Get Out writer/director Jordan Peele‘s new horror film Us opens in the United States on March 15, 2019, but if you’re attending this year’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, you may have a chance to catch it even earlier. The Us world premiere date has been announced, and the movie will be the opening night film at this year’s festival. Read on for more details. Read More »
Posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2018 by Jacob Hall
(This review originally ran during our coverage of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. Prospect opens in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow, November 2, 2018.)
Prospect exists in a huge universe, one whose scope boggles the mind and imagination. And we are treated to only the smallest, most tantalizing glimpse. A taste. What a taste it is.
Here is an indie science fiction film so aware of its unavoidable budgetary limitations that it builds them into its own mystique. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but casually evocative descriptions of a dozen unique planets and unseen societies is worth $100 million. The scale of Prospect lies unseen in the margins, placing this tiny tale of survival smack dab in the middle of a galaxy that the film dares us to imagine. There’s something special about that. Something powerful. And it certainly helps that Prospect is led by characters who immediately invest us in what’s going on. We want to follow them, to learn more about them, because perhaps they’ll guide us to the worlds they keep talking about.
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(This review originally ran during our coverage of the SXSW Film Festival. Upgrade is in theaters today.)
Leigh Whannell’s latest film Upgrade is one of the most strikingly invigorated sci-fi watches I’ve been awestruck by in quite some time. I’m talking *hard* sci-fi, with callbacks to anything from eXistenZ to The Matrix to Minority Report. Whannell customizes an “efficient” future not so far from our own, where self-driving Loop Dash vehicles chauffeur around bioengineered super-beings and pizzas aren’t ordered, they’re printed. It’s the kind of SmartHouse, techno-takeover world that Apple users dream of, blackened and revenge-ified by Whannell’s oddly apt Her meets Weekend At Bernie’s scramble – with way more splattered blood and guts. Read More »
Prospect‘s prospects are looking bright. The indie sci-fi film starring Pedro Pascal earned raves at South by Southwest, where it quickly became a film festival favorite. And now, Gunpowder & Sky have stepped in to handle the Prospect distribution.
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Juuso Laatio and Jukka Vidgren’s Heavy Trip blast-beats a warrior’s drum for road-trippin’ comedics and heavy metal odysseys. This is a story of companionship bonded by outsider dismissal; a blossoming “Symphonic Post-Apocalyptic Reindeer-Grinding Christ-Abusing Extreme War Pagan Fennoscandian” metal band ready to break from their basement shackles. Laatio and Vidgren respect Nordic brands of face-melting musicianship rooted in mythology and “crappy fantasy novels” as Deathgasm does, except with a more Anchorman approach (animal fights, national crises, etc). To quote Jason Lei Howden’s equally amplified metal adventure, this hilarious endeavor isn’t just brutal – it’s “brutal as fuck!”
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Wildling is Fritz Böhm’s first feature film, and it’s such an assured debut, darkly mystical and elegant. This nighttime fairy tale tells the story of Anna (Bel Powley), a young woman who’s spent much of her life locked in a room like Rapunzel, with only “Daddy” (Lord of the Rings’ Brad Dourif, in an equally untrustworthy role) as company.
Daddy treats Anna with tenderness, warning her against “the wildling” that stalks the woods surrounding their remote fairy tale tower. He seems loving and protective – but he’s also keeping Anna in seclusion. We watch her grow from toddlerhood to young womanhood in the confines of the same tiny room – and all the while we keep seeing Daddy inject a mysterious substance into Anna’s tummy. These opening scenes are disorienting, diving right into the narrative instead of offering any tidy context, immediately eliciting intrigue and perplexity from the audience. The context comes later, as Wildling’s story grows clearer but never less strange. Read More »
As this generation’s filmmakers attempt to create their own superhero origin stories without going through Marvel or DC, Jason Stone’s First Light succeeds by blending Chronicle with YA romance. Hard sci-fi elements that limit themselves to rural country suburbs before breaking out like a conspiracy containment gone wrong. As illuminations flicker and cosmic mysteries unravel, a relationship between boy and girl remains thematically intrinsic – powers exist, but effects needn’t overshadow story. Not to suggest a boring watch by any means – it’s just nice to see the unknown be mixed with tender crafts.
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There’s no such thing as the perfect crime and this is doubly true in the movies. The Australian thriller Brothers’ Nest is built around a seemingly perfect criminal plot that turns out to be spectacularly imperfect once a rogue element or two enter the equation. You’ve seen this set-up before and you’ve seen it before because it works. We like to watch perfect structures tumble. It’s why we slow down at car accidents. And the duration of Brothers’ Nest is spent watching the car slide toward catatastrophe in ultra-slow motion. We await the final impact. We know it’s going to be painful. And then it is.
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It usually feels like a miracle when an Oscar winner gives a short and sweet acceptance speech. Hell, long Oscar acceptance speeches have become such a staple that 2018 Academy Awards host Jimmy Kimmel even created a whole new category for shortest acceptance speech. (Congratulations Mark Bridges.)
But there was one speech that we wish we could have heard more of: Barry Jenkins Best Picture speech that the director would have given after Moonlight‘s astonishing win at the 2017 Oscars. But we all know what happened that year. A fumbled envelope, an award incorrectly given to La La Land, the celebrity reaction picture of the century. Unfortunately, that insane mistake would end up overshadowing Moonlight‘s very important win, and a speech that would have had us all weeping. But now, you can finally hear the speech that Barry Jenkins meant to give.
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Cinematic comedy has a long history of men being idiots. Of men making mistakes. Of men getting in over their heads. Of men being deadbeat losers who make a series of increasingly poor decisions and whose lives spiral into chaotic, raunchy anarchy. Of men, despite giving us every reason to disregard them, ultimately winning our affection.
What Never Goin’ Back does is take a long hard look at a familiar comedic template and ask, “But what if ladies?” And then it does it better than just about everyone else.
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