SXSW Exclusive Review: For Madmen Only

Although many people know the names and the faces of the best comedians in the industry, there’s one that’s more impactful to comedy than any of them and yet his name has somehow flown under the radar of the public eye – his name is Del Close. With her latest documentary, "For Madmen Only", director Heather Ross looks to delve into Close’s influence and the methods and madness that sparked a new kind of comedic art form.

GFF Exclusive Review: How to Build a Girl

Closing the 2020 Glasgow Film Festival is Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s “How to Build a Girl” (2019). With a festival that has produced so many great new films by female filmmakers and has advocated diversity in cinema since its inception, it’s appropriate to have the closing film concern the journey of a maturing young woman - the building of a girl if you will. The end result film that is flawed, but nonetheless mature and fun. Beanie Feldstein is one of the most delightful people walking the earth right now, and her role in this film continues to prove this. Putting on a surprisingly good Warwickshire accent, she is Johanna Morigan, a sixth former who aspires to great things, looking to her wall of heroes - including Jo March, Maria von Trapp and Karl Marx - for guidance. A skilled writer, she submits a review for the “Annie” soundtrack at a weekly music magazine to buy back the family TV. Though initially baffled by this, the magazine eventually hires Johanna where Johanna dons the pen name Dolly Wilde to take her sudden new career to new, and life learning, heights.

SXSW Exclusive Review: An Elephant in the Room

The death of a loved one is difficult. As a child, losing a loved one such as a parent or sibling seems unimaginable. Childhood can be confusing in itself. Death, whether it is expected or not, is never easy. Death is something adults find dreadful, but we understand it is inevitable. How does any person deal with loss and grief? No one can ever prepare for how they will react to the loss of a loved one until it happens. Every person is different. Most adults go through stages of grief, some never confront those feelings for the rest of their lives. However, children barely understand what living is—let alone death.

SXSW Exclusive Review: Red Heaven

One can almost guarantee that NASA, along with the filmmakers and subjects of this documentary, “Red Heaven” (2020), would have never guessed how relevant the content they captured would be during these quarantine times the world is currently facing. Right now, almost the entire population is experiencing—at the very least—anything from social distancing or full isolation due to the global pandemic, COVID-19. People are staying in their homes away from the rest of the world to try to stop the spread of the virus. “Red Heaven” is a different type of isolation story: imagine if MTV’s The Real World took place next to a volcano in Hawaii: six scientists picked to live in a small dome, work together and collect data for NASA to help send astronauts to Mars someday. 

SXSW Exclusive Review: Waffle

Ah, the joys of a sleepover party with your BFF! "Waffle" is a fun take on the sleepover/slumber party chick-flick film, it's deliciously dark and a wonderfully amusing short film that leaves you aching for more. With "Waffle" director Carlyn Hudson and writers, Kerry Barker and Katie Marovitch examine how fractured we have become as a society and how we crave affection from others, the film looks at the lengths some people will go in order to gain friendship and the how a seemingly ordinary girls night can quickly escalate into a full-blown nightmare. The film opens with what appears to be a very normal situation, two young women dressed in pyjamas, sat on the sofa drinking wine. The two women are Kerry (Barker) and the socially awkward, mysteriously orphaned heiress Katie (Marovitch). Already things appear off when Katie gets angry with Kerry for retelling a story incorrectly, and when a timer suddenly goes off it becomes clear that Katie and Kerry are not really friends. Katie is using an 'Uber-like' service where she has hired Kerry to be her friend.

Sundance Exclusive Review: The GoGo’s

"The GoGo's" is a documentary following the all-female rock band from the 1980s who wrote and played their own songs. They were also the first all-woman band to be managed by a woman. Told from the GoGo's themselves (the original members and the current ones too), this documentary dives into the beginnings, hits, highs, lows, their disintegration, and their comeback.

Berlinale Exclusive Review: Yalda, la Nuit du Pardon (Yalda, a Night For Forgiveness)

The shocking premise of this Sundance-winning film is compelling. Director Massoud Bakhshi's second feature "Yalda, la Nuit du Pardon" ("Yalda, a Night For Forgiveness") shows a woman who must beg for forgiveness on live television or face the death penalty for the accidental murder of her much older husband. It has the hallmarks of a thrilling story, just rife for the big screen. But unfortunately, there was too much in here that was convoluted or contrived and the drama fizzled out as a result. Maryam (Sadaf Asgari) is the 26-year-old wife (temporary wife) who accidentally killed her 65-year-old husband during an argument.

SXSW Exclusive Review: The Carnivores

Writer/director Caleb Johnson’s sophomore effort, "The Carnivores", has a lot of strong intrigue, allure, and character to entrance viewers into its strange story of how man’s best friend is dividing a couple and making one of them oddly obsessed with raw meat. The film follows Alice (Tallie Medel) and Brett (Lindsay Burdge) as they are divided by Brett’s dog Harvie as his illness is causing him to slowly die. Although Brett wants to spend every last second with him since she feels she has so much history with him, Alice feels like he’s ruining everything. With Brett pretty much being obsessed with Harvie, Alice is starting to feel left out and it’s causing a major rift in their intimacy and love for one another. However, after Alice’s sleepwalking and her issues with Harvie come to a head, Harvie goes missing and the two women begin to uncover strange, beautiful, and even horrifying parts of one another.

Mini Review: Hava, Maryam, Ayesha

“Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” is a film about the everyday struggles of three Afghan women – specifically in relation to patriarchy, marriage and pregnancy – directed and co-written by fellow Afghan woman Sahraa Karimi. In its opening section, focusing on Hava (played by Arezoo Ariapoor), the film makes its focus on the everyday very clear with a documentary-like realism. A frequently handheld camera that shows the routines and chores Hava spends her days performing in full, unbroken takes. Her laboured, exhausted breathing makes up a large part of the film’s soundscape in this segment as she is belittled by the men around her and treated like a disrespected employee rather than a family member.

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