Posts in Video on Demand
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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MOVIE REVIEW: Pickings

Watching the death-dealing retribution and grudge-settling on display definitely shows the dishonesty part, but you will find nothing easy enough to be called “pickings.” Oozing all kinds of artistic flamboyance and crimson damage, this film is a straight punch to the face that has to swing hard to to knock you out. Like any punch, the hand delivering it stings as much as the cheek that receiving it. Sure enough, Pickings is a punch you’ll take and ask for another.

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FANTASIA 2018 REVIEW: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot

You will color yourself impressed by the unexpected power of this independent to subvert expectations with such cunning dexterity. No matter if it’s zero budget devil-may-care freedom or a nine-figure open blockbuster checkbook, few movies on any level could ever dream a way this damn good to marry and blend stoic manliness and a whimsical romance on top of the lurid exploits its title advertises. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot punches with pulp and grinds gravitas rather than gore.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Sunset

The looming threat of nuclear war presented within the independent film Sunset thrusts a heavy-hearted ordeal on a small cross-section of everyday people living near New York City.  Any blockbuster portending, ticking clocks, or manufactured heroics are decidedly off-screen, Periodic news bulletins keep the score, so to speak, but Sunset stays keenly personal.  This is about the people, their homes, and the fitting resolve to stay where one feels is right.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Guardians

There is a different and commendable bravery found in the young and old to carry on the community dream of hearth and home. For the “War to End All Wars” at the beginning of the 20th century, those civilians predominantly included women who were mothers, wives, fiances, and sisters.  Xavier Beauvois’s often lovely foreign film The Guardians from Music Box Films follows the hardscrabble trials and tribulations of one French homestead of ladies during the lean years of World War I

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MOVIE REVIEW: Island Zero

The bloody swirls of cold ocean water where a cute little terrier wearing a fou-fou life vest for his yachtsman owner used to be represents the first pre-credits victim of Island Zero.  That pooch is the first of a cavalcade of casualties to come.  This indie flick of cheesy gore pierced by a stab at serious science works hard to make the most of is resources to craft an involved little creature feature and paranoid thriller.  The shrewdly cleaver Island Zero arrives nationwide on VOD on May 15th from Freestyle Releasing.

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Rider

This man is a cowboy. Normally, that’s all you have to say and the portrait of toughness is painted, but therein lies the mystery within the mundane of The Rider. Populated by untrained actors and inspired by true events of these rookie performers, Chloé Zhao’s sophomore feature film stands on that determination only to slowly reveal the internal aches underneath the grizzled exteriors of hat brims, denim, and vices.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Kings

Take Kings as how a foreigner sees our plights, troubles, and history.  Ergüven has talent but comes across as tone deaf when trying for tribute out of this script that she’s been sitting on since 2011.  What should be a spike through the heart gets washed away by the time a sunny Motown cover song tries to become a palette-cleansing “everything’s fine” coda and exhale moment in the end credits.  Even as pure dramatization, Kings is an irresponsibly aimless one.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Ghost Stories

Their expansion plan was very sharp and forgoes the thirst to hack and slay mindlessly like most current horror offerings. The shrewd focus of Ghost Stories is scarce on spectacle and firmly rooted in sinister nuance.  The over-caffeinated and desensitized segment of genre fans might call it boring, while the veterans who remember effective minimalism will be squeezed by the twisted nerve leading to solid suspense.    

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MOVIE REVIEW: Big Fish & Begonia

These narrative and aesthetic combinations make for a dynamic and sincere film from first-time writers and directors Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun.  Big Fish & Begonia is an excellent place for teens to soak in some much-needed empathy against the more mindless American animated offerings.  Give them an experience to absorb resonating truths on the powers of faith and love told from a different yet timeless light.  They might just be better people for it.

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MOVIE REVIEW: You Were Never Really Here

The weapon of choice of Joe, the gruff contract killer of You Were Never Really Here played by Joaquin Phoenix, is an industrial ball peen hammer from his trusty local hardware store in New York.  The film matches the qualities of this repurposed tool as an armament. The instrument and the art prefer the mauling nature of cold steel.  Frozen by disturbing memories, the blunt object that is Lynne Ramsay’s award-winning potboiler is far more hulking than a quick death by bullet.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Krystal

Fashioning itself as a coming-of-age dramedy, Krystal scratches out frank dialogue emoting on behalf of overly honest hearts.  It banks on mixing sentiment built on pleasantries laced with profanity. All kinds of abrupt dysfunction and daffy discombobulation try to be endearing entanglements for entertainment, but the result is a really uneven piece of batty humor and grating romance

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