THE INNOCENTS (2022)

May 12, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. Norwegian filmmaker Eskil Vogt wrote the screenplay for last year’s terrific THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, and that’s just one of his collaborations with fellow countryman Joachim Trier. The two seem to enjoy, or at least have a knack, for creating films that take viewers out of their comfort zone. This is Vogt’s second feature as director, and you will likely find yourself questioning your ideals of the complexities of childhood and debating what makes a kid “good” or “bad”.

A family moves to a new apartment so that their eldest daughter Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad) can receive the best possible treatment for her non-verbal autism (seemingly trapped inside her own body). Anna’s younger sister Ida (Rakel Leonora Flottum) spends an inordinate amount of time on her own as their mother (Ellen Dorrit Petersen is also Rakel’s real life mother; THELMA, 2017) focuses on Anna. Immediately we are struck by how cruel Ida is to Anna, obviously envious of the time her parents devote to the child in need. The film moves meticulously as Ida befriends Ben (Sam Ashraf), a young boy from the same apartment building. Ben has an ability to move things with his mind. His telekinesis is in the early stages, and Ida pushes him to develop his powers. One particularly disturbing sequence involves the two kids and a local cat at the top of the building’s stairwell. Aisha (Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim), another young girl from the building starts hanging out with Ida and Ben. This also draws in Anna, as the sweet Aisha has a connection with her and a way of communicating telepathically. It’s at this point where our brains shift into overdrive as we realize there is something supernatural going on.

As Ben’s ability grows, so does his sadistic nature. He reacts (often violently) to situations where he feels disrespected. At the same time, Anna and Aisha grow closer, and Ida and her parents are thrilled with Anna’s improved demeanor. As viewers, we come to realize that director Vogt has made the apartment building a character itself. Is the building behind the special abilities shown by these kids?  Or is it the ominous nearby forest? Why are the powers strongest when the kids are together? For a film that mostly progresses very slowly, there is much for us to take in – although we do wish more time had been spent on the makeup of all four kids. We are only teased with what other kids in the building are experiencing, but the supernatural aura is clearly in play.

None of the four child actors have any previous feature film experience, yet each is superb in their own way. They perfectly capture the curiosity and confusion that goes with childhood, and there is an insightful “kid” moment when Ida shows her one ‘talent’ to Ben. We are left to wonder if the film’s identical title to the 1961 classic is coincidental or purposeful. It’s not a remake, but it works as an homage. The staircase shot is even similar in the two films. Filmmaker Voigt excels at ensuring we believe something evil is just around the corner, yet he never rushes to the next moment. An eerie, ominous atmosphere is perfectly complemented by these four kids. Vogt’s dark film sticks the ending, and stays with us for a while.

Opening May 13, 2022

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TANKHOUSE (2022)

May 12, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. A couple of months ago I reviewed Tim Federle’s new movie, BETTER NATE THAN EVER, and described it as a real treat for young theater students. Now, just a few weeks later, comes the first feature film from writer-director Noam Tomaschoff and co-writer Chelsea Frei … one for the grown-ups still trying to make a go of it on the live theater scene. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes motivational, and sometimes painful to watch. While the film really boils down to finding one’s place in life and staying true to your own dreams, it takes quite an unusual path with oddball characters.

Sandrene St Jean (Tara Holt) and Tucker Charlemagne (Stephen Friedrich) lead a group of avant-garde performers in a display of rooftop immersive art. Things go swimmingly right up until a tragedy that results in the couple being booted from the company by their mentor, Burford Slezinger (Christopher Lloyd), and blacklisted from the NYC theater scene. Making things seem more hopeless for Sandrene and Tucker, a dinner with her parents (Andy Buckley from “The Office” and Joey Lauren Adams and her distinctive voice) leaves their free-wheeling artistic lifestyle lacking further funding.

The pretentious Sandrene and the brash Tucker admit they can’t possibly get “real jobs”, so they head to her hometown of Fargo, where a contest will decide which performance group will win the rights to takeover the historic downtown theater. The competition boils down to an established group led by Morten (Richard Kind), Sandrene’s former high school drama teacher, or the quickly assembled troupe of oddball locals she and Tucker cobble together from the local pub. Recruits are drawn in by Tucker’s proclamation of a “theatrical revolution” … one of his many articulate statements that carry no significant heft.

Most of the story takes place in Fargo, with the rivalry between the two theater groups driving things forward. There is a terrific parody of the WEST SIDE STORY gang face-off that involves high-speed dueling “Modern Major General Song” (from Pirates of the Penzance) versions – accompanied by finger-snapping! What we witness is how one person’s passion and commitment can both unite and divide, and how individual dreams should be pursued when the opportunity presents. Richard Kind’s Morten is a fine example of how bitterness can leech in when someone doesn’t achieve their goals and struggles, and still find happiness with the hand dealt. All of these life lessons are wrapped in a comedy with oddball characters that will likely appeal most to those who have chosen the theater life. In fact, the story is semi-autobiographical for writers Tomaschoff and Frei. While we would have liked more development for the supporting characters, this ‘personal’ aspect for the writers explains a great deal. Whether you view this as a parody or cautionary tale, it does remind us that each person must seek their lot in life.

Available May 13, 2022 on VOD

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STU’S SHOW (2022, doc)

May 12, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. We tend to pay little attention to historians and archivists until we need them. By then, their importance cannot be overstated. If you know the name Stuart Shostak, it’s likely you assume this documentary from CJ Wallis will be about Stu’s internet talk show and his commitment to preserving ‘classic’ TV shows. If that’s your assumption, you will be partially correct, but also in for quite a surprise. Much of the film is dedicated to Stu’s personal life … a life that sets a strong example on how to hustle and how to care for loved ones in need.

“Stu’s Show” serves as both the title of this documentary and the title of Mr. Shostak’s internet talk show where the format involves interviewing those who were involved in television during the 1950s through the 1980s. Stu is a staunch believer that these folks (many of whom the industry has long ago forgotten) deserve to tell their stories, and we benefit from hearing them. Stu himself takes us on the tour of his studio and warehouse, both of which are located in his home. He points out shelf after shelf of archival footage in a variety of formats – from film to digital. This is no casual collection. Rather it’s 50-plus years of work from the man who served as the personal archivist for none other than Lucille Ball over the last 10 years of her life.

Stu walks us through the early days of how he started working as a ticket hawker/procurer for TV shows – the guy responsible for making sure the audience seats were filled (this was in the days when many shows were filmed in front of a live studio audience). He then worked as the warm-up act ahead of filming episodes for shows like “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Silver Spoons”, prior to his affiliation with the legendary Lucy on her final TV series. All of this is documented through clips and interviews from those that were there. Many of the recollections focus on Stu’s personality. “Exuberant” and “enthusiastic” are often used to describe him, and it seems what appealed to Lucy was his willingness to hustle after what he wanted (a trait they shared).

Classic TV lovers will appreciate Stu’s dedication to keeping the past alive; however, it’s the second half of the film that gives us the real reason to respect him as a person. After Lucy died in 1989, Stu co-founded a “Loving Lucy” convention, and one of the most loyal attendees was Jeanine Kasun. Stu and Jeanine shared a love of classic TV and would quote dialogue back and forth, thus establishing a bond that was quite special. For many years, the two were very close, though choosing to live apart in recognition of their individual quirks. But things changed quickly when Jeanine suffered a brain aneurism and was rushed to the hospital with her life in danger. Despite an extended coma and being written off as soon-to-die, Jeanine hung in. Equally impressive is how Stu became her advocate. He turned his penchant for excitable talking into ensuring that his beloved Jeanine received the treatment she needed, in spite of the challenges faced by her situation and the state of the healthcare system.

Most of us have experienced some frustration and a swell of emotion when visiting a loved one in the hospital. But Stu rallied friends and the stream of visiting celebrities surely did not go unnoticed by hospital personnel. Jeanine’s recovery was a slow process involving multiple hospitals and caregivers, and Stu spent as much time with her as possible. Bookending the film is video from their wedding … a ceremony with the look of a classic TV reunion attended by many of the celebrities Stu had interviewed over the years, including Tony Dow (Wally in “Leave it to Beaver”) as the Best Man. You may recognize many of the faces interviewed here, but you’ll surely recognize the love Stu showed for Jeanine.

Available On Demand beginning May 2, 2022

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ANAIS IN LOVE (2022)

April 28, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. Barely five minutes in, we have concluded that Anais is a whirlwind of activity. She’s behind on her rent and yet turns the conversation with her landlord to fruit juice and a smoke alarm. This is the first feature film from writer-director Charline Bougeois-Tacquet who benefits greatly with the presence of lead actor Anais Demoustier. I have no idea if the name is a coincidence or whether this was written with her in mind, but we quickly realize that Anais is a mess … a charming mess and one for which hope remains.

Anais is always late. She walks, runs, or rides her bicycle everywhere. Her bright red lipstick is always on display, and she’s claustrophobic and prefers to sleep alone. The constant twinkle in her eye means folks look past her seemingly carefree approach to real life, as she makes the best of each landing spot in her directionless path(s) through each day. We observe and learn all of these things on top of the big secret she’s been keeping from her boyfriend Raoul (Christophe Montenez). During the exchange they have when he breaks up with her, she says, “You are violent in your inertia.” This may be my favorite line of the year. What others view as stability and dependability, Anais views as inertia and unappealing.

When Anais takes Daniel (Denys Podalydes) as a lover, it’s the older, married man who ends it by stating he doesn’t want his life to change. Anais shrugs and turns her attention and affections to Daniel’s wife, Emilie (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, HUMAN CAPITAL, sister of Carla Bruni). Emilie is a famous author and Anais worms her way in by tracking Emilie to Normandy where she’s holding a symposium. Writing, books, and literature play subtle yet key roles throughout … as if Anais is trying to live out so many of the stories she’s read.

If there is anything lacking here, it’s traditional character conflict. Even the surprise collision of Daniel, Emilie, and Anais at the symposium doesn’t pack the dramatic or comedic punch we would expect. Anais is never much concerned, so neither are we as viewers. We are too enamored and intrigued with her energy and spirit to let real life cause consternation. The subplot with Anais’ mother is the closest we see Anais come to ‘normal’ emotions, but even getting to that point, is yet another whirlwind.

In theaters April 29, 2022 and On Demand May 6, 2022

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HATCHING (2022)

April 28, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. The exceptionally creepy creature leads us to believe this could be a terrific new addition to the creature feature genre. However, director Hanna Bergholm and screenwriter Ilja Rautsi expend so much time and energy on the metaphor aspect that we feel a bit bludgeoned by the end. Despite some wonderful horror elements, we find ourselves thinking, ‘alright, already … just stick with the creepy stuff!’

We open in a beautiful home with pristine design features, where a beautiful mother (Sophia Heikkila) is filming her beautiful family for her vlog, appropriately titled “Lovely Everyday Life.” Of course, we all know what happens to perfect little families in movies – the façade cracks. We get our first taste of beautiful mother’s not-so-beautiful true nature as she deals with the crow that flies in through an open window and destroys some of the beautiful decorations displayed in the home. Things get interesting when Tinja (a superb Siiri Solalinna), the 12-year-old gymnast daughter, recovers an egg from the intrusive bird’s nest and “mothers” it until the egg (the metaphorical façade) cracks open after growing to an enormous size. Out pops a bizarre looking “baby” bird that Tinja names Alli, after the song her family sings.

It doesn’t take long for Tinja (and us) to figure out what’s happening. The bird not only assumes Tinja is her mother, but it also takes on the emotions that Tinja keeps bottled up inside so as to not upset her overly-demanding mother. See, mom is a former skater and projects her dreams of glory onto her daughter through gymnastics. We never even get the impression that Tinja enjoys the sport, and it’s likely she does it because that’s the only closeness she gets from dear old mom … especially when compared to her little brother Mattias (Oiva Ollila) or dad (Jani Volanen). In fact, mom is so dominant over dad, that she’s taken on a side lover in handyman Tero (Reino Nordin), who she admits to loving in yet another inappropriate moment with Tinja.

Soon the bird is acting out Tinja’s private thoughts to extremes (a true monster in the closet), and no one is really safe. There are some creepy elements that tell us an excellent horror-comedy is in there somewhere. Watching Tinja sponge-bathe the creature and the replicant effects are both imaginative. Ms. Bergholm’s film premiered at Sundance, and if anything, it’s just a bit too ambitious with the metaphors. We can view this as a coming-of-age story for Tinja as she breaks the shackles of childhood for more independent thinking. And the most obvious interpretation is that of a mother so obsessed with perfection – especially as to how her family is presented to the outside world – that it requires an ugly incident (bird) as a dose of reality. This is clearly commentary on social media and how some become so committed to presenting and maintaining a certain image. As a horror-comedy, the film from Finland offers neither jump-scares nor laugh-outloud moments, but there is enough here for a decent midnight offering.

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THE DUKE (2022)

April 26, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. It made headlines in 1961. Francisco Goya’s ‘Portrait of the Duke of Ellington’ was stolen from London’s National Gallery. Director Roger Michell, with a screenplay from Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, dramatize the story so that it’s part comedy and part love story, and thanks to screen veteran James Broadbent, full of charm.

Oscar winner Broadbent (IRIS, 2001) stars as Kempton Bunton. We first see him in the midst of his courtroom trial. Pretty quickly, the film flashes back to 6 months prior. Kempton hasn’t had much luck in keeping his job as a cab driver, or a baker, or any other. He’s a bit of a rabble-rouser, quick to share his unsolicited opinions, and on a constant mission to look out for ‘the little guy.’ He is also a would-be writer who cranks out novels (“Susan Christ”) and plays that never get published, all of which adds to the chagrin of Kempton’s wife, Dorothy, played by Oscar winner Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN, 2006). Dorothy works as a maid, and only desires a simple, steady, and predictable life with her husband … who delivers quite the opposite.

Living in a working-class neighborhood with one of their sons, Jackie (Fionn Whitehead, DUNKIRK), Kempton and Dorothy have an interesting relationship … one that includes contrasting methods of grieving over the death of their daughter. She internalizes while he writes about it. Kempton’s latest protest is against the government buying back the Goya painting while so many citizens suffer the indignity of paying a television licensing tax. He insists the government should spend the money on the people, not on frivolities like art. It’s during this phase when we wonder if son Jackie is learning more from dad than we originally suspect.

Director Michell includes some fascinating shots, including the theft of the painting, which leaves Edvund Munch’s “The Scream” in the video wake. We also see the scene in the 1965 James Bond film DR NO which features the Goya painting and a little inside humor. There are also numerous shots with Broadbent superimposed into archival footage of 1960’s London, and actual newsreels from the era. The tone shifts when Kempton turns himself and the painting into the authorities. His courtroom behavior plays like a stand-up comedy routine, while his barrister (played by Matthew Goode) uses Kempton’s everyman-likability to his advantage.

Director Roger Michell passed away in September 2021. He’s best known for NOTTING HILL (1999) and VENUS (2006), and unfortunately, he didn’t get to see his final film released in theaters. Broadbent’s charm is on full display here, and the film easily could have gone deeper into the topics of social inequality and governmental mismanagement. Instead, it’s more sentimental and funny than enlightening … an outlandish heist story that plays just as well as a gentle love story. And that’s a pretty good cause for Mr. Michell the filmmaker.

Opens in NYC and LA on April 22, 2022 and nationwide on April 29, 2022

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“Bring a Friend Back to the Movies” will provide one complimentary ticket to customers who purchase a ticket directly from the Angelika website, app or in theaters to see “The Duke” during the first week of its release. Select Angelika locations will also offer each ticket holder for “The Duke” a specially priced split of bubbly to share with their friend in celebration of their return to the movies


POLAR BEAR (2022, doc)

April 23, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. After filming their award-winning documentary PENGUINS (2019) in Antarctica, co-directors Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson re-teamed and headed to Norway, not far from the North Pole, to capture life and the fight for survival by polar bears in this feature for Disneynature.

As we would expect, the adult polar bears are majestic and powerful, while the cubs are just about the cutest things on the planet. Also, as we have come to expect from Disneynature, the photography is stunning in its clarity and ability to take our breath away. Unfortunately, much of the story here is focused on climate change and its impact on these creatures. Filmed over years, we follow a mother “ice bear” after her two cubs are born. We watch as the mother first hunts for food and later trains her cubs. Seals are the preferred dish of the day, but seals have become harder to find due to the warming waters and reduced ice.

Three other segments feature Baluga whales, walruses, and an incredible few minutes of birds flocking along the side of a steep cliff. A dead whale gives us a look at the fearsome male polar bears and their intimidating force over females and cubs. Disneynature doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities and mortal danger faced by polar bears, as we witness both death and separation … though, as the circle of life indicates, these are offset with new birth and arrivals.

Two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, CAPOTE) uses her distinctive voice to capture the wonder of the bears and their harsh environment, as well as the overall challenges occurring due to climate change. We are informed that the Arctic circle could be ‘ice-free’ by 2040, which means the polar bears must adapt quickly or face the dire consequences. Hopefully it’s clear that this is not one of the warm and fuzzy Disney docs that many of us grew up on, and therefore, not for the youngest kids (no matter how much they love polar bears).

Premieres on Earth Day (April 22, 2022) on Disney +

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THE NORTHMAN (2022)

April 21, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. After two incredible arthouse films that earned the label “visionary filmmaker” for Robert Eggers, some would not have been surprised to find him cashing in on a huge payday for the next colossal superhero movie. But for those of us who adore and respect him for THE WITCH (2015) and THE LIGHTHOUSE (2019), we knew Mr. Eggers was not the comic book type. Instead, he secured a hefty budget (still less than $100 million) and with his co-writer, Icelandic author Sjon (writer of last year’s mesmerizing LAMB), created the most epic Viking movie to date … while firmly maintaining his artsy stylings.

Every now and then a movie comes along and I must accept that my words will fall short; that I won’t be able to do justice to what I’ve experienced on screen. This is certainly one of those times. Based on the same Scandinavian folk tale that inspired Shakespeare to pen “Hamlet”, this Eggers film is not just meticulously researched, it also pulls us right in so that we slosh through the mud and muck. We shiver from the cold. We feel the wind and the brutality of the violence. We live the harsh elements of Viking life.

The film opens in the year 895 AD as young Prince Amleth welcomes home his battle-weary father, King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke). Not long after jester Heimer the Fool (Willem Dafoe) jokes about the Queen and the King’s brother, the boy witnesses his uncle Fjolnir (Claes Bang, the excellent “Dracula” TV mini-series, 2020) strike dead the king. Amleth escapes, pledging to avenge his father’s murder and the kidnapping of his mother, Queen Gudrun (Oscar winner Nicole Kidman). Flash forward twenty years and Amleth has become a behemoth of a man played by Alexander Skarsgard (Eric Northman in “True Blood”), who lives, fights, and kills alongside violent 10th century Vikings. Amleth is a hulking beast unmatched in battle, yet one who never unnecessarily harms women or children.

His revenge plan leads him to the farming village where his mother and Uncle Fjolnir now live as wife and husband, an arrangement Amleth is certain she adheres to for her own safety and that of her new son. Bjork, in her first big screen role since DANCER IN THE DARK (2000), appears as the seeress who knows Amleth’s destiny. It’s here where Amleth meets Olga “of the Birch Forest” (Anya Taylor-Joy) and reveals his plan to her. Olga describes her supernatural abilities as breaking men’s minds in contrast to his breaking their bones. The two are quite the match.

Eggers stages a stunning final showdown with a naked sword fight atop a burning volcano to ensure we aren’t subjected to an ending that falls short. The visceral savagery on the screen is somehow both brutal and beautiful. This is epic cinematic brilliance from Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, who treat us to numerous long takes in harsh weather and discomforting action. This is 136 minutes featuring some of cinemas best faces, while also proving that visionary is simply not a strong enough word to describe director Robert Eggers.

Opening in theaters on April 22, 2022

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THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT (2022)

April 21, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. Calling all Nicolas Cage fans! Put the bunny back in the box and get ready for the most fun you’ll ever have with Nicolas or Nic or Nick or Nicky. And if one Cage isn’t enough for you, you’re in luck. This film has Nicolas Cage playing the (somewhat) fictional Nick Cage, and Nicolas Kim Coppola (Nicolas Cage’s birth name) playing imaginary alter-ego Nicky, a younger version of Nicolas Cage from the WILD AT HEART era who spends the movie constantly reminding Nick that he’s a movie star.

If you can’t make much sense out of all that, don’t worry, writer-director Tom Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten have created a film that is sure to strike a chord with Nicolas Cage fans. What we see is a parody going meta in a surreal way. Very few get to star in the tribute to their own legend, but that’s what happens here. Nicolas Cage goes ‘inside baseball’ on the career of Nicolas Cage … only he does so as struggling actor Nick Cage, an actor so desperate for “the role of a lifetime” that he improvs a reading for director David Gordon Green (Cage’s director on JOE) in the parking lot of Chateau Marmont.

Having been kicked out of his rental after falling behind $600,000 in rent, Nick agrees to take a humiliating job pitched by his agent, Fink (Neil Patrick Harris). For one million dollars, he is to fly to Mallorca and hang out at the birthday party of rich super fan, Javi Gutierrez (a terrific Pedro Pascall, “The Mandalorian”). The twist here is that CIA agents played by Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz suspect Javi of being a notorious gun dealer who has kidnapped the young daughter of the Catalonia President. Spy-type shenanigans ensue as Nick and Javi develop a bromance that finds the two new buddies writing a film script together. And if that’s not quite enough subplots, you should know that Nick is at a breaking point in his relationship with his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and teenage daughter Abby (Lily Sheen, real life daughter of Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale).

The zaniness includes nods to more than a dozen Nicolas Cage movies, and much of the fun is derived from recognizing these. Easter eggs are everywhere for fans, and Nic expertly plays Nick (and Nicky) as a loving tribute to the characters we’ve seen in so many iconic films over the years. Additionally, on screen love is provided for the 1920 classic, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, as well as the more recent gem, PADDINGTON 2 (2017), making this a tribute to cinema lovers, Nicolas Cage fans, and comedies in general. I will admit to disliking director Gormican’s 2014 movie, THAT AWKWARD MOMENT, so much that I hoped he was done as a filmmaker. It turns out, he’s back (and much improved) … not that he ever went anywhere.

Opens in theaters on April 22, 2022

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UNTIL THE WHEELS COME OFF (2022, doc)

April 15, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness.  Who among us doesn’t enjoy a nice, leisurely bike road around the neighborhood? Taking in the fresh air while getting a little exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. While golf has been described as “a good walk spoiled”, after watching this documentary, I believe it’s safe to say that the Race Across America (RAAM) is “a good ride spoiled.” RAAM is an ultra-endurance bicycle race that begins in Oceanside, California and winds across the continent to the finish line in Annapolis, Maryland.

For those counting, that’s 3071 laborious and tortuous miles pedaling through desert, mountains, plains, and just about all types of weather. And if that’s not enough, most of the ride is on open road where the danger of automobile and truck traffic is usually present. Oh, and riders get very little sleep, must meet certain markers within a given timeline to stay eligible, and require a full team to help prevent death, injury, starvation, dehydration, or insanity. To put this in perspective, we are told a rider would need to average 10.5 mph for 12 days riding 24 hours per day. While that is obviously unsustainable for humans, you should know that those who finish, typically do so in 8-12 days, while riding 20+ hours per day. That, my friends, is why they call it ultra-endurance.

Those are the details to know about the race itself, but this is really the story of one man and his crew. John Tarlton’s daughter kicks things off by explaining that “my dad” finished the RAAM in 2014 and is preparing to go again for 2019 (the basis for this project). We learn only about 300 riders have ever finished the race, and Mr. Tarlton explains that he will be much better prepared this time, with a goal of winning his age 50-59 bracket. Joining his crew this time will be his wife Jeanne, and their kids … turning this into a true family experience (or nightmare, depending on your perspective).

Climbers go up Everest “because it’s there”, and clearly this is just another way to push one’s mind and body to the extreme … an extreme most of us will never experience ourselves, especially after watching the pain endured by Tarlton and his family. If you’ve watched a loved one suffer with an illness, you know how difficult it can be. What about a loved one who chooses to suffer? His family is there as his body slowly deteriorates and his tired mind becomes muddled. In addition, we witness some of the tension and drama as it unfolds within his crew – something that obviously doesn’t help in these circumstances. In fact, the only downside here is that Tarlton’s wife (the film’s producer) pushes a bit too hard on her own story, rather than the guy pushing through exhaustion and pain.

Tarlton rides to raise money for the Stanford Cancer Institute, though we are never quite sure how the fundraising is handled. This is definitely not a cheap hobby, nor is it one for the masses. You are either the type that wants to push your body, mind, and finances to the limit, or you’re not. Described here as “a defining life experience”, it’s a race where the clock never stops and the scenery is unparalleled (though riders are likely too groggy to appreciate it). Don’t confuse this race with the Tour de France (stages over 3 weeks) or this movie with the HBO documentary, TONY HAWK: UNTIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF.

Available on VOD

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