If you’re a little bit tired of bro comedies that assume you aspire to live a life of criminal debauchery like their characters, so is Flock of Dudes. Full of hot comedians and comic actors, these dudes want to have fun without destroying their lives. Refreshingly, when confronted with more extreme situations, they comically resist them. This is a group of guys who maybe spend too much time together as adults, so they make a bet to break up. That’s a little bit incidental to the improv riffs of Chris D’Elia, Eric Andre, Melissa Rauch, Marc Maron, Kelen Coleman and more. When the film’s broadest caricatures actually reveal the deepest pain, that’s funny.
How He Fell In Love is a very natural portrayal of a love affair between Travis (Matt McGorry) and the very married Ellen (Amy Hargreaves). The dialogue reflects the clunky way that people might gradually end up in a relationship that neither of them might think they’d ever have. Hargreaves is naturally seductive, showing a little skin, and building up little kisses into really passionate love scenes. Then the guilt hits Ellen hardcore. The illogical needs of the characters may be frustrating to some, but that’s what feels honest to me. I may have very harsh personal judgments of Ellen, Travis and Ellen’s husband Henry (Mark Blum) but I’m still fascinated by their behavior.
Dysfunctional family movies run the risk of veering into territory so off-putting that often, I’d rather just not volunteer to experience in fiction what most of us live with. But Frank and Cindy is one of the good ones. Based on the director’s real mother and stepfather, Frank (Oliver Platt) is a former rocker, you might say a “has been.” Cindy (Rene Russo) is so fed up she makes him live in the basement, and he doesn’t even bother to come upstairs to use the bathroom. They’re both equally outrageous though, with Platt and Russo milking both real documented behavior and their own interpretations in between. It’s worth seeing for the performances, and the story about connecting with… shall we say, “difficult” loved ones.
As high a concept as they come, this absurd horror comedy lives up to its title… all five words of it. It’s a great sequel to two movies that never existed, a loving spoof of the dude bro party comedy and a rather subversive commentary on an exploitive, albeit beloved genre of horror. It’s also so relentless that you might become numb to some of the dude broey-ness. But Dude Bro Party Massacre III keeps finding different ways to add a new level to gratuitous violence and blatant hedonism.
We all felt the tragedy of Andy Whitfield’s death, simply from hearing about it secondhand. He’d just landed a lead role on the hit series Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and was seemingly in peak physical condition when he was diagnosed with cancer. Even though his form of cancer was highly treatable, Whitfield unfortunately did not respond to treatments and the cancers grew and ultimately took his life. Whitfield and his wife Vashti opened themselves up to director Lilibet Foster while they were living this struggle, hoping until the end that Whitfield would go into remission. It’s heartbreaking to see the Whitfields so optimistic when we know how this ends, and striking to see how his Spartacus body transforms through treatment. It’s raw and intimate as we see Whitfield react to each medical update, though classy enough not to show him at his most wasted away. What if everyone had this archive of their final year? It is a document that will live forever.
This modern day update of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn goes so far as to name its lead characters Tom Sawyer (Adam Nee) and Huck Finn (Kyle Gallner). It would be catchy enough on its own as a standalone bumbling outlaw comedy, but it’s got an extra level of literary satire. They form a band of robbers, and it’s one thing to botch a robbery, but their original plan is amusingly ridiculous to begin with. The combination of confident incompetence is endearing. There is real danger, more than just farcical peril, but it’s all fun. It sees like an origin story. I’d like to to see this Band of Robbers dumb luck into and out of more trouble in the sequel.
I am including one short film on this list because it is such a great example of what a short should be. You should see it whether it ends up on YouTube or iTunes. A single scene finds thrills as a Rube Goldberg sequence of mishaps turns a kitchen sink into a deathtrap. This short is lean, direct and creative. It is a strong calling card for director Yeonchul Lee and a great silent performance by the lead (and only) actress. There’s clearly the groundwork for a feature film of Hitchcockian suspense, but Kitchen also shows you don’t need more than five minutes to deliver the thrills.
The pilot to MTV’s Scream TV series is very promising. It’s a completely new story, but fits into the tone of Scream as well as if it had Sydney Prescott, Gale Weathers and Deputy Dewey. A new group of high schoolers is stalked by a masked killer, now using social media and mobile devices to stalk them. There’s also a town legend of a local serial killer who may be back, or may be inspiring the current copycat. There is a character who fits the Randy meta mode of analyzing horror television tropes. It all works to feel like a natural evolution of Scream for the modern world. I can’t wait to see where it goes.
This horror thriller is the real deal. A high concept - an agoraphobic home invasion victim - that is executed skillfully with clever twists to keep the audience guessing. It would seem like an easy sell for a distributor, so I hope to hear some news about Shut In coming to theaters in wide release. It’s fun to see this movie with a crowd and realize who has caught on quicker than the other people in the audience. I, of course, was the furthest ahead of everyone and I was still pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns.
his is really what you go to film festivals for, to be introduced to the debut work of a filmmaker with a voice that’s loud enough stick with you. I mean “loud” metaphorically. Too Late is a subtle film crafted in five long takes that build with engaging banter and behavior so simple that you take for granted how complicated it is to convey it all in a single take. Director Dennis Hauck is here to stay and I am thrilled to have seen the first screening of his first movie. Now I have to wait for a whole distribution cycle before he gets to work on another one.