Nothing But the Blood (2020)

Intentional or not, when you go in to “Nothing But the Blood” you’re bound to have flashbacks of “Red State,” as director Daniel Tucker seems to be sewing his narrative from the same cloth. Ideas about religious fanaticism, the deadly cost of religious institutions, and the hypocrisy of religious leaders are all here. Les Best even seems to spend most of his time on screen channeling Michael Parks. Daniel Tucker tries hard to establish him as a source of evil, even beginning the movie with a fourth wall breaking prologue as Best’s character reads a long sermon and angrily preaches to us.

Why this should set up the story I was never entirely clear but—it’s black and white, so it’s eerie…?

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Angelfish (2019)

Peter Lee’s “Angelfish” is a very good drama romance about two people with varying obligations and turmoil finding love with one another. Often times when it hits, it hits hard, but when it fails, it tends to ruin the momentum of the narrative and drag on for quite a while. Shocking enough, “Angelfish” can sometimes feel long in the tooth, if only because it often feels like it’s padding the narrative rather than using those opportunities to add more dimension between our characters Brendan and Eva. That said, even in its imperfections, Peter Lee’s Bronx set drama is engaging and often times emotional.

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Perfect (2018)

I’m all for psychologically challenging genre fare, especially in a time where most directors and actors are convinced that many modern audiences aren’t interested in that kind of entertainment anymore. With “Perfect,” Eddie Alcazar taps in to the type of dark science fiction that can be placed beside “2001” and “Waking Life” as just pure utter mind fucks that will leave your head spinning. Alcazar’s sheer visual brilliance sadly tends to mask a narrative that otherwise has no real direction or pretty much anything of real merit to say.

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Raising Victor Vargas: If John Hughes Came to the Lower East Side of New York

I’m glad we’re living in a time where teen movies are becoming so much more diverse and open to various audiences. Once upon a time, teen movies were basically about upper middle class Caucasian teenagers living through something bad. And while I don’t begrudge John Hughes for tapping in to the zeitgeist, seeing someone like me on screen these days is so refreshing and allows a new generation to see themselves on-screen. Representation matters. And it counts for a lot.

Before the late aughts, there were a select few teen films about minorities. One of the best of their ilk was 2003’s “Raising Victor Vargas.” It’s a movie I’m shocked doesn’t get discussed very much these days, as it’s so much in line with John Hughes’ teen drama comedies.

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Erasing Eden (2016)

It’s easy to see where director Beth Dewey draws her influences from as “Erasing Eden” is very much a modern successor to “Five Easy Pieces.” Rather than the story of a well off young man, “Erasing Eden” centers on a young woman with everything who is prepared to destroy it all. For what reason? Even she doesn’t know, as she spends so much of “Erasing Eden” setting off a series of catastrophic events and reluctantly trying to reverse them in order to make it to her own wedding.

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Elodie (2019)

There aren’t many good movies or movies at all, for that matter, about the writing experience, and it’s a shame. There’s so much to be mined in the realm of creating and how characters can take on their own lives. “Elodie” is an indie gem that deserves to be watched by just about everyone, as it’s not just a wonderful character piece, but a superb look at the creative experience and the concept of impostor syndrome.

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1BR (2020)

Going in to “1BR,” its pretty clears that director David Marmor takes pages from Ira Levin’s psyche, reflecting many themes and ideas the author was known for. Director David Marmor builds a simplistic but absolutely harrowing thriller that confronts similar feminine themes. “1BR” feels so much like a movie torn out from 1979 and altered for modern times. That element works for the movie, as the lack of more modern constructs gives his thriller a very timeless displaced feeling. This sense of aesthetic contributes to the sheer claustrophobia and alienation that character Sarah experiences.

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You Have to See This! Rad (1986)

Although I was born in ’83, I’m old enough to remember when BMX bikes of all kinds were the biggest thing in pop culture. I also recall them inevitably seeping their way in to television and movies. I’m old enough to recall my cousins bickering about BMX Bikes, (and girls, and video games) so much so that Hollywood inevitably made a few movies to capitalize on the popularity. Along with “BMX Bandits,” 1986’s “Rad” is a bland and utterly silly attempt to grab some money out of one of the biggest eighties crazes of the decade.

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