Category Archives: Film Festival Coverage

The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 328 – Ebert’s Great Movies Part 4: Rear Window (1954) & Vertigo (1958) – Heartland Film Fest Hitchcock Night, Awards Season 2020, Picture Character, Sophie Jones, and The Outside Story

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OV328 – Ebert’s Great Movies Part 4: Rear Window (1954) & Vertigo (1958) – Heartland Film Fest Hitchcock Night, Awards Season 2020, Picture Character, Sophie Jones, and The Outside Story

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.

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive recording: 096 – OV B-Roll – “Carving Out Time to B Positive” – Criterion Shopping, Patreon Restructuring, Time (2020), B Positive, TV Homes – Nov 10, 2020

Runtime: 1:33:29

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The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 327 – HIFF2020: 76 Days (2020), In Case of Emergency (2020), Belly of the Beast (2020), and When My Time Comes (2020)

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OV327 – HIFF2020: 76 Days (2020), In Case of Emergency (2020), Belly of the Beast (2020), and When My Time Comes (2020)

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.

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive recording: 095 – OV B-Roll – “I Real Good Kitty” – Friday the 13th, Kyle Rittenhouse, Gun Rights, Trick ‘r Treat, Halloween(x3), Apostle, and Drive in Movies – Oct 15, 2020

Runtime: 1:17:52

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HIFF2020: Ben’s Column – Molto Bella (2020)

molta bella

3.5 stars

Molto Bella (2020)

  • Narrative Feature
  • Director: Alexander Jeffery
  • Screenwriters: Alexander Jeffery, Paul Petersen
  • Producers: Alexander Jeffery, Paul Petersen, Richard Wharton
  • Executive Producer: Wanda and Bob Ragsdale, Mary Jo and Steve Scott, Paul Burns, Tamra Corley
  • Cast: Paul Petersen, Andrea von Kampen, Jason Edwards, Elizabeth Stenholt, Vincenzo Vivenzio

Premise: In the Sicilian town of Taormina, Italy, an aspiring poet in search of inspiration meets a folk singer trying to write a follow up to her breakout hit.

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HIFF2020: Ben’s Column – Picture Character (2020)

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3.5 stars

Picture Character (2020)

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.

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HIFF2020: 76 Days (2020)

76days_digitalposter

4 stars

76 Days (2020)

Documentary Feature/Finalist
Director: Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, Anonymous
Screenwriter: Hao Wu
Producers: Hao Wu, Jean Tsien
Executive Producers: Bryn Mooser, Roberto Grande, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Naja Pham Lockwood

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.
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HIFF2020: Song Without a Name (2019)

song-without-a-name_poster

4 stars

Song Without a Name (2019)

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.
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HIFF2020: Ben’s Column – The Outside Story (2020)

The Outside Story (2020)

  • Narrative Feature
  • Director: Casimir Nozkowski
  • Screenwriter: Casimir Nozkowski
  • 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

HIFF2020: All for My Mother (2019)

all for my mother

3.5 stars

All for My Mother (2019)

Narrative Feature/US Premiere
Director: Małgorzata Imielska
Screenwriter: Małgorzata Imielska
Cast: Zofia Domalik, Maria Sobocińska, Jowita Budnik

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.
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HIFF2020: In Case of Emergency (2020)

in case of emergency poster

3.5 stars

In Case of Emergency (2020)

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

IFF2020: Movie Review – Climate of the Hunter (2019)

Climate of the Hunter (2019)

  • Director: Mickey Reece
  • Screenwriters: Mickey Reece, John Selvidge
  • Producer: Jacob Snovel
  • 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.

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IFF2020: Movie Review – Hum (2020)

HUM (2020)

  • Director: Henry Johnston
  • Screenwriter: Henry Johnston
  • Producer: Caleb Haydock
  • 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.

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IFF2020: Movie Review – The Last Christmas Party (2020)

The Last Christmas Party (2020)

  • Director: Julian Santos
  • Screenwriters: Kevin Nittolo, Julian Santos
  • Producers: Troy Enoka, Scottie Schwefel
  • 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.

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The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 302 – Knives Out – HIFF2019 Final Red Carpet Recordings: Greener Grass, Samir, House of Champions, International Falls, Last Year at the Crossing, The Garden Left Behind, and Moonlight Sonata (Featuring: Kyrsten Lyster)

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OV302 – Knives Out – HIFF2019 Final Red Carpet Recordings: Greener Grass, Samir, House of Champions, International Falls, Last Year at the Crossing, The Garden Left Behind, and Moonlight Sonata (Featuring: Kyrsten Lyster)

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!

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive recording: 054 – OV B-Roll – “What is Pepperoni?!” – Family Guy, Movies We’re Excited About, Tiny’s Work Trip to Louisville – November 13, 2019

Runtime: 1:44:10 Continue reading

HIFF2019: Movie Review – In a New York Minute (2019)

In a New York Minute (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Official Selection
  • 102 Minutes/USA/2019
  • Drama/Romance
  • Director: Ximan Li

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.

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HIFF2019: Movie Review – House of Hummingbird (2018)

House of Hummingbird (2019)

  • Narrative Feature/Grand Prize Winner
  • 138 Minutes/South Korea/2019
  • Drama/International
  • Director: Bora Kim

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.

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