Saturday, April 22, 2023

Bewitched in Moving Paintings: Agatha (2023) Review [Panic Fest 2023]

Directors: Roland Becerra, Kelly Bigelow Becerra

At this last year’s Academy Awards, Guillermo del Toro stepped up to the podium upon winning the Oscar for Best Animated Film and talked about how animated features are ‘not a genre, but still cinema.’ While I’m sure readers on this site will more than likely know this already, it’s a great reminder that animation is just a choice in creating cinema and not inherently separate. 

This year, Panic Fest 2023 showcased a rather unique “animated” horror feature that struck a unique chord with me. Agatha became an unnerving cinematic venture that burrowed under my skin with its distinctive visuals that blend animation and live action in one of the most fascinating ways. It’s the kind of experimental style in film that warrants a viewing, even if it makes some choices that may alienate some viewers.

My screening included a brief introduction by one of the directors, Kelly Bigelow Becerra and she notes that the film was a combination of animation and live action where the footage of the actors was painted – frame by frame – over with the animation. It’s an interesting expectation that’s set prior to the film. It’s almost necessary because being thrown into the film might be a bit overwhelming for those not expecting what it is bringing to the table. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

The Best Worst Man: The Best Man (2023) Review

Director: Shane Dax Taylor

Notable Cast: Brendan Fehr, Luke Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Scout Taylor Compton, Nicky Whelan, Scott Martin


Although there are plenty of action stars that have been relegated to the direct-to-video market in the last handful of years and while many film critics and fans are eager to pounce and people like Bruce Willis or Nic Cage for falling into this category, it’s a corner of the market that has its own feel and approach that often gets overlooked. 


When The Best Man first stumbled into my consciousness, it was hard not to buy in for me simply based on the Dolph of it all. Yet, it was apparent that he would play a secondary character to Brendan Fehr and Luke Wilson (?!). Now my interest went from piqued to full-on curiosity. Yet, with films like The Best Man, it is best to keep expectations tempered and that’s my recommendation here. While the idea of seeing Fehr, Wilson, and Lundgren team up to fight off terrorists is seemingly outlandish enough, the reality is that The Best Man is rarely as entertaining as it might have been. It’s a fine paint-by-numbers low-budget action flick to burn a lazy Sunday afternoon on, but it never reaches its own potential. 


Friday, April 7, 2023

Birds Don't Have Fists: Fist of the Condor (2023) Review [Hi-Yah!]

Director: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza

Notable Cast: Marko Zaror, Marko Zaror, Eyal Meyer, Gina Aguad, Fernanda Urrejola, Man Soo Yoon, Jose Manuel, Cristian Garin, Francisco Castro


When I told my wife that I had a new movie to watch the other night, she asked the question that most people ask. “Which one?” I replied, “Fist of the Condor. The new kung fu movie starring Marko Zaror.” She paused for a moment. “Well, that doesn’t make sense. Birds don’t have fists.”

She’s a funny one, that gal. 


On the one hand, she’s absolutely right. Condors are big badass birds, but they certainly don’t have fists. In true, classic kung fu fashion, it doesn’t really matter though when the animal is just an inspiration for the martial arts. Condors don’t need fists... because you know who does have fists? Marko fuckin’ Zaror. And he’s bringing his own martial arts style to the screen in that classic kung fu manner. It just so happens that he has the perfect physique that he looks like a condor when he extends his arms into a full wingspan. Just before he starts handing people their asses.