SO UNREAL – Review by Nadine Whitney

In essence all gods are created by humanity as a way to explain the unknown or as a system of moral and ethical guidelines. That isn’t to say that spirituality is a falsehood, but it is perpetuated by earthly entities. In the digital age humanity created a new god – a cyber god of unlimited potential, and one that carried with it the capacity to gain sentience and turn on its maker. Amanda Kramer’s documentary So Unreal written in conjunction with Britt Brown and narrated by actor and musician Debbie Harry traces how cinema near the end of the millennia reacted to the anxiety of emerging technology and how films that might have been seen as time-capsule curiosities became remarkably prescient.

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Amanda Kramer and Britt Brown on SO UNREAL – Nadine Whitney interviews

Amanda Kramer and Britt Brown discuss the lure and fear of the early internet in So Unreal. Amanda Kramer is best known as a director of independent fiction films. Delighting and confounding audiences with such titles as Ladyworld, Give Me Pity!, and Please Baby Please. In a script written in conjunction with Britt Brown, Kramer delivers a stunning visual essay documentary So Unreal about “cyber cinema.” Nadine Whitney spoke to Kramer and Brown about their work that debuted at Fantastic Fest 2023.>

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INVASION – Review by Susan Granger

On the advice of my friend critic-turned-director Rod Lurie (The Outpost), I just caught up with the ominous sci-fi series Invasion that made its debut in 2021. This 10-episode saga begins as strange objects descend from the sky. In Oklahoma, a mysterious circular crater in a cornfield attracts the attention of retiring small-town Sheriff John Bell Tyson (Sam Neill), who is searching for meaning in his career. Everywhere, spiky, metallic, seemingly indestructible, spider-like creatures from outer space are wreaking havoc and destroying cities around the globe.

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THE POD GENERATRION – Review by Lois Alter Mark

I get that The Pod Generation, Sophie Barthes’ new film about pregnancy in the age of technology, is supposed to be satire; I really do. Yet, instead of laughing, I found myself growing increasingly sad as I watched it. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s so good, I’m worried it could actually be a foreshadowing of our future. More than a satire, The Pod Generation is a cautionary tale. I wonder what ChatGPT would have to say about it.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 7, 2023: BIOSPHERE

“Life finds a way.” This classic line from Jurassic Park is referenced more than once in director Mel Eslyn’s Biosphere, and there couldn’t be a more apt way to summarize the story of this quirky, unexpected dramedy about two lifelong best friends (Mark Duplass, who co-wrote the film with Eslyn, and Sterling K. Brown) who may be the last people left alive on Earth after an unspecified planet-ending disaster.

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BIOSPHERE – Review by Jennifer Merin

Director Mel Eslyn’s Biosphere is a wonderful addition to the cannon of Mark Duplass-produced quirky and profoundly satirical films. Duplass and Sterling K. Brown deliver brilliant emotionally rich performances that embrace the sheer absurdity of the narrative as though it is absolutely real. They’ll turn you into a believer of the preposterous. And you’ll alternatingly laugh and tear up all the way

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BIOSPHERE – Review by Liz Whittemore

Two distinctly fleshed-out male characters complement one another with their genuine presence for each other. Writer-director Mel Eslyn and co-writer Mark Duplass give a duality to the dialogue that is beyond clever. Biosphere is an undoubtedly slick mashup of gender identity storytelling, politics, and faith in humanity. Breezy, charming, touching, and completely unexpected, Biosphere mixes hope, science, and comedy. There is nothing else like it. It is a weird and wonderful wow of a film, brimming with delicious feminist energy.

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1899 – Review by Susan Granger

When a trusted friend recommended the supernatural Netflix sci-fi series 1899, he urged me to see it quick – because – despite audience enthusiasm and positive reviews – it’s been cancelled. So I did – joining legions of bewildered viewers, wondering why there won’t be a second season for this spooky, genre-juggling maritime mystery? Was it a tax-write off? Forbes concluded: “Netflix is becoming a graveyard stacked with dead series and unfinished conclusions.”

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ZERO CONTACT – Review by Susan Granger

As an avid Anthony Hopkins fan, I’ll see any of his movies BUT here’s an oddity: Zero Contact. Reportedly produced remotely in 17 different countries during the 2020 global pandemic, it’s intended to be a high-tech, sci-fi thriller. Anthony Hopkins always oozes charisma, inviting viewers into his Southern California home, where he delivers mind-melding monologues. He ruminates about art and science, in addition to playing one of his own musical compositions on the piano. But that’s not enough to save this cinematic waste of time.

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THE VAST OF NIGHT – Review by Diane Carson

Finding inspiration in early television science fiction, this satisfying little film zips through 89 minutes with confidence and style. What a delight it is to be swept up in 1950s small town New Mexico as switchboard operator Fay hears an indecipherable audio frequency and transmits it to friend Everett, hosting a radio call in.

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