Author: Andrew Schenker

  • A Teacher Loses Control, Along With Its Embattled Protagonist

    There are, no doubt, any number of otherwise reasonable female pedagogues who have struck up affairs with underage male students, but why Hannah Fidell’s A Teacher has to present this species of relationship as a case study in female hysteria is never clear. Scrupulously avoiding any hints of sensationalism, Fidell centers her film on the […]

  • The Trials of Muhammad Ali Reminds Us That Athletes Once Stood for Something

    The Trials of Muhammad Ali opens with two contrasting bits of archival footage: a 1968 television appearance by the eponymous boxer in which David Susskind calls him “[in]tolerable,” and a later clip of the Parkinson’s-riddled legend about to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor from George W. Bush. With its subject now canonized and rendered […]

  • Non-Actor Leads and Obtrusive Directing Sink Red Tide

    Casting a non-actor in a lead role is always dicey. At best, it can bring a certain freshness to the screen while leaving the audience unburdened by any associations with prior movies. But when it doesn’t work, as in the fatally unconvincing lead performance of Adrian Mancinelli in Dino J. Gallina’s Red Tide, it can […]

  • Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship Rewards Those Who Can Laugh and Wink at the Same Time

    In Bert and Arnie’s Guide to Friendship, the obnoxious behavior of the leads is heartily indulged, gently critiqued, and eventually subjected to a rather perfunctory alteration. Enjoyment of Jeff Kaplan’s film will vary given your capacity to simultaneously laugh and wink at the hijinks of two of the least palatable characters to share screen time […]

  • Vehicle 19 Leans Too Heavily on Paul Walker’s Sledgehammer Sensibilities

    Vehicle 19 is best when it’s silent. Mukunda Michael Dewil’s film has the makings of a taut little thriller, but the writer-director has the twin disadvantages of needing to include dialogue and to rely on the services of Paul Walker to embody his protagonist. The film follows American Michael Woods (Walker) as he arrives in […]

  • Sirius Squanders Its Political Arguments on CSETI Hippies in the Desert

    It would be easy enough to write off Sirius as mere catnip for the UFO/conspiracy theory crowd. From its countless images of “flying saucers” streaking the night sky, to its function as an uncritical mouthpiece for featured player and CSETI (Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence) founder Steven Greer, and its intimations of 9/11 […]

  • Faux-Art House Horror Flick Kiss of the Damned At Least Has Hot Sex Scenes

    A trashy vampire flick in art-film drag, Kiss of the Damned satisfies on neither level. Drawing on a host of Euro-horror influences including but far from limited to a synth score reminiscent of Dario Argento’s Goblin-performed soundtracks, Xan Cassavetes’s pastiche follows lonely bloodsucker Djuna (Joséphine de la Baume) as she whiles away her existence in […]

  • Turtle Hill, Brooklyn Rejects Resolution, Smartly

    An appealingly off-the-cuff chamber piece, Turtle Hill, Brooklyn unfolds throughout the course of a day in the outer-borough home of Will (Brian W. Seibert) and Mateo (Ricardo Valdez) as guests arrive to celebrate Will’s 30th birthday. Over a long afternoon that stretches into evening, the group of friends joke around, discuss issues like the immigrant […]

  • Outsourcing Cinema in Unmade in China

    Outsourcing to China has long been standard practice for American industries looking for cheaper labor and overhead costs, but with the country’s film industry burgeoning like never before, could cinema become the latest free-trade frontier? Such is the question that Tanner King Barklow and Gil Kofman’s doc Unmade in China explores, via the latter’s experience […]

  • Dorfman in Love, Another Passable Rom-com

    Poor Elliot Gould. The once venerable actor has been reduced to playing nothing but crotchety old men—and in the case of Brad Leong’s Dorfman in Love, homophobic ones at that. Gould’s obsessively grieving widower does loosen up as the film goes on, and he only plays a supporting role (the father of the protag), but […]

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