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Author Archives | John Laird

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Movie Breakdown: Only The Brave

October 19, 2017

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Pre-Screening Stance:

Joseph Kosinski (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) knows how to make a movie that looks great, but he’s yet to make one that actually is great.  Will Only The Brave get him over the hump?  Maybe.

Post-Screening Ramble:

Only The Brave is not what I expected it to be.  I just sort of assumed there would be some male camaraderie and a whole lot of bad-ass firefighting moments loaded with slow-mo and sweeping music, but in reality, the film – and you’ll have to excuse the bad pun here – is a total slow burn.  The first chunk of it features Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) and his crew as they attempt to become certified as Hotshots, which are elite firefighters.  There’s a bit of them actually out in the woods fighting fires, but in general you see them together and/or with their friends and families.  The second half of the film is almost more of the same, but there are a couple of big scenes where you see the team at work in dangerous and difficult situations.  Surprisingly, all of this low key, dialogue-heavy stuff is what makes the movie a winner.  I know it seems like the light action would maybe work against Only The Brave, but its characters are so interesting and their jobs so wild that it’s easy to get lost in how these guys (and their loved ones) operate on a day-to-day basis.

If you know anything about 2013′s Yarnell Hill Fire, then you already know how this film ends.  It was a truly tragic moment.  I recommend that you go see this super solid movie, and then afterwards take a moment to appreciate the Granite Mountain Hotshots (and others like them).

One Last Thought:

WELP, guess who Jeff Bridges is in Only The Brave?  That’s right.  He’s goddamn Cowboy Jeff.  That means he’s played the same character in two different movies this year!  The overall Cowboy Jeff list, as far as I can tell, is now: Only The Brave, Kingsman – The Golden Circle, True Grit, R.I.P.D and Hell Or High Water.  He’s growing stronger.

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Sleater-Kinney

October 19, 2017

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7-inches for Planned Parenthood, which is a curated series of 7-inch records that benefits Planned Parenthood, has set some release dates.  A digital version is coming on October 20, and a physical box set will be out on November 17.  That’s neat.  What I also really like about this news is that it came with a an unreleased track from Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love sessions.  Turn it up!  Enjoy.

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Show Of The Week

October 18, 2017

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There are so many good shows happening this week!  Normally, this makes things difficult for me when it comes to picking just one to feature, but it’s actually easy this time around because Protomartyr are playing Barracuda on Friday.  I’ve been downright obsessed with their new album, Relatives In Descent, and I just have to hear those songs live.  Be there if you would also to engage in some post-punk fun.

Tix are $15.  Flasher and Street Themes will open.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- Surf Curse, Young Mammals, Blood Pumps at Barracuda

Thursday:
- Omni, Borzoi, Wildfires at Hotel Vegas
- Basketball Shorts, Peaer, Ama, Sinai Vessel, Planet Manhood at Cheer Up Charlies
- Blastfamous USA, Fort Never, The Hermits, Night Court at Ghost Cat Lounge

Friday:
- No Age, Temple of Angels, Total Abuse at Hotel Vegas
- Tricky, In the Valley Below at the Mohawk
- Rattlesnake Milk, Magna Carda, Slomo Drags, Chulita Vinyl Club at Cheer Up Charlies
- Think No Think, Machete Western, Fools, Deals, Karaoke Underground at Ghost Cat Lounge
- Star Parks, Mimicking Birds, Belcurve, Booher, XIX, Mean Jolene, Bond Twins at The Sidewinder
- The Sour Notes, Bitter Birds, Sure at the Hard Luck Lounge
- Wild Child, Matthew Logan Vasquez at the Scoot Inn
- The Deer, Valley Queen at the Cactus Cafe

Saturday:
- LSD and the Search for God, Ringo Deathstarr, Krista Van Liew, Single Lash, She Sir at Cheer Up Charlies
- Lord Buffalo, Brainwave, Patch, George West, Tyler Jordan and The Negative Space, Black DaVinci, Talkies, #Action at Ghost Cat Lounge
- A. Sinclair, Evan Charles & Altamesa at Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co.
- Thievery Corporation at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
- Brother Ali, Sa-Roc, Last Word (DJ set), Sol Messiah (DJ set) at Antone’s
- Wild Bill and the Knockouts, Will Courtney at Threadgill’s
- Justin Timberlake at Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of The Americas

Sunday:
- BLXPLTN, MeanGirls, Belcurve, Critical Dad, Glassing, The Stacks, Lazy Suzanne, Lexi and the Bleached Roses at Ghost Cat Lounge
- Elvis Costello at the Paramount Theater
- Landlady, Ian Chang at the Mohawk
- Primus at ACL Live at the Moody Theater
- Stevie Wonder at Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of The Americas

Monday:
- Mom Jeans, Walter Etc. at the Mohawk

Tuesday:
- Screaming Females, Street Eaters, Popper Burns at Barracuda
- Afghan Whigs, Har Mar Superstar at the Mohawk
- Total Unicorn, My Education, Suspirians, Cinders Ensemble at The Electric Church

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101X Homegrown Podcast

October 17, 2017

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Here’s the latest 101X Homegrown!  Enjoy.

(NEW) The Sour Notes – Clock Strikes Twelve
A. Sinclair – Just Remind Me
Basketball Shorts – Kevin McCAllister
(NEW) Chill Russell – Know What I Need
(NEW) Blood Pumps – Heart Of The Matter
Slomo Drags – Going Out Of Business
Magna Carda – Angela Bassett
The Deer – Farther
Star Parks – The Past Is Like A Foreign Country
Belcurve – Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
Wild Child – Fools
Matthew Logan Vasquez – Same
Palo Duro – Darken The Glow
(NEW) Thee Conductor – Face Crinkle

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Screaming Females

October 17, 2017

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Good news!  The almighty Screaming Females have announced a new album, All At Once (due February 23), and put out a new single/video.  Try to not leave it on repeat forever.  Enjoy.

PS – If you don’t come see Screaming Females at Barracuda on Tuesday, October 24, then we can no longer be friends.

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The Go! Team

October 12, 2017

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Just the other week I spent some time listening to The Go! Team, and that left me wondering if they were done or whatnot.  Nope!  They’re still at it.  In fact, the act just announced a new album, Semicircle, and today I’m sharing its title track.  Naturally, it’s a joyous affair.  Here’s hoping they come to Austin soon.  Enjoy.

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Show Of The Week

October 11, 2017

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You know who I’ve really been loving even more than usual in 2017?  Spoon.  Not only is their new album, Hot Thoughts, a real good one, but their live shows have been fantastic.  I’ve seen them four times so far this year, and in each set the band has been looser and more confident than ever before.  You should get in on this by going to their ACL Late Night Show at Stubb’s this Friday.  Somehow someway tickets are still available, so grab one or four and go have a lot of fun with Spoon.

Tickets are $28 in advance of the show, $30 the day of.  Mondo Cozmo will open.

PS – The band is also at ACL this weekend.  You can see them on the Miller Lite Stage from 7pm to 8pm on Saturday.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- Sheer Mag, Little Fish, Tentement, Mujeres Podridas at Barracuda
- Crystal Castles at Emo’s

Thursday:
- Tove Lo, Daye Jack at Emo’s
- Middle Kids, Summer Salt at Antone’s
- Car Seat Headrest, White Reaper at the Mohawk

Friday:
- Wand, Darto, The Maples at Barracuda
- Sphynx, Happy Abandon, T0MA, Ooni at the Spiderhouse Ballroom
- Austin City Limits Music Festival

Saturday:
- Torche, Red Beard Wall, A Good Rogering, No I’m the Leader at Come and Take It Live
- First Aid Kit, Jade Bird at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
- Thanks a Brunch with Go Fever at Hotel Vegas
- Ditch the Fest 2017 with Nam, Whiite Walls, Lola Tried, J. Claire, King Warbler, Batty jr., Eyelid Kid, Click-Clack, Eujit$u, Sobbrs, Housewarming, Sloth Fader, Hikes, Alesia Lani, Tres Oui, The Human Circuit, Gold Fronts, Mountebank at the Spiderhouse Ballroom
- Austin City Limits Music Festival

Sunday:
- Radical Face at the Central Presbyterian Church
- Austin City Limits Music Festival

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101X Homegrown Podcast

October 10, 2017

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Check out the latest 101X Homegrown!  Enjoy.

(ACL) Summer Salt – Candy Wrappers (Thursday, 10/12, Antone’s)
(ACL) Annabelle Chairlegs – Axe Me If I Care (Friday, 10/13, 11:45am-12:30pm, Miller Lite
Stage)
Rotten Mangos – It Must Be In The Air
Hidden Ritual – Rat
(ACL) The Black Angels – I’d Kill For Her (Saturday, 10/14, 5pm-6pm, Barton Springs Stage)
Suspirians – Nocturne
Belcurve – Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
(ACL) Spoon – I Ain’t The One (Friday, 10/13, Stubb’s & Saturday, 10/14, 7pm-8pm, Miller Lite Stage)
(ACL) Keeper – Next To Me (Thursday, 10/12, Parish)
Corduroi – Overboard
(ACL) The Wild Now – Afterglow (Thursday, 10/12, Scoot Inn)
Go Fever – This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Explosions In The Sky – Logic Of A Dream

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Who Is She?

October 10, 2017

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My head is still a little fuzzy from weekend one of ACL, so I got up this morning in search of something simple and catchy.  This led me to Who Is She?, a supergroup that features Julia Shapiro (Chastity Belt, Childbirth), Robin Edwards (Lisa Prank) and Bree Mckenna (Tacocat, Childbirth). They’re jangly and I really dig them.  Enjoy.

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The Breeders

October 5, 2017

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It would appear that The Breeders are legit back.  That’s neat.  I dig their new track, which is apparently a part of a 7″ series that will be rolling out this year.  Hopefully a new album is on the way as well.  Enjoy.

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Show Of The Week

October 4, 2017

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I’m excited about The Courtneys at the Mohawk tonight, Whitney at Antone’s tomorrow, and – of course – ACL this weekend, but the one show that’s really popping on the calendar for me this week is Chelsea Wolfe at the Paramount on Friday.  This, I imagine, is somewhat because I can’t go (dang it!), but I’m mainly going to attribute my high interest in it to how Wolfe has a huge, commanding sound that I’m certain will sound amazing at the Paramount. Go see her!  By the way, while you’re there, be sure to snag a copy of her heavy new album, Hiss Spun.

Tix are $28.  Youth Code will open.

BONUS Show Recommendations:

Tonight:
- The Courtneys, The Zoltars at the Mohawk
- Mean Jolene, Echo Ohs, Kay Odyssey, Endless Sewer at Hotel Vega

Thursday:
- Whitney, Kweku Collins at Antone’s
- Fat Tony, F L A C O at The Sidewinder
- Vagabon, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Caroline Says at Barracuda
- Hovvdy, Crumb, Madeline Crisman, Tasi at Hotel Vega
- Ryan Adams, Middle Kids at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
- The Black Angels with Roky Erickson at Emo’s

Friday:
- Har Mar Superstar at the Continental Club
- Run the Jewels, Cuz Lightyear at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater
- Ought, US Weekly at Stubb’s
- Austin City Limits Music Festival

Saturday:
- Molly Burch, Jana Horn at Radio Coffee & Beer
- Action Bronson at Empire Control Room
- Greenbeard, Think No Think, The Sun Machine, Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad at The Swan Dive
- Thundercat at the Scoot Inn
- BadBadNotGood, Mobley at the Mohawk
- Austin City Limits Music Festival

Sunday:
- Amplified Heat at The Little Darlin’
- Austin City Limits Music Festival

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The Rural Alberta Advantage

October 3, 2017

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The Rural Alberta Advantage are set to roll out their new album, The Wild, on October 13.  I didn’t think there would be another single before its release (there’s already been three other ones), but the band just set one free.  It may be my favorite track that’s been put out so far.  Enjoy.

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101X Homegrown Podcast

October 2, 2017

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Here’s the latest 101X Homegrown!  Enjoy.

(ACL) Spoon – Do I Have To Talk You Into It? (Saturday, 10/7, 7pm-8pm, Miller Lite Stage)
(ACL) The Wild Now – Run For Your Life (Friday, 10/6, 11:45am-12:30pm, Miller Lite Stage)
(ACL) Mobley – Tell Me (Saturday, 10/7, 11:30am-12:15pm, Miller Lite Stage & Sunday, 10/8, Mohawk)
Fort Never – Fly High
Hovvdy – Problem
(ACL) The Black Angels – Currency (Thursday, 10/5, Emo’s & Saturday, 10/7, 5pm-6pm, Barton Springs Stage)
Doom Side Of The Moon – Money
Otis The Destroyer – Van Rosita
A Giant Dog – Bendover
The Zoltars – Out Of My Head
Mean Jolene – Bump The Rump
(NEW) Belcurve – Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

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Whitney

October 2, 2017

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Whitney are looking to dominate my week.  Not only am I seeing them at Antone’s this Thursday, but they just announced Light Upon The Lake: Demo Recordings.  The release (due November 10) will feature Light Upon The Lake songs in their earliest incarnations, an Alan Toussaint cover, and an unreleased track called You and Me.  You can check out that last bit down below.  Enjoy.

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In Review: Fantastic Fest 2017

September 29, 2017

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Hey friends, here’s what I saw at Fantastic Fest.  I caught 20 films!  I actually wanted to see 30, but I got hit with a sinus infection and it totally derailed me for most of the fest.  Still, I’m calling this year a win.  Read on.

PS – You can check out which films won awards at Fantastic Fest right HERE.

Anna And The Apocalypse

Plot:  A high schooler named Anna is all set to jet out of her hometown on a solo adventure, but then zombies show up.

Review:  This holiday horror musical really came out of the gate strong with catchy songs and a great sense of humor, and for a bit I was ready to peg it as the freshest and most fun zombie flick since Shaun of the Dead.  Then the song quality started to slip, the plot got predictable, the jokes went soft, and the movie shifted to being a fairly bland affair.  I actually still think it’s worth seeing, but be sure to keep those expectations in check.

Bad Genius

Plot:  Lynn is a genius.  Her friends are not.  Lynn is not rich.  Her friends are.  So, she takes their money, she gives them correct test answers, and all is well.  For a while, anyways.

Review:  I totally had sweaty palms for a large chunk of this movie.  It’s exhilarating, which is pretty crazy since the film is essentially about standardized tests.  Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying is great as the ever-ambitious, yet ever-helpful Lynn, and I really hope to see her in more stuff soon.  By the way, there’s a twist at the end this movie that I did not see coming at all.  Also, cheating has always been cheating to me, but I can’t say I necessarily feel that way after seeing Bad Genius.  Guess I’m a criminal now.

Blade Of The Immortal

Plot:  Manji is a samurai who can’t die, and Rin is a young girl trying to avenge her parents.  They team up.

Review:  Director Takashi Miike’s 100th film is long, brutal, surprisingly funny, and really awesome.  Manji (Takuya Kimura) and Rin (Hana Sugisaki) are great in a “big brother, little sister” sort of way, and I never once stopped rooting for them to win out against seemingly everyone in Japan.  So many people get hacked up in this movie, but Miike does a great job of keeping the enemies and fight scenes varied so that nothing feels repetitive.  Well, except for the sound of limbs getting cut off.  I hope you get to see this one soon.

Brawl In Cell Block 99

Plot:  A drug runner gets busted, tossed in prison, and then given a very difficult task by a bad person.

Review:  Just when I thought that director S. Craig Zahler couldn’t get any more violent than Bone Tomahawk, along comes his Brawl In Cell Block 99.  If you’ve ever wanted to see Vince Vaughn as quick-witted, no nonsense former boxer with a penchant for curb stomping the fuck out of people, then this movie is for you.

Darkland

Plot:  Zaid is a man on the hunt to find the person who murdered his brother, Yasin.

Review:  The Fantastic Fest site refers to this film as a “realistic, culturally relevant take on Batman.”  I wouldn’t go that far.  Yes, it’s a gritty look at a normal dude dealing out justice on his own terms, but it always goes where you expect it to and I found the main bad guy to be less than memorable.  Still, it’s far from a bad movie.

Downsizing

Plot:  Cellular miniaturization has become a thing and lots of people are going “small” in order to help the environment and/or change their lives.  Paul Safranek and wife Audrey are the latest to get in on the mini-action.

Review:  Alexander Payne’s latest film is a big slice of social satire that doesn’t quite all the way work.  I really loved the first hour and some change, but once it moves to try and actually make a point, things get messy and the film stumbles to the finish line.  Matt Damon is great in it the whole time, though.

Gemini

Plot:  Lola works for superstar actress Heather Anderson as her personal assistant.  She likes her job.  Or at least she does until Heather gets murdered, and the cops suspect that she did it.

Review:  I’ve yet to decide if the ending of Gemini is clever or a cop out, but either way, I did enjoy the movie.  I dug its overall neo-noir vibe, and I felt like it was paced really well.  On another note, I’ve really grown fond of Zoe Kravitz.  She’s got a way about her that’s hard to ignore.

Gerald’s Game

Plot:  Gerald and Jessie are a married couple in desperate need of a getaway, so they take one.  Whilst engaging in the first naughty moment of the weekend, Gerald dies and Jessie is left alone with her arms spread and handcuffed to separate bed posts.

Review:  I’ve never read the Stephen King book that this movie is based off of, so I have no idea if it’s similar or not.  What I can tell you is that I thought it was a great film.  Carla Gugino is stellar as Jessie, and the movie just wouldn’t quite work the same without her.  Mostly because a lot of it takes place in her head or via the viewpoint of her cuffed to a bed, so her reactions to things and her body in general is how you follow what’s going on.  Side note, there’s some legit gore on display here, so keep that in mind before you sit down to casually watch it some night on Netflix.

Gilbert

Plot:  This one is a documentary about Gilbert Gottfried.

Review:  If you’re a fan of Gilbert Gottfried, then I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to watch this.  It’s got some nice insight into how he got started, and you get to see him when he’s not on a stage saying crazy things.

Good Manners

Plot:  Ana hires Clara to help her around the house while she is pregnant.  Things start out great but eventually spiral down a weird hole.

Review:  There’s technically two movies to consider here, as there’s a jump forward in time that takes place around the midway mark.  Both halves are pretty solid.  I was pleased to find that the film actually turned out to be like the Fantastic Fest site described – “a Gothic fairy tale for adults.”

Jailbreak

Plot:  A gang needs to get to their recently-jailed member.  Some cops would prefer that not happen.

Review:  Jailbreak is pretty much a low rent take on The Raid.  I know that doesn’t sound all that nice, but I actually don’t mean it in any sort of bad way.  There are indeed some amateurish parts, but most of the fight scenes are well done and its swift run time doesn’t ever let it drag.

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer

Plot:  A man and his family get inundated with scary problems when an oddball teenager enters their lives.

Review:  Director Yorgos Lanthimos has quickly become a big favorite of mine.  Dogtooth, The Lobster, and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer – they’re all great films.  I don’t want to say much too much, as the movie definitely has a lot of moments that can be easily spoiled, so I’ll just stick to this – it’s fucked up story that left me with all sorts of weird thoughts floating around in my head.  By the way, Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan deliver big time performances here.

Love And Saucers

Plot:  David Huggins swears that he lost his virginity to an actual alien.  This documentary explores his claim.

Review:  This one is only about an hour long, so there’s not much to it other than David Huggins talking about his various experiences with extraterrestrials beings.  I’m guessing that some think his stories and paintings are interesting (or maybe funny), but I mostly found them to be tedious.  Not really my thing here.

Mary And The Witch’s Flower

Plot:  A young girl finds a special flower that magically charges a broom and takes her to a school that trains witches.  From there, things don’t go quite as planned.

Review:  I’ll be honest, I’ve always found the Studio Ghibli-type stuff of the world to be pretty hit or miss.  Sometimes the movies just go on for far too long, or I don’t like the characters.  Thankfully, I didn’t run into that here.  I found this one to be a charming, creative affair that’s beautifully animated.  I’d watch it again.

Pin Cushion

Plot:  A teenage girl and her mom move to a new town.  Things don’t go well.

Review:  I didn’t like this movie.  It’s barely 80 minutes long, and yet I felt like it dragged on for an eternity.  I’m not even sure what it was trying to say.

Ron Goossens: Low Budget Stuntman

Plot:  Drunk stuntman Ron Goossens’ sleazy lesser half has tossed down an ultimatum.  If he doesn’t figure out a way to sleep with Bo Maerten, the Netherlands biggest movie star, then she will take their unborn child and leave forever.

Review:  I don’t know if you any of you have seen New Kids Nitro or New Kids Turbo, but they are some of the loudest, dumbest comedies ever.  Ron Goossens, I figured, would be more the same since it’s from that team, but it surprised me with its black comedy-lean.  I wanted to laugh at but also hold Ron (Tim Haars).

The Square

Plot:  Since this film is thick, I’m just going to borrow a line from IMDB here – “a poignant satirical drama reflecting our times.”

Review:  Big fans of director Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure should be excited about The Square, as it’s just as funny, well made and interesting.  Although, I can’t say it’s anywhere near as accessible.  This film lunges in a lot of directions and occasionally gets so dense that it can be difficult to pick up exactly what it’s putting down.  If you want a great think-piece though, then seek it out.

Super Dark Times

Plot:  Some kids accidentally do something awful.  What follows is them trying to hold themselves together.

Review:  I know the title here is Super Dark Times, but oh my is this movie is for real dark.  I was actually caught off guard by where it one went.  Owen Campbell as Zach and Charlie Tahan as Josh make for two of my favorite performances of the entire festival.  By the way, I think I’m scared of teenagers now.

Tiger Girl

Plot:  A girl named Maggie wants to be a cop, but she fails the tryout and instead is set to train to be a security guard.  While doing this she meets a rebellious young lady called Tiger, and then things go off the rails.

Review:  I was excited to see this because it has Ella Rumpf (from Raw) in it, but the film mostly fell flat for me.  I think it’s because you’re supposed to find its characters to be edgy and meaningful, but I couldn’t bring myself to like any of them.

Vidar The Vampire

Plot:  Vidar is really tired of being a farmer.  He wants loose women and stuff!  A chance encounter with a vampire Jesus may just give him what he desires.

Review:  This is one of those bonkers Fantastic Fest movies that you either love or hate because of how bonkers it is.  I wasn’t a fan.  I do think it has some really funny moments, but overall it’s definitely one of those films where me not being from its country of origin (Norway) proved to be too much of a culture hurdle.

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