Madeline’s Madeline, the break-out hit from the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is one of the most unique and original films I’ve seen in years. There’s simply nothing else quite like it. The film stars newcomer Helena Howard as Madeline, a young girl spiraling downwards after the line between performance and reality begins to blur.
“Tully" is the third collaboration between writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman (both known as the team behind “Juno” and “Young Adult”) and stars Charlize Theron as Marlo, a mother of three who forms a bond with the eccentric night nanny, Tully. This adult-Marry Poppins drama is some of the duo’s funniest and most mature work to date. It's very reminiscent of mumblecore, in how it approaches the subject matter in a very subdued, “slice-of-life” way, without any major conflict or deep storyline, however what makes it shine is Cody’s signature dialogue. The audience was laughing hysterically at points, as “Tully” pokes fun at the joys and stress that comes with modern parenting.
The U.S. remake of “The Office” is one of the most successful television shows of all time, so when the show’s star, John Krasinski, announced his directorial debut, it immediately went on everyone’s radar. A Quiet Place stars Krasinski, alongside his wife Emily Blunt, as a married couple who must navigate life on a farm in complete silence while being preyed upon creatures that hunt by sound.
Upgrade is the sophomoric solo-feature from horror veteran, Leigh Whannell (known for writing entries in the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises) and came out of nowhere at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. This was one of the more pleasant surprises of the festival, even earning the Audience Award in the Midnight Movie Section.
“Support the Girls” marks "SXSW-veteran”, Andrew Bujalski’s return to the fest after 2015’s “Results”. The film stars Regina Hall as Lisa, the general manager of Double Whammies, a highway-side sports bar, where she nurtures and protects her girls (Haley Lu Richardson, Dylan Gelula, Shayna McHayle, AJ Michalka). But over the course of one day, her optimism is questioned as she balances the girls, eccentric customers, and keeping the restaurant running.
Eighth Grade marks comedian Bo Burnham’s directorial debut, and stars Elsie Fisher as Kayla, a shy thirteen-year-old girl trying to survive the final week of her eighth-grade year before leaving to high school. Similarly to “Blockers”, this is a premise that has been explored before again and again. But what makes Eighth Grade so refreshing is how meticulous it is in representing the so-called “Generation Z”.
“Blockers” is the latest comedy from producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and stars John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz as three parents who set out to “block” their daughters from having sex on prom night. This tired premise of “the quest to lose one’s virginity" has been explored countless times before, from the John Hughes films of the 80s to the more recent American Pie franchise.
In the Fifty Shades franchise’s final installment, Anastasia and Christian (with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprising their roles) are married and enjoying their honeymoon when Jack Hyde, Ana’s former boss, comes back into the picture to destroy their relationship. The film is just as absurd, and that premise would imply, and that’s the best compliment I could give a film like this. It’s Cinemax After Dark with higher production value.
The “SAW” franchise is one of the most successful, and iconic horror franchises of all time. Throughout the mid-late 2000s, Lionsgate would crank out a new film every Halloween in hopes of dominating the box-office. What initially began as a psychological thriller, eventually sparked the birth of a sub-genre crudely referred to as “torture-porn.” And finally, seven years after Saw 3D (dubbed “The Final Chapter” for home-video release), Lionsgate is back with a soft-reboot titled “Jigsaw.”
The Florida Project, the new highly-anticipated film from Sean Baker (Tangerine), stars Brooklynn Prince (in a breakout role) as a young girl in Orlando, Florida, who spends her summer engaging in mischief and going on adventures with her ragtag friends while the adults around her struggle with hard times living in a motel on the outskirts of Walt Disney World.