“Is that a gun in my hand?” Armie Hammer goes undercover in “Crisis.”

Who could not like a film where the lead villain — a short, bearded Quebecois drug dealer — is called Mother? (Hey, you! Put your hand down.)

Writer/director Nicholas Jarecki, whose previous effort, Arbitrage (2012), dealt with a troubled hedge-fund magnate, a role earning Richard Gere a Golden Globe Best Actor nomination, has now focused on the opioid epidemic. As noted on screen: “Over 100,000 people die from opioid overdoses every year, a figure that grows over 20% annually.”

Employing a triptych plotline, Jarecki’s passion project attacks from three semi-disparate perspectives. There’s a mother seeking revenge for the death of…


This isn’t Green Eggs and Ham . . . nor is it Pat the Bunny, not unless those classics have gender-non-conforming messages that bypassed me. Happily, Jesús Canchola Sánchez’s first children’s book, the bilingual Pepito Has a Doll/Pepito Tiene una Muñeca, is in your face on that matter.

This charming little tome is the latest offering in the ever-growing LGBTQI+ genre that includes such predecessors as Leslea Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies, Perez Hilton’s The Boy with Pink Hair, and Harvey Fierstein’s The Sissy Duckling.


Cinema from Nigeria and Sudan Get Their Due

Poster for “You Will Die at Twenty”

Try googling “best African films”? What will show up first is a top ten list featuring Out of Africa with Streep and Redford, Blood Diamond with DiCaprio, and Black Panther with Boseman. Not exactly what you were searching for.

So where do you go to find homeborn African films with directors and actors and crew who don’t have U.S. passports and who aren’t signed up with CAA, William Morris, or Gersh?

This week, the 27th New York African Film Festival will satisfy your cinematic thirst for such product (at least until Dec. 9th), and thanks to the folks at Film…


Horrors films have often been viewed as reflections of what’s cooking up the most paranoia in society at the time of their release. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) has forever been designated as a political allegory on Americans’ fear of Communism.

Ernest Matjijs in his lengthy Cinema Journal essay, “AIDS References in the Critical Reception of David Cronenberg” (2003), notes how The Fly (1986) caused numerous reviewers to make the disease tie-in. …


Someone slipped Pedro Almodóvar a Valium back in 2006. Yes, the delectable high-pitched frenzy of his then recent films such as Talk to Her (2002), Bad Education (2004), and Live Flesh (1997) with their trademark super-Almodóvar stylizations and quirks suffusing nearly every frame, was put aside for the moment.

Yes, in Volver, there are no gigantic vaginas confronting miniature men, no stories within stories within stories highlighting the travails of sexually-abused, pre-op transsexuals, and no frenetic heterosexual copulations committed as acts of revenge.

Instead, what we have here is an at-times plaintive love letter to women: a paean to their…


Imagine a child picking up a copy of Grimms’ Fairy Tales only to discover that the last several pages of each story have been torn out. Are Hansel and Gretel turned into mincemeat by the evil witch? Is Snow White rented out by her height-challenged pals to Sealy for their mattress ads? Does Rapunzel yell, “Fuck it all!” and get a pixie cut?

That’s how I felt about Amy Seimetz’s She Dies Tomorrow, one of the more acclaimed films of the month. At a “pivotal” moment, Tomorrow’s oft-annoying heroine, Amy (Kate Lyn Sheil), who you might well wish would kick…


For quite a while, Tiresias was the only being who’d experienced sex both as a man and a woman. If you recall, for killing two copulating snakes, he was transformed into a female for seven years by the goddess Hera. (Having a vagina was a punishment back then.) Not satisfied, Hera later blinded the gent, which seemed rather harsh, although it did gain him a major speaking part in Oedipus Rex.

Tiresias learns it’s not nice to slaughter two copulating snakes.

Now, 2449 years later, Revry, the self-proclaimed “queer virtual cable TV network,” is showcasing a New-Zealand-based, 8-part situation comedy, Life is Easy, that explores what it’s like to…


When Sophia Loren insisted, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti,” she knew of what she spoke, possibly more than she might have imagined. You’ll understand after seeing Pastafari: A Flying Spaghetti Monster Story, one of the more delicious, amusing, and relevant documentaries of the year.

First, before we go on, we must ask, “What is religion?”

According to the Supreme Court, religion is “a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons.” Hmmm. …


Eliza Scanlen stars in Shannon Murphy’s adaptation of Rita Kalnejais’s play about an odd love.

Babyteeth, a highly quirky, Australian disease-of-the-week dramedy, surprisingly delivers the goods by its finale. About ten minutes before the end credits roll, you might actually experience a really major lump in your throat and a sizable eye-watering. Not bad at all for a play adaptation that, although unerringly cast, still comes off at times as a series of stage scenes stitched together.

Which reminds me of when The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael, after viewing Jaws, had a drink with a weathered Hollywood director. …


As Mr. Bob Dylan noted last week in a rare interview: “Good news in today’s world is like a fugitive treated like a hoodlum and put on the run.” Substitute “a French puppy” for “good news” and you basically have the plot of Marona’s Fantastic Tale, a tale of urban life with all the ups and downs of canine/human romance.

Yes, here, in one of the more beautifully animated features released in many a year, director/ writer Anca Damian chronicles the life of Nine. Nine, as you might have guessed, earns her moniker by being the ninth and final puppy…

Brandon Judell

Brandon Judell has published in The Village Voice, The Advocate, and 50 or so other outlets. He is currently a lecturer at The City College of New York.

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