By: Andrea Rodriguez
Dare to see a horror film that will have you jumping out of your seat? A film that will take you on a very enjoyable thrill ride? Well, if so then Andrea Rodriguez has a creepy film for you to check out!
Relax fellow horror-fans. I know it has been decade’s since a filmmaker has stepped up to the plate to deliver us an incredible horror film that is worthy of being called a horror film, but it has been done! Mama is a horror film co-written and directed by Andrés Muschietti that stars Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau. Mama succeeds in generating some genuine scares and leaving some lingering, creepy images, despite indulging into numerous clichés. It’s a well-made horror film that actually contains a story, and delivers the chills and thrills with a solid cast to gloss over the expected bag of tricks.
Mama tells the story of two little girls who are abandoned in the woods after losing both parents in tragic circumstances. They are found after 5 years in horrible conditions: wild and dirty, they crawl on four legs and move like an animal. Everybody assumes that the girls have survived on their own in the woods. Unfortunately, that is not quite the case. When their uncle and auntie take them in the frightening truth comes out.
Aunt- “Hey, come here.”
Aunt- “No don’t call me that, I’m not you mom I’m Annabel. You can call me that or Annie or whatever you like. We could work it out together, right?”
Where Mama succeeds greatly is in atmosphere and tension. The first hour of the movie is graced with chilling imagery and a feeling of genuine fear. One scene in particular revolving around Jessica Chastain knowing she isn’t alone and it certainly isn’t one of the children in the wardrobe would send strong shivers up anyone’s spine.
Aunt- “What’s wrong? What’s under the bed? Victoria?”
This is a movie that will chill you to the bone, and leave you feeling sad, and somewhat confused, but it is one of the better horror movies of our age, and it deserves to get some recognition! I would recommend this movie to anyone who loves horror with a passion and wants to see a horror movie that is almost a fantasy.
The Fourth Wall
By: Jordan Gass-Poore
This year’s S-X-S-W Film Festival may be behind us, but some of the movies that screened there are awaiting their theatrical release. Here’s a recap of some of the films Jordan Gass-Poore’ and Monica Solis enjoyed at the fest that will be out in theaters this summer, or, they hope will be out in theaters soon.
Jordan: “The East”
So, I was completely nervous about getting to speak with actor Alexander Skarsgard, who I know better as True Blood’s Eric the Vampire. But when the time finally came to ask him my one very important question, I felt pretty cool, which might have had something to do with the wind chill after standing outside of the Paramount Theatre on the red carpet for more than an hour.
I wasn’t so much there on the red carpet to shake hands and converse with a Swedish heartthrob as I was to watch the eco-thriller (yes, that’s a genre) “The East,” which previously screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. “The East,” directed/co-written by Zal Batmanglij, also stars Ellen Page of “Juno” fame and co-writer Brit Marling.
SB: “The East” movie trailer
If you like well-written and thought provoking movies with really beautiful cinematography, I’d recommend “The East,” which hits U.S. theaters May 31.
Jordan: “Prince Avalanche”
Prince Avalanche with lead cast Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, featured beautiful cinematography with an equally beautiful, often cut throat tale of youth, aging, independence, dependence and being wild in the wilderness. It opens in limited theaters Aug. 16. Hirsch, who appeared to have just gotten back from a jog across Austin, spoke with another local media outlet at the film’s SXSW Film Festival premiere about why he was attracted to this project.
SB: Red carpet sound bite
(Austin Monthly “Prince Avalanche” red carpet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsN9-maftR0)
I received a mass personal email from the director of “Zayait,” Deniz (Dennis) Tortum, who is just a year older than me studying film at Bard College in New York. The email was so personal, a breath of fresh air from the mostly robotic PR emails I had received before-and-during this year’s SXSW Film Festival that I immediately replied back to Tortum. After a brief email correspondence, he sent me a text message and we met at the Intercontinental Hotel in Downtown Austin for an in-person interview to discuss his thesis-turned-directorial-debut, “Zayait” (which means casualties), about a boy who goes in search of his father through a wintered Istanbul, only to discover personal and political problems along the way.
SB: Deniz Tortum
Jordan: “Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker” explores the life and music of the late New Orleans piano legend James Booker, known for his eye patch and eccentric behavior. The documentary, directed by Lily Keber, will screen at this year’s “QDoc” in Portland, which takes place May 17-19, and the Little Rock Film Festival, May 15-19.
Jordan: “Before You Know It”
A title card at the beginning of Austin-based filmmaker PJ Raval’s documentary “Before You Know It” states that an estimated 2.4 million self-identified gay, lesbian and transgendered senior citizens live in the U.S. Throughout the course of the movie, Ty Martin, Robert “One of the Ugliest Girls in the South” Mainer and Dennis Creamer transcend this statistic as we follow them from Rainbow Vistas in Gresham, Oregon, across to Harlem and south to Galveston. Raval’s years-long research for the film brought him face-to-face with his own immortality and the discovery that LGBT seniors are half as likely to have health insurance and five times less likely to access social services than their heterosexual counterparts.
But Raval’s subjects are more than just a number: They seek to educate audiences on a personal level and connect with them through their life stories. Like Creamer, a widower who didn’t identify as gay until his 70s. Before You Know It follows him on dates with people he met on the Internet as he explores his “new” female identity under the name Dee. Or, Martin, who is an LGBT activist who lives in Harlem with his longtime partner Stanton. And Mainer, who struggles to retain his gay-friendly bar, Robert’s Lafitte in Galveston, when confronted with legal troubles and his failing health.
I spoke with Raval, Before You Know It director/co-producer, and the documentary’s cast an hour before its world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. “Before You Know It” will screen at the Maryland Film Festival next month.
SB: PJ Raval
Jordan: Monica Solis was my partner in crime throughout this year’s SXSW Film Festival and is looking forward to catching some of her fest favorites again in theaters and through various video-on-demand platforms.
Monica: “Sound City”
“Sound City,” a music documentary directed by Dave Grohl, after having a one-night theatrical release earlier this semester, is out now on VOD.
The documentary will have you feeling nostalgic and will leave you with an itch to pick up a guitar and transition into roaming, rebel musician. You can read the full review and hear bits from my interviews with the producers on the KTSW wordpress blog.
SB: “Sound City” movie trailer
Monica: “Vamp U”
“Vamp U,” is targeted to a college audience mostly, but makes its mark outside of typical college humor. The film, directed and written by Matt Jesperson and Maclain Nelson, is a horror comedy which pokes fun at the cinematic stereotypes of vampires amidst a stereotypical university setting. I spoke to Maclain Nelson, a young Austin native, who told me he hitchhiked his way to our interview. Nelson spoke about the choice to set this hilarious horror comedy against a college backdrop. Vamp U is currently available for streaming, rental, or purchase on Amazon.
SB: Maclain Nelson
“Euphonia,” an indie film which is currently available for free viewing on the site Vimeo, makes its mark in the indie world with its abstract theme. The film, written and directed by Danny Madden, tells the story of a teenage boy who becomes obsessed with his tape recorder so much so that he hears everything through it. This film emphasizes sounds as many good films would emphasize imagery. In its weirdness, Euphonia is strangely relatable, drawing on emotion and representing a universal struggle of tuning in and tuning out. I spoke to co-writer Benjamin Wiessner and co-producer Jim Cummings on the importance of sound in the film.
SB: Benjamin Wiessner and Jim Cummings
Jordan: “The Blue Umbrella”
“The Blue Umbrella,” a Pixar short, will premiere before “Monsters University” July 12. I spoke with the short’s director Saschka Unseld during this year’s SXSW Film Festival.
SB: Saschka Unseld
Jordan: “Don Jon”
“Don Jon,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a porn-addict, made its world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. It will be released in theaters nationwide Oct. 18.
SB: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Monica: “The Punk Syndrome”
“The Punk Syndrome,” a Finnish documentary, chronicles the journey of a band as they move from hole-in-the-wall venues to hole-in-the-wall venues packed with moshing and adoring fans. The documentary depicts the shared experiences of pain, doubt, relief, creativity, inspiration, aspiration, and those in-betweens of both shows and recording sessions, in true punk rock style — raw and unapologetic.