Buster’s Mal Heart

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A film like Buster’s Mal Heart is unusual to say the least. Director Sarah Adina Smith picked the perfect leading man, in the form of the unconventional Emmy winner, Rami Malek.

Like Smith’s debut film The Midnight Swim, Buster’s Mal Heart is a profound mystery. However, unlike The Midnight Swim, we are taken on a journey following two timelines although, sometimes it feels like we are following three. When we are first introduced to Buster he is racing through a snowy Montana forest as police officers shoot at him. We later find out that he has been breaking into houses in the area, calling radio talk shows ranting about the Y2K.

Yet, before Buster becomes the crazy man of the mountains he was known as Jonah. The complete opposite of Buster, Jonah is a straight edge concierge of a small hotel. He has a wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) and an energetic daughter (Sukha Belle Potter). He and his wife work hard so they can one day move out of Jonah’s in-laws house and build a self sufficient home for themselves to raise their child in.

The reason for Jonah’s transformation into Buster, as well as what happened to his are the driving questions in a surreal narrative. At one point Jonah meets a man (DJ Qualls) who is convinced the Y2K will bring about the end of society causing a greater manifestation he calls “the great inversion.” The unnamed man checks into the hotel and invites himself into Jonah’s life.

To make things worse Jonah/Buster have recurring visions of being adrift at sea in a lifeboat. The question there is, whether or not the man at sea a vision from a dream or a distant memory? As Buster tries to decipher between reality and the man at sea he comes to realize that he is no longer one person he is two people in polar opposite worlds, shockingly similar to the explanation of “the great inversion” given to him by the unnamed man back when Buster was Jonah.

The performance by the entire cast is flawless from young Potter who speaks in both English and Spanish throughout the film to Malek who’s mental awareness is questioned throughout the entirety of the film with an air of charm and capability of being unusually creepy all at once.

This distinctly niche project is just a glimpse at what both Malek and Smith are capable of. If you get the opportunity to see it, it’s certainly worth hunting down.

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When MASCOTS Don’t Pump You Up

Netflix’s latest comedy “gold” falls flat with the B-List star studded cast. Director Christopher Guest (Best in Show, A Might Wind) brings to the screen a mockumentary that comes off as one giant cruel joke. At first the concept seems like it would be right in Guest’s wheelhouse, filled with quirky characters, but the director/co-writer doesn’t manage to come out of this film unscathed.

A lot like Guest’s past films, Mascot takes on a documentary format following an assorted group of weirdos. The film follows a collection of mascots as they go to compete in the annual mascot competition to win the Gold Fluffy. There’s the bickering couple Mike and Mindy (Zach Woods and Sarah Baker); Phil (Christopher Moynihan), who hopes that he can win the heart of his old high school crush; Owen Golly, Jr. (Tom Bennett), who has taken on the family mascotting duty from his father (Jim Piddock); a devoted dancer (Parker Posey) who travels with her half-sister Laci (Susan Yeagley); and Tommy (Chris O’Dowd) the resident bad-boy of the mascotting world. There are also the judges, the coaches, and other unusual characters whom you’d assume would attend a very unusual competition such as mascotting.

While the main cast is filled with newcomers to Guest’s roster he does hold on to his ol’ reliables  like Jane Lynch, Bob Balaban, Fred Willard, and many others. That might be why the film doesn’t manage to find it’s tone and end up shuffling along in a very uncomfortable way. The lack of connection between the actors in each scene is strikingly obvious even amongst those who have worked together for years. Maybe the lack of connection is due to the lack of interesting relationships and characters. Maybe Guest relied too much on the weird concept of mascotting being considered a sport to care about the fact that the entire film is like watching an awkward, unattractive teen try to become popular, but failing miserably. Then there’s the fact that the jokes are brought up once then immediately pushed to the sidelines.

Overall Mascots is a disappointing film that will leave the viewers wondering why it got made in the first place.

(re)Assignment – When a Bad Guy Gets Turned Into a REALLY Bad Girl.

(re)Assignment goes straight into the nitty gritty of a topic that society has just recently become open to discuss. This crude film has a hard time bringing in audience members and the reason is clear as day. While a crime thriller is nothing new, nor is the idea of a psychotic yet brilliant wmichelle-rodriguez-reassignmentoman gone villainous new, the idea of changing someone from a macho thug into a woman for revenge and research is something unheard of, let alone a comfortable subject.

Directer Walter Hill has taken an enormous risk with this Canadian indie. At no point during the writing and filming of this dark tale did they think they’d have an easy time getting this film into theatres, even streaming sites and cable will be a hard market. That being said, the risk was worth taking. Hill presents a film with two beautiful, talented actresses who captivate you without a lot of action throughout the film.

Dr. Rachel Jane (Sigourney Weaver) is a disgraced plastic surgeon who is now a patient of Dr. Galen (Tony Shalhoub) at a California mental institution. She claims to be framed for the murder of her body guards and criminal anesthesiologist. She constantly denies having murdered the men, instead she blames a man who seems to be made up named Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez).

Throughout the film there are constant 70’s throwbacks from the animated scene transitions to Frank, a scruffy ponytailed hitman who makes the mistake of pulling a “job” on Dr. Jane’s brother after he failed to pay some serious debts, thus causing the doctor to seek revenge. She hires a mob leader to lock down Franks whereabouts, then proceeds to kidnap and performs an unwanted sex change.

Frank then wakes up in a dingy hotel to realize he’s now a woman and, frankly, isn’t happy about it. He seeks help from his one-night-stand Johnnie (Caitlin Gerard) who is surprisingly calm to find the man she had recently slept with has been turned into a woman. With Johnnie taking care of Frank medically he proceeds on with his mission to find out what happened to him and get revenge.

In the final act both women, women being Frank and Dr. Jane, confess to their crimes. Dr. Jane admits to Dr. Galen for turning Frank into a woman, although with no evidence to prove the events she’s again thrown back into the psychiatric hospital, and Frank admits to the crimes for which Dr. Jane is accused as well as a surprising yet deserved spin.

(re)Assignments is hard to swallow, yet witty, Hill provides a new look at the revenge thriller genre. He also brings to life a compelling story that many aren’t ready to see yet. The acting is well done as expected with such talents as Rodriguez and Weaver. Be prepared to finish the movie and have questions that can only be theorized, but you will also come out satisfied in the sense that for once we aren’t given a story that is soft as many films are when they touch on such subjects as transgender.