I am usually not a fan of music documentaries; they often feel self-infatuated, and having worked as a music columnist, I am a bit fatigued by them. Yet I Called Him Morgan is a refreshing, absolutely fascinating doc about the life and death of jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan, told by those musicians who played alongside him, as well as - amazingly - by his own murderess.
With Valeria, Vassilopoulos taps into the inherent peculiarity of Eva’s ordeal, opting to focus on the most immediate question one would probably have after receiving someone else’s skin for one’s own face: who was this person? The film tackles the idea of transference and how a transplant can fundamentally change a person. With all of this, Vassilopoulos encapsulates the film with an air of mystery, from the overall tone to the lighting and the cinematography from Mia Cioffi Henry. All of it feels otherworldly, much like you would imagine it feeling if you had someone else’s face as your face.
Sometimes I feel like my job can be murder, like the time I had to sit down and write a review for Greg McLean’s The Belko Experiment, but in Greg McLean’s The Belko Experiment, the concept of a life-sucking office job is taken quite literally when employees are forced to murder each other.
One of the hottest topics on the national stage at the moment is the future of our country’s healthcare system. As I write this, there's probably no more timely discussion than that of accessible, affordable access to healthcare for all Americans.
It’s no mystery that the criminal justice and healthcare systems in the U.S. have yet to catch up with scientific research, most especially that of mental health. Point of View Pictures’ When the Bough Breaks (not to be confused with last year’s When the Bough Breaks by Sony Pictures or the 2006, 1994 or 1947 films of the same name) centers around the taboo topic of psychosis after giving birth, as well as postpartum depression and the more general “baby blues” that many women, across all walks of life, cultures, geography and age, experience.
I have no doubt that a movie like The Other Half takes considerable emotional dedication to make (of course, this could be argued about any movie). For lead actors Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen, it very well may have been draining. As a couple in real life, the struggles and pains of their characters’ troubled onscreen relationship must have felt, on one hand, more accessible and, on the other, far more intimate and difficult. Joey Klein, the film’s writer and director, builds on an already restrained tone with muted color motifs and a dour landscape.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ DVD/Blu-ray digital combo for its latest princess pic, Moana, is absolutely packed with special features. A suitable follow-up to its big-screen release, the take-home version of Moana provides tons of footage from the years leading up to the film, when the filmmakers were visiting Oceania to research the characters, locations and music that would inspire the film.
It's always difficult to critique a film based on a beloved book. One has to judge the film on its own merits, no matter how true it hopes to stay to its original written form or despite whatever clever methods the filmmakers could concoct. For The Sense of an Ending, the screen adaptation of British author Julian Barnes’ 2011 novel, I’m afraid that the film fails to capture the same essence as the novel. Nevertheless, on its own, the picture is a great character study, and some might find it to be an important statement on youth and regret.
The Mo Brothers, Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, are back to give us another over-the-top, bloody Indonesian actioner, Headshot, which taps more directly into the success of friend and collaborator Gareth Evans’ The Raid series. But does this violent martial arts shoot-‘em-up stand on its own or does it lurk in the shadow of the best action films ever made? Unfortunately, it’s mostly the latter, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the hell out of it.
The title of writer/director Onur Tukel’s latest is fairly straightforward, perhaps a bit of an understatement as a descriptor, but straightforward nonetheless. Catfight has catfights; more than one, actually. Although, the catfights contained within Catfight are not your stereotypical, garden variety physical altercations between females that would warrant that label. There is no hair-pulling or face-scratching. There is nothing but an abundance of pure, unfettered brutality inflicted upon the faces of the film’s co-leads.
What if you lived the same day over and over again? What would you do? If it were me, I might try to visit to every single city in the world that I could reasonably travel to in one day. I would try and meet interesting people, try every type of food dish, read every book. I would attempt to learn different languages, dance styles or musical instruments. Sure, I would have to lie, beg, borrow and steal, but in short, it wouldn’t be the same day for me; I would only wake up in the same place.
Movies like Wolves occupy a safe middle ground. They are here to show us a story that has been told before with the hope to entertain us in the moment. It’s modest filmmaking, discarding subversive aspirations and daring ideologies in favor of tried and true formulas.
Whether or not it works depends on your tolerance for such things. Writer/director Bart Freundlich admirably shapes his story based on these principles, and while never impressing the audience, he crafts with a sturdy hand and brings about well-rounded performances.
Jordan Peele, along with his collaborator Keegan-Michael Key, skillfully constructed short-form satire on the TV show Key & Peele. With his directorial debut, Get Out, Peele proves to be equally proficient in crafting a tight, smart, relevant genre feature. If there’s any knock it’s that the film is almost too efficient, telegraphing some twists, but even if we occasionally see what’s coming it always feels fresh and honest. It’s also just really entertaining, combining humor with thrills while slyly presenting discussion points to take away from the theater.
Titan Books have outdone themselves with the release of The Great Wall: The Art of The Film, a coffee table book celebrating the recently released Matt Damon-starring action film. This 204-page, super-high-quality art book is a must-own for fans of the series and one of Titan’s best releases to date.