Posts in Video on Demand
SHORT FILM REVIEW: A Bad Feeling

Star Wars fans will quickly have their sensors triggered when they note the title of this short film from Charlotte Barrett and Sean Fallon. It is a nod to a running gag that is said as often in Star Wars films as the classic line “May the Force be with you.” The phrase alludes to a character’s audible dread and the heebie-jeebies warning of something awful, visible or invisible, on their horizon. The characters in those movie moments say it and mean it. In A Bad Feeling, the husband and wife central figures know their trouble, entirely feel it, but don’t announce their fears when they should.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Extra Innings

The expression “heart in the right place” is normally used as a smallish complement to counteract some obvious flaw or as a baseline pleasantry when something does not achieve its goal fully. Albert Dabah’s intensely personal independent film Extra Innings carries that expression with neither of those dismissive caveats. Its heart is indeed in the right place, with that position being right next to its soul. That soul is wearing cleats, a ball cap, a weathered glove, and a stirrup-ed uniform patrolling the grasses of center field on a baseball diamond on a sunny summer day.

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CAPSULE REVIEWS: Feature films of the first ever Rom Com Fest

Founded by entrepreneur and romantic comedy connoisseur Miraya Berke, the goal is celebrating the joy to be had and the art on display in this undervalued film genre. I think this is a smashing idea for a festival and I jumped at the chance to offer some remote coverage for its five-film competition slate. Compiled below are my capsule reviews for the movies I viewed in order from highest to lowest recommendation:

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MOVIE REVIEW: Starfish

The opening credits of Starfish may drop the “based on a true story” prompt, but every moment of this twisty science fiction slow boiler feels like the filmed account of a racing mind. Rather than dwelling on footholds to societal norms, isolation reigns here, with all of the flutters, visions, shifts, daydreams, and nightmares possible. Dangling the mysteries of the fallout from an off-screen cataclysmic event, the mental maelstrom of Starfish is eerie, imaginative, and highly impactful.

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SHORT FILM REVIEW: How Does It Start

In the provocative short film How Does it Start, a young teen girl in 1983 named Rain, played by Lola Wayne Villa, has been introduced to topic of sex without such positive elder counsel. The wheels have turned. The curiosities have sparked. The peers have stoked the fire. The triggers have all gone off and this girl wants the mystery of what has been made out to be so taboo and important to growing up as a real woman.

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REWIND REVIEW: Captain Marvel

Arriving on home media this week from Disney is their glowing smash hit Captain Marvel starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.  The film itself is a forthright winner for introducing this powerful and important new character and the disc release gives us a little peek as to how it all came to be.  Keep an eye out on store shelves Tuesday, June 11th to pick up your copy in 4K, Blu-ray, or both. Here’s a quick advance look at what the home edition has to offer, just as long as you can wait through a quick period-accurate Windows 95 loading screening (nice touch).

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MOVIE REVIEW: Clara

Citing genuine and actionable science, Clara builds heady inquiry for the voluminous and important research of its depicted discipline. Its sense of intelligence intertwines with the unpredictability found in the amorous reverberations of the human heart. This combination creates an intimate and daring film experience that enraptures as easily and as powerfully as it fascinates.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mary Magdalene

This film’s slightness is meant to simplify proceedings to their truest essence. Mary Magdalene contains the bare minimum of theatrics. The result may be painstakingly slow at times, but its grounded firmness is precisely its beauty. There is a calmly effective empathetic power to that method and approach. The specifying or sermonizing is scant and still stoic. The poignancy is pitched and still powerful. The grace is consoling and still genuine. All of that is mightily impressive.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Storm Boy

Ten life lessons than pet ownership can teach children include responsibility, trust, bereavement, respect, self-esteem, physical activity, loyalty, patience, and social skills. Now, for most of us stateside, our preferred companions are often dogs and cats. The canines and felines get movies for days from Old Yeller to The Secret Life of Pets. In South Australia’s coastlands, the prevailing animal neighbors are birds. So, how well do you know a pelican? Come to Storm Boy and find yourself newly enamored.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Then Came You

Peter Hutchings’ comedy Then Came You presents romance entangled by terminal illness. That topic seeped in gallows humor is far from new territory, meaning this is not a very deep film. Then Came You doesn’t have to be a message-thumping torchbearer for anything. Instead, it is squarely comfortable with its pile of pluck and parade of quirks. There’s a place for an easy film like this. Why? Look no further than those qualities of personality and earnestness. Everything difficult and rough is softened by cheeky and easy charm.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Perfect Strangers (Perfectos Desconocidos)

The poster for the Mexican remake Perfectos Desconocidos glows with affluence.  We see a richly appointed dinner party scene flush with refinement from edge to edge across fashions, place settings, and the flowing wine.  What intentionally glows the brightest on the poster is the statement “We all have a secret life.” It symbolically shows materialistic beauty undone by the blunt intrusion of technology. Thematically, that tagline statement is the lightning bolt of tension that charges this entire film.

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MOVIE REVIEW: When Jeff Tried to Save the World

Not only has writer-director Kendall Goldberg fleshed out this excellent main character, she guides it through this plot with a matching sense imagination and earnestness. The nuances win in a story where heart and pragmatic approachability outshine any need for shock value and raunch. The smart and spot-on tonal mix of such simplicities deserve to be appreciated.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Silencio

Within in the 98 minutes of Silencio, this little dual-language flick accomplishes what few high concept indie films have been able to achieve with their wildly audacious ideas. It builds a bridge, not a wide and sturdy one, mind you, but a successful structure nonetheless, from the nonsensical to the profound. That is a normally a huge canyon of belief and consideration to cross.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Loving Pablo

The overarching challenge remains making romance out of a villain, enough to soften the depravity of the historical truth. Matching Vallejo’s own findings, Loving Pablo defines that Escobar’s darkness cannot be diluted, making much of this film a difficult and treacherous viewing experience. To its great credit, the merciless edge of Loving Pablo rejects forced cinematic sugar-coating overused in other crime films to romanticize its leviathans.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Blaze

 Serenading and soul-bearing for two stout hours, Ethan Hawke’s third directorial effort personifies the quintessential plight of the “starving artist.” Whether they carry a paintbrush or a guitar, these will-they-or-won’t-they tales stir hope and anticipation as nearly irresistible cinematic story material. Real or fictitious, we want to see the Vincent van Goghs, Llewyn Davises, and Blaze Foleys find success. Greater than rooting for an ending of stardom, there is whimsical power to be found in simply reaching emotional fulfillment.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mandy

The zany bi-product of Cage’s addictive self-indulgence is that we get to see a committed and endowed artist apply his craft in nontraditional places, which is a nice way of saying lesser and lower-budgeted films. The challenge then isn’t on Cage, who is often better than the material he’s given. It’s whether the film can rise to meet his fury and tenacity as a performer. He brings it. Can the film do the same?

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MOVIE REVIEW: Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Stepping forward unofficially as a literal and figurative “spiritual sequel,” Unbroken: Path to Redemption corrects that omission. Glowing with effort above its pedigree, the film is an earnest and very commendable exploration into what elevated the former Olympian and POW survivor into a true legend of his “greatest generation.” There is no begrudging this second attempt to make worthy what was tabled as circumstantial.

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MOVIE REVIEW: We the Animals

The phrase “they’re just kids” shouldn’t be the verbalization of a dismissal. Rather, it should be spoken as a moment of pause to reflect on what future positive or negative impact could come from the lifestyle choice being observed. We the Animals, the feature debut of short film director Jeremiah Zagar, lives for those errors and pauses as one of the best independent films of the year.

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