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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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