The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 330 – Love and Monsters (2020) – Songbird trailer, I Think You Should Leave, Aunty Donna, The Return of LOSTPoint

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OV330 – Love and Monsters (2020) – Songbird trailer, I Think You Should Leave, Aunty Donna, The Return of LOSTPoint

In this episode, Kyrsten and I review the new monster-pocalypse Dylan O’Brien film, Love and Monsters! We also catch up on some things we’ve been watching, discuss the potential tastelessness of the upcoming COVID-themed thriller, Songbird, and finally return to our LOSTPoint series where we watch episodes of LOST and the Canadian police show Flashpoint.

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive recording: 099 – OV B-Roll – “Matt’s Ice Cream & Hot Chocolate Buffet and Kitty Emporium” – Trump’s Ghost Campaign, Restaurants in 2020, Hard Candy, and True Crime Podcasts – Nov 15, 2020

Runtime: 1:52:12

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The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 329 – The Friday the 13th Franchise (1980-2009)

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OV329 – The Friday the 13th Franchise (1980-2009)

In honor of Mike’s birthday coinciding with Friday the 13th, he and I cracked open the new Scream Factory Friday the 13th blu-ray collection and shared our thoughts on the franchise title by title.

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive recording: 098 – OV B-Roll – “The Erosion of Truth” – Liberal Patreon Tiers, Mike’s Band’s Patreon, The Haunting of Bly Manor – Nov 9, 2020

Runtime: 2:39:27

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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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Movie Review: Fail Safe (1964)

Fail Safe (1964)

Premise: A technical malfunction sends American planes to Moscow to deliver a nuclear attack. Can all-out war be averted?

Sidney Lumet’s classic political thriller Fail Safe is a masterpiece of tension and horrific verisimilitude. The film boasts a remarkable cast of characters played to wonderful effect by talented actors like Henry Fonda, Fritz Weaver, and Walter Matthau, to name a few. What is most striking (no pun intended) about Fail Safe is the manner in which the events and philosophical debates play out. Fail Safe uses an intense situation as a backdrop to address the fear of communism and “the other” head on. It also works overtime to depict a world where the people in charge of nuclear superpowers are human and fallible creatures. This creates an immersion like no other and a sense of unease that still hits home decades after its release.
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Ben’s Column: David Byrne’s American Utopia (2020) – Review

David Byrne’s American Utopia (2020)

Premise: Spike Lee documents the former Talking Heads frontman’s brilliant, timely 2019 Broadway show, based on his recent album and tour of the same name.

How does David Byrne follow-up Stop Making Sense, the concert documentary that birthed an entire genre, even if it’s had 36 years to marinate? As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Many of the elements that make Sense such a delight – the boundless joy and energy of everyone onstage, the production value, the musicality – are on display here, and it feels like Byrne hasn’t missed a step in the intervening years. And yet, it’s the moments between the music that sets American Utopia apart from its predecessor. Sense was simply a documentation of a band’s place in time, while Utopia has more on its mind, as Byrne tries to make sense of his place in the world. Sure, Talking Heads had larger ideas on display and made some grand statements with their lyrics, but Sense never aspired to be more than a concert documentary.

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Ben’s Column: On The Rocks (2020) – Review

On the Rocks (2020)

Premise: A young mother reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father on an adventure through New York.

Sofia Coppola’s films have, regrettably, been one of my biggest film blind spots of the 21st century. Until recently, when I watched her directorial debut (1999’s The Virgin Suicides), I had yet to see any of her films. Suicides revealed an auteur who could confidently write complicated characters in a unique and interesting way. Her latest film, On the Rocks, which is streaming now on Apple TV+, retains those same capabilities but slightly misses the mark on some crucial character work. The film reunites Coppola and Bill Murray, the star of her most successful film, Lost in Translation, for the first time since 2003 (save for a holiday special in 2015). Murray has built up a solid reputation as a comedian-turned-dramatic actor, and while his role here steers more towards comedic relief, he has clearly found a director who can utilize him properly while keeping him from going off the comedic deep end (again, I haven’t seen Lost in Translation, but he was nominated for an Oscar for the role).

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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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Movie Review: Totally Under Control (2020)

Totally Under Control (2020)

Premise: An in-depth look at how the United States government handled the response to the COVID-19 outbreak during the early months of the pandemic.

Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney’s “shot in secret” film about the Trump administration’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic is perhaps one of the most important documentaries to come out in the months since the outbreak and the weeks before the 2020 election. Totally Under Control does not aim to present a clear Republicans vs Democrats narrative of the way the US bungled its pandemic response. Instead, Gibney and his team present a compelling and infuriating view of Donald Trump’s antagonistic relationship to science. Totally Under Control paints a vivid picture of how the anti-science views of the Trump administration has contributed to the deaths of over 214,000 Americans and climbing. Continue reading

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