LA LLORONA – Review by Maitland McDonagh

La LLorona strikes a delicate balance between the mundane–family secrets and lies, gracious interiors that begin to seem cramped — the threat of physical and emotional violence of things unsaid within and intrusions from beyond. It’s both intelligent and emotionally haunting, political and fantastical, a powerful combination in the right hands.

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THE BAY OF SILENCE – Review by Maitland McDonagh

While the film’s underlying subject–the poisonous legacy of childhood abuse–could be called lurid, director Paula Van der Oest and screenwriter Caroline Goodall keep the focus firmly on the characters, with Claes Bang and Olga Kurylenko delivering nuanced performances that give their characters surprising depth given that the film maintains the swift pace of a thriller, and the beautiful production design and cinematography never detract from the ugliness of their experiences.

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SKIN WALKER – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Emotionally fragile Janine returns to her family’s vast country estate for her grandmother’s funeral and is sucked into a mire of family dysfunction in this arthouse horror movie that is neither as clever as it aspires to be nor as effective as similarly themed films. The screenplay isn’t sufficiently original to make the finished film stand out from many other psychological horror stories that unfold in apparently idyllic settings tainted by real-life sins and demons of the mind.

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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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