Wednesday, August 31, 2022



Portrait of a family in crisis. This is a look at a family who are dealing with multiple members with substance abuse.

This is a largely verite portrait of a family trying to navigate with everything that comes with substance abuse. It’s a film that also just a portrait of a family struggling to remain together. Often raw, despite everyone being aware they are being filmed, this is a film that is going to echo for many people who will see themselves and their loved ones in the people on screen

This is a solid portrait that has much to say. Despite being similar to several other films, OUR AMERICAN FAMILY stands on it’s own legs by showing us a family that is probably a bit closer to the way many of us see our lives.


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Kaepernick and America (2022) opens Friday 9/2

A look at Colin Kaepernick and his influence on America in the aftermath of his refusal to stand for the National Anthem.

I have always supported Kaepernick’s stance. Without refighting the point again the whole point it is his right to speak out how he wants. That’s what the country is all about. If you don’t understand that you clearly don’t understand what this country is all about. I am saying that up front because while I like this film I have issues with it.

As good as the film is in putting things into context  the problem with the film is that because there is a heavy use of news footage the film kind of has a feeling that we have been here before. We’ve seen so many of the images before. It’s the same selection of images on racial strife that have been appearing on all of the news. Additionally the footage we get of people unhappy with Kaepernick are all variations on the exact same theme. While I understand that is the way people feel, at the same time it seems repetitive.

The other problem is the film always seems to keep us at arm’s length. We are never brought in. While we hear Kaepernick’s voice from speeches and in video we never feel as though we are there with him. The things we are hearing him say are not really personal. They are either typical sport related statements or later speeches he is giving. We don’t get any sense of who he is as anything other than as an icon. It’s made worse by the fact that almost all of the talking heads tell us about Kaepernick and events, but we never really get a sense of them from people who were there. This film really could have used Kaepernick to have been on camera and talking about events.

The result is a film I admire more than like.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Liz Whittemore on The Cathedral (2022) opens Friday

An only child’s account of an American family’s rise and fall over two decades. 

Fascinatingly stylized look at the memories that compromise our childhood, The Cathedral is a unique entry in the Sundance 2022 NEXT section. Writer-Director Ricky D’Ambrose uses static camera work to capture angles a child might see, either themselves or from physical photographs from an album. Interspersed with news clips and commercials from the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, the sets, and costumes nail the eras. The Cathedral is narrated by an unknown female voice, recalling the family history in a frank, rather emotionless manner. There are jarring moments due to the lack of sensitivity. They speak volumes and, they make you squirm. There’s something about a multigenerational household that can ruffle feathers. The awkward exchanges from grandmother to grandson, the one-sided conversations from volatile phone calls, and those infamous family gatherings are all things we can relate to from our childhoods.

Performances run the gambit between harsh, exuberant, uneventful, and that is what makes them so realistic. Our memories are but a collection of random references. The anxiety we carry as adults may stem from events such as divorce and/ or prolonged exposure to familial toxic masculinity. At least for many in my generation. The Cathedral shows us D’Ambrose’s ability to captivate an audience in the most unexpected ways. I’m eager to see what comes next.

To read more of Liz's writing head over to her regulsr home Reel News Daily

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Brief thoughts on Licorice Pizza and House of Gucci

Two 2021 Oscar hopeful films hat left me scratching my head

LICORICE PIZZA has me wondering what people see in it. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s tale of high school kid who has a friendship/ romance with a 20 something woman is okay, but I have no idea why we are being told the tale. More to the point I honestly don’t know what people saw in it, and I really have no clue as to why should have been a small drama was shot in 70mm. I understand that the film is based on actual events but to me the film feels more like a bunch of random events than anything with a thematic through line.

Yea, I know that makes me sound like a film snob, but the truth is despite numerous attempts to see this from start to finish it’s more a statement that I honestly don’t know why the film exists. There is no point.

I do have to state that the film lost me early on when I realized that this film never felt real to me.I’m old enough to have been a few years removed from the events depicted, and while I would have been several years younger this never felt like anything like the 1970’s I remember. Granted its set in California where nothing has ever been real, but most film s from or about the 70’s feels right, this felt all wrong and more like movie dress up.

 HOUSE OF GUCCI begins with a statement that it’s based on actual events as opposed to being the gospel truth. That’s good because from the first frame the film is retro-conning events to tell its story. This is the story of one of the house of Gucci’s marrying a woman who eventually decides to try and kill him. It’s a film full of big names chewing scenery and a much too playful nature. Yea, I had fun watching everyone be silly and over the top, but at the same time its so goofy you really can’t feel for anyone. The edge isn’t there.

Much too long, the film runs out of steam somewhere in the middle and it just becomes a slog to the end. I enjoyed it  to some degree but I wish it was more serious. I also want to pick apart the time frame of the movie which seems to shift everything ten years forward to little effect except to allow for Lady Gaga to be the right age when events really begin. (Gaga's counter part was 21 when she met Gucci and 40ish when she tried to kill him.)

While never bad, I can't understand why or how this was considered an Oscar contender

Rageaholic (2022) is a must see.

A loose canon cop is sent to  New York in order to get treatment for his violent tendencies. When he returns he finds the city has changed.  Societal rules are being ruthlessly enforced. Those who cross the line are ending up dead.  What is the dark secret behind it all.

If you do not like blood, gore and graphic violence stay away. I mean seriously stay away. This is not an idle warning since a couple of things in this film had me looking away and groaning. Yea some of it is cathartic in a good way its still stomach churning. I say that now because what I have to say next might make you want to see the film.

This film kicks ass. 

It is in it's way a masterpiece of social commentary about the evils of polite society. It's a blood brother to Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE with it's updated look how the powerful will try control of the outsider. It's also a biting commentary on the ugliness and bullshit hiding behind the face of polite society. In all seriousness this scrappy little film has more to say that any other narrative that I've seen this year. Comedy and violence aside there is enough going on that this is going to end up being taught in film classes in a few years.

As complex as the film is thematically the reality is that everyone is going to be coming to the film for other reasons. The films technical end, the visuals and the structure of the film are going to delight people who love a film crafted at the highest level.  The comedy is going to delight those who can appreciate both sly wit and low brow humor. And then there is the violence, the literal bone crushing, blood splattering violence  which will delight the action fans and blood hounds. I loved it all.

What delighted me is that the film is so carefully crafted that while the film looks low brow and rough, it isn't. Director Yoshiki Takahashi, has crafted a film that works on numerous levels  beginning with putting us in a world with a tactile feel of reality. AT the same time it also adds to the effect of the violence. The fights feel real, not carefully choreographed. We wince because what happens is real, with most of the violence taking people down in one or two shots. Takahashi also crafts the story in such a way that the violence is such that we are wincing , forcing us to ponder if violence is the answer, even as we are cheering  with cathartic release  at the bad guys going down.

 I'm sorry if I am rambling but there is so much here and I need another couple of viewings to do it justice, however there isn't enough time to do so and get this up in a timely manner.

Highly recommended-this is a must see when it starts playing around the world and in a cinema near you (the film just opened in Japan Thursday)

Saturday, August 27, 2022

13 Lives (2022)


13 LIVES is Ron Howard’s version of the rescue of 13 members of a football team in Thailand when a sudden heavy rain storm flooded the passage out.

This is a solid retelling of the events that happened in 2018 when the world came together to try to get the boys and their coach out. Focusing on the Western divers experienced in cave diving, the film gives us a real sense of the dangers of diving into the close quarters of the cave. While the film leaves a lot of details out (including Elon Musk’s boneheaded side show of suggesting a submarine would be best) it gives us enough to make us hang on every turn, even if we know how it’s going to go.

If there are any real flaws it’s perhaps we don’t get to know the Thai rescuers or the kids who are trapped. I don’t blame the filmmakers, more that everyone involved in this story sold their story to someone to make a film of their story, as a result the film (and the earlier National Geo doc THE RESCUE) were limited in what it could discuss in detail.

Ultimately this is a nail biter and worth a look

Low Life (2022)

Be ready to hold your head in your hands because LOW LIFE is going to mess you up.

The plot follows a You Tuber who has made a name for himself catching men who prey on kids for sex. Things go horribly wrong when a predator shows up at his house…and what happens is the film.

I’m not saying any more. I dare not. All I will say is that everyone on screen is going to have a bad night, an incredibly bad night for reasons no one can expect. Frankly Liz Whittemore was right when she told me that this is the first film in years where she had no idea where it was going to go. I would add that the twists and turns don’t seem out of place which makes it even tenser because nothing is coming at you out of left field and you feel like you should have seen it coming.

I really dislike that this film is not playing in theaters because I can only imagine what a theatrical screening of this film would be like. Lots of murmuring and people talking out loud to no one. People covering their eyes and ears because they are so uncomfortable.

Oh yea- this is not a film of physical violence, though that’s here, rather it’s a film of uncomfortable behavior by unpleasant people, bad choices and awkward discussions. I mean the film begins dwelling on child molestation and goes from there.  It  reminds me of the skeevy film CHILDREN OF THE DARK that played the New York Asian Film Festival which lived in a similar world and which made you feel dirty enough that you’ll want to shower when its done. You may want to shower when LOW LIFE is done as well.

This film is a punch in the face.

If you don’t mind being uncomfortable and want to see a thriller unlike any other see LOW LIFE

Friday, August 26, 2022


Big city reporter comes home for her father’s funeral and ends up obsessed with an audio recording of him talking about the strange lights in the desert. Hoping to connect she goes wandering into the desert.

Less horror and science fiction film than the story of a lost daughter trying to reconnect with a lost loved one this film doesn’t really work. There are no scares and no real suspense despite the fact that much of the film is made up of people telling spooky stories.

The reason the film doesn’t work at all is that the entire film is told in a series of close ups. It seems every shot, outside of the opening credits or the photographs the father took are close ups of a character’s face. No effort is ever made to really give a sense of space or place, there are almost no establishing or wide shots. Everything is too close as if the filmmakers are trying to hide something.  I think they are trying to make us lean in and feel close to the characters and emotions, especially since there are lots of long takes of them telling stories, but it’s too much of a “good” thing. It doesn’t match real life since it’s not how we look at anything. We shift our gaze, even when staring intently. Here the result is like looking at a talking still photo, which is  not claustrophobic just dull.

I disconnected.

To be completely fair there is a good story here, it just needs to be told to us in a different way.

Not recommended.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Alienoid (2022)

One of the most anticipated films for this year’s New York Asian and Fantasia film festival was not available for screening  unless you went to the festival to see it. The press screeners were not available so I had to wait until the film was ready to be released to theaters this week to see it.

Excited when my turn came I made a huge bowl of popcorn and then sat down to see one of my must sees.

This is the first half of a big budget crazy science fiction time traveling action film. The film has aliens merging their criminals with humans and holding them on earth.  In 14th century Korea one of the criminals break free and is stopped by a team of good aliens who crash through time in an SUV kill him and then jump back to the present taking the child  of the villain’s host back with them.  Ten years on they are raising the young girl and dealing with the occasional outbreak.  However events in the past where two wizards and several other people are looking for a divine blade that will defeat evil are beginning to have an effect on the present and things are starting to get messy as more aliens begin to arrive and time begins to crack.

If that doesn’t a hell of a lot of sense it’s because watching the film it doesn’t really make a hell of a lot of sense. There are a lot of people running around talking about things that are only half explained. The tone of the film is all over the place as deadly serious mixes uneasily with humor. 

I don’t know what to make of it all. Half way into the film I found I was enjoying the motion  despite not having any clue as to what was going on. However by the end of the film I started to tune out. The motion and the complications of the plot seemed to become more and more contrived as the film tried to build up to a cliff hanger ending that will bring everyone back for next year… because this is only the first part of a two part story.

And that’s the rub, this is only half a story. There is more to come down the road, and despite there way too much going  to be contained in even another film I’m not sure there is enough to to justify coming back in a year.  Yes the action is spectacular, but there are too many characters to fully get a handle on most of them and as a result we don’t care enough about them to consider coming back for part two.  I say this because in many ways this film reminds me of an attempt to duplicate the Infinity War saga from the MCU. The problem is that where Infinity War and Endgame could use short hand for its character development because it had over a decade of films leading up to that moment, ALIENOID has nothing. We only know the characters that stand before us and they aren’t clearly defined. Outside of one or two there is no one I need to see in another film. Yea, I’d like to see what happens next, but I’m not dying to know. Honesty I’ll probably have forgotten what happened here by the time the next film comes out and I’ll have to rewatch this before I see the next one.

I suspect this will play better when I can see it all at once, but until then this first film is a spectacular motion machine that doesn’t add up to much.

While not really bad I’d wait until next year when you can see it all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Here Be Dragons (2022) Cinequest Film Fest 2022

David Locke is a former UN Peacekeeper turned Crimes Against Humanity investigator gets a visit from his past. An old acquaintance shows up to say he has information that a Balkan war criminal and he wants Locke to hunt him down many decades after the fact. Wading into the hunt things become complicated as the hunt opens old wounds and makes him wonder what is the right way to handle horrors of the past.

This is a solid little thriller with some ideas on it’s mind that manages to do what seems to be nigh impossible these days, namely make a crackerjack thriller that also manages to make us think about the things we are seeing on screen. This is important today when memory is thirty seconds long and everyone wants to forget that bad latte never mind the atrocities of the past. In this case we are asked what do we get by digging up the past? And what of the criminals who say that they have changed over time?

At the same time as the film is asking questions in the shading of the film, front and center this is a solid thriller/drama that grabs us and drags us along. Sure there are a couple of bumps, but nothing is fatal since we always remain engaged and invested in the action and the characters.

I really liked this film a great deal. I liked that it wasn’t a big flashy thriller. The small scale nature of the film adds a great deal to the feel of the film. It feels real and not like a Tom Cruise thriller.

This is a gem of a film and exactly the sort of film I set up Unseen Films to highlight.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

1.5 MILLION (2022)

This a look at the relationship of the NYC borough of The Bronx to books, bookstores, libraries and literacy. It’s a look how having access to books and being taught to read can change a community for the better. It’s a love affair to reading and books and how  those things can make a better life for those who read. It is also a warning about cutting off people’s access to them.

As a life long reader and a former Barnes and Noble  employee who used his employment to feed his literary addiction, I really liked 1.5 MILLION a great deal. This is a vital and important look at the need for literacy in our society. The film charts how one of the densest counties in New York State went from having only three book stores to having many more. It charts how the stores and the libraries have helped improved the neighborhoods they served and how threats to close them resulted in community battles.

What I love about this film is that this is it's not big and flashy. This isn’t a film that has been edited to within an inch of it’s life. Instead it’s film in love with the Bronx and the people who live there. Director Gregory Hernandez doesn’t pick people just to recite facts but instead picks people who speak with passion. They speak with passion for their borough, for reading and for the need to make sure people can read and do read. We come to understand how being literate changed lives. Hernandez fills the film with personal stories that connect to and move us because within the words spoken we are hearing our neighbors and we come to see why literacy is important. In having such a great collection of people telling their stories the film transcends being just about the Bronx and instead is about anywhere where literacy is in danger.

While there are a bump or two along the way, it really doesn’t matter. This is a film that we connect to an moves us on a very real very human level.


Look for 1.5 MILLION at festivals in the fall and spring

Monday, August 22, 2022

BREAKING (2022) opens Friday

This is a repost of a review that ran during out coverage of Sundance when the film was called 892.

John Boyega firmly becomes the leading man everyone knew he was in the true story of  Brian Brown-Easley who took over a bank claiming that he had a bomb because he needed someone to listen to him about his situation and needed to get the $892 owed him by the government by the veterans administration. Its a heart breaking tale that will crush you.

While I could quibble with things in the film, indeed I did not instantly connect to the film because the film seems destined to be another man angry at the system tale that Hollywood cranks out with regularity. However about ten minutes in Boyega suddenly opens up and we will follow him everywhere.  You can forget any notion of Hollywood cliché, Boyega wipes it away with a performance that really should be the the first locked and loaded Oscar nominee.

In all serious this is a performance for the ages. Never mind the Michael Caine saying if you can act with your eyes you have it, the truth of the matter is Boyega is Brown-Easly with every fiber of his body. He bounces from manic, to loving to broken on a dime, often with in one scene. He bleeds humanity off the screen as we feel his desperation  bleed off the screen while at the same time we want to give him a hug as he treats the hostages with care and takes message from bank clients wanting to speak to a representative. It may sound funny but it transcends expectations and draws us in becase it doesn't feel like a stunt but something Brown-Easley would have done.

Equally wonderful are Olivia Washington,  Selenis Leyva and Nicole Beharie as the tellers and Brown-Easley's ex-wife and Michael K Williams as the hostage negotiator who genuinely wants to help the desperate Brown-Easley.  They all are so good that you will wish we got to know them more. 

The film also scores points looking at the official bullshit  (including racism) that caused Brown-Easley's life to implode and the hostage situation to end as it did. There is enough here to make us incredibly angry, though the fleeting reference to why the payment check got redirected, should either have been cut or expanded slightly so it didn't feel added in (it's the one moment that felt off)

This film is a stunner. Easily one of the best films at the 2022 Sundance film festival it rocked me to the point that I had to go out and walk the dog just to clear my head

Highly recommended

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Nightcap 8/21/22- not much to see here

This is just a few quick random notes

September is looking to be coverage of the following festivals






With some random titles mixed in. Once more Unseen will be sharing coverage with Reel News Daily


Labor Day weekend I most definitely be running the interviews I did at NYAFF and Tribeca. They are all transcribed and just need to have the spelling of names corrected.

I actually like how all of them came out. The NYAFF one’s are not earth shaking, there simply wasn’t enough time to be, but they are still pretty good.


Costa Brava, Lebanon (2022)


Family moves from Beirut to the country to get away from the pollution and corruption of the big city, only to find the government has decided the plot next to theirs is the perfect place for a garbage dump for all pf Beirut's garbage.

A good family drama about trying to flee  our troubles is overwhelmed by the need to fashion a tale that drives home the point a literally. I really liked the cast and the central premise but as soon as the garbage started coming in the family drama began to wobble with things that just took away from the subtlety. While it doesn't kill the film it hurts it since odds are anyone who is going to see this isn't going to need all the less subtle themes spelled out.

Despite being a disappointment the film is worth a look since hidden in the refuse is a solid drama worth taking time for. 

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Up Periscope (1959)


Based on a novel and having a plot similar to Destination Tokyo, Up Periscope is the story of a navy frogman (James Garner) who is tasked with being dropped  near a certain island where he is to make his way to a Japanese base where he is to steal the Japanese codes. He is to be dropped there by a sub commanded by a by the book captain whose action caused the death of some of his crew despite saving the sub and the rest of his men.  O’Brien is still shaken by the experience and warns Garner that he is going to go by the book, however as time goes on he bends, putting his crew in more danger in order to make sure Garner succeeds.

This is solid entertainment. I have no idea how accurate it is but it is gripping. To be certain some of the window dressing could be lost, Garner being chosen by the girl he is romancing for example, but the rest is perfect popcorn material.  To be certain the film is a bit to close to DETINATION TOKYO, having cribbed some sequences, but at the same time the film steals from the best.

Honestly when I was done with a recent TCM screening where I saw it for the first time I was delighted to find a new film I could pop on just to chill.


DASH (2022) Cinequest 2022

 DASH is  a single take car ride where a ride share drive with lots of troubles has to navigate multiple customers,  many more lovers and some drugs he needs to sell.

I’m not going to say that DASH is the greatest thing since sliced bread but it’s a good little film that I’m glad I saw. I should probably apologize to the filmmakers with what may seem like a cavalier attitude but the truth is that’s what it is. It’s a neat little film.

Its also a film that’s kind of hard to really critique. The  reason is that the “one take” nature of the film makes the film that you either accept and go with or one that makes you crazy.  While I know some people will not like the entire film is shot looking into the car through the front window. There are other people, such as myself, who will be fascinated with  watching how it  all plays out. Wanting to know how they did it make me lean in and get hooked on everything that was transpiring before me.  While there is no doubt that some of it is contrived simply to allow for things to play out as they do and for plotlines to be resolved, I still got invested with the turns. I actually wished I had seen this in a theater where the huge screen would have improved the experience by making it close to sitting on the hood of a car.

While there are some bumps, particularly in that the performances can be uneven, this is still a film that’s worth a look.

Playing this weekend at Cinequest its worth a look.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Getaway If You Can (2022)

Terrence Martin & Dominique Braun write direct and star in a film that is in the running for most pretentious film of the year and possessing a title that best sums up my feelings for the film

The filmmakers play a couple who sail off to sea. As they approach the islands of despair their relationship goes through a trial as both reflect on their paths and try to forge a path forward.

Some good, if occasionally uneven performances get lost in a film that isn't always clear. There are lots of flashbacks, flights of fantasy and moments that seem to have come from left field. Little is explained and when it is, we are frequently left feeling like we should told just a little bit more. I kept feeling like someone cut the first minute of many scenes.This is a film where silences are meaningful, and it would be nice but the film never grounds us in any sort of place and we are adrift from the first moments. Yes some of this does come together but not enough.

On the plus side the film is frequently stunning to look at, with the film containing some of my favorite images of the year. The film also contains a kickass performance from Ed Harris, which isn't surprising since he's never bad.

While I am almost tempted to recommend it for Harris' performance there simply isn't enough here to do so.

Skip this one.

Squeal (2022)


While on a trip to Eastern Europe a  man, who doesn’t speak the language ends up chained with the pigs by a pig farmer. As he tries to figure out how to escape he is befriended by a pig.

Off kilter black comedy fairy tale is either going to thrill you or make you want to flee. Its a twisted tale that is not for all tastes. Its a very knowing tale that is very interested in making a point of some sort. I’m not entirely sure what that point was or more damagingly if it’s even a valid point. Frankly despite being about pigs this film is really just a long rambling shaggy dog story. I was willing to go with for a while until I suddenly began to realize it wasn’t going to go anywhere. There was a point some way past the half way mark where I got a sense that this was heading toward an WTF ending. While it’s not WTF it is a head scratcher.

Frankly I think that despite the director’s thoughts this film really doesn’t have a point.

Not recommended

DIstress Signals (2022) (spoilers) Popcorn Frights 2022

Caroline is a young woman who wakes up at the bottom of a cliff in the woods. She had been camping with a friend and somehow ended up a battered and bruised at the bottom of cliff. She then has to walk out and try and figure out what happened.

This painfully dull film is a film you can skip. Nothing much happens over the course of this film which spends most of the first hour following our heroine wandering through the woods trying to find her way home. After a brief encounter we’re back to walking in the woods (probably an hour of this 75 minute film is just -Caroline either walking in the woods or sitting alone by a fire)

I was a big fan of directors Terrence Krey and Christine Nyland's earlier film AN UNQUIET GRAVE. In that film not a hell of a lot happens until the ending, however the film builds tension by having the two main characters discuss the situation and what they are trying to do. Unfortunately this film is largely a one woman show, and while the its interesting for a bit, the film kind of collapses in on itself when nothing  happens except walking and we begin to ask questions about the why and how of some events.  I watched this film twice, hoping things would click but the second time through (because Liz Whittemore said she liked it more than I did before I could post this review) but I was more flummoxed.Yes I know that the film is the story of a suicidal woman deciding she wants to live, but there is little here to engage the audience through the film’s over length. Yes  we don’t know what happened at the start but it’s pretty clear early on what the story is, we just have to wait for the grand revelation to happen on screen. The recent film THE INTEGRITY OF JOSEPH CHAMBERS is similar in that not a great deal happens, until it does, but at the same time it gives us more to look at then just someone wandering through the woods. CHAMBERS builds character through actions more than just walking and sitting by a fire with a pouty face.

To be honest this would have been a great short film but stretched to feature length its deadly dull.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Immaculate Room (2022)

As part of an experiment a couple is to stay in a huge, largely barren, and completely white room for 40 days. If they last the whole time they will be given a huge fortune. If either one leaves before the end they only get a million dollars. As time goes on they must take part in various games which are designed to break them.

This film has a script that would have been killer on stage where the intimacy of the theater would have drawn us in. The ability to see two people dismantle over the course of an evening would have been magical and everything the theater is best known for. Seriously the thought of seeing stars Emile Hirsch and Kate Bosworth break apart would have been a hot ticket on Broadway.

Additionally seeing a story on stage allows stories that could never be in real work for our entertainment. We forgive twists and turns because of suspension of disbelief and the need to allow for modifications of being on stage. With film you have less leeway because it’s closer to reality.  I mention this because THE IMMACULATE ROOM takes numerous turns that would work on the stage where we  forgive  but on screen they really don’t make any sense.

The first thing is that makes no sense is the couple have no real idea what they are getting into going in. They are woefully oblivious to the rules of anything until they get in. The scene where they are reading the rules when they went in makes no real sense to me since you would think they would have some idea what they were getting into.  Most of what follows doesn’t feel natural.  The turns all feel like they are there just to drive the plot forward, rather than something organic. I also take umbridge at not really knowing what the point of this “experiment” is, more so with the ending being what it is. I was left wondering what the point of it all was rather than being moved.

And that is rather sad because Hirsch and especially Bosworth give two stellar performances.

Outside of seeing two great performances I can’t recommend a trip to this room.

Kili Big (2021) opens today

A group of plus sized women decide to train and go to Africa and mountain climb.

This is good story that probably would have been better in different hands. For me the film gets lost in repeated discussions and statements about the women’s size and how they “can’t” do this.  That’s the premise and it didn’t need to be repeated over and over.  What they did was really cool regardless of their size.

A disappointment. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Runner (2022)

Aiden is a rich  high school kid who is into running and drugs. After his mother turns him into the cops he is forced by the police to work as an informant unaware of what it is going to cost him.

I'm really not sure what I think of this film. To be honest, the cast is great, the crime stuff is compelling but the script is really bumpy. It tries to paint Aiden as basically a good kid with problems, but a lot of the time he comes off as an absolute jerk. One minute he's cocky and the next he's not. It didn't seem to me that it was a matter of him having different sides, it feels more like they simply have him behave as they need him to at the moment. The film also tries to do somethings with things shifting through time via flashbacks but it gets confusing.

I blame the script's wonkiness on the desire to make this film a polemic of sorts. This film very much wants us to consider the dangers of being an informant, however it's doing so by framing it as a slick crime drama. As a crime drama this film kicks ass,  the problem is the film occasionally wants to fold things into seriousness. The film isn't that. This is a really good, really solid crime drama that doesn't need to have pretensions spray painted on to it.

I need to apologize to the filmmakers and to you the reader because the flood of promotional material which pushed the deeper intentions of the film. Had I not been exposed to it I think I would have enjoyed this more. As a result this is worth a look for crime film fans.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Keane (2004) Opens at Lincoln Center Friday

Lodge Kerrigan’s story of a man lost in grief is a kick in the chest. It’s a tour deforce performance that permanently put star Damian Lewis on the map for many people who encountered him for the first time when they saw the film.

The plot has Lewis playing a man trying to find his daughter in and around  the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. She had been abducted some time before and he keeps returning to the terminal in order to try and find her or the person who abducted her. The strain has clearly broken him.

While everyone talks about Lewis’s performance what is more interesting is the structure of the script.  When you see the film for the first time you don’t realize what the situation is, we think Lewis has just lost his daughter and he is going up to random people to ask for help. While some of the interactions were scripted some were not. And the result is a film that breaks us six ways to Sunday. Its only after we’ve followed Lewis around a while that it becomes clear that something isn’t right with him and what we thought was true isn’t entirely. As a result we sink deeper into sadness.

When I saw the film the first time I was floored. Its just a giant ball of emotion. We are inside Lewis’s character’s mind and its heart breaking. Later viewing changed things slightly in that knowing what is going on alters how we see things and we have distance, but it still haunts us.

If you’ve never seen Keane you must give it a go. And if you haven’t seen it in ages, like me, you should revisit since its still haunting .

(Random Fact when the film was released to home video originally the DVD included an alternate cut by Steven Soderbergh that tells the same story but through Soderberghs eyes. Its an intriguing look at how editing effects a film)

Monday, August 15, 2022

The Territory (2022) opens Friday

Get ready to get pissed off as we watch how the indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people are slowly being squeezed out and hunted by people looking to get themselves some land to farm. Spurred on by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's hateful rhetoric people invade the protected territory and destroy the rain forest. 

Its a sad thing to witness because many of the people coming to tke over the land think the Uru-eu-wau-wau just live off the land and don't create anything. They think they should go get  life. Its tlling that these same people note how much cooler it is in the jungle than on the farm land they covert, but they stillwant to have farm land. Its also sad that all of the small guys causing the destuction  in the invasion will in all likelihood end up taken over by big farming companies.

Half way into this film I was so  pissed off I had to pause the film and calm down.. The stupidity of the people trying to take all the land is monumental. They can see the problems with trying to turn the jungle into farms but they don't understand it. I was well aware of the trubles but this film gave it a very real face.

This film is a stunner. Its a film that will clearly show you what is being lost to the world by the destruction of the forest, not just the human cost but the envirmental one as well.

One of the best films at Sundance it is highly recommended

Elsa (2022) Hollyshorts 2022

Portrait of Elsa Sjunneson a deafblind woman who is also a fencer, an essayiest, a speculative fiction writer, a comic book writer and several dozen other things. 

This is a short film that connects to and expands upon material in the American Masters film BECOMING HELEN KELLER.  It is also a killer portrait of a woman  who probably needs a whole feature about herself. There is simply too much to here to fill seven minutes without making you want to know more.

This is a solid short portrait. Sjunneson is a hell of a woman, and she is the sort of person we need now. A crusader for the rights of those with disabilities, and pretty much everyone else, she  is  woman who will not be stopped , nor does she want anyone else to stop. 

This is a super film. Its a film that made me  smile and filled me with hope.

Highly recommended. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Nightcap 8/14/22 Random stuff coming up....

There was supposed to be a  piece last Sunday night but the subject- the lack of films for August got sidelined when I got flooded with films for August.

There are still a few empty slots but I suspect I will fill those with a few pick up films as well as the three interviews I did in June and July.

The Signe Bauman film is transcribed and just needs to be tweaked. It remains one of my favorites that I’ve ever done. The other two, from NYAFF are close to being finished  and should be done in short order. Expect them all to run Labor Day weekend

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do for the weeks after the New York Film Festival but I have time to sort it out.


I'm trying to decide if there will be an Unseen Film Awards this year.  I paused the awards last year because everyone's watching habits were so all over the place, we couldn't come up with a way of making it work. Would you have interest if we can pull it together?


I need four films for the annual Thanksgiving Turkeys.

Any suggestions?


I don’t know my status of press credentials for NYFF, but I know I will see at least 10 films because I have a package.

I’ve also seen two films already. Both DESCENDANT and ALL THAT BREATHES are highly recommended.

And while we are talking festivals I should be covering both Camden and Tall Grass, the later is at the same as NYFF so it should make for interesting madness.


Film discussion wise I’m burnt out. Social media is either too much on MCU, DCU and big budget series or too much on the films playing at the early fall fests and their chances for year end awards based on the people involved as opposed to what anyone has seen. Its all speculation based on gazing in their own navels

I really wish people would talk about the good films they’ve seen but no one else has. I want to find new treasures...more so right now because so much of what I'm seeing is really.

BORN OF WOMAN collection From Fantasia 2022

Here are some brief thoughts on the films that played as part of the BORN OF WOMAN collection at Fantasia 2022 

A woman whose hand was cut off by a dinner date is given a special box to help her.

Odd comedy drama with pointed things to say about the patriarchal structure of society. Whether it works for you or not will be determined by your feeling toward the tone.

Director Tiffany Kimmel relives the trauma of going to the hospital when she was child in a frightening horror film of real life

2 people meet via a 1980’s dating service.

This just missed for me.

Gut punch film has a bartender dealing with her recent surgery, her customers and memories of the past.

Bleak dystopian tale of a hopeful story told between two women trapped in factory with no future.

Beautiful but the counterpoint is unbelievably sad.

At a border  woman must convince a computer that she and her newborn are eligible for refugee status.

More sadness of the dystopia we are heading towards. Ultimately more a Polemic than a thriller.

A woman travels with her new born to country to participate in a ritual.

Folk horror tale that just kind of misses

After her love dies, a composer write of piece of music in the hop of bringing her lover back.

A beautiful mood piece.

A young woman cares for her young siblings using gile and supernatural means.

This is a ghost story that reminds me of the horror stories for Christmas series from the BBC

Saturday, August 13, 2022

PRETTY PICKLE (2022) Hollyshorts

 A man begins to dwell on his girlfriend’s quirks until he makes a startling discovery.

My reaction to this film was that the film was okay until a certain moment at which point you just stare wide eyed and slack jawed at the screen. It’s one of those moments that comes out of left field and makes you sit up and gasp. I dare not say more because the whole film hinges on where this goes, however I will say that while at the same saying its the sort of thing that could make some people argue that director Jim Vendiola needs to be put away where he can't hurt himself or audiences


Fantasia 2022's SMALL GAUGE TRAUMA collection

Thoughts on the SMALL GAUGE TRAUMA collection from this year's Fantasia Fest 

A man gets his DNA results and a mask that lets him see the slave ship of his ancestors.

This is a great looking horror film that has some creepy moments that doesn’t quite work as well as the moments because the film has a few too many unanswered questions. It almost works but doesn’t

This left me feeling torn. I love that spam callers were in danger of losing their life if they didn’t make the sale but at the same time you feel bad that it’s a possibility….

A dog sitter is faced with a cute puppy  who is a homicidal maniac.

If you’ve ever had a dog or a cat you’ll really relate. I mean really relate.

A woman is left by the side of the road by her obnoxious boyfriend.  She finds a scooter and rides off, running into trouble outside a burger joint, as something begins killing people.

Feminist horror film is a kick in the pants. While not really scary it still kicks serious ass with its tale of vengeance. I have to say that this film does more in its brief time to say about female empowerment than a couple of features with similar takes that played Fantasia.

The moody and heartbreaking story of a young girl who goes in the forest to find the spirit who collects the stories of the dead.

This is an utterly heartbreaking chiller that is pitch perfect from start to finish.

Magnificent film about a young girl who can connect to the spirits inside people. She is sought out to help with exorcisms, but is having doubts about what she does,

Absolutely wonderful character study in the guise of a horror film. A must.

Two little girls recite a spell with unexpected, and monstrous, consequences.

This is why you don’t mess around with magic unless you know what the heck you are doing.

Grand masterpiece that is close to a single take story of two young girls on a remote island when  their mommy goes crazy.

This is as chilling a horror film as you will see all year or maybe ten.

Lucienne in a World without Solitude
In a world where everyone travels with an exact double of themselves, a woman becomes obsessed by a man who has lost his double.

This is a really good fantasy film that maybe a bit too long. Still the ending packs a punch.

Friday, August 12, 2022

The Fore-Men (2022) Hollyshorts 2022

TFMTrailer.mp4 from Zeus Pictures on Vimeo.

 This is one the most amazing films I’ve seen this year. It’s a visually arresting science fiction film that portends the arrival of a great filmmaker, Adrian Bobb, and, should they expand this into a feature (it's in the works), a potential science fiction classic.

The plot has two survivors trying to deal with a catastrophic event that compressed time. Beasts of all times are now roaming together. Things become complicated when the survivors meet the people behind the event.

I don’t know if the film makes sense. I don’t think the film is long enough to answer all of the questions it raises, but being a short it manages to brush away doubts because we understand there isn’t enough time. Additionally this film has enough going on that there is simply too much to ponder as s that you don’t have to worry about what isn’t there. You are just going to be blown away by what is here.

The real lynch pin to it all is the visuals. Kudos to Bobb and his team who give us a mix of stunning things to see and ponder. Giant beasts in the landscape mingle with some truly frighting dark figures.  It’s a visual delight of the highest order. What I love is that the film takes the aesthetic of Gareth Edwards and his film Monsters thus making the film feel lived in and real.

This film is a masterpiece and one of the best I’ve seen all year simply because it filled me with a sense of wonder I haven’t experienced much in the last few years. All films should be this maginficent.

Highly recommended, it plays this weekend at Hollyshorts in LA

FREE CHOL SOO LEE (2022) opens today


This is the story of Korean born Chol Soo Lee who was framed by the police who made him the murder suspect for a killing in San Francisco's Chinatown. Relying only on Caucasian testimony they ignored all the witnesses who said he didn't do it. They also ignored the chatter in Chinatown that said "the Korean didn't do it".

An important case of racial injustice that got worse by turns, (Lee had to kill a man in prison in self defense and there were later tragedies) is given a not very good telling in a film made for PBS's Independent Lens. The issue here is that the telling in jumbled, and not clear. For example talk of a committee to help get Lee free isn't mentioned until some time in the telling. The way the film is told you have no sense that Lee has any even vague support other than the woman who is his friend- when she says that she joined the committee.  Other details are left out (any real sense of the police or their investigation) or left hanging until they are brought in in such away that I was left to wonder why we weren't told that before. I was constantly asking questions to the screen the film never addressed or addressed badly (there is almost no sense of Chinatown as a place). The result is a film that is less moving than it should be, especially in the later section of the film when we should be crushed by the turn of events.

I was left shaking my head.

For me the film is a major disappointment. It's clear this is an important story but the telling doesn't do it justice and it's under 90 minute run time doesn't help. It feels like the film was put together by people too close to the material and checked by people just as close to the story.

A miss

FALL (2022)


If you have any interest in FALL go see it in a theater with the biggest screen possible. The film is pure movie spectacle and it needs to be seen as BIG as possible. Honestly if any film was made for IMAX this is it.

The plot of the film has two women going to climb a disused radio tower in the middle on nowhere. Called the fourth highest structure in America is it an abandoned metal tower over 2000 feet tall. One of the women is trying to get over the death of her husband  a short time before. He had fallen in climbing accident that she feels is her fault. Once they get to the top a section of the ladder breaks away and they are left stranded.

This film is all about the visuals. Its all about being on a tiny platform thousands of feet in the air. The visuals make the film and if you don’t like heights odds are this film is going to make you sick.  Yea, it you know it was done with green screen and tricks photography  but at the same time the result is as truly a harrowing experience as you will ever have in a movie theater.

The trick is that you really have to see this film in a theater where each turn is going to make you and those around you scream. If you don’t see this on the big screen, say on a TV or laptop (as I did), this is going to play to much lesser effect.

The problem with this film is that outside of the visuals there isn’t much here. The plot is nothing we haven’t seen before and its pretty much something that we could write ourselves. If you want to know how my the numbers the film is consider that one of the producers has made several similar films set in other locations where one or two people are stranded in a scary situation (often with sharks).  This film is so rote that the scenes of questionable steel cables and magically unscrewing bolts produce snickers instead of chills. And then there is one turn that had me literally screaming profanity at the screen threatening to kick the filmmakers in their privates because it was a total bullshit turn.

Of course had I seen this in a theater I would have felt differently since the images would have over whelmed the stupidity.

Recommended only if you can see this on the big screen because the images will make you forgive the stupid turns.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

We Are Living Things (2022) opens Friday

A workman taking up with a Chinese woman living in the US illegally. She is traveling under someone else's identity. The pair seem to know each other and they both share an obsession with an alien abduction that may or may not have happened.

 WE  ARE LIVING THINGS haunts me. I saw the film a couple of weeks before Slamdance and the film flipped a switch in me. Some how it just clicked with me and I have been haunted by the films look and feel and some of the scenes. I don't know why because in a weird way it doesn't do anything special except tell a compelling story.

Before you jump away understand that the film plays things absolutely straight. This is a drama cum thriller that plays things straight. If I walked into this film unaware of what it was about I wouldn't have known where it  was going, not that I could have really guessed. This is a drama and not a science fiction tale.

I have held off writing about the film because I'm not sure what to really say. My thoughts on the film are not about plot and detils but emotion. The film kicks up certin emotions that I can't really describe. It's hard to write up a review that says "I liked the film because it had a certain feel"  and then not be able to explain it.

Basically what I need you to do is take it on faith that WE ARE LIVING THINGS is worth at least trying. I'm not going to say that you'll fall in love with the film, but I think you will, as with all Slamdance films, find that there is something interesting there. This is basically a film you need to experience more than read about- mostly because my words can't express what I really want to say.


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Emergency Declaration (2021)

As the police are informed that some people think that their neighbor is the guy threatening to do something to an airplane, the same neighbor gets on a flight looking  to do something terrible. The police quickly learn that the man has done something with a horrible disease and have to race to try and find him...just as someone on the flight begins to die horribly.

This is a killer film. Planned to be made at the time that covid shut the world down the filmmakers took the time to tweak their script and production with an eye of making this as realistic as possible.  They wanted it all to be as close to what would happen as possible. It was a move that paid off with an absolute killer thriller. This is a film that is quite simply going to make some people not want to fly.

I was rocked. This film grabbed me from the opening moments and dragged me white knuckled to the end. Yes, I knew some of this was a bit too neat and too formulaic, but at the same time I was so invested  I didn't care. I was willing to follow this anywhere because the cast, which includes greats like Song Kang-ho, and Lee Byung-hung, sells it. You believe because they believe.

I had a blast watching this. I was so in love with this film that I wished I was sitting in a theater with a big bucket of popcorn and a grape Hi-C  and losing myself in the madness. 

What a delight.

Recommended for those who want to take a white knuckle flight.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Roundup (2022) hits digital today

This is a sequel to OUTLAWS, not that you need to have seen that film, Ma Seok-do is a killer cop who is set up as a bad ass from the second scene where he stops a hostage situation cold. Everything you need to know about the unstoppable cop is learned in that one scene. Frankly he’s so kick ass I’m shocked this is only the first sequel.

The plot has Seok-do going to Vietnam in order to pick up a fugitive who voluntarily surrendered. Why he was doing that is a question that bothers the veteran cop and it becomes clear when he finds out that fugitive’s business of kidnapping tourists for ransom and killing them blew up in his face when he picked a mob connected victim and now his boss wants him dead. At this point bodies begin piling up and Ma Soek-do has to follow them to the man behind it all.

Told with wit and speed THE ROUNDUP is a killer film. Moving like a bone crushing wind this is one of the best action films I’ve seen this year. It’s not trying to do anything but entertain and make its audience yelp out loud with delight. This is a film you’ll want to see again and again with all your action loving friends and family. Best of all this fitting sequel to OUTLAWS scores bonus points for being a wonderful stand alone film.

I can’t say enough good about this film.

See it

Monday, August 8, 2022

Ariela Rubin on Girl Picture (2022) which opens Friday


Girl Picture is a Finish movie about three women coming of age and navigating love and sex.  Best friends, Mimmi and Rönkkö are having two different experiences with love and relationships. Then there's Emma, who is a competitive figure skating who Mimmi meets and is interested in. Meanwhile, Rönkkö feels nothing with the guys she's hooking up with and all she is hoping for is to feel something. 

I think Girl Picture is the first Finish movie I've ever seen. The film isn't groundbreaking, but it's pretty realistic to real life. It explores fears and confusion surrounding love and sex. Some of the conversations were a bit cringy though and I wondered if girls would really say certain things they did in real life.  I really like female coming-of-age relationship-type movies and so overall, I enjoyed it. I liked that there was some humor in it as well, and I thought all three women did a great job.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Old Man (2020) is released Tuesday

With THE OLDMAN THE MOVIE hitting digital release Tuesday here is my Review from last year's Fantasia

What do you get if you cross Shaun the Sheep with A Town Called Panic and filter it through the mind of kid who likes poop jokes?  The answer is THE OLD MAN THE MOVIE, a wickedly funny very unPC comedy that was spun off of Estonian TV series.

The plot has three kids going to stay with their grandfather  on his farm for the summer. The kids end up releasing his cow who wanders off the farm. The grandfather is horrified, but things take a turn for the worst when a wheelchair bound "old milker" shows up to say that the cow has to be found lest it make too much milk and explode in an explosion rivaling an atomic bomb. As the grandfather and kids head off on the tractor to find the cow, and bring her back, the old milker gets some chainsaw wielding nut jobs to help him find and kill the cow. WHat follows is a steady stream of off the wall jokes and turns you'll never see coming.

Rude, crude and sure to shock any parent who unwittingly takes their young ones to see "an animated film" the film will delight adults and older kids who love off color jokes. The big kid that I am I was roaring from start to finish wondering at what point this film was going to hit the US and take over the world.

Wrong on so many levels and right for exactly that reason THE OLD MAN MOVIE is one of the best films playing at Fantasia, assuming you are looking for well done films in bad taste. Highly recommended.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Battle of Worlds (1961) Gets a 4K special edition on Tuesday

One of the first prerecorded VHS tapes I ever bought was the Italian Space Opera Battle of the Worlds. I bought it because it was a science fiction film and it was in a bargain bin so I could purchase it for a couple of bucks and have something to watch. It was a washed out, but watchable, pan and scan print that chopped out chunks of the 2.35 to 1 image. Not that it mattered it was a schlocky film and I loved it.

The truth of the matter is because the film has been kicking around in bargain bins for decades, almost always in crappy transfers no one has ever really seen the film the way it was meant to be seen, namely wide screen. We’ve crucified and laughed at the film simply because the film the presentation was not what it should be.

Okay, okay… seeing the film wide screen isn’t going to suddenly make you think the film is a masterpiece of scifi cinema but it will make the film slightly better. I mean the film is a good but slow space opera about a stray planet that approaches earth and once in orbit starts sending out craft to battle the earthlings. The film haunts me because it’s the final film of Claude Rains and because the sets of the alien planet seem to have rooted inside mt head. There is a physical nature to them that I rarely saw in Italian space operas of the period.

Releasing Tuesday Film Detective is releasing a 4k scan of Battle of the Worlds and it’s never looked better. This is another outstanding job by the company and seeing their edition is like seeing the film for the first time. To be certain the film is far from perfect but the new scan makes it clear that that the film is less cheesy then we have been thinking for decades.  The problems with the film are not the fault of the scenic designers whose work now can be seen to have rightly haunted my nightmares.

If you’ve only seen this film in a poorly transferred edition the Film Detective edition is a must more so because it has their usual slate of nigh impossible to beat extras (BONUS FEATURES: Original essay by author Don Stradley, Margheriti’s World; Full-length commentary track by film historian Justin Humphreys; all-new original production, A Cinematic Outsider: The Fantastical Worlds of Antonio Margheriti by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; and an insert with a special surprise for TFD fans.)

Releasing Tuesday it is recommended.

I need to also mention that the film is going to be riffed by the Mads (Trace  and Frank from MST3K) on Tuesday as well. The riff was not planned as a tie in, however I do know that the producer of the broadcast is thrilled because he wants to see a good copy of the film.

Friday, August 5, 2022

The Fish Tale (2022) Fantasia 2022

This is the story of Japanese celebrity ichthyologist, Youtuber, TV host, illustrator and all-around “fish ambassador” Sakana-kun, here called Meebo. She was an obsessed young girl who followed her heart and love of fish to international fame.

The word coming out of Fantasia regarding this film was the talk of the New York Asian Film Festival. What I mean by that was that people at Fantasia were calling people at NYAFF telling them to see the film at the festival. The trouble was that the THE FISH TALE wasn't playing NYAFF which left everyone in Fantasia kind of incredulous (I heard more than one person ask "why not?" on a cellphone call) 

Having seen the film I'm wondering why this film didn't get picked either.

This is a lovely little film about a lovely person. Yea, it uses many of the quirky cute tropes, but at the same time, it's just a lovely little film.  It made me smile from start to finish.

What an absolute joy and must see. 

Fast And Feel Love (2022) NYAFF 2022 Fantasia 2022

Young man with a wicked skill in sport stacking is helped by a regular girl to to all he can be and along the way the pair become friends and help a lot of other people along the way.

First thing you need to know, sport stacking, people stack and  then unstack special designed cups in a prescribed pattern as fast as possible,  is a real thing. There are associations for it and lots of video. I say this because I thought it was something created for the film. I was wrong.

I had no interest in this film. Despite the film opening the New York Asian Film Festival and screening a few days later I was going to take a pass. Then I spoke with people at NYAFF who were raving about it. At the end of the first week of the fest everyone was raving about how it was the best film at the festival so when I got the chance to see it for Fantasia I jumped.

This is a great film.

This is a film that beautifully celebrates the uniqueness of everyone, even if it's just being average. This is a film that wonderfully says that everyone has a passion they should follow. I love that. THis is a film for the outsider in all of us.

What an absolute joy. 

I love that the film is its own thing. It doesn't follow any film cliche it goes off on its own merry way and simply tells it's story, passionately and in it's own way.

A must see.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

What To Do With The Dead Kaiju (2022) Fantasia 2022


WHAT TO DO WITH THE DEAD KAIJU? Was near the top of my must see list for Fantasia. I was curious to see what filmmakers were going to do with the obvious question, what do they people do with dead giant monsters after the battles in various films. It was a question that I wanted answered, kind of like wanting to know what happens after a superhero battle in the comics (Marvel answered that with Damage Control)

In WHAT TO DO the action picks up after the rampaging monster was killed by a mysterious light from the sky. As everyone rejoices, the government tries to deduce if the beast is indeed dead.  Once they realize he is, they then have to figure out what to do. Tourism is a possibility. As other solutions are suggested, it's realized that corpse is decaying and that trapped inside its tough hide gasses are building up and it could explode sending flesh and toxic gases everywhere. It now becomes a rush to solve the problem.

This is an interesting, if messy, comedy satire that sends up all sorts of kaiju related films. Its focus on bureaucracy makes it a direct riff on SHIN GODZILLA but there are even more references to other films, including Ultraman, whose rethink also played Fantasia. The kaiju fan in me was delighted by most of what I saw.

The problem though is the film is all over the place. The comedy ranges from low brow to witty references. It never settles on a tone.  Additionally while I was watching this I kept wondering if this wouldn’t have been better had it been played straight, with it all a kind thriller to solve the problem before an unexpected disaster. It’s so all over the place that I completely understand the weak IMDB rating, it really doesn’t work on it’s own terms.(You really need to be a die hard kaiju fan for this to work for you)

On the other hand as a spoof of kaiju with all sorts of references it a delightful footnote for giant monster fans.