Before watching Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clemont’s latest, What We Do in the Shadows, I thought that the concept of the mockumentary was dead. Too often are we seeing this storytelling device being used in horror films, comedies, and even action flicks. Shadows breathes from much needed undead life back into the style however, with a clever and uproariously funny film about vampire flat mates.
With last year’s wildly popular horror flick You’re Next, and segments in the V/H/S movies and The ABCs of Death, writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard are quickly making a name for themselves as the kings of genre cinema. Their latest collaboration, The Guest, further proves that they are a force to be reckoned with. Part ‘80s action flick, part horror thriller, and pure visceral fun, The Guest honors the classics from yesteryear without feeling like a rip-off. It’s got its own voice, and that voice is loud and ready to smack you in the face.
David Wnendt’s coming of age comedy Wetlands is not a movie to take your mother to although I would love to hear how it goes for those that do. Wetlands is one of the grossest films I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in the most positive way possible. Through all the bodily fluids and muck, there’s a surprisingly heartwarming story here, propelled by an outstanding performance from the film’s lead Carla Juri. She reminds me of Amelie, if Amelie was obsessed with sticking her hands into her crotch rather than boxes of beans.
Jeff Baena’s Life After Beth brings a refreshing, and somewhat new take on the zombie comedy, but it never fully achieves the comedic gold it’s setting out to accomplish. At times it proves to be very funny, but the inconsistent tone and broken moral prevent it from being something truly unique.
Based on the John le Carré novel by the same name, Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man strips away the stylish veneer of other adaptations such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and brings us a slow burn spy flick that manages to be just barely entertaining despite the great cast and decent performances.
Wish I Was Here, plays out very much like a spiritual successor to Zach Braff’s previous film, 2004’s Garden State. While Garden State saw Braff as a disenchanted and lost soul leaving his twenties, Wish I Was Here sees Braff in his next stage of life, dealing with children, money, and death.
Shot for a span of over twelve years, Richard Linklater’s latest, Boyhood, is one of the most ambitious and touching films I’ve seen in some time. This nearly three-hour journey displays an interesting portrait of an American family, and although the narrative is deceptively simple, this is a film like no other.
Steve James’ Life Itself is an impossible film to criticize in an objective way. It’s a poignant, funny, and heartbreaking documentary about one of the most influential film critics ever, and someone that I’ve looked up to my whole life. Thankfully, the film itself is actually quite well made, something we’ve come to expect from the director of Hoop Dreams. Life Itself chronicles the life of prolific film critic Roger Ebert. Although it’s structured like any typical talking dead doc, there’s enough variety with the interviews, photographs, and clips to keep everything fresh and interesting throughout.
Hellion is the latest film from director Kat Candler, based on her short film by the same name. While the film follows a slightly typical arc of family turmoil and drama, the great performances and solid script excuse the ordinary plot. It’s a solid familial drama that proves to be riveting, heartbreaking, and emotionally exhausting. More than anything however, Hellion is about taking ownership of one’s responsibilities.
DIRECTED by: Matthew Lessner Film Pulse Score: 7.5/10
Podcast: Episode 102 – Special Guest Director Matt Johnson Talks Sundance, Slamdance, Encyclopedia Brown
This week on the show Adam talks with writer/director Matt Johnson about Sundance and Slamdance 2014 as well as some new info on his Encyclopedia Brown film and his much anticipated followup to The Dirties.
The 30th Sundance Film Festival has officially wrapped, and the full list of audience and jury prize winners has been announced. Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash picked up both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for dramatic film, Rich Hill