VAMPIRES VS. THE BRONX (2020)

Story & Directed By: Oz Rodriguez 

Written By: Blaise Hemingway 

Cinematography: Blake McClure 

Editor: Sara Shaw & Alex O’Flinn 

Cast: Jaden Michael, Gerald Jones III, George Diaz IV, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Coco Jones, Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez, Sarah Gadon, Shia Whigham, Zoe Saldana, Judy Marte, Chris Redd, Jeremie Harris, Imani Lewis, Jordan Tyson, Torre Alexandre, Adam David Thompson 

A group of young friends from the Bronx fight to save their neighborhood from gentrification…and vampires.


The film manages to have an opening celebrity kill to try to throw you off and gives the film some star power and sets out the gauntlet to show that anyone can be a victim in this film. 

My love for this film might be because it so a film That is so recognizably New York and relatable to ave rain extent when you come to the neighborhood and the characters. An element that is disappearing in New York and not necessarily modernizing. 

This is a movie made by a New Yorker for New Yorkers. The title gives away the plot but also gives it a sheen that seems like a gimmick or an exploitation movie title. That actually has a lot of heart and surprisingly a coming of age tale partially. While keeping the genre elements.

The film is kind of a modern-day urban  LOST BOYS. Even mimicking a scene from in the latter half of the film. Or even the film THE MONSTER SQUAD only all with vampires instead of a choice of movie monsters  If looking more for mood, this film is a horror, but the appeal is more aimed at teens who are the protagonists and heroes though more humorous. Offering a film for a neglects audience with crossover appeal. 

As this is an Amblin type film. It’s never scary and while it does have violence. it never gets too gory.  Tying into the STRANGER THINGS audience a bit.

A flavorful offering slice of life with colorful characters of color with a natural presence, personalities that make them charismatic.

The film is constantly humorous, while also horror in a kind of old school classic horror way. It’s a film that is nurturing and wears it’s Inspirations while trying to create some and subvert some coming of age cliches. 

A good gentrification analogy making it look more like a species battle or battle of the living undead. Following in Jordan Peele’s and George Romero’s social commentary or socially conscious genre filmmaking. A genre movie that informs while being a solid genre specimen itself.

The film presents an urban neighborhood. Not in a bad light for once but as a colorful, cultural fin and supportive community. A film obviously made by a resident or insider to the neighborhood. As the film isn’t stereotypical nor does it talk down to the audience or characters. As it remains a self-contained adventure with supernatural elements.

Like they don’t have enough to worry about day to day. Now the supernatural who want them exterminated for access to what they were never concerned with or thought they were too good for. Again Europeans trying to take over land cultivated by the locals for decades. 

Nice to see a film about a community coming. Together.

Satirizing gentrification taking over urban neighborhoods and spaces with new stores and posters that seems to take over and work like subliminal messages and inside jokes. Similar to those in the movie THEY LIVE. Not necessarily a message movie but has a minor one.

It’s like reading a young adult book, not necessarily the audience for the film but get into it nonetheless. Easily could have gone the exaggerated route of slapstick sort of HOUSE PARTY 2.

It’s nice to see people of color in this type of film and be the main characters. As I am all for more people of color in horror films. Though less as victims or the first one killed. And usually the only one in the film, usually the provider of illegal substances or drugs. Still desire more representation even though it still counts but more equal. If the victims and protagonists are in the same number. 

It’s only main weakness might be that it is a little predictable. Though it ends up being a fun rollicking adventure with characters you rarely see in movies especially this type. 

Grade: B

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (2019)

Directed by: Andre Ovredal
Written by: Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman
Screen story by: Guillermo Del Toro, Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton
Based on the series of stories by: Alvin Schwartz 
Cinematography: Roman Osin
Editor: Patrick Larsgaard

Cast: Zoe Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush, Austin Abrams, Austin Zajur, Natalie Gamzharn, Dean Norris, Lorraine Toussaint, Gil Bellows 

On Halloween 1968, Stella and her two friends meet a mysterious drifter, Ramón, and uncover a sinister notebook of stories.


I remember reading this book when I was young and the book is a children’s classic and finding out that they were making it into a film

Seems more like a decision that would excite many generations and bring them nostalgia. As the film finds a way to include certain stories that then become part of an overall narrative.

What might be a little problematic for the film is that it plays more to a younger audience as that is who will generally be scared, but for others who might be of a certain older age. They may find the film a bit dull and too nostalgic. As the film is made with great grandiosity and set in the 1960’s 

Most of the protagonists are teenagers and while there are adults around them very few become the center of the story or that important to it. Even Dean Norris’s character seems here more as a symbol. Though doesn’t have much to do.

Though it feels more like what the Goosebumps movie should have been. Don’t get me wrong the film is macabre for a film. More set for children, but it also comes off as almost feeling like a light version of a Stephen kind adaptation. As the material feels rich but the way it is presented feels a bit juvenile. Where it can’t make up it’s mind who it would rather serve.

The editing also gets a little too annoying at times with it’s Rapid cuts that aren’t Needed especially in early dialogue scenes.  The film rarely shows a death or any real violence but does show or hint at gruesome fates for certain characters.

The film itself is entertaining but considering Guillermo del Toro produced the film you might expect more then what is offered. As again the film offers a certain richness and even good special effects. It even knows how to build tension but maybe as some of us grew up on it. It also feels too familiar to really feel different or too original. This is a minor problem whereas it is perfectly fine it feels like it could have been better. 

The film sets itself Up for a sequel that sadly doesn’t seem Like it is ever coming but could be an effective television series. Even if not it has a nice ending that leaves just enough wonder and sympathy as well as satisfaction at a story well told.

Grade: C+

HURRICANE STREETS (1997)

Written & Directed By: Morgan J. Freeman
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak
Editor: Sabine Hoffman

Cast: Brendan Sexton III, Mtume Gant, Carlo Alban, Edie Falco, Lynn Cohen, Shawn Elliott, Adrian Grenier, L.M. Kit Carson, Isidra Vega, Jose Zuniga, Heather Matarazzo, David Moscow 

A teenage petty criminal dreams of escaping his increasingly unlawful lifestyle when he meets a sweet girl who hopes to one day travel to Alaska.


This film comes across like a well Made student thesis film. Made all the more gritty for a more realistic feel and street credibility and for the film’s reputation. It comes across simple enough.

The film Has a central love story that is what helped sell the film. That romance actually stays very sweet and innocent. Actually, it’s the only part of the film that feels pure and natural making the film more endearing.

The film starts off with a strong opening though slowly gets duller. As the main character seems to get continuously plain red into a corner and tries his best to get out.

The film’s mindset stays juvenile and onto wales up to stone-cold reality towards the end. Which might be understandable as most of the characters are teens kids really. So we follow them.

How else do you explain that the crew couldn’t tell they had a snake in their midst. As well as a snitch. Though by the end you do feel a certain sympathy for all involved.

The recurring theme of the darts game feels silly and only later it’s importance is revealed.

This seems like the typical Sundance film festival youth crime story that was popular at the time that promised to show the grit that was going down but comes off softer than expected.

The film has an ambiguous ending that is clearly is inspired by THE GRADUATE. As both characters are hopeful but have nowhere to go. Only she doesn’t know it yet. She also stays the only innocent character throughout the whole film As she has done Nothing to deserve her troubles.

She already has to deal with an overbearing father. Who starts out a villain and then turns into a victim.

I remember loving this film when it first came out. Even watching it twice in theaters. Watching it today it’s a film that is very of its time period and doesn’t necessarily age well. Like an embarrassing photo from your youth that brings back memories but also feels a little embarrassed of.

Unfortunately, after that strong opening, we see the rest of the scene play out towards the end that more comes across as a desperate comedy of errors.

The film achieved certain popularity at the time due to a hit song that was featured on the soundtrack SEX & CANDY by Marcy Playground.

I try not to bad mouth it put down any films especially independent ones that have a hard enough time trying to find an audience in the first place.

This is the type of film that was praised as strong and authentic at the time though does feel like a film made for teens made by one of them, again at the time

In the end, the film ties into a carefree youth whereas most of the characters are poorer so that they base their decisions and behavior more on that and have bigger repercussions but more are doing things to fun as well as survival.

Grade: C

THE HALF OF IT (2020)

Written & Directed By: Alice Wu  Cinematography: Greta Zozula 

Editor: Ian Blume & Lee Percy 

Cast: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemar, Alexxis Lemire, Wolfgang Novogratz, Collin Chou, Becky Ann Baker, Catherine Curtin 

A shy, introverted, Chinese-American, straight-A student finds herself helping the school jock woo the girl they both secretly love. In the process, each teaches the other about the nature of love as they find a connection in the most unlikely of places.


I can sometimes be a sucker for a coming of age story. even if it has a romance at the heart of it and they usually do.

This one isn’t as conventional but it is as sweet as any teen love story. Only here dealing more with confusion and revelation. An almost teen Cyrano story only with lgbtq romance and character. 

You’ll enjoy that the fil mHas the emotions but doesn’t overload the audience or story with it. It’s what brings the characters together but it’s not what the film Is all about. As the storylines never become so dire that it feels like life or death, not in the consequences.

This is an original unsuspecting love triangle tale with no true villains. It actually has more depth, drama, and humor than expected, but stays perfect for it’s intended audience. As the film is more character-driven by a few of them rather than Story or plot. As it actually feels layered.

While it has it’s Goofy moments it feels surprising down to earth and earnest. Even if it has the hallmarks of a more cute, quirky indie film. That with youth brings an amount of energy but also a still calmness. 

Which I applaud Netflix for presenting such a film Showing a balance as it has it’s More conventional teen films and then a film like this that actually approaches it’s Material respectfully and treats the audience the same way

This is an LGBT crush’s story that creeps up on you more like a romance and then a romantic comedy before becoming a love story and a surprisingly minor character study.

What can be really appreciative other than that the film and characters are more open-minded then you would expect is that the more all the characters get to know each other they like them for the qualities they notice and learn about them and appreciate that other then just looks. Just as the characters are more than their looks and have talents and know-how.

This film shows the beauty in the plain and makes small-town loving look luxurious itself in its own little hidden nooks, crannies, stories, and mysteries.

Grade: B

ANGUS (1994)

Agnus

Directed By: Patrick Read Johnson
Written By: Jill Gordon
Based On The Short Story By: Chris Crutcher
Cinematography By: Alexander Gruszynski
Editor: Janice Hampton

Cast: Charlie Talbert, Ariana Richards, George C. Scott, Kathy Bates, Rita Moreno, Kevin Connolly, Chris Owen, James Van Der Beek, Lindsay Price, Salim Grant

A miserable fat teenager secretly has a crush on the class beauty, ends up becoming the surprising participant to dance with her at a high school dance, meaning he’s got to get his act together with the help of his best friend.

Continue reading “ANGUS (1994)”

AMERICAN PIE (1999)

Directed by: Paul Weitz & Chris Weitz
Written By: Adam Herz 
Cinematography: Richard Crudo
Editor: Priscilla Nedd-Friendly 

Cast: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Shannon Elizabeth, Tara Reid, Alyson Hannigan, Natasha Lyonne, Mena Suvari, Eugene Levy, Tara subkoff, Casey Affleck, Chris Owen, Jennifer Coolidge, Lawrence Pressman, Clyde Kusatsu, John Cho, Christina Milian, Molly Cheek, Eden Riegel, Eli Marienthal, James Debello, Clementine Ford, Blink 182 

Four teenage boys enter a pact to lose their virginity by prom night.


This is a movie that holds a special place in my heart. As when I had My first job working at a movie theater this movie came out and I was 20 years old and I watched it many times. As did my co-workers and many audience members.

I remember the influence it had as a surprise hit. I was happy that three was a successful teenage sex comedy again in theaters that pushed the envelope but I’m the end had a sweet message and didn’t have the characters stay sex-crazed and juvenile the whole time.

Anytime I watch, it takes me back to a certain time and places in my life that I miss and at the time taken for granted but means so much to me now. This film is almost a vessel for that and my way of thinking at that time. 

This is one of those movies I will always enjoy for the huge comedic set pieces that at first come fast and furious but the. As the film Goes along becomes a little more distant but still there. They still Also manage to shock you. At first, when this movie came Out I think that is what audiences enjoyed the more shocking humor of it all. As it had been a long time that a teenage film Was that upfront about sex. And actually went there and showed some.

Another aspect to enjoying this film At least personally is if you are watching it with someone who has Seen it and getting excited for the big shock comedic moments that are coming and watching Them react to it.

One of the minor quibbles I have with the film Is that it’s Editing is annoying and horrible especially in the cutaways that work but if they were sharper would make the jokes the same way stronger.

What also works is that while there are some recognizable faces most of the cast are new to the big screen so we can believe them. For as the characters instead of stars. 

Just like the characters the film plays dirty and juvenile but sweet In The end. Where we end up caring about the characters. 

Now while there is a lot of sex talk and eventually even some in the Movie the film doesn’t Actually show as much as one would believe and really there is only nudity in one scene. Which belongs to Shannon Elizabeth’s character. Which made her a sex symbol and on-screen goddess for a bit that she never really followed up or really capitalized on.

The film had plenty of more sequels, but this one stays special as there wasn’t as much pressure for it to live up to, and pretty much was undiluted at the time.

This movie and series really show Seann William Scott at his comedic best even though he is part of the group he is also In Effect their nemesis or at least a villain of sorts who gets his comeuppance. To Me, he was always the standout in this movie 

This film also helped revitalize Eugene Levy at the movies already a comedic legend in some Circles. This movie broadened his appeal to a younger audience. So much so that he appears in most of the sequels even the straight to DVD ones of the time.

Throughout the Movie, it shows diversity even though most of the people of color are more in the background and never one of the major characters. This was kind of disappointing as this is obviously More aimed at more suburban Kids,  it while the feelings are universal the actions and atmosphere of the movie are more specific.

There are so many memorable scenes that are classic. So much so that the sequels never quite matched this film. No matter how hard they tried. In the end, though the film is about sexy it is also a film about relationships not necessarily romantic but between friends and others and how time spent with them can be a commodity 

Grade: B

NOWHERE (1997)

Written, Edited & Directed By: Greg Araki Cinematography: Arturo Smith

Production Design: Patti Podesta

Cast: James Duval, Rachel True, Christina Applegate, Nathan Bexton, Guillermo Diaz, Jeremy Jordan, Kathleen Robertson, Jordan Ladd, Ryan Philippe, Heather Graham, Charlotte Rae, Chiara Mastroianni, Debi Mazar, Joshua Gibran Mayweather, Mena Suvari, Sarah Lassez, Alan Boyce, Jason Simmons, Beverley D’Angelo, Denise Richards, Teresa Hill, Traci Lords, David Leisure, Eve Plumb, John Ritter, Shannen Doherty, Rose McGowan, Christopher Knight, Stacy Kennan, Devon Odessa, Stephane Sednaoui, Gibby Haynes,

In it’s own way this film is like a nihilistic beach party movie. Way removed from Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.

This film is a kind of spoof teen movie like SCREAM making fun of teens and teen movies. While being one but being modern and way over the top. Showcasing what teen moves at the time shows away from showing Drugs, Sex, Suicide, eating disorders, homosexuality, date rape, murder, alien invasions and face it all a rough edge.

The film has cameos and appearances galore which makes it feels like a Robert Altman cast with spot the guest star of musicians and actors who were recognizable at the Time. As well as established actors from television. Where some seem here more to challenge their image and be a bit rebellious

This is a low budget odyssey meant to be surreal with great art direction. The film certainly has a diverse cast where an African American character is the most popular and sought after female in the film. And a Great alternative 90’s soundtrack.

It’s an ensemble so the story and film Is supposed to feel unfocused at times. At heart this film wants to be a comedy. Yet hits in serious issues but at other times ends them in more silly ways.

Though the couples are sexually fluid throughout this is the closest at the time Of director Greg Araki making more heterosexual cinema. As before this most of his film had been considered queer cinema. Though this film has a few same sex pairings.

This is kind of a preview of what his future film KABOOM and Television series NOW APOCALYPSE would be like only more structured. Kind of wish it had more of this films madness and world. Love or hate the films of Greg araki they are never boring.

This is a dark decadent comedy that allows sitcom stars to play against type with different stories going on while an alien invasion is taking place. Letting the stars play more dirty and against type.

This is certainly a film to experience and while more a cult classic that at times tries to find art and beauty in trash. Yet always aspiring to be trash. In more a sharp and stylish way then a John Waters way.

The actual leads of the film are mroe the lesser known names in the cast.

This film seems more like an examination, dedication and showcase of the culture at the time, more California based. Where as it seems full of good looking people, fashion and fads, but they are usually doing the worst or bad things and we get to know some more then just face value. To see what lies inside them and what they cause. As sometimes even the most pretty beauty is all they have to offer. Nothing else really.

The film ends nihilistic like most of Araki’s films here we are all lost or doomed in this unpredictable universe and no matter what all we try and search for is to not be lonely and have that person to go through the best and worst with.

This plays like a demented , warped satire of BEVERY HILLS 90210 and teen movies and culture of the 90’s. The film takes place over one day in california. It follows a group of teen friends and their misadventures. No real solid plot as much of the movie just seems to happen, not much seems actually planned.

Though it’s a teen movie it definitely is not for kids. It tackles all the usual subjects. Drugs (tons of them) Infidelity, Date Rape, Suicide, Love, First dates, Butit also includes new ones like Zombies, Cross Dressing and Fetishes. The film also takes typical cliched characters and turns your pre-concieved notions of them and turns them on their ear.With characters named Dark, zero, ducky, Lucifer, Dingbat, Kozy, Hand Job, and Egg. you know this is not your typical film.

It’s has a very surreal stlye. The saturated colors in scenes. One character even has the lyrics of a song superimposed on his bedroom walls that surround him at every turn. It tries to be more punk style if film more then anything else.

This is the third part of Greg Araki’s Teenage apocalypse trilogy though his film KABOOM deals with similar subjects. Truth be told this at the time was the first film of greg araki’s that i enjoyed. The film is a nihlistic piece of work as usual fro him in his early work. He calls this his first heterosexual film. As most of his previous work was considered gay cinema.

Even though the film takes place in one day. the characters change clothes numerous times throughout the film.

This film is filled with both tons of cameos giving it a all star cast and filled with at the time many up and coming actors. The film is filled with sex but oddly very little nudity. Though it does contain plenty of graphic shocking violence.

This film feels like a chance for the young stars of the film to distort whatever images they have in film and television. To show they have an edge and sense of humor. It also gives them a chanceto do a indie film. Which was the cool thing to do at the time. The film is almost like a time capsule to 90’s culture.

It is a beautiful film to look at no matter how trashy it tries to be. The art Direction, Camera work are truly admirable, but in the same mindset. The film can make things beautiful, but also stomach turning even the characters.

Just like the film the soundtrack is very vivid itself. Scoring the film with uneasiness and energy.

This film is crazy and definately out there, but i can honestly say i enjoyed it enough to give it a mild recommendation.

Grade: B

NAOMI & ELY’S NO KISS LIST (2015)

naomi

Directed By:Kristin Hanggi
Written By: Amy Andelson & Emily Meyer
Based On The Novel By: Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan
Cinematography By: Anka Malatynska
Editor: Michelle Harrison 



Cast: Victoria Justice, Monique Coleman, Pierson Fode, Matthew Daddario, Maddie Corman

Incoming NYU freshmen and childhood neighbors Naomi and Ely have been in love with each other their whole lives, even though Ely isn’t exactly into girls. The institution of a “No Kiss List” has prevented the two from rifts in the past, but their bond is tested when they both fall for the same guy. The once inseparable pair must figure out if their friendship is strong enough to get past such an epic predicament as they struggle with the realities of growing up.

Continue reading “NAOMI & ELY’S NO KISS LIST (2015)”

SELAH & THE SPADES (2020)

selah

Written & Directed By: Tayarisha Poe
Cinematography: Jomo Fray
Editor: Kate Abernathy 

Cast: Lovie Simone, Jharrel Jerome, Celeste O’Connor, Ana Mulvoy Ten, Jesse Williams, Gina Torres, Nekhebet Kum Juch, Evan Roe, Francesca Noel, Henry Hunter Hall 


Five factions run the underground life of the prestigious Haldwell boarding school. At the head of the most powerful faction – The Spades – sits Selah Summers. By turns charming and callous, she chooses whom to keep close and whom to cut loose, walking the fine line between being feared and loved.

Continue reading “SELAH & THE SPADES (2020)”

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999)

10-things-i-hate-about-you

 

Directed By: Gil Junger
Written By: Karen McCullah & Kirsten Smith
Cinematography: Mark Irwin
Editor: O. Nicolas Brown 


Cast: Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Julia Stiles, Larisa Oleynik, Gabrille Union, David Krumholtz, Allison Janney, Andrew Keegan, Susan May Pratt, Daryl Mitchell, Larry Miller, David Leisure, Kyle Cease 


Adapted from William Shakespeare’s play “The Taming of the Shrew,” A pretty, popular teenager can’t go out on a date until her ill-tempered older sister does.

Continue reading “10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999)”