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Issue #1: Pass Dat Popcorn
My writing hiatus has ended, and I'm celebrating with a Miles Doleac flick and an overview of my New Orleans Film Festival plans.
Dear Hollywood South,
It’s been just a shade under two months since I’ve written anything on this blog, or anywhere else for that matter - a chronic depressive, your somewhat humble film critic is, and how sadly routine it is that I take such breaks in time and work. And, while I do apologize for not keeping you updated, I don’t feel bad for the hiatus.
It was worth the wait for me certainly, and it will be for you too, I feel.
Understand that this is the start of a refresh here at. Every month, email subscribers will be delivered and blog readers will be able to read at least one newsletter collection - please do allow some room to grow, as creating a new habit will take a bit of time.
The newsletter that I’m referencing is called The N.O.LA Movie Review, and will focus exclusively on Hollywood South (all of Louisiana and the Gulf South) film criticism and culture. I’ll pick some recently published reviews from regional critics, and share them with added commentary and notes. There will also be recommendations for upcoming regional movie screenings/streamings.
My movie reviews, interviews, and more will go out as per usual - by blog and email.
I’m also adding some exclusive posts for supporting subscribers, listed under Bonus Features!, that will be made up of articles, podcasts, and maybe even video musings on classic and obscure flicks.
Please, if you like what you read in this digest, consider becoming a free or supporting subscriber, and feel free to forward these posts along to friends and family.
With you as a collective community of such grand creativity, I look forward to not only writing about and sharing your films but to continually and consistently keeping in mind why I love to do what I do, most chronically.
Sincerely Yours in Moviegoing,
The local film collective Timecode:NOLA has announced their surprising but most welcome return, starting with producing a podcast series of filmmaker interviews, and releasing new video episodes of their short film showcase.
New Orleans movie programs Wildwood, Cinema Sanctuary, and the new Cine BEYOND continue to screen diverse independent and foreign selections. For more information, be sure to click on the respective hyperlinks above.
The Broadside, the outdoor venue for The Broad Theater, will host a screening of the awesome horror classic Demons, which will feature a live performance of the original score by the band Goblin, on Saturday, the 4th of November.
The Gulf South’s master of the macabre breaks new ground with a cute new musical
I hesitate to call actor, writer, and director Miles Doleac’s (who recently starred in Renfield) latest film Open a comedy, but it is very funny. I pause before comparing the movie to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which the advertising campaign for it does, but it is very visual and very colorful. And lastly, I won’t stop myself from calling Open the best independent Hollywood South flick of the year, even though it’s November.
Doleac, whose previous features have been horrors of deliciously demented delicacies, tries his hand at a quirky musical thriller - and the result is completely darling and truly absorbing. I found myself, many times, wanting to live in its world, where each movement is momentous and every conversation has charm. Not to mention, of course, dreams and hallucinations involve glam rock fantasies.
Real-life couple Lindsay Anne Williams and Miles Doleac lead Open as wife and husband Kristina and Robert who, after some relationship struggles and personal tragedy, mutually decide to safely date other people within pre-established boundaries. They are “open” at the beginning of the tale, in other words. While Robert plays things safe with a close friend, Kristina goes bold by hooking up with a faded television teenage hunk Erik, played by Jeremy London. Boundaries, way sooner than later, break apart for Kristina, who deals with everything through performing in her subconscious rock concerts. Attachments, obsessions, reality, passion, and love all come together to make Open such a memorable watch.
And the film isn’t exciting simply because it’s a departure for Doleac. It’s an extremely impressive and very surprising watch due to the stripping away of the expectations of genre, blending the best of all categories into one piece. The domestic drama at the heart of Open is fairly straightforward, but the way it’s told and the atmosphere in which it breathes give the story the kind of life that only a movie can. Part of this is the result of cinematographer Nathan Tape’s immersive and clever filmmaking, as well as, of course, the script by Doleac and Williams. Every movie is a personal effort, but Open must’ve been a particularly interesting endeavor for the two of them, to say the least. I could speculate about what the couple brought to the story from their real relationship, but that might be best suited for a podcast.
While Open is technically a musical, the songs aren’t really what’s important to the heightened emotional core of the film. For all of the razzle-dazzle of Kristina’s dream band - made up of everyone else in her life - what’s of most honesty is how Kristina thinks of them and how they’re behaving with one another, in her mind, that matters most of all. Open is a kind of anti-musical in this way, but the songs are still fun and enjoyable.
And there is finesse in this film, primarily when it comes to the acting, all across the board. Miles himself dials things closer to the chest while maintaining some of his trademark intensity, Lindsay Williams approaches Kristina as down to Earth but always looking up to the sky, and Jeremy London - who has called Open one of his favorite projects - absolutely kills his role as the ex-celebrity filled with neediness and desperation, crafting not-so-much empathy for him but for sure a lot of sad pity. London is great here and should be very proud of what he does.
Sometimes there is camp, sometimes there is drama, but always is it entertaining. Immensely entertaining. Open is my favorite of Doleac’s movies and is certainly a contender for independent cinema awards - at least, that’s how I see things. Recommended? Without hesitation. 5/5
Open is currently in limited theatrical release and will be available on-demand and on DVD this month.
What movies do I plan on watching at the 2023 New Orleans Film Festival?
Let’s list my itinerary:
Mississippi River Styx
Chokehole: Drag Wrestlers to Deutschland
New Water Music
George Dureau: New Orleans Artist
My 2023 New Orleans Film Festival coverage is coming next week. I’ll also be a guest on Brandon Ledet’s Swampflix podcast to discuss a few of the fest films later in November.
Thank you for reading the pilot entry of The N.O.LA Movie Review here at Moviegoing with Bill. For email delivery and/or to support this writing, please consider becoming a subscriber.
Find me at the movies.