Posted in: Review

Stalker

A consumer tip for tired viewers scrolling through streaming services late at night, looking for a nasty paranoid thriller and maybe getting confused by similar titles: Watcher is about a young woman in Romania being followed by a creepy neighbor. Stalker is about a young man in Los Angeles being followed by a creepy ride-share […]

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Coast

Bored teenagers, fighting with their parents, depending fiercely on each other, driving aimlessly around their California town and wondering what’s next after high school. And convinced, whatever it is, it has to be better than this. American Graffiti, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Lady Bird — it’s not a novel story. But while Coast doesn’t […]

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Locked In

What makes for good drama also often makes for low-budget filmmaking. Sticking to a small cast of characters, a single setting and a confined period of time is a great way to keep your costs low. But, as playwrights going back to the ancient Greeks knew, it’s also a way to emphasize conflict, ratchet up […]

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For Hannah

Most films would be better if their screenplays had gone through just one more draft. For Hannah probably could have used one fewer. The core of the movie is a gripping little wintry noir. A desperate bank robber is trying to get out of town only to have his car break down. He trudges through […]

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What We Do Next

It’s a human impulse to reach out and help. But what happens when that help turns to harm? Are we obligated to then set things right? To do whatever it takes? That’s the question raised in What We Do Next, a talky but intriguing movie from writer/director Stephen Belber. After hearing the anguish of an […]

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Facing Nolan

Drama is conflict. So how do you make an exciting documentary about an unconflicted man? That’s the challenge facing Bradley Jackson, the director of Facing Nolan, a non-fiction film about baseball’s living legend, Nolan Ryan. It’s not just that this is an authorized, and therefore presumably censored, autobiography. It’s that,  what is there to censor? […]

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Maysville

Think they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore? Maysville is proof they do. The Appalachian drama is set in the 1920s, but it might just as well have been filmed then, too. The violence is mostly offscreen. The only vaguely erotic moment comes when the leading lady goes for a midnight swim – in […]

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Ghost Light

It is a tale told by several idiots, full of jokes and laughter, signifying nothing … but fun. That’s the basic description of Ghost Light, anyway, a good-humored black comedy featuring a lot of eccentric characters, a few good performers and several premature deaths. Think Knives Out meets the Bard. The idea has a group […]

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Clairevoyant

People spend their entire lives looking for purpose, searching for meaning, trying to find some kind of answer. Well, Claire has her own existential question. Isn’t there an app for that? The perky twentysomething is the subject of the new mockumentary Clairevoyant, and the comedy comes from her clueless spiritual quest, which she’s trying to […]

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Stay Awake

Filmmakers often turn to stories of addiction because they seem tailor-made for a perfect, three-act structure. Act One: A problem begins. Act Two: The protagonist hits rock bottom. Act Three: The person confronts their problem, conquers it, and begins to struggle back to normalcy. What Stay Awake realizes, though, is that in real life, a […]

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Crabs!

Miss the `70s, when every Roger Corman B-movie had gratuitous nudity and pot-smoking teens? Or the `80s, when Troma Entertainment churned out exploitation flicks crammed with crude humor and over-the-top gore? Well, Crabs! brings them back, and serves them up hot – with an extra layer of cheese. Director Pierce McDermott Berolzheimer’s flick is a […]

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Lust, Life, Love

If you’re tired of searching for “The One,” maybe you should change your approach and be content with “The Many.” That’s the decision Veronica has come to in Lust, Life, Love. Openly bisexual, guiltlessly polyamorous, she spends her nights at organized orgies, and her days blogging about her various adventures. Mr. Right? Ms. Right? All […]

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Killing the Shepherd

If you want to save a species from extinction, kill it. That’s the counterintuitive, but intriguing, idea behind the documentary Killing the Shepherd. Set in an impoverished section of Africa, it first lays out two real-life, and truly disastrous scenarios about our vanishing wildlife. In the first, there are no rules or regulations on big-game […]

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American Insurrection

When fascism was on the rise in ’30s Europe, Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel about a dystopian, dictatorial America, sarcastically titled It Can’t Happen Here. In American Insurrection, it already has. That title, a new one, is misleading, although commercial. (The movie was originally called The Volunteers.)  Before the film even begins, an election has […]

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Vietnam: Fast Forward

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Vietnam? The Vietnamese themselves know what it is. “War.” And around the world, especially in the West, the dominant images people have of Vietnam are of bombing raids, smoldering villages and, perhaps, helicopters departing an evacuated U.S. Embassy. The documentary Vietnam: Fast Forward, […]