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After breaking onto the indie scene with her film Girlfight (which also put Michelle Rodriguez on the map), filmmaker Karyn Kusama found herself directing two big-budget films in Aeon Flux and Jennifer’s Body. But the latter was released about 6 years ago, and since her horrific team-up with Megan Fox, she decided to remain out of the cinematic circuit – until now. At this year’s South by Southwest festival, Karyn premiered her new thriller, The Invitation, which is a tense return to her indie filmmaking roots.
I had the opportunity to chat with Karyn before the film’s screening, where we talked not only about The Invitation, but her thoughts on the current state of gender norms in moviemaking. We touched upon if the current success of female horror filmmakers is making a step towards a more equal cinematic culture, the pros and cons of working in the mainstream Hollywood system, »
- Matt Donato
Karyn Kusama is a director I want to see more of. I saw her first film Girlfight when I was 17. I kept renting it at Blockbuster -- this was right when DVD started to phase out VHS -- because I was so fascinated with the story. Perhaps it's because I'm a small guy so I will always love a good underdog story. I didn't give a damn that it was made by a woman and was about a woman fighter, I loved that the filmmaker told a tough against-all-odds story. There's a reason why Girlfight took home the Award of the Youth Foreign Film award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, and soon after, studios began knocking at her door. That being her first feature, it's...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
The studios had a strong showing at SXSW this year, as evidenced by the high-profile premieres of “Trainwreck” and “Spy,” as well as a secret screening of Paul Walker’s final performance in “Furious 7.” Happily, outside the big-budget realm, the festival also offered up a remarkably solid lineup of work from first-time filmmakers and emerging talents — a field that included everything from the top prizewinners, “Krisha” and “Peace Officer,” to first-rate thrillers like “Hangman” and “The Invitation,” to standout music docs like “Danny Says” and “Made in Japan.”
Here are the 13 gems that impressed our critics and reporters the most (listed in alphabetical order):
1. “6 Years”
Hannah Fidell’s drama unravels like a sequel to “Like Crazy,” but instead of Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin, the equally charming Taissa Farmiga and Ben Rosenfield play the bickering mates. The film is shot like a documentary about falling out of love, »
- Variety Staff
The SXSW Film Festival has always been a launching pad for women in Hollywood — it’s where Lena Dunham premiered “Tiny Furniture” in 2010, and “Girls” in 2012; where 2011’s “Bridesmaids” debuted; and where Brie Larson became a star in 2013’s “Short Term 12.”
But this year’s SXSW had more girl power than ever before, from the female-driven comedies “Trainwreck” and “Spy,” to the work of breakout directors like Hannah Fidell (“6 Years”) and Shannon Sun-Higginson (“Gtfo: A Documentary About Women in Gaming”). As Hollywood still has a weak track record of putting women in front of and behind the camera — last year, women directors made only 4.6% of studio films — it’s still a question if emerging talent at festivals like SXSW and Sundance can cross over into the mainstream. “Since the industry is run by men, men have a tendency to want to make stories about themselves,” Sally Field told Variety. »
- Ramin Setoodeh, Justin Chang, Joe Leydon and Dennis Harvey
Last week, Karyn Kusama’s (Girlfight, Aeon Flux, Jennifer’s Body) The Invitation, premiered at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival. To celebrate the worldwide debut of her gut-wrenching exercise in horror, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with her about the project, collaborating with her talented ensemble and how the horror genre works best when it confronts some of our most basic human emotions.
Congratulations on The Invitation, Karyn. The film is fantastic- what was it about this project that caught your eye before you came on board to direct?
Karyn Kusama: Thanks so much. I think what it was that I hadn’t read a piece that intersected with genre but ultimately operated with this authentic sense of drama as well. So I thought that was really interesting and it’s what my favorite genre movies are doing these days. I just had the sense that I would »
- Heather Wixson
The true testament to a slow-burn thriller’s worth is never comprehended until its climax comes to a head and the credits roll. You’ll ask yourself, “Was the payoff worth the journey?” Were the previous events fulfilling enough to warrant such a sluggish pace, or are you still full of tedium and frustration brought on by an overbearing first few acts that can’t be saved by whatever third act twist a filmmaker reaches for? That’s what Karyn Kusama asks in her latest film, The Invitation, which unfortunately falls under the category of slow-burners that haphazardly meander along before finally hitting stride in the final thirty seconds or so of storytelling – an explosive moneyshot after an hour and a half’s worth of drawn-out, creepy dinner party suspense.
- Matt Donato
We all handle grief in our own way. Some follow the traditional seven stages, some bury it deep inside and others give up on life all together. And then there are the people who throw dinner parties. Will’s (Logan Marshall-Green) ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) is one of the latter, and now two years after the death of their young son and her subsequent disappearance she’s returned home to the friends she left behind. She has a new husband, David (Michiel Huisman), and they’re back living in the home where little Tye passed away. The deliriously happy couple have invited their friends to dinner as a way to reconnect and make peace, but when Will arrives with his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) by his side he immediately feels uncomfortable. Part of it is the house and the memories of his son, but there’s also something in the air that seems just a little bit »
- Rob Hunter
Genre buffs have attended countless dinner parties that wind up tilting into madness, and yet the shivers arrive early and often in “The Invitation,” a teasingly effective thriller that builds a remarkable level of tension over the course of its 99-minute running time. Set during a mysterious reunion among old friends where something is quite palpably not right, this well-acted, beautifully modulated exercise represents director Karyn Kusama’s strongest work in years, revealing an assurance of tone, craft and purpose that haven’t been in evidence since her Sundance prize-winning debut, “Girlfight” (2000). More festivals are likely to extend invitations of their own following the pic’s SXSW premiere, while decent word of mouth should propel this likely modest theatrical performer into solid VOD rotation.
- Justin Chang
Do you remember Jonestownc It's probably the thing that gave mainstream culture their first real look at a cult and the horrible things that can happen if you join. I mean, the phrase "Don't drink the Kool-Aid" is now a common expression. Since then, people have done very interesting things with cults in movies. Movies like Martha Marcy May Marlene and Sound of My Voice have really stuck with me for their depiction of how someone gets roped into a cult, what makes an engaging cult leader, and all the moral and ethical questions behind them. I wish The Invitation had more of that to chew on. Instead, there's the unwavering idea of "cult equals bad", making for no grey area to explore, but the gripping third act may help you forget the rather dull first hour. After two years of no contact with anyone, Eden (Tammy Blanchard) comes back »
- Mike Shutt
Two of the most awkward social situations you can find yourself in as an adult are reunions and dinner parties. When the two are mixed in director Karyn Kusama’s (Jennifer’s Body, Girlfight) latest, The Invitation, the results are a chilling, brutal and wholly unforgettable horror experience that I haven’t been able to get out of my head since seeing it last night at SXSW.
The Invitation follows Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), who are on their way to reluctantly attend a mysterious dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new husband David (Michiel Huisman). Their mutual friends, who also haven't seen Eden and David in the two years since she and Will’s marriage fell apart due to devastating circumstances, are also invited to this reunion of sorts, and all parties are curious to see just what exactly drove »
- Heather Wixson
At one point or another we've all probably been in a slightly similar scenario to the one at the start of The Invitation, a new horror movie from Karyn Kusama (Jennifer's Body, Girlfight). An old friend you haven't seen in a few years has a gathering and you really don't want to go, but you do purely out of a sense of obligation and guilt, and of course it's as awkward as you feared. However, if you've ever found yourself at a party that ends in the same way the one in The Invitation does, holy hell are you going to have a horrifying story to tell. Assuming you survive. In The Invitation, Will (Logan Marshall-Green) and his new girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi), reluctantly attend a lavish dinner party hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her...
- Peter Hall
Will and Kira drive along dreamily. The topic turns to their destination, and Will is coaxed into recalling his past. Screech. Bam. Coyote. Dead. The omen is real. Don’t go back there. The Invitation doesn’t go very long without dread, its dreamy atmosphere—like the foreboding L.A. seclusion—just too close to a nightmare for comfort. It’s…
- Samuel Zimmerman
The film channel of CreativeLive, a live online global classroom for creative entrepreneurs, has partnered with TheWrap and Filmmaker Magazine for a series of live talks with renowned filmmakers, actors, screenwriters and film entrepreneurs, including Hal Hartley, Robert Duvall, Robert Rodriguez, Karyn Kusama, Adrien Brody, and more at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival. All discussions will be broadcast live, online, and for free from 10am-2pm Cdt on March 14 and March 15. TheWrap’s interview studio will be hosted by CEO and Editor in Chief, Sharon Waxman. TheWrap will be livestreaming on Sunday, March 15 from 10:30am-12:30pm Cdt. “We are honored and. »
- Lia Haberman
SXSW kicks off on Friday, with thousands arriving in Austin, Texas, to attend the film festival component. While there won’t be as many distribution deals as at Sundance or Toronto, SXSW can offer a strong launching pad for upcoming releases — last year, both “Neighbors” and “Chef” attracted lots of attention in Texas to before they went on to becomes box office hits. And, of course, the festival is also as a showcase for smaller films seeking buyers, such as the Katie Holmes drama “Mania Days.” Here are the 13 buzziest titles playing at SXSW this year.
The hottest ticket at SXSW will be for Judd Apatow’s new comedy starring Amy Schumer as a thirtysomething journalist who, after a series of one-night stands, sparks a connection with a subject she’s profiling (Bill Hader). Over the years, Apatow has helped launch the careers of some of Hollywood’s biggest »
- Ramin Setoodeh, Justin Chang and Dennis Harvey
South by Southwest starts tomorrow, Friday, March 13, and my pores are beaming with excitement, though that could just be a medical condition. I am looking at a very packed schedule of films over the nine day festival, with a total of 38 in all (36 reviews to write). So, I basically will be drowning in movies. But, then again, I can't complain too much, as I wouldn't have it any other way. You can take a look at what I hope my schedule ends up being below. Obviously, things could change as the festival progresses, with some titles getting more buzz than others and overtaking current films and so forth. But, I think, this is how I will be spending my SXSW. I will be updating this post throughout the festival with schedule changes and links to my reviews, so maybe bookmark this page if you're interested. I hope you enjoy my coverage, »
- Mike Shutt
It’s been some time. The many who unfairly dismissed 2009’s Jennifer’s Body out of a violent distaste for the writing of Diablo Cody not only missed out on a clever, cutting tale of friendship, but also a bloody, visually stimulating one. Director Karyn Kusama likes to go big, after all. She’s thrilled and inspired by…
- Samuel Zimmerman
Each and every year, the South by Southwest Film Festival comes together in Austin, Texas to shine the spotlight on some of the most provocative and ingenious indie horror films from across the globe. The 2015 SXSW line-up is no exception, featuring a multitude of thought-provoking titles and genre-bending awesomeness that we could not be more excited to check out during the festival this month.
Here’s a look at several of the films from SXSW 2015 that have us excited for this year’s line-up and should stay on your radar once they’re officially released at a later date:
Max and her friends are mysteriously transported into a famous 1980s horror movie that starred Max's mother, a celebrated scream queen. Reunited, they team up to fight the film's maniacal killer and find their way back home. Cast: Taissa Farmiga, »
- Heather Wixson
Welcome to another horror round-up! In this edition, we take a look at new posters for a pair of movies making their premieres in the Midnighters section at the SXSW Film Festival later this month: The Boy (which sounds a little like Stevan Mena's Bereavement) and The Invitation (the new film from Jennifer's Body director Karyn Kusama). We also have details on Descendant, a new spec script from the writer who penned the screenplay adaptation of Clive Barker's The Midnight Meat Train.
The Boy: "It’s the summer of 1989. 9-year-old Ted Henley (Jared Breeze) and his father John (David Morse) are the proprietors of The Mt. Vista Motel, a crumbling resort buried in the mountains of the American West. Since Ted's mother left, John has drifted into despondency—leaving Ted to fend for himself. In this isolation, unchecked by the bounds of parenting, Ted’s darker impulses begin to manifest. »
- Derek Anderson
Next week, Karyn Kusama opens the SXSW Midnighters with her highly anticipated The Invitation, her long-awaited follow-up to the terrific (and undervalued) Jennifer’s Body that boasts something of a chilling premise. Shock Till You Drop presents the first poster for the film, an elegant piece designed by the acclaimed Justin Erickson, of Phantom City Creative, below. …
- Samuel Zimmerman
The 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival is a little over a month away and the increasingly popular midnight selections have finally announced. Comprised of thrillers, sci-fi, dark comedies and horror, along with shorts and music videos; the crop of Midnight selections look ripe for the harvesting. Some of the most anticipated films of 2015 will be shown at SXSW, and it looks like a can’t miss lineup.
The Corpse of Anna Fritz (Spain)
Director: Hèctor Hernández Vicens, Screenwriters: Hèctor Hernándes Vicens, Isaac P. Creus
Anna Fritz, a famous and beautiful actress, has died recently. Three young men sneak into the morgue to see her naked. Fascinated by her beauty, they decide to become the last people to have sex with her. Cast: Alba Ribas, Cristian Valencia, Bernat Saumell, Albert Carbó. (World Premiere)
Deathgasm (New Zealand)
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Lei Howden
New kid in town Brodie and bad-boy Zakk quickly bond »
- BJ Colangelo
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