Scroll to the bottom to view the 1st Annual Matti Awards, aka our resident “Movie Thoughts” film critic Daniel Matti, “The Matties”
BY DANIEL MATTI
Last weekend (Oct. 9-13) the 2nd annual Film Fest 919 – so named for the local area code – took over Chapel Hill, NC, and was welcomed with many moviegoers, as the seats were filled with area cinephiles to see the new and upcoming films that will shake the Academy Awards and box offices this holiday season. Movies like Parasite, which received the Audience Award for most popular movie during the festival, were screened a couple times to sold out theaters.
Also, there were events, such as the one featuring Lynn Roth, director of Shepherd : Story of a Jewish Dog, who was there during the screening of her fantastic movie and who did a Q&A.
Anthony McCarten (below) received the inaugural Distinguished Screenwriter Award.
An encore screening of Rocketman, which screened at the 1st annual Film Fest 919, was greeted with a special appearance of Ray Williams, CEO of Liberty Records, who went on to discover Elton John. Folks were also given a special presentation by four-time Academy Award-winning special effects supervisor and Director of Weta Digital, Joe Letteri. He showed the crowd behind the scenes looks as such films as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Avatar, and the Planet of the Apes trilogy.
Top Films by Matti
A lot has been said about this movie. It’s hard to find a review about this movie that has something negative about it. I honestly haven’t seen one yet. That’s not what this review is going to be either. I honestly could go on and on about how stunning Parasite is but I will not bore you with my love for it I will pretty much just say, see it for yourself. If you like movies that will spin you around slap you in the face while someone else is fluffing a pillow to help you relax just to pull it out from underneath you; Parasite is the movie for you. Inexplicably beauty is one thing that Bong Joon Ho is known for, especially for his work in Memories of Murder, The Host, or Snowpiercer and Parasite is no difference other than its Bong Joon Ho at peak director level. No other film in, oh I don’t maybe 5 years has shook me this hard. Congratulations to the 92nd Foreign Film winner, even though the Oscars aren’t until February.
Release Date: In NYC/LA now. Early/Late November everywhere else
From the brilliant mind of Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do In the Shadows) comes one of the most hilarious movies in quite some time. Jojo Betzler (Roman Davis) wants to be a Nazi soldier more than anything in the world and his imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). Well from that alone it’s a doozy of a story to think about releasing in a hate filled time such as now. Taika calls it an anti-hate film and it is just that. As Jojo finds his mother Rosie Betzler (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish Girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in the walls of their home, Jojo tries to understand more than just what he sees in his world and decides to be more passionate. Surpringlsy filled with more belly laughs than most “laugh out loud” comedies that are pumped out normally, this has compassion and heart that most comedies lack.
Release Date: Theatrically released on October 18
– Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog
Based upon the award-winning and bestselling Israeli novel, “The Jewish Dog” by Asher Kravitz the film, directed by extremely talented Lynn Roth, has a dog as one of its main characters. Right from the get-go I knew I was in for a teary filled film that was going to win over every inch of my soul as soon as I sunk into my seat. As Kaleb, a loved German shepherd is separated from his Jewish Family we follow him as he is pushed to becoming a SS Officer’s companion and attack dog to help search out Jews for concentration camps. Through the love and feeling that the dog was once shown, he knows that this is not who he is and wants to be. This is one for the whole family and really anyone who needs a good cry.
Release Date: Theatrically and VOD early 2020
All Around the World
Mexico’s entry into the 92nd Academy Awards is a sure impressive film from Lila Avilés especially since it’s her first feature film. The Chambermaid tells the story of Eve (Gabriela Cartol), who is a hard working employee at one of Mexico’s luxurious hotel as she embarks on her journey the self-discovery and what is next in her life. She decides to take classes for the GED program through the hotel, which I want to point out that is amazing a job has this kind of program. With glorious colors on the screen the camera guides you through the many floors of the hotel and the problems that arise with the different occupants that fill the rooms.
Release Date: DVD release on Oct. 22 and will run on Starz starting Nov. 1.
Kantemir Balagov’s movie Beanpole was a tough pill to swallow. The biggest slow burn of the festival but proved itself to be a film that would be an extremely impressive entry into the 92nd Academy Awards on behalf of Russia. The real impressive part was when I found out that Kantemir Balagov is only 23 years old. Beanpole is about Leningrad during World War II and follows two main characters as they try to rebuild their lives as they are surrounded around devastating results the war has left on the city and their personal lives. Iya(Viktoria Miroshnichenko ) is left with Masha’s(Vasilisa Perelygina ) 3 year old son as she goes into world and comes back to discover that her son is accidently killed by Iya during an unfortunate accident that leaves chills down your spine throughout the whole film.
Release Date: TBD on theatrical US release. Now currently streaming on Mubi
Anything with Gael García Bernal attached to it is an absolute must-see for me and this film did not disappoint and was also fortunate enough to find out this was the US debut of the film. Chicuarotes, which has two meanings 1) hot pepper, and 2) stubborn or nasty and is how the people from the area of San Gregorio Atlapulco identify as. Through the eyes of Cagalera (Benny Emmanuel) and his friend Moloteco (Gabriel Carbajal) as they get into all kinds of trouble and eventually have to get out of the worst kind of scenario they could put them in, kidnapping the local butcher’s child. Holding him for a petty ransom just so they could try and escape San Gregorio in hopes of a better life. With dark comedy infused with violent situations involving family and street life the film was overall a view that Gael García Bernal that has been pretty common in his films, see Y Tu Mamá También if you haven’t.
Release Date: TBD
For the Film Geeks
If you like pretty cinematography and sound design and won’t stop talking about how good it looks or sounds aka some of my favorite films to talk about
Imagine walking into Pleasantville and eating too much acid, this was what Greener Grass felt like. From Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe and the brilliant directorial debut comes a story about Jill and Lisa, respectively played by the directors and writers of the film, comes a story that is so bizarre some people not enjoy but for others, they will love. Blending SNL, Tim and Eric, and Upright Citizens Brigade(who Jocelyn and Dawn are alumni of) style comedy it follows the story of a serial killer that terrorizes the town while the most bizarre things you can think of happens. Make sure to bring enough pool water to drink while you watch.
Release Date: In select theaters and VOD on October 18th
What if a dress could kill you slowly? Would you continue to wear it because it made you feel good? Would you try and return it to the retail store from which you purchased it from? Yeah this went too far but from the mind Peter Strickland far is not far enough. Marianne Jean-Baptiste plays a recently divorcee who is looking to get back into the dating pool and tries to spice things up by purchasing a new dress from the hot discount clothing store, Dentley and Soper. I don’t want to spoil too much of this movie because this movie is a total mindfuck of a movie. Cavern of Anti-Matter blessed with some of the best score music since Good Time and the sound design; well let’s just say Peter Strickland has his finger on the pulse of knowing a good sound designer. See Berberian Sound Studio if you haven’t.
Release Date: Limited Theatrical run on December 6th
This was one of my most anticipated films of Film Fest 919 and I wasn’t disappointed, I was just disappointed at the way the movie was marketed in the trailer. After knowing nothing but a trailer, which the trailer doesn’t spoil much, it just made me confused on what the actual film was supposed to be about. Overall the film leaves you feeling extremely nauseous to your stomach through the vile acts that Tyler Williams (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) does throughout the film. I honestly don’t want to spoil too much here either because this is one of those films I feel like it’s absolutely necessary to go in as blindly as possible. Just imagine listening to 23 year olds IPod while a Harmony Korine film plays in the background and you have nailed the overall tone of Waves.
Release Date: Theatrical release on November 15
Following the early years of Shia LaBeouf, from the words of Shia LaBeouf comes a film that stings. Full of heart filled scenes from both Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges who play an older and younger Otis Lort (respectively Shia LaBeouf). Shia wrote the story while he was in a rehabilitation facility and you can really tell that he took the time to write the film about his life. If you have tear ducts that aren’t strong, I would highly recommend some tissues while watching.
Release Date: theatrical release on November 8
Just in Time for the Holidays
Movies that you can bring the whole family and all agree that at the end of the movie, it was a good movie. Except your Uncle Frank. He still thinks Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a good movie.
Edward Norton is pretty much a household name at this point in time. Most people have known him from his roles as a character in one of Wes Anderson’s films, The Narrator in Fight Club, or Derek Vinyard in American History X. Many don’t know him as a director or a writer but that changes now as Edward is set to release his adaptation of Motherless Brooklyn later this year. Based on the novel Jonathan Lethem, the story follows Lionel, a private investigator with Tourette’s syndrome and the hunt to find the killer who murdered his mentor, played by Bruce Willis, in the 1950’s. With Edward directing, writing, and producing the film it feels like any film that he has starred in before but it is the cast around him that really pulls the best out of him. Michael K. Williams plays Wynton Marsalis who is a famous trumpet player, especially during 50’s NYC; the movie is full of high fueled jazz and scenes that give the astonishing look of NYC in its prime.
Release Date: theatrically released on November 1
-Ford vs. Ferrari
Faster and faster is the speed of Ford vs. Ferrari which clocks in at a cool 152 minutes. Leaving the theater you won’t even realize you were in a seat that long since the intensity of Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) hits the screen at the acceleration in which the story takes place. In 1963 Enzo Ferrari was approached by the Ford Motor Company for a buyout and was turned down when Fiat got word and intervened. When Henry Ford II gets word that the deal was turned down his next big plan is to take down Ferrari down in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race in Le Mans, France that is a 24 hour race through the countryside that your car must perform without mechanical failure. Ferrari had won 5 years in a row. With James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line) in the directing chair, the high speed races and intensity that he brought out in the actors will leave your palms sweaty.
Release Date: theatrically released on November 15
Criminal Justice Unit
The extremely heavy docudrama following Daniel J. Jones and the Senate Intelligence Committee as they investigated the use of torture by the CIA following the September 11th attacks seems like it might be a bore since a lot of it is about how a once a nearly 7,000 page report came to fruition but it is quite the opposite. Adam Driver plays Daniel J. Jones and Annette Bening plays Dianne Feinstein and as you watch their back and forth from each scene they share you dive deeper into the real life scenarios that were behind the curtains from America’s public eye. With a cast that runs deep of stars including Jon Hamm, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall and Corey Stall the pace is nothing but a car chase scene short of a thriller.
Release Date: theatrically released on November 15. Streaming on Amazon Prime begins on November 29
“This is about all of us” is the tagline from the movie and it fully immerses you into thinking so. Following the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) who was wrongfully accused of killing Rhonda Morrison, and attorney Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) who comes to defend his innonce after Walter was wrongfully imprisoned.
Release Date: theatrically released on December 25
Alfre Woodard needs to win an Oscar for a performance so strong that it feels like you are in the room of every scene with her through the tension and pain that is endured by her character. Alfre Woodard plays Warden Bernadine Williams, a death row warden who suffers from her own demons, her failing marriage, and the inevitable thought of having to put people through their last moments.
Release Date: theatrically released on December 27
Netflix and Chill
These are films that are coming into a theater near you before their wide release on Netflix.
Noah Baumbach is releasing his newest film in a limited release on November 6th and on Netflix on December. I was fortunate enough to see it apart of the Film Fest 919 as the opening film. With a packed house and actress Martha Kelly there in attendance the film had overall positive reviews. I am one to agree with the chatter that was heard amongst the crowd while leaving. The story of a marriage that is at the end of its course, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) go through the horrible tribulations of what it is to get a divorce. Through powerful back and forth monologues by the story’s main characters, certain scenes feel like a little bit longer than necessary but fulfills a story that has it’s up’s and down’s.
-The Two Popes
From double Academy Award–nominated and double BAFTA-winning screenwriter, Anthony McCarten comes the new biographical-comedy about Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), who becomes the future Pope Francis. From the beginning it feels like it will be a very mundane story but instantly becomes very lovable because of the almost Armando Iannucci style back and forth, tongue in cheek delivered dialogue from the two juggernaut actors.
Before I entered the theatre to see The King, I checked the runtime to see what I was getting myself into and I accidently saw a review that deemed it almost a Game of Thrones rip-off. Well I’m here to tell you that is not what you are in for. The King doesn’t feel like a slow-burn period piece film that is typically associated with the genre. With huge performances from Timothee Chalamet (King Henry V), Joel Edgerton (Falstaff), and Ben Mendelsohn(King Henry IV), the film immerses you into the period of the Hundred Years’ War with France. For some of these actors including Robert Pattinson and Joel Edgerton this is not the first time they have worked with director, writer, producer, David Michôd, who is also known for his work on The Rover and Animal Kingdom. With glorious dialogue and stunning set decoration the film will guide you through this savage story of King Henry’s reign from the beginning.
Release Date: scheduled to be released on October 11 in a limited theatrical run before digital streaming on November 1, 2019, by Netflix
The Matti & BLURT Ratings (aka The Matties) (pictured above: film critic Daniel Matti and editor Jojo Mills)
- Parasite (10/10)
- JoJo Rabbit (9/10)
- Shepherd : The Story of a Jewish Dog (9/10)
- Greener Grass (9/10)
- Clemency (9/10)
- In Fabric (9/10)
- Ford vs. Ferrari (8/10)
- Just Mercy (8/10)
- The Two Popes (8/10
- Beanpole (8/10)
- Chicuarotes (8/10
- Motherless Brooklyn (8/10)
- Honey Boy (8/10)
- Waves (8/10)
- The Chambermaid (7/10)
- The Report (7/10)
- Marriage Story (7/10
- The King (7/10)