Fantasia Festival Review: The Oak Room

Taking viewers to the grim Canadian backwoods for some tense bar talk, director Cody Calahan and writer Peter Genoway come together to create a killer thriller with “The Oak Room”.

Set against the backdrop of a frigid blizzard, the film follows an even colder relationship as Stevie (RJ Mitte) returns home after being a drifter for some time in order to collect the remains of his father (Nicolas Campbell) from an angry bartender named Paul (Peter Outerbridge). Paul was best friends with Stevie’s father, Gordon, and was forced to take care of his funeral arrangements and cremation since Stevie was out “drifting” and never came back for the funeral. Even worse is that Stevie can only repay the major debt that he owes to Paul with a story. So, as he starts to tell his story about two men at a bar called “The Oak Room”, the details and meaning of the story start to resonate with Paul in a way that turns the night into a dark tale of mistrust that leads to shocking and violent conclusions. Continue reading Fantasia Festival Review: The Oak Room

Fantasia Festival Review: Climate of the Hunter

The newest film from veteran indie auteur Mickey Reece, “Climate of the Hunter”, is a vintage vampiric horror story set fittingly in a cabin in the woods and right between a feud between two sisters.

The film takes us into the reunion between three longtime friends at a vacation cabin in the woods. Sisters Alma (Ginger Gilmartin), who is recently divorced, and Elizabeth (Mary Buss), a workaholic living in Washington D.C., are constantly quarrelling about their positions in life and slightly competing for the attention of their longtime friend Wesley (Ben Hall). While Wesley is a prolific and sophisticated writer, he has plenty of family issues of his own as his wife is in a mental clinic and his son Percy (Sheridan McMichael) doesn’t like him. However, as Wesley’s nightly behavior and ritual become noticeably stranger, one question starts to become more prevalent and pertinent – is Wesley a vampire? Continue reading Fantasia Festival Review: Climate of the Hunter

Review: The Rifleman (Blizzard of Souls)

Based on the novel “Blizzard of Souls” by Aleksandrs Grins, the film follows Arturs (Oto Brantevics) – a young Latvian boy that joins the Imperial Russian Army after his mother is killed by German soldiers during WWI. Alongside his father (Martins Vilsons), a high ranking officer, his brother (Raimonds Celms), and hundreds of soldiers, Arturs witnesses the horrors and griminess of warfare as they continuous fight the Germans – both day and night as well as through a harsh winter. Drudging through every slow-burning battle in the trenches and trying to make his father and brother proud, Arturs attempts to leave the battlefield as intact as possible and not be disillusioned as the ranks in the Russian Army start to crumble. Continue reading Review: The Rifleman (Blizzard of Souls)

Fantasia Festival Review: Monster Seafood Wars

“Monster Seafood Wars” (2020) is directed by Japanese filmmaker Minoru Kawasaki; who is best known for making cult classics such as “Executive Koala”, a black comedy about a salaryman (who is also a koala) who faces an identity crisis and a murder charge when he is falsely accused for killing his wife; and two underdog sports films including “Calamari Wrestler” and “Crab Goalkeeper”. Continue reading Fantasia Festival Review: Monster Seafood Wars

Review: Summerland

While it’s nice to have films like “Vivarium” and “Da 5 Bloods” perfectly reflect the tone and time of the present, it’s sometimes even better to have films that give an outlook of a more hopeful future – and “Summerland” does that in a nutshell. Swale truly creates a heart-warming debut filled with a powerful romance, a building connection that tears down barriers, and showcases Arterton giving an absolutely immaculate performance. Continue reading Review: Summerland

ITOL Top 15 Films of 2020 (So Far), Numbers 15-11

Gosh, isn’t 2020 over yet?! Wait, we’re only just over halfway through? *Sighs heavily and inhales deeply* Okay, okay…at least there’s only 178 days left of 2020. Anyway, picking our top 15 films of the year (so far) has been tough especially seeing how release dates of certain films have been delayed and how we’ve been trapped inside for months. However, the ITOL have come together to create our top 15 films from the last 6 months. Please let us know which films make your top 15 list and what films are you looking forward to catching later this year! Continue reading ITOL Top 15 Films of 2020 (So Far), Numbers 15-11

Pride Month, Retrospective Review: Brokeback Mountain

Sometimes the notion of a “forbidden romance” in films seems tantalizing, but other times… it’s just heartbreaking. It’s really dependent on the forces keeping these two people apart. With “Brokeback Mountain,” (2005) a beautifully heart-wrenching film, it’s tragic. It’s only “forbidden” because the two don’t think they can or sometimes, should, be together. Which is what makes it so inherently effective. No matter how many times I see this movie, it always finds its mark: right through the heart. Continue reading Pride Month, Retrospective Review: Brokeback Mountain

Mental Health Awareness Month, Retrospective Review: Ocean Heaven

In the case of this review; the film in question is the 2010 drama “Ocean Heaven”. The film is best known for being the first non-martial arts role for lead actor Jet Li. Primarily known for his action hero persona, Li is also known for his humanitarian views; in charge of various charities via The One Foundation he established. Considering the content of the story which involves mental health awareness, the role sounds like it would be the perfect segue for him. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month, Retrospective Review: Ocean Heaven

Review: True History of the Kelly Gang

“True History of the Kelly Gang” is the latest adaptation of the story of Ned Kelly, an Australian outlaw. Directed by Justin Kurzel, this movie is stacked with talented actors; George MacKay, Russell Crowe, Charlie Hunnam, Thomasin McKenzie, Nicholas Hoult, and Essie Davis. It follows Ned Kelly from a young age and his journey to the man he would become.

I’m in the minority when I admit having no idea who’s Ned Kelly. This film is divided into three parts; Boy, Man, and Monitor. It begins with adult Ned Kelly writing his story (right after a caption stating everything we’re about to witness isn’t true). For someone like myself who isn’t familiar with Kelly, this caption, followed by the scene, left me a bit confused. Continue reading Review: True History of the Kelly Gang