Monday, October 31, 2022

Something in the Dirt (2022) opens Friday

Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson return with a film where they are everything in front of and behind the camera. Its a wild psuedo documentary (of sorts) about two guys who try to get to the bottom of the weird things going on in on of their apartments. 

This may very well be Moorhead and Bensons best film. It's certanly as messy as their other films and in some ways it hold's together better than their other films. Its a film full of heady ideas, some brilliant and some crack pt. Its the sort of like hanging out late at night and talking with friends about all sorts of crazy stuff. I was  hooked because I really wanted to see where this was going and as a conspiracy/pranormal junkie from way back it as wickedly ccool how they wove all sorts of crazy things together into the story.

If thre is any real flaw it's that the running is about 120 minutes. Thats a lot of time to watch to guys talk about the mysteries of the universe and go in all sorts of weird directions, especially when most of the film is in one room. For what ever reason the film the film runs out of steam about three quarters of the way in.  Its not that the narrative collapses, it's just that there is so is so much here that we grow weary without a pause.

Exhustion aside I liked SOMETHING IN THE DIRT.

Aside note: In order to help fight piracy Sundance changed things up and made it so the film had to be watched a certain way on certain platforms. While I like the effort,  I hpe that next time Sundance works out the kinks since I know several people could not log in. I also had issues with the picture early on, and then I had the film lock up  toward the end. 

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Scarecrows (1988)

Because Alex Vorkov mentioned this on Twitter I realized I never reviewed this here at Unseen Films. Here is the review I posted at IMDB in 2004

This film has to come to be discovered soon so that more people can discover this chilling little trip into hell.

The plot is simple, fleeing in a plane from a heist with hostages in tow, one robber tries a double cross by jumping out of the plane with the money and the others go back after him. The trouble is where they ended up is not where you really want to be,its a farm in the middle of nowhere and undead things are moving about and they are out for blood.

Very little of why these things, these scarecrows, are lurking about is explained and its more terrifying for it since we don't know what the "rules" are. This film takes place in one blood soaked night and there isn't time to explain whats happening. All we know is that first these bad guys want their money back and second they want to stay alive. They don't have time to worry about anything beyond that. For me thats a big plus since its realistic, if you got into a situation like this you wouldn't care about the hows and whys, you'd just want it to stop. Some people need to be hand held and told every thing at every minute, if you need to know exactly why and how go somewhere else, since the film won't give you that, however its internal logic never fails.

If you love horror or thrillers see this movie. This is one of the best, shot in low light and heavy shadow, it become oppressive, especially if you watch it with the lights out. This movie will freak you out, and make you wonder about that man hanging out in the fields.


 Wow--what a wild couple of weeks it's been for DC fans! What a wild thrill ride! (I know I said "wild" twice, but it's deserved!)

New brass, new (albeit tentative) projects, and a new blockbuster in the form of BLACK ADAM! Again, all I can say is "Wow!" 

To be clear, I'm not a DC fan and really never have been except when I was a toddler and BATMAN reruns prompted me to speak some of my first words. But hey, that doesn't stop me from enjoying, or at least trying to enjoy, all the content that the brand produces.

Speaking of which, lost in all the excitement of the past fortnight has been the release of BATMAN AND SUPERMAN: BATTLE OF THE SUPER SONS. And that's too bad because, like so many of the DC animated titles, it tends to outshine its live-action counterparts.

First off, let's get one thing out of the way: the misleading title. If you think Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne are actually going to do battle with each other, and that this forms the dramatic core of this action-fest, think again. It's more like they go the familiar buddy-movie route of smoldering antagonism that predictably grows into a unique bond as they face off against a common enemy.

Do their more famous Dads feature in the story? You betcha! In fact, in a kind of zombified mode, they take on menacing roles that provide some of the more memorable scenes. Overall, there is a surprising but welcome horror element to the entire film (surprising to me at least, as I'm not familiar with the comic upon which it is based). Is that why SUPER SONS got an October release? I don't know, but let's not complain, my fellow horror hounds!!

To be sure, the first twenty minutes or so are rough going. We get a replay of Superman's origin, which ties into the theme of father-son relationships but doesn't present the familiar story in any new or fresh ways. Also, much of the Lois Lane-centered humor, as well as her earnest monologuing about the importance of the Fourth Estate, are similarly flat.

However, once the grating and unpredictable Damien Wayne enters the plot, things come together nicely. Although the DC Fandom Wiki lists him at 84 pounds and standing all of 4' 6", don't underestimate his attitude--or his skills!

Yes, it's been quite a thrill ride for DC super-fans recently, but if they don't see this nifty little 79-minute feature, they're missing out on a big part of the fun!

Northman (2022)

Brooding viking tale from Robert Eggers is a great looking film about a viking prince whose father is murdered by his uncle. Fleeing into the wilderness he becomes a berserker before being told by a sorceress that he must no go back and avenge his father.  Disguising himself as a slave he begins to plot his revenge.

 Somber beyond words mythic tale is going to either thrill you or bore you. This is a film that is not so much a portrait of living humans, rather its the story of mythic characters where everyone pone doesn't converse naturally but speaks in formal declarations. This is a tale of the dark ages that is set in a dark world where the sun almost never shows itself. 

Yea, it looks good  and the action is excellent but it's kind of silly with the pronouncements making one giggle. I'm sorry this film takes itself so seriously that no one in their right mind really should.  In all honesty I was glad I was watching the film on Amazon Prime instead of having paid money to see it in a theater or on VOD.

If you want to see a great looking but overly serious film THE NORTHMAN is for you.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Thorns For Flowers

Out there attempt at a making a 1970's thriller concerns a psychic brought in to consult on a case of a woman being stalked by a serial killer. Along the way he ends up falling for the girl.

Okay thriller is worth seeing for its intriguing payoff.

The problem here is not the script which is actually quite good, or the look, which looks like a found 1970's film. Rather the problem are come from two places that are either unfortunate accidents or poor directorial choices.

The first problem is that the pacing is very uneven. At times it is  painfully slow. Having grown up in the 70's and having seen more than a healthy amount of small and indie films  from the period, the films this most resemble are stinkers. These are films that ones that are now consigned to bargain bins and small distributors who deal with backwater films only crazy film fans watch. They are not films you should emulate, which is what writer director Anthony de Lioncourt has done.

The other problem is the performances, especially by the male leads are wildly uneven. Honestly I can't tell if they are genuinely bad or just badly directed. Gary Marachek as the cop who brings in the psychic plays it way too over the top at times to the point it seems intentional. And as for Vance Clemente he seems to have made a study of Tommy Wiseau and his performance in THE ROOM and used it to get the exactly the wrong sort of brooding intensity.

And yet I stayed to the end. Call me kookie, I was curious enough to want to see where it was all going and I was nicely surprised.

Don't get me wrong having seen other Anthony de Lioncourt films so I know he can make a solid film. I'm guessing trying to ape an early type of film and choosing the wrong one made it all go banana shaped.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Terror Train (2022) on Tubi


A college Halloween train trip goes horribly wrong as a mad man begins picking off the college kids. Could it have anything to do with a prank that went horribly wrong a few years before?

Oh course it does.

Tubi remakes the 1980 horror film notable for starring Jamie Lee Curtis and magician David Copperfield and little else. That film was an okay time passer that wasn't really scary but held your attention because you wanted to know who the killer was.

I'm not sure why anyone will want to watch this new version because it's far from compelling. Walking through many of the original's scenes as if it were a dress rehearsal, this film really doesn't have much passion on display. Adequately acted the film never generates any suspense. Yes, it's bloodier and yes, they tweak a few things, but there really isn't a reason for this to exist, except that name recognition might bring a few people, like me, to Tubi.

While the film isn't bad, it's okay, the lack of passion, and the sense this was done on a set or before green screens, makes this a footnote film of a footnote film.

For horror completeists only

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Top Gun Maverick (2022)

Seemingly too many years on to make a rational sequel Tom Cruise returns to the role of Maverick and somehow manages to make a highly entertaining film that almost hits it out of the park.

The plot of the film had Maverick getting into trouble and being sent to Top Gun to teach a bunch of pilots how to handle a super deadly secret mission. One of the pilot's is the son of his former wing man Goose who died in the first film. As Maverick attempts to deal with teaching the young ones, he has to deal with an ex-girlfriend, resentment from Goose's son and the impending death of his good friend Iceman (Val Kilmer).

Hitting almost all the right notes, the film pretty much exceeds expectations. All of the right notes are hit usually in wonderfully unexpected ways. I honestly didn't think the film was going to work this well. I was delighted and surprised and had to crack out a bucket of popcorn halfway in.

Honestly the only thing I dislike with the film is the final mission. Not because it's not well done, but rather after 90 plus minutes of not doing the cliched thing the film plops squarely into cliche territory. While it travels it excellently, I would have loved the film to have remained cliche free to the final credit role. 

Do you need to have seen the first film? Probably not, although doing so will make the references have deeper meaning.

I had a blast, and the film gets extra points for surprising the hell out of me



Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Atomic Dream (2022) Savannah Film Festival

In 1964 a son-in-law visits his cranky mother-in-law who refuses to move from watching the TV. She is convinced the end of the world is coming and her only companion is a stuffed bear.

Oscar qualified short film  is a lovely little poisoned confection. Its a dark tale of the end of the the world with a sting in its tail. It is a well made little film that gets under you skin.

The one problem with the film is that the dialog contains frequent F bombs.  Even allowing for the fact that the word was not as frequently as it is today, the placement of them is oddly chosen. They seem to be there not because of the natural usage of the characters but rather to act as punctuation or effect. We notice their placement and step out of the film.

Quibble aside this is a gos worth a look.od little film that

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Horror Capsules: MOONCHILD. CROC! and SAWED OFF


A wedding at a remote manor house is interrupted by an infestation of crocodiles.

Okay horror film is hurt by camera work designed to hide the visual effects and the really poor CGI creatures. The crocs here are really bad, worse than 1940's Hollywood jungle films and they sink the whole affair. 

Worth a look for a laugh but little else.

Surprisingly good film has two hunters getting into an endless loop of killing each other over the woman they both love. Yes it sounds like we've been here before but there is enough shading to make this worth a look.

No budget action film about a super soldier program turning people into werewolves.

Intentionally bad film is best watched with friends when everyone is drunk

Monday, October 24, 2022

Frost (2022)

Estranged father and daughter meet up after 5 years. She's about to give birth and wants her father in baby's life. When a father daughter fishing trip ends in a car accident she is pinned in the car and her father has to go get help. But it's cold and a storm is coming...and so are the wolves.

This solid  survival film is a tense little thriller that is for the most part worth your time...the trick is going to be the third act which has a turn that is so unexpected and so out there you are going to be screaming at the screen. I won't say what it is but it isn't out of left field but another dimension. How you react to that turn is going to determine your feelings for the film.

I have no idea whether to recommend the film however if you do see the film -you're on your own.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

SAM NOW (2022) Indie Memphis 2022 DOC NYC 2022

Filmmaker Reed Harkness  and his brother Sam decide to try and find Sam’s mom who suddenly disappeared several years after divorcing their father.  The result is look at the brothers and their family which goes into all sort of unexpected ways.

I had no idea what I was expecting when I went into SAM NOW and ended up taking one hell of a ride. I thought it was going to be a mystery, and it was to a degree but it actually is more a look at a family and the trauma that every member carries with them This is a portrait of a family that does deeper than most films. It’s a warts and all look at the family that reveals layers we don’t normally see.

Days after seeing the film I am still pondering it. The film kicked up all sorts of thoughts and feelings about things in my own life that I haven't thought of or wanted to ponder. Its a film that will get you thinking. It’s also wonderful conversation starter since it kicks up so much material that I can imagine not standing in the lobby after a screening and trying to sort it all out with the other members of the audience.

You really should see this and see how it hits you.

This is a really good film and is highly recommended.

Gary Mule Deer: Show Business is My Life But I Can't Prove It (2022) Indie Memphis

Screamingly funny biography of comedian Gary Mule Deer. 

Gary Mule Deer has been on the comedy scene for almost 60 years. A prop comedian  who started as a musician who used comedy to cover his mistakes. Along the way he became a comedians comedian. Everyone loves Gary as is testified by the talking heads in the film Dave Letterman, Jimmy Walker, Jay Leno, Alice Cooper, Conan O'Brien to name but a few.  

In the 1970's and 80's Mule Deer was everywhere from talk shows to variety shows  to game shows.  It was on TV that I feel deeply in love with his humor. Punny, clever and totally unexpected he was a guy who taught me to see the world differently and infinitely less seriously then many of the adults I encountered growing up. Mule Deer helped to warp me into the person I am today.

I absolutely love this film. One part celebration, one part greatest hits reel and one part biography, this is everything you ever wanted to know about the man and his humor. Its a wild and crazy ride that will have you doubled over with laughter from start to finish. Never have I run a cross a biography of a comedian that was as funny as this film is.

This is one of the great hidden gems of 2022. If there is justice it will get discovered, picked up and released wide where it will spread the legend of Gary Mule Deer.

Highly recommended.



A look at photographer Ernest Withers who shot some of the iconic images of the Civil Rights movement and other events. Withers was also acting as an informant for the FBI. This is a very good portrait of a man whose work we've seen but whose name we did not know.

This is an excellent film that looks at police violence in France through the stories of the brothers and sisters of those abused by the cops. This is a stunning film that shows the real damage done by police brutality. By speaking with the relatives of the victims the film shows us the complexity of what happened as well as how the police stories of what happened doesn't paint the either the full picture of events or their victims. A must see.

Director Jasmine Lopez works to come to terms with the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her grandfather three decades earlier. Tough and bracing film is one that needs to be seen. A look at what happened and how it effected everything that happened afterward the film shows the scars that are still being inflicted on the family well after the fact. I love that the film allows people to talk or not, Rarely has a film on the subject been as deeply affecting. A must.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Outta the Muck (2022) Indie Memphis 2022 DOC NYC 2022


Filmmakers Bhawin Suchak and Ira Mckinley have made one of the great surprises of the film year. It is a film that will make you wish your home town was as warm and inviting as Pahokee

The film opens with Ira Mckinley driving in Pahokee and talking about how when his parents moved north they always returned to the city in order to revisit the This is a glorious celebration of a city and it’s people. It’s a film that shows us how when people are attached to the place they live they can make it a place better than any outsider could have expected. It’s a film that shows us a bunch of wonderful people that you will want to hang out with. There is a warmth and love to everything that you see. I finished the film and I instantly wanted to move to Pahokee

I love this film a great deal. This is as a great  and wonderful a portrait as I’ve seen in many many years. I love that the film manages to show us a wonderful place without being hagiographic, instead it feels like a portrait of people as they are.

What a great film about great people and the city they call home

Highly recommended

A Decent Home (2021) hits home video Tuesday

This is a look at the people struggling to find a place to live who turn to living in mobile homes. The trouble is that since mobile homes many people don't live the land they are on and un the risk of being kicked off as the land is sold for other things.

This is a really good film about a problem that none of us probably ever think about. And even if we do think about those living in trailer parks we see them as lesser people thanks to Hollywood and comedians making way too many jokes about them. This film seeks to right that wrong by explaining what a struggle it is to live in them



This doc about Martin Newell and The Cleaners From Venus is awesome. It's a film I should have reviewed a couple weeks back but things happened. Its kind of like Newell's story about the making of the film, which he said was supposed to be a 20 minute film in 2018 but things happened and years of filming happened as the filmmakers went through his whole phone book and interviewed everyone in it.

Newell is a guy who was never in the spotlight. Sure he worked with the likes of XTC and the Damned but most people don't know who he is since he was a cassette and do it yourself guy who never clicked with the world at large. He was so so DIY that when Captured Tracks went to him to reissue his music in a more accessible way he told them to take a hike. Of course he relented eventually.

I love this film. I love Newell and I love his music. I kind of had an idea who he was because of friends, but until I saw this film I really didn't know much of anything. Now I do and I've been hunting down his music. Actually what I've done is watch the film a couple of times instead of writing on it because of the screener I was sent just because Newell is a good good guy and the music is awesome.  This is the best kind of movie-one you want to watch repeatedly because the people in it are so cool. 

I had a blast. If can get to a theater to see this with a great sound system to see this do so. Actually if you can get to any theater showing this do so because it's just that good.

Highly recommended.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Return to Seoul (2022) NYFF 2022

This is the sort of cinematic gem I go to the New York Film Festival to discover. This was one of the last films I saw at the fest an it was one of the best.

The film is about a young Korean woman who was given up for adoption as baby and raised by a couple in France. Over the course of the film she returns to Korea over several years attempting to reach out to her birth parents.

This in cinematic magic of the highest order. Its a film where everything comes together to make a film that makes you go wow and then want to shuttle off to a cafe and discuss it with whom ever you just saw it with.

Possessing a genuine narrative complexity that pushes the film into the realm of reality, this is a film you will think about for days afterward. I saw two films after this and my thoughts kept coming back to this film. I loved that the film is so real that we don't care that the film ends with lots and lots of unanswered questions- but it's not being lazy rather its purely the fact we are seeing moments in time.

And then there is the use of music, which includes a jaw dropping dance scenes that reveals so much without a single word.

WOW and WOW.

This is filmmaking and storytelling of the highest order.

Highly recommended

Divine Protector Master Salt Begins(2022)

When a young girl has some strange things happen to her, including the appearance of weird marks on her neck, she and her friends summon Master Salt to come and help them get to the bottom of it. SHe finds the girl and several others are being stalked by evil forces.

This is an amusing supernatural tale with lessons to be learned along the the way. This is very much a film about how bad behavior can lead to trouble. While a bit formulaic, this feels like its several episodes of a busted TV series tied together, it does entertain thanks to not taking itself too seriously.

A word of warning if you have a choice to see this between the subtitled or dubbed edition, avoid the dubbed edition at all costs. The vocal performances are completely wrong and the miss the vocal tones of the original completely. I was originally sent the dubbed version and had to stop half way in because it played so badly. When I went back and saw it subtitled I found I was truly entertained.

While I can't say this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I will say it made me smile. Its a goofy but fun film that I would gladly watch again, which is saying a great deal.


Flowing (2022) Brooklyn Horror


A family broken by the death of the mother in an accident. As the family struggles to not totally break apart a weird gas is seeping up from the sewers forcing them to see the most horrific things they can imagine.

This visually stunning film will grab your attention from the opening credits and hold it tight until the final credits.  Few films of any sort have looked this good all year. It’s a visual delight where the fact the form is a more the content won’t bother you.

Reminding me of a rain and  neon drenched gaillo mixed with the work of the Bavas  this is a wicked little horror film that transcends it’s horror roots in order to become something more thanks to it’s revealing itself to be a flashy family drama. It wasn’t what I expected and while the emotion might be a bit over done it’s keeping with the flush visual style.

Definitely worth a look especially if you love visually moody Euro thrillers.

The Fire That Took Her (2022)

Judy Malinowski was doused in gasoline and set on fire by her boyfriend. She survived for a while and gave testimony that was played her be boyfriends murder trial.

At the top if you can not deal with graphic images, a closed circuit camera captured the event and we see images of Judy in the hospital right after, then stay away. That's not hyperbole, that's a friendly warning.

This is a good look at a case of domestic violence that ended tragically. This is the story of a young woman who met the wrong guy and paid the price when she couldn't get rid of him. It's a dire warning of the extreme things that can happen when  a bad man gets his clutches on a good woman. 

To be honest as affecting and important as the film is I've got one issue with the film which makes it hard for me  to wholeheartedly give myself over to the film and that is the film spends a good portion of the film talking about the fire and not focusing on Judy. Yes we get to know a little bit about her, but we are mostly focused on the fire and how her mother found out about the attack. We don't get a handle on the woman who was murdered the result is a distance in the story that shouldn't be there.

Quibble aside this film will kick you in the chest. It's not so much the violence and its aftermath, but the psychotic nature of Judy's ex. Spinning story after story as to what happened and explaining how he didn't really do anything wrong will chill your bones. There are people out there like that and there is very little we can do to stop them until they cross the line.

If you need a reminder how bad domestic violence can get, see THE FIRE THAT TOOK HER, it will crush your soul.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

The 'VOUS (2022) Indie Memphis 2022 DOC NYC 2022

When you see THE 'VOUS make sure you have dinner plans for after you see the film. And don't think you'll be safe by having dinner before hand, this film is so full of BBQ that you will be hungry again by the end.

This film is a portrait of BBQ joint The Rendezvous in Memphis Tennessee. As the restaurant celebrates it's 70th year and prepares to shift ownership into a third generation of the same family, the owners and staff ponder the last seven decades and how times have changed.

The Rendezvous is not any place to eat, its where all of Memphis and much of the world goes to get a bite. The Rolling Stones are regulars, as are Presidents and other very important people. The staff has been with the restaurant for decades, not one or two but five and six. They are part of the institution and when they retire it's a big deal- famous people stop by to say goodbye. They also make a mint in tips crossing the hundred grand mark.

This film is a celebration of the restaurants past and a look forward to the changing of the guard. We watch as things change, including the menu which now has vegetarian options. We also see the great love the famous and not so famous have for the food and the people who serve it. I love that we get a real sense of the sights and sounds and smells of it all. Its a magnificent experience only marred by the fact that it makes you so damn hungry you want to flee the theater to go get some BBQ.

One of the real joys of the film year, it is recommended for anyone who wants to spend good time with good people and have a genuine cinematic meal of the highest order.

SR. (2022) NYFF 2022

This is a portrait of Robert Downey Sr that focuses on the relationship between the father and his son. It is a giant hug of a film that left me sobbing.

The filmmakers had wanted to make a film about Robert Downey Jr but he wasn't interested. He instead wanted to make a film about his dad and the films he made. What transpired  was that the two  men and their family ended up talking to the filmmakers and each other about the big guy and somewhere it became magic.

Not only is this a film about Sr and his films but about his son who clearly loves his dad and takes a great deal from him. The pair are friends and co-conspirators at times as they tell of their antics in and out of the film world. The film follows Sr as he puts together his own version of the project. It also charts how the family was affected by Covid and by the rapid onset of Sr.'s Parkinson's disease. It would take his life not long after he finished his version of the film.

I don't know what to say except I loved this film. Watching the pair of Robert Downeys on the screen I was struck by how their relationship mirrored the relationship I had with my dad in his final years. Sequences hit  me like a ton of bricks as I saw myself reflected in the events happening before me. This is not to say that the film won't work if you don't connect to it, rather it's simply to state that I some how ended up with skin in the game.

As a film unto itself SR  rocks. Its a glorious portrait of a man whose films (PUTNEY SWOPE, GREASERS PALACE among others) altered how filmmakers saw what could be done with film. It also a wonderful portrait of a man with a wicked sense of humor and wonderful turn of a phrase. Listening to Sr make jokes and crackwise with his sun and wife is just so much fun. 

What makes this film special is that this is the rare "Hollywood" doc where the people in it come off not as high and mighty but rather damn near close to us. Yea they have more money but they come off as regular people.

I love this film to death. It is so warm and inviting. It's a big hug of a film.

Highly recommended.

SINPHONY: A Clubhouse Horror Anthology (2022) Brooklyn Horror 2022

Opening Friday in theaters and on digital after playing the Brooklyn Horror Fest  this nifty horror anthology opens everywhere and on digital on Friday.  The film consists of nine short films from people connected to the audio platform Clubhouse its a fast moving ride on the dark side. 

I enjoyed the hell out of this anthology. What I particularly loved was that all of the films are actually pretty good, and while some are better than others there are no clunkers in the bunch. That's a rarity and the fact that I can't honestly say there was one or two that I would cut out says a great deal. 

While the film is creepy and spooky I don't think any of them are truly scary, though there are moments such as seeing weird spores in EAR WORM, or the the ringing phone faces in FOREVER YOUNG. 

Actually the  problem with this film is the running time, this should have been longer. A few of the films could have used a bit more time to build scares instead of just moving toward a gotcha moment (I'm looking at you LIMITED EDITION). I'm not saying the films need to be features but there could have been a little bit more breathing room. 

And apologies for not doing a deep dive on all the films, the nature of most of the stories is such that if I talk about the plots there is the danger of spoiling the twist at the end,

Quibble aside this film is worth a look- hell there is a good chance it will end up on your Halloween playlist every year.

All Jacked Up and Full Of Worms (2022)

Sometimes chasing a film across months of festivals just isn't worth it. I've been chasing ALL JACKED UP for several months now and now that I've seen it I find that while it certain to push your buttons, but I don't think there is anything to it beyond that.

The film follows several people as they crisscross with each other. A throuple wants to get high together, a man with issues get a baby doll to be his child and sex toy. He meets a hooker who turns him on to taking worms as a hallucinogen. There is a couple who is really into violence. And we see an interview with an older man who has been a dark magician since he was four. Everyone gets addicted to the worms.

Aiming to push every boundary imaginable ALL JACKED UP will cause you to react. Everything in the film is gross. It's all unpleasant from the get go. Everything is dirty. The people are all dealing with their own darkness by letting it out. The result is a film full of people we pity more than like.

Of  course the film is tongue in cheek, I mean four year olds are not really summoning demons and the films tone beyond the "I'm going to make you vomit"  norm is jokey.  Clearly the film wants to keep the audience in the theater since subject matter would normally send people to the exits.  It wants you stay as it shows you horrible things.

But to what end? What is the point? I don't think there is one other than pushing buttons. I have heard the film compared to REQUIEM FOR A DREAM in its  depiction of addiction and I can see it, but at the same time why are we being subjected to this. REQUIEM had a point this does not. The addiction angle is low hanging fruit here since so much else is going on. Worse the plotlines don't feel natural, but rather  aimed toward what is going to gross people out instead of what might logically happen. This is especially true concerning the guy who likes babies and the prostitute, it's all manipulated so that he can have a kind of happily ever after with a wife and living doll (until he can get a real kid to molest)

Weirdly, while my buttons were pushed, I'm not really offended by what's in the film because it's clear the filmmakers are just button pushers aiming to get everyone's panties in a bunch. If they feel that's what they have to do to get noticed more power to them. I just wish they had made a film that made me want to see it again instead of taking a Lysol shower.

Ultimately I'm not a fan of ALL JACKED UP AND FULL OF WORMS and I can't recommend it because out side of forcing a reaction there is nothing here, not even a good time.

Liz Whittemore of Reel News Daily on Will-o’-the-Wisp (2022) NYFF 2022

With roughly a 60-minute runtime, I was bewildered by this film. NYFF60 got an eyeful with Will-o’-the-Wisp, a Portuguese musical romcom that exploded with themes from climate change, colonialism, and an LGBTQ love story, all wrapped in an unapologetically erotic package. As a man lay on his deathbed in 2062, he reminisces about his love affair with a fire brigade colleague in 2022. The film begins with sold humor in its historical tableaus, garnering laughs in breaking the fourth wall in Shakespearian aside style. Our lead is the reluctant crown Prince Alfredo, whose passion for the environment and his fellow fire brigade members takes precedence over his royal duties. With long takes and genre-jumping comes an uneven pace as we bounce through time, from theme to theme. The film features a pornographic mutual masturbation scene and numerous projected images of penises. One particular scene stands out above all else. To call it a musical feels untruthful were it not for one singularly spectacular choreographed number. This lengthy scene manages to be beautiful and funny all at once. I was longing for more of this. I was mesmerized. Once finished, I was heartily disappointed with the remaining narrative.

For more from Liz go to her regular home at Reel News Daily

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

New York Film Festival 2022 Photos

 Here are some of the best photos I took from this years New York Film Festival

Outside the Walter Reade theater the day before the festival opened

The Filmmakers Box after the first public screening of TAR

TAR in the rain

Outside Alice Tully before BONES AND ALL

Park Chan-wook 

Discussing R.M.N. from a long way away

Discussing SR

No Bears (2022) NYFF 2022

Jafar Panahi travels to a border town in order to direct a  movie remotely. The actors and film crew are across the border and are taking directions via Zoom.  As Panahi struggles to get the film finished be becomes involved with two sets of lovers, two of the actors, and two people in the village where he is staying. Both pairs want to flee to somewhere safe, something that might not be possible

Panahi is not loved by the Iranian government. As this film was hitting the festival circuit the director was being put into prison. Prior to that they had tried to restrict his ability to make films but he managed to work around the obstructions. The result has been a unique series of films where the filmmaker is the subject and the films transcends the notion of autobiographical cinema.

This time out Panahi has made one of his most affecting films. Forget his personal situation, this story of life in a small town and in a repressive country will leave you shattered at the end. Panahi is juggling a lot of balls in the air and manages to manipulate them perfectly. First we have his situation which is basically hiding out in a small town to make a movie he shouldn't be making. In showing us what it takes to make his film we see how the small minds of the village express an openness that really isn't. there This ties into the story of one of the couples, a doomed romance Panahi captures in a photo, that everyone wants to see, but which he deletes and denies having. It seems the young woman has been promised since birth to someone she doesn't love and that someone needs proof to hurt the girls true love.  At the same time the lead couple in Pahani's film are making a film based on their lives and their efforts to flee to the West. However the need for official documents complicate things. All of the threads end in darkness for the characters and soul searching for the audience.

I love Panahi's films. I make every effort to see everyone I can because he always speaks a truth that needs to be heard. I also find that how he is forced to make films ends up making films that are much more real than if were making just a straight narrative.  They are so much more interesting because we have to think about how he did what is up on the screen. His are films that are alive and in the moment.

I was rocked by this film. I did not expect the turns, and yet every one is perfectly placed.

One of the best films I saw at this years New York Film Festival, it is a must for anyone who loves humanity.

Personality Crisis:One Night Only (2022) NYFF 2022

Loving portrait of David Johansen, aka Buster Poindexter,by directors Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi centered around a performance st New York City's Cafe Carlyle.

If you only know Johansen thanks to his Poindexter persona you are going to be in for a treat. I say that because you will get to see all of the most amazing things that Johansen has done over the past 50 plus years. We get to see the founding of the New York Dolls, who some say created punk rock (when the band puked on stage) , his delving into the blues, his party music with Poindexter, being on the list of one hit wonders twice and so much more.  There are tons of stories told via the performance, interviews, and video and unless you are Morrissey (yes the former lead singer of The Smiths and huge fan) odds are you will not have heard most of them.

And even if you are not into the stories there is the music. Most of the film is  the cabaret performance which takes in a wide swath of songs from across his  career and it's a joy. Its a wonderful collection of material that reveals how good Johansen is as both a writer and a singer. The performance is supplemented by TV and film performances.  The result is a greatest hits of sorts that will make you run out and buy some of Johansen's records.

It should be noted that the film is in no way to be considered a definitive biography, but more an appreciation. This is a film that celebrates its subject and seeks to spread the joy, as a result it is a pure joy.

I loved this film. I can't wait for it to play Showtime so I can just put it on and listen to it repeatedly.

Liz WHittemore of Reel News Daily on Bones and All (2022) NYFF 2022


Lucky audiences at NYFF60 had the chance to experience BONES AND ALL, one of the buzziest films to come out of the Venice Film Festival, with its eight-and-a-half-minute standing ovation. At this point, it is hard to imagine that you haven’t heard about it. It is thoroughly accurate to describe it as the following: “A coming-of-age romantic cannibal road film” Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Bones and All comes from a screenplay by David Kajganich, based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Camille DeAngelis. It centers on Maren’s father abandoning her at age eighteen, leaving behind an audio tape as her only guidance and explanation. This narration is an overarching theme during Maren’s journey. Left to fend for herself after years of life on the run with her father, she stumbles across another “eater” named Sully. When he makes her uneasy, she runs again, only to bump into Lee on the road. The two form a bond based on survival and their need to consume flesh. As they travel cross country, the menace from other eaters proves to be the most spine-chilling aspect of their relationship. 

Part of this story features Maren tracking down the mother she’s never met. In what would essentially prove to be a brilliant monologue, Chloë Sevigny‘s brief screentime makes you sweat. Michael Stuhlbarg is incredibly unsettling as fellow drifter Jake. When you discover that he’s teaching a non-eater how to do what they do, it feels wrong and so very right. Stuhlbarg crushes every role. Here, it took me a few minutes to realize it was him. Jake is a dirty, overalls-wearing backwoods soul and proud of it. It’s scary good.

Mark Rylance, who I have had the privilege of seeing on Broadway in Twelfth Night (yes, I had the coveted seats onstage), is hands down the most uncomfortable aspect of Bones and All. His performance borders on caricature and yet somehow works like gangbusters. From his straggly ponytail and fedora to his flair-spangled jacket, Rylance will have you eating out of the palm of his hand, whether you want to or not. Pun intended.

Timothée Chalamet as Lee is nothing but charming. He oozes casual suave. It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows his work. Bones and All reconnects Chalamet with Luca Guadagnino. One could argue that Call Me By Your Name was Chalamet’s star vehicle at NYFFF55. Bones and All is just as bold. Chalamet brings a punk edge and a caring nature opposite Taylor Russell. As Maren, she’s measured and soft. Her approach to adults shows a curated maturity. It’s a perfect balance to Chalamet. Together, they capture the innocence of young love, even if they’re pulling the wool over people’s eyes for a meal.

Bones and All is one of the most visceral films in history. As a horror fan (one might even call me a fanatic), I have seen and heard it all. Bones and All had me squirming and gagging and utterly entranced. It gives new meaning to “a visual feast for the eyes.” It will not be a film for everyone. It is best to go into your viewing experience with little to no knowledge, but that may feel like a bait and switch to some viewers. You can find out if you have the stomach for BONES AND ALL when A24 releases it on November 18th. Bring an open mind, and leave the snacks at home.

For more from Liz go to her regular home at REEL NEWS DAILY

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

New York Comicon 2022 Pictures

Here are a few of the few pictures I took  at New York Comic Con this year. I don't know why it was so few, I think because I kept thinking I would take more tomorrow....

He's bigger than most houses

Crunchy Roll

Why you don't have big props- the hair is cool, but this guy spent the whole day just holding his wig on his head so people could take a picture.

Where they were doing auditions for Svengoolie

Apparently someone is doing a comic about my mom

Creating Below Decks art

A guy

And his sign

Flat Bull is Sven's coffin which was achieved thanks to an assist by Supermen- really

A look at New York Comicon 2022 Part 1

My trip to New York Comic Con this year was unexpected. The trip to the con was not supposed to happen however a couple of weeks before the con my niece had gotten tickets and was going to go for the first time and I had to go. I then put in the for a press badge and set about making my plans.

Beyond getting to see my niece wade in for the first time I wanted to see how the festival had changed since I was last there a couple of years before the Pandemic. 

To be honest my plans going in were sketchy. I had gotten my badge so late that many slots were full  and I wasn't sure what was going to happen because I ha already committed to the New York Film Festival. Yes, I would be seeing a Eden, who is on the Harvey Award committee but we were going out for friendly dinner and a show (the Off Broadway Little Shop of Horrors) and not talking shop. I would have to make things up on the fly.

On Thursday after picking my badge up in person I went into the show and just began to walk the floor. There were things I wanted to see, specifically the Studio Ghibli Booth. I had to see all of the good things they were carrying as well as the photo ops they had set up like a life size Totoro and cat bus.

Actually what I did was use a friend from works list of exclusives she wanted me to try and pick up in order to run around the sales floor and see what I could see.

I also ran into a friend of a friend who is connected to the entertainment industry and we talked for a while, I recorded a chunk of the talk but when I contacted them about a piece concerning what we talked about I was told I couldn't use any of it. (and yes I am being intentionally vague).

Thursday was nice and quiet.  and I got a good sense of what the con was like- which was big and sprawling.  It felt nicely spaced, something it wasn't in previous years. The one thing I missed was a lot of the smaller sellers. Many of what you might call mom and pop sellers were missing. I'm guessing they were priced out by the cost of booths. Yes some independent publishers were on the sales floor but mostly this looked to be big companies and bigger retailers. I particularly missed the inde film makers. In years past I always came away from the con having met a good number of inde filmmakers trying to sell their films, but I didn't encounter anyone.

Friday was considerably more crowded.

There was a great deal going on and The focus of my day at the con was the panel on restoring the Max Fleischer cartoons. I had ridden the subway to the con with two of the participants and we had a great discussion on the way there. I went off to try and meet Svengholie before their panel but I was there too late to make the line-I mean I literally was the first person not allowed on the line.
The panel was packed when I arrived. I had to stand at the back of the room. The discussion was great as they discussed why the cartoon matter, why we need to restore them and why the characters are still alive. It was one of the best panels I've ever attended at the con- and I've been going since it started.

I know the whole panel is out there if you want to see it, but the above clip is what I shot before my camera died. The bit you'll want to jump to is about four and a half minutes in where we see the images being used in a rap video.

This was great stuff and  it proves old films can play to new audiences.

After the panel I left the con and headed up to the New York Film Festival for a screening. However there are more stories to tell in the second part of my Comic Con Coverage coming soon.