All Too Well: The Short Film

Written by Alexander Reams

95/100

An Upstate Escape

The First Crack in the Glass

Are You Real?

The Remembering

We all dream of that perfect relationship, looking across somewhere and seeing that one person that changes their life, and not even knowing it. Such is the case with the cultural phenomenon, iconic singer/songwriter, and cat parent Taylor Swift. Rumored to be about her tumultuous relationship with actor/sexiest man alive/ guy whose eyes are too wide for his face, Jake Gyllenhaal, All Too Well could definitely be considered a music video, but it’s not, it elevates itself constantly. From the performances to the gorgeous 35mm cinematography to the brilliant visual storytelling by Swift. 

“Are you for real?” This opening line is followed by a simple but gorgeous opening shot of Sadie Sink, Her, and Dylan O’Brien, Him, in bed together. A shot that is very reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson. Soon after this, we are quickly thrown into a title card then the next major section of the film, An Upstate Escape. That has O’Brien and Sink in a car together, presumably in upstate, based on the title card and the visual around it. It’s fall, life is good for these 2, we are enjoying seeing them together. Here is where cinematographer Rina Yang shines, gorgeously tracking the couple as they explore the forest together, showing their connection as pure. 

Soon after we begin to see The First Crack in the Glass. Something as simple as Him letting go of Her hand. Something that clearly affects her and Sink conveys this emotion clearly. He does not see it as anything, for Her, it’s nearly everything. This first crack leads to more as she begins to see more and more issues with their relationship. Leading to a scene that lets O’Brien and Sink flex their acting chops in a way that neither has gotten a chance to before. 

Are you real?” A question that is asked at the beginning and is asked again but in a different way, a more heartbreaking way. She has begun to question the entire nature of the relationship, even after a seeming reconciliation between them after their argument, reflecting on the relationship. That ends in the exact way that you expect it to, and Sink takes this opportunity to rip our hearts out, combined with the brilliant cues of Swift’s music and direction. 

After this heartbreak she begins to reflect again, this time during social events, birthdays, knowing that he is not by her side anymore, and she misses that. She knows she shouldn’t but she does. At this point we jump over to his story, seeing what he has done during this time, instead of letting the emotions out he holds them in. An unhealthy coping mechanism yes, but it is one that men are always told to do, despite the resurgence in society for men’s mental health.

Thirteen years later, both have moved on, and are at different points in our lives, like all of us are. We cannot stay stuck in the past. Something Swift is able to convey subtly. He hasn’t moved on as much as we may have thought, the final shot of him still wearing her scarf from all those years ago. He never forgot her. This shot was very similar to the final shot in La La Land yet presents an entirely different message, here she has moved on, and he is somewhat stuck in the past. This is one of the finest films of 2021, and I did not expect to love this as much as I did. This is a fantastic debut and is a film that gets me actively excited for Swift’s next visual work.

All Too Well: The Short Film

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

A La Cara (Face to Face)

Written by Alexander Reams

68/100

    “I don’t give a shit if you’re sorry.”

As a society we treat the people we find entertaining with such disrespect. Especially in this modern age when every “troll” can hide behind the clicks of a keyboard. Such is the case for the “antagonist” of the film, only known by his username, Alge68, and the person he has been trolling has had enough, the unnamed person who has been trolled goes to Alge68’s apartment to confront him. This is where the film shines, in its tension. There is a constant worry that one of these two characters will not be making it out of the film alive, and not an unwarranted worry, that is becoming a more common storyline in modern Hollywood, the crazed fan meets the subject of his fanaticism. Here, however, expectations are subverted at every turn, which makes the film memorable up until the credits roll, but the character development is nil, even by short film standards. While there is a lot to love, like the troll, there will always be a negative to every positive.

A La Cara (Face to Face) Trailer

A La Cara (Face to Face) is a Oscar qualifying short film that received the 2021 Goya Award for Best Fiction Short Film & has screened at over 90 international film festivals.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

2021 Gotham Awards Wrap Up

Written by Alexander Reams

“Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same.”

Well, folks, the time has come. Drink in the Movies is back, bringing you awards coverage for the 2021-2022 season, and tonight we begin with the 2021 Gotham Awards, the kickoff of almost every award season. 

Unlike most awards shows, I’ll give you the dessert first. After much confusion on who was leading the race here, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut, The Lost Daughter took home Best Picture, cementing its space in the tight Oscar race. Along with Best Picture, The Lost Daughter took home the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award for Maggie Gyllenhaal, Best Screenplay, also Gyllenhaal, and Best Lead Performance (it was a tie but we’ll get to that later) for Olivia Colman, bringing its grand total to 4 wins. 

Best Documentary Feature was a runaway win for Flee, who has been sweeping up wins in not only Best Documentary but also Best Animated and Best Foreign Film. Despite winning multiple awards in the latter category, Flee was not nominated for Best International Film. Instead, those nominees were more focused on the even smaller foreign films, with a few Oscar hopefuls, Drive My Car, The Worst Person in the World, and Titane being on the forefront of that category with the former winning here. Ryusuke Hamaguchi has been quietly sneaking away Best International Feature wins from the other frontrunners. Quietly building steam, until now. Now, there are many eyes on this film, so MAYBE IT CAN FINALLY PLAY IN WIDE RELEASE (I would greatly appreciate it). 

There was only one other film that had more than one win, CODA, Sian Heder’s Sundance darling, which despite its wins at Sundance, does little more than cloy for us audience members to feel bad for these characters and that includes Troy Kotsur, who won Best Supporting Performance for CODA. Who should’ve won? That is a question whose answer should be so clear I don’t have to ask it, alas I do. I digress, Reed Birney for Mass should’ve won, and not as much for him but to bring attention to the film so that attention is on the one person who should be nominated, Jason Isaacs. The brightest point of CODA is Emilia Jones’ performance, who in any other year would never win, but in a weak year for Breakthrough Performer, she takes home the gold, not much more to say on that. 

Before I get to the “So What?” Best Lead Performance was a tie, you know Olivia Colman won, and the other was Frankie Faison in The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain. I haven’t seen the film but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for it now. 

Now. So What? Well, the Gotham’s aren’t the most accurate when predicting Oscar nominations, so don’t rush to Gold Derby to change your predictions, but they can help with thinning out the crowds, and at least begin to eye in on possible nominees. I would recommend looking at The Lost Daughter a lot more, especially in the Adapted Screenplay category. Flee has been a lock for some time now, in one category or another. This is not the award show that should make you rush and change your ballot, in fact, I implore you not to. For now, we awards junkies should be celebrating the fact that awards season has returned, and this is only the beginning. 

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Zeros and Ones

Written by Alexander Reams

34/100

There are few filmmakers with as big of a head-scratching filmography as Abel Ferrara. A man who broke out into the industry with his highly controversial and provocative Bad Lieutenant, with Harvey Keitel as a coked-up, corrupt, detective. Why? Well to quote the great Joe Swanson “Are you asking an Irish Cop why he’s corrupt”. Ferrara has always been a filmmaker that seemingly makes films by the mantra of “Because we can, and if we can, we do”. (Paraphrasing from Peaky Blinders).

Ferrara’s latest attempt to be politically relevant employs Ethan Hawke as not one, but two characters, identical twin brothers. One is a military man, one is an anarchist/revolutionary. The military man is J.J., arriving in Rome after a terror attack on the Vatican, where everyone is- and tell me if this sounds familiar- wearing masks, overly sanitizing everything, streets are barren of people. Why? It’s not specified, all we know is the terror attack on the Vatican. This is just the beginning of the nonsense. 

Ferrara is known for his very, let’s call it “stylistic” (and not pretentious for pretentious sake), films. From the coked-up insanity of Bad Lieutenant to his most recent collaborations with Willem Dafoe, what I have dubbed “Abel Ferrara’s The House that Willem Built”, a trilogy of films that include Pasolini, Tommaso, and Siberia. All of which center around Ferrara following Dafoe around in whatever character he is playing, some sort of weird elements, and cinematography that, while beautiful, can be visually confusing. An aspect that plagues Zeros and Ones like the supposed sickness that plagues the Vatican. 

The best aspect of this film is Ethan Hawke. Fully immersing himself in both roles as much as he can. He gets the idiosyncrasies of both characters down to a T. Hawke did not fail Ferrara, Ferrara failed Hawke. The script he procured could’ve used a lot more work, fleshing out the characters and the world that Ferrara wanted to create would’ve helped the film work overall. Ferrara failed to lead his technical team in every sense of the word. He took the fantastic cinematographer that is Sean Price Williams and turned his work into an incoherent, ugly mess. This film not only disappointed me but also frustrated me. Instead of trying to be relevant to the times, Ferrara should’ve instead focused on crafting a better film. I truly believe he could’ve made this great, but instead chose to rush production.

Zeros and Ones Trailer

Zeros and Ones is currently available to rent and purchase on most major VOD platforms.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Ida Red

Written by Alexander Reams

37/100

There are countless “A boy and his mother” stories throughout Hollywood’s history. From Psycho to The Babadook to Moonlight, these films helped define and redefine this iconic trope, and now a new one wants to join the ranks of these iconic films. John Swab’s Ida Red is focused on the titular character’s son, who, along with his family, tries to get Ida out before her terminal illness kills her. While this premise might seem promising, let me assure you, don’t be fooled like I was. 

This isn’t writer/director John Swab’s first time behind the camera, his past works garnering anywhere between somewhat positive and downright horrendous reviews. Here he’s assembled his most stacked cast, Frank Grillo (Dallas Walker), Melissa Leo (Ida “Red” Walker), Josh Hartnett (Wyatt Walker), Deborah Ann Woll (Jeanie Walker), William Forsythe (Lawrence Twilley), Beau Knapp (Jay), and Mark Boone Junior (Benson Drummond). This stacked cast can be a big draw for people, myself included. Unfortunately, I let this blind me from the clear red flags. Any filmmaker that manages to score 0% on rotten tomatoes is one to avoid, and that was the case here.

Logic is a key factor in telling a story, and even in the competently-made opening scene, there are logical errors, an edit that shows a character in a car when we just saw them get out of the car. This in particular stuck out and actively frustrated me. When logical problems arise in the film, that could’ve so easily been avoided, it becomes very confusing as to why the director did not recognize these issues, and why they did not stop them from occurring. The storylines presented are always overlapping, with the main thread being Dallas and Wyatt Walker. Grillo and Hartnett do serviceable jobs with what little they were given. A fault that does fall on Writer/Director John Swab. Although such can be the case when one of your previous films scored a lovely 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ida Red Trailer

Ida Red is currently available to rent from most major VOD platforms.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Great White

Written by Alexander Reams

20/100

When Steven Spielberg’s iconic Jaws hit theatres in the summer of 1975 people quickly became afraid of their own bathtubs, let alone the entire ocean. Over 30 years after it was released I saw the film for the first time and it was still frightening to me. So much so that I abandoned my childhood rubber duckie. Since then (Jaws releasing, not me losing my rubber duckie) countless films have tried to imitate the fear created by Jaws and none have even come close to achieving that level of success. Martin Wilson’s Great White comes out of the gate swinging, with an opening that is suspenseful, borderline terrifying, and gave me hope that we finally have another good, possibly great shark film on our hands. 

After that truly eerie opening, those hopes were dashed. The (bare minimum) character development that we are given here is at that perfect “idiotic movie you see with your friends in middle school just to do something” level, simply put, lazy. We are introduced to Kaz Fellows, our lead, whose character development is “pregnant lady we should only care about because she is carrying a life inside of her” (am I the only one smelling something funny here? Just me? Okay, moving on). Along with Kaz, we are introduced to her partner, Charlie Brody, who is reduced to “handsome man #5674027 in a horror film that is there to look pretty and spout exposition when needed”. There are also two passengers Joe and Michelle Minase. Joe is afraid of the water and Michelle who is on the trip to spread her grandfather’s ashes, a truly noble quest, but never given time to develop, instead, it’s stuck on the sidelines like almost all the rest of the character development. 

But who comes to this genre of film for character development? Not you, or me, we came for the shark, the scares, and the kills. Who needs to care about a character when you have a great white shark eating people. The shark is not the main character of the film, the people are and Wilson just assumes we as an audience will forgive this sleight in return for some great kills. Unfortunately for him, he overestimated his abilities to craft a good kill. The closest he comes is in his standout opening scene of the film. A giant miscalculation in skill and in execution left me not only frustrated but maddened that a film of this poor quality could even be made today.

Great White Trailer

Great White will be available to stream on Shudder on November 18th, 2021 and is available to stream on Hoopla.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Raindance 2021 Film Festival Review: The Noise of Engines

Written by Alexander Reams

62/100

Loud noises, going in a straight path, exotic colors, wild outfits, in this race a star can be born, I could be describing RuPaul’s Drag Race, alas I am not. Instead, I am describing the modern culture of drag racing. Two (or in some cases four) cars in the same class (stock, superstock, street, super, street pro mod, top fuel, top alcohol, funny car, alcohol funny car, pro mod, pro stock motorcycle, to name a few) race down a quarter-mile track, much more exciting than stock car racing. This was a tradition to go to the closest drag races (which were in Charlotte, NC) and spend the weekend inhaling nitrous fuel, eating bad food, and seeing crazy races. This culture has been in my veins since I got my first whiff of nitromethane, and from the get-go in The Noise of Engines, I could smell that wonderfully cruel (to my sense of smell) fuel again. 

Philippe Grégoire’s debut is without a doubt one of the weirder concepts to hit screens in 2021. A Canadian customs agent (Robert Naylor as Alexandre) is placed on leave and heads back to his hometown, he strikes up a friendship with an Icelandic drag racer, (Tanja Björk as Aðalbjörg) and simultaneously becomes the center of a police investigation into sexually explicit drawings popping up all over town, after he returns home. The premise of a film can intrigue me, but it’s seldom that it will cause me to raise an eyebrow, this one did. In part because of the drag racing aspect. This form of racing is rarely covered in the film and to see it here was welcome, and even more so because it was done so well. The respect for this sport is evident throughout, and the care given to it. 

This care and reverence do not extend to its woefully miscast lead, Robert Naylor as our main character, Alexandre. From the get-go, he is in over his head in a script that is very smart and aware of its subject matter, and instead, Naylor always has this expression that looks like the beginning of a punchline that we haven’t heard the setup to. This takes away from the countless serious moments and instead are even more awkward encounters than Grégoire intended to have in his film. This flaw is extremely detrimental to the overall quality of the film due to the way the story is framed, if we were following Björk instead of Naylor, then the film could’ve had a better RT (reaction time) rather than the red light going throughout the film.

The Noise of Engines Trailer

The Noise of Engines was screened as part of the 2021 edition of the Raindance Film Festival.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Raindance 2021 Film Festival Capsule Review: Death Is Smoking My Cigars

Written by Alexander Reams

72/100

“You know: I’m drunk once again, here, listening to Tchaikovsky, on the radio. Jesus, I heard him 47 years, ago.”

In 1987 Charles Bukowski scribed the poem Death Is Smoking My Cigars, an existential and reflective piece of poetry in which Bukowski reflects on his life and career. 34 years later, Misfit Productions adapted the poem into an animated short film. The best medium of film to adapt one of Bukowski’s poems. His surrealism and existentialism translate beautifully into animation. The style chosen is reminiscent of an indie game you would play on your phone to pass the time during work (just me? Okay moving on.) which has become one of my favorite animation styles, but can outstay its welcome if done poorly. Here it never does because the film doesn’t exceed the length of the poem, forcing the creators to stay between the length of the poem, it can be stretched to a degree, but will suffer, here it is not stretched. A truly moving and thought-provoking film that left me thinking long after the (very) short runtime ended.

Death Is Smoking My Cigars Trailer

Death Is Smoking My Cigars was screened as part of the 2021 edition of the Raindance Film Festival.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

The Pebble and the Boy

Written by Alexander Reams

64/100

That beautiful sound of a car starting, the rumble of the engine, the smell of fuel in the air, a perfect cold start on a cold morning. Then the garage door opens, the light begins to leak through the slowly opening door, and what comes out is a moped? Yes, not a car, or even a motorcycle, a moped. An image that is constant where I live, these mini motorcycles have taken over more than actual motorcycles, a truly sad day for someone who loves classic motorcycles. A film about the British equivalent to bike culture in America seems like a film I would love, and you would be, partially, right.

Chris Green’s latest film goes into a classic genre, a road film. However, putting the genre on its head, with the road aspect not being in a car but on a mod, or a moped, as us Americans know it as. Following John (a very underrated Patrick McNamee), the son of a respected member of the mod community who takes a trip from his home in Manchester to Brighton, the “home” of the mod culture to scatter the ashes of his father. His mode of transportation? A mod left to him by his father. Following him is Nicki (a wonderfully badass Sasha Parkinson), who is along for the ride to see a band she desperately wants to see, and eventually Logan (a forgettable Max Boast). 

The film is a very quick moving film and yet feels boring throughout the second act. This issue is due to the lack of meat given to the story and the actors during this time, a problem that falls on Writer/Director Chris Green. While this is his only major failing in those positions it still makes a big chunk of the film boring to watch, and any care I had begun to have for these characters fell apart during this time. Which I found to be a tragedy after that beautiful first act that was presented. The third act somewhat fulfills the goals presented in the first act, but it all falls on deaf ears after the horrendous second act. For a film about mod culture it rarely focuses on that, instead focusing on the, most of the time, brilliantly written characters, which does not take away from the film until you reach the second act. The film knows how to start up properly but never figures out how to drive and ends up hitting too many speed bumps by the end.

The Pebble and the Boy Trailer

The Pebble and the Boy will be available on most major VOD platforms November 16th.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Army of Thieves

Written by Alexander Reams

90/100

It’s always clear when Netflix trusts their IPs and their creators. Clearly, they have trust in Zack “I will make movies however long I want and you’ll like it” Snyder, and I am okay with it. They let him make a wild, fun, huge zombie/action/Dave Bautista one-liner film and it was a blast. Not 6 months later a prequel film focusing on standout Ludwig Dieter was released with Matthias Schweighöfer returning as the awkward and lovable safe-cracker and also jumping in the director’s chair as well. Bringing his own style that somehow fits into the universe that Snyder created while also standing by itself as well. 

Before zombies took over Las Vegas and turned it into their own playground, there was a life for Ludwig Dieter. Not much of one, make a YouTube video (that gets no views), get coffee, go to work (where he clearly does not care), and go home. Repeat, every day, until he finally gets a view on one of his videos, and a comment. Things are looking up for old Ludwig until he gets a very mysterious invite to a safe-cracking competition. Here he is able to show off his skills and impress jewel thief Gwendoline. After making quick work of his competitors he is recruited to the team. Consisting of Korina Dominguez (a woefully underrated Ruby O. Fee), Brad Cage (a generic bad guy with the funniest name; Stuart Martin), Rolph (standout Guz Khan). 

As with the previous entry in the Army of the Dead Snyder-Netflix-verse, there is money involved, but a lot less of those pesky undead folks getting in the way of good old-fashioned money stealing. Instead, this time we have a pesky- and stop me if you’ve heard this one before- Interpol agent with a connection to one of the heisters from the past who now is obsessive over catching the entire team so much that it affects his personality to comic results. While this was funny at first Delecroix outstayed his welcome very quickly. The cat and mouse aspect is one of the key elements of a heist film and was executed here very poorly, which unfortunately falls on Writer Shay Hatten (who returns to this universe after co-writing with Zack Snyder on Army of the Dead).

Read Alexander’s review of Army of the Dead

These YouTube videos that Ludwig makes are often the subject of fictional safe-maker Hans Wagner (and the Richard Wagner connection is only beginning). After a long stint of being in a creative rut, and losing his wife and children, Wagner creates his version of his namesake’s Ring Cycle. For Hans, it means four safes, each inspired by one of the operas in the Ring Cycle (at this point in the film the classical music nerd in me was losing his mind over the love for Wagner present). Those three safes are Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and the Siegfried. The final safe was lost and never found, the one that completes the Ring Cycle, the Götterdämmerung

Four key aspects that meshed together very well and elevated the film to a high quality level of humor and heart. Firstly, Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro’s score. Combining a mesh of strings and modern sounds to make a soundtrack that constantly controlled the tension perfectly, especially in the safe-cracking scenes. Secondly and thirdly, the editing by Alexander Berner and the cinematography by Bernhard Jasper. Constantly on beat with the music and never quick cutting during action sequences, especially during the Prague burglary. Jasper chose to use the Alexa Mini LF, which is not a loss in quality compared to larger Alexa cameras, but is lighter so can be used in faster-paced films. 

Finally, Director, star, king of beautiful curly hair, Matthias Schweighöfer. Without his love and care for this project and this character the film would not work. Snyder made the right move trusting Schweighöfer to expand the universe he set up, and he expanded it well. Throwing in subtle nods to what’s to come, a news report here, a name drop there, all adding up to two surprising cameos in the end. This will be one of the most underrated films of the year and incidentally one of my favorites, from the technical aspects, the subtle humor that never beats you over the head, the score, and the fact that a modern film can appreciate such perfect classical music. 

Bring on the Götterdämmerung.

Army of Thieves Trailer

Army of Thieves is currently available to stream on Netflix.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.