• Movies/Entertainment,  Reviews

    G-S-T Review…Uncut Gems

    We’ve all seen plenty of after school specials and PSAs telling us that crime doesn’t pay, and tons of films where playing to and with criminals doesn’t end well…even in Guy Ritchie flicks. But why not throw a log another log on that fire? A few years ago, The Safdie Brothers (Josh and Benny) cast Robert Pattinson as the lead in Good Time. What. A. Ride. It’s been a decade since Daddy Lonlegs and The Black Balloon, and since then, they seem to enjoy and have found their niche taking everybody – from their lead actor, the uncomfortably put-upon supporting cast, and even the audience – through the ringer. Uncut Gems is very much in…

  • Movies/Entertainment,  Reviews

    G-S-T Review…Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    Few franchises have such enduring longevity and cultural awareness as Star Wars. For those either brought up on the affairs in a galaxy far, far away, or new to the series, the anticipation (and expectation) of a saga-capping generation-defining final chapter have rarely been higher. And it’s not like the creative team didn’t know that going in. In parallel to the climatic battle between good and evil on screen, there exists a struggle with similar stakes happening behind the scenes. To some, a great many if we’re being honest, this film is less about what happens to our beloved characters. It’s more about whose stamp and style and understanding of…

  • Fantastic Fest,  Festivals,  Movies/Entertainment,  Reviews

    [Fantastic Fest Review]…The Death of Dick Long

    After Swiss Army Man, there was only one way director Daniel Scheinert could go, and The Death of Dick Long film is the next logical step. Ok, ok, get it out of your system. Actually, that title lets you know what you’re walking into – word play from guys who probably can’t spell – and trust me, we’re just getting warmed up. This is an absurdly funny and honest character film. When three friends’ late night outing goes horribly wrong, one of them ends up dead, and we the audience are left grasping for details. Similarly, the put upon Alabama sheriff’s department – who are not exactly the southern state’s…

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    [Fantastic Fest Review]…The Antenna

    Turkish dystopian horror film, The Antenna, really has a lot to offer up front. It’s a dark spin on the idea of big brother, and drapes a hyper-realism blanket over themes about privacy, and paranoid ideas about technology being our downfall. Really, though, it’s not paranoia. It is actually happening. And technology is tearing us apart when it’s soul purpose was to bring us together. This takes a turn without explanation or a road map. If that sounds good to you, then hop on in. The film is beautifully shot even though it comes across incredibly bleak. Each scene and setting are expertly crafted and staged, and the entire shoot…

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    [Fantastic Fest Review]…Takashi Miike’s First Love

    To the genre film community, very few directors have the longevity of Japanese icon Takashi Miike. Known for seminal yakuza and samurai films plenty, Miike’s latest is a crazy, go-for-broke gang war film that is an all-out blast. Weaving multiple characters and plot lines ​injected with a lot of unexpected humor, First Love is far a far cry from Audition or Ichi the Killer. It’s more in line with Edgar Wright and Guy Ritchie type films, yet somehow still feels relatively grounded. Th​e film​ follows Leo​ (Masataka Kubota)​, an up-and-coming boxer who​ is diagnosed with cancer. While he is reeling from the news, he, by dumb luck​,​ gets thrust into an adrenaline​-​fueled, running, gunning, and slashing adventure.…

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    [Fantastic Fest Review]…Taikia Waititi’s JoJo Rabbit

    When it comes to a film by Taika Waititi, there’s a nebulous and unique aspect to his productions that people just love. Why? Well, everything he does has incredible heart to it. Jojo Rabbit is a film about a small boy growing up in a big world, and experiencing it during World War II, and from the German side. The fact that he is extremely fond of Adolf Hitler goes without saying. Sounds like a real knee slapper, right? Good news is that it is a side-splitting, howling funny knee slapper. The film is incredibly poignant and well-balanced look at how and why, even from a young age, we should ask question…

  • Movies/Entertainment,  Reviews

    G-S-T Review…Ralph Breaks the Internet

    Over the years, Rich Moore and Phil Johnston have carved out a niche for themselves telling message stories. Wreck-It Ralph touted not messing with the programming (translation: be happy being yourself!), and “going Turbo” meant you were a danger to others. Brief recap is that game-jumping is a selfish quest which puts many lives on the line. Break the game, game unplugged, game over. Everyone loses. In the sequel, the eponymous Ralph breaks the internet. However, this is really Vanellope’s movie – our lovable 8-bit “bad guy” is the catalyst but this more mature story (which caters to fans of the first film who have also grown up in the past six years)…

  • Fantastic Fest,  Festivals,  Movies/Entertainment,  Reviews

    [Fantastic Fest 2018]…Quick Take Reviews: The Quake, Overlord, Werewolf, Piercing, Starfish, and The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

    Fantastic Fest 2018 was one for the books. A blur of films, fun, and memorable experiences, it was the best 84 hours I’ve spent at a film festival yet. My time in Austin was limited, but I got a lot done: I saw eleven films, wrote four full reviews and sat for three interviews. The “quick takes” below are capsule reviews for a bite-size run down. Covering a festival means you have to split your time and put focus on what you feel is important and worthwhile. The brevity of each of these does not mean they aren’t worth seeking out. They totally are. I mean, if I didn’t like…

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    [Fantastic Fest Review]…Level 16

    In Level 16, director Danishka Esterhazy offers a lot of pointed social commentary in her film about a group young women being prepared for adulthood. There’s a gripping surface-level narrative unfolding, but beyond the literal plot points, Esterhazy also presents the audience with lots more to ponder. The film finds the above-mentioned adolescent females being raised in a questionable institution. You can’t call it a school, because there are no windows, odd concepts of time, and the girls have little to no knowledge of the world. From frame one, there’s something or rotten in Denmark, or what seems like the former Soviet Union. The girls just don’t know what they…

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    [Fantastic Fest Review]…The Perfection

    From director Richard Shepard (Dom Hemingway, The Matador) comes a psychological horror film that feels extremely current yet also exists as a throwback. In the film, a former cello prodigy (Allison Williams) seeks out both her mentor (Steven Weber) and his new star pupil (Logan Browning) with enigmatic intent in this twisty and undeniably warped nail-biter. But this is far from a straight-forward thriller. One of the reasons is Shepard who really likes breaking up a story into distinct chapters and, in the case of The Perfection, the story is all about misdirection. He is somewhat able to explore different genres in tandem with the main plot. The result of…

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    [Fantastic Fest Review]…An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn

    Director Jim Hosking, and co-writer David Wike craft a surreal experience in the form of An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn. From the start, it’s an odd movie, and one that feels like you’re watching alien lifeforms try to emulate humans. But it is hilarious! It’s an exercise in stretching a joke, and that’s what Hosking does so well. He also takes what’s real and morphs it just enough to turn actors, every one of them, into cartoons. For instance,  Emile Hirsch‘s delivery always ends in overlong stares, or strained, exaggerated smiles. And in a few sequences, he believes that by donning a blond pixie-cut wig (meant for a girl) and…

  • Fantastic Fest,  Festivals,  Movies/Entertainment,  Reviews

    [Fantastic Fest Review]…You Might Be the Killer

    On Thursday, September 20, David Gordon Green’s Halloween kicked off Fantastic Fest 2018. While that was a very fitting way to start one of the world’s largest genre film festivals, it wasn’t the first feature I saw this year (thank you press screening room!). And, truth be told, You Might Be the Killer is actually a film better suited to usher in the 14th year of this glorious festival. It’s more representative of what a genre film is, and one that has been lovingly constructed by cherry-picking elements of seminal slashers to offer something ​funny, fresh, reverent and thoroughly enjoyable. And it’s all based on this brilliant Twitter exchange between Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig.…