Don’t miss the noir thriller ‘Hunting Lands’ at Cinequest

Hunting-Lands-forrest1One of the pleasures of being a critic is discovering a filmmaker you not only admire but know will be a force in the years to come.

Such is the case with Zack Wilcox, director of the icy, intense and well-made  neo-noir “Hunting Lands.”

Wilcox takes his cues from the Coen Brothers and Hitchcock with this voyeuristic thriller about reclusive ex-war vet Frank Olsen (Santa Rosa’s Marshall Cook) stumbling upon the dumping of a woman’s body. Olsen succumbs to his old ways, observing and inviting into his lair the man who did the dirty deed. It’s a “Fargo”-like experience.

While “Lands” slips a bit in its final act, it is — for the most part — a mesmerizing, bracing feature set in the frozen, isolated upper area of Michigan. The first 15 minutes are wordless and wave a distinctive spell.

“Lands” plays tonight at Cinequest. It is one of the best films I’ve seen in the festival.

(Show sat 5:50 p.m. Saturday, March 3 at the Century 20 Redwood City, Screen 11

,627, 825 Middlefield Road,  Redwood City, and 6:15 p.m., March 5  at the Century 20 Redwood City, Screen 18, 627, 825 Middlefield Road, Redwood City; 5 p.m., March 7, California Theatre San Jose 345 S 1st St, San Jose; 7:35 p.m., March 10 , 3 Below Theaters & Lounge, 288 S 2nd St., San Jose.)

For tickets, visit

Randy Myers is a freelance film journalist and is the president of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.


Golden Globes did it right: ‘Three Billboards’ IS the best film. But ‘Get Out’ is better than ‘Lady Bird’

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURIIf Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” makes you uncomfortable, it has entirely accomplished it’s job.

Beautifully written and observed, it’s a masterpiece. I don’t say that lightly. So many insults have been hurled at this film, and I ask those people to watch it again. There are no superheroes, no saviors…just realistic portrayals of flawed people with so much grey you would think that a storm front is blowing through. And let’s get real now. “Get Out” is so much better than “Lady Bird.” I mean, really?

Hope you do see this film. It will make you squirm. Make you uncomfortable. Above all, it will make you think long after you leave the theater.

Love this film. It’s ingenious. Just as his “In Bruges” was. Go see it. Support films that rattle us.

It is my No. 1 film of 2017.  My favorite films of 2017!




Resolve to take care of yourself in 2018

As we usher 2017 out the door and throw the welcome mat out for 2018, it’s an ideal time to take stock of where we are and where we want to go — both literally and figuratively.

For many of us that might mean spending more time with family and less time working late or throughout the weekend, a needed shakeup so we can become healthier, be it through the food we eat, the activities we participate, the amount of time we sleep and so on.

I love this time of year, when we seek ways and means to restore more balance in our lives. As a person who divides his time between being a NASM-certified personal trainer/group exercise instructor at Equinox and UC-Berekley and a film journalist, I realize the importance of maintaining balance.

That is what I hope I can help you do in 2018 by helping you stick to your fitness goals. At the same time, I might point you to some fine films.

This coming month, I am honored to be featured in Diablo Magazine, talking about what I love to talk about — transforming live/bodies and helping people turn possibilities into realities. Here’s a link to the article 

A great way to spice up your exercise routine is to try something different. TRX offers some great classes in S.F. 

I have a few more private personal training slots open now so if you’d like to reach out, please do so. Happy 2018 everyone.



What to stream while on a flight? ‘Wheelman,’ ‘Mudbound,’ ‘Big Sick,’ ‘Barbra’ some of the best options

Stuck in the airport during the mad Thanksgiving dash? Don’t fret. There’s a lot you can stream on your devices to watch before, during and after that flight.

Here are some of my recommendations:



Don’t miss: ‘God’s Own Country,’ ‘Blade of the Immortal’

(Samuel Goldwyn Co.) “God’s Own Country” is one of the best films of 2017.

“Murder on the Orient Express” supposedly goes off the rails and “Daddy’s Home 2” is getting slammed by critics.

So what should you see at the cineplex? I highly recommend “God’s Own Country.” It’s a deceptively simple story told with acuity and sensitivity. I also loved “Blade of the Immortal,” a gory samurai drama with a kick-ass girl heroine.

Anyway, here are my reviews of both.  See them before they vanish from the big screens.

“God’s Own Country”: Francis Lee’s award-winning, feature-length debut makes you feel not only like you’re a part of the rugged Northern England terra firma but that you’re rolling around in earthy passion. His rich drama about two men — a farmer (Josh O’Connor) and a Romanian ranchhand (Alec Secareanu) — and an undeniable attraction is not only wildy sexy but elemental and real. I love this film and have seen it three times and will gladly see it three more.

“Blade of the Immortal”: Takashi Miike has made a staggering number of films, including the harrowing nightmare “Audition” and the crazy-good “13 Assassins.” His latest is epic in length, but ever-so satisfying, a mashup of a supernatural fantasy with a samurai drama. It’s entirely gonzo as a young girl and a die-hard samurai take on the bad and the seemingly good but actually bad guys.  One of the most satisfying action films of the year.

Mill Valley Film Festival: Don’t miss ‘The Corridor,’ ‘The Divine Order’

Bethany writing in journal
(Courtesy of Mill Valley Film Festival) A scene from “The Corridor.” 

The Mill Valley Film Festival is well underway and while numerous offerings in the lineup are already receiving national and international attention there are other gems worth seeing that aren’t as highly visible but are just as deserving of your time.

Two under-the-radar films I recommend are “The Divine Order” (5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Rafael Film Center) and “The Corridor” (8:45 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Lark).

Here are capsule reviews of both.

“The Divine Order” is a thoroughly entertaining dramatization of the drive to allow women the right to vote in a small town in Switzerland, a right shockingly not granted until 1971!  Director Petra Volpe adopts the right touch and tone, injecting humor amid the escalating drama in a film that elegantly captures the period and its attitudes. It helps that the cast, led strongly by Marie Leuenberger as the housewife Nora — who undergoes a liberation transformation and becomes the unofficial community leader for the movement — plays off each other so gracefully. (Screens again 6 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Lark Theater). Opens Nov. 24 in the the Bay Area.  

“The Corridor” is a riveting, fully immersive Bay Area-set documentary that illuminates an innovative program launched by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department that requires inmates without high school diplomas attend school while they’re behind bars so they can earn GEDs. Filmmakers Richard O’Connell and Annelise Wunderlich have done a comprehensive yet intimate job of exploring the program, particularly in presenting the stories and journeys of the inmates profiled. Don’t miss this one. (Screens again 10 a.m., Oct. 12, Rafael Film Center)

For tickets and additional information, visit

(Zeitgeist Films) “The Divine Order” effectively dramatizes the drive to get women the right to vote in Switzerland. 

Mill Valley Film Festival: One of the best in the nation

Mills in Juvie
(Courtesy of Mill Valley Film Festival) Santiago Rizzo’s “Quest” chronicles the life of an East Bay teen who changes his life around once he meets a Berkeley teacher.

The Mill Valley Film Festival turns 40 and its lineup is as spry and wise at its age suggests.

The festival is a gem in the Bay Area, and features a plethora of award-worthy films . But it equally supports Bay Area filmmakers and indie artists.

With that in mind, here are a few of my picks for films you shouldn’t miss at the festival, kicking off this Thursday (Oct. 5.)

I’ll be posting short reviews of other films worth seeing in the days ahead.

(Kim Swims Film)
Open-water swimmer Kim Chambers of San Francisco achieves something incredible in the inspiring documentary, “Kim Swims.”

Here are my picks.