The Academy Awards Break Film Twitter with New Category and Broadcast Changes

or something I've heard referred to as irrelevant and out of touch with society for years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, aka AMPAS, aka the organization that runs the Academy Awards, sure did blow up film Twitter yesterday. The Academy announced three new changes that will impact how the Oscars work starting next year.

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Clinical Review (Film, 2017)

In Clinical, a psychiatrist shifts her focus from trauma patients to more everyday concerns after a traumatic incident with a former patient. A young woman attacked her in her office after her treatments did not go as planned. The psychiatrist is making great progress until a trauma patient begs her for help. Giving her time to the new patient is enough to send her own life spiraling into a nightmare of anxiety and hallucinations.

Clinical has the bones of something good. This kind of psychological thriller can either be really effective or really dull. The plot, though predictable, is well-written and does add up to a cohesive whole. It's just not executed well.

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Veronica Review (Film, 2018)

On paper, Veronica has no right to be as good as it is. The plot description is riddled with horror cliches, including the dreaded "based on a true story" text. There's even a marketing campaign for its Netflix release about how people are turning it off because it's too scary to finish (at least a dozen of those articles popped up shortly after the release, and more followed--it's purely advertising, and it’s good).

It's a horror film about a teenage girl, immature for her age, attending a Catholic school and caring for her siblings while her single working mother runs a bar to keep everyone afloat. The girl decides to use a Ouija board to summon the spirit of her dead father and unleashes a living hell on her family instead. Complete with creepy stern nuns, rampant hormones, mysterious cuts and bruises, and not one, not two, but three significantly younger children who are equally creepy as they are cute, and you should have, in 2018, a mess.

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Verónica Review (Film, 2017)

Verónica is a psychological horror film from directors Carlos Algara and Alejandro Martinez-Beltran and screenwriters Carlos Algara and Tomas Nepomuceno. It is a familiar story told with beautiful style and precise editing. 

A psychologist takes on a new patient, the titular Verónica, who is referred to her by another doctor who cannot complete the treatment. The psychologist and her new patient work together in a remote home in the woods, sharing a living space between therapy sessions. Something is clearly wrong with Verónica, a young woman with horrific nightmares that lead her to sexual desire and longing when she wakes up. The problem is the psychologist cannot get her hands on Verónica's previous case files. She's starting from square one on a patient who clearly has a history of treatment, and that patient will use her knowledge to manipulate, confuse, and terrify the doctor as much as possible in our out of therapy sessions.

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Beatriz at Dinner Review (Film, 2017)

Beatriz, an alternative therapist specializing in all kinds of healing, winds up spending the night at her client's mansion for a dinner party. She is a Mexican immigrant and environmentalist, surrounded for the night by a group of cutthroat white business people. The night is to celebrate a controversial business deal years in the making, but Beatriz will not go through the night silent. 

Beatriz at Dinner is a quiet film from director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Mike White. I could imagine it working very well as a stageplay, which for me is a compliment. Film is a visual medium and it's rare to come across a screenplay with dialogue and narrative structure so sound it could be lifted and placed (with minor alterations to minimize set changes) right on a stage, where imagination has to fill in the gaps. The dialogue feels quite natural even when White is serving friction and Arteta is setting up Beatriz for a hard spike into the beliefs of the other dinner guests.

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Skins Review (Film, 2018)

Content Warning: Skins is an anthology film where many stories intersect around sexual abuse.

Skins (Pieles) is the debut feature length film from writer/director Eduardo Casanova. He is an actor turned director who called on every resource he had--namely a phenomenal group of actors he had performed with before--to craft an ambitious film.

Skins is an anthology film about people with physical deformities trying to find respect in a world that casts them aside. It's also a film about people who fetishize physical deformities. These worlds intersect around a brothel specializing in any kind of person you want.

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