All posts by Alex Brannan

Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Sleep, Yummy, The Columnist

The 2020, online-only edition of Fantasia Festival is less than a week away, and this year’s lineup is filled with intriguing genre films from around the world. Over the next few weeks, CineFiles will be bringing you coverage of the event, with both feature and roundup reviews from the fest.

Today, we look at three on-demand titles that are coming down the pike: Sleep, Yummy, and The Columnist.

 

Sleep

Marlene (Sandra Hüller) is plagued by nightmares of Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Sleep, Yummy, The Columnist

Fantasia Festival 2020 — Lineup Rundown

The 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival announced its third wave of titles today. The festival, which focuses on genre filmmaking and is normally held in Montreal, will take place entirely online between August 20 and September 2. Although it will be accessible only to Canadian audiences, the festival often runs quality genre films that may be good to keep on your radar for their future VOD releases.

Now that the full festival lineup has been announced, let’s take a look at a handful of titles.

 

The Reckoning (d. Neil Marshall)

The fest’s opening film comes from Neil Marshall, director of the excellent The Descent and, more recently, Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 — Lineup Rundown

She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Movie Review

In Amy Seimetz’s moody genre piece She Dies Tomorrow—her first feature as a director since 2012’s Sun Don’t Shine—death is coming for people. Not necessarily in a Final Destination determinism sort of way, but in an existentialist death-comes-for-us-all sort of way. Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil) is seen wallowing in the wake of what appears to be a volatile breakup with a lover. She has fallen off the wagon, cracking open a bottle of wine as she curls up on the floor in despair.

When her friend Jane (Jane Adams) comes to check on her, it becomes clear that there is more to this depressive episode than merely a breakup. Amy insists that she will die tomorrow, that she knows she will die tomorrow.

While Jane is initially skeptical, it is not long before she understands the plight that Amy is suffering through — a plight which manifests itself to the audience in a Continue reading She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Movie Review

The Rental (2020) Movie Review

In The Rental, two couples (Alison Brie, Dan Stevens, Sheila Vand, and Jeremy Allen White) rent an idyllic vacation home on the ocean. Staying nearby is the brother of the homeowner (Toby Huss), who reveals himself early on to be slightly creepy and potentially racist. He leaves them be for the weekend, but the four lodgers cannot help but think he is up to something. Then things, as they often do in movies of this sort, quickly start going awry for the four vacationers.

Stills courtesy of IFC Films

It is a recognizable premise for a low-rent thriller, something which could be Continue reading The Rental (2020) Movie Review

The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

The Old Guard begins in a relatively familiar place. An elite, covert mercenary group gets hired by an independent party to complete a run-of-the-mill job, only to find that they’ve been set up. It is the standard fare for the genre. To be fair, of course, the opening shot of the film is the leader of this crew, known as Andy (Charlize Theron), apparently lying dead on the ground, her body littered with bullet holes, so it isn’t all generically familiar.

Stills courtesy of Netflix

It turns out that this team of mercenaries has been around longer than Continue reading The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

Guest of Honour (2020) Movie Review

Atom Egoyan’s latest, Guest of Honour, is a terse drama arranged to be a puzzle film. I say “arranged” because Egoyan structures the narrative with flashbacks framed from different characters’ perspectives as they tell their version of a story, a family history that unfolds on-screen like puzzle pieces presenting themselves and forming the perimeter of a picture.

Stills courtesy of Kino Lorber

Undeniably, such a structure produces intrigue. We learn first that Continue reading Guest of Honour (2020) Movie Review

Are Home Alone 4 (2002) and Home Alone 5 (2012) Cinematic Travesties? — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, we are looking at the final two sequels in the Home Alone series of films: Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House and Home Alone 5: The Holiday HeistHome Alone 4 was a made-for-television film. It served as the November 3, 2002 premiere for the 47th season of Walt Disney’s anthology television film series, then titled The Wonderful World of Disney. Home Alone 5 functioned as a part of ABC Family’s Countdown to the 25 Days of Christmas programming block.

[Caution: Minor Spoilers Ahead, mostly involving Home Alone 5. But let’s be honest, there’s no need to be watching these movies]

 

Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House

  • IMDb: 2.6/10 (31,990 ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 1.2/5 (7,766 ratings)
  • Nielsen Rating: 7  | Share: 11 | Viewers: 12.5 (m)

Continue reading Are Home Alone 4 (2002) and Home Alone 5 (2012) Cinematic Travesties? — Diamonds in the Rough

In Defense of Home Alone 3 (1997) — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, court is in session, as I will be defending Raja Gosnell’s 1997 sequel Home Alone 3.

 

Home Alone 3

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 29% (24 critics) | 27% (448,875 user ratings)
  • IMDb: 4.5/10 (101,483 ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 2.0/5 (24,174 ratings)

 

Recently, given our current state of pandemic, the good ol’ boys at The Worst Idea of All Time podcast decided to watch Home Alone 3 every Continue reading In Defense of Home Alone 3 (1997) — Diamonds in the Rough

Is The Oregonian (2011) an “Unknown Masterpiece?” — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, we look at The Oregonian from director Calvin Lee Reeder (The Procedure). [Caution: Spoilers Ahead]

 

The Oregonian

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 44% (9 reviews)
  • Metacritic: 46 (4 reviews)
  • IMDb: 4.2/10 (617 ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 2.7/5 (436 ratings)

 

Calvin Lee Reader made the fart movie. Two of them, as a matter of fact. Perhaps this is worth mentioning. I dunno.

The second most popular review for The Oregonian on Letterboxd is Continue reading Is The Oregonian (2011) an “Unknown Masterpiece?” — Diamonds in the Rough

Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review

In Mr. Jones, the eponymous Gareth Jones (James Norton) is a Welsh freelance journalist who travels to the Soviet Union in 1933 to interview Joseph Stalin. But the film begins outside of this man’s story, instead landscaping a pastoral farm—animals milling about, fields of grain waving with the wind. Jones, in his journalistic pursuit, stumbles upon a nefarious truth behind Stalin’s Five Year Plan—the Holodomor, in which Ukraine’s grain was exported in vast quantities that caused mass, genocidal starvation in the region.

Director Agnieszka Holland directs some great sequences in Mr. Jones—this opening sequence; a woozy, heroin-fueled party; a quiet, haunting interlude on a train. Still, stretches of the film are rather staid. The first act relies on undercurrents of tension stemming from Continue reading Mr. Jones (2020) Movie Review