Trauma Bond (2022)

Director-Writer Jaina Cipriano’s dark drama is a wonderful master class not only in character study but in acting across the board. Cipriano really brings the best out of her small cast, all of whom help to enhance what is a very mesmerizing experience in explorations in trauma, hive minds, and the power of suggestion.

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Departing Seniors (2024)

In Select Theaters & VOD/Digital on February 2nd.

Director Clare Cooney’s “Departing Seniors” is an ode to the classic giallo pictures of the seventies where someone is having psychic visions of a lurking masked killer. This masked killer though is lurking inside and around a high school, while the protagonist is a young man who is grappling with his own trauma involving his sexuality. While I give big respect to Joe Nateras for writing a movie that evokes the giallo pictures of the seventies, “Departing Seniors” misses on every other front. It’s a horror comedy that completely fails to keep its eye on the ball, centering so much more around teen drama and forgetting that it’s also supposed to be a horror movie.

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Attack of the 50 Foot CamGirl (2022)

Streaming on Tubi TV, and Amazon Prime Video.

It’s become almost a tradition for some filmmaker to remake Nathan Juran’s 1958 schlock monster movie. Pretty much every four or five years a new variation of the formula pops up with a studio inserting some kind of entity. Now that CamGirl’s are still a thing and much more relevant, Jim Wynorski brings us the Attack of a 50 Foot CamGirl. It’s the bare minimum in the scope of attempted cult filmmaking; your mileage may vary depending on what you’re willing to endure when it comes to seeing busty blonde fifty feet women.

I’m looking at you, Macrophiliacs.

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Knife+Heart (2018) [LA&M Film Fetish Forum]

Playing at the LA&M Film Fetish Forum Saturday, January 20th at 7pm; it will be Co-Presented by Cinematic Void.

Director Yann Gonzalez’s “Knife+Heart” is a movie that’s too silly to be taken as a giallo, and too serious to be taken as a dark comedy. It’s constantly shifting in tones and storylines which makes its narrative frame work feel so disorienting and ultimately kind of unbearable. Truth be told I slept through a quarter of “Knife+Heart” because it has so much trouble maintaining its multiple plot threads that it just rambled for long periods of time. Any kind of momentum or tension that picks up during “Knife+Heart” feels accidental as director Gonzalez can never quite decide on what kind of story he’s trying to tell.

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Dress Code (2022)

I had a lot of respect for Joseph Pupello’s desire to deliver a gangster picture that’s less about gangsters and more about our personal lives. It’s rough around the edges, and the screenplay by Peter Panagos isn’t entirely cohesive, but they do manage to concoct an interesting storyline for a central character who is being pulled in all kinds of obligations. The one big goal in his a life involving mobsters, and assassinations, and a pregnant wife is to live as the person he really wants to be, and that makes his struggle pretty turbulent.

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Lightyear (2022)

Even though we were under the impression that Andy loved Buzz Lightyear because he was this new special toy, we’re told in 1999’s “Toy Story 2” that he was actually a part of a TV series, which was further canonized in the 2000 animated show “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.” Now we’re told that in 1995 Andy actually loved Buzz Lightyear because he originally came from a hit movie within the “Toy Story” universe. And this is that movie. That we’re watching—uh, somehow. Despite the absolutely elaborate concept behind it, “Lightyear” is a meta-movie that features pre-toy Buzz as an adventurous space ranger and bonafide hero. All the while there are some fun allusions to “Top Gun,” “Flash Gordon,” and “Aliens” to be explored here.

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Poor Things (2023)

Emma Stone is an actress that has continued to challenge herself time and time again with roles that we’d never expect her to take on. Originally beginning her career in a teen comedy, she’s managed to really escape pigeonholing by exploring new and interesting roles. Bella Baxter is probably one of the best performances of her career, one even better than her turn in “Birdman.” As Bella, Stone is remarkable in the way she evolves, and develops and grows in to something that we never quite recognize when the film has ended. Although “Poor Things” will get so many interpretations, I pegged Yorgos Lanthimos’ film primarily as a statement about the illusion of bodily autonomy.

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The War on Disco (2023)

Lisa Quijano Wolfinger’s “The War on Disco” is a great documentary—if you have minimal to zero knowledge about disco music. For an hour long documentary it does very little to take advantage and explore the lesser known corners of the Disco boom of the 1970’s. It’s all pretty much a superficial and speedily paced buffer about the entire craze called Disco Music. Known for a long time as an enemy to rock music, Disco was a sub-genre of dance music that allowed for a lot more diversity, which prompted a lot more people to hate it.

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