Shorts Round Up of the Week: 5/26/20

It’s the return of Shorts Round Up of the Week! And this week, Emilie Black steps in to the driver’s seat bringing readers some reviews for four of the latest short films from very unique indie film voices.

If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers. 

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Very Bad Things (1998) [Blu-Ray]

Director Peter Berg is a man of varying flavors of cinematic outputs. He’s been a working man’s director more than an artist, but some of his work has been very good, while his other films have been complete dreck. Falling squarely in the “dreck” peg, there’s one of his earlier efforts, 1998’s “Very Bad Things.” It’s pitch black confused mess that takes us through a spiraling vortex of violence, as a group of emasculated men struggle to maintain their lives after a bad night involving a prostitute, a bachelor party, and disturbing murder.  Continue reading

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Harley Quinn has been one of the most popular DC Comics anti-heroes of the last twenty years, and for good reason. She went from an abused spouse who served her partner thanks to years of mental abuse, gas lighting and Stockholm Syndrome, to someone who cast off the shadow of the Joker to carve out her own niche. Harley Quinn should be an easy adaptation but DC and Warner haven’t quite mastered it yet. After stealing the show in “Suicide Squad,” she steals the show again in “Birds of Prey” but still never quite comes out unscathed thanks to what is an imperfect and brutally flawed, albeit balls to the wall entertaining action movie.

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Knives Out (2019)

By all accounts, Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” should not have been such a stunning success. It’s an original murder mystery with an eye toward paying tribute to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie, and yet it’s such a brilliant work of cinema through and through. “Knives Out” is a traditionalist murder mystery ensemble piece but one that also evokes modern sensibility without resorting to pandering to a younger audience. You’re either in for the ride with “Knives Out,” or you’re not as it takes its time unfolding what is a sly, slick and fantastic crime thriller that kept me grinning from ear to ear from beginning to end. 

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In “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood,” Tarantino Takes the Piss out of Charles Manson

The Following Article contains massive spoilers to “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.”

In 1969, America was forever rocked by the vicious Tate-LaBianca murders which saw the Charles Manson family convicted for murdering five people including up and coming actress Sharon Tate. Decades later, Hollywood and many artists are still considerably fascinated not just by Charles Manson, but the Manson Family. On the anniversary of Sharon Tate’s murder, a lot of Hollywood jumped on the band wagon to find a way to highlight or explore the events leading up to her terrible murder. Except for Quentin Tarantino. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has managed to become yet another Tarantino masterpiece that has sparked endless discussion and arguments.

Despite the fact that Tarantino stages another alternate reality where the bad guys endured horrible deaths, “Once Upon a Time…” still managed to get approval from Sharon Tate’s family. And that’s probably because, refreshingly, Tarantino takes the piss out of Charles Manson and the Manson Family.

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Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)

Quentin Tarantino has always been a connoisseur of Hollywood and the concept of filmmaking and storytelling. There’s a certain peculiar magic that comes with creating a narrative and how it allows the creator to do whatever they want. With all of Tarantino’s movies, he’s paid tribute to ideas like Chopsocky cinema, gangster pictures, blaxploitation, and with “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” he pays tribute to Hollywood and the one and only Sharon Tate.

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Simon, King of the Witches (1971)

The explanations I’ve read on online for “Simon, King of the Witches” insist that the obscure Andrew Prine movie is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s strictly dark comedy. But then you watch one of the most nonsensical unnecessary opening monologues ever filmed, and wonder if the writer himself was high while creating this genre confused tedious mess. “I really am one of the few true magicians,” Simon insists in the prologue, while declaring his affinity for magic, and aspirations to be a god. It is then followed by the man being arrested for vagrancy while being hulled away from his home: a sewer.

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The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

I have to say that I liked “The Dead Don’t Die.” It feels a lot like Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” doesn’t just seem to feel like his effort to give his own spin to the sub-genre, but it also feels like the proving ground for the man to be as bizarre and often stupid as he possibly can. With “The Dead Don’t Die” it’s a bit of an experimental and bizarre zombie comedy that has absolutely no breaks on. It throws everything at the wall to see what sticks, from terrible breaking of the fourth wall, clunky symbolism (chairs that look like tombstones! Hah! Get it?), sub-plots that go nowhere, and space ships.

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