All posts by Vince Leo

In Fabric (2019) | Peter Strickland



Executive produced by Ben Wheatley, In Fabric is a comedic horror film from Peter Strickland, who made critical splashes with prior small-scale efforts like the crafty, Giallo-homage of Berberian Sound Studio and the fetishistic tale found in The Duke of Burgundy. Strickland’s penchant for exploring unique scenarios continues with this more expansive story about a sexy “artery red” dress bought by Sheila, a lonely, recently divorced middle-aged London bank clerk, at Dentley & Soper, a bizarre department store that may be selling haunted wares during the rush of its January sales. What Sheila doesn’t know is that the cost of the dress is more than just the money she paid for it. Peter Strickland writes and directs this eerie dark comedy that explores the nature of the power of fashion.


The Lighthouse (2019) | Robert Eggers



There’s something to Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) that’s been deeply troubling him – an incident in the past that haunts him that his continued existence on the island serves as a persistent reminder. Their shift on the island in the middle of the sea was originally to be four weeks in duration.  Due to a leg injury, the boss, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), requires Ephraim to do nearly all of the physical labor on his behalf, which the younger man comes to deeply resent, feeling like a slave during the day and treated no better than an animal at night. On his end, Thomas feels like Ephraim doesn’t respect his authority, and his cooking skills, and he’s going to break the lad to fear him if he won’t at least show him the respect of his position., The wall between them is so prevalent, despite being in close proximity to one another, they don’t even learn each other’s names until well into their scheduled stay. From there, things get occasionally better, but often far worse, as Ephraim’s fear, guilt, and paranoia begin to get the better of him, combined with the toxicity of heavy drinking and feelings of overwhelming isolation. Visions come into his head of lusty mermaids, mocking seagulls, and a dead body he seems to know more about than he cares to remember. Robert Eggers directs and co-writes this unique psychological folk tale of a sort.


Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) | Tim Miller



As with the other Terminator films, a protagonist and antagonist are sent back to the modern-day from a dark future using a time-travel device. The protagonist (Mackenzie Davis) is a technologically augmented human super-soldier named Grace, who lands in Mexico City in order to try to act as a savior for humanity in the future (Natalia Reyes). The antagonist (Gabriel Luna) is an ultra-powerful Terminator model called a Rev-9, whose mission it is to terminate a young female autoworker living in Mexico named Dani Ramos. Lending assistance to the resistance is the return of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who sees kinship in Dani because she has been thrust into the same position as key to humans surviving the A.I. onslaught of the future. Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an appearance in the second half of the film as a T-800 model Terminator named “Carl” who has assimilated into human society after completing his mission of taking out John Connor. Tim Miller directs.


The Gemini Man (2019) | Ang Lee



Will Smith stars as Henry Brogan, a top-notch sniper and skilled combat fighter working for a black ops government agency named Gemini, performing one last kill before retiring from the assassin business at the ripe age of 50. He’s the best at what he does but hates the man he’s become, unable to even look at himself in the mirror without observing disappointment and pain. But just when he thinks he’s pulling out, they pull him back in, discovering that he’s been misled by his superior at Gemini, Clay (Clive Owen), in the nature of his latest assassination, making him feel betrayed. Along with fellow agent and his new ally, Danny (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and his trusty pal Baron (Benedict Wong), Henry soon discovers they are trying to take him out as well, but with a younger, more agile, less angsty version of himself named Junior. Ang Lee directs this futuristic action-thriller.


Joker (2019)



Set in a crime-ridden Gotham City sometime in the early 1980s, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, a man who has been dealing with mental challenges his entire life, with little to show for all of his efforts to keep on the sane path. One of his afflictions is his uncontrollable laughter when faced with things that make him anxious, which often gets him into further trouble on its own. He’s living in a Gotham City apartment with his ailing mother, Penny (Frances Conroy), trying to make it on his own either as a clown or as a stand-up comedian, on the hope of getting on the number-one late-night talk show starring Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). Even with the several medications that he is on, his afflictions often get the better of him, but now he’s lost his job, his therapist, his meds, and his sanity, but finds there may be a new path to an audience when he gains notoriety as a Bernard Goetz-style subway shooter. Directed and co-written by Todd Phillips.


Hustlers (2019) | Lorene Scafaria



Starting off in 2007, Constance Wu stars as Destiny, a newbie stripper trying to make it in the clubs of New York’s competitive environment in order to earn enough money to support her and her ailing grandmother. Backstage she meets and ends up being mentored by a legendary veteran stripper named Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who completely cleans up in terms of money whenever she appears on the stage or off. However, the great recession of 2008 soon hits, with opportunities completely drying up to earn cash in the strip clubs, with both ladies struggling to make ends meet. That is until Ramona decides to put her skills at working the crowds of men to the test, gathering up Destiny and several other stripper friends to lure in the Wall Street types with corporate accounts to swindle them out of thousands of dollars at a time.


Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) | Paul Downs Colaizzo



Jillian Bell stars as Brittany Forgler, a broke and down-on-her-luck woman in her late 20s who moved from Philadelphia to New York to pursue a career that didn’t quite pan out. Her quest for success doesn’t motivate her so much as dropping out for fear of failure. She has a job she is ill-suited for and is overweight, spending much of her time living in the shadow of her perky and pretty roommate Gretchen, going to clubs where she buries her feelings into a toxic combination of drinking, drugs, casual sex, and less-than-healthy food. A doctor’s visit to try to score some Adderall leads her to discover that her weight has gotten quite far away from her, to the point where it is affecting her health, both physically and mentally. She needs to lose about 50 lbs. to get to avoid further health issues of a BMI in the obese range. Due to the high cost of joining a gym without much income, Brittany begins jogging for exercise, starting with a trip around the block, but discipline is a challenge, as is putting herself out there for the world to see. She soon joins a club for runners in the city along with her soon-to-be-divorced neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins) and her newfound and newfound running friend, Seth (Micah Stock). She even gets a new job dog-sitting for some well-to-do types who are away for long periods, where she meets the ultimate slacker co-worker in Jern (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who convinces her to squat in their employers’ abode. To keep her motivated, she and her friends set out to compete in the next New York City Marathon, but to do that requires the kind of discipline she’s never known up to that point in her life. Paul Downs Colaizzo writes and directs this comedy-drama.


The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) | Tyler Nilson & Mike Schwartz



Zack Gottsagen is a young man with Down syndrome who is persistently trying to escape from his care facility in order to go meet his idol, a professional wrestler named the Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Curch), who runs a wrestling school in Florida, hoping to fulfill his dream of becoming a pro wrestler himself. Along the way from the shores of North Carolina, he meets a wayward neer-do-well named Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who is on the run after practically destroying the business of a local crab fisherman. Meanwhile, a woman who works at the care facility named Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) is tasked with tracking down Zak before he gets himself into further trouble, leading to a conflict between Zak’s quest to meet his idol, Tyler’s desire to help him while avoiding his comeuppance, and Eleanor’s quest to do what her employers ask without making things worse for the resident she cares for.


Good Boys (2019) | Gene Stupnitsky



The raunchy story surrounds three 12-year-old boys, best friends since kindergarten, dubbing themselves the Bean Bag Boys because — well, they all had beanbags. Now they’re in middle school and finding it hard to cope with the pressure of their peers to be considered cool among them. Max (Jacob Tremblay) has a crush and might be able to finally make a connection with the object of his desires once he gets invited to a ‘kissing party’ where the popular kids are all going. Trouble is, he doesn’t know how to kiss (or, apparently, how to figure out where to find out). Thor (Brady Noon) is the gifted singer who gives up on it because he doesn’t want to be teased, especially as he already is getting the nickname of “Sippy Cup” because he refuses to drink from a bottle of beer with the other boys. Lucas’s (Keith L. Williams) parents are getting divorced, leaving him feeling out of sorts, and his sense of right and wrong tend to make him unable to understand why his friends are so willing to bend the rules to score points with other kids that don’t seem to care about their well-being at all.


Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)



Hattie (played by Vanessa Kirby) is an MI6 agent on a mission to keep a deadly virus named Snowflake, which can liquefy the internal organs of humans who contract it, from getting into the hands of a faction of mercenaries under the employ of an evil tech-based organization called Eteon, led by Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), a hi-tech assassin with technology-augmented senses that make him a swiss-army knife of deadly skills, something seen by the company as the future of a humanity soon to die off. In a desperation move, Hattie injects the virus into her own body, giving her only 3 days to get it back out before it actually does what it’s supposed to do, and instantly making her the most sought-after fugitive in the world by bad guys and good guys alike. Hired to find Hattie before Lore finds her first is the titular bickering team of Los Angeles-based single father and retired DSS agent Luke Hobbs and ex-special ops mercenary Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the latter of whom is soon revealed to be the estranged older sibling of Hattie. But to save Hattie, they also need to secure the services of a genius scientist, who is perhaps the only one with the technology necessary to extract the virus back out of Hattie, making him a target of Eteon’s forces as well. David Leitch directs this comic spin-off from the Fast & Furious franchise.