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It took me long enough but it wasn't until recently that I fell in love with film soundtracks. Obviously, they have a profound influence on navigation of the tones and moods of the story's narrative and it seems like 2015 was yet another exceptional year for soundtracks especially to someone like me who wasn't aware of their significant roles previously. So here we go, I picked five film soundtracks that not only influenced the narration but also were a powerful and singular character in the film. I'm sure you can guess a few of them now but let's go!

Ryan Gosling's directorial debut film, Lost River, may have went over many people's heads but without a doubt, the film score by Johnny Jewel is one that will bring feverish nightmares or ethereal serenity to some. If I were stuck in a romanticized version of the post-apocalypse, I would want this soundtrack to be blasting on every decrepit street corner. You can tell he got some major inspiration from working with Nicolas Winding Refn especially on Only God Forgive. And before you disregard Gosling's directing chops, I suggest you watch this film for yourself. (See Review)

Favorite tune to dance to while a building burns down: Tell Me - Johnny Jewel

There is no film this year that has a more in-your-face soundtrack and one that acts like its very own wild character than in Sean Baker's Tangerine. The tone of the film would've been drastically different had it not been the trap music amongst the most prominent sounds that introduced us into the wild wild west of the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland. What is more surprising is that Baker utilized such a boisterous soundtrack in Tangerine which vastly contracts from his previous works where there were little to no music involved. I'm thrilled he got his inspiration from seeing Wolftyla's vine. (See Review)

#1 song I want playing while I enter my High School reunion looking fly as hell: Taliban - Haterade & Skellism

If Mad Max: Fury Road isn't 2015's best film of the year, I don't know what is! I know some were peeved that Brian May of the music composer of the OG Mad Max and Road Warrior didn't return for Fury Road but hey, Junkie XL, the composer of Fury Road did one hell of a job! It perfectly captures the impending and current shitshow that is going down as Feminists across the land reclaim back their freedom in the most glorious and earth-shattering fashion! It is THE most perfect soundtrack to the grandest of cat and mouse chases!

Perfect anthem to play while I continue to handle my shit and stomp on patriarchy!: Storm Is Coming

In Duke of Burgundy, The characters and music seem to be speaking the same language and dancing to the same beats. The sultry tunes of the seduction and power play within this provocative relationship continues to make bewildering rounds around us with every ringing chord. It helps guide the audience through the ebbs and flow of this strange dynamic, causing the characters and audience alike to be entranced and entangled in this ever growing enigma. But underneath it's dream-like melodies, there is a deep sense of melancholia that fills the titillating air.

Melody I'd like to hear while dancing like a gypsy in my sun-soaked living room on a Sunday afternoon: Opening Credit Song 

It Follows is one of the best horror films of this decade. While that might be a big statement, it’s the swift precision of the narrative, cinematography, and especially the soundtrack that propels this film to the top of many top film lists. The soundtrack music by Disasterpeace elevates this claustrophobic and anxiety-inducing story to suffocating heights with it’s piercing instrumentals and skin-crawling melodies. The music reigns supreme in this story and it's a beast that cannot be tamed! You have been warned!

Melody I’d like playing when I’m having an existential crisis aka SOMEONE IS TRYING TO MURDER ME (How perfect): Detroit

Other soundtracks like Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, Victoria, Only Lovers Left Alive and many others deserve recognition for providing a stellar soundtrack that help gear the narrative in such magnificent ways. It’s incredible how a bunch of curated tracks could truly make a film that much better by either helping the audience understand the emotional state of a character or just to heighten the mood even that much deeper. I cannot wait to see what next year will provide because by the looks of it, it’s going to be a tough year to follow up!
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This may be the most obvious statement of this year but Jeremy Saulnier is one of the most promising and visionary upcoming American filmmakers today. There's no denying his masterful and innovative storytelling chops especially after seeing his gritty and slow-burning thriller, Blue Ruin (See review). Now he's back with his third feature film, Green Room which is about a young punk rock band who find themselves trapped in a secluded roadhouse after witnessing a horrific act of violence committed by murderous white supremacists. And yeah, Patrick Stewart is their neo-nazi ring leader! Hold on tight, cause this trailer is a bumpy one!

This film basically has all the qualities of a film that I would DIIIIIIIIE for! A punk rock band (check), hotties Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat (check), a death fight against a terrifying neo-nazi gang out to drink your blood while you're completely secluded in an abandoned warehouse?! (CHECK!). As expected, it seems like Saulnier has crafted another brilliantly suspenseful thriller that'll have me gnawing my whole hand off by the looks of the trailer. I'm always down for premises that channel some The Raid: Redemption vibes so bring it on! A24 (love u) is releasing Green Room on April 1st. I'll be there with my bat in hand. 

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Year: 2015
Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Writer: Ah Cheng, Chu T'ien-wen, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Hsieh Hai-Meng, Pei Xing (short story)
Cinematographer: Lee Ping Bin
Cast: Shu Qi, Chang Chen, Tsumabuki Satoshi
Country of Origin: China/France
Time: 105 min.

Sal from Crome Yellow and I got to witness one of the most beautiful films of this year at Beyond Fest which is Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin. In ninth-century China, an exiled assassin must choose between love and her duty when she is ordered to kill a man from her past. This is unlike any other martial arts film you have ever seen! The film showcases the most stunning and breathtaking cinematography that will transport you through time and space to witness a story truly visionary and masterful. Any fan of Hou knows the steady pace he utilizes and to some it may be too slow, but with these kind of rich visuals, who cares!

The Assassin is China's official entry to the Oscars for Best Foreign Language film. It might have some serious competition with Deniz Gamze Ergüven's Mustang from France but regardless, you should experience these two singularly powerful films for themselves. I had a chance to go to a q&a with Hou a day after where he went over his filmography and filmmaking style. All I can say is that he is such a wacky cat! I need to definitely to check out his previous works because if they are anything like The Assassin, I am in for a real treat! 

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Year: 2015
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Yoshitaka Yamaguchi
Cinematographer: Hajime Kanda
Cast: Hayato Ichihara, Lily Franky,  Yayan Ruhian, Reiko Takashima
Country of Origin: Japan
Rating: R
Time: 125 min.

Sal from Crome Yellow and I went to Beyond Fest, the biggest and baddest genre film festival in Los Angeles! We had the privilege of witnessing Takashi Miike's latest genre-bending and mind-blowing film, Yakuza Apocalypse and we were not disappointed! The story follows Kageyama, a young yakuza who is ridiculed by his peoples for not being able to get tattooed. His bossman, the notorious and revered Kamiura is in secret, a vampire. After getting defeated by rival gangs, Kamiura passes his powers to Kageyama, forcing him to seek revenge on the syndicate. Sal and I get down on all the deets and why we'll be forever Miike fans!

With blood-sucking Yakuza vampires, super-strong fighting Keroppies, and all around madness, Yakuza Apocalypse may be one of the craziest films you will see this year! Miike is no newbie when it comes to controversial subjects in his work and while his previous films have pushed the boundaries of terror with Audition and Ichi the Killer, it's pleasant to see a bit of a more wackier side to his film palette like seen in his kid's film, Ninja Kids!!! Sure, this film wasn't perfect but it was 100% Miike and that's what we wanted to see. Fans across the globe will be excited to see another work from this auteur and guaranteed, they will be roaring in ecstasy that they did!

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Year: 2015
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins
Cinematographer: Dan Laustsen
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam
Country of Origin: USA
Rating: R
Time: 119 min.

Sal from Crome Yellow and I are really excited about Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak. Like REEAALLLLYYY excited! Forget what the trailer shows you, this film is truly a gorgeous gothic love story that is a feast for your eyes and soul. An aspiring writer Edith (Wasikowska) marries the charming and seductive Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and she finds herself swept away to his remote gothic mansion in the English Hills where him and his sister Lady Lucille (Chastain) resides. Able to communicate with the dead, Edith tries to decipher the mystery behind the ghostly hauntings in her new home.

As stated in my trailer reaction of the film, I was worried that the "ghosts" were going to be too cheesy but having seen the film, the imagery works seamlessly into the story. There are so many elements in this story from the intricate and exquisite production design to the sweeping soundtrack to the dazzling cinematography makes this "horror" story a truly opulent and extravagant film experience. But above all, it's the powerful performances by Hiddleston and Chastain that puts the cherry on top of this stunning tragic love story. I cannot express how much I adored Crimson Peak! I hope everyone loves it despite the film being marketed incorrectly because it really is a film worth feasting on! 

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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.

Like most girls growing up in the 90s, I was fed a steady diet of witchery thanks to Sabrina the Teenage Witch,Charmed and of course everyone’s favorite gothic guilty pleasure, The Craft. My interests eventually changed and a fascination with having powers shifted my attention to the Harry Potter series. Then last year, my love of the dark arts was revived by the coven of witches in Witching & Bitching, a Spanish film following a group of desperate thieves-on-the-run who stumble into the home of some ancient sorceresses. Witching & Bitching has everything you want in a maddening Halloween film, a man dressed up as a machine gun wielding Jesus, growling witches on the hunt for men’s blood and a grotesque gargantuan woman thrice the size of Bigfoot ready to squash her opposition. There isn’t a single thing in this film that isn’t outright bat-shit crazy, but the real MVPs are the witches, or to put it more accurately, cannibalistic witches?!

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Elizabeth Lo's remarkable short film, Hotel 22 documents one night on the 24-hour bus in the California Bay Area which serves as a shelter to the area's homeless. Lo is a Stanford University MFA student who spent countless nights on the bus to get to know the environment and people. With 6 days of shooting and over 30 hours of footage, Lo condensed the film to make the story seamlessly feel like only one night. Enter into the unfiltered and raw lives of the many homeless and their safe haven that is Bus 22. 

The short film premiered at Sundance Film Festival which was met with praise, eventually leading Lo to be named one of the "25 New Faces of Film" in Filmmaker Magazine. It's the short's observational yet immersive filmmaking style that immediately makes Hotel 22 an engrossing watch. I was actually surprised when it ended because I wanted to know more about these unique characters who are ironically living in the booming money town of Silicon Valley. Lo is currently expanding Hotel 22 into a tonally different feature that will premiere next year that will focus on more of her interactions with her subjects. I definitely cannot wait Elizabeth, I cannot wait!

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Year: 2015
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Cinematographer: Roger Deakins
Cast: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Bernthal, Victor Garber
Country of Origin: USA
Rating: R
Time: 121 min.

As you all know, my love for Denis Villeneuve is boundless! I always have total faith with every one of his films that my mind will be totally obliterated after its viewing. Villeneuve's latest film, Sicario follows the story of an idealistic FBI agent, Kate, who is enlisted in a government task force to aid them in the raging drug war that is happening at the border of Mexico and the U.S. With a strong cast consisting of Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Bernthal and others, all play a powerful role in this complex and hazy game of the drug war that's a lot bigger than they initially thought.

Emily Blunt gives a nuanced performance that will surely get her an Oscar nod. The suffocating atmosphere permeates at a steady pace throughout the film to truly show the increasingly suffocating and helpless reality we are all living it. It's ruthless in content, immaculate in form, and sweltering bleakness in atmosphere. The music by Jôhann Jôhannson's adds another level of moody sinisterism that's just on the verge of devouring you. 

I did my Director Series of Denis Villeneuve a while back where I rank his films from best to the worst! (If that's even possible!) I came out of the theater just stunned at what I had just experienced. It wasn't what I had expected but immediately knew that after the numbness of my body faded and the full process of this film was felt that Sicario would be considered one of the best films of this year, if not the decade.

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Year: 2015
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin (Screenplay) & James Dashner (Novel)
Cinematographer: Gyula Pados
Cast: Dylan O'Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dexter Darden, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson
Country of Origin: USA
Rating: PG-13
Time: 132 min.

Arshad and I are back and this time we review the sequel to The Maze Runner (see review) called The Scorch Trials. The whole gang are still together and the maze was literally the beginning of their long-winded and dangerous escape from WICKED, the evil corporation behind the maze. While there were still some unanswered questions in The Scorch Trials like there were in the previous film, this film is undoubtedly a more action-packed and sensational film! The gang return with a few fresh faces that round the cast to a solid and diverse bundle of survivors. 

Under the hands of Ball, The Scorch Trials is a better sequel with palpable wall-to-wall action sequences, emotional character arcs, and picturesque cinematography that is swoon-worthy. Never have I felt so stressed watching another young adult post-apocalyptic film. The Maze Runner series is slowly becoming my favorite YA franchise right under the reigning champion, The Hunger Games. Let's just hope with the next film, The Death Cure, that they start to explain what the hell is going on with WICKED more in-depth. I was a little hesitant on the series where it just seems like all they are doing is runner away from the enemy, I am relieved and ecstatic to return to see what Ball has in store for us next! 

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Reed Morano's directorial debut feature Meadowland starring Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson is about to make some major waves! Sarah (Wilde) and Phil's (Wilson) lives become unhinged after the hazy aftermath of an unspeakable loss. He starts lose sight of his moral as she is on the brink of an emotional and psychological breakdown. Needless to say, they are not handling it well. Wilde showcases her full talent in a fearlessly bold and raw bare bones kind of way that communicates the density and depth of her pain so vividly. The film also stars Giovanni Ribisi, Elisabeth Moss, Ty Simpkins, and John Leguizamo. 

Stories of loss always connect with me and Meadowland truly hits harder than any other film this year just by the intense trailer. Morano is the skilled Cinematographer behind films like Frozen River and The Skeleton Twins so naturally with her first film, she decided to shoot and direct it! That's no easy feat but she did it and the results looks absolutely heart-wrenching and gorgeously shot. The trailer offers just enough to make us really want to see the rest of this beautiful piece of work. Meadowland comes out October 16

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Holy crap! The Japanese godfather of extreme violence, absurdity, and all things badass, Takashi Miike (see: Audition, Ichi the Killer) is back with Yakuza Apolcalypse. If you didn't think he could bend genres and take his films to the next level, think again! There's flying vampires, ass-kicking frogs, and most importantly, yakuzas! The story follows Kageyama, a young yakuza who is ridiculed by his peers for not being able to get tattooed. His boss, the notorious and revered Kamiura is in reality, a vampire. After getting literally torn apart by rival gangs, Kamiura passes his powers to Kageyama, forcing him to get revenge on the syndicate. 

Miike is known for his controversial work and while it seems like many will be torn by the film, the unfathomable thought that a yakuza story could have a vampires, monsters, and other supernatural things, I am so down for! Yakuza Apocalypse premiered at Cannes Film Festival and eventually ran its film festival tour through TIFF and finally, it'll be at LA's largest and best genre festival, Beyond Fest! So naturally, I will be seeing it at its West Coast premiere this Friday and have my mind fully blown to smithereens! Let the fighting and blood-sucking commence!

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After I had watched Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself last year, I hit up Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting on twitter saying how the film reminded me a lot of his work and that he should try to make a film (see here). He responded stating that although making a feature length film would probably drive him mad, he considered making a short video called Vancouver Never Plays Itself. Fast forward to present day and ladies and gentlemen, he has made the video and it's finally here!

Contrary to Andersen's film, Zhou goes on to talk about how in film, Vancouver is almost never represented as itself but often disguised as other cities. With acute observation and witty narration, Zhou continues to enlighten and education cinephiles across the globe in ways that film school has never been able to! Needless to say, I'm glad I gave Zhou the little push he needed to finish this video that was already in the making. Vancouver Never Plays Itself has got to be one of my favorite videos of his as it is not only insightful but poignant and powerful to see in the frame of his own personal connection to his hometown of Vancouver! Be sure to continue supporting Tony and all his fantastic work! Go Tony!

Follow Tony Zhou
YouTube // Vimeo // Twitter // Tumblr
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Year: 2015
Director: Asif Kapadia
Country of Origin: UK // USA
Rating: R
Time: 128 min.

Naturally, one of the best documentary of the year called Amy, comes from the team that brought us the acclaimed documentary, Senna. This time, they tackle the rise and fall of the singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse from the sweet beginnings of her career to her toxic affair with Blake Fielder and then onto her eventual death. The entire film is told through third party medias like archival footage, paparazzi photographs, and voiceovers from her friends and family. This format has been used before but considering the context of the suffocating limelight that Amy Winehouse lived under, the film uses this medium to tell a powerful and devastating story that ultimately contributed to her death.

I was a teen when Amy hit the peak of her career which was also the point where her detrimental relationship with Blake and addiction was at it's most fervent. Seeing this film truly brought another light seeing who she was before the price of fame ruined her life. The film stayed with me days after I saw it and even reflecting back on it now, her pain and words continue to haunt me. She possessed a soulful sensibility way beyond her years and she knew it. Who knows what would've come of her if her path didn't turn into what it did but all I know is that her music has forever made it's mark in music history. Whether you're a fan of Amy or not, go watch the film because everything you think you know about her is wrong. 

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You may remember Leah Shore's work from when I shared her engrossingly hilarious & eye-popping short film, I Love You So Much last year. She returns yet again with a provocative short film called Hallway, which premiered at this year's SXSW Film Festival! As Shore describes it, Hallway is "queer, about mental disability and existential breakdowns and is set in a real Brooklyn sex dungeon." (If that doesn't grab your attention, you're dead inside!) She had wanted to create something that was both sexually and gender neutral as to not be categorized. And naturally in the name of love, there are no boundaries. I've always enjoyed Shore's work as they are thought-provoking, visually mind-fucking, & simply so emotionally powerful! Take a ride into the trippy mind of Leah Shore & you'll know what I mean!

Follow Leah Shore

Website // Blog // Vimeo // Twitter
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The pioneer of the Greek Weird Wave, Yorgos Lanthimos is no stranger to peculiar and bizarre stories as seen in his films like Dogtooth and Alps (See video).  His new film The Lobster, is set in a dystopian near future where according to the laws of The City, single people are taken to The Hotel where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and outcasted into the woods (Damn, dating is hard!). In all of Lanthimos' films, there is a powerful and relevant underlining theme of societal conventions. In The Lobster, the traditional societal norms of marriage and partnership is taken to an extreme to tell a very relevant and humane story about us all.

The Lobster premiered at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and it won the Jury Prize award! This is Lanthimos' fifth feature but first film in English so of course, he got the most stellar cast consisting of Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, John C. Reilly, Lêa Seydoux, and Ben Whishaw. I wasn't so sure how Farrell would fit into the peculiar realm of Lanthimos' stories but add in a couple of pounds, a mustache, and an ultra dead-pan attitude and you got a Farrell worth watching! Hopefully they get it to the U.S. ASAP!
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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.

Cheerleaders and football jocks have always been at the top of high school hierarchy, so it’s no wonder why us outcasts always had a love and hate relationship with them. But truth be told, my spunky and spirited 15-year-old self almost became a cheerleader before the inevitable wave of teen angst washed over me. Cheerleaders just had cutest outfits, got all the boys and I just thought my spastic nature would fit right in. Naturally, I had to see the holy grail of cheerleading films, Bring It Onand found plenty to love. As much as I adored Kirsten Dunst as the now iconic Torrance, it was the Clovers that stuck with me because of their no-bullshit, fearless attitude. Despite their economic and sociological background, they had the will to work hard, dream big and come out on top.
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My fervent love and passion for females is a public known fact. I have already said many times that my love for women is so fiery at times that people question if I am queer and I'm totally ok with that! #PussyPower. There are so many films that I absolutely adore directed by women but here I am going to list the films that have inspired and fueled my own work particularly because the 15-day celebration of Directed by Women starts today September 1st to the 15th! The films I am consistently always drawn to are films that tackle themes of identity, sexuality, and friendship. Obviously, some of the films listed below don't fall into these guidelines but are present simply because these films possess vitally important messages and the filmmakers are simply a Badass Femme in her own right! So without further ado, here are my 10 favorite films directed by women! (tbh, no explanation needed! Trust me)

(2014, Cêline Sciamma) 

Marieme joins an all-girl gang in the projects of Paris and is slowly turned out of her shell by her three sassy neighbors. As she falls further under their bravado and volatile energy, she begins making brave and foolish choices.

Fish Tank
(2009, Andrea Arnold)

Mia (Katie Jarvis) is a rebellious teenager on the verge of being kicked out of school. Her hard-partying mother, Joanne (Kierston Wareing), neglects Mia's welfare in favor of her own, and her younger sister (Rebecca Griffiths) hangs out with a much older crowd. Sparks fly between Mia and Connor (Michael Fassbender), Joanne's new boyfriend, and he encourages Mia to pursue her interest in dance. As the boundaries of the relationships become blurred, Mia and Joanne compete for Connor's affection.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night 
(2014, Ana Lily Amipour)

The first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour's debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave.  (via. Kino)

(1983, Penelope Spheeris)

After a suburban Los Angeles development is condemned, a band of rebellious young punk rockers makes the abandoned homes their own in this drama. The residents of the surrounding neighborhoods react by forming a vigilante group to drive the punks away, leading to a number of violent confrontations.

(Certified Badass Femme*)
(2011, Dee Rees)

Teenage Alike (Adepero Oduye) lives in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood with her parents (Charles Parnell, Kim Wayans) and younger sister (Sahra Mellesse). A lesbian, Alike quietly embraces her identity and is looking for her first lover, but she wonders how much she can truly confide in her family, especially with her parents' marriage already strained. When Alike's mother presses her to befriend a colleague's daughter (Aasha Davis), Alike finds the gal to be a pleasant companion.

Palo Alto
(2014, Gia Coppola)

Shy, sensitive April (Emma Roberts) is the class virgin -a popular soccer player and frequent babysitter for her single-dad coach, Mr. B. (James Franco). Teddy (Jack Kilmer) is an introspective artist whose best friend and sidekick Fred (Nat Wolff) is an unpredictable live wire with few filters or boundaries. While April negotiates a dangerous affair with Mr. B., and Teddy performs community service for a DUI - secretly carrying a torch for April, who may or may not share his affection. (Via. Tribeca)

Songs My Brothers Taught Me
(2015, Chloe Zhao)

Songs My Brothers Taught Me is a 2015 American drama film written and directed by Chloé Zhao. It is Zhao's debut feature film. The film, set on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister. 

(2014, Ava DuVernay)

Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

(2013, Stacie Passon)

Written and directed by Stacie Passon in an auspicious directing debut effort, and produced by Rose Troche, CONCUSSION is a poignant sexual examination of Abby (Robin Weigert in a star making breakout turn), a forty something married wealthy, lesbian housewife who, after suffering a blow to the head from getting smacked by her son's baseball-walks around every corner of her suburban life to confront a mounting desire for something else. Her newfound desire though is not a take-home item, so Abby inaugurates a double life as a high end escort. Palpably sensual and deliciously contained, CONCUSSION is a keen observation of the complicated contours of midlife crisis. (via. Radius)

(Certified Badass Femme*)
(2000, Karyn Kusama)

Newcomer Michelle Rodriguez in an astounding performance alongside Jaime Tirelli, Paul Calderon and Santiago Douglas. Nothing comes easy for Diana Guzman, a troubled girl on the brink of womanhood. Her teachers don't understand her, her father underestimates her and her friends are few. Diana struggles to find respect and dignity every day. Diana is a quick tempered young woman who finds discipline, self-respect and love in the most unlikely place -- a boxing ring.

Other Favs:

The Punk Singer (2013, Sini Anderson)
Stories We Tell (2012, Sarah Polley)
The Crash Reel (2013, Lucy Walker)
Tank Girl (1995, Rachel Talalay)
We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011, Lynne Ramsay)
Fat Girl (2001, Catherine Breillat)
The Wolfpack (2015, Crystal Moselle)
Paris is Burning (1990, Jennie Livingston)
Point Break (1991, Kathryn Bigelow)
Thirteen (2003, Catherine Hardwicke)
Clueless (1995, Amy Heckerling)

Films I Have Yet to See but Probably Will Love <33:

Persepolis (2007, Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud)
Take Care of My Cat (2001, Jeong Jae-eun)
Wadjda (2012, Haifaa al-Mansour)
Appropriate Behavior (2014, Desiree Akhavan)
I Will Follow (2010, Ava DuVernay)
Real Women Have Curves (2002, Patricia Cardoso)

Synopsis via. The Internet (duh)
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It's been a while since a good werewolf film came out so you can understand my excitement after seeing the trailer for the upcoming Danish film, When Animals Dream. The film premiered at last year's Cannes Film Festival and made it's numerous festival rounds including the iconic genre festival, Fantastic Fest, so you already know the film's going to hit some nerves! A teenage girl's sexual awakening unleashes something primal within, (oh, does it ever!) revealing a dark family secret. On the run and in danger, she must embrace a century's old curse to survive. Oh man, let the madness begin!

When Animals Dream totally channels moods of Ginger Snaps and Let the Right One In! At first, I couldn't tell if it was a vampire or werewolf film but glad to know that the film involves werewolves because there isn't enough films about these nightly creatures with females in the forefront besides Ginger Snaps (recommendations are welcomed). Also gaze at the beautiful yet jarring poster! Two is always better than one and obviously I couldn't choose because these posters are absolutely stunning. RADiUS is just killin' it these days with horror films like It Follows and Goodnight Mommy under their belt already! I can't wait for this film to come out next week on August 18th on VOD! 

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Yorgos Lanthimos is leading the Greek Weird Wave Cinema movement with his genre-bending and provocative films like Dogtooth and Alps. The subject of identity is nothing new as seen in this video essay prepared as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival Critics Campus program. Conor Bateman looks at the way Lanthimos' narratives present the transformation of identity in three of his films-- Kinetta, Dogtooth, and Alps. Lanthimos dares to challenge not only his characters but the audience to face the absurdity of the society we live in. His next film The Lobster is executed in the same satirical themes and is sure to ignite some conversations about our society's orthodox perception of matrimonial status and true love. Take a gander below and if you haven't seen any of his films, be ready to have your mind-blown!

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The trailer to Robert Eggers' magnificent directorial debut film, The Witch is here! I named the film as one of the best 5 films I saw at Sundance so I am so enthralled to know that A24 finally released a trailer despite it's release being in 2016! Eggers nabbed the Best Director award in the U.S. Narrative Competition at Sundance for The Witch and dare I say, it is a masterpiece. It is 1630 in New England, the lives of a devout Christian family living on the edge of wilderness with five children start to unravel after the mysterious disappearance of their newborn son.  We've all seen stories of parents losing children but when it's the whole family that is a suspect especially, entangled in some ominous magical presence, it's a total different ball game!

This salem-esque story builds to suffocating heights of anxiety and fear as it shows a chilling portrait of a family surrounded by an inescapable evil which is accompanied by masterful camerawork and a powerful musical score. There is about to be some serious devilish shit going down! It's all what a horror film should be with jarring atmospheric tension, mystical figures, and innocent people going mad! The Witch is the one film that I've been telling all my friends about and so, I don't know how I will survive till 2016 for them to all see it! But by the looks of it, I know it's going to be totally worth it! Also, The Witch revived my love for witches and it honestly doesn't get better than that, my friend! 

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Don't just call The Keeping Room a Feminist Western because it is so much more than that! The film stars three of the most kickass women in the biz--Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, and newcomer Muna Otaru. The story takes place during the dying days of the American Civil war where three Southern women--two sisters and one African-American slave--must defend their home and themselves against two strange soldiers. I got a chance to watch it and before I write my review, suffices it to say that you will sweating buckets from the pulsating intensity and panic from the film.

After a successful run in advertising and commercials, Director Daniel Barber went on to create an Oscar-nominated short film called The Tonto Woman before debuting his feature film, Harry Brown starring Michael Caine. It's hard to believe that the The Keeping Room is Julia Hart's first screenplay and Barber's sophomore feature because the film is executed with grade-A suspense. The trailer makes the film look fairly simple but this revisionist Western story packs a big punch. The Keeping Room opens on September 25.

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