By Night’s End Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

By Night’s End is a crime thriller, centered around a husband and wife, who are struggling financially after suffering a death in the family. The tension between them, unfolds in an unprecedented way, as they discuss their issues, all while trying to survive an unexpected evening. The film slowly builds into the final action sequence and it is definitely worth it.

Director Walker Whited created an atmosphere surrounding the house that Heather (Michelle Rose) and Mark (Kurt Yeu) lived in. From the front, the house appeared smaller, quaint, isolated but the backyard was vast and seemed like it went on forever. The sense of impending doom seemed to grow, as Heather’s mood became worse and the night took a turn for the worst.

Courtesy of 3rd Shift Media and Wild Winn Pictures
Michelle Rose as Heather

What was very interesting was the dynamic between Heather and Mark. It’s almost as if they should not mesh well together as a couple because they are polar opposites, yet their relationship also worked. You could feel their resentment towards each other when they were arguing but then Mark’s softness, would break Heather’s tough exterior. It was great to watch their relationship unfold and learn more about who they were and how they got to this point in their lives.

By Night’s End has great lighting, camerawork and great fight choreography. It tests the couple to the maximum, as their relationship is put to the ultimate test, in trusting the other person. It discusses post traumatic stress disorder, grief, loss and survival, while having a couple navigate their way through a break in. It has great pacing, shocking moments and the score tied everything together nicely.

A Fire in the Cold Season Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

A Fire in the Cold Season is co-written and directed by Justin Oakey. It takes place in rural Newfoundland, with beautiful cinematography of it’s open landscapes. The story slowly builds and shocks you, when you least expect it, especially within the first moments of the film. In the secluded forest, a trapper named Scott (Stephen Oates), stumbles upon something suspicious and gets wrapped up in a tangled web, with violent outlaws.

The film is beautifully shot, has a great soundtrack and distinct sound design, which plays to crucial moments in the film. The scenes in the open field, leading into the forest at the beginning of the film, set this dreadful tone for Scott’s journey. Scott is quiet, reserved and genuinely a good person. So when he gets tangled in this web and begins his downward spiral, you feel for him and the outcome.

It is a slow burn and as the story builds, more characters come into play and create so much tension. There were some beautiful shots, unique framing and great lighting throughout the film that impressed me. The technical aspects in this film overshadowed the actual story until the final act. The last half hour of this film had a pretty solid standoff and the execution of those action scenes were well done.

A Fire in the Cold Season is a slow film, that saves all the action for its final act. If you cans stick through the long conversations, deceit and questionable motives then you will be in for a treat at the end. Oakey plays off the subtleties of his characters and the preconceived notion of the mob mentality.

Palm Springs Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Palm Springs had its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year and it instantly created buzz in the film community. It is directed by Max Barbakow, written by Andy Siara and it is a Lonely Island Classic picture. The film brings together two characters, Nyles (Andy Samberg) and Sarah (Cristin Milioti) who have questioned their own existence and the decisions they have made. When they meet at Sarah’s sister, Tala’s (Camila Mendes) wedding, the night takes them on an interesting journey, which leads them to a cave and changes everything.

The film is unique to the time loop subgenre that has developed over the years. It has a refreshing structure and the editing is a huge part of it. The reason why this film is different to the genre is because there are more people involved in the time loop storyline. As we have seen in the past, majority of the time, it is only one character processing the idea of reliving the same day, over and over again. In this comedy, it has Nyles informing Sarah, how to approach the time loop in very humorous ways. There is a nice surprise with the addition of Roy (J.K. Simmons) to add an origin story for Nyles and his time loop journey.

It has a nice mixture of comedic moments and realistic discussions about life, which I really appreciated. The perception of loneliness, is always something that should be explored and how life can sometimes seem meaningless, if you do not have someone to share it with. That is why placing the central event, as a wedding day, in this film was extremely beneficial because of the weight it holds on everyone’s lives. It is very well crafted because they address so many different ideas of love and relationships.

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti had excellent chemistry and solid comedic timing. They bounced off of each other extremely well and you could feel the freedom they had with these roles. The pacing was really strong because of how the story builds. Instead of just reliving the same day, in the same location, Barbakow and Siara explored different moments in the day and had them react differently to new information. The way they slowly revealed different aspects of their lives, was really well done and continuously surprised me.

Palm Springs adds so much depth to the time loop subgenre and it is a wonderful edition to The Lonely Island production library. It is probably one of the most charming films I have seen in a while and it will capture your heart. It is also constructed to always keep you on your toes because even though you are stuck in a time loop, life still comes at you fast and you have to adapt to every situation in the best way you can.

Miss Juneteenth Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Miss Juneteenth is a film, about the generational effects of mothering and how choices can affect the future. This is Channing Godfrey Peoples directorial debut and she wrote the screenplay as well. The film is about a former beauty queen and single mother, Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie) who prepares her rebellious daughter, Kai Marie Jones (Alexis Chikaeze) for the ‘Miss Juneteenth’ pageant. The film shows Black heritage and the different opportunities that are made available for the Black community.

It begins with Turquoise reminiscing about her pageant days and the future she could have had. She sees her bright, young daughter and wants her to follow in her footsteps, in order to succeed. Turquoise wants her daughter to accomplish more than she did, which causes her to push her to her limit and overwork her for a pageant, she does not want to take part of. It does seem that Turquoise sees this as a redemption arc, for herself, if her daughter wins the pageant and gets the scholarship for university.

Turquoise worked hard to become ‘Miss Juneteenth’ and there was pressure, that came with the title but it also shows how circumstances, like an alcoholic mother, or a pregnancy, can lead to difficult decisions, that could change your life. The film pushes Turquoise back into the world of pageantry and she begins to doubt herself, in how she’s raising Kai. Turquoise can be seen as a very strict mother and Kai wants to express her creativity through dancing instead of becoming a clone of her mother, for this pageant.

Miss-Juneteenth-feature-image-1024x578

Courtesy Ley Line Entertainment (left) Nicole Beharie and Alexis Chikaeze

 

Nicole Beharie gives a nuanced, emotional, complex performance, as Turquoise and it is one of the best performances of the year. As she guides her daughter Kai, through the pageant, she picked up double shifts, to pay for her pageant run and she realized, that it meant more to her, than it did to her daughter. Turquoise was working three jobs and trying to make everything work, for her family but it seemed like everyone was against her. It may not have been intentional but Turquoise had to hustle and do everything for herself, when others fell through.

Turquoise had struggled with so many things in her life, including a strained relationship with her alcoholic mother. She was responsible for her own mother, from a very young age and she had to learn how to support herself. Those are choices that need to be made, in order to survive and that is what she did. She is a woman that would go to any lengths, to protect the people that are around her and go above and beyond for them, when times get rough.

Miss Juneteenth is a strong debut from Channing Godfrey Peoples, as she discusses the systemic racism and corruption in the Black community, in regards to equal opportunities for schooling and businesses. It shows the journey of a woman, who needed to make tough choices in order to survive, as she remembers a version of herself, that is now a ghost of her past life. Women sacrifice so many things for others around them, including their children and this was a film, that definitely showed the determination they have.

Revival Review


By: Amanda Guarragi 

Revival directed by Danny Green, is a mixture of every performance medium: a Broadway musical, Hollywood musical, animation, green screen technology, and sound stage. It is one of the most interesting and inventive films that has been released recently. Not only does it cover the spectrum of all art forms but it presents Catholicism in a different way. The story of Jesus is told in a humanistic way, with a wonderful book of songs to accompany it.

The way that it began as a stage play, with an introduction from Harry Lennix, who plays Pilate in the show and then slowly began to cycle through different performance spaces was really unique. There were moments of the film being on location in the mountains, or they made the choice to use a green screen for certain scenes. The special effects were quite good as well. It did seem overindulgent but it is probably because, there has never been a film that has tackled this many forms at once.

This cast was also really strong as well. There were many surprises but seeing Michelle Williams and Chaka Khan in the same film was awesome. The music was what held this film together and enhanced the story as it went on. The entire company did a great job with this passion play, both on the stage and on location. The costume design was strong as well because the vibrant colours made it visually stunning. The conversations about Jesus being a man first and a prophet second, were really thought provoking and challenged the ideology.

Revival is an innovative feature and I commend the film for being so bold. It crossed so many artistic mediums to present a story that we know, in a different way. The music will carry you through this journey and it will keep you locked in to the very end. It is a very refreshing film and they presented the story of Jesus in a more realistic way.