Tag Archive | Directors

Recommended Viewing: The Endless

The Endless Movie Poster
All Images Courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment

If you’ve seen the two previous feature films by writer/director team Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, then you understand that these guys enjoy being meta. Both their 2013 breakout sci-fi flick, Resolution, and 2014’s body horror/romance, Spring include references to a common character (“Shitty Carl”) who is never seen onscreen, and the duo even appear together in one scene in Resolution. Impressively, their new film, The Endless, takes meta to a delightfully mind-bending level.  Not only do audiences finally get to meet Shitty Carl, but the two main characters (and one minor character) from Resolution appear in a few pivotal scenes of The Endless, reprising their roles from the previous film. Stephen King does this type of cross-referential thing in his novels all the time as a way to expand and validate his fictional worlds, and here the device works well to let The Endless serve as both a possible sequel to Resolution, while also letting it stand alone as a solid, separate story that contains a few winks and nods for hardcore fans. You don’t need to see one to ‘get’ the other, and to infer that this reveal is a ‘spoiler’ would be like saying that seeing Rogue One spoils the plot of Star Wars.

The Endless stars Benson and Moorhead as brothers Justin and Aaron Smith, roommates who own and operate a small housecleaning business, but struggle to pay the bills. Although they appear to be about the same age, it is inferred that Justin is the elder sibling by, say, ten years. One afternoon, Aaron receives a battered package in the mail, containing a video tape on a format that is long obsolete. After hitting up a couple of yard sales, he finds a device that will play the tape, which shows footage of a young woman who speaks to the camera about an unspecified, upcoming  event. Aaron recognizes her as Anna (Callie Hernanadez), whom he knows from a cult-like commune that took-in the brothers after their parents died in a car accident. It’s unclear how long they lived at the commune, but suggested that ten years have passed since they left – or was it ‘escaped’?

Aaron shares the tape with Justin, insisting that the two make a return visit to the commune so that he can gain some type of closure, and also make sure that Anna and the other friends they left behind are all okay. Justin has zero desire to go back, but indulges his younger brother on the condition that the trip be limited to just one day. Right.

Justin and Aaron in Boat
There Might Be Something in the Lake Other Than Fish

Though it’s not immediately obvious that the group worships or follows the teachings of any particular figurehead, guru or phenomena, things get weird right away. First off, Justin quickly observes that residents of the commune appear to not have aged a day in the ten years since the brothers left. Aaron sees flocks of birds flying in odd, circular patterns, and surprise photographs and other recorded media containing images of the two just kind of ‘show up’ randomly. And, oh yeah, isn’t that a second moon up in the sky? What’s that about? And who, or what, is on the other end of the rope in that midnight Tug-of-War ritual?

Three Moons
Make that Three Moons

The Endless is one of those films that’s comprised of multi-layered mysteries and plot twists that you won’t see coming no matter how much you think you know what is going on. The subtle horror, slowly-mounting suspense and ever increasing sense of dread will have you on the edge your seat, and it’s really best to go into the theater knowing as little about what happens as possible. While it could be described as Cabin in The Woods meets Primer, The Endless will also appeal to those intrigued by the exploration of cults and cult-mentality, as addressed in the Netlfix documentary series, Wild Wild Country. It is certainly a film that invites multiple viewings, and it will leave you with lots to discuss with fellow viewers long after leaving the theater.

The Worley Gig Gives The Endless 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars!

The Endless Hits Theaters on Friday April 6th, 2018. Find a Showing Near You at This Link!

Justin and Aaron

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead Direct and Star in The Endless.

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Jonathan LeVine Gallery Presents: Mike Leavitt’s King Cuts!

Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock Is a Bird, by Mike Leavitt (All Photos By Gail)

You loved his homage to the contemporary art world in Art Army Royalty; you thrilled to his Star Wars character mashups with Empire Peaks; and now, Mike Leavitt returns for his third solo exhibition at Jonathan LeVine, King Cuts – honoring the artist’s obsession with 16 of the Best Film Directors Ever! And what great show it is!

Orson Welles
Orson Welles with Key Props from Citizen Kane and A Touch of Evil

Great film directors make sacrifices and compromises when creating a movie. They’re eaten by their work and very often their body succumbs to the pressure. In King Cuts, Leavitt transforms some of the most renowned directors into satirical sculptures, combining their physical attributes with features reminiscent of their most recognizable on-screen characters. Standing 18 inches tall at one quarter inch scale, each sculpture is carved from a single block of wood, similar to the way these auteurs might cut a take or reel.

Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola with Thematic Images from Rumblefish, Dracula, and The Godfather

Through his clever mash-ups, Leavitt has created totems devoted to the best story tellers of all-time that explore the role of being an artist and pose the question, is it possible not to merge art and life?

Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick Wears the Dress of One of the Twins from The Shining. Also Present are References to Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, and 2001

Stanley Kubrick Detail
Stanley Kubrick Detail with Alex DeLarge’s False Eyelashes

Similar to the way Kubrick, Spielberg and Tarantino use the camera like a window to gaze out, Leavitt humorously reverts the gaze back to them. Under their control or not, work sweeps over the life of the creator. Their imagery becomes more powerful than themselves and their icons overtake their anatomy.

David Lynch
David Lynch is Presented with Allusions to The Elephant Man, Dune and Wild at Heart

Mike Leavitt
The Artist, (Right) at the Exhibit’s Opening Reception. He is very nice to fans!

Trading Cards Set 1

Mike also made a set of collectible trading cards of each of the Director’s Sculptures, and the back of each one has a little story about each character.

Trading Cards Set 2

Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow, and the card which describes her, below.

Kathryn Bigelow Trading Card

Leavitt is obviously a passionate film buff who aims to elevate these directors as high artists, while also surreally lampooning them with a taste of their own iconic medicine. He explains, I love movies and I love art. The magic overwhelms me. Moviemakers are consumed by their work, similar to the way my own work overtakes my life. Whether a block of wood, a scene ending or film reel edit, every cut takes conviction. Trust in that vision is so powerful that they relinquish their anatomy. That’s why I sculpted their bodies physically devoured by their work.”

Tim Burton
Tim Burton Personified with Motifs from Beetlejuice, Batman and Edward Scissorhards

Installation View
Installation View, Left Right: Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, George Lucas

Mike Leavitt’s talent is just insane. The details of each sculpture are absolutely breathtaking and this exhibit is lots of fun to experience in person. Don’t miss it!

Mike Leavitt’s King Cuts will be on Exhibit Through June 11th, 2016, at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.
King Cuts Signage

James Cameron
James Cameron, Avatar Meets Titanic with side of Aliens and Terminator

Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson Films include The Darjeeling Limited, Bottle Rocket, Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel

Movie Review: Jeruzalem

Jeruzalem Movie Poster

Did you know that here on earth there are three gates to hell: one in the desert, one in the ocean, and one in Jerusalem? I had no idea, and I’m betting that Israel’s tourism board wants to keep that nugget of information on the down low; because it would surely be bad for business if word got out.

Unfortunately, no one tipped off Sarah and Rachel, two young American tourists on their way to a carefree vacation in Tel Aviv, who instead get a one-way ticket to the End Times in Jeruzalem, a new independent film directed by Israeli brothers Yoav and Doron Paz.

Jeruzalem Rachel Sarah Selfie
Rachel (Yael Grobglas) and Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) Pose for One Last Selfie before Departing to Jeruzalem

On the flight over, the girls meet a sexy and charismatic anthropologist named Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) who convinces them to take a detour to the old city of Jerusalem for some historical sightseeing before continuing on to the serious partying in Tel Aviv. Sarah and Kevin hit it off, and Jerusalem is seemingly filled with all kinds of hot guys for Rachel to flirt with, so it’s kind of a no brainer. They plan to stay only 48 hours, but their second night in Jerusalem happens to be Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, and that is when all hell, literally, breaks loose.

Jeruzalem Escape

While Sarah, Rachel, Kevin and new friends from the hostel where they’ve been staying make a frantic attempt to escape the walled city, it’s equally frightening to imagine that the Apocalypse will be documented via Google Glass, which, as worn by Sarah, serves as the first person-perspective from which the entire movie is shot (be forewarned that if shaky, hand-held camera movements make you nauseous, you might want to drop a Dramamine before the film even starts).

It’s somewhat distracting at first, especially when Sarah does one of her many face-plants while running after, or from, something, but the device serves to further the narrative in interesting ways; providing facial recognition, maps, Wikipedia entries, music videos, social media and panicked Skype calls from Sarah’s concerned Dad, which all get tossed into the mix.

I really don’t want to spoil anything except to offer that Jeruzalem features truly mind-bending moments of psychological terror (the scene where Sarah searches frantically for Kevin in a derelict mental institution is particularly unnerving), and more than a few instances where smart people inexplicably decline to run away when confronted with nightmarish physical horror, such as menacing giants and undead Monsters with Wings.

If you liked Cloverfield, you’ll love Jeruzalem.

Grade: B+

Jeruzalem opens at NYC’s Cinema Village on January 22, 2016, when it will also be available on VOD. Rated: R, Runtime: 94 minutes.