Tag Archives: Alex Edeburn

I Don’t Want to Go Out—Week of June 18

Dude, it’s the heat of the summer. No better way to escape all that hair-frizzing humidity than by lounging about in your own home watching movies. We understand. This week, you can choose from new indie comedies, horror, dramedies and straight up trash. Let us help.

Click the movie title for the full review.

The Death of Stalin



Pacific Rim Uprising

I Don’t Want to Go Out—Week of May 7

Wow, some very different films available for home entertainment this week. On one hand, artist Ai Weiwei’s utterly breathtaking documentary on displacement and refugees. On the other, the last and worst of the Fifty Shades films. Our guess is that either one or the other may interest you, not likely both.

Guess which one we like better. Click the link to read the full review.

Human Flow

Fifty Shades Freed

Zen and the Art of Channel Changing

95 and 6 to Go

by Alex Edeburn

There is a silent poetry contained in Kimi Takesue’s fly-on-the-wall documentary focusing on the daily life of her aging grandfather, Tom. 95 and 6 to Go is the calm portrait of this widowed Japanese immigrant who carries on through his calisthenics, coupon clipping and channel surfing.

The film portrays these apparently mundane activities with a zen-like attitude through Takesue’s simple and elegant camera work. There is a hushed beauty in the director’s approach, which allows us as the audience to soak in and associate with Grandpa Tom’s life in his house.

There is one rather eye-catching shot of Tom flipping through TV channels. In the foreground of the shot, we see Grandpa’s tanned, leathery hands clutching the blockish television remote. It almost looks archaic compared to the sleek designs we are so used to with today’s 55-inch flat-screens. Grandpa presses down every half-second, unimpressed with whatever program he comes across. There is a layer of grain in this shot (and several others), a choice that adds a faded element to correspond with the nostalgic texture of the project.

Takesue explores a central theme of reinvention, as when she asks Grandpa Tom to revise a film script she has written. The more he discusses his own ideas on how the script should evolve, the more his eyes flicker with youthful vigor.

Tom is also reinventing himself as he copes with life as a widower. He does not seem like the man to wallow in despair following the death of Kimi’s grandmother, but rather he seeks action in those ostensibly ordinary tasks we notice early on. It all seems like a practical process to Tom, readying himself for whatever may happen in the following chapter of his life.

95 and 6 to Go is a reserved documentary focused on the small aspects of day-to-day living. The film captures something essential and human through its quiet observation of Grandpa Tom and his placid routine toward reinvention.

Digging in the Dirt


by Alex Edeburn

Max Winkler’s coming-of-age film, Flower, is one which is filled with a number of confusing and problematic plot turns.

Erica, played by Zoey Deutch, is a 17-year-old girl who is exploring her sexuality while also extorting several men in her community for the oral care she is so fond of providing to them. Erica seems to be as carefree as she is snarky, although we see she is emotionally-reliant on her single mother (Kathryn Hahn) while her father sits in a prison cell.

The plot of the film involves Erica and her friends implementing the old “fellatio-from-a-minor” blackmail scheme against a former teacher (Adam Scott) who was accused of sexually abusing Erica’s new step-brother, Luke (Joey Morgan).

The film becomes increasingly problematic with its blasé attitude toward sexual abuse and even levels of consent. Immediately after Luke suffers from a panic attack, Erica continues to pester her step-brother about letting her perform oral sex on him. It takes him yelling at her before she realizes she has crossed the line.

Later on, Erica and Co. hatch a plan to roofie Luke’s accused abuser and take photos with his unconscious body in order to blackmail him. One would hope a voice of reason would advise the children otherwise or perhaps Erica would come-of-age at this opportune moment and realize the extreme moral fallacy in this decision.

Flower likes to borrow from recent teen comedies as it attempts to mold Erica into a more unruly and vulgar Juno MacGuff. Instead of a quirky hamburger phone, Erica has a pet rat named Titty. Unlike Juno, this film’s main character is increasingly off-putting and irredeemable by story’s end.

She also has a penchant for filling a composition notebook with her illustrations of the male anatomy, a hobby she shares with Jonah Hill’s character from Superbad.

However, as morally-bankrupt as Erica seems in many circumstances, we cannot help but be drawn in by her cocksure attitude. We can thank Zoey Deutch for her ability to play Erica as someone who is endlessly frustrating, undeniably selfish, but also pretty damn endearing. Her entertaining performance is one reason to see Flower.

Nevertheless, the talent of its lead is not enough to save this movie from its bizarre plot-line and questionable treatment regarding sexual assault. It’s likely this movie meant to say much more than it actually does concerning a young woman and her body, consent and fractured families, but it’s hard to find much nuance even when you dig into the soil.

Richard Turner’s Full Deck


by Alex Edeburn

To simply label Richard Turner a “blind magician” would be to insult a man whose pursuit of perfection is all the more admirable considering his impairment. Turner, the subject of Dealt, is much more than a spell-binding “card mechanic.” He is also a father, a husband and an all-around legend within the magic community.

The film, directed by Luke Korem, introduces Turner and what he is best known for: his card tricks. Or, rather his card mechanics. Turner specifies that he is a card mechanic which means he can “fix” a card game—something he can without any vision at all.

Korem pulls TV spots featuring Turner dating back to the late 1970s. From these television appearances, we witness how one man has managed to capture our attention over the years with his impeccable abilities.

His jovial attitude is disarming, even as he explains how he will bend the card game. He uses his mechanics to cheat you, yet all the while explaining how he is doing so. You can’t help but smile while he succeeds.

The film really shines, though, when it shifts focus from the mesmerizing card tricks to Turner’s family. We get a glimpse of a man who relies so much on his wife and child to assist him throughout the journey of his life.

Turner also shares a strong bond with his younger sister, who is also visually impaired. She proves to be a point of strength for him, helping him begin to shed the stigma of his blindness.

The film is a brief look into a rather compelling and friendly character. Richard Turner and his family definitely stick around with you once the film is over—a film that will have you buying a deck of cards and trying out some tricks on your friends and family, just like Richard did when he started.

Humanity in the Time of Displacement

Human Flow

by Alex Edeburn

The “overview effect” is a phenomenon known only to astronauts who experience a shift in consciousness when looking back at the Earth while in orbit. Edgar Mitchell, a member of the Apollo 14 mission, once described the effect as “instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.”

Director Ai Weiwei’s attempts to recreate this profound effect with his stunning and timely documentary, Human Flow.

The film is a sprawling examination of the millions of refugees around the world and allows us to bear witness to the lives of that increasing number of displaced people. It is a film that serves to humanize those who are suffering and who are too often maligned in this unfortunate age of travel bans and Brexits.

Weiwei’s artistic eye for calming cinematography paired with the brutal theme of the film forces us to assess all that we’re witnessing over the course of two and a half hours.

We’re lured in by the harrowing beauty of the Greek coastline in winter, only to then come to terms with the situation at hand once the camera exposes the countless life preservers that litter the rocky beach. There is much to consider with this film, including the continuous ticker of information providing alarming statistics regarding this global crisis.

Human Flow does not contain itself to one specific region or group of displaced people, but rather addresses all the ongoing plights such as the Rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, those escaping famine in East Africa, and the supposed “bad hombres” crossing America’s southern border.

Ai Weiwei’s documentary is not trying to prove any point or win any argument regarding this highly politicized and misunderstood crisis. Rather, he presents a film that works in earnest to be objective through the statistics it provides and the subjects it highlights.

Human Flow is a powerful film that puts faces to the 65 million people we are quick to dismiss as nothing more than refugees, rather than see them for what they actually are: humans.



Do Not Stop in Willits

Welcome to Willits

by Alex Edeburn

In their debut feature, Trevor and Tim Ryan welcome us to the backwoods of Northern California where the weed, meth and aliens are bountiful and the yokels are creepy. The town of Willits—known as the Gateway to the Redwoods—attracts a young group of hikers looking to enjoy a weekend in the woods, who only get lost and spend the night near a cabin shared by a pair of strung-out conspiracy theorists.

Brock (Bill Sage) and Peggy (Sabina Gadeki) believe aliens are after the powerful batch of crystal meth the two have been cooking and smoking. “Emerald Ice,” as the locals call it, brings on intense hallucinations, exposing the user to the nefarious creatures visiting Earth, and in some cases, inhabiting human bodies.

Brock has no other option than to stand his ground and fend off the aliens he can only see through meth-tinted glasses. This proves problematic for our unsuspecting hikers when they eventually find themselves in Brock’s crosshairs.

The comedy of the film mainly relies on lazy stoner-humor courtesy of Possum, played by Rory Culkin. A Willits local who tags along with the hikers, Possum also provides the explanation for the UFO sightings and other spooky happenings around the town. Except his “explanation” is more of a half-assed paraphrasing of an Ancient Aliens episode.

The central question of the film: Does “Emerald Ice” actually expose the hidden truth about aliens, or are these visions part of a drug-induced psychosis? The narrative attempts to answer this by setting characters on a collision course with butchery. It’s a nice idea that just doesn’t work out since scenes with lost hikers or a homicidal Brock are too short for us to feel invested.

Given the cavalcade of circumstances, the premise seems promising for a science-fiction/horror romp. But the lack of tension and careless writing cripple a film that could have been frightening and fun.

If you’re looking for something with scares and laughs, try watching conspiracy theories on YouTube before watching this movie.