7 items from 2015
He’s played a drug addict, a disheveled playwright, a Jedi and a con man, but the twin roles that Ewan McGregorportrays in Last Days in the Desert may be his most challenging yet.
Rodrigo Garcia’s film takes the tale of Jesus’ time spent in contemplation the desert and reimagines it in the form of a parable about fathers and sons. Yeshuah (McGregor), the Hebrew pronunciation of ”Jesus”, meets a young boy (Tye Sheridan), whose father (Ciarán Hinds) is headstrong and wanting his son to stay in the desert, while his dying mother (Ayelet Zurer) wants the boy to go to Jerusalem to follow his dreams.
McGregor also plays Satan, a trickster trying to taunt Jesus into interfering with this family dynamic. It’s this back-and-forth between temptation and moral quandary that sets the film apart. Combined with the beautiful visuals and gorgeous sound design and score, this is »
- Jason Gorber
Nathaniel reporting from Sundance with three quick takes
The biggest sale at Sundance was this no-stars comedy about three geeky high school seniors who are obsessed with 90s hip hops (that's a character detail and joke factory -- not the plot). Malcolm (Shameik Moore joyfully charismatic in the lead role) a Straight A student who dreams of Harvard and his two best friends Jib (Tony Revolori - just as strong as he was in Grand Budapest Hotel) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons from Transparent in her feature debut) live in "The Bottoms" an impoverished crime-ridden neighborhood. Malcolm gets mixed up with Dom (Rakim Mayers aka A$AP Rocky), a local dope dealer, and soon the three friends are on the run from cops, drug dealers, gang members and continually out of frying pans and into other fires. The film it most reminded me of is Go (1999) for its parade of memorable characters, »
- NATHANIEL R
Early critical praise bodes well for Sundance premiere "Last Days in the Desert," which had its first official screening over the weekend in Park City. Writer/director García moves from the tangled women's tales of his earlier films ("Nine Lives" and "Mother Child" among them) to this male-driven, imagined chapter of Jesus' 40 days of fasting and praying in the desert, where he confronts the Devil. Ewan McGregor plays both roles in this hotly buzzed drama lensed in just five weeks by "Birdman" cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who reunites here with "The Tree of Life"'s Tye Sheridan, costarring alongside McGregor and Ciaran Hinds. Here's what critics are saying so far. While decidedly noncommercial, the film is likely to be a controversial gotta-see-it among Christians and adventuresome moviegoers. Screen Daily: "A powerfully meditative experience that grapples with themes of faith, destiny, death, and fathers and »
- Ryan Lattanzio
A filmmaker known primarily for his perceptive melodramas about women, from “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her ” to “Mother and Child,” now turns his attention to a primal tale of fathers and sons — including the Son of Man himself — in “Last Days in the Desert,” a quietly captivating and remarkably beautiful account of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before the beginning of his ministry. Deliberately paced, sparely imagined and suffused with mystery, writer-director Rodrigo Garcia’s seventh feature is nonetheless quite lucid and accessible in its themes of empathy, compassion and sacrifice, and grounded by a Christ/Satan dual performance by Ewan McGregor that plays vastly better onscreen than it sounds on paper. While many will find the drama as arid as its parched surroundings, with a thoughtful and concerted marketing approach the picture might well appeal to art-minded nonbelievers and Christians open-minded enough to accept an off-Scripture narrative. »
- Justin Chang
Ewan McGregor is Jesus — and the Devil — in an imagined chapter from his forty days of fasting and praying in the desert. On his way out of the wilderness, Jesus struggles with the Devil over the fate of a family in crisis, setting for himself a dramatic test.
Last Days in the Desert will premiere at Sundance on January 25th and is set to open in cinemas last this year, with a cast that also includes Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones), Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel) and Tye Sheridan (Mud).
- Gary Collinson
Audiences can own this inspired example of “groundbreaking cinema” (Sasha Stone, Awards Daily) on digital download on January 23, 2015 before heading to DVD, Blu-Ray™ and On Demand February 3, 2015.
Both the DVD and Blu-Ray include bonus films, The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: Her, giving the consumer the complete picture ofthe story as it was intended to be seen.
With his unique vision, writer/director Ned Benson ambitiously captures a complete picture of thehighs and lows of a relationship in a beautifully relatable portrait of love, empathy and truth, told from differing Him and Her perspectives. The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby elicits riveting performances from an acclaimed cast led by Academy Award® nominee Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy, and a richly »
- Michelle McCue
Blitzkrieg Bop: Harper’s Demurely Serviceable Horror Sequel Revels in Cheap Thrills
Director James Watkins scored a sleeper hit with his 2012 sophomore film, The Woman in Black, a UK period piece horror film concerning a nasty spirit stealing village children for her own very personal reasons. Moody ambience, a distinct creepy curio motif, and headlined by the dependable likes of Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds and Janet McTeer (the film receiving release around the time her Oscar nod for Albert Nobbs was announced), it was surprisingly adept in comparison to the usual effort administered in such derivative genre fare (though it isn’t nearly as taut as Watkins’s 2008 debut film, Eden Lake). And so, without further ado, a sequel was born (to be fair, this is the first sequel from Hammer Productions since 1974), this time directed by Tom Harper and sans any original cast members for The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death. »
- Nicholas Bell
7 items from 2015
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