Category: Interviews

What You Wish For

This film was watched as part of Fantastic Fest 2023!

Check out my interview with the director, Nick Tomnay, here

In every horror movie, if it involves wishes, you know you are going to need to have a lawyer to go over the wish with a fine comb to watch out for loopholes. Hell, even the comedies about wishes usually follow the same rule. The Monkey’s Paw is a fierce and fickle bitch, as it were.

But thankfully, this movie just has Wish in the title, and isn’t about a sarcastic asshole djinn spirit.

What You Wish For is more just part of a saying with the words be careful. I guess the grass isn’t always greener in this thriller mystery. Huh, what a wild concept.

No joke here, I just had to edit the poster to get a second photo for the review.
Ryan (Nick Stahl) has hit a bit of a rock. And that rock is on the bottom. He is a chef, with some excellent cooking abilities, but no great place to work, and he is broke. He also is a gambler! So not only is he broke, but he owes some nasty people some money, and he is on the run for his life.

Lucky for him, one of his old pals in cooking school has a place for him. Jack (Brian Groh), arguably not as good of a cook, is living an extravagant life in Latin America. He has a beautiful house, and he is a chef for some rich rich people. He is living the life anyone could dream, and yet, he is alone. And Jack invites him to a visit, perfect timing for Ryan.

But there is something mysterious and secretive about this arrangement. How can a chef afford such luxuries? How great is Jack’s cooking? Well. Ryan is about to find out, because he is going to be given an opportunity to take over from Jack, without knowing the finer details. And maybe he won’t have the stomach for what happens.

Also starring Tamsin Topolski, Randy Vasquez, Juan Carlos Messier, Penelope Mitchell, Ariel Sierra, and Greg Winter.

Fancy food? Hooray a film on how to cook, finally.
I am trying not to hint too much at this. Because a creepy movie involving food usually means one thing. But hey, if you remember The Menu from last year, then you should know it can mean a lot of different things. Just. Food will be involved. For an expensive meal. And even if you THINK you can guess what happens, you won’t be able to guess the events around these actions still.

Nick Tomnay, the director, has only done one other feature film, and it was 13 years ago. The Perfect Host, with David Hyde Pierce. It was a charming film where people weren’t as they all seemed and there was a dinner! Oh great, similarities in his body of work.

For this film, the mystery was only part of it. Because by the halfway point, the mystery has been give away. It’s what you DO with the mystery that really gives the film its flavor. I am going with a cooking metaphor here, please accept it. I was kept on the edge of my seat, wondering how various characters would cope with the situation, when the stakes seemed to just keep getting higher. And the end is a stark realization that even when it comes to the elite and rich, no one can get by life’s cruel twists of fate.

Now I just gotta hope a similar situation comes my way for my dumb skill set so I can be rich forever. Just kidding. Kind of. Maybe.

What You Wish For is an interesting look at not the most interesting story, but it does its own unique blend of herbs and spices to give it a kick that is quite enjoyable.

3 out of 4.

Egghead & Twinkie

This film was watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Egghead & Tinkie had its Seattle Premier at the festival and is currently on the virtual fest. See an interview with the director Egghead & Twinkie, here!

Are you an Egghead? Or are you a Twinkie? These are battlelines that have never been drawn before, but I am drawing them here today. Which side of the camp do you fall on?

Oh, I guess you might not know what side each of them really represent. Which is fair, you likely haven’t seen the movie. But the movie is called Egghead & Twinkie, so I at least know the point of it is that the pair is important. We don’t need to pick sides, we need to pick both of them. And ignore the strange doppelganger pairs like Eggkie and Twinhead.

Yep, this is the Eggkie and Twinhead pair for sure. 
Twinkie (Sabrina Jieafa) is living her life in her summer after high school, and finally realizing what she is about. She is gay, and doesn’t care who knows it. Well, she hasn’t told the people in her life. Her conservative parents (Kelley Mauro, J. Scott Browning) don’t know, and she assumes her best friend, Egghead (Louis Tomeo) knows, but for sure people on the internet know! Especially BD, which is short for BigDykeEnergy (Ayden Lee), the current love of her life.

But BD lives in Texas, and Twinkie lives in Florida. Life is unfair. They can talk all they want on the internet, but they can’t be close to each other, so its almost like Twinkie can’t even tell for real if she is a lesbian! But, an opportunities arrives. An invite, to a club, where BD is DJing, a complete lesbian night. But Twinkie doesn’t drive, and its a long ways away.

Sounds like a great time to convince Egghead to drive her, who recently found out about her sexuality, and still crushes on her hard. But maybe this bonding trip is important before he runs off to college. Even if their parents say no, what can they do to stop them? If they got wheels and they are on the road, and they got money, looks like they will just have to wait to punish them when they get back. And hopefully, along the way, they can find themselves before it’s too late.

Also starring Roger Greco and Asahi Hirano.

When movies have people watch movies, is there anything better?
There are indie movies, and then there are indie movies. The first sort of indie movie has a very specific set of goals. It will be award winning, it will be a character study, it will have a lot of natural lighting. You will likely have a lot of shots of characters walking, often from behind. You won’t have lots of CGI, and you will likely cry over what seems like ordinary circumstances.

And then there is indie films that literally look like they were made by first time folks, with little experience. The lighting might be weird, the acting might not be great, the story will be unique and quirky. And it might be terrible, and maybe no one will watch it. It doesn’t have to be terrible, there is just a better chance of that occurring.

Egghead & Twinkie is the second sort of indie film, but thankfully, it isn’t terrible. Everything about it gives off an aura of fun and cuteness. The people making it were having fun, the story was fun. It felt like everyone involved maybe on their first film, and it is okay, because it invites the viewers on the experience.

There is nothing groundbreaking from the story here. Road trip film, best friends with one way crushes, shenanigans along the way and betrayals. But the movie does feel like a very Gen Z film. It was made by Gen Zers and acted by them and it shows. I am noting this as a positive. Just the way they spoke, the references, and all of that, was arguable refreshing because most films only do that in a mocking way and not in a genuine way. The animation between them adds to it as well, fitting the characters, and giving that same high energy aspect towards the whole film.

Egghead & Twinkie, a film made by Gen Z, with Gen Z people, for Gen Z people, and it is refreshing in those takes alone.

3 out of 4.


This film was watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Abled had its World Premier at the festival and is currently on the virtual fest. See an interview with the director and star of Abled, here!

Without a doubt, one of the sports I do the worst at is running. Whether it is sprinting, or cross-country. I don’t have what people call endurance, and I am built like a train. [Editor’s Note: Actually, three years in a row I won the 6th grade teacher 40m sprint due to competitive nature and other lazy teachers.] So in reality, that does mean I am less interested in watching people run as well. When my oldest did cross country, I was stoked he wanted to run, but also knew how unexciting watching those meets could be.

This leads me to this documentary. Originally, I was going to skip it. How exciting could a documentary about running for the Olympics be? People go fast, less than a minute of competition. Sometimes they dance before they go? But that is the main Olympic stories I remember. However, I am glad I ended up checking out Abled, for quite a few reasons.

The first reason, is that Blake Leeper, the star of the documentary, is a delightful person, full of passion and perseverance. Now for those not sure on what this is about, Blake is a Paralympian runner, with 8 Medals to his name, over various games. He was born with no legs below his knees, and it wasn’t looking good. But he learned to walk and eventually, learned to run. And he became more passionate about his running when they developed blades so that the running is more natural. And damn, did he take to them.

This is how I look after I have to run any amount of time.

However, it turns out, that not everyone is stoked about Blake’s success.

You see, he was seen as being too fast. Blake wanted to run for the Olympics. Not the Paralympics. The “regular” Olympics. After all, Oscar Pistorius did it in 2012. (Oh fun fact, check out his Wikipedia. Things sure did go south for him after those games). And even though Oscar was allowed to compete, Blake was not. Because Blake got a really good run, under 45 seconds, in a trial run, for the first time in his life. And now, apparently, his lack of natural legs gave him an advantage, and the Olympic committee said they needed to science and research to prove that these legs did not give him an advantage overall. And they were going to make Blake prove it.

This documentary is about Blake’s fight to compete, to prove that the legs inherently did not make him faster. It goes through their trials and tests, and quite honestly, really obvious reasons to prove that they aren’t something that give him a (this is intentional) leg up on the competition. And yet, it seems no matter what they do, he gets denied. And public opinion is also divided, because as we know, people have opinions without facts and research to back it up.

But besides all of that. This is a story of a man, at a disadvantage in a sport, succeeding despite the metaphorical hurdles in his path. It is a story about an exceptional athlete, with a positive attitude, fighting for his rights to compete for his country and for his family. And it is a powerful story, and one that really questions how we label disabilities and how welcome we are to those with these struggles into society.

Abled is a great documentary of a true story, with a fight that is never finished. And it is worth time watching.

3 out of 4.

I Like Movies

These films were watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). I Like Movies is the official CLOSING FILM and has its Seattle Premier on Sunday, May 22 2023. Check out my interview with Chandler Levack here

Do you like movies? I know I like movies. Hell, I might love them. I might be in love with them, if you ask my wife. But if you like movies, or like the idea of movies, then I got a movie for you.

Have you heard about I Like Movies? It is from Canada! And based on the film title alone, I knew it was the type of film I needed to see, as soon as possible. Describing what it is about is just a waste of time on me. I like movies and want to watch movies about liking movies. If that is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

This is just a picture someone took of me in a movie theater, what the hell?

Lawrence Kweller (Isaiah Lehtinen) is a senior in high school, and he knows what he wants in his life. He wants to leave Canada, go to NYU, and join their film program. Then he wants to direct films and become super famous and have love in the world.

But there are a few problems. He is notably not rich, and NYU is expensive. He could just go to a Canadian school and be much better off, but he doesn’t want to be a Canadian director. He also doesn’t have a lot of experience outside of film classes in his school. He can’t even watch every movie he wants to watch. So, he is ready to finally help his future career and he gets a job. At a movie rental store!

Now, not only can he start earning fat stacks of cash to go to school. But he can talk about film with coworkers. With customers. And see more movies (for free!). Things are really looking up for Lawrence. Ain’t nothing bad gonna happen to him now.

Also starring Krista Bridges, Percy Hynes White, Alex Ateah, Tavaree Daniel-Simms, and Romina D’Ugo as his boss at work.

Look at these happy people. Clearly they all want to talk about movies 24/7. 

If I had a fear about I Like Movies going into it, is that it would be a movie made for people who were really into movies. And let’s be clear, I am fine when that happens! I am into movies, so I will get it, and usually get hyped around it. And while I Like Movies carries that sort of vibe, and it will make plenty of movie references, it is also just a standalone good movie. On its own. Even if you are a normie not already at 250 films for the year (whoops).

What we have in this picture is a main character who will infuriate you and make him love him the next scene. He has some issues, that he has certainly not worked through in any positive way. But yet I understand where he is coming from every time. I understand his best friend, and his boss, and his mother. A film where everyone still feels like a real person, even when some more egregious events happen along the way.

And in general, it also gives me back some of that nostalgia of not just working in a movie rental store, but also being a shopper in a movie rental store. When you had time to choose and there were a finite, yet good amount of options. This is a film that wants you to remember those good times, and maybe even, the bad times you had with these stores and their late fees.

I Like Movies is a simple film, telling a simple story, about a main character who does not like simplicity in the films he watches. He is not here for re-releases of Shrek, he is here for cinema. When it becomes available, it is a movie worth watching in a theater, with others. It isn’t just a coming of age story in the like of late 90s coming of age stories. It is about the industry and how it changes people, for better or for worse, the struggles within it, and how despite it all, we keep crawling back towards the movies we love.

4 out of 4.

The Mattachine Family

This film was watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). The Mattachine Family has its world premier on Friday, May 12, 2023. You can see my interview with the director here!

Without a doubt, I think if I just saw the name of this film, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. The Mattachine Family? That is a real fancy sounding word that I don’t understand, being the illiterate adult that I am. Turns out, Mattachine isn’t really an adjective to describe the type of family, but it can be a reference to many things.

Personally, I think that it mostly would refer to The Mattachine Society, which ended up being an early organization that came about for gay rights. Huh, look at that, I am learning already.

And before I get further, it is most important to point out that this film with many producers, also has Zach Braff attached as the executive producer. Which means he is putting that Scrubs money to good use. Diverse films!

If you look closely, those steps are The Mattachine Steps. Damn, I was wrong!

This is a story about family, which you probably got from the title.

Specifically, it is about Thomas (Nico Tortorella) and Oscar (Juan Pablo Di Pace). Thomas and Oscar are not only in a relationship, they were foster parents for a little kid! Wait, let’s back up a little bit.

Oscar used to be an actor! He was a child star, on sitcoms, got really famous and was himself a foster kid. So it makes sense for him to want to do the same. Things came crashing down when it came out that he was out.

Thomas and Oscar met at one point, and the rest is history! Just kidding, it has its ups and downs as well. In fact, Thomas is a photographer and is struggling to figure out what it means to have a family as an adult gay man. But fostering a kid is certainly one way.

But then, well, his mother is better, and takes him back, after a year in their life. And it turns out, Oscars career is finally starting to pick back up. So he is going to be away filming. And their kid is gone. So what is Thomas to do? He is alone, not sure where to go on in life. Should he try for adoption? Should he ignore kids completely and just focus on living his life with his friends? Being an adult is hard, and it turns out, so is making a family.

Also starring Garret Clayton, Khalilah Joi, Jake Choi, Heather Matarazzo, Emily Hampshire, Colleen Foy, and Annie Funke.

What is love if it is not holding someone from behind in your arms?
Let’s go back to that “What is Mattachine” introduction I gave. Well, from the screenshot, you can see that there are Mattachine steps. These steps are known as outdoor workout stairs. Oh, so like, designed actually to be used for exercise? Maybe the real Mattachine family is the one that you need to put work into, and hopefully in the end, it will work out.

But if you dig deeper…you find out that they were outside of the home of Harry Hay…the founder of the Mattachine Society. Oh good, we are back to that, and it looks like I was right! But hey, the metaphor works nicely as well.

Anyways, this is a very unique film I would say. It isn’t really a standard family film, it isn’t a romcom for the leads. It is almost like dealing with a middle age crisis on what to do for the rest of your life, if you want a family but can’t seem to have one. Obviously the goal here is to define families in a more broad sense, for the friends and people you have in your life and choose to spend your time with. But it is certainly in the drama film, if not loosely, barely, in the romance genre side of things.

I think all of the leads did a fantastic job. They felt believable and were fully fleshed out characters. At the same time, this film had so many ideas floating in it, with the side characters and subplots. I wasn’t sure what the film was meant to be about, until we really got to the final scenes and conclusions began. In my mind, it felt like that this film was maybe first envisioned as a pilot for a television show, that can continue to tell the story of these friends and characters as they continue on for life, but somewhere it pivoted into what we have. I know it isn’t true, but it is the feeling I get from the film, with how disjointed some moments are from scene to scene.

Again, well acted, and honestly, a beautifully shot film. And if the “driveway fall” doesn’t suck you in early on, I am not sure if movies are meant for you.

2 out of 4.


This film was watched as a part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). Anu has its world premier on Sunday, May 14, 2023. You can see my interview with the director here!

If there is anything we vastly need more of, it is stories of non-white people in films. I fully believe that, and it is up to us as movie watchers to seek out these stories when they become available.

That was my driving factor for seeking out the film Anu. Anu is actually based on the book, Looking for Bapu, which came out in 2008. Written by an Indian-American woman, about a kid growing up in a mixed culture environment. And now, with Anu, telling the same story, is with Indian American director, Sudeshna Sen.

See? Exactly what I want, new perspectives, from people who aren’t like me, and non-male directors is only a plus at this point. Throughout these festival reviews, I will try my best to highlight and seek out films that aren’t the standard.

And if I don’t, Anu said she would glare at me all night and I don’t need that on my mind.

Anu (Diya Modi) is a preteen Indian American girl living in the Seattle region (hey, that is where I live. And where the festival is!) and has to deal with normal preteen girl issues. However, her life starts to change really early on when her grandfather, Bapu (Abhijeet Rane) passes away unexpectedly. With this, her life does begin to unravel a bit. She loved her Bapu, and she misses him, and how can she go on living without him?

From there though, she begins to see visions of him as a ghost! And it is definitely real. Anu wants to begin a quest to bring him back to life as a reincarnation of Siddhartha. But before that can happen, she has to go on a spiritual journey…in her own neighborhood and school. She has to become holy. Whether it is fasting, giving fortunes, or changing her style, she knows she needs to be able to bring him back, that is the only solution left in her life.

Also starring Lowell Deo, Pratik P. Shah, Tanvee Kale, Hudson Bruener, and Eden Campbell.

Clearly a walk to remember. Oh, no, different movie.

Anu is a classic coming of age story, or at least, a coming of age story, where culturally the way the character acts and interacts with her surroundings makes it more unique than the standard film of this variety. First I want to talk about the main actress, Diya Modi. This is her first feature length film where she has a major role and she knocks it out of the park. It is arguably my favorite aspect of the film. Her character has flaws and makes mistakes and acts like a girl that age, and is not some “perfect kid” learning to deal with death. She is a regular kid, learning to deal with death, through the good and bad reactions one might go through based on what they were taught.

Rane as Bapu was also delightful, and I wish he had more screentime. (This is arguably the plot of the film as well, getting him more screen time).

And although it is easy to remember the things that Anu did in the film in order to complete her spiritual journey, I will acknowledge I don’t remember much more of the film. It was great to see local sights and sounds, and just hear a character saying “Ballard” (a neighborhood of Seattle), but I don’t think the other supporting characters added enough for the full film. Her parents, her friends, it all becomes a little bit of a blur.

Anu is certainly not close to being a bad film; it was certainly a unique and interesting film! It is just also one where I was hoping for a bigger character catharsis and cast to help elevate it into bigger and better levels. It also gave me enough interest to seek out the book the film is based on, even if it is meant of elementary/middle school aged students.  I hope that the lead continues her acting career, not just for diversity sake, but because she handled the lead role so well.

2 out of 4.


You can watch my interview with director Jalmari Helander, here

What is Sisu? Well, look it up, I am not your goddamn parent.

Most reviews of this film are likely going to give the definition of it, and I am being a trend setter by ignoring that, even though by sort of knowing the definition, and the fact that it is a Finnish concept, is kind of important for the plot of this film.

Instead, I will point out that this is director, Jalmari Helander‘s, third feature film. The first two were Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale and Big Game. The former of which I saw personally over a decade ago on a random rent from Blockbuster, and was blown away by how original the story was, with one of my favorite film endings of that year. Big Game was an interesting film as well, not as great, but had some cool action scenes and was certainly unexpected. Like, you know, having Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States.

Looks like a few people brought asses to an ass kicking contest. Rookie mistakes. 
World War II in Finland was a bit weird. I don’t really care to get into all of the specifics on it, because I am certainly not expert, but Finland and Germany were fighting together! Yeah! Does that mean that the Finns liked Nazis? Oh, nope. But, They were being invaded by the Soviet Union during World War II, and didn’t like that, and since the Nazi’s were also fighting the Soviet Union, they had troops up there too. That is it, they were defending their homeland.

Then, near the end of WWII, Finland signing all of the treaties, had to agree to get the Nazi’s out of their country. Which they were going to let them take their time, and run to Norway. But then it still led to a few months of fighting, called the Lapland War. Good times. So yeah, this movie is set in that time.

See, our hero, Aatami (Jorma Tommila), was just existing in the fields with his dog, panning for gold, making a big discovery. Things are looking good for him, but then a gang of Nazi’s start to give him shit, so he does what has to be done. Getting revenge on every last Nazi and driving them from his land, so he can take his newly found riches and live that life of luxury he deserves.

Yep, a simple kill the Nazis revenge flick. One man, some women, and a bunch of Krauts.

Also starring Mimosa Willamo, Jack Doolan, and Aksel Hennie.

For those who can see this image, yes, this is exactly what it looks like. 

Now for those of you who were awesome and saw the interview I posted at the top, you would already know this. But it is clear while watching it as well, that this film is inspired by First Blood. Not the plot itself, but in terms of the action, of one man, in the wilderness, against greater odd forces, after being a special tactical soldier earlier in a war. It shows its influences, and goes to extreme levels.

The director has always been a fan of doing action and big stunts in his films in the past, but this takes it to a new and much higher level. Our one man army is just…on another level of action packed strong. It is so easy to get hyped during the film, broken down into its various chapters and areas. Kill after kill going for more unique and brutal ways. Our hero being a silent but deadly type is certainly a trope, and a welcome one in this movie. It is done mostly in English, outside of a few lines that I assume are in Finnish, which is also a new decision from the director.

For video game reasons, I am biased, but my favorite scene is of course what takes place in the minefield, but the ending is also high up there.

Seeing war movies about different countries is such an interesting experience, as an American. Because sometimes it can be hard to figure out who to really root for, given how history is likely taught in various countries. But this one has the Nazis, the universal bad guys, so it is pretty easy to cheer on our hero displaying Finnish pride and determination, even if we have no ties to the Land of Fin.

Sisu is allegedly hard to define into English, but the film Sisu is easy to define. Amazing and fun.

4 out of 4.

Attack of the Doc!

See my interview with the director/producer of Attack of the Doc!, Chris Gore, here!

If you are someone around my age, and I hate to say this, male, with a big cable package growing up, you are likely familiar with Attack of the Show! It has an exclamation point, but no, it is not a musical. It started out in 2005, as a sort of replacement for the show The Screen Savers. You see, The Screen Savers was on TechTV, it was a live show, throughout the week, about technology and all of that. But then G4 bought TechTV, started to show more video game based TV show, and eventually replacing The Screen Savers time slot with Attack of the Show!

So what is the show? Good question. It was a lot of things. It was hosted at the start by Kevin Pereira and Kevin Rose. It was about movies, video games, weird stungs, fun games with celebrities, nerd culture, and more. It was about the internet and rose with internet humor, starting to show viral things to the masses, in case they missed it. Eventually, Olivia Munn joined their cast, in her real breakout role, becoming an even bigger deal and TV show. You know, because she was a woman who was good at joking around “with the guys” and giving them a taste of their own medicine.

It was barbaric and mediaeval and cutting edge in a lot of different ways. It is one of the first shows to ever incorporate twitter in any way to its broadcast. It is a show that didn’t like to ask questions or permission, but just constantly tried to get away with more and more.

It lasted about 7 years, and disappeared into a sea of Cops reruns, as G4TV like many specialty tv stations, began to show the same basic reality shows most of the day, because it gave more profit than original programming.

It also was a show that had this in it. Amazing!

So clearly, I watched some Attack of the Show. Weirdly enough, I thought I had memories of watching it in 8th grade, but that was before it came out! Instead, it wasn’t until college, in like 2007-09 or so that I remember seeing it a lot. Watching with friends, seeing the viral videos and wild and wacky shenanigans was for sure ground breaking at the time. It was like all of the best parts of the internet in one package so everyone can be included. To clarify, I mean the best parts of the internet that can be shown on television.

It is a show that can only exist in a time bubble, and nothing that can be recreated now. Afterall, they tried, even with bringing back Kevin Pereira to host in 2021. But the ratings weren’t there, the viewers didn’t care, and it was a different beast. Why couldn’t it exist anymore? Why did it have problems? Well, the documentary, Attack of the Doc!, goes into all of that and it is pretty clear why it couldn’t exist today.

The director of the documentary is Chris Gore, who was the official Film Critic of Attack of the Show!, and had his own segment called DVDuesday. A weekly segment about new releases and what should be bought or rented or skipped. So he is someone intimately familiar with the material, and had a lot of people on to tell the story of the rise and fall of the show. And the documentary was put together through funding and Kickstarter in order to be made.

Overall, I would say it is a nice history of the show. What the documentary could certainly do less with is strange rants about woke or cancel culture. And lamenting the changing of humor. That made things weird and uncomfortable for me, personally. And made it something I wouldn’t fully love to watch multiple times. But it does show a lot of the greatest hits and makes it clear why it existed, which is one fans of the love would love to go through. The extra commentary? A weird move, but hey, it was a move they wanted to make.

2 out of 4.


Here is an interview with the director of Razzennests, Johannes Grenzfurthner!

Razzennest is a snazzy title, and something that really makes me crave pizza. Makes me want to seek out that razzle dazzle. That is all of the double z words I can think of in a short span of time, I apologize for not being able to make that introduction joke go longer.

Razzennest might be a German word meaning Rat Nest, or it can be something very different on who you ask.

Regardless of who you ask on translating Razzennest, the film itself is a film that cannot be translated into any other film for comparison. It is a film unique on its own, and we shall see why in a moment.

This is a cock. 

The Thirty Years War (which lasted about 30 years) took place in Central Europe in the 1600’s. It involved the church, of course, people getting kicked out of windows, and just a lot of religious inspired death. Razzennest is about that war, kind of.

The imagery that starts the movie, landscapes, broken buildings, statues, fill the screen, until we hear a voice. Whose voice? Why Babette Cruickshank (Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh) of course. Because she is introducing us to the director’s film commentary of the film, Razzennest. Strange names aside, you would have been confused (if you didn’t read this description first) and thought there was a mistake, but do not worry, this is intentional. Because while you will see the film Razzennest with your eyes, you will quickly see the real Razzennest was not just the friends we made along the way, but the fake director commentary on top of it.

Because director Manus Oosthuizen (Michael Smulik) is an asshole, and has a vision, and hates dumb questions and mispronounced names. And the beginning of the commentary is full of conflict and angst. But unfortunately, darker forces are afoot in their commentary room, and things will only get weirder and scarier from there.

Also featuring the voices of Roland Gratzer, Joe Dante, Jim Libby, Anne Weiner, and Bob Rose.

This is a hole in the ground. 
Razzennest is a HARD film to talk about, because honestly, just mentioning the type of film it is feels like a spoiler, even though that happens immediately. It almost felt like telling people to “get ready for the fake trailers” in front of Tropic Thunder. Just let it happen. But I also know it would be hard for me to talk about anything else, than the commentary track, since that is 95% of the film.

Yes, it still has visuals. But the visuals were clearly chosen to not be distracting, but aiding instead. Real footage of places in Europe, of old destruction, of old structures, of nature, and former battlegrounds. But there are no characters on that screen. There is not other dialogue, or interactions. It is just scenes spliced together, sometimes aggressively, to enhance the commentary story. It often matches the tone and uncomfortableness in some ways with the commentary, clearly being extremely deliberate with the editing so that it is an enhancer, not a hindrance.

In terms of the dialogue, you know, the 95% of the film, it has a pretty varied cast of characters with distinct enough voices and mannerisms to not confuse the viewer. Without knowing exact amounts, the first 1/3 of the film is meant to just be uncomfortable, awkward, and a bit silly and funny. But there are hints of what to come. And damn it, I can keep at least that part a secret still. After all, this is a Horror Comedy, not just a Comedy.

The film’s goal is to both make fun of the pretentiousness of arthouse award winning indie films, while also, at the same time, being one itself. It is punching across, not down or up. It was done on a shoe string budget, with an idea that Hollywood would never try out, because it would be a hard sell for audiences.

I had to go back into my memory banks, the only experience I had that was similar to this was Sounds Dangerous!, which was a Drew Carey audio show attraction at Disney World. The audience was given headphones, and were mostly in the dark, to experience this audio story telling device, with many sound cues to make the audience get all weird feeling. It was unique, and yet, Razzennest is clearly unique-r.

Razzennest is adding complexity to it, by having visuals, by making it meta, and by both deconstructing a genre while partaking in the genre at the same time. There is really nothing like Razzennest, and I honestly can’t imagine too many things being like Razzennest in the future either. Unless this sort of film starts to take off, like Found Footage films did after The Blair Witch Project.

I fully recommend checking out this movie if it is ever in your vicinity, although I realize that will likely be hard for some time. Because there is nothing else like it available. Until we get Razzennest 2 in twelve years, to tell a similar story, but with water!

3 out of 4.

Unidentified Objects

Here is an interview with the director of Unidentified objects, Juan Felipe Zuleta

Everyone wants to talk about the UFO’s, but what if they aren’t flying? What if they walk? What if they teleport? What if they just sit there like a rock and do nothing?

I guess they would just be called UOs, Unidentified Objects. They are less exciting than UFO’s, but they still are unidentified, so I guess no one knows what they are. They are mysterious.

So for a film that goes by that name, we know it has to involve some aliens, but the walking variety. A welcome change, if I am being honest.

I can confirm, neither of these objects look like they can fly. 

Peter (Matthew Jeffers) lives alone in NYC, and honestly, he prefers it that way. He is angry at the world for many reasons. There is a pandemic, that is one of them, sure. But he is gay, a dwarf, and just in general doesn’t have many friends.

So who knocks on his door? Winona (Sarah Hay), one of his neighbors, whom he doesn’t really talk to ever. But she has an emergency. She needs to go on a small trip, and doesn’t have a way to get there. It is to visit her sister. And she offers to pay him almost $2000 for the trip. He does need the money, so…screw it.

However, it turns out that she did mislead Peter on their destination and the reason. First, they have to go into Canada. Second, it is with a goal of getting to a specific spot at a specific time in order to meet…aliens! She believes in them and has some good information. But they will have to sneak across the border, and meet a lot of interesting individuals along the way. Not that they aren’t interesting individuals themselves.

Also starring Elliot Frances Flynn, Hamish Allan-Headley, Kerry Flanagan, Tara Pacheco, and Roy Abramsohn.

Canada means lumberjacks, that is a fact. 

Unidentified Objects on its own sounds like a story you may have seen over and over again.  A road trip film about unlikely companions, to discover something about the world, and hopefully, themselves. And sure. Yes, this is one of those films. And yet despite that, it feels quite unique in its story telling and it is worth the time.

The strength in the film lies mostly in their leads, who both bring about what feels like real passion and real emotion to their roles. This isn’t a zany road trip film. The people met along the way would normally be the types of characters at the butt of the jokes for our main characters, but everyone met is explored and given room to breathe. Whether that is good or bad for the leads depends on whom they meet along the way, but despite being a film about going to potentially meet aliens, it reminds grounded and it excels in that aspect.

Despite being a realistic film, it does feature quite a few dream sequences, to keep the viewer on their toes, and to help explore the characters better, especially our main lead. They almost always got me too, they mostly flowed well from the regular scene, until they didn’t. One cop scene in particular got very weird, very quickly.

With Unidentified Objects, it is a film that is easy to skip from the description alone, but I was blown away by how much I cared about the characters and their individual journeys before the end of it. Strong acting performances from people who aren’t big names. You love to see it.

4 out of 4.