6 Best Releases From XYZ Films Studio

The Spool Staff

Seven Veils

Atom Egoyan's latest doesn't hide from academic sincerity. In the 2010s, Atom Egoyan fell by the wayside in my ‘auteurs to keep an eye on’ radar rather rapidly. The last film I saw from him, The Captive, starring Ryan Reynolds, proved such an impenetrable slog that I couldn’t go back to him for a while. I remember The Sweet Hereafter and Exocita being formative films of my adolescence. I count them among the first to push the boundaries of what cinema ‘was’ to me. The former, especially, had such a hypnotic visual and audial style tied to such a potent mythic metaphor – The Pied Piper of Hamelin – that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for long after.  I’m therefore happy to say that Egoyan’s latest film, Seven Veils, elicited a similar feeling. It’s a movie that has been on my mind nearly every day since seeing it at TIFF.  Continue Reading →

The Mean One

I’m not skilled enough to write this review in Seussical verse. I wish I were. Then I could have Anthony Hopkins narrate it. Continue Reading →

Something in the Dirt

Remember when conspiracy theories used to be fun? Well, maybe “fun” isn’t the right word, but entertaining? Once, they were limited to harmless weirdos who would gladly give a presentation on chemtrails or how many different assassins were actually at Dealey Plaza when JFK passed by, but could also at least maintain some veneer of normalcy. Then the internet made it easier for people to spend most (instead of just some) of their time discussing their favorite conspiracies, without anyone telling them that they were getting obsessed, or that what they were saying sounded insane. And then, of course, QAnon turned conspiracy theories into a kind of religion, one in which its followers were willing to kill to prove their belief. It stopped being entertaining a long time ago, and now, like a lot of things about the world in its current state, it’s just bleak and terrifying. Continue Reading →

Dual

The latest from oddball extraordinaire Riley Stearns is a sci-fi curio about scrambling to find your will to live. (This review is part of our coverage of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.) Writer/director Riley Stearns introduces the viewer to the offbeat world of Dual through something of a Hunger Games or Twilight Zone knock-off, with a bloody duel between two men who look exactly the same as an audience watches. It’s a smart and captivating start, one flooded with Sterns’ usual dark sense of humor, and one that introduces the core premise succinctly: in a world where you and your double both want to live, how willing and able are you to survive a duel to the death?  Continue Reading →

Claydream

The documentary delivers a well-made case for Will Vinton as an underappreciated titan of animation. When it comes to legends of the animation industry, we all know the names of Walt Disney, Lotte Reiniger, and Nick Park. But what about Will Vinton? He may not be a household name, but Claydream makes a solid case for him being someone who should be. Vinton left his mark not just on the Claymation figures he designed but also on an entire artform. Claydream chronicles Vinton's career as a scrappy outsider. Establishing his art and his eventual studio in Portland, Oregon rather than in Hollywood, Vinton’s Claymation works also eschew the clean-cut perfection of so much mainstream animation. On the contrary, the figures in his works (including, perhaps most famously, the California Raisins) have a distinctly imperfect look to them. There’s an endearingly inventive quality in the designs of these works that suggest how Vinton’s shorts and films are more about imagination rather than replicating reality.   Continue Reading →

No Man of God

No Man of God, Amber Sealey's Ted Bundy picture, is well made but does not successfully distinguish itself from its fellow study-of-a-serial-killer films. In the days leading up to the Tribeca premiere of No Man of God, there was a brief dustup in the media when its director, Amber Sealey, did interviews in which she appeared to be taking potshots at recent films that had also been centered on notorious serial killer Ted Bundy for utilizing approaches that she suggested glorified him by depicting him as this brilliant and wildly charismatic character. This didn’t sit well with fellow filmmaker Joe Berlinger, who made Bundy the subject of his Netflix documentary series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019) and the dramatic film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019), in which Bundy was portrayed by no less a figure than one-time teen heartthrob Zac Efron. He responded in kind by suggesting that Sealey was deliberately misrepresenting his work in order to pump up interest in her own film.Both Sealey and Berlinger have their points, I suppose. But as it turns out, this controversy may ultimately prove to be the most interesting thing about No Man of God in the end. Continue Reading →