violation trailer

One of the most jarring, intense films to play at TIFF 2020 and Sundance 2021 was the revenge thriller Violation. Sure to divide audiences, the same ambivalence was shared by one of /Film’s staff critic. In his mixed review, Chris Evangelista called Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s work “unflinchingly brutal” yet “muddled,” while the “pervasive feeling of dread and horror is pitch-perfect” and that “there’s much here worth fixating on.”

Whether or not you feel the film sticks its landing, it’s clear that Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli are attempting something quite ambitious with their debut feature, anchored in part by Madeleine’s intense, violent portrayal of the central character Miriam on screen. In conversation with the two directors prior to the film’s Midnight Madness premiere, we asked them about the story’s complexity, how they navigated its bleak themes with a supportive cast, and how key questions about how audience expectations and desire for empathy collide with on-screen behaviour may unsettle even the most jaded of genre fans with this unflinching work. 

Violation hits theaters on March 19 and the Shudder streaming service on March 25.

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The Movie: One Night in Miami

Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime

The Pitch: On February 25, 1964, the respected and heavily favorited Word Champion Sonny Liston stepped into the ring with a brash, charismatically obnoxious fighter named Cassius Clay. Kemp Powers’ 2013 award-winning play imagines an evening spent after the surprise victory by the future Muhammed Ali with three of his friends – Nation of Islam leader Malcom X, soul singer Sam Cooke and NFL record breaker Jim Brown. In her directorial debut, Regina King takes Powers’ sophisticated and nuance look at these iconic individuals and, thanks to some exceptional performances, weaves a story that feels as remarkable today as ever.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: Eli Goree plays Clay/Ali with glorious physicality, capturing all the mugging and swagger of the man as well as his acute intelligence and ambivalent nature. Kingsley Ben-Adir provides the character of Malcolm X with the right balance of oratorical prowess and genuine unease given his impending break with the NOI. Aldis Hodge plays a quietly powerful Jim Brown, speaking with looks and glances as eloquently as many of his more loquacious friends, while Leslie Odom Jr. (known to many from his role in Hamilton) plays a pitch perfect Sam Cooke.

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Fireball Visitors From Darker Worlds Review

There are few things more soothing and sardonic than hearing Werner Herzog opine about an impending apocalypse. Along with collaborator and co-director Clive Oppenheimer, the filmmakers provide a science-rich documentary freed from the didacticism of the genre, reveling instead in the true wonder and weirdness of our existence. Their previous film, Into the Inferno, gazed into the maw of active volcanoes, while their latest, Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds, looks at the impact that extra-terrestrial visitors have had on the history of our planet.

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Inconvenient Indian Review

In 2012 Thomas King published The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, a compendium of his writings about what it means to be Native, and the types of stories both ascribed to, and told by, the various individuals broadly contained within the aboriginal rubric. Michelle Latimer’s documentary, simply titled Inconvenient Indian, takes the themes of King’s work, narrated in part by his own words, and showcases a kaleidoscopic vision beyond the stereotype, showcasing the actuality rather than the empty costumes secured in museum cabinets that so often speak silently to what it means to be part of these communities.

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Enemies of the State Review

We live in a time that fetishizes a post-truth. In our post-fact world, suspicion of institutions is at an all time high, and citizens on both left and right find ways to pretzel themselves into believing in grand conspiracies as the mundane facts of incompetence and hubris feel too constrained for the magnitude of our society’s problems. Sonia Kennebeck’s documentary Enemies of the State, about a hacker kid, his crusading parents, and a tenacious legal system, brilliantly undermines these impulses.

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Get the Hell Out Review

During these times of social-distancing, it’s impossible to know how Get The Hell Out, part of the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness slate, would have played to a boisterous and welcoming crowd. It’s fair to say it would have been a lot more fun with the rote dialogue being overpowered by hoots and screams, and the wrestling maneuvers cheered like at some mad luchador match. Instead, at home, the experience of sitting through the film is middling at best.

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The Truffle Hunters Review

Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw have crafted a near fairy tale look at the life of some irate Italians as they clamber through the forest seeking a delicacy that by weight is more valuable than gold. The Truffle Hunters is a beautiful, experiential documentary, taking you into a world that feels completely from another time.

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The Nest Director Interview

Writer/director/producer Sean Durkin is unafraid to take us to some dark places, providing a unique and compelling vision along the way. The winner of the Sundance directing award for Martha Marcy May Marlene, he returned to that festival with The Nest, a creepy, harrowing character piece about a family’s struggles with their own dreams and expectations. It’s a film that takes genre elements and gives them a welcome twist, belying expectations at every move, resulting in a deep character piece that’s moving and effective.

In his original review, /Film writer Ben Pearson called the film a “searing, smoldering exploration of ambition”, and I also alliteratively described it as a “brittle, bleak take of a family fueled by hubris and ambition.” With an exceptional core cast of Carrie Coon, Jude Law, Charlie Shotwell and Oona Roch, there’s much to dig into this rich story.

/Film spoke to Sean by phone prior to the film’s theatrical relase.

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I Care A Lot Review

I did not care for I Care A Lot.

J Blakeson’s tonally deaf and awkward thriller begins by introducing us to Marla (Rosamund Pike), a taut, chilly figure tasked by the court to provide care to those who have fallen through the cracks. Ostensibly a legal guardian, Marla’s true motivation is to exploit the vulnerable, shack them up in assisted living homes while living off the proceeds. When one unstable son (Macon Blair) is unable to visit his mother, their violent and awkward confrontation is dismissed as the cost of doing business.

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