Now Available: July 17, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

While on a spring break trip to Mexico, Olivia (Lucy Hale) and her friends join a mysterious stranger for a game of truth or dare. As is prone to happen when you play a game of truth or dare with a stranger in a creepy abandoned mansion with a stranger, things get a little weird. When they get back, Olivia and her friends begin to realize that the game isn’t over. One by one, the participants must choose to tell uncomfortable truths or to participate in increasingly deadly dares. The only rule in Jeff Wadlow’s Truth or Dare? Participate or die.

There has been a lot of good and unexpected horror that has come out over the past few years. Truth or Dare exists to remind us that the mediocre teen horror genre is still going strong. There’s not an original thought in the film, borrowing liberally from several superior films (the most obvious well from which they draw is 2000’s Final Destination). There’s no underlying sense of dread at all, just a handful of poorly executed jump scares. The filmmakers make an odd choice to have people under control of the game take on the look of what the film calls a “demonic Snap Chat filter” that has the effect of making otherwise tense situations just look pretty silly.

Thankfully, the cast doesn’t realize that they’re in an uninspired, run of the mill movie. Lucy Hale is really good as Olivia. Her relationship with Markie (Violett Beane) is the anchor of the film. Both actresses give their friendship a strong sense of history. Hayden Szeto is great as Brad, a young closeted gay man who on the surface has the most to lose by being forced to tell the truth. The ending of the film, which I won’t spoil here, is another strong point. It goes somewhere that’s quite unexpected and follows through on some of the ideas that the film tries (often clumsily) to examine.

Truth or Dare is a rote teen horror film with little to nothing new to offer the genre. Despite solid performances and a surprisingly satisfying ending, I’d suggest watching one of the many films it’s copying.

Also available this week:

Isle of Dogs- Our own Aaron White gave Wes Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation 4.5 stars here. If you’re an Anderson fan, and why wouldn’t you be, it’s a must-see.

Rampage- Aaron enjoyed this early summer popcorn flick starring The Rock and a CGI gorilla.  Read his review here.

You Were Never Really Here- This dark but artful examination of suffering isn’t easy to watch, but worth it says Aaron, here.

Disobedience- Don says: Sebastián Lelio’s followup to the Oscar winning foreign film Fantastic Women is worth a watch for it’s challenging religious themes and its underlying message about marriage.

I Feel Pretty- Jeremy says:This mostly laugh-less comedy that tries half-heartedly to have a positive message about self-image might appeal to those who haven’t yet tired of Amy Schumer.

Super Troopers 2- Jeremy says: If you’re a fan of the original, you’d probably better check this one out right meow. If you’re not, the second installment isn’t likely to win you over.


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 118: Troy

Back on the show with us this week to discuss the over 3-hour long Director’s Cut of Wolfgang Petersen’s 2004 epic Greek tragedy Troy, is Andrew B. Dyce from Screenrant.com. We tackle this violent, emotional epic telling of a classic tale as thoroughly as possible, and we hope you enjoy.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:09

(Boxed In – Patrick’s short film from the Little Rock 48-Hour Film Project)

Troy Review – 0:16:23

The Connecting Point – 1:49:50 

 

Contact


Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode


Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

or you can support us through Paypal as well. Select the link below and make your one-time or recurring contribution.

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

Minisode 47: Interview with Director Gus Van Sant and Actress Beth Ditto of Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Aaron recently had the opportunity to share an interview of Gus Van Sant and Beth Ditto with John from the About to Review podcast. We discuss Gus’ latest film, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, as well as many unique topics brought up by our always interesting guests. This interview is spoiler-free. Enjoy, and be sure to check out John’s podcast when you’re done!


Contact


Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode


Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

or you can support us through Paypal as well. Select the link below and make your one-time or recurring contribution.

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

Summer of Anime

Prologue: What’s This All About

Anime has always been one of those genres that I usually avoid. Until a couple of years ago, it was seen as this obscure foreign animation where the characters had exaggerated facial expressions and actions, and the stories were generally seen as bordering on the quirky and fantastical. To get me acclimated, I was introduced to Hayao Miyazaki, as he is typically seen as the standard for what really great Anime is. Since then, I’ve not stepped out of that comfort zone, with the exception of specific recommendations by friends or the occasional subject of an episode of Feelin’ Film. Which brings me here.

This summer I’ve decided to take a look at about a dozen highly regarded anime films from a breadth of directors and time periods. My goal, less about seeing as many as I can, is more about finding out what appeals to me, what surprises me, and what kind of connection I can have to each film.

Be sure to check back for the latest review. Enjoy!


Chapter 1: Grave of the Fireflies

Director: Isao Takahata
Year: 1988
Synopsis:The story of Seita and Satsuko, two young Japanese siblings, living in the declining days of World War II. When an American firebombing separates the two children from their parents, the two siblings must rely completely on one another while they struggle to fight for their survival.

One Word Takeaway: Abrupt

The story of Seita and Satsuko is one that needs to be heard. So often I find myself exposed to stories of war and all I hear are numbers and statistics. It’s difficult to think about mass casualties because there aren’t faces with those numbers. This film gives me context into the lives of people who are affected by war while not being directly connected to it. It challenges me to connect emotionally to these two characters who, while not real, represent a group of people that were exposed to the harshness of World War II on the other side of the world. It disrupts my life for an hour or two, making me uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing.

It’s a tragic story for sure, but that’s one of the things that separates it from most other anime. As Roger Ebert said, “Grave of the Fireflies is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation…..[it] is a powerful dramatic film that happens to be animated.”


Chapter 2: Whisper of the Heart

Director: Yoshifumi Kondō
Year: 1995
Synopsis: Based on the manga with the same title, this animated film follows Shizuku, an inquisitive young girl and a voracious reader, who longs to be a writer when she grows up. One day she notices that all of her library books have previously been taken out by one Seiji Amasawa. Amid chasing after a large cat, befriending an eccentric antiques dealer and writing her first novel, Shizuku aims to find this mysterious boy who may well be her soul mate.

One Word Takeaway: Risk

WHISPER OF THE HEART feels like a story in two parts. In one way, it’s a story of a young girl growing up, like many kids, trying to figure out who she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life. At the same time, it also has an almost forced romantic feel to it, in her unintentional pursuit of finding this mystery person whose name has been in all of the library books she checks out. What I connected with the most was the seeing how Shizuku, through a variety of experiences, learns that she has two choices when it comes to her writing. She can continue to dream and be a lover of this “idea” that one day she will be a great writer, but never actually realize that out of fear or discomfort. Or she can take a risk, knowing she will probably fail, only to continue to get better.

Actively making a choice, and risking failure, exists in anyone who has a big idea. This film is a good reminder that we should take risks, and have permission to fail. It’s because of this resonating theme that I feel like the other half of the film, her relationship with Seiji, feels forced, at least in parts. There are some wonderful moments between them and in different instances he acts as a sort of inspiration for her to think about what could be. The romantic slant that exists feels out of place and doesn’t really serve what I consider the more important aspects of the story.

Overall though, it’s a really enjoyable film.


Chapter 3: Perfect Blue

Director: Satoshi Kon
Year: 1997
Synopsis: A retired pop singer turned actress’ sense of reality is shaken when she is stalked by an obsessed fan and seemingly a ghost of her past.

One Word Takeaway: Blur

I wrestled with my one-word takeaway for this film, because it was difficult to sum up exactly how I felt after watching it. There are a handful of movies that get the “watch this once and move on” stamp from me, not because they are bad, but because the subject matter is so intense and moving that if watched multiple times, could lessen the impact it has. It is also incredibly hard to watch. PERFECT BLUE will live in the same category of other films such as AMERICAN HISTORY X, MISSISSIPPI BURNING, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, and CRASH. It’s a solid  film because of its depiction of what happens when a person, so bent on changing her image, will do whatever it takes to do so, and the gritty animation with it’s muted color palette helps accent the tone of the overall story. At the same time, there are moments in the movie that are hard to stomach. Rape is depicted and there are two to three lingering moments of violent murders, all of which contribute to the intentional discomfort the movie is trying to articulate.

What I think the movie does really well is use the storytelling device of the unreliable narrator. The lines of reality and fantasy are blurred through the eyes of the main character, and it’s difficult (sometimes to a fault) to know what’s real and what isn’t. As an audience I need to have some kind of assurance by the end of the story that I know what’s real and what isn’t. While I feel like there is some closure here, I’m mostly left wondering.

Overall, it’s hard to say if I would recommend this movie. On one hand, it’s a solid piece of storytelling, and one that uses the style of anime in a way that rivals cerebral procedural crime dramas. At the same time, the elements of rape and violence that are depicted aren’t for the faint of heart, and it’s not one that will be on my radar in the near future.


Chapter 4: Millennium Actress

Director: Satoshi Kon
Year: 2001
Synopsis: The story of two documentary filmmakers investigating the life of a retired acting legend. As she tells them the story of her life, the difference between reality and cinema becomes blurred.

One Word Takeaway: Motivation

If there is one thing I can say after two installments of Satoshi Kon’s work, it’s that he had one of the most creative ways of crafting his narrative. In some ways this was a serious departure from his previous film PERFECT BLUE, but in others it feels completely consistent in MILLENIUM ACTRESS. It is  incredibly purposeful, in that he doesn’t want to just tell you a story. He wants you to feel like you are part of the story. And in this film, he takes that to a literal level. What starts out as TV interviewer Genya Tachibana and his camera man Kyoji Ida talking to seasoned actress Chiyoko Fujiwara about her career, soon becomes an emotional and imaginative participation in that career.

We start with a simple camera and light pointed at her on a couch as she begins her story, then we move into flashbacks with Tachibana and Kyoji watching and filming documentary style, and soon after we see Tachibana fully participating in these memories as a character in these films she is recounting. It’s a wonderful way to show us the history of Chiyoko’s career, but also how much it meant to Tachibana, as we find out later why that is.

But the most interesting thing about this movie for me is the answer to a question it asks early on through Tachibana. How did Fujiwara begin such a long and successful career? It is through a chance encounter with a mysterious man, seemingly on the run from authorities, whom she befriends and hides. After his escape, she finds out that he is heading to Manchuria, and she uses an acting opportunity (discouraged earlier in the film by her mother) to find him. This moment begins what I believe is the overall motivation for her successful career, that pursuit of love over the course of 30 plus years. It is such a beautiful way to capture. The whole movie wraps up in a way that feels incredibly complete, and in some ways brutally satisfying (if that’s even possible).

After watching this film, I’m excited to see if the Satoshi Kon narrative creativity continues.


Chapter 5: Tokyo Godfathers

Director: Satoshi Kon
Year: 2003
Synopsis: On Christmas Eve, three homeless people living on the streets of Tokyo find a newborn baby among the trash and set out to find its parents.

One Word Takeaway: Unconventional

Honestly, I’m not intending this to become a Summer of Satoshi Kon. That’s just how the chronology and film picks are shaping up. By my numbers, I think I have one more to go but that’s not for a couple of movies down the line.

This is probably the most straight forward of Kon’s narratives, but it isn’t without its uniqueness. As an aspiring storyteller, I was reminded of how stories don’t have to be complicated to be good. They just have to be told in a refreshing way. It’s a simple story, following three homeless people, an alcoholic, a runaway teenager, and a homosexual, all living together on the streets. One Christmas Eve, they discover an abandoned baby and through this discovery, we as an audience find out more about their individual past lives and how they are connected. While the main plot centers around an abandoned child who is initially adopted and loved on by these individuals, it becomes a story that amplifies those themes within each of our protagonists. We find out more about all three of these characters, why they are where they are, and how abandonment, adoption, and ultimately an unconventional love plays it’s part to connect them together.

Though I liked the story, I found the animation to be along the lines of typical anime, with wide open mouths and over-expressions. I’m realizing that’s not a character trait I dig in this genre, but it didn’t deter my enjoyment of this movie.


Patrick “Patch” Hicks calls Little Rock, Arkansas home with his family of four (his wife, son and two pets). When he’s not podcasting, he works as a multimedia designer and is also dabbling in the art of writing and directing. You can find him floating around the web on Twitter, Facebook, and his home on the web, ThisIsPatch.com.

Now Available: July 10, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Late on July 18, 1969, a vehicle driven by Senator Ted Kennedy swerved off of a bridge, landing on its roof in Poucha Pond on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts. While Senator Kennedy was able to get out of the vehicle and safely make it to shore, his passenger, the 28 year old Mary Jo Kopechne, died in the vehicle. Kennedy fled the scene of the accident and didn’t report it for over 9 hours. Due to conflicting accounts over the years by Kennedy and his associates who were were with him both in the hours before and after the accident, as well as coroner reports that indicated Kopechne died of suffocation, not drowning, have led to much speculation over the past 49 years about what actually happened that night. Did the accident happen as described by its only survivor? If so, why did he wait so long to report it? Were Kennedy’s actions properly dealt with or was this a case where the influence wielded by one of the United States’ most powerful families allowed justice to be undermined?

John Curran’s Chappaquiddick efforts to retell this murky story in a way that focuses on established facts to show the social and political ramifications of the incident while responsibly filling in some of the holes in the official version of the story. Jason Clarke leads an impressive cast as Kennedy, proving to be more than up to the task of transforming himself into the “Lion of the Senate.” Most everyone has a generic Kennedy impression somewhere in their repertoire, but Clarke surpasses mere imitation by playing the character as a man weighed down by his perceived responsibility to be who his father expects him to be as the only surviving Kennedy son following the assassination of his brother Robert just a month prior to the incident. His brother John’s shadow also looms large in the film, as much of the background noise is of televisions and radios tuned in to hear about Apollo 11’s journey to the moon, an endeavor fiercely supported by the late president that occurred on the same weekend as the accident. Ed Helms gives a rare but capable dramatic performance as Joseph Gargan, the cousin to Kennedy who became the estranged from the family as a result of the incident. Gargan is the conscience of the film and most of the blanks filled in on the story are consistent with the real life Gargan’s recollections of the incident in the 1988 book Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up by Leo Demore. Jim Gaffigan gives a surprisingly balanced performance as Kennedy family friend and Massachusetts District Attorney Paul F. Markham, a man burdened by his loyalty to the Kennedy’s as he goes about the icky business of effectively spinning the death of a young woman in a way that would salvage a promising political career. Curran’s direction and the screenplay are tight, giving the film an even pace and the feel of a thriller. I’m always impressed when a director is able to make a well-known event feel like anything could happen, and Curran is able to accomplish that here. It’s a well balanced film that avoids promoting salacious conspiracy theories but doesn’t paint a flattering picture of the senator either. 

Overall Chappaquiddick is an impressive film buoyed by a dynamite lead performance by Clarke. It’s definitely worth the price of a Redbox. It’s probably even still worth it if you forget to return it for a day or two.

Also available this week:

A Quiet Place: Patrick and Aaron discussed this film with special guest Patrick Willems on Episode 104 of the podcast and Aaron wrote a review here.

The Leisure Seeker

Lean on Pete

211

Future World

Sweet Country


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 117: Ant-Man and the Wasp

This week we are covering the sequel to the 2015 hit, and one of Aaron’s favorite Marvel characters, Ant-Man. It’s got jokes, it’s got heart, and it’s got the word QUANTUM being used more than a few times. We also have a great conversation about the recently released documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:00:56

(Aaron & Patrick – Won’t You Be My Neighbor?)

Ant-Man and the Wasp Review – 0:18:50

The Connecting Point – 1:09:03


Contact


Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode 


Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

or you can support us through Paypal as well. Select the link below and make your one-time or recurring contribution.

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

Minisode 046: Rush

It’s donor pick time, and it looks like we were too fast for our own good, seeing as how we sped right past June and are bringing you that pick a few days into July. Thanks for being forgiving and we hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we do. We’re talking Rush, Ron Howard’s 2013 biopic about the Formula One racing rival between James Hunt and Niki Lauda.


Contact


Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode


Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

or you can support us through Paypal as well. Select the link below and make your one-time or recurring contribution.

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

Now Available: July 3, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

It’s 1982 and Lebanon is embroiled in civil war. Former US Diplomat Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm) is compelled to return to the city where his wife was murdered ten years earlier to negotiate the return of a kidnapped former colleague. Racing against the timeline of the abductors, Skiles must attempt to meet their demands while navigating around multiple obstacles in the form of the State Department and the CIA.

Brad Anderson’s Beirut is a tense thriller that’s elevated by what may be my favorite film role in Jon Hamm’s career. For the most part, I’ve found Hamm’s dramatic film roles to be pretty bland, but as any Mad Men fan could tell you, playing a highly functional alcoholic with the keen ability to tell people what it is they want to hear is right in his wheelhouse, in fact it might be his wheelhouse. Rosamund Pike is, of course, great, and a little under utilized, as CIA officer and Skiles’ handler Sandy Crowder. When the story threatens to get bogged down with one too many complications, Hamm and Pike never let it become anything less than interesting. The cinematography is occasionally too dark, but for the most part it’s perfect in its dirty, gritty aesthetic. The story is intriguing, although occasionally it threatens to spin too tangled a web. Setting the story against the backdrop of an actual historical war is a nice touch that gives even the calmer moments a sense of urgency. 

Overall, while it doesn’t do anything to really separate itself in the genre, strong performances make the film worth checking out. Beirut is a pretty solid choice for a quiet Sunday night on the sofa.

Also available this week:

Blockers: You can read my review of this fun twist on the teen sex comedy here.

7 Days in Entebbe

Borg vs. McEnroe

Finding Your Feet

Journey’s End

Ismael’s Ghosts

Another Wolf Cop

The Female Mind

The Cured


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 116: Independence Day

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate this patriotic American holiday, we are finally getting around to discussing the beloved sci-fi adventure film, Independence Day. Josh from LSG Media’s Science Fiction Film Podcast joins us to as we try to figure out why so many love the cheesy nature of this film, but reject similar dialogue and plots in other movies. Spoiler alert, we definitely talk about “the speech” and even play it, too, so get ready to wipe your eyes and pump your fist!

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:30

(Aaron – Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Beirut)
(Patrick – The West Wing Weekly/Aaron Sorkin)
(Josh – Anthropoid, Mr. Nobody)

Independence Day Review – 0:19:06

The Connecting Point – 1:17:39


Contact


Join the Facebook Discussion Group

Download this Episode


Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

or you can support us through Paypal as well. Select the link below and make your one-time or recurring contribution.

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

MOVIE REVIEW: Sicario: Day of the Soldado

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (2018)

When the man behind a suicide bombing at a Kansas City supermarket is revealed to have entered the country through the border between Texas and Mexico, the President of the United States is in a position to officially deem human trafficking a terrorist activity, giving them more latitude to deal with the controversial issue. With the intention of waging a battle on this new front in the war on terror, Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver and his team are given the task of firing the first shot.

“It might get dirty.”

“Dirty is why you’re here.”

Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado is the follow up to Denis Villeneuve’s outstanding Sicario that no one really knew we needed but were all, nevertheless, curious to see. Gone is Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer, the young FBI agent who served as the conscience and the audience stand in in the first film. Returning are Graver and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), as well as their unorthodox, but unarguably effective, ways of dealing with troubles at the border. Their plan is simple. They are going to kidnap the 16 year old daughter of the cartel kingpin who killed Alejandro’s family and make it look like it was another cartel. The intention is to start a turf war between cartels so that the war on trafficking will be fought against distracted opponents. But of course, nothing is simple at the border.

To tell more would be to give too much away. Sollima has managed to craft a follow-up that perfectly inhabits the world created in Sicario. Villeneuve had a way of putting his camera in places that made the audience feel like they were in the vehicle crossing the border or in the hidden tunnels used to traffic drugs. Sollima, especially in action sequences, gives us that same perspective, heightening the tension with every note of Hildur Guonadottir’s haunting score. One of the biggest obstacles to a sequel in my mind was going to be that the protagonist (I use that term loosely) of this film was going to be a guy who we saw murder women and children in the first film. Taylor Sheridan is able to more fully round out the character of Alejandro in a way that doesn’t ask the audience to root for him but also doesn’t allow him to be despised. Once again, Del Toro is electric in the role, but at this point in his career, saying that Benicio Del Toro is great is pretty redundant because he’s just fantastic in everything. Most of the tales that Hollywood tells of hitmen either glamorize or bring a sense of humor to the profession. S:DotS shows us the blunt reality of the job, but Del Toro never lets Alejandro become a monster. Speaking of redundant, Josh Brolin is also fantastic as Graver. His character isn’t fleshed out too much more (other than apparently he’s left his flip-flops behind for a comfy pair of Crocs), but being in the dark about his past is what makes his character work so well. Isabela Moner shows a deep inner strength as Isabel Reyes, the kidnapped teen, even as she’s completely terrified and in the dark as to what’s happening to her.

This film is tight, this film is tense, and this film is timely. Child separation, human trafficking, terrorism…those are all things that you can read about on the front page of your newspaper tomorrow morning. And Sicario: Day of the Soldado doesn’t presume to have any answers to these issues. While the original gave us Kate Mercer and her earnestness and her moral compass to see this world through, this film kind of just makes us sit in the filth and be disgusted (hopefully) by the machinations on both sides of this volatile scenario. There aren’t winners. There aren’t losers. It’s all just dirty.

So don’t go see Sicario: Day of the Soldado if you need a couple of hour diversion from your problems. But if you want a thoughtful, well-executed thriller, you’re not afraid to sit with a bit of ambiguity, and you enjoyed (or at least saw) the first installment, I think it’s worth your time.

Rating:


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.