Even if you're not into documentaries, this is a MUST SEE kind of film. The Look of Silence is the follow-up documentary to Joshua Oppenheimer's shocking and profound film, The Act of Killing (see review). The Act of Killing confronts the murderers behind the Indonesian killings of 1965-66 where more than a million people were slaughtered. In The Look of Silence, Oppenheimer focuses on an optometrist who confronts the men that killed one of his brothers. It's a chilling companion piece that is surely to instill fear just at the sheer tenacity of the premise.


I got chills just at the first glance of the Executive Producer names who are documentary gods aka Werner Herzog and Errol Morris. Just having their stamp of approval means it's a worthwhile and powerful film. Already the tone of the film is heavy but it's also complemented by such serene and beautiful cinematography.

It's always been said that sometimes silence speaks more volumes than words ever could. And it seems like in this case, it's almost an inevitable act considering the fear that confrontations like these bring. We see people in moments of solitude, contemplating their troubling situation especially one that requires lengthy introspection because they know that an act like this will have reverberating consequences once the camera is turned off considering it is the killers who are in position of power.

These are the very reasons why I love documentaries because they have the capacity to capture the hidden reality in brutal and unflinching honesty. The Look of Silence is not going to be an easy ride but it's one that must be experienced and felt. Drafthouse Films is bringing the film early 2015


Read more »
READ MORE

Year: 2014
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Writer: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armandro Bo
Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki
Cast: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis
Country of Origin: U.S.
Rating: R
Time: 119 min

This may be a bold statement but I can honestly say Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman is my favorite film of the year! It has the total package of a stellar cast, a relevant and important meta story, and technically meticulous and beautiful cinematography. There's no denying how magnificent the film is but as I was watching it, I couldn't help but feel like the film was made for me (self-involved much?) given my strong preferences of all the spellbinding attributes Birdman embraced and showcased. It is one of those films that reminds you of every single reason why you ever fell in love with film in the first place. Here I list for you the 5 reasons why I loved the film so much!

01:47 - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
02:52 - Cinematography
04:17 - Michael Keaton's Character
05:46 - The Cast
08:20 - Because I can watch it all the time!


Read more »
READ MORE

Year: 2014
Director: Alex Ross Perry
Country of Origin: U.S
Rating: N/A
Time: 108 mins

Jason Schwartzman has now made a lifetime acting career out of his typecast as an pompous and inconsiderate intellectual from the start with Max Fishcher in Wes Anderson's Rushmore. So it's no surprise that Alex Ross Perry casted him in a film where the character and the film alike share the same arrogant qualities that is braised with New York literary comedy to the likes of Woody Allen and Noah Baumbach. Perry's third film, Listen Up Philip  is well aware of it's influences and bathes in the tradition of the voice-over narration, self-loathing banter, and light-speed quip all while sticking to his guns by presenting despicable characters in the most harsh and unfiltered light. But its in that process of piercing honesty that we witness a genuine sincerity in these characters no matter how ugly they are. 

Schwartzman plays Philip, a tragically incorrigible and spiteful writer with a knack for unapologetic asshole tendencies who is on the cusp of releasing his sophomore novel. When Philip is not hell-bent on making everyone bleed dry of happiness with his sharp mouthy fangs, he is pestering his painfully vulnerable and kind-hearted girlfriend Ashley (Elisabeth Moss). Either way, he is an insufferable, self-involved bastard who just doesn't know when to quit and just smell the roses. More fire is added to the fuel when Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce) who is the splitting image of Philip but thirty years plus, is added to the picture, only to make the plagued atmosphere even that much more venomous. Naturally, the collision of these two forces only ignites a blistering game of one-upping one another to ceaseless ends. No one said being an "artist" was easy.

It's only a matter of time before we completely forfeit to Philip and Zimmerman's incessant piercing jabs. Luckily, Philip's girlfriend Ashley, tells her own story sandwiched in between these other two guys we do not care for. I first and foremost know Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olsen from Mad Men and wasn't sure how good she would be playing a modern day woman but boy, was I wrong. Moss' breathtaking performance as a fragile and vulnerable woman on the path to independence was breathtaking light the film desperately needed. She brought such a painfully genuine performance that just swoops up your heart and hugs the shit out of it! It was at this very moment where I realized rare and immense talent Moss possessed that skyrocketed her to a league of greats actresses like Kate Winslet and Natalie Portman. 


Shot in 16mm, the film emits a seventies vibe that embraces the almost claustrophobic yet intimate scenery of New York City even though the story is clearly set in present day. What is also enthralling and refreshing is the fact that even though it tells very revelant stories about our current times, there is never once a shot of any technology-related items (ie: lap tops & smart phones)! 

I had the privilege of watching Listen Up Philip at this year's Sundance Next Festival where Schwartzman and Perry was in attendance! And guess who else joined their Q&A? None other than the revered writer, Bret Easton Ellis! Check out my video if you haven't seen it! Underneath all the grumbling rants the film spits, it is for certain that Ross has a knack for compelling storytelling with razor-sharp dialogue that'll make your stomach sore from boisterous laughter. He is face of the next generation of filmmakers emerging on the scene and like him and so many others, be sure to be ready to witness a mixture of both old and new traditions to bring a wholly refreshing and revitalizing movement to the future of film! A


Read more »
READ MORE

The second ever Beyond Fest has finally come to a close! Beyond Fest is one of the best film festivals for genre and horror films in Los Angeles, hands down! Their line-up continues to amaze and bring once-in-a-lifetime events whether it was having Goblin perform the scores of Dario Argento films last year or reuniting John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis for a very special Halloween screening! As a novice to the genre, it is always a pleasure to be schooled on the fundamentals on these films that I am rarely exposed to from real xxxcore fans! I had the pleasure of having the boys of Beyond Fest tell me in their own words what the festival is all about so be sure to check my recap video! I watched twelve features in total which I have all graded for you down below. 

Horns (Dir. Alexandre Aja) B+
The Editor (Dir. Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy) B-
20,000 Days on Earth (Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard) A
Nightcrawler (Dir. Dan Gilroy) A (See Review
V/H/S Viral (Dir. Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Todd Lincoln, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo) A
Starry Eyes (Dir. Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer) A
Possession (Dir. Andrzej Zulawski) A
R100 (Dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto) C+
Halloween (Dir. John Carpenter) A
The Town that Dreaded Sundown (Dir. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon) B+
Tokyo Tribe (Dir. Sion Sono) A-



Photos!

   

   

   

   

Read more »
READ MORE

If you have been following my blog, you already know that I watched Sion Sono's EPIC cinephile lovin' yakuza film, Why Don't You Play in Hell at last year's Beyond Fest! I also reviewed it for yall with Crome Yellow so check that out!! Sadly, the film didn't get a U.S. distribution till now thanks to Drafthouse Films! They also released a new trailer and poster and it looks EXACTLY as crazy as the film is! This is another masterpiece written and directed by Japanese filmmaker, Sion Sono who knows exactly the right angle to jab us with his Katana Sword just the way we like!



Why Don't You Play in Hell follows an inexperience but passionate film crew The Fuck Bombers who are on the quest to make the ultimate action epic! These amateur cinephiles' world collides with the war going on between two Yakuza clans in hopes of capturing a real live battle to death all on 35mm! 

If that doesn't sound fantastically bonkers, I don't know what is! This is the kind of madness I want to see in filmmakers and in their filmmaking. It was an absolute joy to watch this film as it combines every particle of what cinephiles love especially when it comes to violent and Japanese films! This is one of the rare films that I can think of besides John Water's Cecil B. Demented that chronicles xxxcore film buffs to xxxtremes to prove their loyalty! I am overjoyed that this little gem will finally be coming out! the You can finally witness the madness that is Sion Sono's manic brain in limited theaters early next month on November 7th


Read more »
READ MORE

We are a week away from the release of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman and now, we have a grip of new posters with Birdman at various iconic American landmarks! And to be quite frank, even though these posters are beautifully done, i loved the stark and blarring red version of the poster shown here. But I must admit, I am ecstatic to see new promotional material appearing on the interwebs just days and weeks before we finally witness the unexpected virtue of ignorance as they say! I am seriously overly excited for this madness! Birdman comes out October 18!











Related links: 
Read more »
READ MORE

It's MONDAY! That means another episode of my New York Series! I went to New York a month ago, exactly at the right time The Lincoln Center was holding their complete John Waters retrospective showcasing fifty years of his work from Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Hairspray, Polyester, and so so so much more! Luckily, I was able to catch Cecil B. Demented which is one of the most hilarious and best films for cinephiles all around! The film is about an insane independent film director and his renegade group of teenage filmmakers who kidnap an A-list Hollywood actress and force her to star in their underground film. Yeah, the premise is really that insane and that GOOD!

I watched it when I was in college and was dumbfounded that I had not known about the film previously! This is the film where Maggie Gyllenhaal, Adrian Grenier, Michael Shannon really got their start and you can clearly see how deep IN IT they are for independent cinema! I had so much fun watching this film with Jennifer & Nicole and you can also see how mental they feel for this film! I wanted to list a couple of films that are about cinephiles like this one but the only one I could really think of at the moment is Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell and Cinema Paradiso! I feel like the worst cinephile not being able to name more than two films but here you go! Be sure to let me know your favorite John Waters film! I def need to get my hands on Female Trouble


Previous Episode: Spotlight on Film Critic Monica Castillo // Next Episode: Trip to Museum of Moving Images! 
Read more »
READ MORE

I saw Jesse Moss' The Overnighters at LA Film Fest this past year and I was absolutely blown away by the story and the overall execution of the film. It is always an incredible and rare moment when a subject starts to unravel right before the camera and transform into something much more grandiose and important than what it's initial purpose was suppose to be. That's what The Overnighters is all about: the failed American Dream. 

The gripping drama follows the many broken and desperate men across the nation who chase their dreams and demons in the North Dakota oil fields in hopes of attaining their American Dream. And a local Pastor, Jay Reinke's intimate story of the ultimate self-sacrifice to help those in need. The Overnighters brings a jarring reality to the current state of American's economic climate in this post-recession era. What is incredible and frustrating is how they captured the desperation of real people in real places during these real times. This is one of the finest and best documentary I have seen this year that is brutally captivating and ruthlessly consuming especially talking about merciless realities of America today. YOU MUST WATCH THIS FILM.

See my LA Film Fest review of The Overnighters starting from 0:33 sec

Read more »
READ MORE

Badass Femmes is a bi-weekly column that I write on Crome Yellow about all the Badass Females in pop culture that has shaped my life.

I had not known of Pam Grier or Blaxploitation before Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown but I knew I had to rewind in time to Foxy Brown and Coffy to fully understand his homage. Foxy Brown was one of the very first female heroines on screen that featured a women of color in the backdrop of a very white America. It didn't shy away from presenting the gritty realities of racism and sexism still taking place in those politically-charged times. Read more... 
Read more »
READ MORE

The New York Series is a new series that I am premiering in the month of October that chronicles my trip to the big apple! It will be showing every month at 11am PST. And it's back with me getting up close and personal with East Coast based film critic, Monica Castillo! We talk about her favorite New York films and what not! We cover New York filmmakers like Woody Allen, Spike Lee, and of course, Martin Scorsese! Which New York film is your fav?!


 Previous Episode: The Skeleton Twins // Next Episode: John Waters Event!

 Follow Monica:
Read more »
READ MORE

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
(Now back the fuck off & don't tell me I didn't tell you so!)

Gone Girl is the most talked about film of the year. It was incredibly hard to pack all the information about the film into a measly video review and I feel like there is a lot more to be said about the film considering that this is one of the most polarizing film that'll surely leave people furiously discussing in in-depth details about it's gender politics, contrived dramatizing of media, and the differing readings of modern day marriage. The tone is atmospheric, chilling, and did I already mention contemplative

Rather than remembering how good this film is, people will most likely take away how this cautionary tale about marriage will haunt them for the rest of their lives because of cut-throat portrayal of Amazing Amy. It's not so much the story but the representation of Amy in all her misogynistic glory that is sorely unjustified as she is seen as the ultimate fucked up villain who will be simply labeled as "cRaZy" instead of understood by the general public. 

As a fan of the book, the uneven perspectives told from both Amy (Rosemund Pike) and Nick (Ben Affleck) has morphed the film to tell a story where Nick is the absolute victim and that's not really the conclusive point of the story. Like I said, considering that Gone Girl is the most talked about film of the year, there will be many think pieces about the film for many days, weeks, and even months to come. Especially when it comes to Cool Girls. And it's no surprise because a film of this caliber with David Fincher's signature stamp and Gillian Flynn's grim vision, it's going to take a lot more than a shower to wash away the blood after watching this film. 


Read more »
READ MORE

Nightcrawler has got to be one of the best and my favorite films of the year! This is Dan Gilroy's directorial debut film and it is an absolute knock out of a film with its razor sharp screenplay, Los Angeles setting, and Jake Gyllenhaal's incredible transformative performance that is sure to get under your skin and stay with you! Gyllenhaal is Lou Bloom, a petty thief that will stop at nothing till he succeeds is today's modern day success story despite its grim and twisted outline! Gyllenhaal shed 30 pounds for the role and completely lost himself during the process aka smashing a mirror during one intense scene! Gyllenhaal really gives it his all and it is one of the most chilling performances I have seen as of lately that is bound to hear some Oscar buzz.

This is one film that I MUST watch on repeat because as a Los Angeles native and actually seeing L.A. story on screen that is ACTUALLY SHOT IN L.A. is pure euphoria. Jake Gyllenhaal has proved himself to be Hollywood's rare gem, repelling blockbuster films after stumps like Prince of Persia (remember this atrocity?!) to pursue more challenging indie pieces like Denis Villeneuve's Prisoners & Enemy and now Nightcrawler. Riz Ahmed is a joy to watch as Bloom's aloof and nervy "intern" and so compelling that I was shocked to know that he is actually British! If you just cut the fat off Bloom's psychotically twisted view of success, the film serves to be one of the most inspirational and motivational pieces I have ever seen or is that my psycho brain talking?! Regardless, Nightcrawler is a rare film birthed out of Tinseltown because it has the meat of an art film and the shine of a Hollywood film! You can't ask for anything better than that! The film comes out October 31st. GET READY.

Read more »
READ MORE

The trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice has finally arrived and of course, I had to share my thoughts with you guys via another great trailer reaction video! This film is one of my most anticipated films of the year and I can't believe we are that much closer to the release of the film. This film has a stacked cast and comedic tone reminds that is very much reminiscent of Boogie Nights (1997). I'm totally diggin the 70's vibes with the music, costumes, and just the flair! I don't recall ever seeing Joaquin Phoenix in a somewhat comedic role or film (Does I'm Still Here (2010) count?) so it'll be refreshing to see him in a much vibrant light than he was in The Master (2012). I hope to hear some buzz next week when the film premieres at NYFF but till then, I'll just be looking at rando stills of the film in hopes of finding official ones! Inherent Vice releases in limited theaters December 12 and goes to wider release in January 9th


Read more »
READ MORE

It's HERE! I can't believe Mommy is already the young Quebecois filmmaker, Xavier Dolan's fifth feature. Mommy tied the Jury Award at this year's Cannes with Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language 3D. And that's Godard so even a tie is a great accomplishment in itself! We all know that Dolan probably has some mommy issues considering his first film was I Killed my Mother (2009) which was  semi-autographical. And although, I have not seen his first feature yet, I can already tell his mother is a sensitive subject that he wants to tackle again and again. (But who doesn't mothers?! There's not enough films about them!)


Mommy stars Anne Dorval as a widowed mother of a violent, young teenage boy name Steve, played by Antoine-Olivier Pion. She finds new hope when a mysterious neighbor inserts herself into their household. Just watching the trailer, immediately you are drawn to the refreshing yet constricting format of the "instagram-sqaure." As much as I admire that format, I enjoy that much more seeing the vast landscape and wide scenery especially  in Dolan's films, knowing that he most likely will tap into his iconic visual style to show many enthralling and transcending scenes complemented with bursts of color! 

This film is Canada's official entry to the Oscars and I hope it wins even though I haven't even seen Nuri Vilge Ceylan's Winter Sleep which won the Cannes' Palme d'Or. I really am speaking too soon because hello?! I haven't even seen either of the films! Regardless, the excitement for these foreign films is real and I hope I get to see them soon. Luckily, Roadside Attractions is bringing Mommy to U.S. screens beginning of 2015! See you then!

Read more »
READ MORE

(I'm channeling Ruth Gordon from Rosemary's baby) OK, that's beside the point! This trailer of Whiplash looks absolutely incredible and I can't wait to see this when it comes out. It looks incredibly gripping, intense, and emotional. Miles Teller is used to being typecast as a goof-ball and this time we see him as refined musician whose ambitions are sky-high! J.K. Simmons looks like the teacher from hell who is obviously trying to help improve his student's abilities but in the most brutal way ever! THIS IS WHY I QUIT PIANO LESSON! (Because I was scared I would get bullied like my sister did!) But again, beside the point! 

Whiplash is on my most anticipated list as far as October films go and it is right there with David Fincher's Gone Girl, Jason Reitman's Men, Women, & Children, amongst so many freaking others! Now, that I think about it, it's basically Oscar season which means a helluva lot more great films being released in the coming months! (Breathe in, Breathe out, now repeated!) I'm very elated about these films and it'll be great seeing Miles Teller in a new light especially being pushed to his limits! Whiplash comes out October 10th!

Read more »
READ MORE

This is a particularly special review because I had an extensive discussion all about the gripping YA novel/film, The Maze Runner with my good friend Arshad. Arshad does a lot of things (singer, songwriter, actor, director, etc!) and one of them is being a huge fan and expert on the YA novel and film movement that got sparked when The Hunger Games (2012) came out. We both caught The Hunger Games bug and while I drifted off especially with the hype of Divergent (2014) came around, Arshad increased his interest hence why he asked me to collaborate with him on The Maze Runner as a person who hasn't read any of the series. 

I caught a sneak peek of what to expect from The Maze Runner at this year's WonderCon and I was amazed. As far as YA adaptations go, everyone wanted to make something as great as The Hunger Games but just kept failing. The Maze Runner might be a close-runner up due to the fact that when they got something right, it was absolutely great with the incredible special effects (for their small budget), superb performances casting choices (KI HONG LEE!!), and overall pacing of the film. The only gripe I have with the film is their lack of an explanation to why the kids are even there and what the maze was even suppose to prove. Arshad and I really go into it so sit back and grab some coffee cause it's going to be a long one!



Follow Arshad:

Read more »
READ MORE

Love It / Hate It is a new segment I'm doing on every Wednesday in the month of Sept where Kristen Sales of Sales on Film and I discuss films we hate or love! 

This week Kristen and I discuss the indie hit film Short Term 12 directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. Short Term 12 is one of the rare films that I did not actually like. In terms of story, filmmaking, direction, it was all superbly done and I applaud them for making this film. My particular gripe about the film that is mostly prompted by personal preference in the fact that some of the character's acting abilities and general pouty attitude was something I was not fond of. Their sour attitude eventually contributed to the lack of emotional weight I felt towards the characters and it made the film feel like an after school special. Kristin like always, makes some valid points so it was refreshing to hear her thoughts. I don't doubt Cretton's directing abilities but I hope his next film will be able to create a more heartening story that will hit straight into my black heart.

KRISTEN LOVED IT / I HATED IT



Watch out for the New York Series premiering Oct. 6!

Follow Kristen Sales:
Read more »
READ MORE

Year: 2014
Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Justin Long, Michael Parks, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Johnny Depp
Country of Origin: USA
Rating: R
Time: 102 mins

As someone who has only seen Clerks. (1994) and isn't a hardcore, wild, boob-flashing kind of fan gal of Kevin Smith, I had below zero expectations of Tusk in terms of story and execution. I went in absent-minded and when I came out, I had one of those rare bug-eyed "What the fuck did I just watch?!" moments that sparked a fury of bewilderment and excitement within me that could only be tamed by having a fervent and extensive dissection about its bizarre likeability with friends. Would I recommend it to other people? Not necessarily. Would I say it's downright horrible? Not necessarily. Despite my wavering opinion, one thing is clear: the film has been swimming its rounds in my mind and inducing word vomit references to it ever since. If my subconscious was book-marking Tusk for whatever reason, it was a sure sign that the film really did dig it's deep "tusks" in me. 

The story follows Wallace (Justin Long), an unlikeable, one-half of a beloved podcast duo alongside Teddy played by the almost unrecognizably plump but still baby-faced Haley Joel Osment called The Not-See Party. How adorable. Their time is spent discovering and mocking humiliating viral videos like the Internet celebrity, Kill Bill kid who accidentally cuts off his own limb while trying to expertly wield a samurai sword. Wallace decides to fly to Canada to interview the unfortunate Uma-Thurman wannabe only to find out that he axed himself completely. Upset that he's trekked his way up to The Great White North, he tries to find another "weirdo" to interview. Luckily inside a restroom stall, Wallace sees an hand written ad offering a room in his house for free and the guarantee of hearing a lifetime of interesting stories. With his interest and desperation piqued, Wallace arrives at the mansion of Howard Howe's (Michael Parks), a wheelchair-bound retired seaman stocked full of eccentric artifacts and bountiful tales of encountering Earnest Hemingway to being rescued by a Walrus he named Mr. Tusk after a shipwreck. After some engrossing exchange, Wallace blacks out from the drugs laced in the tea Howe has given him only to wake up the next morning, imprisoned to a wheelchair with his legs amputated. The nightmare is only about to get next level worst when Howard reveals that he will be turning Wallace into a walrus. A. REAL. LIFE. WALRUS!

You can imagine my horror when I realized what the actual premise entailed and although, I am always down for some body-horror with absurd logic to the extremes of The Human Centipede (2009), Tusk felt like a misguided, tone-deaf, bipolar child dealing with an identity crisis. It has a bit of everything stirring in the pot from horror to thriller to dark humor but never does it get the blended recipe fully right without other ingredients diminishing. But when it does get a genre right, it is absolutely appetizing for that sweet blissful moment. There are terse but fervent bubbles of lunacy that delivers its rightful punches but is halted by elongated and lethargic drags that seem to last forever as if you are running miles between two words in sentence.

But luckily, it is the life-saving performance of Parks who is an absolute hoot, embodying the perfectly petrifying host from hell with his delusional psychopathic mask plastered to his face that creates the uneasiest and queasiest coils in our blood. Long as Wallace is generally an unlikeable guy who is only tolerable shrieking his way through this film due to his preceding real-life "good guy" reputation. Is it also so wrong to assume that Smith decided to please fan boys around the world by injecting the hopeful notion that a guy like the cheating Wallace could ever land and deserve a woman who is so ungodly beautiful and sweet like the talented and unjusticely casted, Genesis Rodriguez as Wallace's wallowing girlfriend? I think not. And of course, Haley Joel Osment's booming cackle is not to be underestimated and really should be experienced and heard by everyone as it will only spread manic grins across our faces. The third act introduces the (naturally) disguised Johnny Depp as an alcoholic Quebec ex-cop, thirsty for Howe's blood, is such a poorly drawn Looney Tunes cartoon with a worse French accent than Pepe Le Pew that I can hear Quebec natives cringing.

It all goes back to its faulty screenplay that wants to be a pinch of a talky Quentin Tarantino piece with a dash of the grotesque shock-value of The Human Centipede which quite never reaches its extremes to push the factor due to its lackluster motive that feels like the film was just made for shits and giggles. It's no surprise of the laziness of its construction considering that the film was conceived based on a joke Kevin Smith made on his own podcast, SModcast. It is an admirable act to have pursued a project based on his fan's unrelenting enthusiasm to the production rather than creating the film for cinematic story-telling value. But if his intended goal was to amp up the WTF-factor to levels that dances along the lines of sheer terror and absurdity, I would say great job indeed! And despite my unwillingness to pick a Love it / Hate it side like I normally do, it speaks volumes when it becomes a film that hypnotically terrorizes my mind day in and day out. Thanks Kevin Smith. 
Read more »
READ MORE

How did a guy like Ned Benson who had merely 3 short films under his belt, make such an ambitious first feature film that earned him three films stemmed from the same concept, and starring the year's most surprisingly stellar and revered cast? And with The Weinstein Co's stamp of approval?! I hear Oscar bells already! No matter how much I would attribute his success to connections, his talent is clearly visible in this re-cut version of his initial two films, Him & Her with the The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them.  

The story follows the dissolution of Eleanor (Jessica Chastain) and Connor's (James McAvoy) marriage after a tragic event occurs. As much as I had a gripe with it's mashed  up version of Him & Her, I thoroughly enjoyed Chastain's emotional roller coaster and the rest of the cast's genuine performances. This film had one of the most surprisingly stacked cast with Chastain, McAvoy, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, and Jess Weixler! WOW!

At times there were some missteps due to its sparse tones and beats but Benson undoubtedly knows how to create beautifully intimate moments between everyday people. The trailer insinuates that the blended version would've maybe showcased both sides of the same scenario throughout the film but I think it was simply edited that way promotional purposes for both of the films which I hope to see come October! But till then, watch my review for the Them version despite your ill feelings about its Beatles inspired title!

Read more »
READ MORE

Badass Femmes is a bi-weekly column that I write on Crome Yellow about all the Badass Females in pop culture that has shaped my life.

Lady Vengeance (2005) has got to be my favorite film out Park Chan-wook's unrelentingly gritty Vengeance Trilogy that includes Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and Old Boy (2003). Lee Geum-ja is an unconventional character not even by film standards but by Korean society. Never have I seen a Korean mother on screen that was hell-bent and thirsty for blood that knew how to expertly handle a bedazzled gun the way Geum-ja could. She is the most memorable anti-hero of our times. Read more here...
Read more »
READ MORE

The times are going by so fast! It's already the second to the last film of The Hunger Games trilogy! As much as I didn't really like the final book, there is a lot at stake here in the districts and a whole mound of shit is about to go down! The final book is really the breaking point for all the districts as they face a war against the capital. Katniss Everdeen becomes their martyr and essentially a symbol for freedom hence the Mockingjay sign plastered everywhere. There is a real sense of danger that the trailer just gives us a sneak peek at and it's only bound to increasingly get worse. And this is one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's last roles so if my makeup is smeared by the end, you know the real reason behind those tears!

The Hunger Games was one of the first YA films to be adapted which did incredibly well in terms of story-telling that it is considered as a the pioneer of YA films (at least in my book!) Every film from Divergent to The Maze Runner wants to embrace and trace the steps of the iconic series but it simply falters and it seems like there hasn't yet been a series to challenge the superiority of THG. With that said, I am sad the series is coming to a close but it was a fantastic journey! Here's to more and better YA films to come! The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part I) comes out November 21st!

Read more »
READ MORE

Love It / Hate It is a new segment I'm doing on every Wednesday in the month of Sept where Kristen Sales of Sales on Film and I discuss films we hate or love! 

This week Sales on Film and I discuss Shane Carruth's mind-bending Upstream Color. I must admit, Carruth's films are not for everyone. It's been nearly a decade since he came out with his phenomenal debut film, Primer, which basically obliterated everyone's mind to pieces! And now with Upstream Color, it is a more refined and even more contemplative piece that expands and explores the our connection to everything from the ground up. The film is not for everyone and I can see why Sales would dislike it. So if you haven't seen it, be careful because you can easily be swayed to loving it or hating it. 

I LOVED IT / KRISTEN HATED IT.


Next Episode: Short Term 12 (2013)

Follow Kristen Sales:
Read more »
READ MORE

It's here! The first episode of the New York Series is a series of videos I shot in New York that I will be releasing in the month of October! But obviously with The Skeleton Twins already out, it can't hurt to release this spanking new video a bit early can it?! I had the help of my friend Jenn to review the film with me. We saw it at IFC where Director Craig Johnson, Kristen Wiig, and Bill Hader joined us for a Q&A after. And to be frank with you, the entirety of the Q&A was better than the film with Wiig and Hader recounting their deliriously stacked day from waking at the crack of dawn to attending The Today Show to barely eating to arriving at IFC! 

It was an incredible feeling just being all the way in New York and experiencing what I would've normally be experiencing in LA but with a New York crowd! Definitely each side of the coast is eternally lucky to have such a vibrant and rich film scene! And I could not be more grateful about it. 




Follow Jenn: @jenoneriver

Read more »
READ MORE

Love It / Hate It is a new segment I'm doing on every Wednesday in the month of Sept where Kristen Sales of Sales on Film and I discuss films we hate or love! 

This week Sales on Film and I discuss James Ponsoldt's The Spectacular Now starring Miles Teller & Shailene Woodley in this coming-of-age story about a hard-partying high school boy name Sutter who starts challenging his life perspective after meeting "nice girl" Amy. 

Once again, I can understand Sales' take on why she disliked the film and initially, I felt the same way but as I reflected more on the characters and the authenticity of the story, I began to appreciate and understand to love this story that isn't actually a love story but more of a coming-of-age story of a troubled and confused kid. If you haven't seen it, please watch and let us know if you loved it or hated it!

I LOVED IT / KRISTEN HATED IT.


Next Episode: Upstream Color (2013)

Follow Kristen Sales:
Read more »
READ MORE