Archive for Movie Reviews

At The Movies . . . Glasgow Film Festival 2014

Every year, in the city responsible for Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy, and of course, the deep fried Mars Bar, movie enthusiasts come together to enjoy what the silver screen has to offer in the way of cult classics, foreign film and homegrown talent; also known as The Glasgow Film Festival.

2014 proved to be a massive year; not only was it celebrating its 10th year, but its most successful festival to date, with record breaking admissions and half the shows sold out, I have learnt to buy tickets early or miss out completely.

Armed with popcorn, kleenex (Wuthering Heights was on my me viewing agenda) and my undivided attention (subtitles!), I’ll take you through the best of my Glasgow Film Festival . . .

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears

What a way to “open the curtains”, so to speak. The first film on my agenda required an ice pack after. “Strange” isn’t even the word. There were giggles around the theatre as the lights went up and everyone spotted their own perplexed expressions reflected in other’s faces. Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s psycho horror feels like a bad acid trip; vivid flashes of colour, murder and sex can only take you so far before utterly confusing your audience. Apparently, the murder mystery unravelled eventually. I say “apparently” because even though I stayed until the end, I have no clue who killed who or why and, like waking from a bad trip, I was just glad it was over.

Of course, there is method in the madness with this movie; I’ll need to spend more money to see it again, just to try and make some sense of it!

Witching and Bitching

I knew this was my favourite 5 minutes in. Jesus, a toy soldier, Minnie Mouse and Spongebob Squarepants pulling off a gold store robbery: need I say more? For those of you who don’t bother with foreign films because the subtitles require a lot of attention, give it a try. I swear you will be reborn. What I was detailing was just the opening scene! There’s still the crazy and sexy cannibalistic witches, a not-so-sexy and embarrassingly graphic monster and the unbeatable banter. Borrowing a cast and perhaps a few laughs from his mentor, Pedro Almodóvar, Director Álex de la Iglesia is Spain’s answer to Tim Burton . . . if he teamed up with Billy Connolly.

Wuthering Heights

You couldn’t get more classic than this; Laurence Olivier, the wild, windy moors, pride in the way of love, that inescapable feeling that you should be taking notes for an essay . . . This is the 1939 adaption from Director, William Wyler shown 75 years after the original premiere for those who enjoy reliving movies over and over again, those who can’t wait until it’s shown on TV at Christmas, and those, like myself, seeing it for the first time. With the confusing nostalgia for a time you never knew that is only accomplished by old movies, Wuthering Heights did its job of  breaking our hearts.

 Benny & Jolene

Twee. Very twee, but just what the doctor ordered after “Wuthering Heights”. “Submarine” star,  Craig Roberts and “Fresh Meat” actress, Charlotte Ritchie star as a duo trying to survive the fickle world of pop music, while denying any romantic feelings for each other. The Welsh comedy was directed by Jamie Adams and shot for only £12,000. It was one of the simpler choices from the schedule, but sometimes that’s a welcome break (especially for the brain).

Don’t despair if you missed it. Gems from the Glasgow Film Festival such as prison drama “Starred Up” starring “Skins” bad boy, Jack O’Connell and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” with The Dark Lord himself, Ralph Fiennes, will be shown in cinemas across Britain in the coming weeks.

And, of course, there’s always next year.

Cruising

I’ll be honest, I went into Tom Cruise’s new film, Jack Reacher, with the smirk of condescension and was planning on writing a snark review. I came out very satisfied and with a new respect for the controversial “closeted”, Scientologist. Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie’s throwback action flick.
I can honestly say that Reacher, based on a crime novel series by Brit author Lee Childes, is the last great action movie of the year.
I’m a sucker for old schol 70s -80s action flicks with little CGI, car chases, political intrigue and pay phones. Reacher fits the bill on all accounts.
In the film, Cruise, much shorter than his 6’5 literary counterpart, plays an off the grid drifter and former Military Police investigator who is called back into action by a wayward sniper accused of shooting 6 random people in Pittsburgh.
The first ten minutes of the film are the most tense, and for me scary moments in any film this year. There’s no music. A sniper sees the world through his scope and watches people go on about their day as he picks his targets. In America, we are all at the end of a sniper scope. We never see it coming. Get up, go to work, and never make it home again…

The accused sniper, played by Joseph Sikora, was hunted and arrested by Reacher when the both were serving in Iraq. Sikora’s Mike Barr shot and killed five military contractors before he left the country for home. Reacher, then a major, caught him before he reached the States. Though he got off, Barr knows the Reacher is the only man who can clear him now as he swears his innocence in the Pittsburgh shootings.
What ensues is a twisty old school style political thriller not seen since the 70s. Reacher rolls into town and takes over the case after a pleading (and hot) defense attorney, Helen played by three characters, Brit actress Rosamund Pike and her ample breasts (who should be nominated for Best Supporting Actresses). Once on the case, Reacher is set up, framed and warned of as is common in political thrillers.
As we find out pretty early on, the villain The Zek which means “prisoner” in Russian and played with non-ironic menace by batshit crazy director Werner Herzog, who apparently chewed off his own fingers in a Soviet Gulag, is pulling the strings over a land deal.
The film has quite a few twists which I won’t give away here and by the end you totally buy Cruise as the drifter action hero.
I want to talk a little bit about Cruise. I don’t care about his sofa hopping, gay rumor, Scientology, bad dad life. I care about my him making my two hours in a theater worth my money. And with VERY few exceptions, Cruise brings it every time.
Now lets talk about that old schoolness. I’m a SUCKER for a classic car chase. Bullit, The Rock and especially Ronin with Di Nero and Jean Renaud. Reacher returns the non-CGI car chase to the big screen. Loved it.
McQuarrie, who was REALLY auditioning for Mission Impossible 5 with this flick, has an excellent command of suspense and action beats. HIs fight sequences were tightly choreographed and believable.

If Reacher had any drawbacks, it would be in some of the loopholes in the plot and Cruise’s sometime TOO sarcastic treatment of what apparently is a dour character. In the end, it’s a good, unexpected popcorn trip that will make you crave a sequel.
4 out of 5 stars.

Down the Hobbit Hole

Our guest reviewer Alex Hewett took a trip down the Hobbit Hole…

Peter Jackson is a true visionary. You may or may not like his directorial vision of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” I indeed did like it very much. I was lucky enough to view the 3 hour spectacle that was shot using a new format, 48 frames per second and in 3D. Most films audiences are used to seeing are shot 24 frames per second. What does this mean? This higher frame rate produces smoother motion and a clearer image. I guess it’s like watching High Definition TV for the first time. Everything looks different. The friend I attended the film with commented that the make-up was more visible with this new film technique and he found that distracting. Most people are resistant to change. I have heard so much criticism towards Peter Jackson for introducing this new format. I do agree it is something to get used to, but for me it added to the fantastical world of Middle Earth. According to Entertainment Weekly “The Hobbit” will be released in a variety of formats: 48fps in 3D, 24 fps in 3D and old-fashioned 24fps in 2D. The 48fps version of The Hobbit will only be shown in 3D and will be limited to roughly 450 handpicked theaters nationwide.” I can go on and on about the technical aspects about the film, but I went to see the movie for the story. So I am going to tell you about the story.

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) was quite content living in his comfy Hobbit Hole, until one day, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) shows up on his doorstep and asks him to join him on an adventure to reclaim Erebor, the lost Dwarf Kingdom. Gandalf explains there is also a horrendous dragon Smaug and he cannot guarantee that he will return alive from this journey. Bilbo refuses, saying adventures make one late for dinner. Slowly, one by one, 13 Dwarves show up at Bilbo’s doorstep, making themselves at home, eating his food, belching, and causing merry havoc. Their leader is the very strapping warrior, Thorin Oakenshield, (Richard Armitage) and he has no faith in Baggins, but Gandalf does, saying he gives him courage. Next we know Bilbo Baggins is jauntily sprinting out of his village and off on a journey.

The Dwarves and the Hobbit encounter creepy Goblins, horrendous Orcs, scary Wargs, and what I was dreading to see in 3-D, Giant Spiders. Thank you Peter Jackson, for your sense of suspense, showing us giant webs and only hints of shadows of arachnids outside a window, for the 10 years old me slept with her lights on after reading about these spiders in the book. So I am telling you if you do not like seeing creepy crawlies in 3-D, you will not be freaked out by this film. But there are epic battle scenes and more battle scenes and Dwarves in constant peril.

Gandalf believes in Baggins, but Thorin does not, telling another Dwarf that he doesn’t think Bilbo belongs with them, that he is in the way. Bilbo overhears this and starts to leave the group and along the way he runs into the brilliance that is Gollum (Andy Serkis). This is where The Hobbit finds his courage and he also finds the RING. This is my favorite scene in all of the film, Riddles in the Dark. I would love to get Gollum and his precious in the therapy room.. he is deliciously evil and yet sweet for a spilt second, like he’s your feeble great grandfather, but then in the next split second, you think he may tear you to pieces and eat you up.

There are more battles, and the Elfin Counsel complete with Saruman (Christopher Lee) the breathtaking Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), and battles and more battles. Wait, where’s the dragon? Oh, yes, The Hobbit is going to be a trilogy, so there are at least 6 more hours of adventure to follow where we may see a dragon… and hopefully not Giant Spiders!!!
Sadly, I found the score to be very predictable and traditional. If you are going to present a film using this new amazing technology, why not spice up the music? My friend whispered to me during the screening, he wanted the bad guys to have heavy metal music as their backdrop. This suggestion had me hankering for some ACDC or Metallica to blast me out of my seat

Stepping out of your Hobbit Hole may do you some good. Bilbo discovers who he is, what he is capable of, and what it means to trust someone. What is home? Is it your comfy chair and Grandma’s table? Or is it friends that may be outcasts to the world, but to you, they are your family and they trust you to join them in life’s adventures and struggles, but may not be able to explain why

Reality bites. And stabs. And burns…

There are scenes in Sinister, a new film co-written director by Exorcism of Emily Rose Scott Derrickson and Aint it Cool News writer C.Robert Cargill that burrow into your brain and stick with you long after the credits roll.
With his new film Derrickson takes the popular, so-called “found footage” genre and turns it around on its head.
Blocked true crime writer Ellison Oswalt, expertly played by slacker god Ethan Hawke (Reality Bites, Before Sunrise), moves his family, though unbeknownst to his wife (semi-new comer Juliet Rylance), into a home of a family who were hung from a tree in their own backyard. The branch is still laying in the back yard.
As they’re moving in, Oswalt is met by the local Sheriff, played with Southern glee by Congressman and former Presidential candidate Fred Thompson, who gives the “pack up your things and go speech” from chapter 8 of Horror Films for Dummies.
It seems that though the hanged family’s youngest child is still missing, Sheriff Foghorn Leghorn believes that she’s dead and that the Oswalt should take his book idea elsewhere and let the town get on with their lives.
It’s at this point that the film made me wonder what it really must be like for the families of real true crime writers. Later in the film wife Rylance gives an impassioned speech about not being able to go to the grocery store and the kids getting bullied at school and you start to think about these writers that go from town to town to write some exploitation murder of the week book.
Back on point. After settling in, Oswalt finds two things in the attic. A scorpion and a box of ironic titled snuff films.
thankfully Oswalt gets right to setting up the provided projector and firing (heh) up the films.
These quick, 16 mm home movies is where the strength of the film lies. Though its never been proven, I imagine that a snuff film  looks exactly like the ones in Sinister; grainy, free of sound and seriously disturbing.
WHO is filming the families as they burn, drown and dangle to death, it the real mystery. This is when the film takes a turn from softcore torture porn to an occult film. It seems the hand behind these murders, where the youngest child disappears, is some sort of pagan god.
The death metal fan doubling as a the god Baal pops up in all the snuff footage observing the families’ last gasps.
I’m not going to spoil any more of the film. If you have half a brain, you’ll figure it out about half way into the film.

Sinister cleverly steals from better, more established films like Ringu of Japan and The Devil’s Backbone of Spain and is a great pre-halloween  jumpy-scare romp out.
But there are some problems. Thankfully, acting is not one of them. The domestic scenes between Hawke and Rylance crackle with the reality of a couple who’s at their wits end. The problems are smaller more niggling details.
The prosthetics on several of the supporting characters looks amateurish and heavy handed. And then there’s the ending…
I’m going to go wayyyyyy out on a limb here and suspect that the suits got their grubby hands on the end of the movie.
There were several chances to end Sinister on a chilling/ambiguous note, but no..studio execs are notorious for thinking that American sheeple crave a hackneyed “scary ending.” My advice is to leave the movie after the ax falls (you’ll get it when you see it) and you’ll have a better taste in your mouth than if you hang on till the last frame which is so laughably bad that it ALMOST negates the clever film before it.
Like Insidious last year, Sinister is an original horror film not based on a franchise and deserves a look before the neverending story of suburban psychosis Paranormal Activity 4 hits the theaters in a few weeks.

3 out of five stars.

Trailer:

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Gutter’s 3rd Annual Maryland Film Fest Picks

Yeah, we know. City Paper pretty much owns the film fest with their awesome (and hardworking) coverage. But every year we try to treat our small crew of readers to our picks which are, we hope, more in line with theirs!
So lets just get right to this shit:
Friday:

WANDA (Presented by John Waters)
Directed By: Barbara Loden
Hosted/Presented By: John Waters

Legendary filmmaker John Waters has selected a favorite film to present within each Maryland Film Festival since their launch in 1999. This year he’s chosen Wanda:
Wanda was the only feature film (alongside a small body of shorts) directed by Barbara Loden. Loden began her career as an actress, perhaps best known for her stage and film roles for director Elia Kazan (Splendor in the Grass, Wild River), whom she later married. In 1970 she wrote, directed, and starred in this drama, raw and direct in its style, portraying a coal-town Pennsylvanian housewife who runs away with a criminal. Tragically, her life was taken by breast cancer in 1980, leaving us to guess what another feature film from Loden could’ve been.
Wanda premiered at the 1970 Venice Film Festival and played Cannes in 1971, and its reputation in film circles only continues to grow. Taken by many as emblematic of the renegade energy and open-minded exploration that characterizes the best of 1970s cinema, it stands today as an inspiration to a whole new generation of filmmakers.
It’s been a few years since Waters shared with us a film from the era when his own film career was in its incipient stages. As always, we can’t wait to hear what he has to say. (Eric Allen Hatch)
U.S.A. • 1970 • 102 minutes • 35mm

Lovely Molly

Ok. We’ll give Ed Sanchez (Blair Witch Project) one more chance. We weren’t big on his last entry Seventh Moon, we’re willing give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s an amazing talent, just had a bad run post-Blair Witch. So we’re going to reccy his new film, Lovely Molly.
Fraught with suspense and psychological tension, Lovely Molly uses western Maryland as its setting and frankly, it’s never looked so creepy. Returning to inhabit the family home in which she grew up, Molly (Gretchen Lodge) is an ex-addict trying to stay the course of recovery by moving back to the country and away from temptation. The recently wed Molly and her husband Tim (Johnny Lewis) embrace the opportunity for peace that country life provides, but that peace is short-lived. There is something lurking deep inside this old house that has other plans for Molly.
The film is anchored by an urgent and unsettling lead performance by newcomer Lodge, with equally excellent performances from her supporting actors Alexandra Holden (as Molly’s sister) and Johnny Lewis. As only experts of the genre can, Sanchez terrifies, titillates and thrills without resorting to the cheap shorthand of buckets of guts and gallons of blood. (J. Scott Braid)
U.S.A. • 95 minutes • digital

Vito:

We’re super excited for this doc on a gay activist pioneer.
Vito Russo was a true hero of the GLBT struggle, best known as the author of The Celluloid Closet, a co-founder of GLAAD, and an outspoken member of ACT UP. Despite leaving behind an amazing legacy, his story has been for years under-sung, a wrong finally corrected by this stirring and inspirational documentary.

Russo first came to prominence in the 1970s as a film lover who cultivated an encyclopedic and unprecedented knowledge of the treatment of gay and lesbian characters in cinema history from the silent era forward. That material coalesced first into a travelling lecture and eventually into 1981’s definitive volume The Celluloid Closet. Russo struggled for years to get his work published, a fight validated when it ultimately became a massive bestseller and the basis for the award-winning documentary of the same name. Simultaneous to his film scholarship, Russo became a passionate and unapologetic advocate for gay rights, AIDS awareness, and the goal of a strong and distinct (rather than assimilated and passive) GLBT culture. Brilliantly crafted by Jeffrey Schwarz (MFF 2009’s Spine Tingler! and the forthcoming I Am Divine), Vito is a heartfelt, informative, and emotional triumph. It stands alongside We Were Here (MFF 2011), The Times of Harvey Milk, and yes, The Celluloid Closet at the upper echelon of essential documentaries about the gay experience in the United States. (Eric Allen Hatch)
U.S.A. • 93 minutes • digital

ANY OF THE SHORTS PROGRAMS IN THEATER 3!

WUTHERING HEIGHTS:

This is prob our most anticipated film of the fest. We’ve been dying to see this version since hearing a review on the now defunct Guardian Movie Podcast. DEF a must see!

Andrea Arnold strips Brontë’s story down to its essence, and in the process relieves us from the showy, overly costumed and overly sappy adaptations that have been undertaken in the past. In addition, casting two actors of color (James Howson and Solomon Glave) in the role of Heathcliff (playing the character at various ages) teases out an element of racial tension only hinted at in the book, one that underlines the themes of class and social standing already explored throughout the story.
Excellent performances from both the younger and older versions of Heathcliff and Catherine (Shannon Beer and Kaya Scodelario) flesh out Brontë’s characters in a way previously unseen on the screen. The heartbreak Heathcliff feels is palpable, as is Catherine’s uncertainty at her decision. Setting is a key player too, with the harsh weather of the English moor providing the perfect backdrop for this tragic romance.
A tough, uncompromising look at the choices one makes between true love and comfort, and the consequences of those choices, Arnold’s Wuthering Heights (like its source material) possesses a fierce emotional impact that is hard to shake even when you’ve left the theater. (J. Scott Braid)
U.K. • 130 minutes • digital

We’re giving love to The Windup Space who’s hosting numerous films this year. Get off Charles St. and peep this film at the popular bar/venue

Wild in the Steets:

Many centuries ago in the town of Ashbourne (in central England), the Shrovetide game developed. The two sides of the town, which is divided by the Henmore Brook, play each other in this grueling, two-day, mass football game which has nary a rule. One team is comprised of those that live north of the Henmore (Up’ards) while the other team is comprised of those living south of the Henmore (Down’ards). Starting on Shrove Tuesday and continuing on Ash Wednesday, the game rages in the streets from afternoon deep into the evening, only stopping for a quick pint at the local pub when a goal is scored.
This glorious tradition is explored in-depth in this thrilling and endlessly fascinating look at the Shrovetide Football phenomenon. Ashbourne is a community that truly functions as such (a rare bird in this day and age) and Wild in the Streets illustrates the importance that this tradition plays in maintaining and even strengthening this community’s bond. (J. Scott Braid)
U.K. • 82 minutes • digital

SATURDAY:

Yeah. One constant we look forward to is the 3D film on Saturday. This year, we get a musical….ummm…we’ll wait on our judgement.

Those Redheads From Seattle:

Amidst the Alaska Gold Rush, Mrs. Edmonds (Moorehead) arrives with her daughters Kathie (Fleming), Pat (Teresa Brewer), and Connie and Nell (the Bell Sisters)—all redheads except for one, all arriving from Seattle. Their arrival is met with some bad news, resulting in the women taking jobs in a saloon, typing, running a newspaper, and doing seamstress work. Drama, romance, and musical numbers ensue, all coming at you in 3-D.
There is a common misconception among film historians that Kiss Me Kate is the only 3-D musical, but Those Redheads From Seattle not only belongs on that short list, it was released a month earlier, making it the FIRST 3-D musical. (Skizz Cyzyk)
U.S.A. • 1953 • 90 minutes • 35mm

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA:

Istanbul-born Nuri Bilge Ceylan has emerged as a master of world cinema with such titles as 2003’s Distant (which won the Grand Prix at Cannes), 2006’s Climates (a personal favorite of this programmer), and 2008’s Three Monkeys. His films take place over the course of dark nights and stormy days, during which men brandishing easily-bruised egos travel desolate roads in search of some personal truth that may or may not be found.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia takes Ceylan’s aesthetic to the next level, adding what at first appear to be film noir notes as a police convoy transports a confessed murderer to the scene of the crime. They’re making the trip to collect a misplaced corpse, and wry comedy begins to rear its head as the countryside proves maddeningly homogenous, especially at night, and the convoy continually fails to find the right field, the right tree, and the right stream by which the body should still be located. Meanwhile, the various characters along for the ride – several policemen, a chief, a medical examiner, a prosecutor, and the accused – deal with the evening’s monotony by gossiping and teasing each other, as well as trading trivial tips about food, drink, smoke, and other indulgences.
As the evening threatens to turn to morning, comparisons to Kafka and even Waiting for Godot feel apt. And yet these characters and these visuals could only come from one person. Ceylan has created a cinematic world all his own, and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia may be its most rewarding realization yet. (Eric Allen Hatch)
Turkey • 157 minutes • 35mm

TCHOUPITOULAS:

Non-fiction film can take many different forms, with the boundaries that define it continually expanding via the invigorating visions of a new crop of filmmakers. The Ross Brothers excel at re-staking the boundaries of the form. Rarely does one encounter as fresh and vital a non-fiction film as this epic odyssey of discovery through the New Orleans night.
Second-time feature directors Bill and Turner Ross (of the extraordinary 45365) show us NOLA as we’ve never seen it before. Three young brothers set out from their home on the outskirts of the city, on a quest to visit that city’s heart. Given their age and the fact that their neighborhood is geographically isolated from the city’s core by the Mississippi river, the downtown area has remained largely off-limits for exploration, until now. The three embark on a ferry ride across the river to explore this forbidden land, affording us the privilege of accompanying them as they discover the exotic and restless inner life of the city they call home.
Although documentary at its core, this film enters a realm usually inhabited by great literature and the finest of narrative filmmaking. It is an American adventure akin to those of great writers like Mark Twain, and one that also possesses a savvy modernism. With Tchoupitoulas, the Ross Brothers have crafted a poetic ode to a recovering city and its people. (J. Scott Braid)
U.S.A. • 80 minutes • digital

COME BACK, AFRICA
Hosted/Presented By: Amy Heller and Dennis Doros of Milestone Film & Video

This is a little gem that needs to be seen. 🙂

Zachariah (Zacharia Mgabi) is a black laborer with the simple goal of finding a job and bringing his family to the city. It’s 1959 in the black township of Sophiatown, and the racial-segregation policies of Apartheid permeate and stifle South African society. Zachariah’s uphill battle is compounded by convoluted permit requirements, leaving even sympathetic white employers reluctant to take a chance on him. He moves from the horror of the gold mines to construction work, spending his free time in the “shebeen,” semi-legal drinking spots where voices of dissent and the songs of Miriam Makeba are proudly heard.
The helplessness and frustration of Zachariah’s struggle is captured in a filmmaking style that’s been labeled “docu-fiction.” Director Lionel Rogosin (director of 1956’s On the Bowery and founder of Bleecker Street Cinema) cast non-professionals in key roles and creatively incorporated footage of miners at work, street musicians performing, and real citizens expressing social discontent. Rogosin and his South African collaborators duped the South African government into believing that their project was a commercial film about “happy Africans” singing and dancing. In so doing, they covertly created a beautiful and moving film about a culture at a pivotal point in the process of transforming itself.
Now vividly restored by Milestone Films, Come Back, Africa has earned accolades from such cultural figures as Harry Belafonte, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, and Charles Burnett. The breakthrough appearance of Miriam Makeba propelled her to international fame, and contributed to her being banned from South Africa for 30 years. (Eric Cotten)
U.S.A. / South Africa • 1959 • 85 Minutes • 35MM

V/H/S

We’ve been waiting to see this “scary movie” since it premiered at Sundance. It’s gotten great reviews and is a perfect horror film for a late Saturday night.
Made by a group of America’s most daring young directors,V/H/S frames its component films within an over-arching story of a group of petty criminals who are commissioned by a mysterious “client’ to retrieve an all-important VHS tape from an eerie house. After they break into the house, they find a cache of macabre home videos which they hope holds the tape they seek. As the larger group searches the house, several of the burglars take turns watching the videos. The tapes (each one comprising a segment of the film) mesmerize these ne’er do well viewers with gruesome footage of unspeakable acts, granting them unusual access to the darkest side of human nature. The initiation of each of the felons into this dark realm of spectatorship may hold dire consequences, beyond the potential legal wrangles for breaking and entering.

Each segment is thrilling on its own and proves even more so within the framework of the anthology. Each segment is thrilling on its own and proves even more so within the framework of the anthology. The over-arching story is directed by Adam Wingard (cinematographer of MFF 2011’s Art History), while one of the most wild and entertaining segments, The Strange Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger is directed by MFF uber-alum Joe Swanberg (director of MFF 2011’s Art History and Silver Bullets), working for the first time from a script which he did not author. Rounding out this chilling collection are 10/31/98 directed by the collective known as Radio Silence, Amateur Night directed by David Bruckner, Tuesday The 17th directed by Glenn McQuaid, and last but certainly not least Second Honeymoon by Ti West (The House of the Devil).
V/H/S is not just a fresh take on the omnibus film, it’s a generous helping of modern horror at its best. (J. Scott Braid)
U.S.A. • 115 minutes • digital

Sun Don’t Shine:

LOTS of buzz about this 16mm film. Here’s hoping it lives up to it!
Festival favorites Kentucker Audley (MFF 2011’s Bad Fever) and Kate Lyn Sheil (also of The Comedy, Empire Builder, and V/H/S, all screening within MFF 2012) star as a young couple pushed to the brink by extreme circumstances. As they drive through the sweat and murk of Florida, it becomes clear that they’re on the run—perhaps from their own miasma of ever-escalating jealousies and paranoia as much as from a shared terrible secret.

Every aspect of this production is top-notch, from the perpetual-motion-machine performances by Audley and Sheil to the moody and evocative 16mm cinematography. As with the beautifully abrasive provocations that are The Brown Bunny and Frownland, Sun Don’t Shine seems to spring simultaneously from some ecstatic 1970s cinema wasteland and the present-day vanguard, even as it mounts a winning case for its own timelessness. Recently revived cinema treasures like Zulawski’s Possession and Loden’s Wanda (John Waters’ pick for MFF 2012) are other rare anchors of orientation for this free and unfettered work.
Fresh from its world premiere at SXSW 2012, Sun Don’t Shine is a film that needs to be seen and discussed. (Eric Allen Hatch)
U.S.A. • 82 minutes • digital

Sunday:

The Black Balloon:

Ahhhh…Sunday morning couldn’t be any nicer thanks to this collection of shorts.
In a remarkably short period of time, Josh and Benny Safdie have built a rich and distinct body of work. Perhaps best known for Daddy Longlegs (MFF 2010), their films are characterized by a deep reverence for independent film history, wonderfully offbeat humor and characters, and an uncanny ability to capture on film the overpopulated bustle and rugged individualism that is New York City life.
All of these traits are very much at the fore for their sublime new short The Black Balloon, the story of a balloon accidentally set loose by its owner, launching a majestic and comic journey across a metropolis.
The Safdies have curated a program of classic, balloon-themed shorts, appropriate for all ages, that compliment their latest work. Included in this program are:

The Black Balloon (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2012, 21 minutes)
The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse, 1956, 34 minutes)
The Balloonatic (Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline, 1923, 22 minutes)
The Pincushion Man, a.k.a. Balloon Land (Ub Iwerks, 1935, 7 minutes)
Program Running time: APPROX. 84 Minutes • 35mm

Yeah. If there’s one thing the MDFF does that is truly awesome, it’s choosing a closing night film. Miss The Hurt Locker? We did and had to wait almost a year to see it on the big screen. This year looks to another a home run.

DARK HORSE

Directed By: Todd Solondz
Hosted/Presented By: Todd Solondz
Starring: Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Justin Bartha, Donna Murphy, Mary Joy

With two back-to-back masterpieces, Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) and Happiness (1998), Todd Solondz established himself as the new standard-bearer for American dark comedies—or, as he calls them, “sad comedies.” Bold, provocative, and hilarious, his body of work finds humor and insight in our deepest neuroses, pains, and misdeeds. With Dark Horse, Solondz has delivered not only his greatest film since those twin ‘90s classics, but his most accessible work yet.

Abe (Jordan Gelber), is a petulant and selfish man-child who, firmly on the far side of 30, still lives at home, working for his father and collecting toys. Deeply lonely yet full of blustery delusions of grandeur, Abe aggressively pursues troubled beauty Miranda (Selma Blair). In a moment of weakness, she goes along with his advances, built around his grandiose vision of a life together in his room full of collectibles. This stroke of good fortune surprises no one more than Abe’s long-suffering parents (a note-perfect pairing of Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken)—until, that is, things begin to unravel.

With great pride, Maryland Film Festival presents Dark Horse as its 2012 Closing Night selection. It’s a hilarious new vision from an American film master that playfully interacts with his earlier films even as it boldly paves new ground. (Eric Allen Hatch)

Whelp, that’s about it for us! Enjoy the fest and get your tix here! Support the Maryland Film Fest :).

Black Magic Warlocks…


photo by: a.b. moore

One of the city’s BEST new bands is Dee and Warlocks. We had the chance to catch up with the yung’uns awhile back before their Bell Foundry show. The interview is HERE.
Whelp, they’ve grown up! We HIGHLY recommend that you check out their album release party tnght at Golden West. We’re SO convinced that you’re going to like this show that it’s the only event we’re writing about today.
They’re teaming up with Baklavaa (who are also releasing an album), Big Mouth, and Human Host (another Gutter Fav!).
Don’t miss this. 🙂

Have some free samples!

Tix here:
http://sonartoo.thundertix.com/orders/new?performance_id=122555
or a fiver at the door.
Golden West Cafe
1105 W. 36th Street.
All ages.

The City That Breeds BEATBOTS Eat On This Quarterlife Party Shine Collective