Category Archives: Independent Feature

REVIEW: “THE INNOCENTS” (2022) IFC MIDNIGHT

There are films that sometimes just reach out and grab you in the most unexpected manor. “THE INNOCENTS” from Norwegian director Eskil Vogt is just that film. It is wildly creepy, slick horror with a fantasy and drama element thrown in. And it’s a film you will not soon forget. It’s based around four children – two sisters, along with a boy and a girl from the local neighborhood they move to.

The film begins with the two young girls moving into a new apartment complex with their parents during Summer break. As children do, they look for others to befriend and play with and soon the two girls meet other kids in the complex, when something strange starts to happen.
As these young children come together they come to realize they are ‘connected’ in a way that is both evil personified and good personified.

THE INNOCENTS –

Ida (Rakel Lenora Fløttum), is an adorable little girl and is the younger of the two sisters. Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad), Ida’s older sister is autistic and mostly non-verbal. At first, Ida seems like a troublemaker, as we see her pinch her sister, as if checking to see if she is for real as Anna doesn’t cry out or seem to notice the pain from it. For Ida, her sister represents competition for time with her parents, as their focus and energy is mostly spent dealing with Anna’s condition, Ida becomes sadly, sort of an afterthought as she doesn’t require the time and effort Anna does. But here in lies the delicacy of the wonderful acting by Fløttum as she is sublime at showing her character’s growth throughout the film. Then there is Ben (Sam Ashraf), a young boy from the complex and the first friend Ida meets. Ben is a myriad of complexities, with a mean streak driving his taste for violence and inflicting pain on others. Ashraf is absolutely haunting in this role. And lastly we have young Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim), the compass if you will, of the group of four and the youngest. She is also somehow the only person who can communicate with Anna at first. Together as a group, these children can be just that, children, or something much much more, and therein lies the chilling effects of this film. The four children play off of each other so phenomenally, which is pivotal, considering they are our main focus throughout the film.

As well, the film is beautifully shot, edited with good sound design, which helps the movie to reach and hold the viewers attention – and then some. The movie is relentless and does not hold back, as certain scenes may be too graphic – but also quite a punch in the gut for some viewers. What the most chilling aspect to watch is the children because as they become aware of their power and it grows, so does the tension within. The Innocents addresses some serious adult themes that we are aware are too grown-up for the small group of children thrown together to deal with, all unaware of the others markings, but it makes the film all the more suspenseful and disturbing.

THE INNOCENTS

Vogt mastery of combining drama, fantasy, and horror in a compelling way is completely on point here. The story being told isn’t one where kids are committing violence for no reason, it’s more in depth than that. It’s more about the fantasy world kids often live in and their lack of understanding when it comes to the very real consequences of their actions, should they ever be given powers beyond their years. As well, there is no big reveal ever on how the children obtained the powers, and honestly, the question never arose in my mind on that as it’s really not the purpose of the story. The purpose is what happens once they do have those abilities and how they act on them – more the good vs. evil tone and the fact that these children as actors, pull it all off while making their debut’s – is truly a piece of excellence in itself.

Grade: B+

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Review Screening: Courtesy of IFC MIDNIGHT

“THE INNOCENTS” IS NOW IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE AND VOD.

REVIEW: “HAPPENING” (2022) IFC FILMS

The past dictates our future in so many ways. So being somewhat traumatized by a film isn’t always a bad thing when that film is so important to whom you are as a person. And nothing could be more prevalent at this moment than Director Audrey Diwan’s film “HAPPENING” based on the semi-autobiographical novel from French novelist Annie Ernaux (originally entitled “L’Événement“). It’s speaks up from the past, not just telling us – but showing us all as well – the true brutality and horrors of what exists when women across the world lose their freedom of choice over their own body.

HAPPENING

The film takes us back in time to France in 1963, Abortion is illegal. Birth control is illegal. Told from the point of view of the main character Anne Duchesne (Anamaria Vartolomei), in close up and close quarters, we embark on this vivid, often hard to watch, journey with her.

Anne, Hélène (Luàna Bajrami), and Brigitte (Louise Orry-Diquéro), are college dorm-mates studying literature, and they are all getting ready to go to a dance. When they arrive, the room is full with men and women dancing though because of the times they are in, there is an undercurrent of having too much fun means you are loose or easy. In the weeks after the dance, we see Anne continually check if she has gotten her period and write “rien” meaning nothing, repeatedly in her diary. When her pregnancy is confirmed by the local doctor, she asks him to do something, but he declines and urges her not to speak about it. Later, as things are progressing and Anne is clearly slipping, she visits another doctor, who is supposedly sympathetic to her condition and prescribes a drug that will guarantee a miscarriage. She learns, however, much later, that the doctor lied to her and the drug is designed to actually strengthen the not yet formed fetus inside her.

HAPPENING

Anne’s friends through all of this present an array of reactions with Bridgette, the supposed more sexually liberated one, keeping her distance and instead it’s the usually quiet and shy Hélène who seems to be the more accepting and understanding of the two. Most surprisingly is Olivia (Louise Chevillotte), once Anne’s nemesis, steps up to the plate and proves to be vital ally when everything starts to spin out of control. The two become unexpectedly connected during a pivotal – and unforgettable scene that had me gripping my seat and squirming wanting to cover my eyes – but you can’t – because while traumatic, it is all to very real. 

While “Happening” depicts the very real story of a young girl who’s forced to make a very tough decision in a time where you didn’t have the freedom to choose, it’s director Audrey Diwan, whose choices here are so effective in making us live every single moment with Anne. She does a great job of depicting the social stigma and incredible secrecy Anne is forced to suffer through, just because she doesn’t want to let a baby dictate her life. You feel not just sad for her situation, but angry for what she is put through, and most of all, you root for her to find a way out before it’s too late, hopefully without any serious repercussions. The disillusionment she receives from her doctor and friends is upsetting to watch, not to mention she can’t even tell her family for fear of the shame it will bring.

The more weeks that pass by, the more stressed Anne gets and we the audience get as there is a sense of urgency throughout due to the spectacular performance of Anamaria Vartolomei. She conveys every single moment for you in such realism that there is almost a sense of relief when she finally gets to the back-alley abortion clinic after raising the money by selling her personal items – even though you clench your teeth, and squirm every which way in your seat, watching the painful procedure take place.

‘Happening‘ is a wake up call to us all as the film doesn’t lecture it’s non-believers. It simply, and effectively discredits them. What changed is that thousands of desperate women no longer died as the result of botched backstreet abortions and simply put – we can never go back there again.

Grade: B+

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Review Screening Friday, April 22, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Accolade PR

“HAPPENING” IS NOW IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE AND COMING TO VOD JUNE 21, 2022.

REVIEW: “Anaïs in Love” (2022) Magnolia Pictures

From the very moment we first see her on screen, it’s clear that Anaïs (Anaïs Demoustier), doesn’t have her life together. It’s also clear that that is exactly how director Charlene Bourgeois-Tacquet wants her lead character to be. Anaïs is a whirlwind on the screen, as it is the films running joke throughout that Anaïs is a frenetic girl who is habitually late to everything. She is late to appointments, late to school, late to parties, late to family functions, yet she is never out of breath while being late riding her bike to all these events. To continually make it clear, she is late with the rent on her Paris apartment, late with her University dissertation, and yes, late with her period. She is also late in telling her live-in boyfriend Raoul (Christophe Montenez), that because she is late taking her birth control as she ‘just forgot’ that she is pregnant. But somehow everyone from her landlord to her professor, all look past her seemingly carefree approach to real life as she talks her way out of all of it because, you guessed it, she is late and running off to the next thing that she is late for.

This is all cute and whimsical enough until, suffice to say the one thing she on time for is when she has her abortion. The problem here is how nonchalantly this is all noted as if having the abortion is just another blip in her day. This is supposed to be comedy and there was nothing funny about the way this is handled in the story. Abortion, as we all know, is a serious right, a right for a woman to make a choice. It is not however to be shown so dispassionately and be treated as though it’s just another form of birth control. That something so critical and important of an issue and decision is taken here, by a female director of all people, should’ve been handled with more aplomb instead of being made to look easy to do and be played off as if she is cool as a cucumber doing it. The film lost its comical ‘pretense’ then and there.

So it’s really no surprise then to see as the film goes on that Anaïs takes an older, married man Daniel (Denys Podalydes), whom she met as she was late to a dinner party, as her lover, He then turns it around and ends the affair by stating he doesn’t want his life to change. Anaïs as per usual, just shrugs it off and turns her attention to Daniel’s wife, Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi). Emilie is a famous author and Anaïs worms her way into Emilie’s life after reading her book, tracks her to Normandy, where she’s holding a symposium, even though she was hired and supposed to be helping at a completely different symposium in another town. Once again, she just abandons something dependable for something whimsical. In the midst of all this and without warning, the women begin a sexual relationship. It comes as a complete surprise as neither character had up until that point in the film, even the slightest bit any previous indications that this was even something that either of them was interested in. All the while this is going on, Anaïs is coming to terms with the return of her mother’s (Anne Canovas), liver cancer. While this isn’t an excuse for her bad behavior, it seems to be given as some sort of explanation for it all.

There is a lot lacking here in terms of it being a comedy at all and it lacks any sort of dramatic punch even with the side-story of her mothers cancer. Anaïs the character, is never concerned about what the outcome of her actions are, so neither are we. Anaïs Demoustier the actress, is beautiful and does well with what the character is supposed to be, it’s just not enough to make the film any better. This is essentially a movie about an thoughtless young woman, whose mother is dying of cancer, and who makes the lives of those around her unpleasant. And that just isn’t funny no matter which way you twist it.

Grade: D+

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Review Screening: Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“ANAIS IN LOVE” IS NOW IN THEATERS April 29, 2022 and VOD May 6, 2022.

REVIEW: “INBETWEEN GIRL” (2022) Utopia

There are times when watching films that you find a hidden gem amongst all the seemingly endless list of choices to watch. Director Mei Makino’s 2021 SXSW ‘Visions’ Award winner, “INBETWEEN GIRL” is just that gem.

The film is framed in a personal and unflinching manner than what one might expect. It is charming, raw, funny, and truly tackles teen-age romance and sexuality pretty head-on, but in a way that is realistic and mature. It’s all about Angie Chen (Emma Galbraith), a young, pretty Chinese-American girl attending an Episcopalian private school in Galveston, Texas with a flair for drawing. While she is friends with Liam (William Magnuson), the stereotypical school jock who all the girls adore, eyebrows and all, that’s seemingly all there is to it. He gives her rides home each day from soccer practice and they begin to get to know each other, with their friendship beginning to border on something more. Truthfully she could easily fall for him if not for his girlfriend, Sheryl (Emily Garrett), a model/social media influencer who ends up being her partner in a class project, becoming her friend as well, making things all the more complicated. You get a sense of where it’s headed but even still, Makino somehow makes it all feel fresh and full of energy and heart, as well as a learning experience of life.

The dramatic heart and center of the film, also come from her troubles at home as her newly divorced parents make things all the more confusing in Angie’s life. She is living with her mother Veronica (Liz Waters), a lawyer whom is always working, leaving Angie to fend for herself for things like meals, homework, and most notable, her social life. As well, she is feeling distanced from her father Fai (KaiChow Lau), whom she cherishes but seemingly has instantly found a new, better family already with Min (ShanShan Jin), and her daughter Fang (Thanh Phuong Bui). Both of whom speak her father’s native Mandarin dialect and with whom she feels replaced by.

Between the difficulties with her love life and her home life, Angie struggles to come of age as simply as one would expect. While there is a good deal of levity to break up the dramatic plots, there is a natural charm and heartfelt good nature about the film that overcomes any small shortcomings it might have. It’s a winning little film that is beautifully told and acted as Emma Galbraith is a breath of fresh air to this role, that is rarely ever played by someone of mixed race, but she proves there should be more. Even our manipulating cad of a male lead – William Magnuson, puts a star next to his performance here.

This film so deserves to find an audience that will fall in love with this tale we’ve heard before, but truly told in it’s own angsty manner of everything facing a teenage girl. The mistakes, family, drama, happiness, and friendships that shape us into who we are. The film as well, explores the relationships between having a Chinese father/American mother – and how difficult your heritage can be to navigate when that family unit splits. This is one film that no one should miss!

Grade: B+

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Review screener: Courtesy of Caitlyn Hughes PR

You can stream Mei Makino’s Inbetween Girl” on major VOD services beginning on May 3.

SXSW REVIEW: “THE COW” (2022)

Winona Ryder is truly at some of her best here in Eli Horowitz’s “THE COW“. Along with Dermot Mulroney in this rather fun “genetic” little mystery thriller, that twists along to an ending you’d never quite think of. While it’s not without it’s problems, it is still just simple fun.

With a film title has nothing to do with the animal it’s named after, the story follows Kath (Winona Ryder), and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher Jr.), as they arrive at a remote cabin in the redwoods and mysteriously discover it already occupied by a younger couple, one Greta (Brianne Tju) and one Al (Owen Teague). The question of why is answered quickly as it’s clear the rental has already been double-booked, so neither couple has anywhere else to go, with Kath and Max being quickly invited to stay ‘just one night’.

And the mystery only deepens when she wakes up to find out Max just up and disappeared with Greta, and a broken up Al is the one to tell her the next day. Kath goes home, but randomly becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of their sudden breakup – but will learning the truth be worse than she could ever imagine? Yes, yes it can. See what we end up finding out is the ever so important backstory. Kath is older than Max, by 10 to 15 years, as well, Kath is insecure about herself, and being in a relationship with a younger man has made her even more doubtful of her attractiveness, as we see her examining the wrinkles on her face.  On the other hand, Max isn’t very mature for his age, doesn’t even do the most basic of things like drive, and seems to be out of place at a dinner party with Kath’s friends. Turns out, the trip to the woods was an attempt by Max to keep Kath showing her he CAN be the guy for her, and for Kath to keep Max, showing him that she can be adventurous. Which speaks volumes about what is to happen later as she ends up meeting Nicholas (Dermot Mulroney), the man who actually owns the cabin, on her attempt to find out who Greta really is. While similar in age, and while he might be somewhat of a recluse, Nicholas clearly also has his life together, although as we soon find out, not in exactly the way we thought he did. 

While the film continues on with twists and turns, not all of them come off as one is not sure if this film is every going to go horror on them, or continue on the path it seems to be heading of everything relying on that one fateful night. Honestly, all the credit here goes to Ryder for pulling the bizarre middle and ending twist off, as without her, Tju and Teague, making those twists from left field that keep you engaged in this mystery ride along with Kath wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable. That they can keep you on your toes guessing, even questioning her end-result intentions till the very last moment, is the point of all of it. Without them, this would not be the clever thriller that it is – even with it’s faults on display – they help pull it off.

Having just been picked up by Vertical Entertainment, the film is set to release later this year. Don’t miss it.

Grade: C+

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SXSW REVIEW: “SERIOUSLY RED” (2022) Roadshow Films

“It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World” – Dolly Parton

Director Gracie Otto makes a bold choice and opens her film “SERIOUSLY RED”, with a terrific and unorthodox lead into to her main character, Raylene or “Red” (Krew Boylan), as we come to know her. She captures her sitting in the bathtub while on a real estate client call, drinking a glass of wine with ice in it. The call reflects this perfectly, and it is as well, the perfect introduction to a character and story that will take us down so many different roads of life as we watch, often predicting what will happen before we see it.

The aptly named Red – due to the gorgeous red hair she was born with, has been fixated on one celebrity in particular her whole life – Dolly Parton. The obsession rolls to the point of going to her company awards banquet dressed as Dolly, which in turn leads to a karaoke performance one will not soon forget. But deep down, Red is a woman with low self-esteem, thanks in part sadly due to her mother Viv (Jean Kittson), with whom she can’t seem to please. Red has pursued this, that and the other, her whole life, with nothing being truly successful in any of them, and can now add Real Estate to that list of things, as she gets fired. But within this crazy evening Red has discovered the world of impersonators, in no thanks to a fantastic Elvis (Rose Byrne), and set’s off to pursue her dream of becoming a Dolly Parton impersonator.

After meeting a talent scout Teeth (Celeste Barber), who has a story about her own name that needs to be heard to be believed, the rest of story follows Red as she first discovers this whole new world of messy artist impersonators. She goes full tilt when meeting Wilson (Bobby Cannavale), who himself was once a Neil Diamond impersonator, and still looks it. Red hits it hard going from a fair, homemade karaoke singer to actually fully immersing herself into Dolly, and not just the big wig, heavy make-up, and frilly costumes, but to some darned fine singing as well. She takes it one step further and falls in love with a Kenny Rogers impersonator named, if you want to believe him, Kenny (Daniel Webber). Losing herself completely though is costly and not just for the implants she gets as well, but for the loss of one of her truest childhood friends, Francis (Thomas Campbell), as he begins to question her losing any identity of her actual self.

But oh this journey is fun at moments, it’s exciting, it’s hard, it’s sad and it’s so heartfelt as you really get a good look inside this entire world of impersonators. With it always being said celebrities have influence, you see just how it can be fun, but also how it can go completely overboard and overblown in someone’s life. The acting here is sublime by Boylan who hasn’t been seen much out of her home country of Australia and note is given here to the native lands and those whom live on them by her as well. As well as acting, Boylan wrote the screenplay, got Rose Byrne to do an amazing Elvis, and Bobby Cannavale, while being the only American in the film, belts out an “I Am.. I Said” as Neil Diamond that will have you up and singing along.

At the end, Red will also reflect on her own life choices, learn to trust herself, and find her way through her crazy journey of life. ‘Seriously Red’ is a story with heart and soul threading throughout it’s journey – it’s fun along with being an oh-so-charming of a watch. And remember to always ALWAYS: “Be Yourself Because Everyone is taken.” – Dolly Parton

Grade: B+

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SXSW REVIEW: “I LOVE MY DAD” (2022)

“The following actually happened. My Dad asked me to tell you it didn’t.”

One thing I can honestly tell you going into SXSW Film Festival is, I didn’t expect to utter the words, “Patton Oswalt is in the best film I’ve seen from the festival so far”. But alas, here I am with “I LOVE MY DAD”, from first time writer/director James Morosini – who picks up the co-lead role as well, which makes sense as it’s his story that is being told, though as noted by the opening credit quote, his dad says it never did. And away we go on one of the most entertaining road trip comedies to come along in some time.

The story opens with Franklin (James Morosini), leaving a mental health institution having gone through a treatment program after a suicide attempt, leaving his mother Diane (Amy Landecker), overtly concerned about his well-being. While in group therapy, Franklin decided to set some “emotional boundaries” for himself, with the very first one being with his father, Chuck (Patton Oswalt). Chuck has always been a distanced dad in Franklin’s life, one who calls or posts on his sons social media sites, but always missing the big moments from his life leaving Franklin to have always felt he doesn’t care. So Franklin does what we all do when we ‘break up’ with someone, he blocks his father on social media and his phone, which in turn, freaks his dad out once he realizes what has happened.

From there what takes place can only be believed if it is seen as Chuck, feeling left out of his sons life, becomes “Becca” played wonderfully by Claudia Sulewski, a local waitress from the diner in town. Setting up a in ‘real life’ relationship with his own son, knowing well before hand, it’s not going to end well. But before you know it, there he is, driving his son to Maine to meet his dream girl all the while digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole as the trip progresses. You might ask yourself what kind of person would do this – yet alone to their own son – well that is what makes the story here as if there ever was an award for ‘worst dad ever’, then we would have a strong candidate for the winner right here with Chuck.

Of course, there must be some liberties taken as Morosini handles the story with aplomb in the way he dictates the pace, taking it to various levels and making it all the more uncomfortable for his father character along the way. With the adding of catfish lies, the discomfort level raises both comedically adding a tense, crazy suspense, knowing the outcome here is going to be brutal. The weaving in of wonderfully filmed sequences wherein it’s like Becca and him are together, with the bringing text sequences to life, only adds to this.

In the end, the success of this entire film is brought down on it’s leads with a lot of us forgetting that Patton Oswalt is not just a stand up comedian, but can really act, including myself as told in the opening lines here, but then you remember ‘United States of Tara’ or ‘Justified’ and it all comes back to you. As for Morosini, he is gold here – not just doing double duty, but triple duty and it all comes to fruition. Add in a great supporting cast of Lil Rey Howery as Chuck’s friend Jimmy, who tries to tell him how wrong what he is doing really is, and his kinda girlfriend Erica, the always wonderful Rachel Dratch, and you’ve got yourself the Grand Jury Prize winner for Narrative Feature as SXSW Film Festival folks.

Grade: A-

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REVIEW: “TED K” (2022) Super LTD

One questions always arises as you begin to watch what might seem like another movie about a someone who did so much harm to so many. In essence, Ted Kaczynski was one of America’s first ‘domestic terrorists’. “TED K” is the latest in a slew of films based on one of America’s worst and longest active domestic terrorists. The film by co-writer/director Tony Stone’s biography of Ted Kaczynski, was known during the decades-long manhunt for him as “the Unabomber,” portrays him as a mathematical genius of a man whose idea that the outside world is encroaching on him and he has had enough, a self-perceived righteousness so to speak, to enable him to take action against everything and everyone who contributed to this.

Ted K’ begins with a prologue of basic details, most of what we already know – Kaczynski was a Harvard educated math genius who dropped out of society and moved to the Rocky Mountains in Lincoln, Montana, which as we know, is home to many of these nationalists groups and there has been found evidence that Montana was once selected “for the development of a white Aryan homeland to be used as a base of operation”. So it should come as no surprise this is where Ted picked to live off the grid. Following that, the opening sequence sets the stage as we see Kaczynski hiding in the forest while loggers tear down the forest around him, snow mobiles whiz by with vacationers on them – all feeding his imagination that modern technology, will be the end of humanity as it is and feels this is so wrong, that even though he wants no part of it, he finds himself bowing to it to carry out his ‘ideals’. All the while, trying to convince as many people as he can of the same philosophy.

That’s how the movie’s Ted Kaczynski, is played here by Sharlto Copley. But therein lies the danger here in doing this as Copley is actually so good at points, that the movie approaches the thin line of romanticizing not just the man, but in an odd way, what he stood for as well as you can’t deny some of his predictions ring with a bit of truth in today’s world. So instead of seeing him as the monster he was, you look at him as a flawed human being – when that is just not the case, but it is good acting. The showing of who this man is, how he holds grudges, erupts in rages to everyone from the phone company to verbally abusing his family, all the while begging them to send some money his way. For Ted it seems it was always someone else’s fault for what happens to him in life, and that, more than any of his crazy demands in his 25,000 word manifesto of which this film is based primarily upon, is what defines the man. The deluded thoughts of a man who considered modern technology to be evil and used a hit list to identify the targets for his homemade bombs – bombs by the way, that often injured unintended victims and not his intended targets.

And so it comes to the conclusion that we already know, but that still rings hard with the fact that under the threat bombing of another target, his manifesto makes it to the pages of the Washington Post, therein leading to his downfall after the longest manhunt in history, betrayed I’m sure in his own delusional mind, by his brother who recognized the writings. And so brings us to the end of this long chapter in life, sadly we were to see many more domestic terrorists come to fruition, and even just recently, almost lost our country to them – and maybe that is why it is important to sometimes still watch a film like this. Superbly acted, but also to keep us aware that all amongst us are not with us.

In the end, Ted was just a sexually frustrated misogynist who became a dysfunctional, delusional and dangerous man. Sadly, he won’t be the last.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“TED K” premieres exclusively in theaters Friday, February 18, 2022

REVIEW: “A TASTE OF HUNGER” (2022) Magnolia Pictures

Heading into Danish director Christoffer Boe’s latest film “A TASTE OF HUNGER”, I had more of a picture in my head of the 1990’s film ‘Big Night’ where the focus of the film was basically making food and making the audience drool over it, while having an almost comedic backstory to boot. This film came close in some ways, but not quite in the same manner.

Here in a different take on a chef’s story, Carsten (Nikoaj Coster-Waldau) has been working for 10 years to build up his small restaurant Malus, in Copenhagen with the only goal being that of earning the oh-so-rare and coveted Michelin star. His wife, Maggi (Katrine Gries-Rosenthal), is his partner in life as well as in business. We see how committed to the cause they are, and while they appear to have a solid marriage and are decent parents, it’s clear the kids and the family are not the priority in that as the quest for that rare restaurant star is. Maggi is at the point of looking outside her marriage for affection with another chef from a competing restaurant, which her young daughter Chloe (Flora Augusta) completely notices and their son August (August Vinkel), has an episode where he randomly wanders off and goes missing due to lack of attention from his parents.

A Movie by Hr. Boe Zentropa

All this deflects from the true story at hand here, again, obtaining the Michelin star, and we watch as Carsten goes through some true Ludo Lefebvre type rages that is seemingly popular amongst chefs to do. But instead of following that trend, we get taken into some really delicious and delicate food porn scenery. It’s beautiful to see such flair given here in the details with each dish being shown in it’s carefully arranged and perfectly cooked manner. The acting portrays the deep desire that every chef has to create a dish that the customer would never forget, as one can almost smell all of the delicious food, as if the scent of sautéed oyster, cooked octopus, and fermented lemons are wafting through the screen right into you. It also conveys what it really means to achieve this prized star for your restaurant as a whole. In essence, their entire life rides on it and while some might think it’s just food, it’s clear to not just Carsten and Maggi, but to their friends who join them while waiting to hear – one in particular Torben (Nicolas Bro), shows how important it is even to him.

While the story isn’t perfect here, it is the opening scenes that are truly the most beautiful to set the tone of the movie with the sequence of beautifully presented food and the music create an enthralling introduction to the movie. Yes, the mish-mash of back and forth flashbacks of the family’s decline into unhappiness might not be all that one wants to watch, but it does let you know why things are happening. As with all families, not everything is what it seems on the outside, but it does take away some from the true point of this film.

So while the food portion of this film will definitely cleanse your palette, the story as a whole might lead you straight into dessert, even with all ending as it does. But it’s definitely worth a taste.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“A TASTE OF HUNGER” hits theaters and on demand Friday, January 28, 2022

REVIEW: C’MON C’MON (2021) A24

In “C’mon C’mon” we find Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix), a middle-aged, single man who works as a radio journalist based in New York. His job consists of him interviewing young kids from across the country, about their lives, families, their surroundings and most importantly, what they think about the future. Johnny also has a bit of a family problem as he hasn’t spoken to his sister Viv (Gaby Hoffman). since their mother passed away. Viv herself is in the midst of dealing with her ex-husband Paul (Scoot McNairy), who is in and out of mental institutions and she struggles to balance helping him out while taking care of their son Jesse (Woody Norman). Paul is in the middle of a bi-polar mental crisis and Viv asks Johnny if he can come care for Jesse, while she goes to help Paul, even though he really doesn’t know his nephew all that well.

This is where the story takes off as Johnny first comes out to Los Angeles to help, but then because he has to work he decides to take Jesse on a tour and have him help interview the kids. It seems a little far fetched because it is, but you can’t deny the bond that forms between Johnny and Jesse. Their relationship is what is central to the film and rolls from one conversation to another, sometimes about subjects that almost make Jesse seem annoying, but again, kids think and process differently than adults, so it comes across as more loving. As they travel across from New York to New Orleans, they both start discovering different sides to themselves, with Jesse clearly looking up to Johnny as fatherly, even though he loses him not once, but twice in crowds, and realizing parenting is not a simple thing. It helps them grow into better people and even changes their entire outlook on life.

In an odd way, this could almost be considered a ‘buddy’ movie with Joaquin Phoenix playing this role quite effortlessly and while everyone is giving him the kudos on acting, for me Woody Norman is the standout holding his own against the powerhouse of Phoenix’s acting prow-ness. Norman plays Jesse as a very insightful nine-year-old boy who acts as a perfect counterweight to his uncle Johnny, and deserves probably even more of a look-see that Phoenix does. Again, though this duo quite incredible together as it’s clear they have good chemistry, and succeed in making everything feel somewhat genuine and sincere. While Gaby Hoffman has to play 90% of her scenes talking into an iPhone, maybe writer/director Mike Mills is trying to make a point about how we communicate today and the lack on in person speaking anymore, even about important issues like what’s happening here.

Drawbacks that came to mind was the black and white style of filming does take away from it a bit as it makes all the cities seem alike in a way, which takes some away from the point of traveling and being in different ones. As well, on a different note for instance, when they are on the beach in Santa Monica – that exact scene was done in ‘HER’, replacing the phone girlfriend with a child, and It was strange to me. There were many lovely moments, but also hard to connect to moments for me as well as while the film shows a true slice of life, it was also somewhat repetitive in nature.

Wrapping up, there will be some who probably won’t relate to the film, but even if that’s the case, the film gives a lot to think about in so many different ways and the acting goes a long way into making it something more – especially the ending monologue from Phoenix.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening ~ Tuesday, November 16, 2021 Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“C’MON C’MON” from A24 is in limited release in LA/NYC beginning on November 19, 2021