During the intro of U.S. premiere of The El Duce Tapes at the North Bend Film Festival, the host, at a loss for words, asked, “Who here is familiar with The Mentors?” To which a few of us raised our hands and one audience member replied, “Unfortunately.” “Well, you know what you’re in for,” he said, pointing our way. “The rest of you…” and he trailed off with nervous laughter. That sums it up pretty well. If you know, you know; if not, hold the hell on and get ready for some conflicted feelings.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Like clockwork. Every August, after the big-budget studio tentpoles wrap their summer run, a movie shows up. Maybe it came out of nowhere. Maybe it looked kind of stupid. Maybe both. But it arrives on the scene, is a total blast, and breathes a bit of new life into the late summer. Happens damn near every year. This year, that honor goes to Ready or Not. And its energy is especially welcome at the end of a summer full of flaccid, bland, mediocre franchise installments no one wanted, asked for, or saw in the theater.
Monday, August 19, 2019
From the first moments of Edgar Nito’s The Gasoline Thieves, tragedy seems inevitable. The film opens with a dark, tense scene where to rival crews attempting to siphon off gas in the Mexican desert violently clash. This creates an ominous, inescapable cloud that lingers over everything to come. That isn’t to say the film is without moments of heart or levity, but it’s impossible to shake the feeling that bad things are in store.
Friday, August 16, 2019
Rose Dooley (Maeve Higgins) has a special talent, she can communicate with the spirit world. But after a tragic accident took her similarly gifted, paranormal-investigator father from her as a child, she shuns her abilities. Instead, she subsists as a driving instructor in a small Irish town, deflecting constant supernatural requests from locals. All that changes, however, when washed up one-hit-wonder Christian Winter (Will Forte) attempts to call forth evil forces to resurrect his career and, in the process, possess a young girl to serve as a virgin sacrifice. With nowhere to turn, the girl’s frantic father, Martin Martin (Barry Ward), himself tormented by the bitter ghost of his dead wife, turns to Rose, who, nurturing a serious crush, decides to pitch in and help.
This is an updated version of an earlier review.
We’ve seen the Groundhog-Day-as-horror conceit before, most recently with the Happy Death Day movies. But in Swedish oddity Koko-di Koko-da, writer/director Johannes Nyholm takes the concept to straight-up psychological nightmare territory. (This is also one of two films at the North Bend Film Festival to use this approach.)Twisted and terrifying, it offers a time-loop of grief, death, and adorable animated shadow puppet bunnies and birds, which he also manages to turn scary and unnerving as all hell.
The living-one-day-over-and-over again conceit has been played for comedy (Groundhog Day), sci-fi (Edge of Tomorrow), and horror (Happy Death Day). But regardless of the genre set up, or task the characters must accomplish, they inevitably use this rinse-dry-repeat recipe as a tool of introspection, to learn about themselves as much as they learn about the external world, and as a method of change. In that regard, Spanish writer-director Jon Mikel Caballero’s The Incredible Shrinking Wknd follows suit, though it puts its own unique spin on the formula.
Thursday, August 15, 2019
“Y’all motherfuckers wanna get weird?” So begins the trailer for The Death of Dick Long and…that’s really all there is to say. You hear about how you should go into a movie cold, knowing as little as possible, all the time. That’s usually sound advice, but especially in this case. To say what it’s about ruins the whole thing. Fortunately, you can watch this trailer without worry as it gives away nothing that isn’t in the title.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Any time Bong Joon-ho makes a movie, it tops the list of things I need to see like right this damn minute. That’s just a fact. Since it debuted at Cannes earlier this year, folks have hailed his latest, Parasite, as one of the best of the year, which I find entirely plausible. We don’t know much about it, nor have we seen a ton of footage, but distributor NEON just dropped a new U.S. trailer and, also not a shock, it looks great and dark and weird in that particular way Bong does so well. Watch it below.
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Last fall, Timo Tjahjanto pummeled us all about the head and neck with The Night Comes for Us, and it was good. A fact all too often eclipsed by that whirlwind of fist and violence is that he also released a horror movie, May the Devil Take You, at almost the same time—both movies premiered at Fantastic Fest last year. Devil is also super rad, which is why it’s exciting to learn the Indonesian director is going to climb back into the big chair for a sequel, maybe titled May the Devil Take You Too.
If you haven’t been waiting for a South Korean MMA exorcism movie, Kim Joo-hwan’s The Divine Fury is here to inform you that you need to get your priorities in order. It deftly blends horror and action and is sure to call to mind the likes of Blade at times, while grappling with weighty themes of loss, faith, loss of faith, and evil.
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
I’d say I like to keep personal news out of these posts for the most part. But if you’ve read anything I’ve ever written on here, you know that’s a crock and know more about my life than I should probably reveal to strangers on the internet. Whatever. I do, however, have some personal/professional news that’s both exciting and, I hope, relevant to your interests.
Monday, August 5, 2019
With a title like Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway, you probably expect to something a bit outside of the mainstream. Also, considering it comes from Miguel Llansó, the writer/director behind 2015’s equally off-kilter Crumbs, strange things are in store. And Jesus doesn’t disappoint, combining science fiction, cold war spy thrillers, superheroes, Afro-futurism, and enough surreal flourishes to make Jodorowsky’s head spin.
Friday, August 2, 2019
“We’re not boys, we’re not brutal,” intones Dolly (Ryan Simpkins) in a broken, high-pitched cry. It’s more question than statement, and unfortunately for her, she’s about to learn precisely how savage teenage girls can be to one another. Thus goes Amanda Kramer’s thriller Ladyworld.