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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘THE LITTLE HOURS’

A stacked comedic cast aligns for Jeff Baena’s The Little Hours, an unholy send-up of 14th century lust in a small-village monastery. The priest (John C. Reilly) drinks like a fish, while three rebellious nuns (Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Kate Miccucci) flex newfound bad habits when the arrival of a young stud (Dave Franco) spurs a sexual awakening amongst their ilk. Atoning for their sins, Baena creates an absolutely ridiculous world of opposition; repression and personal expression engulfed in a battle of the ages with flying-fast curses as hilariously out of place in this modest countryside as the eventual witch covens erupting in their woods. Unique, offensive and perfectly cast, The Little Hours is a little miracle of feminist subversion. (B) Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘BAYWATCH’

What to say about Baywatch, the new movie from Paramount and Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon, that can’t simply be assumed? R-rated by virtue of scatalogical humor – penii, both of the flaccid and majorly erect variety, crowd the screen; jaws dangle, gawking at flopping mammaries;  – and frivolous vulgarities, Baywatch fails to insert much conviction into its raunch and lacks even more in the originality department.  Read More

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘TIME TRAP’

Aliens. Conquistadors. Cavemen. All three filmic mainstays crop up in soft sci-fi thriller Time Trap from directors Ben Foster and Mark Dennis. A pulpy adventure reminiscent of 80s classics like The Goonies and Back to the Future, Time Trap tells the story of a company of graduate students and their pre-teen tagalongs who go looking for their professor in a cave that manipulates time. Clipping along using an intriguing premise to overcome middling characters, Time Trap is in a constant state of reinvention as it moves along, adding new layers of logistical gears to keep us on our toes and invested in its windy plot. Fun above all else, Time Trap is a great little schlocky detour into indie pop cinema sure to earn warm welcomes from excitable festival crowds. (B) Read More

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘BAD BLACK’

This ultra-ultra-low-budget Wakaliwood effort (reportedly made for 200 bucks), which won the audience award at Fantastic Fest (constant nods to Austin probably didn’t hurt), has the same look and feel as the flicks you and your friends made on camcorders back in high school. This nonsensical, irreverent and totally batshit “action” “movie” borders on being unwatchable, ushering in an in-film hype-man narrating/overdubbing/ad-libbing throughout the entirety of the film. Men, women, children, cars, guns, cows; he dubs all. His omnipresent droning will either drive you mad or make you crack a smile at just how fucking ridiculous this whole endeavor is but probably a bit of both if you actually make it through the whole thang. There’s no acting, narrative or directorial choices to speak of as Bad Black is just a DIY home project making an impressive run at festivals for crowds too drunk to realize how what they’ve gotten themselves into. You probably shouldn’t waste your time and money. You’ll probably walk out. (C-)

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘LANDLINE’

Landline reunites Obvious Child star Jenny Slate and director Gillian Robespierre for a mid-90s NYC dramedy about a deteriorating family. Slate’s Dana and sister Ali (Abby Quinn) discover their otherwise tame Dad (John Turturro) is having a heated affair. The rub is that Dana has also just turned up the heat on her own extramarital interactions, unbeknownst to fiancé Ben (Jay Duplass). Landline manages cackle-worthy ribbings inside some really introspective examinations of monogamy and family, revealing a picture that is soul-bearingly honest when it’s not brutally funny. As the ratio of laughs to drama shift in the later half, matters grow admittedly grave and the film less fun but the final product – like any family that sticks together – is well worth the emotional tumult along the way. (B-)

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Out in Theaters: ‘PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES’

In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, we find the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow in a drunken stupor. Washed up and officially deadbeat, even the price on Jack’s head has sunk to a paltry pound. It’s a strange parallel to Johnny Depp’s public persona of late, having slipped from the good grace of the hoi polloi  after reports of his abusing wife Amber Heard made waves, followed by news of widespread financial woes and a slew of middling to poor films floundering at the box office. With Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, both Sparrow and Depp pray for a comeback.    Read More

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘ENDLESS POETRY’

The sheer artistry in just one frame of Endless Poetry is enough to send you into sensory overload. Raw, sexual and bold, blindingly funny until its tragically melancholic, Alejandro Jodorowsky crafts a divine artistic manifesto – a living-play-cum-autobiography about an poetic soul sending off his childhood and paving his way down a road less traveled. Larger than life in every sense, Endless Poetry is an exaggerated and absurd transformation tale characterized by stunning cinematography and over-the-top characters – everything Alejandro’s mother says is sang, everything his father says is screamed – and yet, it might just be the Santa Sangre director’s most accessible film yet. The film may protest, “Poets don’t explain themselves” but Jodorowsky does a damn fine job of it anyways. (A)
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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘COME, TOGETHER’

A potent familial eye-opener probing the fierce competitiveness in various corners of Korean life, Come, Together from Shin Dong-il circles a nuclear family on the brink of collapse; company man Beom-gu has just been fired from his job of 18 years; credit card saleswoman Mi-young battles an esteemed and spoiled co-worker for a prized family vacation to Thailand; and daughter Han-na hovers on the waitlist for a prestigious college, her entire self-worth caught up in her admittance. All second-guess themselves and their place in their family and the world at large in this humanist drama that’s sympathetic, revealing and rather depressing; one that delicately paints an emotionally distressing portrait of the trials and tribulations of one shell-shocked middle class Korean family contending with rather mundane hardship. (B) Read More

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SIFF ’17 Capsule Review: ‘THE OATH’

A father and doctor recounts the story of his daughter’s premature birth in Baltasar Kormákur’s latest thriller, detailing how he would have done anything, anything, to save her. Finnur (Kormákur) is given the chance to do so when her fiendish, drug dealing new beau (Gísli Örn Garðarsson) sucks Anna (Hera Hilmar) into a world of crime. The respected heart surgeon, armed with a sawed-off shotgun, his bicycle and a rock solid alibi, launches into action. A jet black and brutal subversion of the Taken formula, Kormákur’s bleak vision of a father going the distance is an emotionally complex and viscerally engrossing portrait of sacrifice and vengeance, loaded with harrowing, hold-your-breathe thrills and nuanced character work. (B)

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Out in Theaters: ‘THE SURVIVALIST’

Survival’s a bitch. Especially without food. The Survivalist‘s is a world of starvation. Between puffs on a harmonica and longing gazes at a photograph of a mysterious woman, our nameless protagonist, a wild-eyed, wilder-haired feral cat of a farmer, struggles to make do in a land where human populations have flamed out, spiraling after the crash of oil production, leaving in their wake a scourge of scavengers desperate for food and willing to go any lengths to get it.  Read More