Greek tragedy gets an outlaw biker makeover in Stephen McCallum’s gritty Australian 1%er saga Outlaws. The director and writer Matt Nable (who also co-stars) lay the epic roadmap over the criminal framework of macho, vest-wearing men and their motorcycles, power struggles, lust, betrayal, and more. The pieces are in place, it never strays far from violence, and the whole thing looks ready to roll, and the result is…okay.
Thursday, January 31, 2019
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Gun violence is an epidemic in this country. Scarcely a day goes by where we don’t hear about a shooting of one sort or another. Mass firearm killings have become so common, they scarcely make a blip in the current news cycle. What does it take to pull the trigger? And what impact does that have have once you do? These are the questions Heidi Yewman’s new documentary, Behind the Bullet, seeks to answer.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Fans of classic Twilight Zones may want to put Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night on their radar. The throwback sci-fi mystery filters that moody, atmospheric vibe through a nostalgic Amblin lens. While it lacks much forward propulsion and true tension, it’s a lovely, sure-handed film that brims with charm and potential, even if unrealized.
Monday, January 28, 2019
If you anticipate a certain level of absurdity in a horror-comedy from the guys most known for writing and directing a movie called Zombeavers, you’re not wrong. And if you lament the current lack of campy, 1980s style technology-run-amok sci-fi-horror in the vein of Chopping Mall or Night Vision, Jordan Rubin’s The Drone has your back.
One-night-that-changes-everything is a familiar cinematic narrative, especially in the lives of young people. Not the most original set up, there are reasons filmmakers and storytellers keep coming back to this particular well. Many people who’ve survived adolescence have had this type of experience, a transformative moment where you make a choice, where you can go one way or another, and where, afterwards, nothing is ever quite the same. Maybe it’s not always as dramatic as movies portray it, but when you’ve lived on that precipice between childhood and adulthood, searching for some nebulous thing you can’t quite define, it’s easy to relate.
Sunday, January 27, 2019
When you hear the phrase “lip-synching scandal,” you can be forgiven for immediately thinking of Milli Vanilli. That’s obviously the highest profile incident, but it’s also not the only public kerfuffle about pop sensations not singing their own songs. Jonathan Sutak’s new documentary, Dons of Disco, rectifies that situation, diving deep into the epic—and I do mean epic, as things get truly nuts along the way—saga of Italian singer Den Harrow.
Concert movies are a documentary staple, from classics like Woodstock and The Last Waltz to modern takes like Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids. They provide a contained narrative window that can service various other storylines. And there’s usually killer music. Joe LaMattina’s Memphis ‘69 fits solidly in this tradition, and is a must-see for fans of Tennessee blues and soul, though it also has more on its mind.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
All kinds of wacky shenanigans and general mayhem happen over the holidays as old friends, now scattered to winds, return to their former homes, see faces they haven’t seen in years, revisit old haunts and wounds, and take stock of their lives. In the case of Michael Kerry Matthews and Thomas Matthews’ microbudget mumblecore noir, LostHoliday, this set up includes becoming amateur detectives and trying to solve a kidnapping.
I grew up watching Warren Miller movies. I spent the summer months wearing out VHS copies of skiing movies like Extreme Winter, Beyond the Edge, and Steep and Deep, praying for snow as I watched neon-clad (it was the 1980s) winter sports enthusiasts huck themselves off of cliffs and gracefully carve down mountain pitches you’d think twice about walking down, all narrated by his wry, soothing monotone.
Friday, January 25, 2019
Documentaries take many forms. They play with constraints and push the bounds of what the genre can do, shine a light on injustice or hidden histories, examine fascinating stories, and much more. Then there are those about wing-nuts, singular weirdos who stand out for one reason or another. It’s into this latter category that Daniel Labarbera’s The Professional: A Stevie Blatz Story falls. Straightforward subject-driven pieces like this are only as interesting as their the people they focus on, and in Stevie Blatz, Labarbara found a fascinating front man.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
We’re somehow already deep into January 2019. I don’t know how that happened, but I do know that means the year in film festivals is about to kick off in earnest. Most well-known is obviously Sundance—it is, after all, the big daddy of indie film—which starts this week. But it’s not the only one. Also this weekend, and also in Park City, Utah, we’ve got Slamdance, the radical response to the over-corporatization and exclusivity of Sundance.
Well alright, alright, alright. Sometimes it seems as if a particular actor is destined to play a particular role. While I can’t be certain about the cosmic machinations of the universe, I’m fairly certain Matthew McConaughey was put into this world to play the lead role in Harmony Korine’s The Beach Bum. Watch the new trailer and tell me I’m wrong.
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Now that we’re solidly entrenched in 2019, it’s time to put a bow on the 2018 film year. And with that in mind, the 2019 Academy Award nominations have arrived. Check them out below.
Friday, January 18, 2019
Oh, black metal, you so silly. While it’s been in the works for something absurd like ten years, the most notorious chapter of the niche extreme metal subgenre is finally set to make its big screen debut as Jonas Akerlund’s Lords of Chaos gets a release next month. Check out the trailer below.
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Oh dang, I got a late start this morning and what happens? There’s a damn John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum (that’s an unwieldy mouthful of a title) trailer to gawk at like a slack-jawed yokel. At this point, what needs to be said about the best action franchise currently on the market? (Sorry, Mission: Impossible, you’re great, too.) Just give this a spin below.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Robert Pattinson And Claire Denis Explore The Depths Of Space, And Humanity, In This 'High Life' Trailer
Claire Denis directing a stellar (sorry) cast in an esoteric, deep-space hybrid of sci-fi, drama, and horror. You better believe I’m psyched beyond belief for High Life. Some folks saw it on the fall film festival circuit last year, but the rest of us have to wait until April—at least it has a release date now. But everything we’ve seen, including this new trailer, makes it look worth having patience.
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Once Marvel snagged back the rights to Spider-Man (or at least worked out whatever back-alley deal they agreed upon with Sony), they turned in Spider-Man: Homecoming, easily the best Wall Crawler adventure since Sam Raimi took a swat at the character. (Admittedly, I haven’t seen Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is supposed to be fabulous—but I’m talking live-action here.) The Web Slinger is back once again in 2019 for Spider-Man: Far From Home, and you can watch the first teaser trailer now.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Last time star Jake Gyllenhaal and director Dan Gilroy got together, the result was Nightcrawler, a thriller that crackles with an electric energy and features the actor’s career-best performance IMO. They’re back at it again with Velvet Buzzsaw, and I know it’s just a trailer, but this first real glimpse at the art-world-set horror looks incredible. I was already intrigued, but hot damn, I can’t wait to check this out.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
As someone who grew up on Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, I’m happy he still largely makes the same types of movies he always made. (There are, of course, variances with the likes of JCVD and Jean-Claude Van Johnson, both of which are meta, self-referential, and great.) Sure, they all land on VOD these days, but by and large, he continues to work in the same low-to-lowish budget action realm ad the bulk of his career, with roughly the same awesome-to-stinker ratio. Some of his films rule, others not so much, but this trailer for his latest, The Bouncer, looks like it might be the former rather than the latter.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Two brothers return from far away, to a home they left when they were too young to remember, only to find it overrun with violent, corrupt outsiders who rule over their people with an iron fist and exploit every resource. Sounds like a standard western plot. And it is, but in Buffalo Boys, instead of a historical American epic, director Mike Wiluan transfers the setup to 19th century Java.
Monday, January 7, 2019
Uh, one-eyed Mads Mikkelsen playing a former assassin named “The Black Kaiser,” doing his best over-the-top John Wick impersonation in a snow-covered wilderness? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Polar is extremely my speed. Check it out below and mark January 25 on your calendars.
Friday, January 4, 2019
I don’t like grading or ranking movies. If you read this site with any regularity, that probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Assigning a grade intended to indicate quality and value feels reductive and overly simplistic. No movie is 100% perfect and no movie is 100% worthless—there are positive and negative elements to every film and I dislike the idea of quantifying art and pitting artistic endeavors against one another.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
'The Drone' Trailer: 'Zombeavers' Director Returns With A Movie About, You Guessed It, An Evil Drone
If you expect a certain level of ridiculousness in a horror movie from the director of Zombeavers, you’re not alone. And the latest film from Jordan Rubin, The Drone, about technology run amok in a totally off the wall fashion, looks as absurd and as fun as one might imagine. Check out the trailer below.
I have the privilege of being a voting member of two different groups of film critics. One, the Seattle Film Critics Society, already had our time to shine and I wrote about those awards HERE. The other, the Online Film Critics Society, just kicked off the new year by announcing our winners. Here they are.