REVIEWS

LFF Review: Brazilian Film 'Good Manners' is a Clever Horror Creation

Good Manners

This Brazilian horror drama film falls under the category of WTF?!, but it's so so so good. Good Manners, or As Boas Maneiras in Portuguese, is a film from Brazil set in São Paulo that is unlike anything I've ever seen before. If I am to sum it up in one sentence it would be: a Brazilian, lesbian, musical, werewolf drama. It's kind of a horror film, but not really, much more of a drama with some horrific elements. Good Manners is the most clever, refreshing reinvention of the werewolf film in years. It will make you freak out and laugh and cover your eyes and throw your hands up aghast in bewilderment. The less you know about it going in, the more enjoyable the experience will be when you finally watch it unfold. So be careful with what you read.

 Posted October 14 in Horror, Review | Comments

LFF Review: Chloé Zhao's 'The Rider' is an Assured, Emotional Drama

The Rider

What place does a broken cowboy have in this modern world? The Rider is a gem that will reward those patient enough to discover it. Filmmaker Chloé Zhao tells a story of an injured cowboy in contemporary times who has to deal with the trials and tribulations of life, all the while yearning to get back to the rodeo. This film won an award after first premiering the Cannes Film Festival, and I finally caught up with it at the London Film Festival. I wasn't expecting to be so moved, so overwhelmed with emotions, yet I was wiping away tears by the end of the screening. Whenever a film hits me that hard and leave me sobbing by the end, that's usually a sign it's something special. This is one of those outstanding films to seek out and discover.

 Posted October 12 in Indies, Review | Comments

LFF Review: Brett Morgen's 'Jane' Documentary is Sublime & Inspiring

Jane Documentary Review

Oh my do I love this documentary. It's as close to perfection as any film can get, and it will fill you with hope and happiness. Jane is a documentary made by filmmaker Brett Morgen (of The Kid Stays in the Picture, Chicago 10, Cobain: Montage of Heck) that's about the groundbreaking work of animal lover and activist Jane Goodall. As we all know, Goodall went out in the jungles of Africa in the 1960s and 1970s and lived with chimpanzees, studying them and observing how closely related to humans they really are. They shot tons of footage of her, but most of it was lost for years, until it was found recently. Morgen and his crew went through thousands of hours of this old footage and created this wonderful film about Goodall, about her work, about chimpanzees, and about her relationship with photographer Hugo van Lawick. It is sublime.

 Posted October 12 in Documentaries, Review | Comments

Sitges Review: Zombie Christmas Musical 'Anna and the Apocalypse'

Anna and the Apocalypse Review

Brains roasting on an open fire; zombies nipping at your nose; yuletide carols being sung by the undead. Anna and the Apocalypse is a horror comedy film from Scotland that is, as far as I know, the first ever zombie Christmas musical. Yes, indeed, you heard that right – a musical set at Christmas about a zombie apocalypse – and it's awesome. Well, it's not perfect, but it is damn good and the whole thing is just so much crazy fun, that I can't help but say I enjoyed this film from start to finish. It takes a little while to get going at the start, but once we get into it, Anna and the Apocalypse becomes an instant blood-splattered smash hit. It's worthy of being called Shaun of the Dead meets La La Land, with wonderful songs and kills galore.

 Posted October 12 in Horror, Review | Comments

Sitges Review: Joachim Trier's 'Thelma' is One of the Year's Best Films

Thelma Review

The power of love. It's such a relief to watch a film and discover it's truly as wonderful as everyone has been saying. Joachim Trier's Thelma has been getting rave reviews ever since premiering at the Toronto Film Festival and Fantastic Fest (Jeremy wrote a glowing review already). I caught up with the film at the Sitges Film Festival and it's now one of my favorite films of the year, a wonderfully exhilarating, gripping sexual awakening story. Joachim Trier is a very talented Norwegian filmmaker who has already made a name for himself with the films Oslo August 31st and Louder Than Bombs, but continues to get even better with each new film he makes. Thelma is his finest work yet, one of the year's best that is worth your time to discover.

 Posted October 8 in Indies, Review | Comments

Sitges Review: Joe Lynch's 'Mayhem' is a Violent Takedown of Greed

Mayhem Review

Bring down the whole damn house! Indie filmmaker Joe Lynch's (Everly, Knights of Badassdom) new film is another violent, deranged, totally crazy, totally fun film titled Mayhem. The title, which is a bit vague, doesn't have much to do with the plot - which is actually about a guy who works at a sleazy legal corporation that decides to take on the executives when a virus causes everyone to go crazy. I saw this film at 1AM with a crowd of horror fans at the Sitges Film Festival, which is the perfect time and place to see this kind of film, because they cheered at all the right moments. If you watch this one at home, it just won't hit as hard, but it's still a thoroughly entertaining horror action comedy mashup with a worthwhile message at the end of it.

 Posted October 8 in Review | Comments

Sitges Review: 'The Osiris Child' is Ultra Ambitious Sci-Fi Storytelling

The Osiris Child Review

Where did this film come from?! I finally caught up with a sci-fi feature called The Osiris Child, originally titled Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child in full. This film is way, way, way better than it should be, and left me totally blown away. It's not perfect by any means, but it is extremely impressive storytelling, with some cool ideas I have never seen before in any film. I can't speak for others who don't like it, but I can say this is exactly the kind of sci-fi I love. It's remarkably ambitious storytelling on a galactic scale, created on a minimal budget, utilizing some sleek filmmaking tricks that actually make this successful. The world building (or rather, universe building) in this rivals Luc Besson's Valerian, and in all honesty, upon first viewing I actually like this more than Valerian. I really, really enjoyed it - but I do not think everyone will.

 Posted October 6 in Review, SciFi | Comments

Review: Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner 2049' is Emotionally Affecting, Artificially Intelligent

Blade Runner 2049

Based on the Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction thriller, Blade Runner, introduced audiences to a dystopian future where synthetic humans, known as Replicants, are bio-engineered for use in off-world colonization. When these Replicants go rogue, special police units called Blade Runners hunt down and "retire" them. Despite its initial lukewarm critical and commercial reception, Blade Runner has become one of the most influential movies of the last 40 years, pioneering what became an entirely new genre: neo-noir cyberpunk. 35 years later, thanks to subsequent releases like the 1992 Director's Cut and the definitive 2007 Final Cut, Scott's film is now heralded as a groundbreaking visionary masterpiece and one of the most important motion pictures ever made.

 Posted October 5 in Review, SciFi | Comments

Fantastic Fest Review: Benson and Moorhead's Brilliant 'The Endless'

The Endless Review

Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead are a filmmaking duo that have quietly made some of the best genre films the indie world has seen in recent memory. Their first film, Resolution, switched up the game when it came to stories about storytelling, and Spring, for all its interesting & intelligent monster movie elements, is a heartfelt and beautiful tale of love. Their latest, The Endless, goes back to a storytelling well the team dipped into with their first film, but it plays on such an elaborately greater level that it becomes a beast completely unto itself. The Endless is a horror/sci-fi film like nothing the cinematic world has seen thus far and only serves to prove Benson & Moorhead as some of the strongest voices in the world of indie cinema.

 Posted September 29 in Fantastic Fest 17, Review | Comments

Fantastic Fest Review: 'Bad Genius' Is a Slick, Remarkable Caper About Exam Cheating

Bad Genius Review

A heist-style drama about genius high school students and their task to pull off the ultimate, cheating scam on behalf of dozens of wealthy peers doesn't quite sound like the nail-biter Bad Genius ends up pulling off, but here we are. The Thai film we do get, which is directed by the very talented Nattawut Poonpiriya, not only brings with it a whip-smart screenplay, it's an incredibly intense caper loaded with crackling dialogue and impressive performances that ranks up there with recent, instant classics like Moneyball and The Social Network. Poonpiriya keeps your attention from beginning to end and ends up delivering one of the tautest thrillers (without really being a thriller) to come along in some time.

 Posted September 26 in Fantastic Fest 17, Review | Comments

Fantastic Fest Review: Superb Stephen King Adaptation 'Gerald's Game'

Gerald's Game Review

Sometimes when transferring a novel to a film, the best way to go is a straight, no-frills adaptation. The author has said all that needs to be said on the subject, and the job the filmmaker undertakes is simply bringing that source material to life through visual representation. With so many adaptations of the works of Stephen King already made - and many more just on the horizon - it's refreshing to see a film based on his works sticking so closely to the book. Enter Gerald's Game, based on the 1992 novel, directed by Oculus and Hush director Mike Flanagan. A streamlined adaptation, the film hits with surprising intensity and delivers ample amounts of atmosphere and scares. It also boasts a career-best performance from Carla Gugino, who aids in raising Gerald's Game to the levels of some of the very best Stephen King adaptations.

 Posted September 25 in Fantastic Fest 17, Review | Comments

Fantastic Fest Review: Lanthimos' Uncomfortably Great 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer'

The Killing of a Sacred Deer Review

Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos is quickly becoming the master of the subtle, upsetting burn. He first cocked heads with 2009's Dogtooth and brought the same level of weirdness and dry, uncomfortable humor in 2015's The Lobster. His latest, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, is his most accomplished work to date, a tale of the question of morality in a seemingly peaceful, domestic setting and with a rather large dose of that dry humor he gleefully uses against his own audience. Lanthimos' films don't hand deliver answers, instead forcing the viewer to figure it out along the way all the while asking themselves the very same questions playing out on screen. Sacred Deer is no exception and could go down as the filmmaker's masterpiece.

 Posted September 24 in Fantastic Fest 17, Review | Comments

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