Screener Squad

Hosts: Justin Zarian and Various presents our newest review show: the Screener Squad. A show dedicated to covering the films too small for a theatrical release, too obscure for an average audience member and too good to ignore (or so we hope).

The original Screener Squad Theme, “Maximize Damage,” was composed by Lorenzo Giusti (credited Lorenzo Emmanuel). You can listen to the full-length version, along with Lorenzo’s other work, right here.

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Ever heard of the Norweigan Black Metal band called Mayhem? They pretty much invented the style of music (or at least, that’s what they claim) and it’s touted as the evilest, most fucked up style that exists. Not exactly being connoisseurs of the style, it’s hard for us to say where it ranks, but we’re pretty sure Mayhem has some of the evilest, most fucked up PEOPLE in it ever. Rory Culkin plays the bandleader Euronymous who oversaw (and narrated occasionally) this story of a group of young guys who committed some truly heinous acts in the name of metal. Listen to Chris, Beau, Ben, and Patience give their review.

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The mystery continues as this TNT limited series crosses the halfway point and heads for the endgame. Justin and Les will give you the scoop on whether this Chris Pine-led (if you believe the commercials) series can actually stick the landing or if this whole thing is one big red herring.

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We’ve turned the nerd level up to ‘maximumer’ for this review of Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Yes, we are a month behind on this review, but it was only recently released in some towns nearby members of our squad and we figured we should capitalize on the movie crossing the $100 million mark in the global box-office last week! Because this is no challenge one person can face, Justin Zarian assembled the biggest group of Dragon Ballfans he could find with Michael Riojas, Shakyl Lambert, Bradly Martin and Matt Frank(!) to describe what worked and what didn’t work in this movie. There’ll be funny comments, insightful commentary and more Dragon Ball Z Abridged jokes than you can count in what was one of the most entertaining reviews we’ve done in a while. How was the movie itself though? You’ll have to listen to find out.

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It’s time for a trip to Ireland with this Sundance horror flick. Seana Kerslake and James Quinn Markey play a mother and son who have moved to the Irish countryside to build a new life for themselves. One night when her son runs off into a forest, she finds him near a massive ominous sinkhole. He seems unhurt, but gradually things seem off with his behavior which leads her to believe that he may actually be an impostor pretending to be her son. But who is he if not her son? Davey returns to the Screener Squad with Justin to discuss this movie and whether it truly gave them the chills or just the cold shoulder.

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Steven Soderbergh’s iPhone crusade continues with this NBA drama penned by Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight). Andre Holland headlines as Ray, a sports agent who finds himself unable to access any money or help his clients when the NBA begins a lockout to negotiate new contracts with the TV networks. Not willing to accept these terms, Ray sets out to work some machinations of his own to right some wrongs while having some very philosophical discussions about the nature of basketball with a variety of friends and co-workers. While Justin and Lara are certainly not sports fanatics, they are big Steven Soderbergh fans. Will that be enough to help them like this movie? Find out here!

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The title alone was enough to bring Ben, London, Lara and Justin together to watch this movie. The story follows a legendary WWII hero, played by Sam Elliott, dealing with his day-to-day life and the trauma that continues to follow him decades after his daring mission to assassinate the Fuhrer. One day, two government agents arrive to warn him that a new threat is emerging that only he can stop: a lethal bacteria that is being spread by the legendary Bigfoot. Can Sam Elliott push himself to save the world one last time? Find out in our review on whether this is worth a watch.

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The Screener Squad is going on yet another foreign film trip…emphasis on the trip. A runner-up for the Slamdance festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature and the only Indian film ever screened at the festival, Cat Sticks follows a group of Calcutta druggies as they seek to find that elusive high from a drug known as ‘Brown Sugar.’ However, the world is clamping down on their lifestyle and their desire to party will take them through some depths they may not be ready for. Or perhaps they don’t care where it takes them? This is hard to review, as it is very much a meandering film where we watch events unfold rather than a strict narrative in an effort to live in the world alongside these characters. Does this translate into a good movie for Justin and Lara? Listen to find out.

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It’s Hannibal versus the cold in this indie survival drama. Mads Mikkelson stars as a man stranded in the middle of an arctic tundra (the reason why he is out there is never revealed), who is starting to lose hope until another helicopter crashes nearby him. With one woman surviving the wreck, Mikkelson’s character finds a motivation to seek out rescue to save her life before she succumbs to a grave injury. Little does he know, however, what dangers lay in waiting in the frozen wasteland ahead. Lara, London, and Justin are along for the ride with Mikkelson, trying to determine if this film is truly worth the time or if it is just a frozen version of All Is Lost. Listen here to find out their verdict!

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Some people deal with their frustrations with life by playing video games. Some people rent hotel rooms and then call hookers so that they can kill them. That’s where we start with Piercing, adapted from a novel by Ryu Murakami (Audition) and directed by Nicholas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother). Reed (Christopher Abbot) has left his family at home to fulfill this dark fantasy, only to have the hooker he ordered switched out last minute by a mystery woman named Jackie (Mia Wasikowska). This causes secrets from his past to come back to the surface and then things get even weirder from there. Frank and Brad decided to take this dark journey so they can come back and report to Justin on whether this is rabbit hole is worth following. Tune in to find out!

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Because what everyone really wanted was a remake of Amityville 2: The Possession. Or maybe someone did. I mean, clearly, SOMEONE did, because here we go. Ya see this is the story NOT of the Anson family, as detailed in the original The Amityville Horror or even the remake with Ryan Reynolds. This is about the family that lived in the house before they came into the picture, the oft-mentioned Butch DeFeo who murdered his entire family with a shotgun in their beds as they slept. But is there more to their story than a crazed young man? Was the evil already in the house and forcing him to commit those acts? Will he also get to have a creepy incest sex scene with his sister? The answers to these questions and more, like, is this worth seeing at all, are given by Alan and Chris in their review (with Patience rubbernecking).

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Dan Gilroy is the latest big name director to sign up with Netflix for an exclusive film and it’s finally here, his much-anticipated art world skewering/horror film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Daveed Diggs, John Malkovich, and more. The simple break-down is, when a gallery employee finds a treasure trove of outsider art by a dead neighbor with no family, the art world jumps all over it. But what they don’t know is the art is possessed by the spirit of the dead guy (I guess) and possessing it will lead to your supernatural death. Ok, that sounds dumb, and yeah, it IS dumb, but it’s not the horror stuff that makes Velvet Buzzsaw so watchable. Listen to Chris, Johnny, Michael, and Aaron give their review.

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Ever wondered how Bill Paxton started his career? Well, some students at the University of Texas will show you how…whether you wanted to know or not. In this…movie(?), Bill Paxton plays a man in a post-apocalyptic future where an ultra-patriarchal society has taken over the world and implemented prostitution towns. Bill has been programmed by a group of feminist terrorists to kill the mayor of one of these towns once the mayor says a specific story involving tigers. And…well, that’s about as much plot as London and Justin were able to get out of this story. However, it is absolutely worth listening to this review to hear the delirium and uncontrollable laughter the two of them experienced trying to explain the experience of watching this movie!

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It’s time for everyone’s favorite genre: dying teenager romantic dramas. In this movie, we follow a hypochondriac teen Calvin (Asa Butterfield) as he deals with his day to day job as an airport baggage handler. One day, a young British girl named Skye (Maisie Williams) enters his life and convinces him to help her fulfill her eccentric bucket list before she succumbs to her terminal diagnosis. Brad, London, and Lara decided to watch this movie to see if its sugary sweet melodrama would work any magic on them. For some people it did and for some, not so much! Come join Justin as he finds out who felt which way right here.

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***NON-SPOILER REVIEW***Justin and Les are on the case to determine if this TNT limited series is worth the investment. In this six-part procedural inspired by the book by Fauna Hodel, we follow the lives of two individuals whose lives are connected to what may be the Black Dahlia killer. The first is a young girl named Pat (India Eisley), a mixed-race woman who discovers that her mother is not actually her mother and that her real family in Los Angeles may be involved in something sinister. Meanwhile, a sleazy reporter named Jay Singletary (Chris Pine), desperate to build his reputation back stumbles upon a story involving a grisly murder that sucks him into the insanity. How will this tale resolve itself? Justin and Les have decided to parcel out the series review into three parts to highlight the work of the three respective directors, with the first two directed byWonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins. Expect the other reviews to come out with each bundle of two episodes.

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We haven’t had a good hit of ‘My Cocaine’ in a while, so we jumped on the opportunity to review Michael Caine’s newest feature. Directed by James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), King of Thieves follows the real-life events of Brian Reader (Michael Caine). Shortly after his wife dies, Reader gathers together a team of older veteran thieves and a younger cohort to pull off one of the biggest bank heists in British history. Having walked away with nearly £200 million in jewelry and money, it’s only a matter of time before the thieves start turning on each other to get a bigger cut. How will this all end up for them? Frank and Lara bring along their own young protege Justin to tell him whether this heist is worth executing or just needs to be executed.

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Justin has decided to bring back Allen from the Midnight Chat Attack to experience the horrors of the bargain bin movies for himself. In Dead Ant, we follow a band of old rockers led by Sean Astin and Tom Arnold (uh-oh…) as they venture through a Native American reservation to play at a music festival. After making a stop to buy peyote from a mysterious Native American shop owner (Michael Horse from Twin Peaks), they are warned that if they kill any animals in the reservation while high, they will be cursed. Sure enough, the rockers’ antics send a swarm of giant killer fire ants after them as a result. How will they get out of this and make it to the concert in one piece? Well, if you ask Justin and Allen, it may not be worth finding out. Listening to our review here will be a good enough substitute to the real thing!

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The heat is on with this review as Justin, Shak and Allen jump on the bandwagon to discuss Netflix’s scathing documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. Following the infamous 2017 failed music festival, the film focuses both on the mechanizations involving the main people planning the party and the team on the ground attempting to hastily put the festival together while realizing that it is likely for nothing. No one could have been prepared for what was in store when the guests arrived on the island and the film only continues to shed light on details that most people probably didn’t know about the event. How good is the movie though and how does it stack against the Hulu documentary released days before the film? Our team will tell you all about it here. So pull out a cheese sandwich and enjoy yourselves!

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We’ve had a good run of debut writer/director films lately and this seems to be no exception. Frank and Lara take the lead on this review of The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, a dark and tense thriller shot in Dallas, Texas. The story follows around James Badge Dale playing a former police officer and militiaman who is brought out of retirement after a mass shooting at a police funeral. Things only get worse when he realizes that the shooter is very likely one of the members from his old militia. To ensure that there are no further shootings or copycats after this incident, Dale secludes the group into an old lumber mill to interrogate them and find the killer. Can they convince Justin to watch this movie? We shall have to find out!

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January is here and for cinema, it’s a real dumping ground. So, of course, we would get a Hayden Christensen movie somewhere in the pile. In The Last Man, he plays a soldier returning from an unspecified war while an unspecified apocalypse brews around an unspecified Latin country (yes, it’s really confusing in the movie too). While attempting to overcome his PTSD, he is hired by his boss to build an apocalypse shelter in his house. Through this, he becomes involved with the boss’s daughter and also starts acting as a vigilante to right the wrongs he sees plaguing the other people around him. Justin listens to Brad and Patience do their best to explain this confusing story. Is it worth your time to invest in the film? You probably know the answer, but check out what they have to say regardless!

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It’s time for some good old political intrigue. This is An Acceptable Loss, the newest film from Joe Chappelle who did so much great work on The Wire….and also Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers. This time, we follow Tika Sumpter as she deals with the fallout from an unpopular decision she made while serving as a security adviser for the U.S. under Vice President Jamie Lee Curtis. While teaching at a college, a graduate student is stalking her and her former lover from the White House is hounding her concerning that decision that haunts her to this day. She has a plan to get back at those who ruined her life, but how will it play out for her and everyone involved? Justin and Frank couldn’t find a bipartisan approach in reviewing this movie, with both of them having very different reactions to this movie’s tone and plot choices. How different? You’ll have to find out.

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It’s Gerard Butler as you’ve never seen him before: in a small-scale, character-driven indie thriller! With a story VERY LOOSELY based on the Flannan Isle Lighthouse disappearances in 1900, Butler plays one of three lighthouse workers alongside Peter Mullan (Ozark) and Connor Swindells (Netflix’s upcoming Sex Education). While exploring the shoreline of the island their lighthouse rests on, they discover an unconscious man washed onto shore with a treasure chest full of gold bars. However, the unconscious man’s crew soon arrive looking to get their treasure back by any means necessary. How will the lighthouse workers handle the coming threat? Justin, Patience and Ben Glasthal give the scoop on what might be the first good movie of 2019. And it’s a Gerard Butler movie of all things!

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Hulu’s premiere horror anthology series Into the Dark continues with their New Year’s Eve focused episode New Year, New You. In this movie, a group of girls meet at a house to celebrate the arrival of 2019, but something is amiss. Alexis (Suki Waterhouse) is holding a grudge against one of their friends Danielle (Carly Chaikin) for an incident long ago and has decided tonight is the best time to right that wrong. However, things quickly get out of hand. How will the rest of the night go? Justin, Les and Ben Glasthal discuss this fourth episode of the anthology series to decide whether it is worth continuing to follow month to month or not.

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SCREENER SQUAD: SWING KIDS is about to get hit with Korean style boogie woogie fever! Swing Kids, based on a Korean musical called Rho Ki-Soo and not that unrelated 1993 movie with Christian Bale, centers around the Geoje prison camp during the Korean war in 1951. A captive North Korean soldier named Ro Ki-soo (Do Kyung-soo) falls in love with tap dancing after seeing it performed by an American Broadway dancer turned officer named Jackson (Jared Grimes). Along with a ragtag group of other colorful characters, they decide to form a dance group to liven the spirits of the other prisoners and find a renewed sense of freedom through dance. Bradly and Ben Glasthal decided to lace up their dancing shoes and cut a rug with this review. Did its charms work on them though?

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Norway thought its brush with disaster had been averted when The Wave hit them. They were very wrong! In this sequel to the hit 2015 movie, the lead characters return and are still recovering from the post-traumatic stress of the last disaster. However, after geologist Kristian (Kristoffer Joner) investigates the death of a colleague, he comes upon the colleague’s study that predicts a massive earthquake is due to hit Oslo shortly. Can he race against time to gather his family and protect them from a disaster that threatens to level Oslo completely? For such an epic tale of disaster, Justin gathered his own expert team of reviewers to cover this movie. Listen to see if Brad, Lara, London, and Patience think this is a worthy sequel to its predecessor or if your faith in quality sequels will continue to be shaken.

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The end is near, but Justin and Lara have the movie to help you prepare. Prodigy follows a father whose son is being held by the government after he accurately predicts two supernatural events that he claims will proceed a global catastrophe. After the government contacts the father to help the son receive the sign of what this catastrophic event will be, the father takes matters into his own hands and breaks the son out of the compound he is held at. Now they are on the run and must find a way to receive the sign before the government catches up to them. Sounds like a solid story in the vein of films like Midnight Special, right? Well…listen here to see why that might not be the case…

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The Christmas horrors continue with this VOD release. A group of friends find themselves in a dangerous situation when they open an ancient toy box that releases a mischievous group of seven elves on the world. The problem? All these elves want for Christmas is murder! Once again, Justin gets to sit back and listen to Patience, along with Screener Squad newcomer Ben Glasthal, vent about this movie. How mad did this make them? You need to listen to the review to believe the insanity that they were subjected to!

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It’s time for some more foreign film goodness! Mademoiselle Paradis follows the true story of famed 18th-century pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis (Maria Dragus), who was blinded after an incident in her childhood but nonetheless found an outlet through music. Desperate to find help for her daughter, Maria’s mother entrusts her in the care of Dr. Franz Mesmer (Devid Steisow). Through some rather unorthodox means, he conducts a series of tests that actually start to restore bits of her eyesight. The problem? Her musical talent is weakening as a result. How will this affect her life afterward? Justin took a backseat on this review as he listened to Lara and Bradly tackle this indie period piece. Does it have the charm to win them over or is it just another stuffy costume drama? Listen to find out!

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Colin Firth is on a boat…and it’s not going to be a pleasant experience sadly. This biopic, directed by James Marsh (The Theory of Everything, Man on Wire), chronicles the disastrous attempt by British businessman and amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst to compete in the Sunday Times Golden Globe race. The objective, to travel across the world without setting foot on land once, is ambitious, but Donald feels he can accomplish the task. Unfortunately, he is not prepared for the challenges the open ocean will throw his way, nor is his wife (Rachel Weisz) prepared to watch her husband slowly drift away from her and their kids towards his descent into madness and suffering. Sounds pretty heavy, right? Well…it is. Does it earn its pathos though? Justin, Davey, and London put on their fanciest airs to explain their thoughts on this film.

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The birth of your second child should be a joyous occasion for a family…unless the older sibling feels jealous of the attention the newborn gets. This is the central premise of GKIDS and Toho’s Mirai, the newest feature from Mamoru Hosoda (The Boy and the Beast). The film follows Kun, a four-year-old boy whose comfortable life as an only child is disrupted with the arrival of his baby sister Mirai. As he lashes out at his parents and his sister, he is confronted with a series of magical trips via his house’s garden to help him cope with his new situation and to hopefully learn some important life lessons. Justin, Bradly, and Screener Squad first-timer Michael Riojas enjoy a longer than usual discussion to point out the merits of this film and what it has to say about the nature of family.

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The future. No one knows what lies in store for us, but this movie believes there will be a lot of noir there. Clyde Cooper follows its eponymous character as he is hired to investigate the disappearance of a man’s girlfriend. This leads down a long investigation involving hookers, Silicon Valley tech giants and so much more. At least, we think that’s what was meant to happen. Listen to Justin and Brad review the movie right here.

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The yuletide murder keeps on coming with this movie. Ugly Sweater Party follows two young men named Cliff and Jodi who are on their way to what they think will be an ugly sweater themed sex party when they realize they forgot a sweater. They later find a homeless man carrying a spare one, only to realize it is possessed by the soul of a serial killer who attempts to take over Cliff’s body. Will they be able to prevent mass murder from ruining their holidays? You’ll have to listen to Justin and Brad’s review find out, but let’s just say that Justin may be more uncharacteristically surly about this movie than he usually is.

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Meow Wolf: Two words together that have no business associating. But now, this non-sequitur of a term defines one of the coolest art collectives in the world who really hit the attention button hard when they launched their wildly immersive and interactive permanent art project House of Eternal Return in 2006. Since then, every city wants their own Meow Wolf installation with developing ones in Denver and Las Vegas coming soon. But how did these weird folks manage to pull this off? Meow Wolf – Origin Story has your answers and Chris and Marco are here to tell you about it.

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Tis the season…for horror! In this Christmas horror film, we follow a group of soldiers in World War 1 who accidentally release the demonic Krampus from an artifact. After the soldiers are killed, the artifact is sent to the commanding officer’s widow, who runs a small-town orphanage. When the orphans once again release the Krampus from its prison, they must team up to banish it once and for all. Sounds fun, right? Well…Chris and Brad have some bad news for you. How bad? You’ll have to find out here.

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Chris has joined forces with regular Screener Squad reviewer Bradly Martin for two horror movie reviews this week. Their first movie, Mail Order Monster, follows a young girl named Sam (Madison Horcher) dealing with the death of her mother and the harassment of bullies. In addition, her father (Josh Hopkins) is dating a new woman (Charisma Carpenter). Deciding she has had enough, Sam orders the parts for a robot monster to offer protection and guidance. Will that be enough though? Find out here in our review.

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Yeehaw! Patience and Justin are headed out West to cover this cowboy horror film. A senior citizen tour group and their handlers head out for a fun day at a rodeo, only to realize that the workers may have more sinister intentions for their guests. Can they make it through the night to return home or will they end up being wrangled and tortured in these cowboys’ sick game? Does this movie deliver on its over-the-top scares? Or is it just an excuse for cowboy-themed torture porn? Find out here!

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What if we told you that you were about to take a trip with Zero from The Grand Budapest Hotel and Derek from The Good Place? Sounds like either a recipe for hilarity or disaster! While driving from Texas to start college in California, Nathan’s (Toni Revolori) car stalls out. With no other options, he enlists the help of a stranger named Richard (Jason Mantzoukas) who fixes his car in exchange for a ride to a nearby town along the way. Little does Nathan realize how much Richard’s loose cannon attitude will affect their trip in bizarre ways. And little does Justin, Nick and Travis realize what they’re in for while watching this movie. Warning: You’re about to hear an epic Nick rant in this podcast!

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And you thought your life was complicated! In this indie sci-fi, we follow Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) as he goes about his day-to-day life designing architecture. The catch? He has a special condition where he inhabits the same body as his brother John, meaning he is only active between 7AM and 7PM before his brother takes over. They have a simple system to deal with this. They communicate through video camera messages, they stay with the schedule, they meet with their doctor (Patricia Clarkson) and they absolutely do not have girlfriends. That is, until John decides to get a girlfriend (Suki Waterhouse) behind Jonathan’s back. Once he catches wind of this though, Jonathan decides to investigate and take matters into his own hands before things get even more complicated. Little does he know what this will get him into.

Justin and Frank take the reins on this movie, which they were more than happy to do with the good word of mouth it has got from the festival circuit. Does it live up to the hype though? Check out the review to see!

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Not everything is glamorous for this cam girl. Alice (Madeline Brewer), in a desperate move to crack the Top 50 cam girls on her website, teams up with other cam girls at a hub house to attract more viewers. The next day, she discovers that she has not only been locked out of her account, but someone who looks exactly like her is streaming live on the site under her name. As the conspiracy expands and continues to invade more of her privacy, Alice has to think quickly to get her identity back before it gets any worse.

Justin and Patience cover this little indie thriller, which has been a hit at festivals and has been praised on a previous podcast by Chris and his co-hosts. How did it hold up with these two? Well…you’ll have to listen to find out, but…yeah, they have a lot of great things to say too!

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The Squad is back and this time they are covering a potential Oscar contender. Burning, South Korea’s submission to the Best Foreign Language category which follows Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) as he gets romantically involved with an old friend named Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-so). After a trip to Africa, she returns with a new friend she made named Ben (Steven Yeun), who almost immediately rubs Jong-su the wrong way with his cryptic, sociopathic leanings on top of the mysterious fortune he seems to have amassed. How will the arrival of this new person affect the lives of this couple?

Shak already reviewed this movie on our TIFF Infestation podcast, but he decided to give this movie another shot with Justin and Davey in tow. After all, this is a movie with an over 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Will the second time be a charm?

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Susan Sarandon stars in this YouTube Premium film following a mother whose journalist son has been kidnapped in the Middle East. Feeling that the government is not doing enough to ensure his return, she turns to an underground group of journalists and benefactors called the Viper Club in hopes to raise the $20 million that the captors are asking for. Will she be able to raise that much in so little time?

Justin has brought upon Highly Suspect Reviewer Lara Britton this time around to discuss a film that seems to have its heart in the right place. But is that enough?

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Orson Welles never finished this movie in his lifetime due to legal and financial complications, but Netflix and a dedicated team finally assembled the hundreds of hours of footage left behind into the product we have today: The Other Side of the Wind. This self-reflexive Hollywood satire centers on the birthday of a veteran director (John Houston) as he screens his unfinished film titled The Other Side of the Wind in an effort to convince the main actor to return to production, secure additional funding, placate a critic, and entertain a cadre of students and reporters who are documenting the entire event. How will the night unfold and can everyone keep themselves together through it?

Justin and Frank delve into this complex, frenetic and sprawling film that is packed to the brim with footage to honor Orson’s memory. Did it pay off? You’ll have to listen to find out.

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The Screener Squad has called upon Brad and London to tackle yet another spooky film set in a European country. This time, they follow the story of a single mother (Kristen Ruhlin, who also wrote the script) as she deals with a stigmata and is sent to a remote convent. There, she must rely on those she can trust to help exorcise the demons within her.

Did this movie creep Brad and London to the bone? Or did it leave them feeling as cold as a winter in Latvia (they have cold winters there, right?)? Tune into the review to find out!

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The Screener Squad is laying down some fresh beats with this review of Neon and YouTube Premium’s Bodied. Directed by music video titan Joseph Kahn, the story follows a white progressive graduate student named Adam Merkin (“American Vandal‘s” Callum Worthy). While writing a thesis about the use of offensive racial language in rap battles, he is put into a situation where he shows that he is not a bad battle rapper himself. The catch? His lyrics work best when he unleashes his most unfiltered, and often racist, material. Even with how non-politically correct his battle rap community is, Adam is unprepared for where this journey will take him and how it will affect his relationships with everyone.

Shak, Justin, Bradly and Ben Gentile had heard the massive hype behind this movie from the festival circuit, so they had an epic watch party to make sure they had the best experience possible. Did it help? Well, you’ll have to listen to find out!

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The Screener Squad has embarked on another international mission to review this Cannes Un Certain Regard-winning film. Adapted from a short story by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In), we follow a deformed woman who works for the Swedish customs office who meets a man with not only similar deformities but some of the other heightened senses she has developed through it. The connection she builds with him will not only get her involved in an intense police investigation but will also present her with revelations that will question her entire existence.

Justin could only moderate this review due to other obligations, but Brad and newcomer London took the lead in reviewing this acclaimed foreign film. Is this truly good enough to earn its place as Sweden’s Oscar candidate for Best Foreign Language film? Or will voters be too grossed out and terrified by its reveals? There will certainly be no end of ‘border’ puns while you listen to the review to find out!

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Paul Greengrass has returned with the latest in his series of ‘made too soon’ movies, this time courtesy of Netflix. Centered on the 2011 Norwegian terrorist attacks conducted by Anders Behring Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie), we follow the story from the bombing and shooting that claimed the lives of 77 people to Breivik’s final courtroom verdict. Can the victims of this shooting recover from the scars left by this crime? And was this the work of a monstrous lunatic or a coordinated attack that speaks to an even greater threat?

Paul Greengrass definitely wants people to think about during this movie. However, Justin and Brad weren’t buying what he was selling. Admittedly, Justin is more right leaning than the audience this movie was made for, though he does not condone any of Breivik’s actions or that of any political group that promotes violence to any person. However, both reviewers objectively felt that this film was a decently made and well-acted but exploitative take on a real-world event that comes off as a political fear mongering tool without offering substantial solutions. If the movie had better pacing and more nuance in discussing its main points, that may have been less of an issue.

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Sadie (Sophia Mitri Schloss) doesn’t have it easy. Her dad has been fighting overseas for years, she frustrated with school and now she has found out her mother Rae (Melanie Lynskey) is having an affair with the sketchy mechanic next door named Cyrus (John Gallagher Jr.). Convinced that the only way to fix her family’s problems is to remove Cyrus from their life, Sadie decides to use her manipulation skills to sabotage her mother’s relationship. But will it actually fix anything?

Justin and Davey went into this Sundance movie hoping for an insightful look at teenage angst. Instead, they got a well-acted and competently made movie that can’t decide if its lead character is an understandably moody teenager or a dangerous sociopath in the making. There are other more objective complaints too, which they will detail in the review.

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Paul Dano has made the leap from actor to writer/director, alongside his established writer partner Zoe Kazan, in this adaptation of Richard Ford’s 1990 novel. The story revolves around Joe (Ed Oxenbould), a young boy living in Montana during the 1960’s. His father Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), after losing his job as a golf attendant, has taken a new job fighting wildfires that will require him to leave the family for several months. Once he leaves, Joe sees his mother Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) slowly unravel as she neglects his needs and falls for an older neighbor named Warren (Bill Camp). How will Joe be able to handle his own coming-of-age if his parents can’t deal with their own deep seeded problems?

Justin and Davey have brought along One of Us regular Frank Calvillo for this review to see if Paul Dano is the latest in the recent trend of successful transitions from actor to filmmaker. Thankfully, their answer is not simply ‘Yes,’ but an enthusiastic ‘YES!!!’ Hear them wax on about this gorgeously shot, well-written, well-directed and superbly acted film that tackles marital drama and teenage anxiety with more nuance and compassion than most movies by veteran filmmakers. If this is what Paul Dano and Zoey Kazan can do their first time collaborating together behind the cameras, we can’t wait to see what they do next.

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There’s nothing funny about Nina Geld’s life. She’s a stand-up comedian with an acerbic tongue, a chip on her shoulder and a bad habit to get in bed with the wrong guys. However, when she heads to Los Angeles to audition for a prime time comedy show, she meets the man of her dreams in the form of Rafe. Will she be able to find true happiness or will her demons keep her in this cycle of misery?

Sounds like a laugh a minute right? Well…not really. Justin and Shak had a lot of good things to say about this complicated but compelling film. Just know that this is going to get heavy!

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Oh boy…this review is going to be a doozy. Justin and Davey discuss this new film Bikini Moon from director Milcho Manchevski (Before the Rain), a faux-documentary where a group of young independent filmmakers come across a mentally unstable Iraq War veteran who calls herself ‘Bikini.’ They soon become fascinated with her and decide to dedicate their time helping her gain stability while exploiting the process for their film to make money. What does this say about the condescension of white liberalism, the plight of the homeless and the relationship documentary filmmakers build with their subjects?

Not as much as you’d think if you ask Justin and Davey. Though there has been some early positive word of mouth for this film, you’re going to hear very little positive about this movie from this site. Even the fact this is a decently produced film with a solid team of actors, including Sarah Goldberg from Barry, couldn’t stave off our reviewer’s feelings that this was a pretentious exercise. It’s worth it just to hear Davey barely contain his vitriolic hate!

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Ever had the loss of a loved one mess with everything in your life? Jim Cummings has apparently, or at least his character does in this movie that Cummings not only played the lead in, but also wrote and directed. Adapting his original short film, we follow Officer Jim who, following a humiliatingly overwrought eulogy at his mother’s funeral, tries to return to his daily routine. However, the stress from the loss, along with potentially losing his daughter in a custody battle with his ex-wife, is making Jim more emotionally vulnerable than ever. Can he find a way to constructively channel his grief before he pushes all of his family and friends away?

The film is admittedly impressive in the way it emphasizes long takes to highlight its strong central performance. How does it fare as a whole product though? Justin and Davey would say it’s a pretty solid film, even if they aren’t completely in agreement on how much they liked it. Just be ready to get weepy, and more than a little uncomfortable, when you find this tragicomedy streaming on a service near you.

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How does one prepare for the impending death of a family dog? Why, by throwing a goodbye party for them while dealing with love triangles of course! Written, directed by and starring Polly Draper (thirtysomething), the film follows two brothers named Jack and Oliver, played by real-life brothers Nat and Alex Wolff respectively, planing for one last weekend with their mother and her boyfriend before euthanizing their dog, Stella. However, things get complicated when Oliver brings over his girlfriend Violet (Paulina Singer), who Jack may still have a crush on after a prior fling…and she may still have a crush on him too! How will this all these messy emotions culminate in the end?

For this review, Justin managed to call upon “The TV Dudes” podcaster and dog lover Les Weiler to discuss this genuinely likable, if not memorable, romantic film. Just don’t watch this with your dogs like Les did or it may elicit very strong emotions!

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It’s about to get real uncomfortable in here, but for all the best reasons. Tamara Jenkins (“The Savages”) returns to film making after an eleven-year hiatus with this Sundance darling. The story follows Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a New York couple named Richard and Rachel, who despite their best efforts cannot conceive a child or secure one for adoption. Things seem grim until their step-niece Sadie (Kayli Carter) decides to live with them after dropping out of college. Seeing no other options and knowing they can trust Sadie, the couple decide to ask her if she’s willing to donate eggs for an In Vitro Fertilization treatment. But will it all work out?

This movie covers just about every minute detail about infertility and its effects on a married life you can think of, but in a way that is more honest and heartfelt than any other film like it. So much so that Justin and Brad couldn’t say enough good things about this movie, that toes the line between uncomfortably real and disarmingly funny with aplomb. It helps too to have such lovable characters played by cast totally on their A-game. Just go in knowing that this is a movie for grown-ups and that it may prompt some serious discussions after (or maybe during) your viewing.

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Justin and Davey continue exploring their new favorite genre to review together: lesbian historical biographies. This time, they’re exploring the life of famous French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, played here by Keira Knightley. Following her marriage to socialite and libertine Henry ‘Willy’ Gauthier-Villars, she is encouraged to write a novel as a means of expressing herself. Things get complicated, however, when her husband decides to publish the novel Claudine under his name so the book can be ‘taken seriously.’ Colette must find a way to navigate this toxic relationship however she can, including through a steamy affair with the Marquise de Belbeuf, a French noblewoman living as a man.

You’d think this movie wouldn’t be up their alley after their tepid response to Lizzie, on top of the fact that this was made by the director of Still Alice. Well…it turns out that this is a significant improvement to both of those movies. Tune into the review to hear them rave over this compelling and incredibly well-acted movie!Empty Space


The Screener Squad gets serious this time out as they cover Monsters and Men, the Sundance darling from director Reinaldo Marcus Green making his feature film debut. The story follows three lead characters (played by Anthony Ramos, John David Washington, and Kelvin Harrison Jr.) as they deal with a police shooting that affects their lives more than they could have imagined. From the moment capturing the horrific event to the political activism built around the shooting, the film uses a short film like structure to capture the moments that make up this emotionally complex issue of how to get justice and how to process trauma.

Justin and Shak have a lot of good things to say about this movie that, while not quite reaching its potential due to some structural and narrative issues, is a worthwhile film to watch if you have even the slightest interest in its subject matter. They also can’t get over how much John David Washington can sound EXACTLY like his father Denzel in key scenes. Find out why in the review!

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The Screener Squad takes on another international assignment as they venture into the weird and wild world of anime! Their target this time is the English dub film for My Hero Academia, subtitled both Two Heroes and The Movie (they use both on the title card for some reason…). The series leads the ultra-powerful All Might and his protege Deku traveling to the floating city of I-Island for a special expo to celebrate the innovations brought on by the superheroic ‘Quirk’ abilities enjoyed by most of the world’s population. However, a villainous plot looms in the background that threatens their joyous occasion. Our heroes must use their wits, strengths and a whole ton of series cameos to save the day!

As fans of the show, Nick Thyes and Bradly Martin take the lead on this review. However, Justin Zarian is also on board to see if the movie can be enjoyed by newcomers as much as hardcore fans. To their surprise, it totally is! Listen to hear them rave over this light but thoroughly entertaining romp that manages to showcase strong characters and emotional beats just as much as well-animated fight scenes.

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The Screener Squad takes on another international mission as they review South Korea’s latest epic, Kim Kwang-Sik’s The Great Battle. Based on the legendary siege of Ansi set during the Goguryeo-Tang War in 645 A.D., we follow a small Korean force led by Commander Yang Man-chun (Jo In-sung) as they defend their fortress against 500,000 of Chinese emperor Taizong’s soldiers. Unbeknownst to them though, one Korean soldier named Sa-mul (Nam Joo-hyuk) has been ordered by a general to assassinate Yang after he refused to assist in a disastrous battle.

Is this movie long? Sure. Is it historically accurate? Kind of. Is it a blast to watch? Absolutely!

In spite of its obvious influences from 300 and The Two Towers, Justin Zarian and Davey Peppers still found a lot to praise with this gorgeous and thrilling war film, including some of the best battle scenes you’ll see in any movie this year! Not too shabby for a $20 million production from a previously untested indie film director!

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Mamma mia! Justin Zarian has to review this stinky meatball of a movie called Little Italy, but he’s woefully unprepared like musciada pasta. So he has called Ben Gentile, that little Italian-American goomba of his, to help him not look like a giamope while reviewing this movie! It’s about this adorable pazzo couple whose families are acting like a bunch of ciucciosand now run rival restaurants next to each other, which means these adorable broccolini kids can’t fall in love. Can they overcome this obstacle to let the fire of romance burn between them like a hot pizzeria oven? Magari!

Trust us, what you just read above was painless compared to this movie. Surely it can’t be that bad though, right? It’s directed by the guy who brought us How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Just My Luck and…oh….well, Emma Roberts is the lead….oh….well, her romantic co-lead is Hayden Christensen doing an Italian-American accent….

…yeah, you should just listen to the review. This summation cannot do it justice.

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A South American country is throwing a birthday party for a rich Japanese industrialist (Ken Watanabe) trying to woo him into opening a factory there by getting his favorite opera singer (Julianne Moore) to perform. But when rebels storm the party and hold all the guests hostage, mistakenly thinking the President of the country is in attendance, things turn into a weeks-long stand-off. Over time, the hostages and the rebels form a sort of bond, but whether you find that convincing or moving is going to depend on whether you find yourself more on Frank’s side or Chris’s side. Listen to their review right here.

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Screener Squad: Lizzie

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave Davey Peppers forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave Justin Zarian forty-one. All skipping-rope rhymes aside, Lizzie is Chloe Sevigny’s long-gestating passion project depicting the murders of the Borden family, which scholars continue to debate on how culpable their daughter Lizzie was. Was she innocent? Did she kill them because they discovered her lesbian relationship with their servant? Did she get away with murder? All of these are interesting questions that the movie only sometimes addresses satisfactorily. Justin and Davey take a whack at reviewing this movie that, in spite of solid production values and performances, never quite delivers on its dramatic potential.

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Screener Squad: The Basement

Justin has kidnapped Shak and Brad once again to subject them to horrors from the bargain bin. This time, they’ll experience a story about a crazy person who kidnaps a guy and ties him in a basement where he seemingly tries to get him to confess to…wait….is this 3: An Eye for An Eye all over again? Not quite. This is more like if you took that movie and merged it with Split. You’ll understand when you listen to the review.

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Screener Squad: Slice

We all know that A24 as a film distributor or producer has of late become the mark of a certain level of quality. Which is why we were surprised by Slice. I mean, it’s a Slasher-horror-comedy, which didn’t seem particularly A24’s line…and then we saw the movie. I mean, what? The story follows a pizza place run by Paul Scheer that apparently is situated over the buried murdered inmates of a former asylum. This is a world where the supernatural is real and the town has a huge ghost population just walking around, ordering pizza, being treated as second-class citizens. But suddenly someone starts murdering the pizza delivery drivers. The mayor (Chris Parnell) blames it on the spectral population but something seems off. It’s up to the coolest of the pizza drivers (Zazie Beetz ) a curious journalist (Rae Grey) and a gentle werewolf (Chance the Rapper) to…oh hell, I don’t know. Listen to our review with Chris, Ben, and Marco right here.

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Screener Squad: Silencer

The Screener Squad dives into the bargain bin once again. This time, they chose this little film that not only features Danny Trejo, but also legendary UFC fighters Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddel. However, they take a backseat while we follow Chris Messner playing a retired military sniper brought in to avenge the death of Trejo’s daughter, only for things to go very wrong. Sounds like an action-filled romp right? Oh, sweet listener…you have no idea. Justin, Shak, and Brad will give you the scoop on this wannabe revenge thriller, where the majority of the silence comes from all the scenes where nothing happens.

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Screener Squad: Hostile

The future is rough. Especially for the poor woman in this movie. Stranded in the desert under a flipped over car with monsters after her, she must recall the experiences of her past to help her survive the present. Justin and Davey review this little indie that genuinely impressed them…only to pull the rug out from under them in the end. But it sure looked pretty!

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 Screener Squad: Blood Fest

A horror movie fanatic and his friends head to a horror movie festival for a night of celebrity sightings, total geek outs and maybe even a chance to get lucky. Little do they know that the people in charge of the festival have more sinister intentions in mind as they suddenly start killing the guests en masse. Can our heroes use their horror movie trope knowledge to survive the night?

Our own little movie fanatic team of Justin, Patience, Shak and Nick took it upon themselves to watch this movie, written and directed by Owen Egerton with distribution from Rooster Teeth. Does this horror comedy have the scares and the laughs to win them over? Check out the review!

A huge thank you once again to Owen Egerton and Rooster Teeth for letting our crew do that set visit as well!

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Screener Squad: The Captain (A.K.A. Der Hauptmann)

Who’s the captain now? Unfortunately, it’s the psychopath in this movie. Based on the story of war criminal Willi Herold, we follow his journey from deserting the front lines near the end of World War II to his discovery of an abandoned Luftwaffe captain uniform. Using this rank and his gift for gab, he assembles a ragtag group of soldiers for a ‘special mission’ that leads him to a prison camp where he commits and convinces other to commit, numerous atrocities to see how far his newfound power can take him.

It must be said upfront that this German-language movie is almost unrelentingly bleak and contains several hard-to-watch sequences. However, if you can stomach the film like Justin and Patience did, you’ll see the gorgeously shot, well sound mixed and overall thought-provoking tale within about how it easy it can be to do evil when suddenly given immense power. It’s not a new story, but it’s one that is well-told and still relevant today. Who would have thought this would come from writer/director Robert Schwentke, the man responsible for such ‘classics’ as R.I.P.D., Flightplan and the second and third Divergent movies? It goes to show that sometimes taking away those big budgets and going back to your roots can really pay off!

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Screener Squad: 3: An Eye for An Eye

A man and a woman kidnap another man she accuses of raping her at a party, determined to torture him until he confesses to his crimes. However, the man’s unwillingness to confess and claims that he has no idea what they’re talking about, on top of other brewing personal problems, bring troubles abound for the group. Sounds like the potential for a serious discussion about morality, male privilege and other serious discussion topics, right? Well, it would be…if it was in the hands of competent filmmakers. Justin Zarian and guest reviewer Bradly Martin took it upon themselves to sit through this movie, unprepared for how cheaply made and unintentionally hilarious the experience would be. Listen to the review to hear what happens when presumably good intentions go horribly wrong.

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Screener Squad: Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days

The Screener Squad has taken their first foreign assignment to review the sequel to the hit 2017 Korean movie Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds.In this movie, three Grim Reapers must help a young South Korean soldier clear his wrongful death to prove he was actually murder and qualify for reincarnation. There’s also some stuff with a grandpa and his grandson, a stock market fiasco, millennia-old secrets and a whole ton of terrible CG fight scenes. And yet…we didn’t dislike this film at all. Justin and Nick may have differing opinions on how much they liked it on the whole, but listen to their review for the full scoop on why you should or shouldn’t check this movie.

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Screener Squad: Leave No Trace

The Screener Squad returns to talk about, and stop us if you’ve heard this before, a movie where Ben Foster plays an unhinged person. Real shocker, right? While living in the woods of Oregon with his teenage daughter, a minor incident derails their ideal survivalist existence and forces them to find a new way to co-exist with a society Ben Foster has fought so hard to distance them from. Will his restless PTSD-fueled inner demons keep them from ever having a place to call home? Justin, Ethan, and Ben gush over this incredibly well-told and compassionate story written and directed by the team behind Winter’s Bone, that shines a light on the plight of rural America, the problems facing homeless veterans, finding independence in an increasingly intrusive society and the ways families work together to address trauma. It’s a movie currently sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, people. Go watch it!

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Screener Squad: A.I. Tales

What can we expect to see in the near future? Hopefully better anthology films than A.I. Tales. Justin and Shak took the bait from the totally misleading title to sit through four short science fiction films about overpopulation, leaving family, nuclear war and…something maybe involving time travel? Eric Roberts cameos in one of the shorts too, so you know what kind of film you’re walking into. Check out this review to hear which shorts, and which parts of the shorts, are worth your time.

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 Screener Squad: The Jurassic Dead

The Screener Squad are back to cover more horrors from the bargain bin. This time, they tackle The Jurassic Dead, a film about a crack militia unit and a group of young nerds who team up to stop a bio-engineered zombie T-Rex, a mad scientist dressed like a Sith Immortan Joe, and an EMP blast triggered by an asteroid crashing into the Earth. Or at least they think that’s what happened. It really makes no sense whatsoever! That didn’t stop Justin from getting his frequent Breakfast Pub collaborators Nick and Shak to subject themselves to the horrible green screen, laughably bad acting and overall ineptitude of this movie. Listen to the review to hear some truly epic ranting from Shak and Justin totally spacing out during the plot synopsis. You can’t really blame him when you hear about this movie.

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 Screener Squad: Director’s Cut

Penn Jillette stars as a crazed fanboy who gets involved with a crowdfunded movie so he can stalk one of the lead stars, Missi Pyle, all the while offering a director’s commentary on the movie currently in progress. And things only get weirder from there! Justin does his first ‘solo mission’ review for the podcast in an attempt articulate his feelings on this bizarre genre-blender that is best enjoyed knowing as little as possible, even if you might enjoy parts more than the whole.

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 Screener Squad: The Yellow Birds

It’s the blockbuster team-up you never knew you wanted where Han Solo and Cyclops join forces to fight in the Iraq War! Okay, it’s not nearly that interesting. Alden Ehrenreich and Tye Sheridan headline this movie based on an acclaimed book following young soldiers who experience the horror of war and return only for those nightmarish images, along with a devastating secret they’d rather leave in the past, to follow them home. Justin and Ethan give you the scoop on this feature-length brooding montage and whether it is truly worth the effort to go out of your way to see.

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 Screener Squad: American Animals

Based more or less on a true story, American Animals follows a group of young college students from Transylvania University (located in Kentucky of all places) who conspire to steal a collection of valuable books from their library’s special selections. However, none of them are expert thieves, none of them have connections that would make the job easier and some of them are starting to have doubts in the heat of the moment. Can they keep their cool long enough to pull off such an audacious caper or will they fold before they can even get started? Justin, Ethan, and their friend Ben give you some varying opinions on why they feel this movie’s an enjoyable, if somewhat flawed, caper that should entertain those who aren’t into the Ocean’s movies.

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 Screener Squad: Hearts Beat Loud presents our newest review show: The Screener Squad. A show dedicated to covering the films too small for a theatrical release, too obscure for an average audience member and too good to ignore (or so we hope). In this review, Justin Zarian and Ethan cover Hearts Beat Loud, the newest indie darling from director Brett Haley (The Hero). A widower father and rock n’ roll connoisseur struggles to cope with the passing of his beloved wife, his record store’s dwindling revenue and his daughter preparing to travel across the country for medical school. However, after an impromptu music jam session that yields a catchy song, he realizes the two of them could have a budding future as a father/daughter songwriting team. However, life is never easy for wishful thinkers like him and he has to decide what ultimately will make everyone happy in the long run. With a stellar ensemble including Nick Offerman, Kiersey Clemons and Toni Collette, is this indie rock indie worth a trip to the theater? Tune in and feel your hearts beat fast in anticipation for this movie!

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 Screener Squad: Jurassic Games presents our newest review show: the Screener Squad. A show dedicated to covering the films too small for a theatrical release, too obscure for an average audience member and too good to ignore (or so we hope). In this review, Justin Zarian and his good friend Ethan launch this new show with a review of The Jurassic Games. In the near future, humanity has coordinated a brutal Battle Royale/Hunger Games style event where convicted death row inmates must fight for survival against the environment, each other…and dinosaurs! The last person standing gets fully pardoned for their crimes. Could this be a fun dino romp to tide over audiences before Jurassic World 2 hits theaters or is it just a cheap cash grab? We’re pretty sure you know the answer, but check out our impressions anyway!