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One Movie Punch
14 minutes | Sep 1, 2020
Episode 746 - The Report (2019)
Hi everyone! It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I’m back today with this special episode, covering a film that I saw just before the stay-at-home orders were issued in California for the current pandemic. It’s going to be an extended episode, with an update on things here at One Movie Punch, my review of THE REPORT entangled with an essay on how the pandemic has affected the film industry in the short term and the long term, and for those that stick around afterwards, a fun audio drama to tide you over during the extended absence. We last left you with our review of LETO back on March 14th, which feels like forever ago, and like yesterday. I had been following the news regarding the Coronavirus, and lamenting how little was being done to contain it, when things began to snowball in New York and New Jersey. Folks were already hoarding food, water, and apparently toilet paper. I remember standing in line, prior to social distancing and masks, listening to someone calmly argue with anyone willing to listen that this was all a hoax, even while dropping three months of food into their cart. I can still remember wondering if anyone around me had it, and if I was going to die, and when I got back to the house that day, I let the team know they could put their pending reviews on permanent hiatus. There was supposed to be a break anyway. I had a Patreon episode planned out that was announcing a three month break for the podcast so I could concentrate on two major projects: First, our website needs a massive update, and every episode we publish makes that task grow ever larger. We know folks can’t find much on our website right now, and we want to change that, while changing hosts. Second, as our team continues to grow, we need a better back-end system to manage our content. I needed some time to work on these projects, and couldn’t do that keeping a daily podcast going on. You’d think that with the pandemic, and the initial stay-at-home orders, that this would have been a slam dunk. Unfortunately, it was anything but that. I spent the first two weeks at home in a downward spiral, one driven by anxiety over whether I had contracted the virus standing in line, and amplified by the depression which followed each anxiety attack. The only way I could get it under control was to occupy myself, which I did by playing “The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt”. We felt reasonably safe after the first two weeks, but rationality doesn’t do much for anxiety and depression once it gets going. It wasn’t until about five weeks later (and completing “The Witcher III: The Wild Hunt”) that I came out of my spiral. Distance learning was limping along for One Movie Spouse and One Movie Spawn, and I decided to get to work with all the free time I had, spending more time reading and exercising, and more importantly to you all, spending four to six hours a day taking online training classes for SQL Server and C#, and building a custom application to help automate our process on the back end. I was making great progress, which came to a screeching halt as our plans were being developed for returning students (and teachers) to school. I was already behind schedule a little bit, and pushed back our restart date to 9/1 to accommodate the delay. Our districts were fortunate enough to adopt distance learning models, but until the final decisions were made, my anxiety and depression cycle started up again. It also meant we had to rearrange our tiny California townhome to accommodate one student and one teacher for distance learning, including rearranging rooms, assembling furniture, and doing some massive cleaning. It also came with some practical issues in continuing the podcast for the foreseeable future. The pandemic has required quite a few families to make sacrifices to accommodate work and school changes. Our family is no exception. The increased expectations for distance learning this fall now require One Movie Spouse and One Movie Spawn to be online for longer periods of time each day, which makes trying to watch a movie at home nearly impossible. There’s also a lot more housework to be done with three people around all the time, which eats into finding time to manage the podcast. I can’t really go back to producing the podcast the way I was before, at least until we’re done with distance learning, or when it feels safe enough for me to work elsewhere. What does that mean? Well, it means the regular podcast will be off the air for the duration of the pandemic. The best I can do right now is continue working on the custom application to automate our process as time permits, and wait patiently for our world to go back to some semblance of stability. Once there’s an opportunity to restart, then we will reach out to our critics, collaborators, and fans to figure out a schedule to bring us back on the air. If that’s possible before the pandemic is finished, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I want to thank you all for your continued support over the past few years. Big up to our sponsors for their contributions! Thank you for all the work from our critics! And especially to you all, our fans, who we hope will be there when we return. Until then, stay safe and healthy! We’ll be back before you know it. Here we go! ///// Today’s movie is THE REPORT (2019), the political thriller written and directed by Scott Z. Burns. Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is a congressional staffer who is tasked to investigate allegations of torture by the CIA in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the two occupations that followed. The film also stars Annette Bening as Jones’ boss, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Jon Hamm as Denis McDonough, who eventually became Obama’s Chief of Staff. No spoilers. THE REPORT (2019) closes out an excellent year for Adam Driver, whose additional films in 2019 included Oscar-darling MARRIAGE STORY (Episode #668), fan favorite STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (Episode #672), and the campy THE DEAD DON’T DIE, which received mixed reviews. This year follows an excellent filmography, which has also recently included BLACKKKLANSMAN (Episode #225), THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (Episode #523), and LOGAN LUCKY (Episode #065). It seems like Driver appeared out of nowhere in the last few years, but the secret to his success has been his excellent choices in roles, since about 2012, leveraging regular work on “Girls” to take on a number of films with excellent and notable writers and directors, including Scorsese, Gerwig, Baumbach, and The Coen Brothers. All things said, Driver may also be the best thing about THE REPORT, aside from the uncanny resemblance between Bening and Feinstein, mannerisms and all. Everything else about the film is pretty standard, though, and that has to do with the subject matter. The story of Daniel Jones, and the investigation into CIA torture, is definitely an important story, but doesn’t have a satisfying ending. I don’t think this fact spoils the film, as the only satisfying ending to this story would have been trials and convictions for war crimes by everyone taking part, and that clearly didn’t happen. It’s also not the only example of war crimes being uncovered and remaining unpunished in US history. THE REPORT follows roughly the same investigatory and political machination track as Spielberg’s THE POST (Episode #353), but we get the satisfaction of the Pentagon Papers being published and some form of accountability. If it wasn’t for the cast, I’m not sure THE REPORT would have gotten as much attention as it did. I don’t think this takes anything away from Scott Z. Burns’ efforts. The film is still a hell of an accomplishment. It just has trouble competing in our ever-changing film industry, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. THE REPORT, along with THE POST for that matter, falls into a growing category of films that can be experienced pretty much identically at home or in the theater. It certainly wasn’t made for the box office, where it only gathered less than $250,000, but it was made for the growing streaming-only market, much like MARRIAGE STORY or THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES for Netflix. As an aside, that’s a secondary reason for Driver’s success – finding recognition through the growing streaming audience. The pandemic has seen a number of these “theater-independent” films continue to roll out on streaming services, whereas “theatre-dependent” films that try to bank on box office payouts have seen massive delays and declines, along with a few innovative attempts at screenlife films. Disney in particular has been scrambling to develop and solidify its online presence, while managing the previously sunk production costs and the hemorrhaging tourist-driven income of parks and resorts. I’m very much looking forward to the return of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not to mention all the films that really benefit from a theatrical presentation. But I don’t really want to see BLACK WIDOW or MULAN if it’s not on a big screen first. I also don’t think the $29.99 premium VOD purchase point is going to workout, although I’m curious to see the long-term viability. That’s one half of what I would call “theater-dependent” films. The other half are films that benefit from having a large audience, one who is especially engaged to see the film. I hesitate to say “audience-dependent”, because there’s a much different vibe between friends gathering at a home to watch a film, and enjoying a premiere with other film fans. The best film I’ve seen during the pandemic that fits this description is THE LOVEBIRDS, which made a Netflix debut in lieu of waiting for the theaters to reopen. One Movie Spouse and I saw the film, and laughed quite a bit, but I think we both knew that seeing this film with a packed house would have been even better, especially for the raunchier parts of the comedy not spoiled by the trailer. I’ve been really missing both kinds of “theater-dependent” films, mostly because I got a Regal Unlimited pass late last year before everything shut down. It may be the most important distinction the pandemic has made within the industry: that some films require a theatrical experience, and that the industry will remain after this pandemic, in lieu of an all
9 minutes | Mar 14, 2020
Episode 745 - Leto (2018)
Hi everyone! We’re closing out the week with our final entry for this quarter in our series “Under the Kanopy”. Kanopy is a library and university funded streaming service that grants card holders six free streams a month, featuring a combination of classic, mainstream, independent, and international films. They currently have streaming deals with some of our favorite distributors, like A24 and Kino Lorber, which offer the critically acclaimed, if not commercially successful films. Today’s film I sort of chose at random when filling out the schedule for the quarter, not really realizing it was a Russian film, or a black and white film, or would have a bunch of awesome experimental editing and storytelling. Finding these surprises is part of the great fun of exploring the films on Kanopy. I’ll be up in a bit with my thoughts on LETO, or Summer in Russian, but for a few other films in this series, check out THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (Episode #738), MARIANNE AND LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE (Episode #731), and HAVE A NICE DAY (Episode #724). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friends at the Cinema Recall podcast. Every episode, The Vern takes a look at iconic scenes in classic movies. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @cinema_recall, and also subscribe to their podcast at anchor.fm/cinemarecall. Don’t miss a single episode! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << CINEMA RECALL PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is LETO (2018), the Russian biopic directed by Kirill Serebrennikov, and written for the screen in collaboration with Lily Idov, Michael Idov, and Ivan Kapitonov, based in part on the memoirs of Natalya Naumenko. It’s the summer of 1982 in Leningrad. Mike Naumenko (Roman Bilyk) is the leader of Zoopark, a Russian rock band, and a member of the Leningrad Rock Club. While visiting the countryside with his wife Natalia (Irina Starshenbaum), he is introduced to Viktor Tsoi (Teo Yoo), an aspiring musician Mike takes on as a prodigy, which ultimately leads to the formation of the band Kino. No spoilers. So, since this is the last Under the Kanopy segment for a while, I’ll let you in on a little secret on how I choose which films to watch. Every week, I keep track of all the films which were released in the theaters which receive a Certified Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. A lot of those films rarely make it outside the Los Angeles and New York markets, often films imported by smaller distributors like Kino Lorber, Oscilloscope, and today’s distributor, Gunpowder & Sky. Every quarter, then, when I’m planning I take a look at the films off that list which make it to Kanopy, and pick whatever eleven films are available. And it generally leads to a wonderfully diverse assortment of films. LETO was one of those films this quarter, which I just added to my Kanopy queue and watched as time permitted. I didn’t remember what the film was supposed to be about at all, and was honestly worried it was going to be a Jared Leto biopic. But like most films in this series, I went in with an open mind and an open heart, despite being nervous about watching a black and white Russian film, the last one I watched being HARD TO BE A GOD, Aleksey German’s final film, which was kind of long and boring at times. Thankfully, LETO is definitely not that. LETO is actually more akin to Aleksei German, Jr.’s most recent film DOVLATOV (Episode #307), which gave me a contemporary film that peeked behind the Iron Curtain to look at non-propagandized life in Russia from an artistic point of view, in this case, notorious writer Sergei Dovlatov. LETO takes place just over a decade later, in the early 1980s as Russia is beginning to shift more and more towards glasnost. The underground parties and black markets for American goods in DOVLATOV’s time period were slowly being integrated into the rock clubs and import/collectors markets in LETO. Both films obviously have a specific point of view about Soviet Russia, but for me, the real joy is seeing just how similar lives were between the US and Russia. The most important cultural similarity explored by LETO is the sense of rebellion among the youth, a punk spirit that was finding more traction and airtime in the west, but was also finding a similar subversive expression in the east. I had never heard of either Zoopark or Kino before seeing this film, but LETO explores the two musicians who head up each group, working around censors to make sure talent gets heard. LETO also explores the influences for many of the more famous songs by both bands, told as these amazing long-take music videos, saturated with layered ink pencil like edits. Each music video segment takes the viewer away from the realism of the main story, for a more surrealist look at what is happening, and usually ending with a character playing the personification of punk reminding us that the music video events didn’t actually happen. Kirill Serebrennikov does excellent work here. LETO isn’t just a story about the music, though. In addition to the history lesson, we’re also invited into the complicated politics and relationship of Mike, Natalia, and Viktor. Natalia develops a crush on Viktor, which Mike doesn’t have a problem with until, predictably, he does, causing creative and political turmoil. The complicated interplay between the three is at times familiar to many other love triangles, but also insightful set against the context and time period. Cutting the film in black and white allows the film’s realistic drama elements and surrealistic musical elements to gel together for a great picture. But as the film comes to a close, Serebrennikov begins to inject color back into the film, even showing previous black and white film pieces and segment now in filtered color, a shocking accent mark against a beautiful filmscape. I can’t think of many films where I get to learn something, and feel something, and be surprised by something, but LETO did all three for me. After watching LETO, I also gave both bands a listen, and discovered even more to love. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to end this quarter’s Under the Kanopy series. LETO is a film for music fans, particularly fans of the punk and new wave movements in the early 1980s. Kirill Serebrennikov smashes together a quick history of two Russian rock musicians with the emotional turmoil of their love triangle, set against a lovely black and white backdrop with the occasional surrealist transition. Music fans, fans of contemporary Russian cinema, or folks wondering what life was like behind the curtain, should definitely check out this film. Rotten Tomatoes: 78% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 69 One Movie Punch: 8.5/10 LETO (2018) is not rated and is currently playing on Hoopla and Kanopy.
9 minutes | Mar 13, 2020
Episode 744 - Swallow (2019)
Hi everyone! It’s Friday, so it’s time for another Fantastic Fest feature from Andrew Campbell. Today’s feature had a very limited run in the theaters from podcast favorite IFC Films, picked up from the flurry of content that debuts at Fantastic Fest every year. Andrew will be up with his review of SWALLOW in just a bit, but for a few other reviews from Andrew, check out AFTER MIDNIGHT (Episode #737), JALLIKATTU (Episode #730), and BLISS (Episode #723). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friends at the Book of Lies Podcast. Every week, Brandi Fleeks and Sunni Hepburn take a look at a fraud case or famous con artist, breaking down the methods, the signals, and how to spot similar scams in your life. You can find them on Twitter @Bookofliespod and on Facebook and Instagram @bookofliespodcast. Be sure to like, retweet, share, review, and subscribe! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << BOOK OF LIES PROMO >> ///// Hello film fans! Andrew here. Just two movies left for me to cover before we close out the first quarter of 2020, so I thought I would end on a couple of high notes. This week and next I have two films about women on the brink living vastly different lives, both delivered by writer/directors making their feature film debut. These movies are unique to anything you’ve seen before - gorgeously shot by creators with clear artistic visions. You’re going to want to be the one that tells their friends about these films. Today’s movie is the psychological thriller SWALLOW (2019), the debut film from writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis. SWALLOW stars Haley Bennett as Hunter, a woman with grew up underprivileged who now finds herself married at a young age to Richie (Austin Stowell). Richie grew up in wealth with well-connected parents who remain hyper-involved in the lives of Richie and Hunter. The parents gifted their son a stately home as a wedding present and along with it comes a mountain of social expectations. In turn, Richie foists upon Hunter his ideas of how a subservient housewife should behave - curating a meticulous home, providing dinner on the table, and serving his every need, while living no life of her own. Feeling imprisoned by her posh lifestyle, Hunter develops a very serious and very real psychological disorder known as pica - wherein sufferers consume non-nutritive indigestible objects. First off, Haley Bennett is terrific as Hunter. There are a half-dozen or so characters that she interacts with throughout the film, but much of the gravitas of the story is conveyed during the quiet moments when Hunter struggles to find meaning in her life and begins to give in to her disorder. It starts subtly with a marble which she quickly swallows and later retrieves. It’s such a bizarre affliction, but director Mirabella-Davis handles it with grace, sometimes eliciting nervous laughter from the audience and at other times forcing viewers to turn away. If you’re concerned that the writer/director is exploiting a peculiar and somewhat arresting affliction as the basis of story of a tortured woman, rest assured that’s not the case. The director was present at the screening and very candid with the audience afterward. His grandmother has psychological issues, including some form of pica, which gave him some family history with the illness. He has also experienced personal issues with self-identity and societal expectations as depicted in the film. During his 20’s, Mirabella-Davis, who now self-identifies as male, spent a four-year period living as woman at a time well before the modern-day social concept and growing acceptance of gender fluidity. Stylistically, this film is quite striking. If the unconventional and personal story is not convincing enough to give it a watch, take a look at the trailer. The framing and set design feels as if the world of the television series “Mad Men” had never evolved more than half a century later. Every shot is framed like a painting. In the more still moments when Hunter is contemplating devouring household objects, the sound design is spectacular. The silence of the hermetically-sealed home in which Hunter spends so much of her life alone juxtaposed with the sound of metal on teeth is subtle domestic horror. As a first-time filmmaker (feature-length anyway), Mirabella-Davis exerts exacting control over every aspect of the film, just as Hunter’s husband and in-laws seek to maintain her over her. What makes SWALLOW fantastic?Everything just coalesces beautifully in this film. It’s a story that feels like it’s treading all new ground while allowing viewers to identify with the core message, even if Hunter’s disorder is a little tough to swallow (please pardon the horrendous pun). I would put a slight trigger-warning on this one as this is an emotional story of a woman confronting trauma and living with a troubled psyche, but it’s told with such compassion that I wouldn’t recommend anyone avoid it. SWALLOW is a deeply affecting tale of empowerment, masterfully captured by a fresh new storyteller. Fans of films with women dealing with psychological problems and confronting identity issues such as THE HOURS or SECRETARY will enjoy this film. Rotten Tomatoes: 89% Metacritic: 62 One Movie Punch: 8.6/10 SWALLOW (2019) is rated R and is currently playing in limited theatrical release and available on VOD. Come back next Friday for SAINT MAUD. One last film before our regular podcast hiatus, so let’s go out with a bang. There is a glut of religious based horror films out there, usually centered around exorcisms. SAINT MAUD is the antidote for those boring, predictable, jump-scare laden movies. It tells the story of a young home health care nurse with strongly-held religious convictions, to put it mildly. In a world of doubters and sinners, Maud finds it more and more difficult to relate to those who don’t see the path that’s so clear to her. Get ready for the year’s best horror film. See you then!
8 minutes | Mar 12, 2020
Episode 743 - Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Hi everyone! Happy Thursday! We’re welcoming back Christina Eldridge to the podcast with a review of the latest offering from GKIDS, a remastered cut of 2003’s critically acclaimed TOKYO GODFATHERS. We’re lucky to have Christina’s long-term love of anime on board here. For a few other recent reviews, check out RIDE YOUR WAVE (Episode #722), KLAUS (Episode #708), and her debut review for WEATHERING WITH YOU (Episode #687). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our friends at the Pop Pour Review podcast! Every week, the PPR crew review a film, then craft a cocktail based on the movie. I don’t drink myself, but I know a few people that do, and every recipe fits in surprising ways. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @poppourreview, or by searching for Pop! Pour! Review Podcast on Facebook. Thanks for all your support last year! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << POP POUR REVIEW PROMO >> ///// Hello, everyone! This is Christina Eldridge with Durara Reviews (a part of One Movie Punch). Since my last review of RIDE YOUR WAVE (2019), I’ve been house hunting so wish me luck! If you’re not already following me @Durarareview, or @OneMoviePunch, go do it! I promise to continue to bring you the latest and greatest of anime movies! Today’s movie review is for TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003). This is one of my personal favorite Christmas movies. Satoshi Kon directed this classic comedy/drama. It was produced by one of the mainstays of anime, Madhouse, and is currently distributed to the United States by GKIDS. TOKYO GODFATHERS is about three homeless people who find an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve and decide to find the mother rather than take her to the cops as to avoid the foster system. This review is spoiler free. Gin (Toru Emori) is a middle-aged homeless man who loves to drink. He survives with Hana (Yoshiaki Umegaki), a former drag queen club star who now lives as a trans woman, and Miyuki (Aya Okamoto), a high school aged runaway. The three attend a Christmas Eve play and a soup kitchen together, then decide to look for books in the garbage. While digging, they hear the crying of a baby and discover an infant girl with a note asking to take care of her. They also find a bag containing photos, business cards, and a locker key. The only person in the threesome who is excited about this discovery is Hana, as she would never be able to have children on her own. Gin tries to talk her into giving the child to the police, but Hana refuses, as she was a product of the foster system herself. She elects to find the baby’s mother from the clues in the bag instead. The three set out on a journey that takes them not only on an adventure, but on a discovery of themselves and why they really are on the street, rather than the false images they have given each other, no matter how horrifying or shameful these reasons really are. Satoshi Kon is one of anime’s most celebrated directors. He is responsible for such masterpieces as PERFECT BLUE (1997), which is one of my all-time favorites, PAPRIKA (2006), MILLENIUM ACTRESS (2001), and the series PARANOIA AGENT (2004). Kon-san’s favorite theme of blurred reality combined with fantasy is present in most of his works, even TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003), although it is not as apparent. Kon-san’s artistic directing style has been copied by other directors, most notably, Darren Aronofsky. In REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000), Aronofsky acknowledged the shot-for-shot bathtub scene from PERFECT BLUE (1997) but denies that BLACK SWAN (2010) is in any way adapted from it. Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION (2010) was also accused of being an off-shoot of PAPRIKA (2006), that includes plot similarities, specific scenes and characters, to which he denied. To public knowledge, Kon-san never took legal action on either of the directors, assuming the ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ moniker instead. The film was released in North America by Sony Pictures on December 29th, 2003 in an attempt to get an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, but it was unsuccessful. The domestic release brought in a total of $128,985 and the International release brought in a total $480,540. GKIDS’s re-release will include a 4K restoration and a new English dub. TOKYO GODFATHERS is an unwilling adventure of three friends who depend on each other for survival by homelessness. Finding an abandoned baby together forces them to not only care for someone else, but for themselves through self-discovery, and to confront the lies they tell themselves in order to maintain their status quo. This movie will make you laugh, make you cry and, most importantly, make you think. Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 73 One Movie Punch: 10/10 Children Loved By God TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003) is rated PG-13 and will be re-released in select theaters on March 9th and March 11th. Minasan, domo arigatou! Be on the lookout for my next review of the Wuxia action packed film SHADOW (YING) (2018) later this month. This time, I promise! Until next time!
8 minutes | Mar 11, 2020
Episode 742 - The Great Hack (2019)
Hi everyone! For those of you outside the United States, or perhaps living under a rock within the United States, we’re currently going through a presidential primary campaign. It’s been a bumpy ride so far, with a lot of noise and very little substance. But it has also been driven, at least in part, by the lesson of the previous election cycle, which involved the use of Big Data to collect information on US voters. Up to 5,000 data points per voter. You all know how biased I am when it comes to US politics, so that’s why we’ve brought in Shane Hyde today to review THE GREAT HACK, as part of his Horror Stories series. Because some horror stories are real. For a few other reviews from Shane, check out THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (Episode #728), WOUNDS (Episode #694), and RUST CREEK (Episode #654) Before the review, we’ll have a quick promo from our good friend Kolby Told Me, one of our biggest supporters of the podcast last year, as demonstrated by his near domination of the Follow Friday boards. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @kolbytoldme. And if you take up one of his recommendations, let everyone know that Kolby Told Me! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << KOLBY TOLD ME PROMO >> ///// Hi, I'm Shane Hyde, and while the world burns down around us I'm going to keep reviewing for One Movie Punch. And that's a fact! Today’s movie is THE GREAT HACK (2019), directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim. This is one of those films that will pit Twitter user against Twitter user, Subreddit against Subreddit, Facebook grannies against 'woke' anti-Facebook pilgrims, Russian bots against other Russian bots. But no matter your political leaning, whatever label you choose for yourself, there's a story here and they're trying to tell it. The story focuses in on Brittany Kaiser, and through interviews and supporting characters and archive footage, it puts a framework that seems like it's asking you to feel sorry for Cambridge Analytica, their exposure, their role in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the Brexit vote. They were hired to do a job, given data from Facebook and information about their targeted audiences, and they say in THIS FILM that they exploited psyops that should be regulated by the UK Government. But, you know, they exploited it anyway, and exposed the most vulnerable in the world's populations to seek a particular outcome. This is a film that aligned itself kinda with my left-leaning worldview, but then asked me to have sympathy for those involved at a personal level, and then asked me to consider the ramifications of these psychological operations at an international level. And I think it does these things well. Do I have sympathy? Well, no. Am I considering the impact psyops at an international level? Yes. But I fear I'm ill-equipped to deal with it. But we know there will be no satisfactory ending here although THE GREAT HACK attempts to wrap it up. There is no neat bow to go on top. We know now that Cambridge Analytica didn't survive the scandal (although they're still behaving in the same garbage way as another business). We know that Brittany Kaiser dramatically left England but didn't need to. And we know that there's been no real justice here, because there's been no real crime - despite military grade psyops being utilised against a civilian audience. This is a movie that should have us all outraged. It tells the story of our own data used against us to target us for our baser instincts. And the (attempted) undermining of democracy pursuant to a pound or two from the Brexit campaign. Instead I came away... well, tired. A bit over it all really. THE GREAT HACK feels like it underscores the fact that honesty and integrity are dead and this is the post-script. Last time I reviewed a documentary that was FYRE: THE GREATEST PARTY THAT NEVER HAPPENED (Episode #398) and I feel that was a more honest account than THE GREAT HACK. Since our world has devolved into a Bandersnatchian "Relax: 1/ Don't 2/ Do it" dichotomy, THE GREAT HACK is either telling us a small bit of a larger puzzle or diving into whack-job liberal conspiracy theories. You can't relax in THE GREAT HACK. They either did it. Or they didn't. And look at where we are today. Rotten Tomatoes: 88% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 67 One Movie Punch: 6.0/10 THE GREAT HACK (2019) is rated M and currently streams on Netflix.
10 minutes | Mar 10, 2020
Episode 741 - Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
Hi everyone! One of our goals before we close out the quarter is to review every film nominated for either a Golden Globe or an Oscar this year. Sometimes this can be tough, especially for international films that get very limited showings in the United States and even fewer streaming opportunities. Sometimes it can be tough when an underseen film gets the nomination, like today’s review for MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. We’re lucky to have Jon-David back to help us out with today’s review. For a few other reviews from Jon-David, check out MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL (Episode #713), THE CAVE (Episode #706), and RICHARD JEWELL (Episode #692). As you can see, he’s been very helpful in getting these award nominees reviewed this year! Before the review, we’ll have a promo for Jon-David’s serial comedy crime podcast, the Mafia Hairdresser Chronicles. This campy serial podcast is based on Jon-David’s time cutting hair for a cocaine-trafficking couple in the 1980s. All the voicework is done by Jon-David, with the help of a few filters and editors. Don’t miss a single episode! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << MAFIA HAIRDDRESSER PROMO >> ///// Hello, this Jon-David aka Mafia Hairdresser, the writer and performer of the podcast The Mafia Hairdresser Chronicles, a campy crime comedy based on my time as a celebrity hairdresser in Hollywood in the 80s. Today’s movie is MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019), a crime drama mystery rated-R film written, directed, and starred in by Edward Norton. Released in 2019, MOTHERLESS BROOKLYNalso stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bruce Willis, Willem Defoe, Bobby Cannavale, and Ethan Suplee. No Spoilers. This is the film I was really looking forward to watching, but it did not do great at the box office. I saw the trailers and the movie starred Edward Norton. The trailers looked good. And I love Edward Norton as an actor. But I had my first negative foreboding moment about this film when I saw that this film was written for screen by Edward Norton and directed by Edward Norton in the opening credits. Sometimes studios throw money at their talent because of the films the actor has agreed to be in. The studio then rewards the actors by letting them make a movie. That could be good or bad. The story of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN focuses on Norton’s character, Lionnel Essrog, called Freakshow because of his Tourette’s Syndrome, and he comes to the rescue of his shady detective agency boss, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis), who may or may not have been “detectivizing” on a case for the love of money or the love of justice. Freakshow and his detective co-workers, played by Bobby Cannavale and Ethan Suplee, end up having to take over the detective agency and they try to get to the bottom of the case Willis was working on, and which cost him everything. The time is the 50s. Brooklyn. Men wear hats. Proper women wear gloves. And Edward Norton’s character is a man with troubles. The reason Freakshow pursues the case, which lead him and his friends into the world of corrupt politicians’ illegal use of eminent domain and profiteering by gentrification, is his love for his boss, as well as falling for the housing rights activists caught up in the middle, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Norton’s character Lionel, Freakshow, may have tics and seemingly random burst of words that actually tell each character he is in the scene with what he thinks of them, shows us how hard he has to work to get the information that he wants to solve the crimes of the politicians. But Freakshow also has a superpower, and that is that he is brilliant finding clues and leads, and he is tenacious and in love. What really didn’t work for me in this film was that each character that Freakshow has a scene with, whether it be Alec Balwin who plays Moses Randolph, the evil city planner architect whom all the murder and crime clues lead to, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Laura Rose, whom he tries to protect and falls in love with, is that the scenes just don’t have passion. I didn’t ever feel that Baldwin’s character was a great villain, and I never saw the chemistry between the leading man and the damsel in distress in any of their scenes together. In this film, no one is really who they appear to be when introduced in the story. Willem Defoe plays Paul, a troubled and mentally unstable man connected to Moses and Laura, and he seems to have all the answers. In fact, in almost every scene, he pretty much tells Freakshow everything he needs to know to find the next clue. If this were a book, it might be interesting, but in this film, it is just lazy, obvious, expository dialogue. Leslie Mann, one of my favorite actresses shows up, in a small part in this film, against type, and she plays the wife to Bruce Willis’ Morton, and I loved every scene she was in. I liked this story. And nothing was too technically wrong with this film, and yet I didn’t feel the art direction, the writing, the directing, nor the editing in this film matched the expectations a big budget popular book adaptation it should have had. MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN had the obligatory scenes of Norton’s character getting roughed up in an alley (but why they thugs didn’t kill him in the scene was beyond me), and it had the cool older model cars and fedoras and even the jazz night club scenes. But there was no lift off, or big twists that shocked me. No scene where I thought, ‘Wow, that was a great performance!’ And I could have done without the narration because the movie never really felt like a classic noir or gangster or gumshoe movie. I just feel that Edward Norton didn’t have a team of tried and true auteurs to hash out and work on the details in this film before they locked in scenes and story. MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN aspires to be Chinatown but just didn’t do it for me. Rotten Tomatoes: 63% Metacritic: 60 One Movie Punch: 5.5/10 You can now stream this film on Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay, and Vudu.
10 minutes | Mar 9, 2020
Episode 740 - Onward (2020)
Hi everyone! Welcome back for another Matinee Monday. Some weekends it’s easier to pick a film than other weekends. And generally, whenever Pixar releases a new film, we’re first in line to check it out. Stay tuned for my review of ONWARD in a minute, but for a couple other Pixar films we’ve reviewed, check out INCREDIBLES 2 (Episode #169) and TOY STORY 4 (Episode #531). Before the review, we’ll have a brand-new promo from our good friends at The VHS Strikes Back podcast. Every week, Dave and Chris blow the dust off an actual VHS cassette, then watch and discuss the film. You can find out more on Twitter @vhsstrikesback or on Facebook and Instagram by searching for The VHS Strikes Back podcast. Don’t miss their two guest episodes during last year’s Reign of Terror 2019, with reviews for ALIEN VS PREDATOR (Episode #605) and 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (Episode #626). And don’t miss their recent guest review as Comics in Motion for BIRDS OF PREY (Episode #720)! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << VHS STRIKES BACK PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is ONWARD (2020), the Pixar animated film directed by Dan Scanlon and written for the screen in collaboration with Jason Headley and Keith Bunin. ONWARD takes us to a world of magic, populated by fairy tale and mythical creatures, but after science has replaced magic in their everyday lives. Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) is an elf living at home with his mother Laurel (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and his older brother Barley (Chris Pratt). On his sixteenth birthday, Ian and Barley are given a staff from their long-dead father, which contains a spell to bring him back for one day. But when the spell fails halfway, the brothers embark on a quest to find a gem to finish the spell and see their father one last time. If you’re not crying right now, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. No spoilers. In addition to being a movie nerd growing up, I was also a role-playing nerd. I absolutely loved to play Dungeons & Dragons, but like most folks, I had trouble finding a group that could meet regularly. My love for fantasy transferred into reading multiple franchise novels and playing the many RPG video games making their way to consoles. Before nerd culture was accepted, I was teased for all of that. After the explosion in nerd culture, I’m just one of the many unshowered masses at conventions and theaters. All those intellectual properties and characters I loved growing up are now heading to the big screen, at least seven of which we previewed before ONWARD. I’m really happy about all of that, but sometimes seeing those adaptations comes to life and having everything at your fingertips takes away... well, the magic of it all. And that’s the key theme being explored in ONWARD. ONWARD is definitely a coming of age story disguised as a family road trip film, built within an amalgamated, modernized fantasy world. You can catch all that from the trailer. But as happens with most Pixar films, there are always more than one larger subtexts to explore. ONWARD, in many ways, builds off the same themes of fantasy and reality, and coming of age, as seen in the TOY STORY franchise. But ONWARD also looks at what our world becomes when we lose the magic in our lives, even when magic is all around us. The fantasy creatures and the idea of magic in ONWARD are easily substitutes for ourselves and the miracles of the technology around us. We’re often told to let go of that magic in our lives, and ONWARD meditates on what happens when we wildly give into that magic, even when it seems hopeless. Worldbuilding is always important to Pixar franchises, created with a sense of embedded meaning, and operating by a specific set of rules crucial to the overall story. ONWARD not only opens with a brief history for the technological evolution of the world, but also walks us through a day in the life of Ian Lightfoot, and his awkward relationship to his family. Awkward not just for the usual sixteen-year-old reasons, but because their father Wilden Lightfoot (Kyle Bornheimer) died of an unnamed disease before Ian was born. He lives vicariously through his brother’s precious few memories, and lives with the odd phantom pain of never knowing one of your parents. We get everything we need to know before we take off on our journey, knowing full well we’ll also discover magic along the way. The world in ONWARD is pretty much built like ours, with an electrical infrastructure and a capitalist economy, and allows us to identify just enough with all of the characters wherever we might be in our lives. In addition to Ian, we also begin to learn more about Barley, mostly through his actions, and his custom-built straight-from-the-80s wood-paneled van named Guinevere. The two brothers, and their half-dad, head out, taking both the direct and scenic routes, in their quest to complete the spell. It’s a journey that begins with wonder, and steadily builds tension, because as you begin to know and love these characters, you also realize just how incredibly high the stakes actually are, especially if you‘ve ever lost a parent. It’s a subtle point, but Scanlon and company absolutely pluck that heartstring, and more steadily as the film, like all journeys, draws to its incredible close. As always with Pixar, the animation in ONWARD is top-notch. Everything from the sweeping vistas to the microdetails is rendered beautifully, somehow finding the right mixture of magic and realism to fit each mood. The film has great voicework, great pacing, and ticks all the boxes of a consistently excellent Pixar film. Ironically, Pixar has made their brand of movie magic so commonplace, with such consistent quality, that they have trouble making their films stand out amongst their overall filmography. ONWARD is an excellent film, but a pretty standard Pixar film. And that’s definitely enough for this critic. One oddity from seeing this film. In addition to the seven previews One Movie Spouse and I had to endure prior to the film, we were also treated to a Simpsons short as an appetizer. Film Twitter and pop culture nerds have had a lot of hot takes about what this means for Disney, aside from the obvious brand synergy. Some folks are rehashing the Fox/Disney arguments. I’m not actually sure what to make of it, other than this might be the new normal now that many of the Pixar shorts are debuting directly on Disney+. It’s not bad, but felt out of place, less synergistic and more dissonant, thematically speaking. I’m sure this won’t be the only weird stumbling moment as the media empire continues to coalesce. ONWARD is a top-notch animated film from Pixar, using one boy’s coming of age story, and a family road trip, to explore the loss of magic in our lives. Scanlon and his team do a great job of worldbuilding, character development, production design, and pacing to deliver a solid experience with one or two surprises. Animation fans, especially Pixar fans, and role-playing nerds should definitely check out this film. And bring a lot of tissues. Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 62 One Movie Punch: 9.0/10 ONWARD (2020) is rated PG and is currently playing in theaters.
12 minutes | Mar 8, 2020
Episode 739 - The Art of Self-Defense (2019)
Hi everyone! Welcome back for our last two weeks of One Movie Punch for first quarter. We’re wrapping up the quarter with a bunch of great films from your favorite critics. Today, I’ll be reviewing THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE and talking about toxic dojos. And tomorrow, I’ll be reviewing ONWARD, the latest Pixar offering. On Tuesday, Jon-David returns with 2020 Golden Globe nominee MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. On Wednesday, Shane Hyde returns with his review of THE GREAT HACK, a real-life horror story happening right now. On Thursday, Christina Eldridge returns with a review of TOKYO GODFATHERS, recently remastered and released back in theaters by GKIDS. On Friday, Andrew reviews SWALLOW, another Fantastic Fest indie pickup in theaters. And on Saturday, I’ll return with a review of LETO, a Russian film about the band Kino, as part of our Under the Kanopy series. Over on our Patreon page, at patreon.com/onemoviepunch we just posted our full interview with Swedish filmmaker Jimmy Olsson, where we talk about his latest short film ALIVE, his upcoming feature film SECOND CLASS, and about ableism and representation in cinema. It’s a short interview, but we were glad he could make the time. You can check out our review for ALIVE in Episode #735 from last week. While you’re at our Patreon page, be sure to sign up at any level to help fund future content. Your contributions go to help paying our expenses and to help us grow with our audience. You’ll also become eligible for Sponsor Sundays, where you get to force me to review a film of your choice, as long as we haven’t reviewed it yet, with just a few exceptions. A promo will run before the review. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << SPONSOR SUNDAYS PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE (2019), the dark comedy written and directed by Riley Stearns. Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is an introverted accountant, who struggles to connect with other people, and lives alone with his lap dog. But when his worst fears come true one evening, leaving him beaten nearly to death, he enrolls at the local karate dojo to learn the art of self-defense. And ends up learning a whole lot more. No spoilers. Content warnings for abusive relationships. When folks think about martial arts, they generally see it through one of two lenses. First, the rise in mixed martial arts and other fighting competitions, where two individuals square off following a strict set of rules. Second, the immense library of well-choreographed martial arts films, often more effective at entertaining audiences than in actual combat. Both lenses give parts of the truth about the martial arts, and often serve as a draw for potential students, but fantasy and reality are often two very different things. Films like the IP MAN franchise have helped to show the more realistic origins of modern martial arts schools, and have also lead to confronting the more shameful and abusive practices within some historical and modern martial arts schools. Of course, the lens through which I learned about martial arts was THE KARATE KID (Episode #278), probably the most famous film about toxic dojos, and a clear influence on today’s film. THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE takes a closer, darker look at martial arts, specifically at the dojo or gym level, with a dojo that is like Cobra Kai on steroids. Male-dominated, highly hierarchical, and lead by a very toxic Sensei (Alessandro Nivola). Casey’s quest to learn how to defend himself becomes our journey into just about every toxic aspect of modern dojos. THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE isn’t just about toxic dojos, but the kind of students that are attracted to these locations. Casey is the timid beta male looking to not just defend himself, but to gain confidence in his everyday life, a claim often made by martial arts schools. And it’s true, most martial arts students do gain a sense of self-confidence after learning the basics, or as we learn in Casey’s case, perhaps too much confidence. Jesse Eisenberg plays this role well, a familiar kind of role given his filmography, but by no means his entire range. Anyone who has been bullied in school or in the workplace will easily empathize with Casey, especially his faults, and may even live vicariously through him. Another kind of student drawn to toxic dojos are those who are looking to prove themselves. Imogen Poots plays Anna, a brown belt children’s instructor who tries to help Casey assimilate to the dojo, but also feels frustrated as men keep earning their black belt before her, despite her having the skills. Anna also gets to represent the feeling of being a woman within a male-dominated, testosterone-fueled community, subjected to all kinds of direct and indirect sexism. It’s another real problem with the larger martial arts community, something experienced to a greater or lesser degree by every woman training in martial arts, in much the same ways that women experience sexism in the larger community to different degrees. Poots does great work with Anna’s character, from start to finish. Riley Stearns loves to play with light and darkness throughout the film, with the amount of light within a particular scene being an indicator of how much danger is present. We actually get to see this directly between the day and night class at the dojo as well. Stearns also uses more distinct colors within the martial arts community, particularly the belts, and using more drab colors and filters for the world outside the dojo, or in Casey’s home. The film is very well put together, even when it goes to very dark places, and absolutely lands more than a few clever jokes as it wraps up. However, THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE is definitely not a recruitment story like THE KARATE KID, and it’s here where I have most of my problems with the film. I think this film does a great job at exploring the concept of toxic dojos, and raising a lot of issues within the martial arts community when it comes to abusive relationships. I know a lot of MMA gyms have become recruitment grounds for hate organizations, mostly by forming relationships as seen in today’s film. But I also know a lot of dojos and communities that are not abusive or exploitative. My experience practicing Aikido for the past two years has been nothing but supportive, and many communities are evolving past abusive teaching methods. And I do think that folks like Casey, when finding the right community, can radically improve their lives through not becoming a prisoner of their own fears. THE KARATE KID gave us both kinds of relationships, but THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE only gives us one, and the worst one at that. THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE is a dark comedy about toxic martial arts schools, as told through a dark journey by one timid accountant, well played by Jesse Eisenberg, and well supported by Imogen Poots. Riley Stearns delivers a well put together film, with a story that truly punches with its feet and kicks with its hands. Martial arts fans, or fans of dark comedies, should definitely check out this film, but beware that it is NOT a recruitment tool. Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 65 One Movie Punch: 8.0/10 THE ART OF SELF-DEFENSE (2019) is rated R and is currently playing on Hulu and Kanopy.
10 minutes | Mar 7, 2020
Episode 738 - The Battle Of Algiers (1966)
Hi everyone! We’re closing out the week with another entry in our series, Under the Kanopy. Kanopy is a library and university funded streaming service that grants card holders six free streams a month, featuring a combination of classic, mainstream, independent, and international films. They currently have streaming deals with some of our favorite distributors, like A24 and Kino Lorber, which offer the critically acclaimed, if not commercially successful films. Today’s film was one recommended early last week, when I was suffering from a migraine and looking for distraction while the medicine worked. While not getting any recommendations on Twitter, I got an avalanche of films on my Facebook page. A good friend had been recommending this film for quite some time, and after catching it on Kanopy, I can see why he was so excited. I’ll have my thoughts on THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1966) in a moment. For a few other films in this same series, check out MARIANNE AND LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE (Episode #731), HAVE A NICE DAY (Episode #724), and TO DUST (Episode #717). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friend Rory Mitchell, from the Mitchell Report Unleashed podcast. He was gracious enough to have yours truly on as a guest recently, which you can check out in Mitchell Report Unleashed Episode #173. You can follow Rory on Twitter @officallyrory, on Facebook @mitchellreportunleashed, and on Instagram @re3684. You can also subscribe to the podcast at anchor.fm/rory-mitchell8. Don’t miss a single episode of his insightful interview-driven show. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << MITCHELL REPORT UNLEASHED PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1966), directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, and written for the screen by Franco Solinas, based on a story developed by both. In 1954 French-occupied Algeria, Ali La Pointe (Brahim Hadjdadj) is recruited into the FLN (National Liberation Front) by Djafar (Yacef Saadi). Over the next three years, the FLN recruits and organizes the people into a revolution against the French, which escalates into a full-out counter-insurgency operation lead by Colonel Mathieu (Jean Martin). No spoilers. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, I knew a lot of people who served for some period of time in Vietnam. Up until our occupation of Afghanistan, Vietnam was the longest war the United States was ever involved in, spanning roughly twenty years from 1955 through 1975. An entire generation of soldiers committed to occupying a foreign country. It’s a strange position for the United States to find themselves within, having kicked off the decolonization era with the American Revolution, but the United States also wanted to get in on the colonization action wherever it could after World War II, especially if France was withdrawing. It would take us twenty years to learn what the French did before withdrawing: occupying another country without the consent of the people is generally impossible without the application of brutal, draconian policies. Of course, the French didn’t actually learn the lesson after withdrawing from Southeast Asia. France simply couldn’t support a long-term war halfway around the world and rebuild at home, so after relinquishing their claim in 1954, they consolidated around their other colonial territories, including Algeria in North Africa. The French had already segregated Algiers into European and non-European quarters, along with segregating the economy along those same lines. Revolution was in the air, especially after the French were kicked out of Asia, and rather than accept that colonialism was being dismantled, the French doubled down in Algeria, leading to the first major phase of the Algerian War for Independence, documented in today’s film. THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS has two key strengths. First, and foremost, is the straight-ahead storytelling. All too often when it comes to films about timely political topics, the filmmakers take a particular perspective, usually siding with one side or the other, and calibrating the characters and plot to further that perspective. Think of any of the many films about US soldiers stationed in the Middle East facing down caricatures of radicalized local residents. But Pontecorvo and Solinas don’t sugarcoat the war between France and Algeria, as Italian filmmakers, happy to show the real concerns of the colonial authority and the revolutionary front, as well as the horrific torture techniques by the French and the civilian bombings by the revolution. We see the equal terror on European and Algerian, as collateral damage in the larger struggle. They let the story speak for itself. Second, and probably more important, is the almost play-by-play handbook for engaging in guerilla insurgency, and how it escalates from peaceful oppression, if such a term is even possible, into an all-out armed conflict. We see what passes for an unequal and exploitative peace, how the people are organized first in secret, then publicly in disobedience, and how the violence escalates based upon the colonial power’s response to each protest. Pontecorvo and Solinas also don’t waste a whole lot of time on character development, letting history and actions speak where dialogue would in most historical epics. The film serves as an accounting, a handbook, and a cautionary tale all in one. THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS keeps a steady pace throughout, never failing to engage the viewer, much in the same way as THE IRISHMAN (Episode #658). Ali La Pointe and Colonel Mathieu represent the revolution and the colonial authority, with commanding performances by Hadjadj and Martin. And helping to bring it all together is a wonderful score by Ennio Morricone in collaboration with Pontecorvo, a delightful guitar-driven affair that captures the espionage like quality to the guerilla tactics. The result is a film that makes it so clear not just what happened, but what went wrong, and why. It also became an inspiration for other revolutionary movements, against colonial powers or otherwise. One would think that anyone who saw this film would see the futility of military occupation. The United States was already 12 years into the Vietnam War when THE BATTLE FOR ALGIERS was released, steeped in political drama at home that made leaving difficult. We should have learned our lesson after that travesty, and yet, the United States is currently occupying another two nations since 2001, lasting so long that it has become the new longest war in United States history, despite rebranding efforts. And we continue to make the same errors the French made in Algiers, the most heinous of which is believing we can make it work this time, as if fixing the errors of the present would help us fix the errors of the past. Hopefully future nations are wiser. THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS is a landmark military epic that doubles as an important fictionalized documentation of the historical record. Pontecorvo and Solinas deliver a well-paced, even-handed look at the French occupation of Algeria, and the stakes that rapidly escalated. Fans of historical epics, or folks who want to learn more about the decolonization era in North Africa, should definitely check out this film. I’ll be playing the score on repeat tonight. Rotten Tomatoes: 99% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 96 (MUST SEE) One Movie Punch: 10/10 THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (1966) is not rated and is currently playing on The Criterion Channel and Kanopy.
8 minutes | Mar 6, 2020
Episode 737 - After Midnight (2019)
Hi everyone! It’s Friday, so we’re back with another Fantastic Fest review from Andrew Campbell. After trying to guess the plot for the last few movies, I have decided to stop doing that. I think this film was entitled AFTER MIDNIGHT, but it was actually SOMETHING ELSE. That was the original title, actually. SOMETHING ELSE. Andrew’s gonna let it all hang out in a minute, but for a few other recent reviews from Andrew, check out JALLIKATTU (Episode #730), THE CALL OF THE WILD (Episode #726), and BLISS (Episode #723). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from the Ocho Duro Parlay Hour. Every episode, the ODPH Crew covers a wide variety of topics from sports and popular culture, with a little something for everyone. A huge shout out to Ken at ODPH for becoming a sponsor of One Movie Punch. We can’t thank you all enough for your constant support! You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @odparlayhour and on Facebook @ochoduroparlayhour. Get the avalanche of content you deserve! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << OCHO DURO PARLAY HOUR PROMO >> ///// Hello film fans! Andrew here. Back with your weekly dose of Fantastic Fest goodness. Today’s movie is the first film from last year’s Fantastic Fest that I got that chance to watch - not at the festival itself, but at home the week beforehand. I got a screener link to this one and my excitement for checking out really any film from the upcoming festival was ratcheted up to the max. I’ll be up front and say that this one did not live up to my overly lofty expectations, but in hindsight this is a film that has stuck with me more than most. Today’s movie is AFTER MIDNIGHT (2019), written by Jeremy Gardner and co-directed by Gardner and Christian Stella. Gardner directs himself in the lead role of Hank, a bar owner in a rural southern town. Hank and his girlfriend of ten years, Abby (Brea Grant), reside together in an old ancestral home surrounded by overgrowth and with no neighbors in sight. Discontent with their simple life waiting for marriage that may never happen, one day Abby disappears, leaving nothing but a note behind. Beleaguered Hank begins to lose his grip, spending his days with his buddies at the bar and his evenings protecting his house from what he insists is a monster that visits each night and left its mark on his front door. This is a low-budget independent film so it’s kind of an easy target to nitpick. The film uses a series of flashbacks to set up the early days of Hank and Abby after they first move into the house. These scenes drag on longer than needed and feature both forced acting and sugary prose. The film’s atmospheric score feels misplaced here and (at least with the cut I saw) is loud enough to wash out parts of the dialogue. From a character perspective, every scene centers on Hank. We eventually get a good sense of who Hank is, though his likability may vary by viewer. Abby receives short shrift in the establishing shots - she’s cute and affable, yet fairly one-dimensional. But do not despair. If this were a relationship drama, I might have checked out early on. However, this is a Fantastic Fest selection, so you know the story is going to go somewhere unexpected. What initially drew me to this film was two of the producers, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Together, Benson and Moorhead co-directed two Certified Fresh films beloved to genre film fans. 2014’s SPRING unleashed the body horror and 2017’s THE ENDLESS told the story of a UFO death cult. Well, that duo returned to Fantastic Fest in 2019 with their producer credit on AFTER MIDNIGHT, as well as the US premiere of their co-written and co-directed film SYNCHRONIC starring Jamie Dornan & Anthony Mackie which, six months after the festival, I have still yet to see. Back to the movie at hand. You can see some of the same touches that worked so well in the other Benson and Moorhead films. These are tales of unremarkable people going about their days in a world where mystical forces that may or may not be real lurk just out of sight. Some indie horror films come out of the gate swinging and hit a lull by the midpoint, but AFTER MIDNIGHT does the opposite. It takes a little time getting into and improves leaps and bounds after the first twenty minutes as you settle in with these characters and wait for the other shoe to drop. What makes AFTER MIDNIGHT fantastic? The film patiently holds back its best bits for the end. In a movie that clocks in at just over 80 minutes, Jeremy Gardner inserted a 13-minute single-camera, slow-zoom, uninterrupted, heart-to-heart chat between Hank and Abby that is near-perfect and sits in stark contrast to their shared scenes near the beginning. You also get Hank singing Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” nearly in its entirety at a dinner party before a particularly rude interruption. Gardner may have struggled to start this movie, but he sure knows how to end it. AFTER MIDNIGHT is a southern, homestyle slow-burn mystery that straddles multiple genres. Fans of relationship-driven genre films such as the aforementioned SPRING, WARM BODIES, or the hidden gem BOKEH, starring Maika Monroe, will enjoy this film. Rotten Tomatoes: 86% Metacritic: 54 One Movie Punch: 7.0/10 AFTER MIDNIGHT (2019) is rated TV-MA and is available now on VOD. Come back next Friday for SWALLOW, a visually stunning picture about a woman suffering in an abusive relationship who develops a rare disorder known as pica, in which she finds herself eating household objects. It’s a dark, emotional ride, well out of my comfort zone, so listen to me struggle to analyze this one as it comes out in limited release. See you then!
10 minutes | Mar 5, 2020
Episode 736 - Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (2019)
Hi everyone! Today we’re welcoming back Keith Lyons for another review. We’re batting cleanup this month with a few Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE was recently re-released in US theaters, and we’re lucky to have Keith on the case. Of course, we’ll just have to forget about that whole finding Keith an English-language film thing from last time. For a few other recent reviews from Keith, check out HONEYLAND (Episode #715), LES MISERABLES (Episode #680), and ATLANTICS (Episode #669). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friends Aicila and Erik at Bicurean. Every episode, they explore a different topic, looking for the underlying issues, and finding common ground whenever possible. You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @bicurean, or check them out at bicurean.com. Be sure to like, follow, rate, and subscribe! And don’t forget to check out their recent guest review for FROZEN II (Episode #685). They’ve been huge supporters of One Movie Punch over the past year, and we cannot recommend them enough! A promo will run before the review. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << BICUREAN PROMO >> ///// Hi, Philly Film Fan here with another review for One Movie Punch. You can follow me on Twitter @PhillyFilmFan. Today’s movie is PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE(2019), the 18th century French drama written and directed by Céline Sciamma. I wasn’t able to catch PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE when it played the Philadelphia Film Festival but I’m delighted to be catching up with it now. No spoilers. Since its debut at Cannes, where it won Best Screenplay and a Queer Palm, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE has continued to rack up awards, nominations, and accolades, including Best Foreign Language nominations at the Golden Globes and BAFTAS. It was also nominated for 10 Césars (France’s equivalent to an Oscar) but only managed one win for cinematography. The top prize went to LES MISÉRABLES (Episode #680) and if you’d like to hear my review of that film, check out episode 680 of One Movie Punch. But the big headline from this year’s César Awards was definitely the announcement of Roman Polanski’s win for best director, immediately followed by Adèle Haenel leading the entire PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE team as they walked out of the theater in protest. Haenel has been an outspoken critic of the French film industry’s tepid response to the #MeToo movement and Roman Polanski drugged and raped a 13-year-old child. You might be wondering: What is wrong with the people in charge of the César Awards? And while we don’t have time to get into that now, I can tell you that the entire board of directors resigned a month ago. PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE begins on a rowboat, with Marianne (Noémie Merlant) making a journey to a small island off the coast of Brittany in France. Marianne is an artist and she has been commissioned to paint a portrait of Héloïse, played by the aforementioned Adèle Haenel. But when Marianne arrives she discovers that Héloïse refuses to sit for a portrait, and that Marianne must pretend to be Héloïse’s companion, in order to observe her, then retire to her room to paint Héloïse’s face by memory. This is all necessary to marry Héloïse off to a Milanese nobleman, a scheme concocted by Héloïse’s mother, La Comtesse (Valeria Golino)... you know, from HOT SHOTS! ...and BIG TOP PEE-WEE! ...and HOT SHOTS PART DEUX! The relationship between Marianne and Héloïse is central to PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE. Héloïse is a member of the nobility, but her privilege comes at a price. She is treated by her mother like a helpless child, and is not even permitted to go for a walk unsupervised. Héloïse’s entire life has been mapped out for her, and she must marry a man she has never even met because it is her duty to strengthen her family’s position. Marianne, on the other hand, is a woman of modest means, but she has the freedom to pursue her career as an artist. This job requires her to closely observe Héloïse, so that she can capture her essence on canvas. Héloïse is accustomed to being watched by the help, but before Marianne arrived she had never really been seen. As the two get to know each other, an intimacy develops between them and here, on this sparsely inhabited island, practically at the ends of the earth, they create a space where they feel like the only two souls in the world. PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE is a gorgeously photographed film about two women forming an intense bond. And, like all the best romances, it is tinged with the sadness of knowing that our time here is limited, and that all things must come to an end. But melancholy is a much deeper emotion than happiness could ever be. Rotten Tomatoes: 98% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 95 (MUST SEE) One Movie Punch: 9.0/10 PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (2019) is rated Rand is currently playing in theaters. This jawn was brought to you by Philly Film Fan. For more movie reviews, follow me on Twitter @PhillyFilmFan where I’m participating in the #366Movies challenge. That’s P-H-I-L-L-Y-F-I-L-M-F-A-N. Thanks for listening.
8 minutes | Mar 4, 2020
Episode 735 - Alive (2020)
Hi everyone! Welcome back for another Indie Wednesday. Every Wednesday we like to feature a microbudget or independent production, and sometimes we’re lucky enough to chat with the filmmakers themselves. Today, I’ll be reviewing ALIVE, the latest short by Swedish filmmaker Jimmy Olsson, which takes a fun look at sex and ableism. We’ll hear a few snippets from our interview with Jimmy during this review, but for a few other similar episodes, check out our reviews for TURBINES (Episode #721), CLOSURE (Episode #707), and SANDOW (Episode #693). We’ll have a bit of format switch today. Before the review, I’ll run the audio for the full teaser trailer for ALIVE. Check the show notes for a link to the video, along with English subtitles for those who need them. Throughout the review, I’ll be splicing in segments from our short interview. You can listen to the full interview on our Patreon page this coming Sunday. I was very thankful for the opportunity to speak with Jimmy Olsson. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << ALIVE TEASER PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is ALIVE(2020), the dramatic short written and directed by Jimmy Olsson. Victoria (Eva Johansson) was a combat athlete until she suffered a brain hemorrhage, leaving her partially paralyzed and with a case of aphasia. She’s cared for by Ida (Madeleine Martin), who helps her with regular tasks and transportation, and spends time with her boyfriend Anton (Philip Oros). When Victoria asks Ida if anyone would want to be intimate with her, they create Victoria a Tinder page, which leads to a tense moment. No spoilers. Growing up in rural Illinois during the 1980s and 1990s, I didn’t have much interaction with the disabled community. Most of my exposure was with individuals who were once able-bodied, but lost a limb, or had acquired a degenerative illness. It was also the vast majority of the noble depictions of the disabled community on the big and small screen, and it gave me the mistaken impression that being disabled was a matter of bad luck or old age. It didn’t help that our district’s approach to specialized education at the time was grouping and isolating them, and the big and small screen gleefully mocked those individuals. It wasn’t until college when I met someone with cerebral palsy that I had my own notions challenged. It forced me to greatly expand my notion of what disabled meant and how it affected people differently. It also made me want to see more realistic depictions of the community in film and television. The last twenty years have seen a great expansion for representation, beginning with mostly token roles and expanding into multiple shows and feature films. Which made me wonder where Jimmy got the idea. JIMMY: “I listened to a podcast last summer and I heard a similar story about a carer and the disabled person. It was a similar story about a disabled person who wanted to have an, I think it was an escort, or something. There was a moment the carer wasn’t allowed in the disabled person’s home when the escort was arriving. I saw a drama there, if the carer doesn’t know who’s showing up, and what could happen, and what will happen, and who’s fault is it if something goes wrong? That inspired me to write this story.” One of those topics, previously thought to be taboo about the disabled community, is sex. We speak so much about the social integration of the disabled community that we forget that each person is more than their disability, including very real, very powerful sexual feelings. Film and television abound with able love stories, but ALIVE allows us to consider the possibilities of love and sex for the disabled community in the modern age. JIMMY: “I think many, many people... many able people have a certain view of disabled people, how they look, and they judge people if they look a certain way or behave a certain way. I think we need to shine a light on disabled people that they are exactly the same as everyone else.” Victoria, as a character, is obviously central to making ALIVE work as the lead character. Her past as a combat athlete and her present as a disabled person due to injury allows her to appeal to both populations and challenge our perceptions. The film opens with Victoria out with Ida in public, with Olsson capturing shots at Victoria’s wheelchair level. We’re quickly invested into Victoria as a character, getting a sense of how others see her, largely because of the excellent casting of Eva Johansson. JIMMY: “I saw Eva, and she did a lot of research. She was very interested in the role and so I went with my gut feeling, because she’s a real character actress. She does a lot of theater. She really went into the role immensely, like, she researched for two months before we shot it.” Aphasia is a difficult condition to replicate, but Eva’s preparation pays off big time, finding the right balance between realism and pacing for cinematic effect. Eva communicates so much with her face and body while Victoria struggles to get the words out. You can feel any misguided expectations melting away as Victoria’s story progresses, especially when the suitor shows up, played by Jimmy Olsson himself. I had to ask him if he wrote the role with himself in mind. JIMMY: “No, it’s just coincidence. Basically, I did it in my last film as well, but it was basically, because we shot it without money, and the producer said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ And I was like, ‘Ah, what the hell! It’s no dialogue. I look kind of shady. Why not?’” ALIVE is a dramatic short that challenges our expectations about the disabled community. Coming in just over twenty minutes, Olsson weaves a nicely encapsulated tale, anchored by an incredible, expressive performance by Eva Johansson. Fans of films about the disabled community, or folks looking to expand their notions about the community, should definitely check out this film. Rotten Tomatoes: NR Metacritic: NR One Movie Punch: 8.0/10 ALIVE (2020) is not rated and will be playing at the Cleveland International Film Festival, running from Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 through Sunday, April 5th, 2020. Head over to clevelandfilm.org for more information, including a schedule. We’ll link back to the review here once it’s available for streaming.
9 minutes | Mar 3, 2020
Episode 734 - Long Shot (2019)
Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, and today we’re welcoming back One Movie Spouse to the podcast, with a review of a film she’s been wanting to see for a very long time. In many ways, the film reminds me of how she and I first met, and how unlikely we seemed to so many people. Of course, I wasn’t able to watch it with her, so I’ll just have to assume that everything works out fine. For a few other recent reviews from One Movie Spouse, check out MISS AMERICANA (Episode #725), BOMBSHELL (Episode #701), and LITTLE WOMEN (Episode #673). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friends at the How I Met Your Friends podcast. Every episode, Julie and Kathleen examine one episode of each hit sitcom, exploring the hidden connections and easter eggs within each episode. Don’t miss their recent guest review for CATS (Episode #699), along with the reason they got stuck with the review. You can find them on Twitter @himyfriendspod, and on Facebook and Instagram @howimetyourfriendspod. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << HOW I MET YOUR FRIENDS THROW PROMO >> ///// Hello! It’s me Amy, AKA One Movie Spouse, back for another review. MWAH! A week-long break from school has me catching up on films I've been dying to see! Today’s film features two of my favorite actors, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron. Listen to my review, then catch me on Twitter @OneMovieSpouse to keep the conversation going. Here we go! Today’s movie is LONG SHOT (2019), directed by Jonathan Levine and written for the screen by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah, based on a story by Dan Sterling. The film follows the unlikely relationship between two old neighbors: a shlubby journalist named Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) and a high-powered diplomat Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron). This comedy is about politics, social status, compromise, and above all else, trusting your heart *and* your gut. No spoilers! LONG SHOT is both a political comedy and a romantic comedy rolled into one. The film opens to Fred as a passionate and unapologetic journalist, reporting on issues that matter to the world, when his newspaper is bought out by a large media conglomerate. Highly relevant to real-life today! Fred sees himself as a voice for the voiceless. We turn then, like most romcoms, to introducing the highly influential Charlotte, who never stops working. They couldn’t be any more different, and are living in two different social spheres, when an unexpected event brings them together. I enjoy both of these actors very much and was pleased from the very beginning of the film. They make their somewhat cliché opposites attract story seem believable and enjoyable! In addition to a fun love story, LONG SHOT also tackles some highly relevant issues today. Fred, as a journalist, is highly passionate about the environment, which Charlotte also shares, but while Fred is an idealist, Charlotte is a realist. Throughout the film, compromise is a key theme. Compromise (right or wrong) happens all the time as deals are negotiated and evolve. Compromises are also often disappointing and highly frustrating. Charlotte is under immense pressure as a diplomat to negotiate a compromise, which challenges Fred’s idealism. Charlotte and Fred’s relationship becomes a small mirror examining international relationships and our own decisions and compromises. This film also had an excellent supporting cast adding to the richness of their story. Lance (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) is Fred’s best friend, who wants nothing more than to see his bro succeed and be happy in life! His presence throughout the film is reassuring, and made you feel like you were one of their friends. Maggie Millikin (June Diane Raphael) does an excellent job in her role as a personal assistant to Charlotte, giving just the right amount of tension and skepticism toward Fred as he re-enters Charlotte’s life. If you’ve watched any political comedies or dramas, such as “Veep” or “Scandal”, you know there are NO secrets allowed for those who serve the public. LONG SHOT generally keeps a nice balance between political and romantic comedy, but about two-thirds into the film, an event occurs where drama overtakes the comedy very abruptly. I am ok with it, but it was jarring upon initial viewing, and a little off-tone. After that, though, my sappy side took over and just wanted them to be genuinely happy! LONG SHOT is a political and romantic comedy, about status, compromise, and trust. Like me, I hope you find yourself cheering for an elite woman and an ordinary man against all odds. Fans of Seth Rogen, Charlize Theron, and “underdog” films should really enjoy this film! Keep an eye on that R-rating, though, if you plan on watching with teenagers, to avoid some potentially uncomfortable moments. Rotten Tomatoes: 81% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 67 One Movie Punch: 8.0/10 LONG SHOT (2019) is rated R and is currently playing on HBO and DIRECTV.
9 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
Episode 733 - The Invisible Man (2020)
Hi everyone! Welcome back for another Matinee Monday. You know, trailers usually go one of two directions for me. I generally try to avoid them to enjoy that pure initial viewing experience. Some trailers I get really sick of, really quick. But the trailer for THE INVISIBLE MAN has been nothing short of exciting, especially after being blown away by 2018’s UPGRADE (Episode #155). If you’re turned off because of the SAW and INSIDIOUS franchises, I assure you that today’s film is not that. It’s something much, much more. Before the review, we’ll have a promo from the Honey, You Should Watch This podcast. One Movie Spouse and I had the pleasure of guesting on their show recently to discuss ONE CUT OF THE DEAD, which Andrew Campbell reviewed in Episode #625, and which has become one of my favorite films of all time. You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @HoneyWatchThis, or check out all their episodes, including ours, at honeyyoushouldwatchthis.podbean.com. Don’t miss a single episode! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << HONEY, YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020), the Dark Universe franchise film written and directed by Leigh Whannell, based on the classic novel by H.G. Wells. Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) narrowly escapes from an abusive relationship to a multi-millionaire optics engineer named Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). After Adrian commits suicide, Cecilia receives some unexpected benefits, which come with some unseen drawbacks. See what I did there? Or rather, didn’t? No spoilers. However, definitely content warnings for abusive relationships and sexual assault. At the top of the episode, I gushed a lot about Whannell’s last film, UPGRADE, which took folks by surprise in 2018. I’m not a huge fan of the SAW franchise, nor did I care for INSIDIOUS, but that particular week there wasn’t much else playing, and I was glad I took the time. In particular, Whannell used a great fixed-point camera trick that made the fights within the film have a realism and focus necessary to use an otherwise played out, high-tech version of body possession. That new take on an old idea was what made his helming of THE INVISIBLE MAN so exciting to me. My excitement only increased when Moss was announced for the lead, after her incredible work on “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale”, along with her underseen role last year in HER SMELL (Episode #650). All of that experience clearly fed into THE INVISIBLE MAN, which focuses on gaslighting in abusive relationships, instead of the other serial-killer and/or misunderstood monster plot lines from before. We were going to get something new, with the right skill set at the helm and in the lead role, and let me tell you, it is excellent! The trailer gives you all the setup you need to know the basic opening of this film. The film opens with Cecilia’s daring escape, much more difficult than you might expect when someone is an obsessive controlling force. Adrian commits suicide, leaves her money, and then someone begins terrorizing Cecilia at the house she was staying at after her escape, and wherever she seems to go. The terrorism begins like patterns familiar to anyone who has been in an abusive relationship. Little gaslighting events that make Cecilia question her reality, and others to question her sanity. It’s a slow build up, but once it takes off, it really takes off, with two gasp-inducing events sure to shock anyone out of their listlessness. Once Cecilia knows she’s fighting against an invisible foe, we get to see the real power of Whannell’s direction and camerawork, utilizing a lot of practical and greensuit effects to create gorgeous long-take fight scenes. You get a taste of the hallway fight in the trailer, but there are three other scenes that expertly execute and reformulate the same practical effects of yesteryear for invisibility in cinema. As a long-time classic movie monster fan, seeing this version absolutely delighted me, when it wasn’t shocking me in all the right places. I don’t want to spoil anything, so let me just end the review by talking a bit about the Dark Universe reboot era. This is the first really great film in this latest era of the Universal Monsters. The first two entries, DRACULA UNTOLD and THE MUMMY, were both derided by critics and fans, leading to the collapse of the shared universe. But luckily that didn’t stop Universal from moving forward with more contemporary versions of the films, and perhaps the standalone model might work better. I can definitely see a shared universe still, perhaps on this smaller, more personable scale of THE INVISIBLE MAN. However, the new scattershot approach to development might not make that possible, although I could definitely see pressure to link the announced THE INVISIBLE WOMAN to Whannell’s excellent entry. Only time will tell. THE INVISIBLE MAN is an incredible adaptation of both the classic novel by H.G. Wells and the long series of adaptations in multiple media. Leigh Whannell brings his unique take on storytelling, anchored in an impressive performance by Elisabeth Moss, to deliver one of the best adaptations in recent history. Classic movie monster fans, folks who like films exploring abusive relationships, or fans of either Whannell or Moss, will definitely appreciate this film. Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 71 One Movie Punch: 9.0/10 THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020) is rated R and is currently playing in theaters.
11 minutes | Mar 1, 2020
Episode 732 - The Assistant (2019)
Hi everyone! Welcome to March! Things have been super busy around here at One Movie Punch as we begin to wrap up first quarter. This week we’re coming in with a slate of five Certified Fresh films, including tomorrow’s review for THE INVISIBLE MAN, Tuesday’s review of LONG SHOT from One Movie Spouse, Thursday’s review of PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE from Keith Lyons, Saturday’s review of THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS from your truly, along with today’s review of THE ASSISTANT. Andrew will be back on Friday with his review of recent VOD release AFTER MIDNIGHT as part of his Fantastic Fest coverage. And on Wednesday, I’ll be reviewing ALIVE, a short film from Swedish filmmaker Jimmy Olsson, with interview clips. We’re so busy, in fact, that we actually won’t have a Patreon episode today. But don’t let that stop you from heading on over to patreon.com/onemoviepunch to check out our exclusive content, including interviews with filmmakers, update episodes, and series like “One Movie Punch Presents: Zero Percent”, where I review films which have achieved the lowest possible score at Rotten Tomatoes. And if you sign up to become a patron, you will become eligible for Sponsor Sundays, where I’ll review a film of your choice, with just a few exceptions. A promo explaining things will run before the review. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << SPONSOR SUNDAYS PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is THE ASSISTANT (2019), the slice of life drama written and directed by Kitty Green. The film follows a day in the life of Jane (Julia Garner), an assistant to a high-power media executive, as she navigates the mundane and the horrific aspects of her entry-level position. No spoilers. However, a content warning for sexual harassment, abusive work relationships, and toxic work environments. Toxic work environments abound in our society. It doesn’t matter whether it’s private or public, for-profit or non-profit. It can be a minimum wage job, or in the case of THE ASSISTANT, a high-power corporate environment managing a great deal of money. Wherever you have an organization with a hierarchical structure, some percentage of those who are promoted into managerial positions will let that power go to their head, and will begin to cultivate toxic environments. Because unless you have a strong union contract, chances are you are employed at will, and no matter how much your boss wants to be your friend, they will always choose to fire you if it becomes necessary. At-will workplaces tend to have the most toxic environments and we get to see it on full display in today’s film. Whereas BOMBSHELL (Episode #701) was clearly focused on the three leading actors, and covers the highlights and major events of the Fox News scandal, THE ASSISTANT takes a more mundane and grounded approach with its slice of life framing. Jane’s story unfolds before our eyes, from catching a ride to work to open the office, all the way through closing up for the night, at her employer’s insistence. Jane has been an assistant for two months, so she still has to deal with the scut work, not just making copies or picking up lunches, but even washing dishes and taking out trash and whatever someone else doesn’t want to do, including her fellow assistants with more experience. This perspective alone provides incredible insight into toxic work environments, but THE ASSISTANT also explores the effects of sexual harassment and abusive bosses, which is where it really takes off. It’s pretty obvious the target of THE ASSISTANT is Harvey Weinstein, or any number of highly paid media moguls who hold unspeakable power over their companies, if not their industries. We actually never get to see Jane’s boss, which allows us to insert whatever toxic boss we may have had in our past. But we do get to hear his voice, an effective technique as Jane gets dressed down after getting sucked into the general chaos of the day. She’s not in control of any of her environment, a fact she learns painfully when she seeks assistance, because toxic work environments have an inertia that’s tough to break, legally speaking, especially when checks can be written to guarantee silence. This abusive environment also engenders a sense of solidarity in the office, especially among the assistants. Despite getting scut work, both assistants help Jane with apologizing after getting chewed out. Jane is still learning her environment, not as it should be, but as it is. And we are as well. Julia Garner absolutely carries Jane from beginning to end, adopting a character familiar to anyone who has worked in toxic environments, and delivers what will be one of the best performances this year. Kitty Green nails the drab tones of the stale, mismanaged office environment, along with a more hive-minded, cacophonous cubicle farm. The stark, sharp angles of the corporate environment are leveraged to draw our eyes to all the important details, as we get to observe Jane observing others. THE ASSISTANT develops tension slowly, then manages it all the way to the thematically unsatisfying, but exceptionally realistic ending. A feeling that anyone who has worked in a toxic work environment will appreciate when they’ve left for the day. We get less spectacle and more realism, and the film is all the better for it. I just wish the film had the courage to market the film it actually was, instead of what the trailer made it seem. Honestly, I hadn’t heard much about the film before it hit the marquee of our local independent theater, so when One Movie Spouse and I were looking for a date night film, we checked out the trailer. As you might have noticed during this review, it’s pretty intense, giving the sense that something massive and dramatic happens. And that’s not the film you’re going to get in the theater. It’s actually better than the film that’s advertised, to be honest. THE ASSISTANT is a slice of life drama looking at a day in the life of one assistant for a powerful media mogul. Julia Garner anchors this think piece, which oscillates between the mundane and the stressful, against a well-chosen and well-paced backdrop. Drama fans, or folks looking for a more realistic, less sensationalized look at toxic work environments driven by sexual harassment and abusive relationships, will definitely enjoy this film. Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 77 One Movie Punch: 8.0/10 THE ASSISTANT (2019) is rated R and is currently playing in theaters.
10 minutes | Feb 29, 2020
Episode 731 - Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love (2019)
Hi everyone! We’re closing out the week with another entry in our series, Under the Kanopy. Kanopy is a library and university funded streaming service that grants card holders six free streams a month, featuring a combination of classic, mainstream, independent, and international films. They currently have streaming deals with some of our favorite distributors, like A24 and Kino Lorber, which offer the critically acclaimed, if not commercially successful films. Today’s film covers one of my favorite artists, both while growing up, and in retrospect as I have time to learn about him. Leonard Cohen was a Canadian writer, probably best known for his musical work, and especially a track called “Hallelujah”, which was used in almost hilarious fashion in Zach Snyder’s WATCHMEN. Today’s documentary looks at his time with early muse Marianne Ilhen, and the development of his music during their time on the isle of Hydra in the 1960s, long before heartache, depression, and disease crept in throughout his life. I’ll have my thoughts on MARIANNE AND LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE in a moment. For a few other films in this same series, check out HAVE A NICE DAY (Episode #724), TO DUST (Episode #717), and TRANSFORMER (Episode #710). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from the Top 5 from Fighting podcast. Every episode, Greg and Mike discuss a wide range of topics, and when they disagree, you know they’re gonna fight about it! Always fun, but always contentious, you don’t want to miss a single episode. You can find them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @Top5forFighting. They have been some of our biggest supporters from last year. Shout out to their Marketing Angel. You know who you are! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << TOP 5 FOR FIGHTING PROMO >> ///// Today’s movie is MARIANNE AND LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE (2019), the documentary film from long-time documentarian Nick Broomfield. The film follows the troubled relationship between writer/singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and his muse, Marianne Ihlen, from their meeting on the isle of Hydra to their ultimate breakup over Cohen’s obsession with his musical career. No spoilers. We have a tradition in our household of giving books to each other for Christmas. I try to find a book or two for One Movie Spouse and One Movie Spawn, and they try to do the same for me and each other. I have a list of books I’m always looking for, which I send along ahead of time. But Amy always tries to find a book that I might enjoy, but didn’t ask for, and this year that was Leonard Cohen’s “The Flame”, a collection of his old writings, song lyrics, and last works, compiled after his death in 2016. I have been a fan of Leonard Cohen’s music, having been turned on to him after picking up a Greatest Hits CD at the library a while back, and realizing I knew a lot more of his songs than I thought. But I didn’t know much more than the music, and even less about the man himself. So, I thought it was a fun treat to get to do just that. And ironically, after I finished reading a book by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, I dove right into “The Flame” for an education. Subconsciously, I think what appealed to me about Leonard Cohen is how similar his spiritual outlook was to that of Jack Kerouac. I got a taste of that while reading “The Flame”, but the parallels really hit home while watching MARIANNE AND LEONARD. Both had roots in Canada, came from middle-class homes with strong religious influences, both fancied themselves as writers, and spent their lives travelling to find inspiration for their writing. In fact, if there’s any major difference, it’s the choice of drugs and location. Kerouac traveled around the United States, looking for his inspiration, fueled mostly by alcohol, marijuana, and speed. But Cohen eventually found a home on the isle of Hydra, where he took massive amounts of speed, but also acid, while writing poetry and novels, and with the help of who would be his greatest muse, Marianne Ilhen. When people think about the counter-culture of the 1960s, they generally think of the group as one homogenous unit, a stereotype that exists to this very day. Beatniks were not the same hippies, nor were yippies the same as communists. While these populations might have been pushing back against the mostly homogenous representation of society and culture appearing on the radio and television, each group had different reasons and approaches to that pushback. MARIANNE AND LEONARD looks at one dynamic corner of that world, secluded away on Hydra, where the two would meet and eventually fall in love. Marianne Ilhen was running away from a life she didn’t want in Norway, with her son in tow. Leonard Cohen was looking for inspiration, and found it in Marianne. Hydra was just one of a number of locations and neighborhoods that existed around the world, as yet untouched by tourism or gentrification, similar to the kind of artistic awakening happening in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. We get to see the kind of routine they had in life, which was comprised of writing and roaming around Hydra, making steady progress, and enjoying life otherwise. It sounds like a writer’s paradise, and yet, for both Kerouac and Cohen, there’s also an uneasiness that comes with staying in one place too long, a stagnation that begins to stifle creativity, and this wandering urge would eventually be the beginning of the end for their relationship. And these mythical communities eventually fall apart as well, which Broomfield examines by going back to Hydra and examining the long-term effects of many individuals from that community. Daily acid trips generally don’t make for well-adjusted individuals. A wandering spirit and heavy acid trips aren’t enough to pull someone away from the people they dearly love. But once Leonard Cohen found success as a singer/songwriter, he was gone longer and longer from Hydra, and by extension Marianne. It’s at this point in the documentary that Broomfield gets a little unbalanced in telling the story, turning mostly into a rapid-fire overview of Leonard’s career and controversies, and almost passing mentions for Marianne. It might be an apt metaphor for their relationship, especially as it deteriorated, but it seems to distract from that same relationship in the process. We get a mini-biography, then a moving ending where Leonard’s last letter to Marianne is being read to her on her death bed. I really wish we had heard more from Ilhen as part of the documentary, but I can imagine finding footage of Leonard to be much easier than Ilhen. The only other stylistic difference I had with the film was the framing for the interviews. Broomfield has the guests speak directly into the camera, instead of at an angle, which can feel disconcerting to some viewers, especially when we know the person is speaking to Broomfield, not the viewer. I often found myself wanting to look away while they were speaking, which is not generally the effect a documentarian wants. I think it can work in the right circumstances, but here it just felt weird. MARIANNE AND LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE is an expansive documentary, looking at the loving and creative relationship between Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ilhen. Nick Broomfield takes us from their meeting on Hydra all the way to their death beds, covering all the peaceful and tumultuous times in-between. While the content skews more towards Leonard Cohen, the documentary remains informative and insightful into the core relationship. Documentary fans, especially fans of older music like One Movie Spouse, should definitely check out this film. Rotten Tomatoes: 79% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 69 One Movie Punch: 8.0/10 MARIANNE AND LEONARD: WORDS OF LOVE (2019) is rated R and is currently playing on Kanopy.
10 minutes | Feb 28, 2020
Episode 730 - Jallikattu (2019)
Hi everyone! It’s Friday, so it’s time for another Fantastic Fest feature from Andrew Campbell. This week will feature absolutely no BS. No wait, I’m sorry, this film will be full of BS, and I mean actual bullshit. Not a bunch of lies and stories for which the term bullshit is used, but actual bullshit, along with actual bulls, who have an actual prize tied to their horns called... JALLIKATTU! Don’t miss Andrew’s other recent reviews for THE CALL OF THE WILD (Episode #726), BLISS (Episode #723), and SCHOOL’S OUT (Episode #716). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friends at the Moviedrone podcast. Every week, Steve & Marc focus on one feature film, assign each other homework, interact with the audience, and of course, the incredible stylings of Marc’s Movie Impressions. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @movie_drone and on Facebook @Moviedronepod. Be sure to like, retweet, share, follow, and most importantly, subscribe! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << MOVIEDRONE PROMO >> ///// Hello film fans! Andrew here, back today with wild film out of India. When discussing the Indian and American film markets, people generally compare Bollywood versus Hollywood. When you get into the weeds on these terms, Bollywood refers specifically to films produced in Mumbai (which was known as Bombay when the term “Bollywood” was originally coined). Now, the term has taken on more of a colloquial meaning to describe the sum total of all films produced in the country, which includes smaller studio markets such as Tollywood and Kollywood among others. Likewise, “Hollywood films” once referred to movies made in the L.A. suburb that housed most of the major film studios, but now typically refers to American films made anywhere in the country but within the larger studio system, which excludes independent films. Hey Joseph, you’re gonna fact check all this, right? JOSEPH: “Seems legit.” In any case, there were roughly one thousand films released in the United States last year and roughly double that figure in India. Let’s see if we can figure out why this one broke out of the herd and got picked up by Fantastic Fest. Today’s movie is JALLIKATTU (2019), written by R. Jayakumar & Hareesh S., and directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery. The film stars Antony Varghese as Varkey, the lone butcher in a remote Indian village. Varkey is preparing a buffalo for slaughter when the massive animal breaks free and runs rampage through the town and surrounding jungle. With the buffalo wreaking havoc, the women and children take shelter while the men attempt to recapture the beast. Mobs begin to form and the petty squabbles that have existed between the men of the village for years get in the way of the task at hand. The film opens with a little bit of character work, giving us a soft introduction to a number of the villagers. However, once the buffalo breaks loose, the film quickly descends into chaos. Maybe it’s cultural differences, or the way the story spends the next hour shunting between one chaotic scene to the next, or the exponential growth of extras as more and more men show up, but I lost track of all the main characters and their collective personal dramas. This left me fairly bored and all but disengaged for the bulk of the film’s runtime. Nearly every moment of the film is filled with men talking over each other, men shouting at one another, or men abusing their spouses. The film stampedes the viewer with constant cacophony… but maybe that’s the point. Stepping back and looking at the movie from a distance, it’s clear that the film was not made with the western audience in mind and the creators were probably pleasantly surprised to see it picked up by TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival), Fantastic Fest, and likely others. With that in mind, it’s probably more fair to grade this one on a curve and view it as an outsider looking into a massive country with a vibrant cinema scene that I know nothing about. In the film itself, every time a character smokes or drinks alcohol, a “warning label” (for lack of a better term) appears noticeably on screen to warn the audience against the danger of such vices. The film simply comes from a far different world than I am used to. What JALLIKATTU gets right is the one thing that easily translates into any language - that sweet, sweet buffalo action. There are several scenes where you get real shots of the massive animal running around doing its own thing, but there’s a great mix of practical effects as well. There are some thrilling third-person shots that any fans of the indie video game Goat Simulator are certain to enjoy. Then the film sprinkles in some buffalo cam shots as the viewer bounds around and sends villagers flying. Were this an American film, you know it would all be CGI, but the live action stunt-work here is what makes the film worth sticking with through some of the rough patches. What makes JALLIKATTU fantastic?The ending of this film... absolutelygoes for it. What felt like a fairly realistic depiction of the more toxic aspects of masculinity in the Indian culture transcends into something so outlandish that it may literally be jaw-dropping. If you give this one a shot and find yourself losing interest during the protracted second act, just ensure that you zoom ahead and check out the last 15 minutes for a startling visual metaphor. JALLIKATTU is a step outside the comfort zone for American audiences that delivers a dull roar punctuated by the occasional violent hoofbeat. Fans of films that descend into surreal chaos such as TUMBBAD (Episode #432), CLIMAX (Episode #459), or MOTHER! (Episode #245) will enjoy this film. Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Metacritic: NR One Movie Punch: 6.2/10 JALLIKATTU (2019) is not rated and is now streaming now Amazon Prime Video. Come back next Friday for a light-hearted midnight horror flick appropriately titled AFTER MIDNIGHT. This movie showcases what a filmmaker can do on a shoestring budget. It’s equal parts Deep South break-up drama and psychological terror with a monster in the woods that may or may not actually exist. I promise it’s a fun one. See you then!
9 minutes | Feb 27, 2020
Episode 729 - Pain and Glory (2019)
Hi everyone! We’re back with another review from Jon-David, aka the Mafia Hairdresser, who is absolutely determined to pick up all our missing award nominees and winners from last year, including today’s underhyped film, PAIN AND GLORY, featuring a commanding performance from Antonio Banderas. We’re excited to get Jon-David’s take on the film. Don’t miss his recent reviews for MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL (Episode #713), THE CAVE (Episode #706), and RICHARD JEWELL (Episode #692). His promo will run before the review. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << MAFIA HAIRDRESSER PROMO >> ///// Hello, this Jon-David aka Mafia Hairdresser, the writer and performer of the podcast The Mafia Hairdresser Chronicles, a campy crime comedy based on my time working for a Hollywood cocaine trafficking couple in the 1980s. Today’s movie is PAIN AND GLORY (2019), written and directed by internationally-acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, and stars Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz, Leonardo Sbaraglia, and Asier Etxeandia. No spoilers. PAIN AND GLORY stars Antonio Banderas as writer/director Salvador Mallo. The film opens to Mallo’s memories of childhood, growing up poor with his mother, Jacinta (Penélope Cruz). As the story moves along, we see Salvador Mallo’s physical pain as an adult, which makes you think he might be nearing the end of his career of writer/director. Between the storylines of Antonio Banderas, as Mallo, rejecting the call to write and direct again (which is, figuratively, the breath of his life), and his romanticized flashbacks of Penélope Cruz raising him and molding him into the artist that he has become, you’ll begin to notice how the real director of the film, Almodóvar, uses music, light, color, and even his actors to tell his story. You see, in the films of Pedro Almodóvar, the story is not only enjoyable and straightforward or complex, he is also commenting on the subject of his stories. In this film, PAIN AND GLORY, he is commenting on the PAIN his main character has to endure when he feels his GLORY days as a film director are over. PAIN AND GLORY is rumored to be highly autobiographical and includes straight up tellings of Almodóvar’s religious education and his family expectations that he would become a priest. Antonio Banderas, as the film director, has to address his own ego and the way he has gone through life soaking up lovers, friends, colors, and experiences, but not fully experiencing them. Only writing them and filming them. I hope that when you see PAIN AND GLORY, you’re with a group of friends who likes to view film and talk about them afterwards. This film is actually not just autobiographical, a story, or a portrait. It is a statement from Pedro Almodóvar. He is showing you the brushes, his tools in which he paints his stories with. Although the main character is a film director who suffers for his art, you will see his tortured contemplation of his past films, brilliantly played by Banderas, who tries to maintain relationships, at arm’s length, to protect his own drug use. Almodóvar, the openly gay director, loves to tell the public what he thinks. He loves to show you his opinions in his films, and PAIN AND GLORYis his conversation directly with his film fans. He is telling us that, as close to the truth about his life and demons that he can show you, it will never be enough or real enough. But that the pursuit of showing you is the best anyone can do. Filmmaking, to him, and his main character, is like “chasing the dragon”, a term used by heroin users, also depicted in this film by Banderas, who suffers and strives to tell stories by making movies which only achieves him finite glory once his films are completed. Both the use of Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz in this film, along with his use of color, is another example of how Almodóvar uses his favorite actors, commenting that they are one of the many tools to tell a story. Personally, I would particularly to like know what people who have seen this film think of Almodóvar’s use of white, such as the cave-home dwelling his childhood main character grew up in, the stark white hospital scenes his grown up main character must endure, and what the use of whiteboards and the words “whitewash” mean in this film. Feel free to comment if you’re listening. Or chat us up on Twitter or Instagram. I have my own opinions. PAIN AND GLORY was nominated for a 92nd Best International Feature Film Academy Award. The writer director Pedro Almodóvar is already an Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film in 2000 for ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (1999), and Best Original Screenplay in 2003 for TALK TO HER (2002). Antonio Banderas won Best Actor at Cannes for his role in PAIN AND GLORY, and he was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. If you’re a fan of Pedro Almodóvar, you’ll see this film and become a bigger fan. And, if this is the first of his films you view, you will become a fan. Rotten Tomatoes: 97% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 87 (MUST SEE) One Movie Punch: 8.3/10 PAIN AND GLORY (2019), rated R, can be streamed on Amazon and iTunes. This is Jon-David, aka Mafia Hairdresser, the writer/performer of the Mafia Hairdresser Chronicles, my comedy crime podcast.
9 minutes | Feb 26, 2020
Episode 728 - The House Of The Devil (2009)
Hi everyone! All right, we’re hitting the pause button on Indie Wednesdays for another contractually-obligated review from Shane Hyde, due to the peace accords signed after last year’s Reign of Terror 2019. Shane and I had a minor month-long disagreement you can check out beginning with One Movie Spouse’s review for CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (Episode #594), and heading through the entire month of October. Today we’ll have another installment of his beat we like to call Horror Stories, and today’s a gem from 2009 entitled THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. Don’t miss his recent reviews for WOUNDS (Episode #694), RUST CREEK (Episode #654), and NIGHTMARE CINEMA (Episode #647). Before the review, we’ll have a promo from our good friends at the Cinema Recall podcast. Every episode, The Vern takes a look at iconic scenes in classic movies. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @cinema_recall, and also subscribe to their podcast at anchor.fm/cinemarecall. Don’t miss a single episode! Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << CINEMA RECALL PROMO >> ///// Kia ora! I’m Shane Hyde, back to review another movie for you all. I’m a Kiwi living in Australia. Everything down under is currently on fire or underwater so I’m staying inside and reviewing movies. Let’s go! Today’s movie is THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009), written and directed for the screen by Ti West, and starring Joselin Donahue and Tom Noonan. This film is written and directed by Ti West. Not a huge name but he works almost exclusively in horror and will later go on to direct THE INNKEEPERS (2011), which was pretty fabulous. In THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, his work is readily evident in the direction. Sometimes almost too evident in these long, lingering shots. They went on. And on. 2009's HOUSE OF THE DEVIL takes a rather interesting approach to the movie's tone. The whole setup is in homage to the horror films of the 1970s and early 1980s. Everything from the type of film used, to the title card of the film, is something of a throwback. This deliberate design choice lends itself to a kind of 'rediscovered treasure' feeling of the film. And for the whole, it's really effective. And this tonality, the camera work, colour grading all fits together with the script. It's a slow burner, almost innocent for the most part. This HOUSE OF THE DEVIL lacks devils, but makes up for it with a small, odd assortment of characters. Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), and our proxy in this film, is a young woman motivated to take on a babysitting job due to a shortness of cash. I love her role in this film; she has agency and drives the story along. Even towards the climax of the film, she keeps on fighting. Our main antagonist, Mister Ullman, played with not-too-creepy desperation by Tom Noonan, looms over each scene he's in. His on-screen wife Mrs. Ullman (Mary Woronov) almost too macabre, but not quite Addams Family camp. Both are glorious and luscious additions to the film. In the end, I keep trying to convince myself that this is a good film. Aside from a few notable and minor scenes, there's nothing to hint that this house is indeed THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. In fact, once she's situated as the babysitter, there's nothing much about the house that makes your skin crawl, or even Samantha’s skin crawl. But isn't that what the 80s Satanic Panic was all about? Your neighbors might have been worshippers, appeared normal, had neighborhood bbqs like anyone else? And then presto-change-o! They're painting pentagrams in blood and playing Dungeons and Dragons. This isn't a bad movie, it’s just not a great movie. The pacing doesn't match with our modern sensibilities. The artistic choices and camera work definitely play into its favour, but at its core it’s all sizzle, no bacon... and in the end, the truth is that there's something truly wrong with all of the pizza in this movie. Perhaps this is the TRUE horror at the heart of THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL? Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (CERTIFIED FRESH) Metacritic: 73 One Movie Punch: 7.0/10 THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) is rated R. JOSEPH: “Unless you’re in the United States, where it’s currently playing on Amazon Prime, Hoopla, and Shudder.” Also, Tom Noonan, who played Mr. Ullman in the film, is a... I am a bit of a fan, ever since I saw the short film on YouTube, THEY ARE MADE OUT OF MEAT (2005). Look it up. You won’t be disappointed. LINK: youtu.be/7tScAyNaRdQ Anyway, I’m Shane Hyde, and that’s a review.
9 minutes | Feb 25, 2020
Episode 727 - The Photograph (2020)
Hi everyone! Welcome back for another Takeover Tuesday, and this one is going to be a real treat. I’m not going to lie. Kolby’s been straight teasing me about being on this podcast for about 18 months. Yeah, sure, he’s got his own podcast entitled Kolby Told Me, which you’ll hear about before the review. Yeah, sure, he’s co-host for the Minorites Report Podcast, that drops weekly doses of perspective on popular culture. But, it wasn’t until I sent him the Puss In Boots meme with the saucer-eyes and welling up tears that he finally broke and said he would do it. That’s because we get our guests here at One Movie Punch the old-fashioned way. By guilt-tripping. Kolby will be up in a moment with his review, along with his personal promo beforehand. Thanks for making the time, Kolby! Speaking of Takeover Tuesday, do you think you have what it takes to guest on One Movie Punch? Head over to onemoviepunch.com/takeover-tuesday and learn more about how you can guest here at One Movie Punch. We still have three (3) slots available this quarter for aspiring and established film critics to take the reins for an episode. We’ll run your promo before the review and will place it in regular rotation for the quarter. If it sounds like something interesting to you, reach out to us over social media. Subscribe to stay current with the latest releases. Contribute at Patreon for exclusive content. Connect with us over social media to continue the conversation. Here we go! ///// << KOLBY TOLD ME PROMO >> ///// THE PHOTOGRAPH (2020) centers on Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield), a journalist touring a distressed town in Louisiana, set to interview one of its residents, Isaac (Rob Morgan). Isaac details his life, his struggles, his accomplishments and regrets. Michael comes across a photograph of a striking young woman who he’s told is Christina Eames (Chanté Adams), a famed photographer from New York who was his greatest love that got away. Michael’s focus shifts and so does his story which leads him to Christina’s daughter, Mae (Issa Rae). She’s been grappling with the complex emotions of Christina’s recent and unexpected passing and it’s not made any easier because of their estranged relationship. She finds several letters and a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box. She begins delving deep into her mother’s early life and this photograph serendipitously unites her and Michael in an unexpected romance that changes the way they both view life and love. Writer/Director Stella Meghie crafts a simple and tender love story between two couples across different periods in time. The narrative construction of the screenplay is very much poetic and almost lyrical in its design. Her direction is sleek and displays an intentional highlight of the characters in this story and how they move in the world she’s built. There’s a subdued, yet melodic and jazzed grit to the outer New Orleans 1980s love story between Isaac and Christina, juxtaposed to the smooth and refined Neo-Soul infused eroticism of Michael and Mae’s New York romance. Both distinct, but both tracing similar journeys of intense passion and unmet expectations. The dueling stories progress the plot delicately to both Michael and Mae, that takes twists neither of them could’ve expected yet are fulfilled authentically in the end. I was skeptical of what LaKeith and Issa could bring to the screen in their 1st big shot at leading roles, and I’m glad to say they blew me away. Their chemistry was evident, and their sexuality was steamy. The entire ensemble worked well balancing the other injections of comedy and drama throughout the film, particularly, Lil’ Rel Howery’s Kyle, older brother to Michael. He was an always welcomed sage, offering these anecdotes of wisdom with his comedic flair. What makes this story unique, is not the grandiose love affair we’ve become inundated with, but how this film revels in its simplicity. Which may also serve to what could limit this films appeal to some audiences. It’s not often we are given Black love stories not infused with overt comedy. Comedy paces a film, and without it, were left to stew in the aches of an all too real love that takes work. That can get uncomfortable. It can leave you having a tougher time investing in this honest love story were sharing with these characters and, if you can’t relate, you can feel detached. I contend, its these smaller love stories that make this film all the more special. THE PHOTOGRAPH should serve as a reminder of the small stories in our own lives we take for granted we don’t get the chance to see play out in cinema and how fighting for love is always worth it. THE PHOTOGRAPH (2020) is simply gorgeous. I’m filled with pride over this film’s production, its intention of offering a Black Love story, lead by a majority Black Cast, centered on these characters not in a Black Struggle, written and directed by a Black Woman, and catered to an audience that needs more of these narratives on the big screen to normalize the small stories we should celebrate of our Black experience, but is also universal as well. Rotten Tomatoes: 75% Metacritic: 63 One Movie Punch: 9.0/10 THE PHOTOGRAPH (2020) is rated PG-13 and is currently playing in theaters.
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