Kindred Review

The terrors of pregnancy and horror make fine bedfellows. The genre lends itself beautifully to exploring our deepest and most vulnerable fears, digging into the parts of our collective lives that we would feel uncomfortable discussing in public. Rosemary’s Baby is, of course, the benchmark against which all others continue to be measured. But where that iconic film explored the fear of conspiracy to control the pregnant body alongside the paranoia of giving birth to something unnatural, Kindred instead takes a more realistic approach, shedding light on the horrors of pregnancy itself without the influence of cults or the Devil. 

A beautiful and elegiac film about the trauma of pregnancy, Kindred is better in theory than in execution. Though it’s full of compelling imagery and atmosphere befitting a Brontë novel, the plot, particularly in its final moments, feels thin and a little disappointing after such an evocative buildup.

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Borat 2 Review

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan found fictional reporter Borat Sagdiyev learning about American culture and society, but he nearly upended it all by trying to literally bag himself the golden-haired Pamela Anderson to be his wife. But Borat’s film didn’t help make Kazakhstan great. In fact, it brought great shame upon them, and Borat was fired from his job, banished from his village, and sentenced to a life of hard labor in a gulag.

But America is all about second chances. And Borat is given one now that America is “great again” under the rule of Premier McDonald Trump. The leaders of Kazakhstan have given Borat a chance to redeem himself by bringing Vice Premier Michael Pence a special gift, and it’s all chronicled in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Just like Borat’s first trip to America, nothing goes as planned, and the reporter ends up on another wild, unbelievable adventure chock full of morally questionable Americans.

This audaciously and raucously hilarious follow-up is infinitely more shocking and damning than the first film. However, it’s also surprisingly tender thanks to the presence of a new character: Borat’s daughter Tutar. Read More »

Boys from County Hell Review

Some things are older than science, older than God; the earth has its own secrets, whispers a local Irishman named William. As two Canadian travelers carefully approach an ancient gravesite, Williams friend jumps out from around the tombstones scaring the hell out of the tourists who wanted to get a glimpse at a real piece of historic horror. That is one of the great things about folklore. Stories are passed down through generations that cause people to travel all over the world to see the sites that inspired mythological creatures, and locals love to lean into it all for a scare or a laugh.

Embracing small town antics and camaraderie, writer/director Chris Baugh summons a new story on the traditional vampire lore and takes a stab at marrying comedy and horror with his film Boys from County Hell.  

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days review

Misery may love company, but loneliness craves it. Yearns for it. Counts down the minutes waiting for company to arrive until life is but a hollow shell, an endless repetition of mindless tasks, wasting away waiting for something that may never come. And then when that company is finally there, doesn’t know what to do it with it but shyly dance around it.

Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang has long delved into the feeling of alienation, isolation, and the miracles of human connection with his films, and Days is no exception. A mesmerizing exercise in the mundane, Days is almost completely free of dialogue — and intentionally unsubtitled for this reason — inducing a kind of calm hypnotic state that makes the viewer even more aware of the sharp stabs of loneliness felt by his longtime muse Lee Kang-sheng. Lee stars as Kang, a middle-class man wandering through the lonely urban landscape of Hong Kong, biding his time until he meets Non, a young Laotian immigrant working as a masseuse in Bangkok (Anong Houngheuangsy).

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Honeydew Review

Science and religion unite in an unconditional manner with writer/director Devereux Milburns Honeydew. Making its world premiere at Nightstream Festival, Honeydew is as auditorily savory as it is visually sadistic. A blend of horror sub-genres, Milburn proves that he has a talent (and an appetite) for serving audiences a disturbing new take at an exploration in the countryside gone wrong.

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Black Bear Review

Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself wondering halfway through Lawrence Michael Levine’s Black Bear just what the hell is going on. Levine intends for his characters to be off-kilter. At least, at first. Influenced by filmmakers like Hong Sang-soo, Levine’s sophomore feature is less about following a straight narrative and more about the longtime screenwriter giving himself permission to explore the unconventional. To bask in the beautiful loneliness that inevitably comes with the curse of being a creative. A girl in a bright red bathing suit on a washed out dock alone at sea. Wood paneled walls conflating claustrophobia with feminine wiles.  A young vixen slow dancing in the corner, swaying alone, playing at romance. A ravenous bear stirring up trauma wherever he goes. These images are captured by a shy, distant camera that grows more fervent as the movie rolls on, like a wallflower blooming to life and getting swept up in the storm.

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rebecca review

It’s never a good idea to remake Hitchcock, even though several have tried. And while Ben Wheatley‘s new Netflix Rebecca is technically not a remake, but rather a new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel, it can’t escape the Hitchock film’s legacy. Like its main character, Rebecca is living in the shadow of its predecessor. To Wheatley’s credit, he doesn’t try to ape Hitchcock in any way, shape, or form. But, oddly enough, he doesn’t bring much new life to the proceedings, either. For a film filled with such lush production design, Rebecca is a curiously stifled affair.

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French Exit Review

Azazel Jacobs’ previous film, The Lovers, establishes its overarching and consistent tone from the time the opening studio logo appears. A self-consciously melodramatic piece of score cues the audience to recognize Jacobs’ perspective. He humorously heightens the stakes for an otherwise mundane story of aging lovers and their affairs.

His follow-up feature, an adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s novel French Exit, contains no less vibrant an expression of Jacobs’ directorial stamp. Yet there’s something slipperier and tougher to pin down here, largely because the droll wit never seems to coalesce around a clear point of view. The result is a satire of New York’s upper crust that feels like it pulls punches, if only because it seems to have no clear direction as to where – and how – Jacobs wants them to land.

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the woman who ran review

A woman spends a couple days catching up with friends over coffee and home-cooked pasta. One is a happy spinster living in the countryside, the second is an aspiring artist who has found a second lease on life, and the last is a career woman dealing with marriage issues with her more famous husband. Are these just relaxed hangouts among friends or are they actually glimpses into three possible futures for Gamhee (The Handmaiden‘s Kim Min-hee), a pensive wanderer whose genial attitude appears to keep at bay any deeper probes into her psyche? In Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo‘s The Woman Who Ran, it could be either — the filmmaker’s penchant for the absurd poking its way through gentle, lackadaisical drama that smoothly glides through its slight story and slim 77-minute runtime.

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Clouds Review

The new film Clouds is perfectly harmless, which feels almost required to mention up-front. The true story on which the film is based, derived from an online phenomenon, feels like it belongs to a different era of the Internet, when people could spend a day or two on social media focusing on nothing more than a feel-good story. And those involved in the making of the film have uniquely close ties to the subject of the story, a teenage boy stricken with cancer who turned his terminal illness into a way to provide inspiration to others through song. Clouds is nice and well-meaning, but also very much like its title, wispy and transparent and easy to look past.

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