Category Archives: All Movie Reviews

Review: The Vast of Night – Fantastic Fest 2019

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.

On tonight’s episode of Paradox Theater: 1950s, small town New Mexico. The Cayuga High School boys are gearing up for their big basketball game, and the night’s event has brought nearly the entire town to the school gymnasium. Amid this bustle of people is Continue reading Review: The Vast of Night – Fantastic Fest 2019

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Review: After Midnight – Fantastic Fest 2019

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.

After Midnight (formerly Something Else) is a domestic drama with a tinge of horror. But the horror element functions more as Continue reading Review: After Midnight – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro – Fantastic Fest 2019

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.

Other threads come and go in the process of this exploration: the history and influence of Lucha Libre (this one could be a movie onto itself, and if such a movie exists please let me know; I will watch it), the differences between Continue reading Review: Nail in the Coffin: The Fall and Rise of Vampiro – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Night Has Come – Fantastic Fest 2019

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.

It is a clever combination of audio and visual, although the two do not always align to provide something valuable. As the narrative progresses further into its fiction, the narration gets Continue reading Review: Night Has Come – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: First Love – Fantastic Fest 2019

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.

The plot involves a boxer with a brain tumor, a drug addict working as a prostitute to pay off her father’s debt, a cop who breaks bad in order to swindle two warring gangs over a bag of dope, and plenty of Continue reading Review: First Love – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019

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.

The 10-year-old gives the film its perspective. Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) stands in front of the mirror pumping himself up for Continue reading Review: Jojo Rabbit – Fantastic Fest 2019

Review: Amigo – Fantastic Fest 2019

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.

Following a car accident that kills his wife and leaves his best friend David (David Pareja) with nothing but a scratch, Javi (Javier Botet) is left Continue reading Review: Amigo – Fantastic Fest 2019