This Review Roundup consists of a couple of titles coming out January 26th and a couple of titles that came out last week or the week before that I got after they were released. Up first is a film I was looking forward to, Synchronic. The sci-fi/time travel flick is from the team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. They’ve been on my radar since their first flick Resolution then followed that up with Spring and then The Endless. This is their biggest film to date starring the MCU’s Falcon, Anthony Mackie, and Fifty Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan. They play paramedics in New Orleans who see some crazy stuff with their job. It opens with some wild deaths and they keep seeing a little packet with the name Synchronic on it. When Dornan’s daughter goes missing, Mackie starts investigating the new synthetic drug, Synchronic, and it takes him on a completely different type of trip. Overall I did enjoy the movie and I’d probably watch it again, but I guess my expectations were too high. I wanted to love it, but it doesn’t quite get there. Mackie is great in the role with Dornan playing the downtrodden dad. The cinematography is great along with the effects and visuals, but I wanted a bit more from it. Fans of Benson & Moorhead will eat it up especially those who loved The Endless. I didn’t seem to like that movie as much as others, but this is better in my book. It’s a solid lower budget science fiction flick and with Mackie and Dornan involved those who aren’t familiar with Benson & Moorhead will probably be looking into their previous films after seeing this.
Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales gets a special Blu-ray release this week. This new packaging includes the 145-minute theatrical cut and the 160-minute “Cannes cut”, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. It has also gone through a 2K restoration. I’ve put off watching this movie for 15 years. I’ve heard nothing, but bad things about it despite starring some great people like The Rock, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Curtis Armstrong, Jon Lovitz, Wallace Shawn and more. The issue for me is, I didn’t particularly like Kelly’s first film Donnie Darko. It’s grown on me over time and there’s one cut of the film that is better, but I’ve never loved that film. Between that and not hearing good things about this, it took until a few days ago for me to finally watch Southland Tales and I definitely could have gone my entire life without seeing it. It’s not good. It makes zero sense. It feels dated already despite it having Marxists, terrorists and all that. Kelly blames Republicans for everything and them controlling the internet and World War 3 and it’s way too long. The whole thing is excessive. Justin Timberlake is bad in it. The story is nonsense. Ok, you can tell I didn’t like it. If you like it, and there might be one or two of you out there, this new release does come with commentary, a documentary, featurettes and more so if you want THE version to own, this is it.
Also out this week is Trafficked: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare. I feel bad even writing about this movie because I’m going to somewhat pan the actual film, when it’s the message of the movie that’s the most important part. Kristy Swanson plays the mother of a teen daughter who meets a guy from online she’s been talking to, but he turns out to be a bad guy and next thing she knows she’s being drugged and involved in the sex trade. Dean Cain plays the leader of a group of people hired to find the daughter. The problem with the film is that it’s super cliched and generic. All the tropes and stereotypes of these movies are there. It’s not well written and the performances are pretty forgettable. But I’ll give it credit for trying to showcase what’s happening in today’s world. Kids are being kidnapped or tricked into a lifestyle no family should have to deal with, I just wish the film had better production value and performances.
The Village in the Woods came out last week and is about a man and a woman who go to claim an old pub as her inheritance. She lies and says she’s a different woman, but the people there seem to be falling for it. Their only issue at first is a man won’t leave the pub, but it turns out he’s the least of their problems. The pub and locals have secrets of their own. It’s a pretty easy watch and although I’m not super big on paranormal films, I understand the direction it takes. There are some decent effects I won’t spoil and the setting is perfect. You think the couple are the “bad” guys in the situation until it takes a sort of Rosemary’s Baby twist. Not sure if I’d watch it again, but for a lower budget/no one’s ever heard of film, it’s good for a watch.
Next is The Road to Mandalay about two Burmese people who cross illegally into Bangkok. At first she starts cleaning dishes and lives with a cousin and other women. The cousin says she can get her a better job without paperwork, but can’t. The Burmese man insists she should work at a factory making more money. They fall for each other and work to save up to get documentation. Setback after setback irritates her and things go off the rails and I did not expect that ending. Not at all. It’s another movie I wouldn’t watch again, but it’s good for one viewing especially with that out of nowhere ending.
Once Upon a River is about a Half Native/Half White girl whose mother took off and after an incident with a family next door that gets her father killed, she takes off to find her mother. Along the way she gets involved with another Native, helps a dying man and eventually finds out she’s pregnant before finding her mother. She learns what’s in her and what’s important by the end. The lead actress is pretty great and I liked the setting and time period. Nice little movie that did well on the festival circuit.
Last we have Queen Of Hearts: Audrey Flack. If you know who Audrey Flack is, this documentary is for you. I had no idea who she was and if you read me often enough, you know art is a category I’m not good at. Flack was a famous photorealist artist which seems like cheating to me. You made a painting out of a photo. You didn’t even have to take the photo, you could just paint whatever photo you like. Seems like tracing to me. She was originally into expressionism and years later got into sculpture. This is 100% of one of those documentaries where the more you know about the subject, the more you’ll find it interesting. I didn’t know anything about her. I know very little about art so it wasn’t geared towards me.