AVIVA – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Writer-director Boaz Yakin’s boldly unconventional, often exhilarating exploration of modern love revolves around two dancers, Aviva and Eden, and their complicated evolving relationship. Dance is a vital part of their identities, which Aviva delves into intimately through the prism of gender fluidity that embraces the notion that strength and submission, sacrifice and selfishness aren’t inherently gendered or even necessarily opposites.

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KOKO-DI KOKO-DA – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Though for much of its running time the Swedish-Danish thriller Koko-di Koko-da looks like a “terrorized by psychos” movie on the order of Last House on the Left or Funny Games, it gradually reveals itself to be something more complex. In fact, it’s close kin to Oliver Stone’s first feature, Seizure… but more on that later.

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EXTRA ORDINARY. – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Sweet, clever and wryly funny, the Irish bogey tale Extra Ordinary. walks the fine between poking fun at genre tropes and mocking them. It’s more closely aligned with Beetlejuice than the crude Scary Movie franchise, and its carefully drawn characters—even the scene stealers—make for an experience that’s surprisingly emotionally satisfying.

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THE BOOKSELLERS – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Director/ producer/editor D.W Young’s documentary, The Booksellers, is dedicated to the proposition that reports of the death of print—especially books, but including magazines, pamphlets, posters, maps, journals and annotated photographic albums and stereopticon cards—have been greatly exaggerated. And I say at the outset, I completely agree.

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GREED – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Based on the lavish life and crimes of taste, decorum and common decency of UK cheap-fashion mogul Philip Green, whose low-rent boutiques catered to the young and trendy, Michael Winterbottom’s Greed–a breezy chronicle of bad behavior by the rich and notorious–is either a cautionary tale or an exhortation to just do it, depending on which way your moral compass points.

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DEPRAVED – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Longtime independent Larry Fessenden, whose Glass Eye Pix has consistently supported young genre filmmakers, returns to a classic story he first tackled 25 years ago in No Telling, with a modern-day Frankenstein story that returns to one of the novel’s core themes: The dense and complex relationship between parents and children, however ambivalent the parents and however challenging the child. Fessenden pokes around some uncomfortable truths and the result is a discomfiting horror film for the social-media generation.

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JACOB’S LADDER – Review by Maitland McDonagh

A remake of the 1990 psychological horror film, this new Jacob’s Ladder (which debuted on DISH network before receiving a theatrical release) manages to seem longer than the original—despite being nearly 15 minutes shorter—and is ultimately both less eerily stylish and less compelling.

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DARK SPECTER 2 – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Directed by Richard Tatum and written by/starring Bruce Nachsin, the nine-minute, live-action short Dark Specter 2 opens with self-important good-guy Vibraboom and glowering, scarlet-clad, KISS-eyed supervillain Dark Specter duking it out on an anonymous city street over a big bag of stolen cash. The bad guy sort of wins this, though the loot gets incinerated (pesky fireballs!) and Vibraboom manages to insult Specter by calling him “Little Red Riding Hood” before losing his head in the worst possible sense of that term. Evil Dark Specter!

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LUZ – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Luz is a sleepy, creepy slow burn that—like oh-so-many films about demonic possession—lives in the twilight zone of adolescent sexuality, a sleepy wasteland that breeds monsters of every shape and form. And like so many films whose origin lie in relationships between adolescent girls, Luz is rooted in the primordial horror of female sexuality that stops short of blaming female problems for all the troubles of the world.

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