In Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, the display of Nic Cage rage is so good, it should be it’s own sub-genre. There are plenty of movies that feature the many shades of madness from the Oscar winner, but not all of them capture it the way this one does. Mandy is a many things. It’s a journey into the psychedelic. A battle between good and evil. And a madman’s revenge story. Above all, it is an experience from beginning to end and it’s all thanks to a strong collaboration between Cage and Cosmatos. Mandy is a wild reminder that when the right material comes along, Nicolas Cage is an acting chameleon, and this time his performance is a blood soaked red success.
At this moment in time, newspaper articles, newscasters, pundits, and documentaries like American Chaos, continue to ask why and how Donald Trump became president of the United States. We are two year’s into his presidency and at this point, if you don’t know the answer, then my guess is that you tell yourself lies or you just aren’t paying close enough attention. Maybe you’re in a bubble? Or you just don’t care. Barack Obama was our president for eight years and out of the ashes of anger and racism grew this abscess known as Donald Trump. The Director of American Chaos is James Stern. He grew up in Chicago, a Kennedy Democrat, and he captured his journey into the heartland of America to find out why people were voting for Trump. My biggest problem with American Chaos? The documentary reveals nothing new, while the subjects at hand do not deserve our empathy or an entire documentary dedicated to “understanding” them. There have been a countless amount of articles in the New York Times trying to see things through their eyes of the Trump supporter. Trust me, whatever we wanted to learn has already been documented. They followed the carnival barker and the chaos is what we’re left with.
As far as horror films go, it is the perfect genre for independent films to capture an audience. No matter the budget, they know what they love, and if a film hits the right notes, it is a scream for everyone involved. Take the newest anthology film, Skeletons in the Closet– opening this weekend at the Davis Theater- which is a micro-budget film, paying homage to horror anthologies such as Creepshowor Body Bags, while doing it’s own thing. I’m not blowing smoke when I say this, horror fans will love Skeletons in the Closet. It’s a nesting doll film, set in the 80’s, with young Jamie and babysitter Tina watching a Svengoolie-style TV show, hosted by an Elvira-type character known as The Widow (Ellie Church) along with her dead skeleton husband Charlie (Adam Michaels). Each weekend they present a “classic horror flick” and this week it’s an anthology film called “Chop Shop”. Skeletons in the Closet bounces back and forth between each various short film, with varying themes, including a haunted car lot, a disturbing visit to grandmas house, and a man loose from the psych ward. It all bundles up into a horrific-ly good time.
On paper, a movie starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder in a romantic comedy sounded like cinematic gold. The pair of actors that got their careers started in the 80’s, have had simultaneous career revivals in the last few years. Reeves with his major success kicking-ass in the John Wick films and Ryder stealing every episode as the worried mother in the smash-hit Stranger Things. The work these two have done in the past, present, and the cult-fan-following they already have, cannot be tainted by their efforts in Destination Wedding. After all, it’s not entirely their faults. The blame would rest on director/writer Victor Levin, who thinks just getting these two on the screen to talk together is enough. Destination Wedding is a trip one should never take.