In this episode, Ben and I continue our journey through Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list with a special Heartland Film Festival edition of our review series. We discuss two Hitchcock films on the list that were part of Heartland’s lineup of special drive-in screenings. First, we review 1954’s Rear Window and then follow it with 1958’s Vertigo.
Recorded October 15, 2020: In this episode, Tiny and I review some of the stuff we watched at the 29th Annual Heartland Film Festival! We covered the documentaries 76 Days, In Case of Emergency, Belly of the Beast, and When My Time Comes. We also touch on The Comey Rule, All In: The Fight for Democracy, and more.
Documentary Feature Directors: Ian Cheney, Martha Shane Producers: Ian Cheney, Martha Shane, Jennifer 8. Lee Executive Producers: Fred Benenson, Peter Friedland Cast: Rayouf Alhumedhi, Florencia Coelho, Daniela Guini, Carmen Barlow, Francis Mason
Premise: “Picture Character” explores the complex, conflict-prone, and often hilarious world of the creators, lovers, and arbiters of emoji, our world’s newest pictorial language. How do you create a global language on the fly? This film charts the evolution of emojis, and investigates what they may reveal about our increasingly technological world.
It’s hard to imagine modern daily conversations without the ever-present emoji. What emerged after the technological takeover of smartphones as a way to express a wide variety of emotions in a simplistic manner quickly spread outside our phones and became inescapable. Socks, pillows, Happy Meal toys, and bumper stickers are only a sliver of the countless products available that have cashed in on the emoji craze in recent years, with no end in sight. Emojis have largely been viewed as a force for good in the world (we can now order pizza with one simple pizza emoji sent via text message). The “face with tears of joy” emoji was named as Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2015. They’ve even withstood the release of The Emoji Movie in 2017.
Premise: On January 23rd, 2020, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, to combat the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. Set deep inside the frontlines of the crisis, “76 Days” tells indelible human stories of the healthcare workers and patients who struggle to survive the pandemic with resilience and dignity.
As we live through a crisis that seems to only be exacerbated by misinformation and vitriolic political spats spilling out from social media and onto the streets, it is far too easy to lose perspective. Fortunately, 76 Days provides perspective a lot of people desperately need in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a harrowing documentary that will refocus your attention past the asinine entitlement of anti-maskers and the ludicrously dangerous contingent of Americans who cry hoax at every mention of the disease that has killed over 214,000 Americans as of this writing. What 76 Days achieves through its fly on the wall documenting is to put human faces on the superheroic actions of healthcare workers. It does so with dignity and grace as we watch medical staff in a Wuhan hospital try to stem the flood of horror at their doorstep and the emotional toll it takes on them. Continue reading →
Narrative Feature/Finalist Director: Melina León Screenwriters: Melina León, Michael J. White Cast: Pamela Mendoza, Tommy Párraga, Lucio Rojas
Premise: Based on harrowing true events, “Song Without A Name” tells the story of Georgina, an indigenous Andean woman whose newborn baby is whisked away moments after its birth in a downtown Lima clinic – and never returned. Stonewalled by a byzantine and indifferent legal system, Georgina approaches journalist Pedro Campas, who uncovers a web of fake clinics and abductions – suggesting deep, rotting corruption in Peru.
Song Without a Name, the gorgeously shot debut feature from Melina León, tells the heart wrenching story of a mother searching for her newborn baby and the journalist who’s determined to help her. Set among the turbulence of armed conflict in late 1980s Peru, the film is harrowing in the way it compartmentalizes its drama into the character of Georgina and establishes the horrific journey she has ahead of her. Lonely journalist Pedro also has his own painful arc to contend with as he works to uncover what happened to Georgina’s child. The two characters’ arc intertwine and land a little differently, but the message and tragedy of Song Without a Name plays on. Continue reading →
Cast: Brian Tyree Henry, Sonequa Martin Green, Sunita Mani, Olivia Edward, Asia Kate Dillon
Premise: An introverted editor living a vertical life in his 2nd-floor apartment, always on deadline and in a rut. When Charles locks himself out of his building, he’s forced to go horizontal and confront the world he’s been avoiding in search of a way back inside.Continue reading →
Premise: Olka is seventeen years old. For years, she had been looking for her mother. Her constant escapes from the orphanage landed her in a reformatory. She only wants her mother back.
All for My Mother, Małgorzata Imielska’s debut feature out of Poland, is largely comprised of hardships and trauma that befall the lead character Olka. Through her experience in a reformatory with other troubled teens who wish her harm, to a temporary stay with a couple who aren’t as warm and welcoming as they seem, Olka has one simple goal in mind: to reunite with her mother. That’s all she consciously desires, yet it’s not what she truly needs or yearns for beneath the surface. What Olka truly craves is acceptance and a sense of belonging. She is desperate for the stability of family and the journey she finds herself on makes for a heartbreaking and emotional ride. It’s a ride that includes frequent stops as the path she follows becomes more bleak and dour the further she goes. Continue reading →
Documentary Feature Director: Carolyn Jones Cast: Cathlyn Robinson, Galina Chavez, Jennifer Hanks, Sheryl Hurst, Rabih Saad
Premise: Follows emergency nurses and their patients in seven unique settings across the U.S from urban to rural, shedding light on some of the biggest health care crises facing Americans today
The type of person who works in the chaotic and unpredictable world of Emergency Department medical care has long been something I’ve deeply admired. I simply don’t know how people can harness the amount of emotional strength and the resilience it takes to thrive in that environment day after day. Carolyn Jones’ documentary In Case of Emergency showcases that strength and resilience while also humanizing the profession. Continue reading →
Cast: Mary Buss, Ginger Gilmartin, Ben Hall, Laurie Cummings
Premise: Two sisters, Alma and Elizabeth, are enjoying a stay at their own family cabin, eagerly anticipating the arrival of a man from their past, Wesley. It is rumored that Wesley’s wife, Genevieve, has ended up incapacitated in a mental institution, rendering Wesley, to some extent, a new bachelor. Through the time spent together, Alma begins to suspect Wesley may be a vampire, though she also suffers from mental health issues. Elizabeth is aware of Alma’s deteriorating condition but has her own demons to face in this gothic, psychological drama.
Cast: Tyler Ross, Sonaz Izadi, Andrew Oliveri, Bradley Grant Smith, Sierra Miller, Peter DeFaria
Cinematographer: Allen Chodakowski
Premise: Two years ago, a Chest appeared in the woods. It could not be moved. It could not be opened. Its contents were unknown. The Dead began to appear within the week. Today, David Parker, a police trainee, is tasked with guarding the Chest. For the first time since its arrival, the Chest has opened.
Cast: Samantha Brooks, Anna Clare Kerr, Lainey Woo, James Williams, Martin Drop, Gabriel Armentano
Premise: THE LAST CHRISTMAS PARTY is a bittersweet holiday movie about the highs and lows of romance in college. The movie is told in nonlinear order and replays the same party from the perspective of three different couples. With its ensemble of characters, the movie paints a naturalistic depiction of young people in New York City, free from the usual nostalgia and cliches.
Happy Thanksgiving (to those of you in the US)! In this special double parking lot special episode, Kyrsten and I have a laid-back non-spoiler review of Knives Out and then Tiny and I go into a spoiler review of the film! Then, to close out the episode, we have the remaining Red Carpet recordings from last month’s Heartland International Film Festival!
Premise: “In A New York Minute” follows three strangers connected by a single pregnancy test. Amy is haunted by a past breakup that has manifested into an eating disorder. Angel is caught between a loveless marriage to an American businessman and a passionate affair with a Chinese writer. Nina moonlights as an escort in order to support herself.
Premise: A lonely 14-year-old, Eun-hee moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness. Deprived of attention from her family, she spends her time finding meaning in the love and friendships of her peers. When Young-ji, a new teacher, arrives, she becomes the first adult Eun-hee feels really understands her.
Rewatched this while working from home solely because I've been working on a Top 19 Stephen King Movie/TV Works list for an eventual Tower Junkies episode.It's currently at my number 19 spot on my list. I really don't know if it's because there's such a glut of sub-par/objectively terrible King adaptations out there or if Sometimes T […]