Now in 2020, the greatly anticipated sequel Doom Eternal has finally been pushed to consoles and let me tell you—the wait was worth it. As in 2016’s entry, Doom Eternal is light on plot, with the game’s primary plot focusing on killing three Hell Priests so that their continued harvesting of Earth’s energy will not lead to total decimation of the planet’s resources. It’s A to B to C, really, with your main goal being maiming, murdering, and massacring anything and everything that gets in your way. I get a thrill out of the way the DoomGuy (or Doom Slayer, as he is canonically known here) is revered as a hero to those who seek his help or feared by the innumerable demonic enemies that get in his way towards finishing his quest.
We could all use a good laugh right now. Several shorts in the SXSW programming did a remarkable job of cracking me up—like BASIC, for example—but few made me smile as much as DADDIO. A mixture of sorrow and silliness that is surreal but oddly grounded, the film packs a lot of emotion, truth, hilarity, and humanity into its short running time.
Even though it is dabbling in the occult and supernatural, Cursed Films, comes from a very natural and normal starting point. Humans want things to make sense. It sounds like an obvious statement, but it’s a very specific drive that makes a huge impact on how people perceive and act in the world. Probably the most benign example is that of the montage in film: Eisenstein showed that if a film is edited with images/scenes next to each other, audiences will naturally preclude that they are related (somehow) and add it to their own accounting of the narrative (while possibly amping up their emotional response depending on the visuals).
Something that always dispirits me at film festivals is how often makers of shorts say that the next project they are working on is a “feature-length” version of the movie that was just screened. Of course, there have been many instances of short films successfully transforming into features by the original creators—DISTRICT 9, THE BABADOOK, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, THE EVIL DEAD, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, THX-1138, WHIPLASH, LIGHTS OUT, MAMA, BOTTLE ROCKET, etc. And there are certainly ways to expand on these under-40 minutes stories, by worldbuilding or deeper character backstories, or other avenues that come about with more time, money, and other resources. But often this statement occurs after seeing a very strong short film that gets in, gets out, all killer no filler and works perfectly as is and it simply feels like either the safe choice or a matter of padding to go back to the well.
One of the wonderful aspects of film is its ability to represent people that are far too often sidelined in other societal ways. A pair of short films—FIGURANT and RUNON—give a voice to those rarely heard whilst still managing to capture a wide range of emotions within their central characters without uttering a word.
Shorts ‘STILL WYLDE’ and ‘MIZUKO’ Explore Similar Liminal Spaces in Very Different Styles [SXSW 2020]
In my previous reviews of shorts that would’ve played at SXSW 2020, there was the thematic link of social media but told through the lens of two very different tones and genres. In this pairing of short films, both STILL WYLDE and MIZUKO deal with pregnancies that don’t happen, but…
ONCE UPON A TIME IN UGANDA, directed by Cathryne Czubek with co-director Hugo Perez, follows the birth and progression of Wakaliwood and Ramon Productions, a unique Ugandan homespun group of filmmakers led by Nabwana I.G.G. (aka Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey) who have produced 40 films in less than 15 years. This inspiring documentary shines a light on the cinematic innovation borne out of a slum neighborhood Wakaliga devoid of resources the Western world takes for granted, like electricity and plumbing. Nabwana shared a trailer for his feature film, WHO KILLED CAPTAIN ALEX on Youtube and caught the unlikely eye of Alan Hofmanis and inspired the native New York film programmer to upturn his life and head to Uganda.
Watching CARGO, it becomes apparent that consistency in tone is a hard element to quantify in films. Often times reviews (including those written by this particular critic) will point out tonal inconsistencies or a lack of coherence. But many of the best movies ever made are a combination of tones—from…
Way back when before the world was turned upside down (you know, like a month ago), I was scrolling through the movies scheduled to play at SXSW this year. Under the documentary section was the film MY DARLING VIVIAN. I didn’t have a clue what it was about, I just saw the image of Johnny Cash with a woman I didn’t recognize. The synopsis said the woman was Cash’s first wife. Wait, Johnny Cash had a first wife? Yes, he did and I had no idea. I didn’t know that Cash’s four daughters—Rosanne, Cindy, Kathy, and Tara—weren’t the daughters of Cash and June Carter Cash. And this, ladies and gentlemen, was the reason Cash’s daughters wanted to make this documentary. The Cash machine had effectively erased Vivian Liberto Cash from existence.
It’s annoying how often people talk about the ways that social media has completely changed our lives. But…it’s still true. For good and ill, websites and apps that connect people with others through their words, photos, and more have made a tremendous impact that is very hard to overestimate. News cycles move faster because of social media, political decisions are made based on to it, friendships and romances are started, destroyed, and rekindled through it, and mental health issues are created and helped and worsened through it.
Growing up in Southern California in the 1970s, there wasn’t a day that went by when you didn’t hear a band that was part of the Laurel Canyon scene. I was a young child back then but I had my own little transistor radio set to some AM station that would emit tinny version of songs by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, The Doors, or The Byrds. The music from that scene was ever present and it was a part of the soundtrack to my childhood.
“I find a space that no one else occupies, and it becomes mine.” That’s legendary musician Bobbye Hall referring to her work in one of the many songs she recorded with Bill Withers, but it also becomes the thesis for TOMBOY, which was scheduled to premiere at 2020’s South By Southwest festival and compete in the 24 Beats Per Second category.
SXSW 2020 may not have transpired in the same fashion as previous years but fortunately for Daily Grindhouse, we were given access to a multitude of content in the form of a virtual online library. While trying to get over my forlorn fantasies of brisket and tacos that will never…
Written and directed by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe (who also star), GREENER GRASS is a surreal satirical comedy that immerses you almost immediately into its wonderfully bizarre alternate reality. DeBoer and Luebbe come from Upright Citizens Brigade—the improv and sketch comedy brand that continues to produce incredible comic talent, with DeBoer and Luebbe being vivid proof of that. And while GREENER GRASS isn’t a collection of sketches, you can definitely sense that kind of pedigree in the largely self-contained nature of many of the scenes.
Richard Connell’s 1924 short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” has inspired a ton of various books, films, video games, TV shows, and host of other media based off the trope of people hunting other people. There’s usually some sociopolitical element involved because tracking and killing folks for sport is inherently ripe for messaging—there has to be some reason the hunters are stalking their prey, and another reason why the hunted aren’t seen as people by their predators. THE HUNT is the most recent iteration of this almost 100-year old trope from director Craig Zobel and writers Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof and this time it is taking on the current political climate and ideological divide. While the film succeeds with fun performances, impressive gore, surprising action, and some good comedy, THE HUNT attempts to wade into the political mire and ends up not really having much to say about it beyond “it sucks.”
There is a quirky edge to DISAPPEARANCE AT CLIFTON HILL that at times is endearing and other times veers too close to feeling like a Twin Peaks or FARGO knockoff. But it is the film’s willingness to embrace the odd through its very unreliable narrator of a protagonist, one particular goofy (but…
It’s pretty wild that almost 125 years after H.G. Wells published his novel, The Invisible Man, in 1897, and with all of the numerous permutations on that theme, there is still so much power left in that tale. Of course, it helps when a talented screenwriter and director is there to inject not just topical elements into the well-known story, but also explore the truly frightening aspects of the situation which has rarely been explored previously. Leigh Whannell’s THE INVISIBLE MAN takes a lot of current conversations happening in our society now and marries them to a vividly tense and creepy atmosphere to reveal how a simple change in perspective can unearth a stockpile of new possibilities, emotional urgency, and thrilling filmmaking.
GREENLIGHT is as much an honest portrait of what it means to be a first time filmmaker struggling through the frustrations of making your hopes and dreams happen as it is a nasty little horror thriller about a poor young man in over his head with malevolent and depraved forces.
It says something either about Blumhouse’s prolific output or our submission to reboot culture that it’s hard to bat an eye at the thought of a FANTASY ISLAND redux at first blush. Why wouldn’t Hollywood dredge up a title that still retains the faintest sense of cultural cache? If nothing…
Rushed into production following the mega-success of FRIDAY THE 13TH, MY BLOODY VALENTINE is one of the best of the Canuxploitation flicks made under the Canadian Tax Shelter program of the ’70s and the ’80s. Unfortunately, like many of the slasher films that hit theaters in the early ’80s, it…
Norval (Elijah Wood) is having daddy issues. A trust fund hipster DJ in his thirties with a hideously ratty haircut and air of oblivious Coachella privilege, he’s travelled to a remote lakeside abode to be reunited with his estranged father (Stephan McHattie) at the latter’s request. But Norval will quickly find that his highfalutin’ tales of hanging with Kendrick Lamarr will mean nothing when he agrees to COME TO DADDY.
Harley Quinn is a tough nut to crack. There have been more mediocre and badly handled stories revolving on her than good…certainly more than great. Fortunately, BIRDS OF PREY: AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN nails the character in a way I’ve rarely seen outside of Paul Dini/Bruce Timm media.
Documentary and horror seem like unlikely partners but, particularly in the case of foreign cinema and featuring global atrocities, they intersect more than you’d think. It was true for Guillermo Del Toro’s films, THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE and PAN’S LABYRINTH. And it is equally true if not more so for Jayro Bustamante’s horror film that rocked the Venice Film Festival when it premiered on August 30, 2019—LA LLORONA.
It does not live up to the high standards of the first volume in this ongoing series, but Scream Factory’s Universal Horror Collection: Volume 3 set is still an overall step-up from the second volume, even if there is little in the way of connective tissue between the individual films…