Sundance Review: Run Rabbit Run

A fertility doctor notices strange behaviour in her own child.

Run Rabbit Run was one of my most anticipated films of the Sundance Film Festival and is unfortunately the biggest disappointment, while it’s not terrible in fact it does have it’s positives. It’s held back by a lot of things that could have made this movie even better. 

The positives come from Sarah Snook’s fantastic performance which has this raw feel to it at times, which compliments well with the movie’s atmosphere which is another positive. The atmosphere is immediately established when the movie begins and is used quite well up until the third act of the movie where things get way too familiar. Which is the main issue with Run Rabbit Run it’s way too familiar, it’s yet another generational trauma horror movie that really doesn’t offer anything new. There’s some interesting bits of the mother and daughter relationship that show a lot of promise, but unfortunately don’t end up fully working to the full potential. The final act is filled with a bunch of plot points that are very familiar even the mother and daughter aspect which started out promising enough quickly turns into familiarity. 

Overall Run Rabbit Run has it’s moments but ultimately misses when it comes to being memorable and bringing something new to the table. 

Run Rabbit Run will be released on Netflix later this year. 

5/10 C

Sundance Review: Young. Wild. Free.

A hot-tempered high school senior finds his claustrophobic life suddenly thrust into an enticing, dangerous direction after he is robbed at gunpoint by the girl of his dreams.

Young. Wild. Free. was my first Sundance film of the festival and it wasn’t exactly the best start, it’s unfortunate because I do think there was a lot of potential here. The premise itself sounds very interesting and could have been a very investing story. 

The positives mostly come from the filming that’s actually quite beautiful at times and the performances are quite decent, there’s a few moments here where it does seem like the movie is going to touch the subject of mental health. But quickly abandons it in favor of some dull coming of age story elements that have been done better before, the twist completely breaks the movie mainly due to how predictable and unrewarding it really is for the viewer. It doesn’t help that there was next to no build up to the twist, it’s just sort of there for the sake of being a twist. 

Overall there really isn’t much else to say about Young. Wild. Free. It’s well filmed and has solid performances but leaves a lot more to be desired when it comes to the script. 

Young. Wild. Free currently has no release date. 

4/10 D+

Dog Gone is a forgettable dog movie.

When his beloved dog goes missing, a young man embarks on an incredible search with his parents to find him and give him life-saving medication.

Dog movies have always been a small but fun little genre that audiences can easily get into, some dog movies are definitely better than others with a lot of modern ones being on the weaker side. Dog Gone is based on the book Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home by Paul Toutonghi, which is based off of a true story who lost their dog named Gonker back in 1998. An interesting true story but how well does the movie do? Well let’s find out! 

Dog Gone is directed by Stephen Herek who has directed quite a few recognizable movies such as Critters, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Mighty Ducks, 101 Dalmatians (1996) and a few others. Which is admittedly why the movie does pretty well during the first half of the movie, there’s plenty of charming moments that really match a lot of the charm Herek puts into his work. It’s obviously not as effective since it does have the Netflix Lifetime movie feel a lot of the time. But at the very least it has some level of charm that does add to the movie, having that said a huge amount of the movie has the dog go missing which is where the movie starts to show it’s cracks. A lot of the movie is focused on family issues that while could have been interesting to explore ultimately really do not add very much and are very surface level at best, there’s even an almost bar brawl that was definitely a choice to put in a dog movie. 

The main problem here with Dog Gone is the acting and writing just don’t back up the movie at all, while there isn’t anything horrible there certainly isn’t anything good here either. Nobody really gives a performance that is particularly rememberable, Rob Lowe has a few moments that are unintentionally hilarious but that’s really about it. 

Dog Gone is unfortunate case of a movie that could have been a cute little dog movie and while it is just that during the first act of the movie, the rest of it drags and is very tedious. I definitely get what they were trying to go for here but as I said before the family elements are just not well developed and the rest of the movie is very dull unfortunately. 

Dog Gone is available on Netflix. 

4/10 D+

Disconnect: The Wedding Planner is a not very well planned wedding

After falling victim to a scam, a desperate man races against the clock as he attempts to plan a luxurious destination wedding for an important investor.

I’m going to start out by saying I had no idea that Disconnect: The Wedding Planner was a sequel, apparently the first movie came out in 2018 but I never saw it (shocking I know) heck I hadn’t even heard of it. So I went in thinking this was just another random Netflix original but I guess it’s a sequel. 

As for the movie itself…what is there exactly to say here? The cast at least seems like they are having fun which is great, but the characters themselves are just not very well written they range from being terrible to very forgettable. The plot goes exactly how you would expect it to…well almost the story takes a very puzzling turn that quite frankly does not fit the movie at all. It switches back and forth between a drama and a comedy, the characters make some very ridiculous decisions that honestly they have no rhyme or reason to make. I do think there is some level of great quality when it comes to showing off the Mombasa backdrop as there are some beautiful shots here, it’s just such a shame it’s in a very forgettable movie. 

Overall Disconnect: The Wedding Planner sort of exists, it’s by no means the worst Netflix original out there and at the very least the technical elements of the film are pretty decent, but that’s really about where the movie ends. 

Disconnect: The Wedding Planner is available on Netflix. 

3/10 D-

Decision To Leave is a unexpectedly romantic film.

A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains ends up meeting and developing feelings for the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.

Decision To Leave has been on my radar for awhile, I finally got around to watching it and it most certainly didn’t disappoint. This is Park Chan-wook’s first film since 2016 (Handmaiden), I’ve talked before how Oldboy (2003) is one of my favorite films of all time, part of why I love Chan-wook so much is how different his films are from one another. One moment he will create something truly brutal and quite disturbing and in another he will create something genuinely really sweet and charming. Decision To Leave is actually pretty romantic in ways you wouldn’t really expect, that’s mainly due to the performances from Tang Wei and Hae il Park who almost immediately have fantastic chemistry between one another, there’s so much emotion and power put into the performances that are just charming, the writing is very raw and allows the characters to understand each other and build their connection even further. Heck there’s even some dark humor that discusses death that is a little twisted but at the same time it really works, outside of performances and writing the film itself has this natural look to it. The filming is very well done with tons of shots that add depth to the characters and the current scene taking place, overall Decision To Leave is truly fantastic and is definitely one of the best films of 2022.

Decision To Leave is available on all VOD platforms.

10/10 A+

The Pale Blue Eye has great performances but with a weak script.

Veteran detective Augustus Landor investigates a series of grisly murders with the help of a young cadet who will eventually go on to become the world-famous author Edgar Allan Poe.

The Pale Blue Eye serves as an origin story to Edgar Allen Poe (kind of) I will give credit where credit is due it’s definitely one of the better Edgar Allen Poe movies that have come out recently. But that really doesn’t mean much when the movie itself falls short, Christian Bale and Harry Melling are both quite great especially Harry Melling who actually does a far better job as Edgar Allen Poe than you would expect. The film itself is shot pretty well and the location helps the movie standout a bit from a lot of other gothic horror films, unfortunately that’s where the movie really ends for me. While the story itself is interesting in concept the movie really doesn’t do anything with it, it’s way too slow for it’s own good especially combined with a 2 hour and 8 minute runtime that just draws out. The worst offender is the twist ending that was way too predictable but at the same time made very little sense, it’s honestly one of those endings that completely breaks a movie and truly makes the rest of the movie seem incredibly pointless. Finally The Pale Blue Eye does barely little to differentiate itself from other gothic horror movies, while yes the filming and the locations help out a bit just about everything else is working against it. A lot of this movie is a gothic horror movie with an Edgar Allen Poe overlay over it, it’s a shame because this did have potential but unfortunately much like a lot of Scott Cooper’s work the ideas are most certainly there the execution is just severely lacking.

The Pale Blue Eye is available on Netflix.

4/10 D+

Babylon is a beautiful unhinged ride from beginning to end.

Decadence, depravity, and outrageous excess lead to the rise and fall of several ambitious dreamers in 1920s Hollywood.

Part of what I truly love about film is that you will get times when directors go completely off the walls and create something incredibly unhinged. Babylon is definitely one of those cases, this is most definitely not a film that’s going to be for everyone. But It absolutely worked for me, for starters the cast was truly fantastic, I could write an entire post on how or what each of the characters contributes to the film but we would be here all day. Margot Robbie gives yet another really exciting performance that really captures the insane nature of the film, Diego Calva is truly great here as well. His interactions with the rest cast feels very genuine and we quickly see his character Manuel climb to the top as the film goes on, some smaller performances that really stood are Li Jun Li who is just having a ton of fun, P.J. Byrne who gives some of the film’s best comedic moments that are truly hilarious, Jovan Adepo who gives an incredibly solid performance and really dives into his role and finally there’s Tobey Maguire who honestly gives one of the most hilarious performances I’ve seen all year, he is very representative of how unhinged the film really is especially during the final act. The cinematography is beautiful and really captures a lot of the bizarre nature of the film combine that with the film’s overall theme…change and adapt. At the beginning we see (in the perspective of the characters) Hollywood at it’s prime, slowly but surely as new film technique’s are introduced and are the next big thing we see some of the character’s desperately trying to change and adapt, for some they adapt decently well but for others it starts their downfall which leads into some quite powerful moments. The writing really reflects that with a lot of the characters trying to figure out ways to standout in the new era of film, lastly there’s the film’s final moments where we see how far film has come, other characters realizing that they can’t adapt so they completely walk away. It’s truly some really strong elements combined into one bizarre film!

Babylon is available in theaters.

10/10 A+

White Noise has great performances but a very messy third act.

College professor Jack Gladney and his family’s comfortable suburban life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces the Gladney family to evacuate.

White Noise is definitely an odd one and quite different from what Noah Baumbach usually does, it’s honestly hard where to actually begin with the film but I’ll try my best. The performances here are pretty great, particularly Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig who completely steal the show. It’s great to see Adam Driver deliver yet another insane performance that is also yet another very different performance, his career has really shown he has a ton of range so I’m glad to see that be applied here. White Noise is actually Greta Gerwig’s first live action performance since 2016 and it really reminds you how great of an actress she really is, the interactions between Driver and Gerwig are truly great and at times quite humorous as well. Something very eye catching almost immediately was the film’s overall style, it’s use of color is quite captivating and the film has this early 90s family film look that when it’s mixed in with disaster film elements is quite a lot of fun. The main flaw White Noise does suffer from is the third act mostly and the complete shift in tone, while I do admire it going for something completely unexpected I’m not exactly sure if it completely worked. The first two acts were investing and were decently straightforward but then the film just throws a curveball for the sake of throwing one, it’s very nonsensical and is honestly quite hard to keep track of what exactly is going on. I will say however that the scene plays while the credits roll is a lot of fun, despite my issues with third act I do think White Noise is still a solid film, it is a tad disappointing in some areas but it does succeed when it comes to performances and the filming.

White Noise is available on Netflix.

7/10 B

The Whale gives an unforgettable performance from Brendan Fraser.

An obese and reclusive English teacher tries to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption.

It is absolutely no secret that Darren Aronofsky is one of favorite filmmakers of all time, from Requiem For A Dream, to Black Sawn to Mother and a few others. Aronofsky masters at taking a handful of actors and actresses and giving them an unforgettable transformative performance. That is most certainly the case with Brendan Fraser who gives one of the most touching, heartbreaking and powerful performances of the year. Words can’t even begin to describe how much goes into his performance, Fraser’s character Charlie has so many layers to him there’s the side of him that is shown quite a lot throughout the film someone who has this very positive attitude even when he is being completely judged he tries to laugh it off or ignore it. Then there’s the side where he’s in pain he’s tired of people judging him for who he is, which leads to the film’s theme of people completely judging you without even trying to understand you as well the film itself challenging the viewer on stereotypes. This is something I’m sure everyone has went through at some point in their life and it’s shown wonderfully here, Charlie is a character that someone can easily connect with, I’ve said before that I’m autistic and in the past I’ve been judged for it yet I try to be as positive as I can be. But deep down inside I’m trying not to cry being judged for who you are is a very real pain and as I said earlier the way the film portrays that is just masterful. Hong Chu and Sadie Sink are both incredible here, they both deliver strong performances that each contribute to the film. Hong Chu delivers such an honest performance her character Liz has some of the most casual dialogue with Charlie from a film in 2022. Elle played by Sadie Sink is Charlie’s daughter who Charlie constantly says is a beautiful person and wants to help out no matter what, it doesn’t matter whether Elle is horrible to him. He still wants to help which leads to some very beautiful moments from Fraser, this all leads up to the final moments of the film. The last few scenes are truly heartbreaking and very real, Charlie thinking about the moments he enjoyed most with his family and really celebrates those moments is truly crushing and absolutely powerful with every meaning of the word, the writing combined with the direction is truly incredible and completely makes the film into something special.

The Whale is playing in theaters.

10/10 A+

Aftersun is a beautiful heartbreaking film with several themes.

Twenty years after their last holiday at a fading vacation resort, Sophie reflects on the rare time spent with her loving and idealistic father Calum. At 11-years-old, as the world of adolescence creeps into Sophie’s view, Calum struggles under the weight of life outside of fatherhood. Sophie’s recollections become a powerful and heartrending portrait of their relationship, as she tries to reconcile the father she knew with the man she didn’t.

Aftersun may seem simple on the surface but as you explore the film and notice the several hints or themes and where the film is going, it hits so much harder in all the right ways. For starters the performances are truly fantastic here Paul Mescal and Frankie Corio give some of the best performances of the year hands down, they also portray one of the most real father and daughter bones ever put on film. Every single emotion, action and behavior is there and truly pushes this film into something much bigger. The film takes place during Callum and Sophie’s holiday vacation, a vacation that’s remembered as sweet yet filled with tons of emotions that you wouldn’t expect. There’s themes of mental health, nostalgia, connection to time and much more, the film drops hints as it goes on to let the viewer know where it’s headed. The thing is that even with the little hints the viewer isn’t completely sure where the film ends up going, it’s a masterfully done way to get the viewer ready for the final moments of the film while also keeping it a mystery. The two different perspectives the film switches back forth to are both handled wonderfully, there’s Sophie’s perspective which is childlike yet notices that there is something bothering with Callum. When Callum says “I’m okay” Sophie would naturally believe him since she’s a child, this is where the nostalgia and mental health come in, Sophie now an adult noticing the signs that Callum was not okay is a very dark moment to face. It’s implied here that Callum ended his life the film doesn’t end up saying whether he did or not it leaves that up to the viewer. Callum’s perspective captures what it feels like to have a lot of depression, you are trying to have a good time at an event, with family and much more. But something is bothering even though there really isn’t anything to worry about, these subtle moments are dropped carefully throughout the film some even using some clever camerawork. The use of certain songs is truly fantastic especially Under Pressure which is a very touching scene as it’s towards the end and shows the final moments of Callum and Sophie being together, the ending is truly hard hitting and unleashes everything that has led up to. All of this is wonderfully done due to director and writer Charlotte Wells, Wells really makes Aftersun her directional debut film into something absolutely special that is very unique. Aftersun is truly one of the absolute best films of the year.

Aftersun is available on all VOD platforms.

10/10 A+