‘The Unicorn’ Brings Courage and Hope through the Music

Isabelle Dupuis and Tim Geraghty co-direct The Unicorn, a documentary about Peter Grudzien—the creator of the first openly gay country album. Dupuis and Geraghty’s film is not for the faint-hearted; it digs deep into a family wrought with mental disturbances where the musician finds his sole escape in the world of his music. (KIZJ: 3.5/5)

Dark family drama “Back Roads” shows aftermath of loving the wrong way

Written by Tawni O’Dell and Adrian Lyne, Back Roads is a directorial debut from director-actor Alex Pettyfer about a young man who is left to take care of his crumbling family. Based on the novel of the same name by O’Dell, a mother goes to jail for killing her husband, leaving her son to make a living and care for his three younger sisters. (KIZJ: 4/5)

Documentary Dispels Falsehoods about Hillbillies

Hillbilly is a documentary feature made to explore and dispel the traditional stereotype of who American “Hillbillies” are. With 4 awards and 1 nomination in the bag, Ashley York co-directs with Sally Rubin and co-writes with Rubin and Silas House this politically and culturally charged investigative piece. (KIZJ: 4.5/5)

San Francisco journalist takes on alien: ‘Venom’

Kelly Marcel co-writes superhero flick Venom with Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, the film hails actors Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed. A troubled journalist’s life becomes entangled with a parasite-like alien, “Venom”. The two must act as one, as they take on a dangerous organization threatening the lives of… Continue reading San Francisco journalist takes on alien: ‘Venom’

‘Colette’ another female historical figure worth remembering

Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Wash Westmoreland, and Richard Glatzer co-write Colette—a biopic starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West. Director Westmoreland’s period piece tells the tale of a French novelist, “Colette”, whose hunger for life pushes past gender norms. It shows how a girl from the countryside transforms into a pioneering feminist woman of the world. (KIZJ: 5/5)

‘The Oslo Diaries’ reveal disturbing secrets

Director Mor Loushy’s new documentary The Oslo Diaries explicitly describes the horrific happenings of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Using real footage as described in excerpts of true diary entries, The Oslo Diaries brings to attention the severity of the never-ending conflict between two nations. (SYJ: 3.5/5)

Asian cast dazzles the screen in lovable rom-com ‘Crazy Rich Asians’

Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy based on the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan. Adele Lim and Peter Chiarelli co-write the screenplay, and collaborate with director Jon M. Chu for this long-awaited screen adaptation. Constance Wu stars as Rachel, a young professor of economics, who follows her boyfriend, “Nick Young” (Henry Golding), to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. Nick is eager to introduce his girlfriend to his family, but throws Rachel into the deep end when he fails to mention his family’s wealth and reputation. (KIZJ: 5/5)

‘The Swan’ reveals life as it is

Ása Helga Hjörleifsdótirr writes and directs her debut featureThe Swan. Based on a novel by Guðbergur Bergsson, the movie has won 3 awards and has been nominated for 8. The serene, yet haunting, coming-of-age film shows how a child comes to the realization that life is not as simple as it seems. (SYJ: 4/5)

‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’ is a lesson in acceptance

Desiree Akhavan’s direction of a Sundance Film Festival winner, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”, shows confused teenagers, forbidden romances, and praising the Lord. The movie showcases another ploy to try and ‘cure’ homosexuality. The film is based on Emily M. Danforth’s novel of the same name. Its story explores the misinformation given to teenagers that being gay is a sin. (SYJ: 3.5/5)

‘The Row’—a sorority horror with a detective father and a serial killer

Sorority sisters, a serial killer, and a hidden past—Sarah Scougal writes a new addition to the traditional sorority horror genre. Directed by Matty Beckerman, “The Row” stars Lala Kent as a newly initiated sorority girl, and Randy Couture as the father-detective. With a killer loose on the college campus, members of a sorority club find themselves victims to a series of violent murders. (KIZJ: 2.5/5)

The need to fit in has devastating effects on a mother and daughter in ‘Pin Cushion’

Fitting in is hard. In Director-Writer Deborah Haywood’s movie, “Pin Cushion”, Joanna Scanlan and Lily Newmark star as a mother and daughter who start out as loving best friends. However, their move to an unwelcoming town drives a divide between the two. Now, without each other’s support, they are left as alone as ever to face the wrath of a town of ‘mean girls’. Haywood forces the audience to see the ugly and extreme effects that bullying can have for both children and adults alike. (KIZJ: 4/5)

‘The Devil’s Doorway’ leads priests to question sins and secrets

Aislinn Clarke directs and co-writes a chilling horror movie set inside a haunted house in Ireland. “The Devil’s Doorway” is presented through the eyes of two priests, sent by the Vatican, who conduct an investigation into a miraculous occurrence at the dwelling. But the excitement and skepticism of the pair soon turns into fear, as their search for the truth uncovers layer upon layer of unexplainable events. Getting more than what they bargained for, their assigned investigation reveals the dark and ugly secrets at this home for “fallen women”. (KIZJ: 4/5)

‘Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts’ is a quirky Western redemption story

Garnering five wins and twelve nominations, Director Mouly Surya brings to the screen Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts. Marsha Timothy dominates the screen as “Marlina”, a grieving widow who is pushed from vengeance and empowerment after being attacked in her own home. Set in the desert-like hills of an Indonesian island, Surya’s film is an unusual, quirky Western. This is a tale guided by women as they journey through rape, murder, and birth, in search of justice and redemption. (KIZJ: 4.5/5)

IN DARKNESS (2018): Review by Katusha Jin

Actress and writer Natalie Dormer stars in mystery thriller In Darkness. Co-written by herself and director Anthony Byrne, Dormer plays a blind pianist who is dragged into the dangerous criminal world when her upstairs neighbor commits what is suspected to be a suicide. (KIZJ: 3.5/5)

BOOK CLUB (2018): Review by Katusha Jin

Erin Simms partners with Bill Holderman to co-write “Book Club”, a light-hearted film about the lives and loves of four lifelong friends. The film boasts an impressive cast, starring: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen. Book Club is a comedic take on how the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book series pushes these Californian friends to not “stop living before [they] stop living”. (KIZJ: 4/5)

THE LAST HORSEMEN OF NEW YORK (2018): Review by Katusha Jin

Director and Cinematographer Mary Haverstick captures the two years of shaming, shunning, and controversy in her feature documentary, The Last Horsemen of New York. Through the horse carriage controversy, Haverstick educates the audiences about the sobering reality of how influential money is in today’s politics. Christina Hansen and Stephen Malone represent the community of working class carriage drivers, who fight a battle where ignorance is used, sympathy is ignored, and opinions can be bought. (KIZJ: 3/5)

EVERYTHING ELSE (2016): Review by Katusha Jin

Natalia Almada writes and directs Everything Else (Todo Lo Demás), a close up observation of a life plagued with isolation. The movie stars Academy Award Nominee Adriana Barraza as Doña Flor—a recluse who leads a monotonous life filled with rules and regulations. In this simple, yet painfully empty lifestyle, she sees no reason for change, until she loses the one creature she cares for. (KIZJ: 3/5)

DUCK BUTTER (2018): Review by Katusha Jin

Duck Butter is a romantic dramedy about two young women fed up of being inhibited by the dishonesty and misogyny of relationships around them. Starting the night as strangers, the two women plunge each other into the fast-forwarded deep end of a relationship by committing the entirety of twenty-four hours to exploring one another. But can expedited physical intimacy replace the emotional connections that are built over time and shared experiences? (KIZJ: 4/5)

GRACE JONES – BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI (2017): Review by Katusha Jin

Grace Beverly Jones is the electric, eye-catching, and uniquely bold subject of Sophie Fiennes’ documentary, Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. Fiennes accompanies the multitalented artist-entrepreneur for five years and showcases some of the most vulnerable, naked, and unknown dimensions of the star, famous for her fierce personality. (KIZJ: 3.5/5)

MAINELAND (2017): Review by Katusha Jin

Maineland is a coming-of-age documentary following Stella and Harry—two of the many teenagers from wealthy families who enroll in U.S. private schools. Miao Wang’s enlightening film showcases the young subjects gaining a newfound maturity and perspective on life. (KIZJ: 4/5)

SHINING MOON (2016): Review by Katusha Jin

Shining Moon stars Ricardo Herrera and Pablo Sotomayor Prat as two jobless, gay Chilean actors who are offered roles in a theatrical film as aging cross-dressers. Originally titled El Destello De La Luna, the piece is an art house film co-written by Gustavo Letelier and Victoria Wharfe McIntyre. (KIZJ: 3/5)

THE LULLABY (2018): Review by Katusha Jin

Writer Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo collaborates with director Darrell Roodt to create the unnerving and skin-crawling horror movie, The Lullaby. Reine Swart plays a 19-year-old girl, “Chloe”, who is thrown into motherhood and lands in a state of disturbing paranoia. When the birth of a baby forces Chloe to move back in with her mother, haunting elements of Chloe’s past begin to resurface and take control of her sanity. (KIZJ: 3/5)

LOVER FOR A DAY (2017): Review by Katusha Jin

Writers Jean-Claude Carrière, Caroline Deruas-Garrel, Philippe Garrel, and Arlette Langmann, team up to write a raw and touching story about real-life romance in Lover for a Day. Set in Paris, a city known for love and romance, director Philippe Garrel presents a story of passion and jealousy on a nostalgic black-and-white screen. (KIZJ: 4.5/5)

DRAWING HOME (2016): Review by Katusha Jin

Directed by Markus Rupprecht and co-written with Donna Logan, Drawing Home is a movie set amidst stunning, picturesque landscapes that is the Canadian Rocky Mountains. A young female artist, “Catherine Robb” (Julie Lynn Mortensen), from Boston in the 1920s, has a promising relationship with “John D. Rockerfeller III” (Jeff Gladstone). But her mother’s plan to climb the social ladder begins to go astray when her daughter meets the young painter “Peter Whyte” (Juan Riedinger). (KIZJ: 2.5/5)