Fantastic Fest Review: “Kung Fu Elliot” or “Elliot: Portrait of a Pathological Dreamer”

- 09-20-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jacob Knight

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Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams chronicles the trials and tribulations Werner Herzog faced when attempting to mold his masterpiece, Fitzcarraldo, without once wavering from his daunting personal vision. Outside of the filmmaking process, what Blank’s documentary captures best is the way that dreams can consume us if we’re not careful. Herzog was an artist driven by his own unique brand of madness and, in the end, triumphed over adversity (not to mention a deranged Klaus Kinski) to deliver what might be the defining narrative picture of his career. With Kung Fu Elliot, “non-fiction” filmmakers Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau explore a similar consumption by artistic fascination. Only instead of resulting in a masterwork of idiosyncratic expression, their profile of “Canadian action star”, Elliot “White Lightning” Scott is nothing less than a cataloguing of pathological lies, culminating in a deeply disturbing portrait of partner abuse. (more…)

Fantastic Fest Review: “Electric Boogaloo – The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films” is Everything a Cinephile Doc Should Be

- 09-19-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jacob Knight

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Don’t let Electric Boogaloo fool you: Roger Corman started it.

Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus simply improved upon the cheapo tyrant formula that came to dominate drive-in style cinema in the 60s and 70s. Technically, The Weinstein Brothers perfected the mold, taking the schlock-factory model and somehow managing to add genuine quality into the mix (a shocker, I know). But none did it quite like Golan & Globus, whose somewhat unbelievable rags to riches story was fueled by pure, maniacal love for cinema. And much like he captured the Outback mayhem that was Australian genre cinema in the 70s with Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley has returned to give us The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. Only by narrowing the focus of the film and making it much more about Golan & Globus as people (though the constant talking head impersonations of the brothers threaten to turn the cousins into cartoons), it gives Electric Boogaloo an intimate edge that the director’s previous cinema documentaries lacked. Frankly speaking, Mark Hartley’s third picture devoted to the niche racks at your local video store (or, more accurately in 2014: Netflix Queue) might be the best movie about movies since Ted Demme’s A Decade Under the Influence. (more…)

Fantastic Fest Review: Kevin Smith’s “Tusk” and the Art of Storytelling

- 09-19-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jacob Knight

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When I was young, my dad used to constantly relay an old maxim. “Son,” he’d say, “the loudest guy in the bar is always going to be the least tough.” Outside of providing me with an essential bit of sage wisdom when it came to assessing the chances of getting my ass kicked, this brief aphorism doubled as one of my first lessons in the art of storytelling. Essentially, what my father was relaying was a tutorial in how to determine intent — to pick through a story’s delivery and try to understand just why it was being told. Keeping this truism in mind, I’m having a tough time deciding just why in the hell Kevin Smith decided to make Tusk, his latest foray into the world of horror filmmaking. While the New Jersey writer/director is certainly stretching outside of his comfort zone with this demented slice of body horror, it ultimately is nothing more than another juvenile descent into nonsense. To borrow from another tried and true expression (whose zoological roots seem fit for a movie about a loon transforming another man into a walrus): “a leopard cannot change its spots.”  (more…)

Fantastic Fest Review: “Closer to God” is a Lifeless Clone of Early Cronenberg

- 09-18-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jacob Knight

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When approaching the early works of David Cronenberg, many modern viewers are initially put off by the ruddy, low-rent stylings of films like Shivers, Rabid and The Brood, citing the director’s choice of low-budget genre trappings as rendering his cerebral central postualtions inaccessible. Much like the Canadian horror auteur (who has since moved on to greener pastures of prestige with pictures like Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch and A History of Violence), American independent filmmaker Billy Senese has crafted his sophomore feature, Closer to God, with one foot in the horror film grave. Borrowing liberally from the clinical director’s filmography (The Brood being the most obvious point of reference), Senese strains to balance the “dark thriller” portions of the narrative with the set of proverbial “big ideas” he presents. Once Closer to God descends into out-and-out monster movie territory, it becomes readily apparent that any kind of heady aspirations were simply the jumping off point for a somewhat pedestrian riff on modern Frankenstein mythos. (more…)

TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ – S08E04 – “Listen”

- 09-14-14Featured, reviews, TV Posted by Sarah Moran

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What’s always made Doctor Who unique as well as enduring as a television show is its ability to constantly reinvent itself. From season to season, decade to decade, Doctor Who is allowed–no, expected to be something entirely different. Last week was a funny, charming romp in the past with Robin Hood and his Merry Men. This week we’re forced to face one of our oldest fears – what’s that under the bed? (more…)

TV REVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ – S08E03 – “Robot of Sherwood”

- 09-07-14Featured, reviews, TV Posted by Sarah Moran

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So far this season we’ve had a slow opener and a dark examination of The Doctor’s character. Besides last week’s few momentary sparks between Clara and Danny Pink, Series 8 has been a rather serious season. That changes this week with the Mark Gatiss-penned “Robot of Sherwood,”  a silly adventure that manages the right tone and enough genuine laughs to avoid being utterly ridiculous. (more…)

TV REVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ – S08E02 – “Into the Dalek”

- 08-30-14Featured, reviews, TV Posted by Sarah Moran

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This season’s Doctor Who premiere was rather hum drum. A fine debut from the newly minted Twelfth Doctor, but otherwise “Deep Breath” was of a bit of a fizzle as premieres go. Series 8’s second offering, “Into the Dalek” is anything but hum drum. (more…)

TV REVIEW: ‘Doctor Who’ – S08E01 – “Deep Breath”

- 08-24-14Featured, reviews, TV Posted by Sarah Moran

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After last year’s exhilarating 50th Anniversary Special and then lackluster by comparison Christmas Special, Doctor Who needed a fresh start to recapture its previous momentum. One surefire way of re-energizing your property is to switch out for some new parts, but with only a change in Doctor can Series 8 continue to hold good favor? (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Is Exactly What You Think It Is – Atmospheric, Violent & Eva Green’s Boobs

- 08-22-14Comics, Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Jason McAnelly

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After the masterpiece that was the first Sin City, it was hard to imagine that even the original team of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller would be able to top it. And, unfortunately, they didn’t. Nope. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is not as cool as the first movie was. What it is, however, is a nice return to the Sin City world that presents us with three new stories, two of which blew me away. Read on for a more detailed report on what to expect from the movie. Warning! Some spoilers may leak through the cracks. If you’re worried about that, you might want to see the movie before you read a review. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW – ‘To Be Takei’ a Funny and Charming Looking at the ‘Star Trek’ Legend

- 08-22-14Featured, Film, reviews Posted by Adam A. Donaldson

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F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that there were no second acts in American life, and although that one line’s been continually disproved, we revisit the idea whenever someone of note begins their second act. Even their third act. I’m not sure what act George Takei is on in his play of life, but at 77 years old he’s enjoying rare universal popularity, and it’s not just because he’s one of the beloved members of the original cast of Star Trek. As an advocate for marriage equality, a living historical resource detailing the internment of Japanese-Americans, and a working actor with over 175 credits to his name (and growing), Takei’s got more to offer at 77 than some men less than half his age. Just about all of it, is touched on in some way in the documentary To Be Takei. (more…)