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Thursday, November 8, 2018

BAFF 2018: THE GOD INSIDE MY EAR delivers stylish editing and hallucinations

There's a small subgenre of horror films that I like to call the descent-into-madness film. It's a tried and true, from Fuller's Shock Corridor to Aronofsky's Black Swan to Kon's Perfect Blue, and when it's done right it can be as unsettling and mesmerizing as the goriest Italian Giallo. These films do run the risk of being all style and little substance when the goal is to portray something as abstract as madness itself. Joe Badon's The God Inside My Ear walks that fine line, and manages to combine some of the techniques of the classics into something pretty interesting.

The God Inside My Ear follows Elizia (Linnea Gregg) as she navigates life after a difficult breakup. Not a totally normal breakup, either; her ex left her after becoming deeply involved with a strange cult that helped him avoid the lizard men that were out to get him. Elizia finds herself hearing strange voices in inanimate objects and over the phone in the form of an oddly personal telemarketer, and in time begins to lose her grip on reality as her friends get more concerned for her mental health.

The first thing to note about the film is its strong sense of style, particularly in the visuals and the editing. There are a number of stylistic flourishes that really stand out, in particular the use of color. On top of the colored light that recalls a film like Suspiria that is used throughout, there is a careful use of color in the production design which never misses an opportunity to make even the dullest household setting a little more interesting. 

The editing (done by Joe Badon himself, along with Joseph Estrade and Daniel Waghorne) is fascinating and easily the most effective thing about the film overall. It never shies away from extreme techniques, like the split screen blind date that recalls De Palma, or the many layers of exposures to create psychedelic effects. Perhaps even more striking, perhaps, is the use of jump cuts as we progress further into Elizia's instability. While the audio stays consistent, we cut just slightly forward in time at random intervals, creating a sense of unease, almost as if we're blacking out and missing time as Elizia is.

Metaphorical imagery is of the utmost importance in a movie like this, and it's done very well here. From the opening sequence of eclipses, water, and extreme closeups of eyes and ears, it's clear that we're in for something a bit more abstract. The dreams and hallucination sequences are the best bits of the film, each with a different sense of style and tone than the last, and it's clear that this is where the heart of the film lies.

The tone is an interesting one; it almost plays out like Wes Anderson directing Eraserhead. Elizia and most of the surrounding cast play things with a very dry sense of humor that is cleverly at odds with the sometimes apocalyptic imagery in her mind. While Gregg perfectly embodies this tone, sporting a very Zooey Deschanel look, her friends have a less humorous perspective throughout.

If you're a fan of these kinds of abstract horror or suspense films, this is definitely worth your time. Some may find the preference of style over substance to be repetitive or dull over the course of the film's 93 minutes, but the style is oh-so-cool. There's a lot to like here, and a revelation near the end of the film cleverly provides an answer to the mysterious events while still asking further questions.

The God Inside My Ear is directed by Joe Badon and is the opening feature film of the 2018 Buried Alive Film Fest on 11/15 at 9pm in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Saturday, November 3, 2018

BAFF 2018 Upcoming!

Our favorite horror film festival is only a few weeks away! Buried Alive Film Festival 2018 takes place November 14-18 at 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. This year has some pretty exciting features (see trailers below) as well over 50 short films and some exciting events. Here are a few of the things we're most excited about!

The God Inside my Ear (11/15 at 9pm) 
After experiencing a peculiar and sudden breakup with her boyfriend, Elizia discovers a world of conspiracies, strange voices and horrifying visions.
Survival of the Film Freaks (11/18 at 2pm) 
Survival of the Film Freaks is a documentary exploring the phenomenon of cult film in America and how it survives in the 21st Century. The documentary traces decades of film fanaticism up to the present, where the ‘digital age’ has transformed the way we experience movies.

The Golem with live soundtrack by Samadha (11/16 at 10pm, 11/18 at 12pm) 
In 16th-century Prague, a rabbi creates the Golem – a giant creature made of clay. Using sorcery, he brings the creature to life in order to protect the Jews of Prague from persecution. Come and experience the film with a live soundtrack performance from Atlanta’s very own Samadha!

We'll be there for most of the screenings, so make sure to come say hi! Check out our coverage from the last few years!
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Friday, October 26, 2018

Review: MID90's never quite reaches the heights it's aiming for

When I was in my pre-teens, I fondly recall the MTV slacker generation that I was just shy of being a part of (born in 1983 for the record), but absorbed all the exact same media. The Beavis and Butthead episodes,Tony Hawk appearances at the X-Games, Rob Liefeld comic books, Sega Genesis, the list goes on and on. It's a time period I get a bit wistful for, and given that Jonah Hill and I are basically the same age, he probably has a somewhat similar perspective. I imagine if we sat down to just talk about whatever it was we dug as kids, we'd probably find a lot of common ground. Or maybe not. Though there's one thing I can tell for sure we'd line up on; only a cursory understanding of skateboard culture. The difference is I'm not trying to make a film about it.

Hill, the formerly stocky sidekick in Apatow comedies turned svelte Oscar darling makes his directorial debut here, with a meditation on young teenage life in 1995. Sunny Suljic, who's having a nice couple of early career years with The Killing of a Sacred Deer and getting up in gamers' feels with his pivotal role in God of War, takes center stage here in his first big screen starring role. As Stevie, he's a kid with a tumultuous home life. His brother (Lucas Hedges) treats him as a punching bag, while his mother (Katherine Waterston) is both overly doting, but also wrapped into her own relationship concerns that she can't really identify when things are going wrong.

So it's no surprise when Stevie turns to the first friends that will have him. He leans towards ingratiating himself with the local skater kids, a diverse crew that includes Ray (Na-Kel Smith), the leader with aspirations to turn pro, and his best friend Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt) who is equally skilled but has none of the same motivation, Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin), who carries around a camera everywhere but whose name reminds me of a different movie I'd much rather be watching, and Ruben (Gio Galicia), the kid who gets him into the hobby in the first place.

From that point it's a tale of two different movies, one where this quintet hangs out, shoots the shit, and drops some funny (if offensive, yet probably 90's apropos) cracks at one another, and a second line of thought where Hill clearly wants to say something important about the youth of that time period, or maybe the pressures of adolescence in general. It's not terribly clear what the underlying thesis is, really. It's not a surprise that the former plays to Hill's strengths, being one of the quicker improvisational wits in the Apatow troupe, and when he aims for breezy - there's a relaxing charm to Mid90's that is a bit of a pale echo of more delightful hangout flicks like Richard Linklater's Dazed & Confused/Everybody Wants Some!! or SLC Punk. It doesn't quite have that same kick as any of those, or other, better films in the genre; replacing witter repartee for conversation that's only slightly elevated from the "you know how I know you're gay?" bits that peppered the films of Hill's past, but it has its own backward looking charm.

The struggle sets in when it's trying to veer away from that looser/slacker vibe and attempts to embrace "a message" and go full-throated Larry Clark. Stevie falls deep and quickly (honestly far too quickly for the running to support) into alcohol, drugs, and sexual activities all basically egged on by his new pals, which in turn makes his home life all the worse. We flash through all these moments so quickly though, they only barely register before the next big milestone in Stevie's coming of age has to occur. I rarely ask for longer running times, but the perpetual ADD this movie is inflected with does it no real favors.

It also wastes Katherine Waterston, which should be a jail-able offense.

Mid90's isn't an offensively bad film, but it feels like a wasted opportunity. You can tell Hill could craft an entertaining film in a mode he's comfortable with, but aiming for profundity finds his reach exceeding his grasp. Good try, though.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

The GeekRex Podcast: Reviewing FIRST MAN and THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN

This week we take a look at the new Neil Armstrong biopic FIRST MAN, and the Robert Redford swan song THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN.

How'd they fare? Take a listen below:

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

The GeekRex Podcast: Reviewing A STAR IS BORN, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, and VENOM

We're back! At least for now, and this week is our latest review episode where Kyle and Hannah discuss this weekend's big releases: A STAR IS BORN, THE SISTERS BROTHERS, and VENOM

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 247

Batman #56
by Tony S. Daniel

Border Town #2
by Ramon Villalobos

 New Lieutenants of Metal #4
by Ulises Farinas

Star Wars Adventures: Tales from Vader's Castle #1
by Francesco Francavilla

Tomb Raider: Inferno #4
by Hannah Templer

Barbarella #10
by Cliff Chiang

That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Thursday, September 27, 2018


The Buzz: One of this week's smaller releases, Colette is a biographical look at the life of the famous French novelist/actress/journalist and her rise to fame. Keira Knightley plays the author in the early years of her career, where she's catapulted into the French literary world through her marriage to the famed writer and music critic Henry Gauthier-Villars aka Willy (Dominic West), and is eventually enlisted into the roster of ghostwriters that are in his employ, chugging away at stories that will bear his name in exchange for needed income. Colette, in her first go, writes, under some mentorship from Willy, the Claudine sequence of novellas that become a sensation across France. With success comes immense wealth for the couple, as well as new admirers that eventually lead them down various amorous paths. Colette begins to discover new facets of her own self, while Willy aims to create a literary and media empire. It doesn't end well. This is the filmmaker Wash Westmoreland's first solo film since the passing of his husband and longtime collaborator, Richard Glatzer.

What's Great About the Movie: The script itself is a crisp affair, and often quite uproariously funny. Often stuffier biopics can drag along with a sense of overly important, almost liturgical, drama, but Westmoreland keeps things fairly light and breezy while painting both Willy and Colette as rather charming and likable protagonists; a difficult task given some of the rather underhanded deeds the former gets into, but it's a testament to the both Knightley and West, who are an imminently watchable duo who bounce off the filmmaker's dialogue with a flair and keeps with the pacing Westmoreland seems to be making one of his key goals throughout. It's a film you'll never be bored watching, despite some of its occasional tired genre trappings.

More interestingly though, it seems as if the central theses of Colette center around the concept of authorship, a central struggle for both the real life couple, as well as their big screen counterparts, as well as portraying the idea of what happens when your creation spins completely out of your control. This happens in a pair of ways that borders on quite astute: from the growth of the Claudine character and how young women emulate her to a degree that is wholly unforeseen by both Colette and Willy to how Willy attempts to shape Colette into a star all her own and she completely slips out of his grasp. That latter point also addresses Westmoreland other key area of interest, which is an examination of feminism and gender fluidity in the early turn of the 20th century. This evolution of Colette is a slowly growing, subtle shift from scene to every scene, but Knightley perfectly encapsulates this self-actualization in a performance that approaches some of the best work of her career. 

What's Not-So-Great About the Movie: As stated, it's a broad biopic, and a slightly more innovative filmmaker might have been able to avoid just a few of the tripwires that Westmoreland gets tangled in here, but as you watch, there are a number of scenes where you can easily predict what's going to happen just because you've seen films of this same stripe before (ex: "I bet he's not going to burn those book pages!"). Luckily, those moments are fewer than the usual, and while it might very well be a movie you forget about the moment you leave the theater due to its formal familiarity, it's a rather pleasant near two hours.

Final Verdict: Of everything opening this weekend in Atlanta, this is definitely the way to go. Don't expect a reinvention within the genre, but it's a strikingly fascinating story and told pretty darn well.

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