Real Artists (2017) [Final Girls Berlin Film Festival]

“Obsessions” Shorts Block

Director Cameo Wood, and co-writer Ken Liu’s “Real Artists” is a slick bit of satire that folks annoyed by the dominance of certain Hollywood studios might love. In fact, “Real Artists” is a great movie regardless, as it explores the idea of actual art, and what separates actual art from homogenized products for the masses. After her edit of a big studio’s animated movie goes viral, artist Sophia Baker is called in for an interview with a very popular and dominant animation studio.

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Slamdance Narrative Shorts Block 2 [Slamdance Film Festival 2019]

Akeda (The Binding) (2018)
Dan Bronfeld’s drama is a disturbing but fascinating bit of meta-fiction that examines the real life brutality of war and loss of innocence. Bronfeld stages the film initially like an actual confrontation between American soldiers and an Israeli family. When the surviving son of the family emerges from his spot we learn he’s actually making a film. But is he? As we learn more and more about the filmmakers and their inherent tribalism, what we think we’re seeing doesn’t quite seem as absolute anymore. We’re left to wonder if he’s making a movie, or if he’s merely lying to himself to shield from the horrors of the war and violence that’s unfolding all around him. “Akeda” makes a strong statement about the brutality and sensationalism of war, and it’s a gem of a drama.

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Holmes & Watson (2018)

The movie so bad that not even Netflix wanted it, “Holmes & Watson” looks like one of those movies where the only reason why its stars signed on was because studio promised a potential blockbuster. What we get instead is two very talented men reduced to delivering one of the most atrocious movies of 2018 that contributes to the death of the comedy genre in film. “Holmes & Watson” is laughless, pointless and actually poorly reflects the capability of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly both of whom can turn in comedy gold with the right material.

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Vice (2018)

For years, satirists pin pointed Dick Cheney as the man behind George W. Bush, a man who was much too smart for the man running the country, he was the man often depicted as the grouchy old grandfather, or stern dad watching over his under achiever son and pulling the strings behind the scenes while junior basically had no idea and was wiser for not knowing, and “Vice” doesn’t shy away from that common message. “Vice” is an engrossing often pitch black comedy that is so much more complex than that now infamous gag. But Adam McKay makes it clear what kind of person Dick Cheney is from the minute we see him. Upon the bombings of 9/11, he’s swept away in to a safe room and decides to commit to swift political, consciously and visually keeping Bush oblivious to the scenarios unfolding.

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Teen Titans Go! to the Movies (2018) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

I’ve come to terms with “Teen Titans Go!” and I’ve especially come to accept it thanks to the shockingly good feature film. If there was ever a time where the superhero movie genre was ripe for parody and satire it’s 2018, and “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies” manages to do it better than anyone else. For everyone that’s come before, attempting to mock the whole appeal of the sub-genre, “Teen Titans Go!” captures the whole appeal and absurdity of the superhero movie and the superhero mythology as a whole. It also manages to cater to the hardcore comic book buffs in the audience, inspiring some great laughs from obscure references.

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Funny Man (1994)

To say that Simon Sprackler’s “Funny Man” is a bizarre horror film is doing no justice. It is probably one of the most bizarre horror movies I’ve ever seen, and I’m sad to admit I’ve never heard of it until 2018. I’m usually very good about horror movies and slashers, but “Funny Man” jumped right over my head, and I was finally able to see it. I wasn’t so much entertained as I was genuinely baffled most of the time, and I’m not sure if that was a bad thing or not. It’s a good enough horror movie if you’re willing to accept it’s sheer insanity.

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Tales From the Hood 2 (2018)

Rusty Cundieff is back for what is another racial based horror anthology that not so subtly comments on our current social and political climate. The original “Tales from the Hood” still packs immense relevance today, and Cundieff goes another bite at the jugular. While “Tales from the Hood 2” isn’t only packs two very strong horror stories surrounding racism and corruption, it’s still a fun, darkly comic satire with Keith David doing a stellar job as our new Satanic narrator. The budget is obviously lesser this time, but “Tales from the Hood 2” packs a wallop with a ton of biting satire.

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Ahockalypse (2018)

Some horror movie premises are just ripe for comedy gold. Cockneys vs. Zombies, strippers vs. zombies, Brits vs. Zombies, et al, but “Ahockalypse” which pits hockey players against a zombie apocalypse is a swing and a miss. It’s not a complete miss overall, but in the end there was just so much that could have been done with the premise. The hockey themed horror comedy’s lack of budget is one of the elements that hinder an otherwise clever idea, as well as a clear lack of tonal consistency through and through.

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