Mini-Reviews: The Darkness, The Eyes of My Mother & Christine

Hey everybody!

Welcome to the fourth edition of Mini-Reviews. This time, it’s a Chicago International Film Festival Edition! The Chicago International Film Festival is going on right now, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching three films already, so I figured I’d pass along my mini-reviews for these films.

 

*As always, these will be spoiler free reviews*

 

The Darkness

Director: Daniel Castro Zimbron

Writers: Daniel Castro Zimbron, Denis Languerand, David Pablos

Cast: Brontis Jodorowsky, Aliocha Sotnikoff, Camila Robertson Glennie, Fernando Alvarez Rebeil, Meraqui Pradis, and Alejandro Villeli

Synopsis: A family tries to survive a mysterious beast outside their cabin home. However, the youngest son doesn’t think the beast is their only problem.

 

The synopsis probably won’t do much for many, but there is a lot more to The Darkness, original title Las Tinieblas, The film is most set within the cabin that belongs to the central characters in the film in father Gustavo (Jodorowsky), oldest son Marcos (Alvarez Rebeil), youngest son Argel (Sotnikoff) and even younger daughter Luciana (Robertson Glennie). The film opens giving us the sense of the world. Gustavo is keeping his children safe from the mysterious The Beast outside in the forest which brings a fog with it. One day, Gustavo and Marcos go out into the woods, but only Gustavo comes back saying The Beast took him. Argel can’t let it go and wants to go looking for his brother, but his father forbids from going out in the woods by himself.

The film works on some levels, mostly the eeriness and the tone. The idea of these characters trying to survive whatever it outside the house adds a lot of tension, and when the Beast roams outside the house, it really is terrifying. Especially since the family boards up the windows so the Beast doesn’t see them in the house, and the screen is only filled with either pure darkness or a lantern.

The film does move a little slow, and it gets caught up in its own mysterious for a while, but what keeps the film going in Argel actor Aliocha Sotnikoff, who according to director Daniel Castro Zimbron during a Q&A after the film, this is his first film, along with Camila Robertson Glennie, who plays Luciana, which amazed all of us in the theater because they were very good, and you would think they’ve been doing so for a while.

All in all, The Darkness will not be for everyone. The film does move rather slow at times, and while it takes a while to figure out what the theme is, The Darkness is a nice art film with some great visuals.

The Darkness

3 out of 5

mv5botcwoduxytgtmgqxyi00y2nilwe1ntetzgixytq1zwqznzjhxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjkyoda1mdc-_v1_

 

The Eyes of My Mother

Director: Nicolas Pesce

Writers: Nicolas Pesce

Cast: Kika Magalhaes, Diana Agostini, Paul Nazak, Will Brill, Clara Wong, Flora Diaz, and Joey Curtis-Green

Synopsis: A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.

 

The Eyes of My Mother isn’t that long of a film, but it sure makes a statement in its runtime. The film is also shot in black-and-white which makes it a little more eerie and a tad more disturbing when the horror shots come into play. Not only that, it leads to some amazing shots that are truly eye-popping.

The Eyes of My Mother follows Francisca (Magalhaes), who witnessed her mother being brutally murdered in their home by a stranger (Brill) at a young age. The event left a mark on her as she grows up – in the same house no less – and what follows a dark trip into her life.

The film is potentially one of those films that I would say, the less you know the better your experience will probably be. Although I will say the film will not be for everyone. It’s not even that the film is too gory or even has too many jump scares (the film actually doesn’t have jump scares), it’s just that the film acts a lot like an art film at times, and doesn’t rely on musical cues or anything like that. The film is actually broken into three parts that spans years and each tell their own little different story that makes the film – at times – move smoothly.

The Eyes of My Mother rests on the shoulders of Kika Magalhaes, who does a fantastic job of keeping you invested, even though her actions aren’t the best, but also has a look to her that doesn’t make you scared of her, it also makes you feel sorry for her in some regard. Diana Agostini, who plays her mother, only has a limited amount of screen time at the beginning of the film, but her performance is felt throughout the film thanks to Kika.

All in all, The Eyes of My Mother is filled with great shots by cinematographer Zach Kuperstein, and director Nicolas Pesce does a great job with his star Kika Magalhaes to bring all of us down a deep dark and twisted path of what I’ve seen, and somewhat agree, a horror fable.

The Eyes of My Mother

3.5 out of 5

eyes_of_my_mother

 

Christine

Director: Antonio Campos

Writer: Craig Shilowich

Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, Maria Dizzia, J. Smith-Cameron, Timothy Simons, Kim Shaw, and John Cullum

Synopsis: The story of 1970s TV reporter Christine Chubbuck.

 

This is one will be hard to talk about, spoiler wise, considering this is a real event that happen. So if you don’t want to know anything about the film and Christine Chubbuck’s life, then don’t read this review. However, I’ll say that the film is great and has amazing performances by the cast.

Christine follows Christine Chubbuck (Hall), who works at a low-rating news station in Sarasota, Florida during the 70s. Christine wants to prove herself that she can do more than what she is doing now – although she does like what’s she’s doing – but her boss and station manager Michael (Letts) wants to push the “if it bleeds it leads” campaign. Christine doesn’t like the idea, but can’t really do anything about it. However, Christine has more personal issues going on. She has a crush on her co-worker and lead anchor George (C. Hall), health problems that her mother (Smith-Cameron) keeps bringing up, and not being able to really connect with her co-workers like Jean (Dizzia) and Steve (Simons). All of it builds up to the fateful day of July 15th, when Christine decides to commit suicide with a handgun, live on the air.

Christine is only a version of the real-life story of Christine Chubbuck, but it’s one that is very good, and is held together by the great cast. However, the film belongs to Rebecca Hall, who handles the situation fairly well. She doesn’t play Christine as just a woman with mental issues, and that’s it. We see her crack jokes and have a fun sense of humor, but she does break down with everything going on around her. In the more deeper dramatic senses, it reminded me how much I love Rebecca Hall, because she absolutely nails those scenes. You do feel for Christine, especially one scene in particular near the end of the – not the shooting herself scene by the way.

When it comes to the depression angle of the film, it’s not a movie that will give you the definitive answer of depression. This is one case, and we only get a certain block of the story. We know there is a previous event that we don’t see, so you get the idea that Christine isn’t well before the final act of the film. The film also slows down a for a bit before the final act which takes a lot of steam the film had, but not enough to takes away everything good it setup.

All in all, Christine isn’t all the way perfect, and while the cast is great, Rebecca Hall is the reason this film is a must-see. Christine Chubbuck’s story is one that should be told, and while Christine isn’t the definite story for her, it is a good one that should go on your radar.

Christine

4.5 out of 5

christine

May Movie Releases

Hello Boys and Girls!

It’s the beginning of the Summer Movie Season!

What better way to start off this run of movies than a great month of films. We got a lot of films to get to, so let’s get to it!

 

4th

Limited Release: A Bigger Splash

The vacation of famous rock star (Tilda Swinton) and a filmmaker (Matthias Schoenaerts) is disrupted by the expected visit of an old friend (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). This creates a whirlwind of jealousy, passion and a dangerous situation for everyone. The film got some buzz on the film festival circuit and with a cast like this, I can imagine why.

bigger_splash_ver2

 

6th

Captain America: Civil War (Action Thriller – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios)

One of the biggest, and arguably best, comic book storylines that Marvel has ever done is hitting the big screen. Civil War sees The Avengers in a rift after an international incident – that may or may not have been caused by Steve Rogers/Captain America’s old friend Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldiers (Sebastian Stan) – causing the world enlist a law that hinders the actions of “enhanced” people. The law splits the Avengers, one side led by Steve and the other by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). The film looks damn great and I can’t wait to see how they bring the story to the big screen. Captain America: Civil War also stars Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Frank Grillo, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland, Emily VanCamp, Daniel Bruhl, and William Hurt

captain_america_civil_war_ver15

 

13th

Limited Release: Kill Zone 2 (Action)

This one is really more for me. A sequel, and separate story, for the great SPL – or Killzone as it was renamed in America – film, Kill Zone 2 follows an undercover cop Kit, played by Wu Jing, going into prison to catch the mastermind of a crime syndicate (Louis Koo). But when things go wrong in the prison and a riot breaks out, Kit must work with a guard Chai (Tony Jaa), who has his own reasons for being in the prison, to survive and get what they want.

saat_po_long_two

 

Limited Release: The Lobster (Romance Dramedy)

Colin Farrell stars in a near dystopian future where single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods. The film has already received a mix reaction, mostly positive, in the festival circuit, so now it can find a new audience. Also starring are Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly, Michael Smiley and Lea Seydoux.

lobster

 

Limited Release: High-Rise (Sci-Fi Action Drama)

Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, Tom Hiddleston stars as the manager of a tower block where the residents’ life starts to run out of control. The movie has an impressive cast of Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, Sienna Guillory and James Purefoy.

highrise_ver4

 

The Darkness (Horror – Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Chapter One Films)

A family returns from a Grand Canyon vacation with a supernatural presence in tow. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Radha Mitchell, David Mazouz, Lucy Fry, Matt Walsh, Jennifer Morrison, Parker Mack, Ming-Na Wen, and Paul Reiser. The movie looks pretty damn creepy and could have some great horror moments.

darkness

 

Money Monster (Drama Thriller – Sony Pictures/TriStar Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/Smokehouse Pictures/Allegiance Theater)

Kyle (Jack O’Connell) loses all of his family’s money on a bad tip from Lee Gates (George Clooney), a TV personality whose insider tips have made him the money guru of Wall Street. Kyle then holds Lee and his entire show hostage on air threatening to kill Lee is he does not get the stock up 24 and half points before the bell. During the hostage situation sheds light on a possible scandal involving the company in question. The film will undoubtedly, and does already really, have economic ties. Money Monster also stars Julia Roberts, Dominic West, and Giancarlo Esposito.

money_monster_ver4

 

 

20th

The Nice Guys (Crime Thriller – Warner Bros./Silver Pictures/Waypoint Entertainment)

Directed by Shane Black – and supposed spiritual sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – The Nice Gusy follows a private eye (Ryan Gosling) and a “fixer” (Russell Crowe) who are hired by a government officer (Kim Basinger) to track down her daughter who is being tracked down by the mob, who are moving in to L.A in the 1970s. The film looks damn hilarious and I can’t wait to watch this. The film also stars Matt Bomer, Rachele Brooke Smith, Margaret Qualley, Ty Simpkins, and Keith David.

nice_guys_ver2

 

The Angry Birds Movie (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Capital/Rovio Entertainment)

Based on the popular mobile app game, The Angry Birds movie follows the angry birds from the game as they are invaded by pigs. The voice cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell, Keegan-Michal Key, Kate McKinnon and Peter Dinklage

angry_birds_ver11

 

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Comedy – Universal Pictures/Good Universe/Point Grey Pictures)

Following the events of the first film, married couple Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) finds themselves once again living next to a partying college home, this time it’s a sorority, and Mac and Kelly enlist Teddy (Zac Efron) to help them fight them off. The film also stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Selena Gomez, Kiersey Clemons, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, and Lisa Kudrow.

neighbors_two_sorority_rising_ver4

 

 

27th

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Fantasy Adventure – Walt Disney Pictures/Roth Films/Tim Burton Productions/Team Todd)

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns back to Wonderland, but this time finds it run by Lord of Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), and has turned the time forward turning Wonderland into a lifeless old world. With the help of new friends, Alice must also uncover an evil plot to put the Queen of Hearts (Helena Bonham Carter) back on the throne, and save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). I didn’t watch the first film as it didn’t really interest me too much, but it looks like the film will take some of the same palette as the first film despite Tim Burton only having a producer credit. The cast, both voice and live-action, also include Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen, Anne Hathaway, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall, and  Andrew Scott.

alice_through_the_looking_glass_ver8

 

X-Men: Apocalypse (Action Adventure – 20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Bad Hat Harry Productions/Donners’ Company/Kinberg Genre)

X-Men: Apocalypse will finally bring one of the biggest X-Men villains in history in Apocalypse (played by Oscar Isaac) to the big screen. Director Bryan Singer promises a jam-packed action film that asks a lot of questions and an end to the new trilogy. The film also has some detachers due to Apocalypse’s look, but I for one can’t wait to watch it. Apocalypse will star James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Olivia Munn, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Josh Helman, Lucas Till, Alexandra Shipp, Lana Condor, Ben Hardy, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, and Rose Byrne.

xmen_apocalypse_ver18

 

What are you looking forward to?