State of the Blog – August 2017

The minimally observant among you have probably noticed that Plot and Theme has been pretty dark over the last couple of weeks.  The explanation is simple:  I have just uprooted from the Midwest (Wisconsin) back down to the Grand Old South (North Carolina), and the recent past has thoroughly involved all things box-related.  Now, the new home is up-and-running, only about 25% still in boxes, and I can start to wildly attempt to catch up on my review, essays, and other pieces here.  Fortunately/unfortunately, August new releases look proper terrible, so I should have plenty of time.

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Hot Docs 2017 Over on Cinema Axis

This is going to be a short post to draw attention to the eight screeners from the 2017 Hot Docs Film Festival I was fortunate enough to review over on CinemaAxis.  Below, I’ll link to all of the reviews once they’re posted, but for now I’ll just introduce each film and give a quick synopsis.

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Toronto International Film Festival Reviews

Hey all!  I was fortunate to get a few screeners for some films at the Toronto International Film Festival, courtesy of Courtney Small over at  Here I collect the four reviews and offer a little blurb about the films, including just how much I recommend each one (spoiler alert:  I liked all the films, but some more than others).

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Hot Docs Coverage on CinemaAxis

Greetings readers!  I am going to post a quick blog-related post to remind my readers that has started its coverage of the Hot Docs film festival – a festival based in Toronto that focuses on documentaries.  In this month’s State of the Blog post, I mentioned that I was lucky  enough to review three of these documentaries.  In fact, I was offered two additional films, so I ended up with five documentaries to review.  Below I will tell you the films that I got to see, the day the review will be posted on CinemaAxis, and a short synopsis of the flick to whet your appetite.  Here we go!

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Taika Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”: A Farcical Coming-of-Age Film with Surprising Heart

Wisconsin Film Festival Opening Night

New Zealand director Taika Waititi (pronounced Tie-Ka Why-tee-tee) has created a magnificently funny coming-of-age film in Hunt for the Wilderpeople.  Most known for the HBO series Flight of the Conchords and the mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, Waititi has also directed more standard narrative-based films like Boy and Eagle vs. SharkHunt for the Wilderpeople falls in this category, as it tells the story of an orphan named Ricky being introduced to a new foster family on the edge of the New Zealand bush.

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Second-Hand Sundance: Streaming Services Spend Big and Other Stories

The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States, and every year near the end of January, thousands descend upon Utah to watch the latest offerings of independent filmmakers from all over the world. Indie darlings like Little Miss Sunshine often debut at the festival, and there is always at least one hot ticket that leaves everyone scrambling. Many of the filmmakers are seeking distribution, so beneath the surface of the program itself there is a lot of wheeling-and-dealing. This year was no exception, but the denizens of the Sundance bargaining tables looked a little different this time around. Indie studios like A24 and Fox Searchlight were still there, but the big players were Amazon Studios and Netflix, with each of the streaming services purchasing rights to five films! Continue reading “Second-Hand Sundance: Streaming Services Spend Big and Other Stories”

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