Knock Knock

When Eli Roth directs a movie, there’s a certain expectation from the film. Gore, disturbing imagery and sheer terror are associated with the director of Cabin Fever and Hostel. Roth knows that as well as anyone. With his latest film Knock Knock, he uses those expectations to his advantage to toy with the audience. The film slowly builds, but situations don’t get violent. You might question what the hell you’re watching. What is the point here? That might be frustrating in the hands of another filmmaker, but not from Roth. For almost half of Knock Knock, the film presents fresh, difficult and exceedingly awkward situations for the characters. And because you have no idea what’s going to happen, that’s scary and thrilling in its own unique way.

Knock Knock, which stars Keanu Reeves as a happy husband randomly thrust into an uncomfortable situation with two young girls, premiered this weekend at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Continue reading our Knock Knock review. Read More »

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Dope review

Four days in, Rick Famuyiwa‘s Dope is the best film I’ve seen so far at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. A coming of age story for the “post hip hop generation” best described as a mix of three films: Doug Liman’s Go, Greg Mottola’s Superbad and John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood.  I’m posting this review the morning after the premiere and its being reported that six studios are rabidly bidding to distribute this film — its insanely accessible movie for a Sundance film and will sure to be a hit that lives on past its festival and theatrical runs. Read my Dope review after the jump.

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The Overnight review

Sundance 2015 has barely begun but already, sex is everywhere. Straight, gay, exploratory, odd, difficult, and, whenever possible, hilarious. It’s all here at the fest and The Overnight (not to be confused with doc The Overnighters) fits right in.

Beginning with a couple played by Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling frantically rushing through morning sex before their kid bursts into the room, this is the movie where you’ll see Scott and Jason Schwartzman dance together naked. Like, totally naked. OK, actually about 98% naked. That other 2% is a visual gag carries a hefty comic punch and casts a long shadow over the rest of the story. Even better is a free-sprited, swinging performance from Schwartzman, who bats around the comic stereotype of the LA “cool dad” like a kid with a balloon.

The Overnight is a wild, very funny caricature of the supreme awkwardness of allowing yourself to be truly vulnerable in front of the person you love the most. Read More »

Finders Keepers review sundance

On Friday I screened the first great film of the 2015 Sundance film festival. Finders Keepers is a hilarious, bizarre and sometimes devastating documentary about the true life story of two men. Shannon Whisnant purchases a storage unit at auction and is surprised to find a severed human leg inside a used bbq grill. The other man, John Wood, wants his leg back, but Whisnant isn’t about to let that happen.

Read the rest of my Finders Keepers review and see a clip from the film, embedded after the jump.

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Drew Struzan Batkid header

On November 13, 2013, an event happened that showed the best of what this tech-crazed, celebrity obsessed world can do. Ironically though, the person the event was about had no idea what he’d inspired. That’s the story of Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World, which tells the incredibly story of Miles Scott, a young California boy diagnosed with Leukemia whose one wish was to be the real Batman. The San Francisco Make-A-Wish Foundation tried to grant that wish and as word began to spread of their plans, it became an event that – as the title says – was heard around the world.

Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World premiered this weekend at the Slamdance Film Festival. Continue our Batkid Begins review below. Read More »

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Filmmaker Sean Baker (Four Letter Words, Take Out, Prince of Broadway, Starlet) premiered his new film Tangerine at the Library theater Friday at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. A Q&A followed the screening during which Baker revealed that the film was shot entirely using three iPhone 5S phones. (Update: Our original story said “almost entirely,” before the film’s team provided a correction.) The revelation got an audible gasp from the crowd who had just watched the movie. It’s not the that film looked amazing — it had a digital look to it for sure — it’s just that no one could tell that it was shot on iPhones.

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How to Change the World review

Being too young when the group was in its initial firebrand incarnation to understand, much less appreciate the early activism of Greenpeace, I’ve ended up simply dismissive of the organization as a whole. That’s despite knowing nothing about the group’s founding. The Sundance doc How to Change the World is a good way find a path back through the group’s history.

At its best, How to Change the World is tremendously inspiring, and by turns thrilling, comic, and shocking. A portrait of the achievements of an unlikely group of allies rather than a sales pitch for the modern organization, How to Change the World is drawn from writings by founder Robert Hunter, the group’s shaggy, media-savvy general, and features jaw-dropping footage culled from the Greenpeace archive of film footage. Though while the film offers a vision of Greenpeace I’d never seen, it is also somewhat overlong, and cursed with organizational problems that add nothing to the audience experience. Read More »

The Bronze

The Bronze gets a gold medal for ambition. Directed by Bryan Buckley, it stars the Big Bang Theory‘s Melissa Rausch (who also co-wrote the film) as former Olympic hero Hope Ann Greggory. Think Kerri Strug turned Tonya Harding. A decade removed from a life-changing Bronze medal, she’s now a foul-mouthed, delusional has-been living in her father’s basement and doing unspeakable things while watching her former self.

Hope eats like crap, curses like a sailor, treats her dad (Office Space‘s Gary Cole) awful and is just generally a terrible person. Yet when her former coach dies, she’s given an opportunity to redeem herself by coaching another rising gymnast. Along the way she’ll date Silicon Valley‘s Thomas Middleditch, make fun of the gymnast’s mom played by Cecily Strong, and have the most flat out hilarious, disturbing and crazy sex in recent memory with The Winter Soldier himself, Sebastian Stan.

So does that all work? Continue reading our Sundance 2015 The Bronze review below. Read More »

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