At the beginning of Andrew Patterson’ The Vast of Night, we are shown a vintage television set, on which we will watch the remainder of the film, the narrative of which is housed within the The Twilight Zone-inspired show Paradox Theater.
Abby (Brea Grant) and Hank (Jeremy Gardner, who also writes and co-directs) make a rather cute couple. They nestle against each other and joke about “Peanut Noir” (to be clear, it is a wine made on a peanut farm, not a wine made with peanuts as an ingredient). They razz each other as they slowly get drunk. But their relationship is on the rocks. We know this because Abby spontaneously leaves their rural abode for Miami, leaving Hank with only a note as an explanation.
Also, every subsequent night following her exit, an unseen monster barrels itself against Hank’s door, mentally terrorizing him. So there’s that.
In 1991, a 20-year-old, punk-rock-inspired Canadian made his debut in the Lucha Libre AAA ring. A decades-long career followed for Ian Hodgkinson, the “Canadian Vampire,” and Michael Paszt’s Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro chronicles the latter decade of this career, particularly honing in on his declining health and his relationship with his daughter.
Peter von Goethem’s experimental, verse-like docufiction employs archival footage from the Royal Belgian Film Archive, but it relies on a voiceover narration to tell much of its story of a man losing his memories due to a dubious virus.
Takashi Miike’s First Love is a love story, just in the loosest sense. It is also a film about addiction, allegiances, overcoming past trauma, and Yakuza violence. Yep, it’s a Yakuza crime film, but Miike layers this intensely-plotted crime story with humanity that perks up at the most unlikely times.
Jojo Rabbit is a tonal minefield. Taking place during the waning months of World War II and featuring a 10-year-old boy’s imaginary friend version of Hitler (played by writer-director Taika Waititi), the film is an anti-hate dramedy with plenty of Third Reich hate being tossed around as jokes of absurdity.
Oscar Martin’s Amigo, his feature directorial debut, will likely come to be known as Intouchables without the uplift. Both films center on a caretaker and a man who has been rendered paralyzed, and the struggles therein. But the comparison is reductive, as Amigo is quite clearly staking out a space for itself in the psychological thriller genre-space.