Part Expressionist Melodrama and Part Campy Horror, “The Attachment Diaries (El Apego)” Sends Mixed Messages About Trauma and Mental Health Issues [Chattanooga Film Festival]
Content/trigger warning: The Attachment Diaries deals with sexual assault, self-harm, mental illness, and abortion. These subjects are also briefly discussed in the review below.
The Attachment Diaries is a difficult movie for two reasons. First, it focuses on a handful of difficult topics (including abortion, which has just become more relevant than ever in the United States), and it presents those topics in a blunt and, at times, irreverent way. Second, it’s difficult because it asks us to think about imperfect people in imperfect situations. The film appeals to very raw and carnal emotions, asking viewers to indulge in the thoughts and feelings that we aren’t supposed to think and feel. It’s a good thing that The Attachment Diaries is so masterfully shot, because it may take several viewings to make sense of it.
We Need to Talk About Dialogue and Character Development: Todd Wolfe’s Gamer Comedy “We Need to Talk” Misses the Target
If you really want to mess with someone’s head, all you have to do is send them a text that says, “we need to talk,” and then wait a few hours before telling them what you want to talk about. It’s a maddening social cliffhanger that will drive anyone crazy with anxiety, and it’s also a great setup for a movie. Writer / director Todd Wolfe begins his gamer comedy flick, We Need to Talk, on a seemingly ordinary morning in the life of a gaming influencer named Scott (James Maslow), who goes by Great Scott online. The typical morning turns into a rather unusual day when Scott’s girlfriend, Aly (Christel Khalil), says that when she gets home from work, the two of them “need to talk.” Scott immediately starts obsessing over what Aly might want to talk about, and he even posts about it on social media for his thousands of subscribers to see. Of course, everyone has a different opinion about the situation, and Scott can only wait until the end of the day to find out what’s really going on. Meanwhile, he needs to finish a video review for a new game that’s about to drop, and his producer / editor Joe (Johnathan Fernandez) won’t get off his case about it. Much like Scott, the audience is left to wonder what Aly wants to talk about, and that curiosity keeps us watching through corny dialogue and insincere character development. We Need to Talk may not have a whole lot to offer, but at least it’s got a story question that will keep you watching until the end (or perhaps make you want to fast-forward just to see the end).
As Writer, Director, Editor, and Lead Actress in “Maybe Someday,” Michelle Ehlen Tells an Honest Story About Breaking Up and Moving On
Maybe someday I’ll take a vacation. Maybe someday I’ll reconnect with my best friend from high school. Everyone has their “maybe someday” — and for Jay (Michelle Ehlen), the subject of the feature film Maybe Someday, her wish for the future is to restore her relationship with her wife, Lily (Jeneen Robinson). But Jay knows that before she can make things work with her wife, she has to take some time to herself. So, she packs up a duffle bag and makes plans to move, at least temporarily, to Los Angeles, where she’ll focus on her photography career. On the way, she decides to visit her best friend from her teen years, Jess (Shaela Cook), and ends up staying with Jess for a while as she finds her emotional bearings. The majority of Maybe Someday takes place during this extended visit. As Jay confronts formative moments from her past and grapples with heartbreak, she also befriends a very unlikely sidekick, Tommy (Charlie Steers), a wannabe standup comedian who complicates the gay best friend stereotype. All the while, Jay holds out hope that her “maybe someday” wish will happen sooner rather than later.
A House Divided: As Various Viewpoints Fight for Dominance in “House of Gucci,” Lady Gaga’s Immersive Performance Is Lost in the Shuffle
Money. Family. Power. Betrayal. Scandal. Murder. When the trailer for House of Gucci dropped in the summer of 2021, it promised all this and more. The ambitious film was set to bring one of the most infamous scandals in the history of fashion to life, complete with all the glitz, glam, and drama that only Hollywood can achieve. And if the subject matter alone wasn’t enough, the all-star cast garnered immediate attention from the masses. The ensemble would be led by none other than Lady Gaga, with supporting roles filled by Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek, and crime-drama veteran, Al Pacino. To top it all off, Ridley Scott would direct. The theatrical release came and went in November, and you can now watch the Gucci drama unfold from the comfort of your home on Blu-ray, DVD, or digital. But does House of Gucci live up to expectations? What’s behind all the decadent style that’s so evident in the trailer? Does every second of the two-hour, thirty-eight-minute movie captivate and dazzle audiences as much as the trailer did? It’s a tall order to fill. House of Gucci needed more than a luxurious production design to tell the story of Patrizia Reggiani, an ambitious woman who married into the Gucci family and later coordinated the murder of her ex-husband, Maurizio.
This Valentine’s Day, Do Something Different (Or, Stay in and Watch a Warm and Familiar Rom-Com That Will Melt Your Heart)
Heartwarming romantic comedy Marry Me will hit theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. The flick stars rom-com veterans Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson, along with comedian Sarah Silverman, singer-songwriter Maluma, and the impressive young Chloe Coleman. Based on the graphic novel by Bobby Crosby, the movie is about an unlikely romance between popstar Kat Valdez (Lopez) and divorced math teacher Charlie Gilbert (Wilson). Kat is all set to marry a fellow performer named Bastian (Maluma), and their wedding will be the event of the decade. They plan to tie the knot during an extravagant concert with hundreds of fans watching in person and millions more streaming the ceremony in countries all over the world. But after a last-minute hiccup, Kat is left questioning everything. As she steps out in front of the crowd with ice-cold feet, she realizes that if she wants something different, she has to do something different. And that’s when she notices Charlie’s face in the crowd. In a moment of desperation, Kat points to Charlie and says, “I’ll marry you.”
For Better or Worse, Family Comes First in “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers,” Dante Basco’s Feature Directorial Debut
Dante Basco is a Filipino American actor, writer, and producer best known for his voice-acting gig as Prince Zuko in “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-2008) and his role as Rufio in Hook (1991). But before his breakout role as the skateboarding, insult-throwing, skunk-haired leader of the lost boys, he was making a name for himself as a break-dancer alongside his brothers: Derek, Dionysio, and Darion. All four Basco brothers went on to pursue careers in the film and entertainment industry — and since they had performed together as teens, it’s no surprise that the fraternal quartet wanted to make a movie together as adults. In 2000, all four brothers appeared in the family dramedy The Debut. Then, in 2021, they came together to make a movie once again, this time with Dante as director. The Fabulous Filipino Brothers celebrates love, Filipino-American culture, and above all, family. Dante, Derek, Dionysio, and Darion play four adult brothers who are still trying to figure out what it means to be grownups, much like Rufio and the lost boys in Hook. Their strengths and weaknesses are tested in a series of comedic predicaments that bring them closer together as they prepare for a wedding. The Fabulous Filipino Brothers premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March of 2021, and it will be available to enjoy on VOD platforms starting February 8, 2022.
When it comes to fairy tales, setting is key. Fairy tales don’t have to take place in the past or in distant kingdoms, but their settings should invoke a sense of wonder and enchantment. The setting of a fairy tale should work alongside the other thematic elements to draw out and challenge the hero’s best and worst character traits. And if there’s any place where we’ve seen the best and worst of people over the past few years, it’s been right here on the internet. Therefore, it’s no surprise that writer/director Mamoru Hosoda chose to set his 21st-century adaptation of a classic fairytale in a bustling and vibrant virtual world. With a little help from VR technology, the heroine of the story, Belle, can be whoever she wants to be — and her counterpart, “the beast,” can hide his true identity behind a curated “tough guy” internet persona. Belle is a rich, detailed, and ambitious film that’s part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, and part VR adventure.
In the Style of Teen Classics Like “The Breakfast Club” and “Dead Poets Society,” Daigo Matsui’s “Remain in Twilight” Appeals to Our Restless Youthful Spirits With Wit and Sincerity [Fantasia International Film Festival]
It’s not every day we get the chance to chat with a loved one who has passed on. Skeptics would say that we never get that opportunity. If you’ve lost someone important to you, you’ve probably at least imagined having one last conversation with them, whether you believe in the afterlife or not. Imagining that conversation can provide a sense of comfort and closure that unexpected death does not grant us. But if you did get the chance to spend a day with someone you’ve lost, would it really be enough time to get the closure you need? Writer/director Daigo Matsui builds an elaborate fantasy based on that very question in his latest feature film, Remain in Twilight, which screened at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Based on Matsui’s play of the same name, the film provides a funny, sincere, and powerful take on grief and mortality.
“Follow The Light (Hikariwooikakete)” paints a beautiful picture of adolescence with romance, family drama… and a crop circle [Fantasia International Film Festival]
For most people, the teen years come with a myriad of confusing emotions, drastic life changes, and embarrassing incidents. For Akira and Maki, the young protagonists of Yoichi Narita’s Follow The Light, those formative years also bring a number of upsetting changes to their small farming community, including a UFO and crop circle. These bizarre occurrences not only set them on intersecting paths, but symbolically carry the weight of their strange and explosive teenage emotions. Follow the Light, an official selection at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, is a wistful romance that ponders the many conflicts and emotions of adolescence.
You may want to leave a few lights on to watch “The Last Thing Mary Saw,” a visually petrifying feature debut from writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti. [Fantasia International Film Festival]
You don’t necessarily need complex characters or ingenious plot twists to write an engaging story. With strong imagery and a clear, palpable tone that physically affects your audience, you can transform the most overdone plot into a memorable tale. Writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti demonstrates that kind of storytelling craftsmanship in his feature debut, The Last Thing Mary Saw, which premiered at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Every aspect of this suffocatingly dark period drama, including its characters and plot, takes a backseat to its tone and mood. As a result, The Last Thing Mary Saw is bursting with palpable dread that will chill you to the bone.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."