Cinema

You Beautiful Doll: Gardner’s ‘Living With Chucky’ a Family Affair

October 8th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Kyra Elise Gardner, the daughter of special effects legend Tony Gardner, writes and directs “Living With Chucky,” an affectionate labor-of-love account covering the long evolution of the “Child’s Play” horror franchise.

Beginning in 1988, the series built a devoted cult following around the popularity of Chucky, the seemingly innocent toy inhabited by the soul of a foul-mouthed serial killer and psychopath voiced by the great Brad Dourif.…

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Sweet Autumn Treat: Anderson Shares ‘Sugar’ and Three More on Netflix

October 1st, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

As reactions and reviews of Wes Anderson’s return to the world of Roald Dahl attest, the quartet of short story adaptations undoubtedly would have been better experienced as a theatrical omnibus akin to “The French Dispatch” rather than the one-a-day releases selected for streaming by Netflix, where the set now resides.

At 40 minutes, “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” – which enjoyed a Venice Film Festival premiere at the beginning of…

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Castel’s ‘My Animal’ a Fresh Take on the Werewolf Movie

September 24th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Filmmaker Jacqueline Castel’s “My Animal” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in January, but its vibes are better suited to the rising blood moon of autumn’s spooky season.

Now available on major streaming services following a brief theatrical run in select cinemas, Castel’s feature directorial debut is poised to scratch the itch of discerning horror hounds who appreciate slow-burn smarts as much as gory violence.

The film’s…

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Schrader Concludes His ‘Man in a Room’ Trilogy with ‘Master Gardener’

September 21st, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Many films have used the unsettling revelation of tattoos as a device to startle the viewer with a visual roadmap to a deeper understanding of character. The “love” and “hate” lettering across the knuckles of Robert Mitchum’s Reverend Harry Powell in “The Night of the Hunter,” in the context of the character’s chilling speech, still inspires nightmares. In “Cape Fear,” Mitchum’s Lieutenant Elgart quips of Robert De Niro’s Max…

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‘Bottoms’ Up: Seligman and Sennott Re-Team for Wild Comedy

September 17th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri play best pals PJ and Josie, woebegone nerds hot for cheerleaders Brittany (Kaia Gerber) and Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) in a high school caste system that looks and feels quite familiar to fans of the durable teen sex comedy.

In “Bottoms,” directed by Emma Seligman – who co-wrote the screenplay with her “Shiva Baby” star Sennott – the satire, the visual gags, the gross-outs, and the gusto combine to form one…

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​Regan Takes Sundance Grand Jury Prize with Debut ‘Scrapper’

September 3rd, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

In Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Scrapper,” her feature debut as writer and director, Charlotte Regan establishes a much more whimsical tone than the darker notes sounded by Charlotte Wells in her masterful “Aftersun.” There are more than enough stories exploring difficult father-daughter relationships to chalk up the similarities between the two movies as a fluke of timing, but Regan’s film faces the unenviable challenge of premiering…

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Jalali Welcomes Viewers to ‘Fremont’

August 27th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

In Sundance standout “Fremont,” the outwardly mundane and inwardly tumultuous experiences of a young woman from Afghanistan are spun by filmmaker Babak Jalali into gold.

Donya (Anaita Wali Zada) has left her home country for the California community of the title after spending time as a military translator. Hiding, repressing, or simply refusing to deal with complex emotions and likely PTSD (though she would deny it), Donya takes up residence in…

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Beckermann Talks About Sex in ‘Mutzenbacher’

August 21st, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Ruth Beckermann’s “Mutzenbacher” invites viewers to consider the traditional dynamics of the erotic novel – and subsequent filmic depictions of eroticism – by rearranging the visual furniture most closely associated with the voyeuristic gaze privileging the straight, white, male producer/consumer.

The filmmaker uses “Josephine Mutzenbacher or, The Story of a Viennese Whore as Told by Herself,” the anonymously published 1906 book, as a…

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​Adrian Tomine’s Cult Comic ‘Shortcomings’ Adapted by Randall Park in Directorial Debut

August 18th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Randall Park, making his feature directorial debut, convincingly adapts Adrian Tomine’s excellent 2004-2007 graphic serial “Shortcomings.”

Tomine wrote the screenplay, which comes as a relief to longtime “Optic Nerve” fans worried that a movie wouldn’t adequately capture the particularities of the author’s beautifully minimalist lines and the mood contained in the spaces within and between the panels. The collaborators are so obviously…

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Lovers Walk in Allen-Millers Sparkling Debut ‘Rye Lane’

August 6th, 2023

By Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

Available on Hulu following a world premiere at Sundance and a spring release date in the U.K., director Raine Allen-Miller’s feature debut “Rye Lane” is an ebullient drop of sunshine with more than enough charm to match its fresh and earnest spin on the romantic comedy. Even the rom-com averse will find plenty to like in the story of a meet-cute (or, given the initial sobbing, meet-pitiful) between two twenty-something Londoners reeling from…

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