All posts by Alex Brannan

2020 Movie Review Catch-up #2 – On the Rocks, Lovers Rock

In my rapid fire end-of-year move catch-up, I have been watching films which run the gamut on the quality spectrum. I want to share some brief thoughts on two more of these films.

On the Rocks

Sofia Coppola’s latest, On the Rocks, is missing something. There is a kernel of emotional oomph, a smidgen of tension, missing from this film. As a result, the film becomes this Continue reading 2020 Movie Review Catch-up #2 – On the Rocks, Lovers Rock

2020 Movie Review Catch-up #1 — Mank, Greyhound, Ava

I’ve been away. To be fair, movies have been away (for the most part), too. So perhaps I was taking advantage of the situation. I’m not going to movie theaters. In fact, this may be the longest continuous stretch of me not going to theaters…ever. Since I could walk, at least. Not going to theaters meant not seeing new movies meant not having content to review on the site, and thus…I had time to step away.

I’ve still been working, and writing, like mad. Writing a master’s thesis doesn’t sound all that bad until you realize that you have that and five or six other things on your plate. Then six months go by and you find you’ve only written about 50 pages. And no movie reviews…

I haven’t posted since Continue reading 2020 Movie Review Catch-up #1 — Mank, Greyhound, Ava

Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Undergods, You Cannot Kill David Arquette, Morgana

Continuing our coverage of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival, here are reviews of three festival selections: Undergods, You Cannot Kill David Arquette, and Morgana.

 

Undergods

A European-set anthology, Chino Moya’s Undergods has a strange energy. Occasionally languid, other times erupting in anger or abjection, it is a turbulent film aiming to Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Undergods, You Cannot Kill David Arquette, Morgana

Review: The Dark and the Wicked — Fantasia Festival 2020

The Dark and the Wicked is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival program.

Bryan Bertino’s The Dark and the Wicked, his first feature film since 2016’s The Monster, is in one sense a story of grief and loss. Two siblings, Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott Jr.), return to their parents’ Texas farmhouse, as it has become clear that their mother (Julie Oliver-Touchstone) is struggling to care for their ailing father (Michael Zagst). Following an untimely death, Louise and Michael have to maneuver grief, while also contending with an evil presence that is haunting the farm.

It is certainly a workable premise for a moody horror flick, but the film ultimately fails to Continue reading Review: The Dark and the Wicked — Fantasia Festival 2020

Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — The Oak Room, PVT Chat, Hunted

The virtual Fantasia Festival 2020 is in the full swing of things, with on-demand and live premiere titles becoming available to Canadian audiences. Here are reviews of three films playing the fest, The Oak Room, PVT Chat, and Hunted.

 

The Oak Room

Cody Calahan’s The Oak Room looks pretty good—opening with slow-moving wide-angle shots of a barroom. The camera establishes mood, producing a Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — The Oak Room, PVT Chat, Hunted

Review: Labyrinth of Cinema — Fantasia Festival 2020

Labyrinth of Cinema is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival program.

Labyrinth of Cinema is truly a unique cinematic experience. But simply saying that does not even begin to get at the heart of what makes the film so special. Nobuhiko Ôbayashi’s final film—the director passed away earlier this year—it is a film which pays homage to cinema itself, exploring the power the cinematic medium has to enact change on both an individual and community level. It is a three-hour epic, dubbed during the opening titles as “a movie to explore cinematic literature.” And it is idiosyncratic to a degree where it is difficult to describe in a way that compliments the film. Not that the film is unworthy of compliment.

Ôbayashi, in his attempt to champion the power of cinema, breaks Continue reading Review: Labyrinth of Cinema — Fantasia Festival 2020

Review: Survival Skills — Fantasia Festival 2020

Survival Skills is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival

Quinn Armstrong’s Survival Skills has plenty of contemporaries. This faux police training video has the same old media affection, anachronistic diegetic reality, and cringe comedy of the late night comedy of Tim & Eric, viral alt comedy videos like Too Many Cooks, and a handful of other indie films on the festival rotation in recent years. Survival Skills deviates enough from these by presenting a less overtly comic take on the postmodern pastiche of the VHS tape aesthetic. But this tone is also the major detracting feature of the film.

The film follows smiley Jim (Vayu O’Donnell) on his first day as part of the Middletown police department. The trials and training he undergoes is part of a training video, but his actions start Continue reading Review: Survival Skills — Fantasia Festival 2020

2020 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Dinner in America, Hail to the Deadites, Monster Seafood Wars

Continuing our coverage of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival, here are reviews of three festival selections: Hail to the Deadites, Dinner in America, and Monster Seafood Wars.

 

Hail to the Deadites

In documentary, the choice of subject can sometimes be the majority of the battle. A good documentary requires Continue reading 2020 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Dinner in America, Hail to the Deadites, Monster Seafood Wars

Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Special Actors, Fried Barry, Patrick

Continuing our coverage of this year’s virtual Fantasia Festival, here are reviews of a few more titles playing at the fest: Shinichiro Ueda’s Special Actors, Ryan Kruger’s Fried Barry, and Tim Mielants’ Patrick.

 

Special Actors

Shinichiro Ueda’s follow-up to the great horror experiment One Cut of the Dead is not a horror film, but an oddball comedy about Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — Special Actors, Fried Barry, Patrick

Review: Lapsis — Fantasia Festival 2020

Lapsis is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia Festival program.

The science fiction world of Lapsis is much like our current reality. The major alteration comes in the form of “Quantum” technology, and, as with any technological innovation, some are hesitant to adapt. Such is the case with Ray (Dean Imperial), who finally folds to the pressures for the sake of his ill brother. He purchases a “Quantic 7” computer and takes a job working for a Quantum cabling company, CBLR. Quantum tech is fueled by cables which are manually laid and attached to magnetic cubes.

Ray is given the materials needed to cable through somewhat illicit means, and the previous owner was Continue reading Review: Lapsis — Fantasia Festival 2020