen before.  It’s the old “hero must protect the savior” tale gussied up in modern dress (calling Professor X).  Its a lot of talk punctuated with a few kick as action sequences. It is also incredibly nihilistic with our hero having a brain tumor, the reason for Seobok to exist being harvesting and philosophical discussions that will make you want to slit your wrist- and I won’t even talk about the ending.

I was mostly bored. Yea the action is great but there isn’t enough to overcome the leaden pacing and the sense we’ve seen all of this before.

If you must see every action film give it ago other wise you can skip it.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Red Ghost (2022)


During the German invasion of Russia a lone sniper, Red Ghost is making a mess of the German forces. He seems to appear out of nowhere and kill any German who gets in his sights. When a squad of Russian soldiers end up hold up and surrounded by Germans, their only hope of getting out alive is the mythic Red Ghost.

I liked this film. Seeing at as yet another of the seemingly endless pro-Russia genre films slowly drifting into the American market I found that I was entertained for the 90 or so minutes that it as on.  While its kind of love letter to Soviet Russia, you really can’t take it seriously because the film trudges along with almost every cliché you can think of being dragged along.

High art? Absolutely not, but it is a fine shoot ‘em up of the old school Euro-exploitation sort.

Rcommended

Very brief word on Help (2022)


Liv goes to visit her friend after a break up and things go horribly wrong.

Well made, if by the numbers thriller, entertains. It's nothing e haven't seen before but at the same time there is enough here to make it interesting and worth an evening on the couch.

Recommended

Nexpo's GEMINI AND THE END OF THE WORLD

If you read Unseen Films regularly you know I am a huge fan of the YouTube documentarian Nexpo. He’s a guy who dives into all sorts of mysteries creating films that are as good if not better than many films that are released to theaters and play on mainstream TV.

He regularly looks at strange series on the internet and in the process manages to give us insight into creepy series we never knew about before. For example his  Channel 57 films haunt my nightmares (my brief piece on them is here).

Nexpo’s latest is called GEMINI AND THE END OF THE WORLD which is on a series of films from filmmaker Remy Abode. Abode has made a series of films done in the style of VHS informational videos, and a video game that together tell the story of an invasion of sorts of the earth by creatures from a  wandering planet now located on the end of the solar system.  Nexpo’s piece runs just over two and a half hours and it is a decent into the darkness that is the Gemini films.

I don’t want to say too much, you should just see Nexpo’s piece and the Gemini films as well, but I just want to say that while I was kind of mixed on the whole experience right after seeing it, I find that the films (both Nexpo’s piece and the Gemini ones) have left me feeling deeply disturbed. There is a quiet visceral horror in them that really worked me over and gave me nightmares. Yea the films seem ow key but the darkness they present really f-ed me up internally.

I would start with Nexpo’s film and then go from there. You can find the piece above. Go to his YouTube page for more information and links to the original films

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Gridlocked On Tour With Briggs(2021)

 


Gridlocked is a great film. Its one of the best music docs that I’ve seen in a long time.

To be honest going into the film I kind of sort of knew The Briggs. Watching the film I recognized some of the music but not enough to put a name with a song. However after seeing the film I was off trying to find some of their albums to download.

The film is a record of the band’s short tour along the West Coast of America. They have a new album coming out and want to play some show to support it. They aren’t sure if this will be their last hurrah, life has over taken their careers, but they want to give it one last go.

The resulting film is a masterpiece of a kind. It’s a portrait of band as a bunch of guys. They are not on, not posturing they are just living life with themselves and their families. Along the way they play some music.  I was delighted because for the first time I was watching a music doc where there was no pretense on any level. It was just friends hanging out and making music. No one person was on because everyone was just being themselves.

What an absolute joy.

I absolutely loved this film- nay- I absolutely loved these guys and their friends and families. I loved that I wanted to watch the film because I wanted to just be with them. If they didn’t play any music I still would have loved the film.

And what I love is that despite the guys being a punk band we get to see how good they are just playing music. The film ends with an acoustic song that is just phenomenal.

I can’t recommend this film enough.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Bears Invasion of Sicily (2019) Animation First 2022

Lorenzo Mattotti turns Dino Buzzati’s classic book into a visually magnificent animated film. The film begins with a older performer and his young charge traveling to a city in Sicily. With the weather turning t cold they duck into a cave hoping to stay warm. They bump into the bear living there and in order to prevent him from eating them, they tell the story of the bears’ invasion which resulted when the bears sought to find food and the bear king’s missing son.

Visually arresting film contains some of my most favorite scenes in any animated film, hell, in any film I've ever run across (beginning with the snowballs and going onward). While everything about the look of the film is spectacular the sequences of the bears fighting the evil duke's soldiers and invading the city are somewhere beyond words. Simply put Mattotti has made a film that is a true work of art, worthy of hanging on a wall in any of the great art museums.

The part where the film wobbles is with some of the way the tone of the film shifts around. The largely delightful first half becomes a bit serious in the second as the change in the bears once they have control of the city seems in someways to be from another film. It very much is not, since this is based on a novel, but the transition isn't quite as smooth as it could be.

But I am quibbling...

As it stands THE BEARS' FAMOUS INVASION OF SICILY is a masterpiece of cinema. It needs to be seen, on a big screen if possible. It is a must see when the film plays at the Animation First Festival in New York.

For tickets and more information go here.