SLAM22 REVIEW: Honeycomb [2022]

Do not come looking. Tired of always waiting to see what the boys want to do, five teenage girls during the summer between high school and college decide to take matters into their own hands. Why should they waste so much time playing second fiddle to Emmett (Emmett Roiko) and company’s immaturity? Why blindly accept the demands bestowed upon them by their parents through part-time jobs and curfews? Maybe they only did those things to begin with because they had no other choice. So, when Willow (Sophie Bawks-Smith) invites the…

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SUNDANCE22 REVIEW: Palm Trees and Power Lines [2022]

Don’t murder me, okay? It starts with a quick glance and a wink. Tom (Jonathan Tucker) sees that it’s a teenager looking his way when he does it. He knows he might have even made seventeen-year-old Lea’s (Lily McInerny) day by acknowledging her lusting over him with reciprocated approval. What happens next, however, is pure luck. Yes, he was surely waiting outside the diner in his truck to stalk her on the off chance she became isolated from her friends, but an opportunity to save the day couldn’t have happened…

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SUNDANCE22 REVIEW: Something in the Dirt [2022]

You can only fall so fast. Directors Justin Benson (who also writes) and Aaron Moorhead go back to their roots with a lo-fi, (mostly) single locale sci-fi similar to their debut feature Resolution. Rather than a cabin in the woods, however, Something in the Dirt takes place within a cheap, lease-free, sight-unseen Los Angeles apartment. The tenant is a long-time area bartender named Levi (Benson) who’s hoping to jump ship and leave the city after his pursuit of something meaningful left him with only frustration. It’s within walking distance to…

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SUNDANCE22 REVIEW: Alice [2022]

Don’t you see it? I wonder what the marketing push for Krystin Ver Linden‘s Alice would have looked like if Antebellum hadn’t already arrived on the scene first. Both films deal with the juxtaposition of slavery and our modern world in a similar way and yet the latter intentionally shielded its truth as a twist while the former exposes it as the point. Rather than deflect and/or deceive, this film’s campaign and synopsis have very clearly revealed that it does not take place during the 1800s. They do so by…

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SUNDANCE22 REVIEW: Master [2022]

You can’t get away from it. There’s a great comical interlude about halfway through Mariama Diallo‘s feature debut Master wherein a practically all-white New England university puts together an advertisement for a newly formed “alliance for inclusion.” In it are the only two Black teachers at the school and two or three POC students that we’ve never seen until that moment. They talk about the initiative as if it’s some grand idea that will stop racism in its tracks despite a literal cross burning occurring mere days earlier. They talk…

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Posterized Propaganda January 2022: The Top 10 Movie Posters of 2021

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column (with a special year-end retrospective today) focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. If my shortlist for this piece is any indication, Hollywood adjusted to COVID just fine. I’ve put aside an average of 60-70 posters every…

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DOCNYC21 REVIEW: Adrienne [2021]

I wasn’t supposed to find her dead. I hadn’t seen any of Adrienne Shelly‘s work at the time of her death, but you couldn’t follow the film world in 2006 without hearing about what happened. The news sites latched onto the assumption of suicide early on only to discover what happened was murder—the culprit found, arrested, and confessed shortly afterwards. And amidst that tragic whirlwind during the final two months of that year, Shelly’s latest film as writer/director/star, Waitress, was in submission at Sundance. It would eventually bow at the…

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DOCNYC21 REVIEW: Messwood [2021]

Kids win. Coaches lose. You can’t avoid questions about race when you’re talking about a situation such as that at the center of Emily Kuester and Brad Lichtenstein‘s documentary Messwood. The title is the name that was coined when two high schools a mile apart on the same street separated by a stream joined forces to field a competitive football team. Shorewood High is predominately white and bolstered by the highest median income level in Milwaukee. Messmer High is predominately Black and saddled with a student body that can barely…

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BIFF21 REVIEW: Catch the Fair One [2021]

You wish it was me on that wall. Kaylee (Kali Reis) hasn’t fought much since her sister Weeta disappeared two years ago. She’s waiting tables at a diner and sleeping in a shelter now, estranged from her mother (Kimberly Guerrero‘s Jaya) and really only in touch with her trainer/friend Brick (Shelly Vincent). The latter is with her at the beginning, taping her hands up to ready for a boxing match. We don’t see it, though, and don’t know who it is against. This is intentional because it may not have…

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BIFF21 REVIEW: Landlocked [2021]

I don’t want to mess this up. Nick’s (Dustin Gooch) mother just passed away. One more source of stress to go along with marriage, parenthood, and the reality that a year of not taking a paycheck is about to end with the opening of his own restaurant. You can’t blame him for being scatterbrained and temperamental, but something about the way he’s internalizing his anxiety seems off. His wife Abby (Ashlee Heath) calls him out on it too. She knows the pressure he’s facing and what the future holds for…

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BIFF21 REVIEW: Cólera Morbo [Rage] [2021]

The crow never forgets. Everyone collided one fateful day in 1993. Beatriz (Liseth Delgado) and Lizeth (Karen Osorio) left school and cheered up sad little Mateo (Sebastián Carreño) before a speeding car passed and crashed a few feet away. Engulfed in flames, the driver (Carlos Fernando Pérez‘s Carlos Cota) screamed as he fought to escape the wreckage. The teens ran to the burning man to suppress the fire with their jackets, saving him until an ambulance could arrive. It was a harrowing moment captured on a roll of film inside…

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