52nd Nashville Film Festival: Feature Film Capsules

52nd NFF (2021) Capsule Feature Film Reviews: Part 1

The 2021 Nashville Film Festival is coming to an end, and as to no surprise it has been an incredible experience; and I was only at the virtual event, imagine the in person experience. I want to thank the Nashville Film Festival committee for allowing myself and The Nerd Corps to join it, and although it hasn’t ended yet it’s still a grateful thanks. I’ll write an overall review of the event when it ends but I want to leave a couple of capsule reviews early for our viewers so they start to be interested in these upcoming films.

Now if you are not familiar with what a capsule review is it’s simple; it’s about a paragraphs worth of my opinion on certain films I’ve seen in the event without spoilers, using too much detail, etc. These are private/ payed for events and as a press visitor I am not allowed to speak of them in the forms mentioned above. Now on to these films!

Courtesy of NFF

The Murder Podcast

Directed and written by William Bagley, this isn’t what I expected looking at the name but it was not the worst thing I’ve seen. Its comedic tones were wacky and its supernatural wasn’t a Blumhouse production, but that isn’t a problem it just goes to show to never judge a book by its cover or synopsis. As I mentioned, the comedic tone was wacky but it works in favor of what I believe was meant by William and the overall film. It honestly reminded me of the older live action Nickelodeon movies I used to watch or even an AwesomenessTV film. Now it’s no jab, although it’s not my cup of tea it did give me a handful of laughs and not to forget it did have some great shots in the film.

The Murder Podcast = 1.5/5 Stars

Courtesy of NFF

7 Days

Directed by Roshan Sethi and written by Roshan Sethi and Karan Soni. Overall being the second film I watched I loved every aspect of it, not to mention the two main actor/actress duo. With an oversimplified synopsis by myself, it’s a film dealing with two characters being stuck together for 7 days with the COVID-19 lockdown at its peak start and everything about it works. The writing is amazing and the execution by the talents were 10 out of 10 giving this a romance drama, not the usual romantic comedy. The film is heart warming and I’ll be watching it again whenever it becomes available to the public.

7 Days = 5/5 Stars

Courtesy of NFF

Poser

Directed by Ori Segev & Noah Dixon and written by Noah Dixon. At first glance and viewing you would think this film was made under A24, but that isn’t the case. The cinematography is beautiful and incredible and like I said I’m surprised it isn’t a A24 film or a Neon film, as the pacing, lighting, frames, and story reminds me very much of them. One could say it’s even incredibly artistic or artisan for films with its use of color and lighting and the sound design works well to give more feel to the film. It’s just such a beautiful piece of art and I enjoyed my time watching and will probably rewatch in the future if possible.

Poser = 5/5 Stars

Courtesy of NFF

See You Then

Directed by Mari Walker and written by Kristen Uno and Mari Walker. The film tells a story of the characters without telling you a narrative of for either character, giving subtle nods at what each meant. Although the biggest was making sure you knew one character had gone through a transition, it gives insight into the Trans community which is lovely to see. The music and sound design is soothing to say the least but overall the story and the film itself reminded me of the Before Trilogy. The way the story is told isn’t all new but that doesn’t mean the story itself isn’t new. Although its pacing was like the said trilogy above, instead of leaving for hope and romance, this film works as if oil was left boiling and nearing the climax someone threw a cup of cold water in the pot, causing a huge spiraling fire. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful watch and although it felt a bit slow at times it was enjoyable.

See You Then = 4/5 Stars

Courtesy of NFF

Ludi

Directed by Edson Jean and written by Edson Jean and Joshua Jean-Baptiste. The story is well written along with the tone and leading ending gave way to something we don’t see much of in film, the telling of the Latin culture coming to look for a “better” life in the US. Although some scenes felt like it was meant for a film, the writing wasn’t bad at all and its comedic timing and sass was nice to see. Its pacing did seem to fall off at times but what I believe to be the use of this was to give emphasis to the ending and character development. I was surprised to have it capture so many things immigrants come here to find only finding hardships most of the time and it was nice to see it shown to us, the viewers.

Ludi = 4/5 Stars

Courtesy of NFF

Hard Luck Love SOng

Directed by Justin Corsbie and written by Justin Corsbie and Craig Ugoretz. The film is nicely paced for its 1 hour and 40 minute runtime, and it tells a story without telling it directly to the viewers about the characters. Its nice tones and the main protagonist’s cheerful and nice personality sets up for a lovable character with a semi mysterious past. The music and its sound design is also a major help in the story telling and fits incredibly well to say the least. Although it’s nothing out of the ordinary realm it’s definitely a film for anyone wanting or looking for something new to watch once it goes to the public.

Hard Luck Love Song = 4.5/ 5 Stars

Venom: Let There Be Carnage: A Detailed Review

Let There be carnage: And Carnage there Shall

There is no secret that Venom was disliked by many fans of the character and the same goes for its sequel, which isn’t being welcomed with open arms. Many I questioned if they were going to go see it confidently told me if they were it was because of work, unlike myself who just wanted to see this sequel.

If you haven’t noticed in my other articles by now my taste in films are very different than the norm, liking what most people would call “trash.”

I have no problem admitting that this film wasn’t the best, even concluding that it falls under its predecessor, but I can also say that I enjoyed certain aspects of the film.

Overview

Venom: Let There be Carnage is a sequel that was overall disliked before it even came out, there’s no running from a preset destiny. Overall the film’s run time played against it having it feel rushed in certain acts and having the characters not go through a proper growth pattern. Andy Serkis had a good vision having certain scenes feel like a cheesy comic panel, which isn’t bad in my opinion, but having certain characters be too over the top gave out. I honestly can say it wasn’t a good rendition but I also don’t want to say that it wasn’t entertaining, as I enjoyed the overall time I spent watching the film. But it’ll ultimately comes down to you the viewer to decide if you are going because you want an accurate depiction of the characters or if you simply want to be entertained for an hour and a half.

Review

Overall I’ll keep this review short and spoiler free. Serkis from what I saw and understood, wanted to depict Eddie Brock and Venom, played by Tom Hardy, to be a sort of comedic anti hero. Similar to Deadpool they wanted to bring a joking relationship between the two and I don’t mind it at all, but it honestly doesn’t play well with such a short run time being about 30 minutes shorter than the first film. There were many scenes that had great potential showing the characters attachment to each other but the necessary movement forward in the film failed to provide such views into their relationship.

I personally feel if it wasn’t cut short, these characters could have had a greater opportunity to be fleshed out. On the other hand, Cletus Kasady played by Woody Harrelson did a good job at showing the psychopathic killer in a live action atmosphere. We all know how his love for murder and blood is what makes his symbiote attracted to him and Carnage’s hatred feeds off of this satisfaction of chaos and that can be shown in many parts of the film. Not to mention the incredible character design and the sound design which gave me chills when I first heard his screech in theaters. Although in this film there isn’t a bond between the both like in the comics it shows a lot for his character and his actions, which you can clearly see if you watch till the end.

Naomie Harris also does an incredible job at portraying Shriek, now although she doesn’t have a symbiote in this film like the comic counterpart, I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. Although without having spoilers we may be in for a Shriek variant in the next film, although I can’t say for sure if it will happen. Not to mention having the mid credits makes it worth the viewing of the entire film, which was a BIG surprise for fans all around.

Now before I go in a train of confusion, I’ll keep it short. Venom: Let There be Carnage wasn’t a film that will obtain a nomination for an award but it does a good job at keeping me entertained. This is my own opinion though, and I understand majority rules against such expressed opinion but if you enjoyed the first one then you may enjoy this one as well. Granted I want to hear others’ opinions before I would give a full spoiler included talk, but for now check it out if you want, and let me know what you think in the comments. Till next time, peace.

Exilium Series: A Spoiler Free Review

Exilium Series: A new Adventure for readers

Have you ever seen Extinction starring Michael Peña on Netflix? If you haven’t it tells the story of a man trying to save his family from an alien invasion only to find out a devastating truth about him, his world, and the said invaders.

This is what the Exilium comic series reminds me of with so much more, having the Earth have alien refugees, human allies and racists, invaders attacking Earth and truths unfolding to a surprise ending. Mr. Slabak and the others who helped envision this story that really brought out a new world and as a comic book geek I really enjoyed something new.

Now this is a short comic book series and as I was reading I kept forgetting so I was left wanting more at the end of every panel.

Now this will be a short and spoiler free review, as Exilium is working on a season 2.

As I mentioned I’m a big comic book geek and have my very own yet small collection, and it’s not very often I add items especially if i didn’t like them, but I hope that I one day find a collection book of these comics to add to my shelve. It’s an interesting story and although some lines were cliché or predictable, I still enjoy it to the fullest reading the entire series in one sitting. As I mentioned above it’s a short series that is pushing for a second “season” of books, so check out the trailer below to get glimpses of the story and the hope for the creator and his Kickstarter.

Overall

Overall I HIGHLY suggest this series if you are into aliens, allies, space travel, paradoxes, and so much more Sci-Fi stories. I am extremely grateful I got a chance to read and write about this series, as I don’t normally get many chances and rest assure that the story will keep you entertained as it did me.

If you get a chance you can find this story on Comixology, Coud9Comix and others and help the creator reach their kickstarter goal.

Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings: A Detailed Review

SHang-CHi and Legend of the Ten RIngs: It’s INCREDIBLE!!!

It’s not just a Marvel movie!

Shang – Chi has finally released, and people are running to go see it. Even if I am exaggerating just a bit, if you go check your local theater app you’ll see that the special screenings are pack for tonight and honestly it’s great knowing that this movie is getting the recognition it deserves!

With covid still around and new variants being found it was a dangerous game for Disney not to release it for a home audience, and having them call Shang – Chi an “experiment” is just objectively a disgraceful thing to do, no matter the intention, location, or talking to investors. But seeing the theaters fill up, with precautions of course, it fills my heart with joy for the film getting its deserved spotlight.

As a person that uses the theater experience to get away from certain worries the world brings, I’m glad to report that this film is exactly that, an out of world experience that should be enjoyed in Dolby and/or Imax. Once you begin to watch, you forget it’s even related to the MCU having certain instances that reflect back towards the other films and of course the obvious use of post credit and mid credit scenes of the film that’s used to expand the lore of the world(s). But this isn’t the article you want to read if your only interest is looking through fan theories, no, this will be a different type of review article. I enjoy going a little more beyond than the story and plot, and with this film having incredible Chinese influence and culture, and beautiful choreography I have my hands full, but I promise to make it worth your while.

Overview

Shang-Chi and Legend of the Ten Rings is a work of art having everything you want from a superhero film the fighting, the big bads being actually big bads, heroes reflecting, and so much more. I highly recommend this film for anyone contemplating to go see it, or even if you aren’t I still recommend it. Having an amazing cast, it brings everything together as the audience can normally tell if something is off between them, and Simu Liu and Awkwafina’s chemistry on screen is incredible something I never thought I needed in life. Just look at the picture above, it speaks for itself on the energy of the film and not to mention the great performances of Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Fala Chen, Michelle Yeoh, Meng’er Zhang. This is definitely a film you have to experience on the big screen at least once and have it on a special screening too. In addition, I have to mention the incredible martial arts portrait and the stunt/ fight choreography performed in the film coordinated by the recently late Brad Allan. But please, don’t just take my word for it check out the trailer below!

Awkwafina middle, Simu Liu right. Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings

Review

I have to mention there is minor and some major spoilers ahead for the film, so please keep in mind as you read.

I can’t state this enough, as everyone in the cast and crew did an incredible job at telling a story. For those that don’t know the story, it follows the life of Shang-Chi a young man whose father is “The Mandarin” although he goes by many names as he’s lived for thousands of years. His father created an empire and army throughout the years and surprisingly when he met his mother settled down a bit from his darker past. It was only until his mother’s death that his father went back to his old ways and even started brutally training him to the extent of being “unkillable”. That’s where we get Shang-Chi, the greatest martial artist the MCU or Marvel ever had. Although, he didn’t want to be a killer let alone for his father so he left and lived for 10 years without his past catching up. After which, he was brought in by his father, who always had tabs on him and now needed him to bring back his mother. At the end we realize it isn’t their mother and Shang-Chi tries to stop his father and the new evil at hand, of course leading to an epic fight and finale.

Now, Simu Liu playing Shang Chi, or as his new alias states Shaun, was a great casting choice and not surprisingly enough Marvel is a big name to be joining now in days. Although he’s not shy of joining amazing roles like Jung in Kim’s Convenience, or other such as being in the Taken series, a short called The Akira Project and a couple of other names. Not to forget mentioning Awkwafina, who we can all agree has been a growing love to see in films since having roles in Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s Eight, Raya and the Last Dragon, Jumanji: The Next Level, and many more. Both bring an amazing light to the film and their chemistry is outstanding, even to the extent of having a joke about the two characters marrying each other, and with all honesty I wouldn’t see it as a problem. We also have to talk about the other wonderful cast Tony Leung Chiu-Wai playing The Mandarin, Fala Chen playing Leiko Wu (Shang Chi’s mother), Michelle Yeoh playing Jiang Nan (Shang Chi’s aunt), Meng’er Zhang playing Xu Xialing (Shang Chi’s sister).

All great actresses and actor, having Tony’s portrayal of an immortal militant man and father was outstanding seeing what makes him feared by the world and his brutal ways of working to the softer more tame version brought out by his wife. Now Kevin Fiege has mentioned this film would restore the image of who The Mandarin is and that we’d be surprised by it, and with all honesty he’s right. I wasn’t expecting such a character arch for what was portrayed to be the baddest of the bad, don’t get me wrong Tony’s character was deadly but after his wife’s passing it was a matter of grief that drove him rather than a hunger for power. It honestly brought out an amount of sorrow towards the character in my opinion, as I’ve dealt with grief before not the same as his character had but grief nonetheless, and that’s what I loved about Tony’s portrayal! The subtle ways of speech, mannerisms and actions that showed what was really going on through the characters head all up until his last fight. Now Fala’s portrayal of the sweet graceful mother who could still be deadly in combat was great, and really added to why Shang-Chi was who he was, and as we heard in the trailer above he is both of these polar opposites’ son. Although we don’t see a great deal of the mother, her few instances were amazing and sweet, as how one would imagine a loving mother would be. This can also be said about a loving aunt just like Michelle Yeoh’s performance as the kid’s aunt, which showed beautiful choreography and fierce warrior scenes. Next we have Meng’er’s character of Xialing, Shang Chi’s sister, and we see they are more related than ever with her on screen performance being phenomenal in the fight sequences, and her boss energy. Unlike her brother, she was taught to fight but she watched from the shadows and taught herself, making herself into a killing machine if need be. Not to mention like her father, she created her own empire off of a fight club on the dark web, and showing something dope in the post credit scene.

Meng’re Zhang left, Simu Liu middle, Awkwafina right.

Now aside from great performances by these great actors and actresses, I also have to mention two more things without making this article any longer. The stunt and fight choreography in this film is incredible and beautiful taking roots from the old martial arts called wushu. It’s swift and light yet hard impact movements gave way to amazing scene fluidity and with it had me smiling for the entire night, just seeing such actions being portrayed Simu, Tony, Meng’re and everyone else was amazing!!! I have to give props to younger Shang Chi Dallas James Liu, who was a bad ass showing the skills of a young martial artist and even the performance of a young trained killer like Shang-Chi. Not to mention giving props to Brad Allan who work on the film as the fight coordinator before his passing due to an illness. He was an incredible stunt performer and coordinator that’s worked with greats like Edgar Wright and was a part of Jackie Chan’s team. That goes without saying he put his all in what he could before his passing and he will live on through his works. And we also have Andy Cheng to thank for the fight choreography, who was also a team member of Jackie’s stunt crew. It goes without saying but when you add incredible people to your crew you’re going to get incredible results. A lot of it reminded me of older kung fu movies with the swift movements in the air and tip toeing all around yet certain seem so realistic I don’t want to believe they used wires to create such movement.

The second thing I have to mention is the use of Chinese culture such as the imagery and the like, specifically mentioning this because of the hot water brought with viewers in the Eastern Hemisphere. I can’t and will not speak for their part but must mention that the older comics this movie originates from uses stereotypes of Chinese culture and Asian people as a whole. You can find a lot on this matter finding racist villain names and other like items being a big part of it. As I can’t speak for these viewers and their want to accurately depict their culture and life, I will say that the imagery used in this film was beautiful to me, leaving me with a mystical arts to it and with the choice of a small village by the water I found it calming.

All in all, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings was a spectacular time and experience that brought everything it offered in the trailer. As a person that loves hero stories and “perfect” fight choreography, this film brought out whatever serotonin I can scrap inside my head. I only hope as a filmmaker that I get a chance to also work and create similar works in the future. If you have been wanting to go see it and need a reason, I hope I can be that reason to convince you to go as soon as you can. And for those that are still iffy don’t take my word for it just go watch it and let me know what you think, till next time, peace.

A Quiet Place Part II: A Detailed Review

A Quiet Place Part II: A Sequel As Good As the First?

When success comes to a movie there’s always the question of whether or not a sequel will be made, and if there is one would it ever compare or surpass the first? Few films come to mind where sequels are better than the first, John Wick 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Transformers 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Dark Knight, etc.

A Quiet Place Part II definitely is one of those films that surpasses the first, of course it is in my honest opinion accompanied by others. With the first being a massive audience success and the ending leaving for a potential sequel, I was really happy to see the trailer come out in 2020. Still having John Krasinski as the director, we can see his skills improving to tell a story. Now the original family cast returns to play the part Emily Blunt playing Evelyn Bennett, Millicent Simmonds playing Regan Bennett, Noah Jupe playing Marcus Bennett. Adding to the amazing cast as a major character is Cillian Murphy playing Emmett a friend before the chaos now turned stranger.

Overview

A Quiet Place Part II brings out more than just horror elements, it brings out the intensity of action thrillers, and also includes elements of drama as Millicent’s character goes through a lot of self reflection, as she is the main protagonist for the film. Not to worry, there is still the intensity and horror elements that the first movie brought, and I’d even say it brought more having shown the first encounter these creatures had with humans and noise. It goes without saying but having great actors and actresses really brings the best not to mention John’s work as a director and his improvement shows throughout the film, you can even see the rundown for the first chase of the film on YouTube with Vanity Fair. All in all, this film was a great watch and I highly recommend people go check it if you haven’t already, and if you haven’t heard of the second one already out check out the trailer below!

Review

Now the first film left off with Millicent and Emily’s character figuring out a way to kill the creatures, after a mass of them came into their home leaving it burnt to the grown, not to mention the newborn baby walking in a world where noise gets you killed. Nonetheless everything is in a way figured out for the group, but having no home they must venture off into the world ultimately running into their old family friend, Emmett played by Cillian.

Here is where this film partly takes place, although we also get a glimpse of how the family lived before everything changed. Living in a small town and having a weekend baseball game with the little leagues sounds like a peaceful life, until it all comes crashing down and as we can see meteors flying through the sky, in which we figured are the creatures of today’s time.

Seeing this we can stop trying to imagine the chaos, in addition to me going through the incredible sequence I’ll let the director talk about it as he has done a breakdown with Vanity Fair on YouTube over this specific scene.

I also have to mention, he actively states that Millicent is the lead actress in this which is an incredible choice as it brings out a much more detailed story, and we can clearly see she is the protagonist as it’s her journey we begin to follow after the first few minutes, of course having Emily’s character deal with a B-story. Like the first she really wants to prove everyone wrong and help them even risking her own life to go to a possible island of safety, which had a broadcasting station in which turn could be used to broadcast her way to fighting the creatures.

She goes on on her own almost ending up killed as she still can’t actively hear, but gets saved by Emmett who was sent by Emily’s character in order to bring her back. The two fight each other as she wants to continue on and he just wants to bring her back so he can go “home”, reaching a point of agreement to go see her mission through.

The two character’s chemistry create an incredible dynamic duo, and Cillian being a great actor brings all the ropes to the film. His character development is clear and bright as day even reaching a point to put his life on the line for Millicent’s character and other people they end up meeting. Hiss choice of performance is great and I have to mention when first seeing the film I couldn’t recognize the talent with such a beard and wardrobe until my sister asked if it was Scarecrow from Batman Begins or Fischer from Inception.

Having him in the film was a great add on, and I honestly couldn’t see anyone else play the character. Not to mention, like before the chemistry of Millicent and him gave off the same dynamic as the two characters from the famous video game The Last of Us. For those that don’t know it follows the story of Joel and Ellie, two people who found each other in an apocalyptic world and now go on together surviving day by day, which I need to add aren’t related or are in a romantic view they’re just basically really good friends, just like how we see Cillian and Millicent’s characters turn by the end of the movie.

Overall A Quiet Place Part II does an amazing job at continuing the first film without losing any of the qualities. John Krasinski is doing a great job in his directorial work and if you’ve seen the Vanity Fair Breakdown video you can clearly see he is passionate about his work, even stating he was unsure whether he wanted to do a second film until he realizes he really does. It brings out the instinct to root for the little person and this case being Millicent, as she continues to show her acting chops, and as I stated before, hope to see her prove herself more in the industry obtaining more roles and hopefully gaining more major and lead character roles.

If you haven’t already seen this film I highly recommend the two films to anyone looking for a good double feature to watch. It brings out horror aspects, thriller and action sequences and just all around a good time. But as always don’t take it from me, go check out both films and let me know what you think, till next time, peace.