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

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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: 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

The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Movie Review

The opening scene to Joe Talbot’s directorial feature debut, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, based on a story by the film’s lead performer Jimmie Fails, packs in a lot. So much so that it can be off-putting. It starts on a child walking down the street, who finds blocking her path a sanitation worker in a hazmat suit. They are cleaning the heavily contaminated water of the San Francisco Bay. The camera keeps on her for a time, then pivots to a man on a soapbox decrying the poor current state of the city—“whole blocks half in the past, half in the future.”

We then settle on our protagonists, who sit at a bus stop watching the man preach. Jimmie Fails (played by Fails) and Montgomery “Mont” Allen (Jonathan Majors) get impatient of the bus (which never seems to come when they want it to) and decide to skateboard to their destination instead. The pair stand on one skateboard and coast across the city. Where they land is Continue reading The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) Movie Review

It: Chapter Two (2019) Movie Review

If Andy Muschietti’s 2017 It was little more than a funhouse of jerky, startling set pieces loosely strung into a narrative, then his It: Chapter Two aims to up the ante in the manner only a blockbuster sequel can. And that includes inserting a literal funhouse.

In the previous installment, the Losers Club, comprised of Bev (Sophia Lillis), Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Bill (Jaeden Martell), Ritchie (Finn Wolfhard), Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), Mike (Chosen Jacobs), and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), were able to Continue reading It: Chapter Two (2019) Movie Review

Charlie Says (2019) Movie Review

While it is unfair to compare Mary Harron’s latest film, Charlie Says, to Quentin Tarantino’s latest—and I will try to keep this brief—my exposure to both films came within a close window, making it hard to avoid. But I do think that one illuminates the other, as opposed to one dwarfing the other.

Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood makes it a point to limit Charlie Manson’s voice and screentime, choosing instead to focus on his acolytes. This Continue reading Charlie Says (2019) Movie Review

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