By: Jessica Goddard A perfectly harmless buddy film with charming performances from an A-list cast, The Upside weaves compelling drama with light comedy.
By: Trevor Chartrand Written and directed by Jon Keeyes, The Harrowing is a supernatural thriller that lacks nail-biting tension and edge that would keep viewers hanging on every word. Despite some decent visual effects and cinematography, the film fails to truly inspire fear from its audience.
Based on similar lives in the country of Lebanon, writer/director Nadine Labaki tells the heart-wrenching story of 12-year-old Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) as he survives his life in the slums, leading him to an attempt to sue his parents for an unfit upbringing. Zain is faced with constant abuse – both physically and psychologically – and he’s used in questionable activity to help his family stay afloat. When times become too dire, Zain runs away…
It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen someone tell a story as passionately as Max Martini does in SGT. Will Gardner. His activism against the mistreatment of war veterans rings sincerely through the writing and direction of his first solo effort as a filmmaker, and he wears his heart on his sleeve as the title character. The film itself is imperfect, but my admiration towards Martini helped me be forgiving.
YouTube has attempted to revive interest in YA franchises with their original film series The Thinning. In The Thinning: New World Order, the first sequel in the series, the plot thickens as a country-wide intelligence test is further examined in a futuristic dystopia. The annual quiz, which is supposed to be moderating America’s steep population by eliminating the lowest-scoring students, is revealed to have a bias that’s connected to the country’s presidential election.
I didn’t know why this movie was titled Slapped: The Movie, until I looked up the YouTube web series the stars created. Before, I thought there was a Slapped: The Television Series or a Slapped: The Album that the filmmakers didn’t want to be associated with. But, I still don’t understand why Slapped: The Movie is two hours long when this half baked, body-switching, gross-out comedy has barely enough juice to fuel a 22-minute sitcom.
The Joke Thief is the latest released feature in Frank D’Angelo’s rapid filmography. This time, the writer/director/actor takes a break from cops-and-robbers and, instead, delivers a subdued story about a flamed-out stand-up comic, Simon (played by D’Angelo), looking for purpose as he reflects on his past during a car ride through the streets of Toronto…erm…New York City.
Shoplifters is a harrowing film of survival and hope.
Not to be confused with 2014’s brilliant ode to Roger Ebert, 2018’s Life Itself is a time-spanning family drama from Hollywood screenwriter and This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman. Fogelman has taken the clout he’s earned from his award-winning hit television show and he’s made a movie only an ambitious storyteller could make with a team of producers who trust his reputation.
There’s been a modest resurgence of oddball, family-friendly fantasies. We were reminded of it with Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and now with Eli Roth’s The House with a Clock in Its Walls. While I’m more of a fan of how the former balanced all of its supernatural factors, I still really liked and admired Roth’s kooky flick about an uncle teaching his nephew the tricks of the trade to sorcery.