Synopsis: Margaret (Rebecca Hall) has put her life in order. She is capable, disciplined, and successful. Everything is under control. That is, until David (Tim Roth) returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past.
A holdover from the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, Resurrection became something of a lightning rod for audiences. Director Andrew Semans returns to the director’s chair for the first time in ten years and holds nothing back. Semans’ grip on tone and character development is aided by his impressive leads. A masterful turn by Rebecca Hall buoys the film, but Tim Roth‘s upsetting specter looms over the film, even when he’s absent from the screen. For some, Resurrection will go too far into the absurd. When it turns metaphors into actual events, it completes a Cronenbergian descent into madness.
Hall’s embrace of genre, specifically horror, allows her to continue her dark exploration of trauma and grief. Hall’s frenetic and heartbreaking turn in after her underrated performance in The Night House in 2021 embeds its way into your brain. The actress unloads emotion on the audience, but it is in the quieter moments that Hall’s performance truly shines. Semans and Hall craft a breathtaking extended take halfway through the film that effectively changes the entire movie.
To push Hall, Roth dials up his creepiness to new heights. His performance goes beyond the pale, and he disturbs the audience every second he takes the screen. He establishes himself in our brains early, lingering over the film as a ghostly apparition. Roth displays the full force of his charisma, making him a believable cult leader while also making us question Hall’s accusations. The two play a sick game of tennis, each actor raising their intensity to match the other. While Hall dominates the film from start to finish, Roth’s diabolical intentions make for twisted fun.
With performers like Hall and Roth at the center of Resurrection, Semans takes a big swing in the narrative. The events of the past and how Semans portrays them will disturb even hardened viewers. The turn from thriller to horror comes quickly, and Semans commits to the unhinged premise. Anything less would have undermined the twin performances gracing the screen, helping Resurrection stay in your mind. While the slow-burn aspects of Resurrection will push some viewers away, it remains one of the most entertaining films of 2022.
Distributors: IFC Films & Shudder
Release Date: August 5, 2022
Synopsis: When a young woman turns to the camera for refuge, she ends up with a firsthand account of what will become the deadliest man-made epidemic in United States history.
Turning personal pain into the art of value is a tale as old as time. However, director Jaime Boyle handles her trauma with an unflinching eye that few directors would feel comfortable revealing. Her vulnerability comes through in every aspect of the very good Anonymous Sister, which documents her family’s struggle with opiates. While the majority of the story is filtered through her sister’s struggles with painkillers, the effects of powerful narcotics stretch further than anyone can expect. The resulting film is a response to the Sackler discourses of the past decade, forcing the audience to see the humanity in the epidemic.
For Boyle, the evidence of the opiate epidemic hung over her family like a cloud. Her sister, Jordan, becomes a shell of the woman she once portrayed to the world. Jaime’s mother cannot fight off her reliance at first, even as she watches how opioids change her eldest daughter. As Fentanyl and OxyContin become everyday medications for the Boyle family, they struggle to understand how medicine led them astray.
Boyle expands the scope beyond the family, pairing archival footage with her home videos to build a timeline. Some of her earliest footage comes in 1996, just as Purdue Pharma released the first OxyContin pills that would be used to mislead thousands. The predatory practices of Purdue Pharma are summed up in the film as the death toll of the epidemic continues to rise. While none of this information will be new to viewers of Dopesick or The Crime of the Century, Boyle delivers an effective tool for education on the topic.
Perhaps the most affecting part of the documentary comes late when the film turns away from Boyle’s own family to the difficulties facing strangers. Boyle realizes how her family has been lucky in the face of the epidemic. The fact that she can address this, despite the hellish events her family had faced, points to her self-awareness. Boyle’s empathy for families that have been ravaged by the crisis shines through. That empathy feels creates a light that shines through the darkness.
Distributors: Seeking Distribution
Synopsis: After a family tragedy, Liz (Victoria Leigh) seems unsure how to proceed with her life. When former best friend Stacy (Bridget McGarry) offers to spend a weekend with Liz in the family cabin, Liz unleashes a plan to get back at her host. Over the course of a weekend, the group of ten teens and adults walk a path of self-discovery.
The issue that plagues Generation Wrecks begins early in the film and only intensifies as the film proceeds. The teen comedy, written by McGarry, Leigh, and director Kevin T. Morales, cannot avoid stepping into cliché territory. The film seeks to create a new Breakfast Club for Generation X, created through the lens of Gen Z writers. However, in the attempt to cover familiar ground, Generation Wrecks undermines its own voice.
On its face, Generation Wrecks should work as an authentic comedy about growing up. The pressures of college, exploring sexuality, and finding your voice as a young adult provide plenty of fertile ground. Yet the film spends a considerable amount of time trying to create moments from Richard Linklater or Kevin Smith films, only for the discussions to grow irritating. One such sequence involves a debate about Hawaiian pizza, which serves more as a device to frustrate one character than provide any fun debate.
The cast seems game for the experience, even if they are stuck in a PG version of this story. Jibreel Mawry stands out as a comedic performer and nails several scenes that require a more deft, non-verbal approach. McGarry and Leigh each showcase their talents as well, with each grabbing hold of the emotional opportunities to showcase their range. The best-in-show prize goes to two performers with the least screen time. Playing chaperones is never easy, but Okieriete Onaodowan and Alice Kremelberg make the job seem. They capture the age of post-adolescence with ease, bringing naturalism to a film that desperately needs it. While other performers have trouble filling the negative space of the shot, the camera loves these two.
Many of my frustrations with the film fall on the director. Morales may not be working with the strongest script, but many unnecessary moments could have been dropped. Somehow, Generation Wrecks clocks in just short of two hours (112 minutes) despite a premise that justifies an 80 to 90-minute runtime. Cutting a significant amount of the fat would have helped deliver a snappier, funnier story that takes on the energy of the teens on screen. Instead, it feels bloated.
Additionally, Morales throws more than a dozen of the most famous songs of the era at us. However, very little about any of these songs feels personal to the characters in this story. Last but not least, the camera angles struggle to make sense. In several conversations between two friends (hiking or walking through the woods), the camera cuts the other individual entirely. This results in shots of a single character looking off-camera at their scene-partner. This may have been needed for logistical reasons while shooting, but it hurts the final product. Between the too-long runtime, the smorgasbord of early nineties pop music, and frustrating camera framing, there were plenty of problems that the director should have been able to fix before release. Instead, the film suffers and falls short of its potential.
Distributors: Entertainment Squad
Release Date: 2022
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