Review: Banana Split

“Wait, which Sprouse is this?” I asked myself as “Banana Split” began. The Sprouse in question here is Dylan--brother of Cole Sprouse (as seen on Netflix’s Riverdale); one of two twins who’ve left their Disney days behind. The Sprouse brother here plays Nick, yer typical high school beach blonde with long hair and a toned physique. This tale begins with him and his best friend, April (Hannah Marks); they instantaneously mutually decide to take their friendship to the next level. Within the film’s first two minutes, you see it all: their first date, their first fight, the first time they have sex (if seeing Zack Martin of “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” in a sex scene served as a reminder of how old you’ve gotten: welcome to the club, I’m here for you), and their eventual breakup.

Women’s History Month: Frances Marion

In this day and age female screenwriters still face barriers within the film industry. In fact, a study conducted in 2017 found that women represented just 11 per cent of the writers on the United States’ top 250 films. They fared a little better in the world of Television, where they made up 33 per cent of television writers during the States’ 2016-17 season. One has to wonder what the great screenwriter Frances Marion would have to say about these figures. There's a high chance that you haven't heard of Marion, but her screenwriting attributes have had a long-lasting impact on cinema and helped shaped the language of storytelling on the big screen. She wrote the stories and scenarios for over three hundred films in a career that spans from early days of cinema and into the sound era. Her work earned her two Academy Awards for screenwriting.

Interview: “Lost Transmissions” director Katharine O’Brien

Moving drama "Lost Transmissions" (2020) is Katharine O'Brien's debut feature about one man's struggle with schizophrenia in a healthcare system ill-equipped to help. Theo (Simon Pegg) is a music producer who stops taking his medication and begins a rapid downward spiral, losing grip on reality and getting into increasingly dangerous situations. His friend Hannah (Juno Temple) chases him through LA and psychiatric institutions to try to get him the support he needs but is thwarted by an inadequate healthcare system. Based on writer-director Katharine O'Brien's experiences of trying to support her own friend who went off his medication, the film is deeply affecting. It highlights the difficulties that people suffering from mental health conditions, and their loved ones face. I spoke with Katharine at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020.

5 Must Read Books About Female Filmmakers

Happy International Women's Day everyone! In order to celebrate the day why not grab one of these books and curl up on the sofa with a nice glass of wine, or a beverage of your choice. We hope you'll find these books to be a fascinating read and will lead you to discover work by female filmmakers from the present and the past.

GFF Exclusive Review: Papicha

In this debut feature by director Mounia Meddour, “Papicha” (2019) is about Algerian girls in the late 1990s trying to cling to freedom and self expression during a rise of an extremely conservative Islamic fundamentalism that literally threatens their lives. Nedjma (Lyna Khoudri) lives and studies at a women’s university where there is a culture of sisterhood and fun. The girls sneak out to go drinking and dancing at night, are boisterous and play practical jokes. They’re mostly carefree but cautious of having to lie to police and cover their heads if they are stopped. She loves fashion and is constantly sketching new ideas and making clothes for her peers, selling them out of a nightclub bathroom.

Mari Sandoz: Keeper of the Flame for Native American History

When an artist creates a body of work, they will sometimes look back to assess what they have done. John Ford was near the end of his career and apparently wasn’t completely proud of what his oeuvre consisted of. Most egregious was the way his Western films depicted Native Americans as villains who deserved to be killed and their lands confiscated. His shot at redemption came through a remarkable woman named Mari Sandoz who had written a strongly researched book titled, Cheyenne Autumn. Mari grew up hearing the stories of the suffering of the Native American people through friends, neighbors and visitors to her family farm in Nebraska in the early 1900’s. Her relationship with her father was difficult but she wrote a very well received biography about him after his death. Her research into his life brought back the memories of the members of the Cheyenne tribe who were his friends.

Retrospective Review: “Cam”

Doused in colorful lighting, Lola (Madeline Brewer) sits in front of a webcam with a knife in hand. She raises the knife to her throat and carefully presses down, releasing fake blood that flows down her front. Lola’s fans go wild, tuning in to more of her shows and sending her tips. Lola, who goes by Alice off-cam, is thrilled — she’s moving up the ranks of the livestreaming site thanks to her hard work crafting unique and exhilarating shows like the fake suicide show. With her newfound success, Alice continues to set up eye-catching shows to move further up the ranks. Another cam girl gets in her way, though. And she looks freakishly similar to Lola/Alice. The film takes a quick turn into psychological horror territory as Alice embarks on a mission to find the doppelganger and get to the bottom of things. 

Review: Stray

By Jenni Holtz

Nena Eskridge’s “Stray” (2015) tackles the aftermath of trauma and the ongoing pain that infiltrates Jennifer’s life even after she tries to start again. The micro-budget psychological thriller is an unusual story of the not-so-pretty effects of abuse. With the limited resources it had, “Stray” still manages to be a thought-provoking thriller with strong performances.

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