Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Revenge is a dish best served weird in 'Mandy' (movie review)

[MANDY opens in Cleveland on Friday September 21st exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre. It’s also available to rent or purchase on most major streaming services, or you can wait until October 30th if you want to buy or rent the film on DVD or Blu Ray.]

I’ve noticed a lot of movie trailers using the phrase, “from visionary director so-and-so” lately (and I’m not the only one). The vast majority of the time this is hyperbole at best, and often flat out bullshit. In the case of Panos Cosmatos, the director and co-writer (along with Aaron Stewart-Ahn) of MANDY, that phrase may actually be an understatement.

This is a film of eyeball-searing beauty and horror, an acid trip of violence and revenge on one hand, and love and melancholy on the other. It evokes the aesthetic of the eighties while at the same time forging new visual territory for the future.

Some might see this, as well as Cosmatos’ previous film BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, as a “triumph of style over substance”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – if your movie has enough style that it succeeds despite a lack of narrative or thematic depth, that’s kind of impressive – but it’s also not true in this case. There is plenty of substance here, and just because Cosmatos chooses to convey his themes and ideas more through visuals than dialogue and plot doesn’t mean they’re absent.

'Lizzie' Gives 'Em The Axe: (movie review)

[LIZZIE opens in Cleveland on Friday September 21st at the Cedar Lee Theater.]

On August 4th, 1892, Andrew Borden and his wife, Abby, were murdered in their home by an assailant using a hatchet. Andrew’s daughter Lizzie was put on trial for the murders but ultimately acquitted. No other suspects were ever charged. It was, at the time, the “crime of the century”. Beyond those basic facts, however, there is considerable room for speculation. And speculate director Craig William Macneil and writer Bryce Kass do in the new film LIZZIE.

In setting its stage, LIZZIE depicts Andrew Borden (Jamey Sheridan) as a cold, psychologically abusive father to his daughters Lizzie (Chloe Sevigny) and Emma (Kim Dickens), both of whom he views as past their prime marrying age and something of a burden. Emma tries to stay under the radar, but Lizzie engages in small acts of defiance, like going out on the town in the evening unchaperoned.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Nostalgia gets dark in 'Summer of '84' (movie review)

I absolutely loved Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell’s previous co-directorial effort TURBO KID, a spot-on homage to low budget 80s sci-fi/action films. That film had a sense of humor about itself, but never descended to the sort of “we’re so above it all” mockery present in similar efforts like KUNG FURY.

With their latest film SUMMER OF 84, the trio of filmmakers have decided to set their sights on a more reputable strain of eighties cinema, the sort of mainstream adventure films that Stephen Spielberg and his pals produced under the Amblin banner. Only SUMMER OF ’84 takes viewers to a darker place than those comparisons might lead one to expect. It just takes a while to get there.