Tigers Are Not Afraid (2019)
Written & Directed by Issa Lopez
It’s hard not to be struck with the influence Guillermo Del Toro has had on this film and a handful of contemporary Mexican cinema. Tigers Are Not Afraid is full to the brim with knowing nods to The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth. While Del Toro often uses the past as a setting to examine his ideas of innocence and darkness, writer-director Issa Lopez chooses the contemporary cartel crisis as the stage for her story. My biggest problem when we compare these works is that Tigers Are Not Afraid has issues with pacing that cut through what should be white-knuckle tension. This is a story about children in peril, men chasing after them with the intent to kill, and there are a lot of moments where this feeling is not conveyed on screen.
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In Fabric (2018)
Written & Directed by Peter Strickland
It’s difficult to determine when and where we are during In Fabric. This intentional disorientation helps add to the sense of the eerie and unsettling. The commercials on television are drenched in a 1970s hue, music synthesized and distorted. Yet at home, our characters appear to be living contemporary lives. The location is a fictional city of Thames Valley on Thames which may be rural or metropolitan. The adverts for Dentley & Soper’s department store are stylized occult rituals, the owner and his staff of mesmerized attendants invoking the customer to come and buy from their holiday sale.
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It: Chapter Two (2019)
Written by Gary Dauberman
Directed by Andy Muschietti
I was never a massive fan of the first film in this duo. It is a decent horror flick, with lots of mystery and some genuinely scary moments, helped by featuring a cast of children, those who believe in horror more easily and are the most vulnerable to it. Right away, I want to say I did not like this sequel and I think it comes down the absence of Cary Fukanaga’s involvement. Fukunaga had initially been set to write and direct It but left the project when it became clear that Warner Bros. didn’t appreciate his creative vision. His script was tossed into the mixer with a new writer’s ideas, and thus we ended up with the 2017 hit. I tracked down a draft of Fukunaga’s original screenplay and read it two years ago and wish we could have that vision of the Stephen King novel on screen.
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Pet Sematary (2019)
Written by Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler
Directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer
It’s hard to pinpoint where the nostalgia begins, but Stephen King’s current film renaissance started somewhere between the homage of Stranger Things Season One and the recent IT adaptation. One of the remakes it has led to is this recent Pet Sematary film, which is just as much taking on the novel as it is reworking the 1989 Mary Lambert film. The book and original movie have found an essential place in the hearts and minds of the general public and especially horror/King friends. I wonder what the long-time fans think of this picture and its decisions to change and not change certain elements.
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Written & Directed by Coralie Fargeat
Everything is in that title. A young American socialite, Jen, travels to Richard, her lover’s secluded desert chalet for a weekend tryst. He’s a married man, of which Jen is aware, and the relationship is very shallow. Their fun gets interrupted by Richard’s hunting buddies, Stan and Dmitri. They have come a day earlier than planned, and now Richard’s cheating is out on the table. Being his “buds,” they are cool with it and openly lust after Jen, who tries to keep things playful.
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Written by Bong Joon-ho & Jin Won Han
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho is a filmmaker genuinely interested in issues of class and social structures. You can see that in his previous work, especially Snowpierce, Okja, and The Host, but there are elements of this in all his work. Parasite is the synthesis of all these ideas, a perfect summation of his thoughts on the class divide and human nature. This is a film made by a creator who is at the height of their confidence. Bong Joon-ho is clear-headed with a thorough understanding of the story they want to tell and the psychologies of the characters populating that narrative. It may sound grandiose to say this, but this is an example of about as close as we can get to having a perfect movie.
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Los Espookys Season 1 (HBO)
Written by Fred Armisen, Ana Fabrega, & Julio Torres
Directed by Fernando Frias
There is nothing else like Los Espookys on television. From the opening of the first episode, a fast-paced series of scenes that introduces us to Renaldo at his sister’s quinceanera which he decorated in an all horror/goth theme to moment we see Andres’ shock of tightly cropped blue hair appear on screen we know that our protagonists will be odd, to say the least. The most normal of the Los Espookys crew is Ursula who is technically genius, yet she’s saddled with her little sister Tati, who is competing with Andres to become the most esoteric character to appear on television since Agent Cooper. This is a fully realized and specific world, like ours but slightly askew.
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