Bree Babineaux

Mini Reviews &

Commentary

NIGHT OF THE KINGS


Sundance Film Festival 2021


Written and directed by filmmaker Phillippe Lacote, this film is a love letter to the art of storytelling – and it’s necessity to survival. Night of the Kings is not the type of prison film that moviegoers have become complacent with. From the first few minutes, this movie has soul.


Set in a prison on the Ivory Coast, a young new inmate is chosen to be the “storyteller” – an entertainer in dire times. It is an important position in the block – if the teller fails, the penalty is death.


There are some dark moments, but this French film has a lot of heart, striking a balanced tone between reality and fantasy.



I CARE A LOT


Perhaps the most unnerving thing about J Blakeson’s new film is how easily I could see people actually doing this to the elderly!


Rosamund Pike really showed her acting chops in this (no surprise after Gone Girl) and left me impressed. Costarring the great Peter Dinklage, this was an automatic entertainer.


4 Stars



JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH


Sundance 2021


One of the best films of the festival. Poignant and gut wrenching, this is the true story of the life and assassination of Fred Hampton – a leader in the civil rights movement and member of the Black Panthers.


Daniel Kaluuya gives a powerhouse performance as Fred Hampton. (The role is sure to make Kaluuya an Oscar contender!) LaKeith Stanfield is also a commanding force on the screen, as the FBI informant who betrays Hampton. This one will get a lot of talk around awards season.


4.5 Stars

NOMADLAND


One of the most beautiful films in the past decade, Nomadland cuts to the heart of humanity. Raw and unforgettable, Frances McDormand gives the performance of a lifetime.


*If you did not see the screener, Nomadland is now available on Hulu.


5 Stars. Total perfection.

THE BOY WHO LEFT HOME TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE SHIVERS (1984)

Part of my cult classic throwback collection.


Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Frank Zappa… You can’t tell me this isn’t pure gold! I have seen this underrated Vincent Price masterpiece 1,000 times. As a kid, I was absolutely enchanted by it, and regrettably played the VHS to its death.


There is a particular ghoul juggling scene that plays with special effects in a way that made me fascinated with film-making. This is not a slasher film, but rather a superstitious horror comedy, skillfully crafted by the masters of the genre.


Side note: This short is part of the 1980's “Faerie Tale Theatre” collection, which has a lot of great other classic shorts as well.


COMING HOME IN THE DARK


Sundance 2021


A great psychological thriller, that opens with a brutal, seemingly senseless crime, and leads into the backstory.


Director James Ashcraft created a quiet, violent intensity throughout the film, as it becomes man vs. man in a death match over a past neither can escape. Daniel Gillies gives an outstanding performance.


3.5 Stars


PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN


Mulligan gave a mesmerizing performance. This is more than just a "rape revenge" film, as some reviews have stated. It fits that category, sure, but that's pretty reductive… to see a film about social (in)justice and not acknowledge the real world circumstances that contribute to this type of film, is to miss the point.


Visually, this film is a winner. Emerald Fennell did a fantastic job directing, and I look forward to more of her films. Everything from the acting, to the vibrant set and costume design, shined… I only wish I could have enjoyed this in theaters.


4.5 Stars

THE MAP OF TINY PERFECT THINGS


This is the definition of a perfect teen Rom-Com. A pinch of Groundhogs Day, with a dash of Palm Springs.


Kathryn Newton was especially charming, and has always managed to hold her own on the screen, with her decade span playing Claire on CW's "Supernatural". It is wonderful seeing her career continue to blossom into movies, with this and Blumhouse's "Freaky".


4 Stars



THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1946)

Part of my vintage throwback spotlight collection.


While this is not a fast paced thriller, it works! I think the first film I ever saw Dorothy McGuire in was THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE, and I've loved her in everything I've seen since.


THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE does a nice job setting an eerie tone, and sticks mainly to this dark, mysterious mansion – with an ominous spiral staircase. Since the film lets us know from the start that the main character is mute, there's an added layer of suspense as to what will come – knowing that she will be unable to call out for help. It falls short of being entertaining at all times, but it's still worth a watch for anyone who enjoys old horror movies.


4 Stars







SUMMER OF 84


I have an affinity for 80's and 90's horror, so this was right up my alley. It's one of the best 80's themed horror films I have seen in a long time, staying true to the decades style, without being cliche. The entire cast is phenomenal; Rich Sommer (Mad Men) was particularly chilling.


Bonus: The soundtrack is superb and will give you 80's flashbacks for days.


3.5 Stars



STRAWBERRY MANSION


Sundance 2021


Visually, this was one of my favorites from the festival. The imagery is bold and reminded me of TWIN PEAKS in style. It's a great blend of mystery and fantasy.


3 Stars



KILL BILL


For full interview with Kill Bill actor and Academy Award winner Chris Nelson, please visit the Film & Television section of this site!


REQUIEM FOR A DREAM


Critical analysis of the Aronofsky classic coming soon!

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