The 2017 Maryland Film Festival Is Here, in Brand New Digs!

If it’s early May in Baltimore, it must be time for the Maryland Film Festival again. This year, the festival premieres its brand new venue, the renovated Parkway Theater, located on the southwest corner of Charles Street and North Avenue. Want to know what to see? You’re in luck! I wrote a piece in BmoreArt this week, and also participated in a podcast for Dan Rodricks on his Baltimore Sun podcast, “Roughly Speaking,” in which we discussed the festival (as well as the current movies Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Their Finest). Here are links to both pieces:


Review of “Below Her Mouth” & Interview with Michał Marczak (“All These Sleepless Nights) @hammertonail + Review of “Graduation” @filmfesttoday

Two more pieces of mine ran recently on Hammer to Nail: a review of the erotic lesbian drama Below Her Mouth and an interview with Michał Marczak, director of the Polish hybrid documentary All These Sleepless Nights (which I reviewed for the site last year). On Friday, April 28, Film Festival Today ran my review of Graduation, from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu. Here are links to all three articles:


SXSW2017–Part 8 @hammertonail (5 More Reviews + 1 More Interview)

Finishing up my coverage of the 2017 SXSW Film Festival at Hammer to Nail (minus one interview, which HtN will run when the film premieres on HBO in a few weeks), here are six more pieces: 5 reviews, plus 1 interviews to accompany one of them (Mommy Dead and the Dearest is the one with the interview still pending). Here are links to my five previous SXSW 2017 posts on this blog: firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixth and seventh. Here are links to the above-mentioned articles:


“Roughly Speaking” from April 28, 2017: Rodricks, Reed, Frankel and DeLibero on “High Noon”

On Friday, April 28, 2017,  Linda DeLibero – Director, Film and Media Studies, Johns Hopkins University – and Christopher Llewellyn Reed (that’s me) – Chair and Professor, Department of Film & Moving Image, Stevenson University – joined Dan Rodricks on his Baltimore Sun podcast, “Roughly Speaking,” along with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel (author of The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend), to discuss both the 1952 classic Western movie High Noon and Frankel’s new book about its production, entitled High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic.

Here is the link to the show. Enjoy!

2 more @annapolisff Reviews @hammertonail + Review of “Their Finest” @filmfesttoday

Hammer to Nail finished running my coverage from the recent  Annapolis Film Festival last week with two final reviews: of AWOL and The Last Laugh. In addition, on Friday, Film Festival Today ran my review of Their Finest. Here are links to all pieces:


“Free Fire” Offers a Delightful Bloodbath for Sociopaths

Free Fire (Ben Wheatley, 2017)

A sublimely trippy action movie (of sorts, given that it mostly takes place in one location), Free Fire profiles a gun deal that goes very bad, very quickly. The title refers to the shooting, which starts soon after our cast of characters arrive in the deserted waterfront warehouse where money is to be exchanged for weapons. That cast includes Brie Larson (Room), Armie Hammer (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Cillian Murphy (In the Heart of the Sea) and Sharlto Copley (Hardcore Henry), among others, bedecked in outfits and hairstyles (including, for the men, facial hair) appropriate to the 1970s setting. There’s a lot of directorial flash (beyond that from gunfire) on display here, and Ben Wheatley (High-Rise) keeps things moving in a marvelously kinetic way that belies the static setting. If ultimately there is not a lot of there there – beyond the unspoken mantra that violence begets violence, etc. – it almost doesn’t matter, since Wheatley tells his story in a frenzy of panache that leads us to laugh at the sadistic excess as each bullet (and there are so many) hits its mark. In many was a nihilistic tour de force, it’s probably not for everyone, but it’s mostly good fun for those who like their carnage with a dash of wit.

We know we’re in the hands of a master stylist in the very first full scene, one of the few that takes place outside. As the petty criminals bicker, Hammer (I’ll be honest, I don’t remember the character names and I don’t care), emerges from the distant shadows, a well-dressed man with wide lapels and a bushy beard, slowly approaching the group. It’s the kind of relaxed saunter he should have perfected in the fiasco that was 2013’s dismal The Lone Ranger. Here he’s all business, ignoring the unsettling sleaze of his clients as best he can, determined to take his cash and go. That is not to be. Murphy heads up the team, such as they are, of purchasers – members of the Irish Republican Army, it seems – with Larson as the go-between. Ostensibly in league with Hammer, hothead Copley cannot keep his temper from flaring at every insult, which leads to mayhem, and the resultant “free fire.” The subtitle should be “what happens when stupid people get their hands on guns.” Wheatley knows a thing or two about camera movement, production design and editing, and so whatever the occasional inanity (which may be the point) of what plot there is, he whips us through the chaos as if we, ourselves, are the bullets.

Beyond Hammer, Larson, Murphy and Copley – all excellent (and Copley has more than annoyed me before, so this is a nice change) – the rest of the large ensemble more than hold their own. I did not much care for Wheatley’s High Rise, which seemed to take itself too seriously, overwhelming the director’s playful mise-en-scène with heavy messaging. There are no such issues in Free Fire, which offers delightful anarchy in lieu of deeper substance, thereby actually saying a thing or two of weight. Blood, guts and brains flying through the air have rarely offered such visceral joy and laughter. The motley crew more than deserves what it gets, and if you can stomach the bloodbath, you, O Sociopathic Cinephile, will get what you deserve.

3 @annapolisff Reviews @hammertonail + Review of “The Fate of the Furious” @filmfesttoday

Over the past two weeks, Hammer to Nail has run three reviews of mine from the recent  Annapolis Film Festival: for The ArcherThe Islands and the Whales and Katie Says Goodbye. Two days ago, Film Festival Today ran my review of The Fate of the Furious. Here are links to all posts:


SXSW2017–Part 7 @hammertonail (3 More Reviews + 4 More Interviews)

Continuing my coverage of the 2017 SXSW Film Festival at Hammer to Nail, here are seven more pieces: 3 reviews, plus 4 interviews to accompany them (2 interviews for one of the movies, my favorite of the festival, Easy Living). Still others have already been posted on the site, but I continue to only post reviews (where I have also conducted interviews) after their accompanying interviews have been posted. More to follow (for a little longer). Here are links to my five previous SXSW 2017 posts on this blog: firstsecondthirdfourthfifth and sixth. Here are links to the above-mentioned articles: