Category: Reviews

MIFF 2017: I Am Not a Witch is a Gorgeous Satire

Over the next few weeks, our writer in Melbourne, Sean W. Fallon, will be covering the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and reviewing some of his favourite movies from the festival. Overview: A young girl accused of witchcraft is sent to live with a group of other supposed witches. Film4; 2017; 90 mins Beauty: I Am Not a Witch is a gorgeous movie and it knows it. Director, Rungano Nyoni is not ashamed to put beautiful images  front and center and linger upon them whether they be the foolish witch doctor’s get-up, the traditional clothes they cover the young witch Shula...

Read More

MIFF 2017: Godspeed is Messy and Empty

Over the next few weeks, our writer in Melbourne, Sean W. Fallon, will be covering the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and reviewing some of his favourite movies from the festival. Overview: A drug courier travels in the taxi of an unlucky cab driver. 3 Ng Film; 2016; Rated-R; 111 mins Lost: Godspeed is a very odd movie. Not much happens in it, it jumps around in time, the narrative POV shifts from character to character, and by the end the viewer is left with the sense that either they’ve just watched a movie about something that is just out of...

Read More

Hitchcock Flashback: Vertigo

Originally published on August 13, 2015. Overview:  A former detective struggling with vertigo and acrophobia  is hired to shadow the wife of an acquaintance. Paramount Pictures/Universal; 1958; Rated PG; 129 Minutes. A Balanced Perspective:  Every ten years, British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine polls hundreds of critics to rank the Greatest Films of All Time. In 2012, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo earned the top honor, dethroning Citizen Kane from the spot for the first time in fifty years.  The response from the film community was mixed, a predictable reaction given that that Vertigo was a film that was released...

Read More

Savage Dog Scratches An Action Itch

Overview: After being betrayed, an ex-IRA soldier in 1950s Indochina swears revenge on the men who destroyed his life. XLrator Media; 2017; Not Yet Rated; 95 minutes. 80s Cheese Done Right: Of all the action schlock to come from our old friends XLrator Media, Jesse V. Johnson’s Savage Dog is, if not the best, then certainly the most viscerally satisfying. I could easily see this film being made in the 80s by Cannon Films starring either a haggard Chuck Norris or a kickboxing Jean-Claude Van Damme. It’s the kind of preposterous action cheese where sweaty, shirtless men give poignant...

Read More

BLOTTER | Suggestions for More Diverse Crime Series

The world of crime fiction, despite some notable inroads made by women the past few decades, is still dominated by white men—many of whom are quite capable of writing complex characters and weaving nuanced storylines all while compelling you to keep turning pages. If you want to find a good work of crime fiction by a white male author, you can. But it’s good for the industry—and even more so for the readers—when we broaden the scope. For today’s Blotter, I want to offer up a few suggestions for series, or individual works from a more diverse group of...

Read More

Hitchcock Flashback: Rear Window

Originally published August 13, 2014. Overview:  A wheelchair bound photographer recovering from a leg injury observes some suspicious behavior while watching his neighbors to pass the time.  1954; Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures; rated PG; 112 minutes. Peeping Toms:  The plot of Rear Window revolves heavily around the art of observing others, which is a past time that goes hand in hand with human nature and our innate fascination with comparing ourselves to those around us.  The subject of curiosity bordering on voyeurism is one that is just as much if not more relevant in today’s society as it was when...

Read More

Ingrid Goes West Explores the Lunacy of Social Media Obsession

Overview:  After the death of her mother, Ingrid decides to travel West and become friends with a young woman she follows on Instagram. Neon; 2017; Rated R; 97 minutes. Tastemakers: Ingrid Goes West, director and co-writer Matt Spicer’s first feature length film, is remarkably specific, a millennial’s film, largely in the best sense; it is slickly made, full to the brim with cultural references and irony but also remains emotionally vulnerable and sincere. Ingrid Goes West avoids being broad parody or a mean-spirited of youthful naiveté in general, and instead integrates the amount of contemporary detail that grounds its characters...

Read More

Annabelle: Creation is Engaging and Spooky

Overview: 12 years after the loss of their child, a couple turn their haunted farmhouse into an orphanage. 2017; Warner Bros.; Rated R; 109 minutes The Switch: Is it too early to coin the term “Flanaganed”? Last year, Ouija: Origin of Evil won our hearts as the Most Improved Horror Franchise thanks to a surprisingly strong followup to its dead on arrival predecessor, Ouija. This was largely due to director Mike Flanagan, who took the dismal story and, by creating a prequel, salvaged the ideas that were muddled and lost in the first. It may seem unfair to bring...

Read More

Hitchcock Flashback: Notorious

Originally published August 13, 2015. Overview: The daughter of a convicted Nazi emissary is enlisted by an American agent to spy on a Nazi cabal in Rio de Janeiro. RKO Radio Pictures; 1946; Not Rated; 101 minutes. The Spy Who Loved Me: Alfred Hitchcock’s classic espionage story is often cited as the film that marked a shift in the director’s career, a move towards the deeper, more emotionally resonant character work that defined his most popular films. If there was anything “inessential” about Hitchcock’s films preceding 1946, the cast of Notorious made the film an indispensable example of his...

Read More

Don’t Be Afraid of Hitchcock: Where to Start If You’re a Hitchcock Newbie

Alfred Hitchcock is intimidating. There, I said it. Has there ever been a director with more positive baggage associated with them? Take a look at just about literally every list of “Greatest Directors in History” and he will likely show up in the Top 5. That is a lot of pressure for a new viewer pressing play for the first time on one of his movies. I can almost hear the incredulous response as people read “new viewer.” Especially in film communities, admitting to being a Hitchcock virgin is tantamount to personal insult or an invitation to mockery. I...

Read More

Larson and Harrelson Carry The Glass Castle

Overview: The story of a young girl growing up in a wildly dysfunctional family and her journey both away and towards her father. 2017; Lionsgate; Rated PG-13; 127 minutes Memoir: Real life is not limited by genre or tone. A person’s journey is not a comedy, or a tragedy, or horror. The best stories about humanity are all of these rolled into one and more. Director Destin Daniel Cretton clearly realizes this and has focused on these complications in his first two feature films, Short Term 12 and now The Glass Castle. The latter, based on the memoir of...

Read More

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Shoots Its Own Foot

Overview: A fallen-from-grace bodyguard protects a hitman on his way to testify against the dictator of Belarus in an international court. Lionsgate Films; 2017; Rated R; 118 Minutes. The Good: Likely, the main reason(s) anybody is going to see The Hitman’s Bodyguard is for Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Each plays a role that he has been playing for years, shoehorned into a story about international intrigue and a theme of planning vs. rolling with the punches. The story is a McGuffin of sorts, only there to explain away why formerly AAA rated bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Reynolds), is...

Read More

New on Netflix Instant Streaming: The Transfiguration Explores Black Mental Illness Through Vampirism

Originally published on August 4, 2017. The Transfiguration is now available on Amazon Prime’s streaming service. Overview: A black teenager with an irresistible urge and a fascination with vampires meets a troubled girl who changes his self-perspective. Strand Releasing; 2017; NR; 97 minutes. Lost Boy: When we first meet Milo (Eric Ruffin) he’s sucking blood out of a dead man’s neck in a subway bathroom stall. It’s a grisly first encounter that quickly forfeits any notion that this film will toy with the with ‘is he or isn’t he a vampire?’ Milo believes he’s a vampire, and that’s what...

Read More

Now Available on Amazon Prime Instant Streaming: Faults

Originally published on May 13, 2015. Faults is now available on Amazon Prime’s streaming service. Overview: A financially strapped cult expert is hired to deprogram a young woman, but he soon finds himself in new territory when her beliefs prove far more dangerous than he suspected. 2014; Screen Media Films; NR; 89 minutes. Indoctrination: A large part of what makes Faults such a unique look at cult behavior is screenwriter/director Riley Stearns’ delicate tonal balance. Advertised as a film from the producers of The Guest, Faults has a similar multi-genre feel, though I think the transitions between genres in...

Read More

All the Queen’s Horses: A Huge Crime You Never Heard About

Overview: A city comptroller in small town Illinois perpetrated the largest case of municipal fraud—some $53 million; Kartemquin Films; 2017; NR; 71 minutes. Small Town: Dixon, Illinois (pop. 15,135) is quintessential small-town America. The town sits a bit more than an hour and a half west of Chicago and used to be most well-known as the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan (know those pictures of a young Reagan lifeguarding? That’s Dixon). At least until 2011, when a city employee noticed a strange discrepancy in some bank paperwork and stumbled headlong onto a co-worker’s $53 million secret. For more than 20...

Read More