Out now is a mix of dramatic and horror films. We’ll start with Curveball. I understand the film is a family film and maybe a religious one that wants to show the dangers of drugs. I get that, but it’s pretty preposterous. It feels like an anti-drug PSA from 50 years ago. One day star baseball players are trying weed for the first time, a week later they are shooting heroin because clearly that’s how it happens. Once you get that first toke of the Mary Jane you are ready for smack! Your friend dies and now you are a full blown junkie! Should we show the horrors of drugs? How people start stealing from family and friends and lose everything around them? How one day you are playing ball and the next you are strung out? Sure. But be realistic. How we view drug use, especially marijuana, has drastically changed over the past few decades. To make it seem like once you try pot you’ll be shooting up the H is just ridiculous. I know it’s a family film, but we should have gotten passed the scaring straight tactics and should start being honest with kids about drugs and drug use. I won’t crush it because I understand what it wants to do (and I support that), but we need a more open and honest conversation about drugs not propaganda.
Next we have Children of the Stars. I knew nothing about these people, this story or anything involved. And after watching it, I still don’t! I don’t know if it’s real or fake. I don’t know if these people are nut jobs or just going along with it. I have no idea. It contains old footage and interviews with people who think they lived past lives on other planets. There’s old movie footage they made and I’m utterly confused. Is it/was it all a joke? Were these people part of a cult? Did they really believe they lived past lives elsewhere? Maybe if I was familiar with any of it I might have understood more, but man was I lost and confused. If you know about it, check it out.
Third we have All Hell Breaks Loose. I really wanted to like this and overall I didn’t mind it, but it just didn’t get to be cult-like enough to me. It’s a giant grindhouse film homage (and I don’t mean what Tarantino and Rodriguez do). I’m talking about old school grindhouse, 70’s style. There’s lot of gore and choppy film and it looks (intentionally) bad. Acting is bad and over the top and I get that’s the point. But just because that’s what you are going for, doesn’t necessarily make it good. It has a lot of positives. There’s some good gore and blood. There’s some good death scenes. And I actually like story of a man coming back to life through God to rescue his recent bride against a motorcycle gang. So there is a lot going for it and I do recommend it to diehard horror/grindhouse fans, but I think it had potential to be a cult classic and just didn’t get there.
Fourth we have Mediterranea. This is a pretty heavy film about refugees and immigration, but it’s really well made and looks beautiful at times. That’s what stood out to me, the overall look and cinematography really captures the emotions of the story. Two West African friends dream of a better life in Europe. They cross the Mediterranean hoping their lives will change. They end up Rosano, Italy where life is hard with long hours of work and unsafe living situations. I like the dynamic of the film. You have two similar characters put into the same situation and you see how two lives can go in different directions because of personalities. You see how one can cope and another can’t due to money, language barriers and harsh conditions. It’s not hitting you over the head with a “feel bad for them” hammer because it shows different angles and how people go about things differently. One steals to get some clothes, but adapts and works hard. The other puts in the least amount of work possible because he doesn’t like his pay. I really, really liked that contrast. If you are interested in refugee/immigration stories, check this out, it’s really well done.
Next we have The Winter. This was pretty trippy. A young writer struggling financially in London moves back to his birthplace of Siatista, Greece. His father died under odd circumstances and the locals aren’t sure what to make of him or to trust him. It’s mysterious and flowing and you never quite know what is real or not. It felt like a Terry Gilliam film. It’s hypnotic and trance like yet has a narrative story that unravels spilling secrets. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I’m sure some people will think it’s pretty brilliant.
Last we have The Hoarder. I felt like I’ve seen this story before, but I still like the concept. Mischa Barton takes a friend to a storage unit to spy on her fiancé’s stuff. She thinks he’s cheating or lying and she wants proof. Instead she finds some weird stuff going on and a creature or monster living there. Others get involved and you try to figure out who’s actually controlling things. I liked Robert Knepper in it. He plays a cop. I like him most of the time, but he was genuinely good in this. It may be a “Straight-to-DVD” film, but he gives it his all and you can see that. Barton on the other hand I’ve never thought much of as an actress. I don’t know if I’d like this movie more with a different actress, but she didn’t really hold my attention. There’s some good gore and the film tries to feel claustrophobic and tense. Overall I didn’t mind it. I think it could have been better, but for what it is, it’s not bad. There’s a lot worse out there and if you like Knepper, definitely find it. I also expect a sequel.