13 items from 2017
Variety Critics Choice celebrates its 20th anniversary as a key Karlovy Vary International Film Festival section.
If you can’t trust the talking cat, whom do you trust? Such are brain-frying quandaries viewers may face deep into the darkness of this deliciously unhinged, blood-laced adult fairy tale from Swiss-Polish writer-director Greg Zglinski. Setting out with real-world levels of macabre nastiness as it wittily probes the marital faultlines between a bourgeois Viennese couple attempting a restorative Alpine getaway, the film takes a smooth, almost imperceptible left turn into David Lynch-worthy realms of illogic that will leave adventurous audiences both rapt and dazed, dreamily uncertain of where exactly they lost the plot. Unraveling this cat’s-cradle isn’t half as important or pleasurable as getting entangled in it to begin with. Zglinski’s espresso-dark humor and icy formal precision may nod to a host of expert cinematic mind-gamers, from Roman Polanski to Lars von Trier, but “Animals” gleefully cultivates its very own kind of crazy.
There’s an old saying, often attributed to Martin Mull: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” In many ways first-time writer-director Kogonada’s “Columbus” treats architecture like music, as its protagonists write, talk, bicker and dance about an extraordinary collection of modernist structures in the unassuming Midwest town of Columbus, Ind. The hypnotically paced drama carried by the serendipitous odd-couple pairing of John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson is lovely and tender, marking the mono-monikered Kogonada as an auteur to watch. The relationships between each of the characters are imbued with warmth and humanity, and the filmmaking — like the city’s structures designed by the likes of Eero Saarinen and I.M. Pei — are gorgeous. In this unconventional American film, Kogonada is less interested in romance than in the characters’ overlapping and divergent worldviews and dreams, based on culture, environment, and upbringing.
— Geoff Berkshire
The Distinguished Citizen
Taciturn novelist Daniel Mantovani (Argentine star Oscar Martínez, who won the best actor prize at the Venice film festival for his performance) has an ambivalent relationship to fame: It has brought him the kind of wealth few authors can ever imagine, yet he’s concerned such success means he’s not the challenging writer he was at one time — an idea that’s amusingly conveyed in the opening scene, when he voices his fears while receiving the Nobel prize. Five years later, the Barcelona-based author remains too much in demand, politely declining most offers, until he gets a letter from his hometown of Salas, Argentina. It’s been four decades since he’s been back, despite using Salas as the setting for all his stories, and his return provides not only humor, but poignant insights into such themes as the burden of success, lost ideals, and whether artists truly give back to the communities they’ve creatively mined for decades.
— Jay Weissberg
God’s Own Country
In case it didn’t court “Brokeback Mountain” comparisons directly enough with its tale of two young sheep farmers finding love in a hopeless place, “God’s Own Country” seals the deal with one winkingly quoted shot: a work shirt draped on a wire hanger, poignantly removed from its wearer. Twelve years on, Ang Lee’s film has proven enough of a cultural milestone to merit such affectionate homage; luckily, Francis Lee’s tender, muscular Yorkshire romance has enough of an individual voice to get away with it, depicting a tentative romance between coarse English farmboy Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and the Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) who comes to work for the season. Intimacy doesn’t come naturally to a man who has been raised in a household where caring is expressed through work, but rather than over-exerting well-worn clichés about rural homophobia, the film reveals pockets of tolerance in unexpected places.
Heal the Living
A 17-year-old car crash victim lies brain-dead in a hospital, as doctors urgently pitch the virtues of organ donation to his distraught parents; over in another town, a middle-aged mother of two with a severely degenerative heart condition goes on the waiting list for a transplant. What sounds like fodder for a routinely gripping episode of “ER” is complicated with rare depths of personal and sensual detail in French director Katell Quillévéré’s sublimely compassionate, heart-crushing third feature. More polished but no less authentically humane than her previous works “Suzanne” and “Love Like Poison,” this spidering ensemble piece — adapted from Maylis de Kerangal’s internationally acclaimed 2014 novel — boasts beautifully pitched performances from the likes of Tahar Rahim and Emmanuelle Seigner. But it’s Quillévéré’s soaring visual and sonic acumen that suffuses this sad, potentially familiar hospital drama with true grace.
An outwardly normal suburban Perth couple who abduct, torture, and murder schoolgirls must face their funny games in this genre-bending powerhouse thriller from first-time director Ben Young. Brave audiences will be rewarded, if that’s the word, with a harrowing ride that morphs from discrete horror to probing character study and back again in a vivid yet admirably restrained 108 minutes. Far from Michael Haneke-level lurid, the film generates a coiled depravity and almost unbearable tension from the determined tracking shots of cinematographer Michael McDermott and Dan Luscombe’s trance-like, Tangerine Dream-inspired score. Clayton Jauncey’s production design is detailed and evocative, keyed around kitchen knives. For such a bold film to work, the performances must be all-in, and the three leads are committed to Young’s vision: Ashleigh Cummings is fearless as the would-be victim, while Emma Booth is terrifyingly skittish and Stephen Curry (who is, believe it or not, a popular Australian comedian) redolent of pure evil.
— Eddie Cockrell
Lost in Paris
As anyone who has seen “L’Iceberg” and “The Fairy” knows, Abel and Gordon are quite possibly the two funniest clowns working in cinema today. No, really: Dominique Abel is a Belgian-born, burlesque-trained human pretzel and gifted physical comic on par with Chaplin or Keaton, while real-life Australian wife Fiona Gordon is a Tilda Swinton-tall redhead with Olive Oyl elbows and an Easter Island profile. With their latest film, they take audiences to Paris, where she plays a shy librarian desperate to find her missing Aunt Martha (the final role of “Amour” star Emmanuelle Riva), while he plays a harmless hobo who pops up practically everywhere she goes. Let the comic situations begin as this duo travels from one corner of the city to another (nearly getting incinerated at Père Lachaise cemetery one moment, dangling from the rafters of the Eiffel Tower the next), creating some of the funniest moments you’ll see on screen all year.
— Peter Debruge
A droll comic drama filmed in glorious widescreen black-and-white, “Merry Christmas Mr. Mo” follows a terminally ill barber (played by distinguished character actor Ki Joo-bong) whose dying wish is to make a short film directed by his distant son. What might have been a mawkish exercise in implausibility is instead fashioned into a consistently amusing and frequently touching tale of love, family and reconciliation with the past. Played to deadpan perfection by an appealing cast and directed with impressive assurance by first-time feature helmer Lim Dae-hyung, this lovely tale channels the spirit of early Jim Jarmusch films such as “Stranger Than Paradise” into its ultra low-key humor, dialogue non-sequiturs and loving monochrome photography of notionally unremarkable locations. Without ever succumbing to sentimentality, this offbeat crowd-pleaser will also move many viewers to tears by the time Mr. Mo’s task is completed.
Every summer, the Polish workers come to the Swedish countryside and pick strawberries. They tend the fields all day and keep to themselves at night, while the landowners hardly bother to learn their names. It’s a cycle as sure as the seasons themselves, though this year is different as one of the foreign fruit-pickers’ kids is old enough to take an interest in the host family’s daughter, and there among the strawberries a case of young love blossoms for the first time, complicating the entire arrangement, for the migrant workers are expected to make themselves invisible. In this sensitive, sun-kissed teenage romance, Swedish director Wiktor Ericsson invites us to recognize and identify with these faceless outsiders, asking for equality on the simplest terms. Though the setting may be specific, its appeal is universal, boasting a texture so rich, you can practically smell the ripe strawberries in the air.
— Peter Debruge
Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves
With its multiple aspect ratios, on-screen quotes, and cutaways to news broadcasts and documentary footage — not to mention a musical overture and interlude — this three-hour Quebecois political epic unfurls with a bravado as outsized as its title. Inspired by the student demonstrations that sparked the Maple Spring in 2012, co-directors Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie apply the language of radical cinema to a tense, mournful and profoundly ambivalent portrait of radicalism. Following four far-left activists as they commit acts of vandalism and terror to foment an uprising against the capitalist system, the film channels their passion while insistently questioning their methods and perspective. Politics aside, the dynamics at the film’s heart are practically universal among youth movements, resulting in a bold portrait that pulses with the vitality of four young people who, however flawed or foolhardy, sincerely want to change the world.
Related storiesKarlovy Vary Film Festival Honors Talent Working in Front of and Behind the CameraFuture Frames Showcase at Karlovy Vary Casts the Spotlight on Promising Creative TalentKarlovy Vary International Film Festival Showcases Stories of Social Turmoil »
- Variety Staff
“Think ya used enough dynamite there, Butch?”
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid screens at St. Louis’ fabulous Hi-Pointe Theater this weekend as part of their Classic Film Series. It’s Saturday, June 10th at 10:30am at the Hi-Pointe located at 1005 McCausland Ave., St. Louis, Mo 63117. The film will be introduced by Harry Hamm, movie reviewer for Kmox. Admission is only $5
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969) is a Western based loosely on fact as it tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known to history as Butch Cassidy and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the “Sundance Kid” as they migrate to Bolivia while on the run from the law in search of a more successful criminal career.It stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid respectively,together with Katharine Ross.It was written by William Goldman and directed by George Roy Hill. »
- Tom Stockman
Although the Pitch TV show was cancelled after just one season on Fox, executive producer Kevin Falls is pitching a TV movie to give some closure to the 10-episode drama series.Pitch stars Kylie Bunbury as pitcher Ginny Baker — the first woman to play Major League Baseball. The Fox cast includes Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelos, Dan Lauria, Mo McRae, Meagan Holder, and Tim Jo. Read More… »
The third annual Bentonville Film Festival (Bff) which champions women and diverse voices in media, announced the winners of its film competition Saturday, May 6 at their awards ceremony hosted by Terry Crews, star of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Bff is the only festival to offer guaranteed distribution to the winning festival films in three categories: Best Narrative, Best Family Film and Audience Award winners.
Hosted in Bentonville, Arkansas, 2017’s festival attracted a record-breaking number of attendees committed to ensuring development and promotion of media that represents the world we live in – 51% women and highly diverse. Festival attendees interacted with filmmakers, actors and key industry leaders including Meg Ryan, William H. Macy, Judy Greer, Rachel Winter, Marilu Henner, Jane Seymour, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Amy Jo Johnson, Aisha Tyler, Nely Galan, Olivia Washington, Joey Travolta (Inclusion Films), Patty Jenkins (Director, Wonder Woman), Stephen Quinn (Chairman, Afe), Gil Robertson (Aafca), Chevonne O »
- Malina Saval
Network: FoxEpisodes: 10 (hour)Seasons: OneTV show dates: September 22, 2016 -- December 8, 2016Series status: CancelledPerformers include: Kylie Bunbury, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelo, Dan Lauria, Mo McRae, Meagan Holder, and Tim Jo.TV show description: This dramatic series follows the inspirational story of a young pitcher who becomes the first woman to play Major League Baseball.A beautiful, tough and gifted athlete, Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) is vaulted into instant fame when she’s called up by the San Diego Padres to make her Major League debut. Like any rookie, Ginny must prove herself to her teammates.Read More… »
Fox has high hopes for their new Pitch TV series but they've scheduled it on Thursday nights, a highly competitive night for network television. Can it win in the ratings game? Will it be cancelled or renewed for a second season? Stay tuned to find out.The Pitch TV show follows the inspirational story of a young pitcher (Kylie Bunbury) who becomes the first woman to play Major League Baseball. Although she’s been groomed for this moment for much of her life, she's embarking on a baseball career under the glare of the white-hot media spotlight. The rest of the cast includes Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelos, Dan Lauria, Mo McRae, Meagan Holder, and Tim Jo.The ratings are typically the best indication of a show's likelihood of staying on the air. The higher the ratings (particularly the 18-49 demo), the better the chances »
And it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game. As expected, the Pitch TV show has been cancelled by Fox. There will be no season two for the female-led Mlb drama.The Pitch TV series stars Kylie Bunbury as the inspirational, young pitcher, Ginny Baker -- the first woman to play Major League Baseball. The Fox cast includes Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelos, Dan Lauria, Mo McRae, Meagan Holder, and Tim Jo.Read More… »
It’s official: “Pitch” has struck out.
Fox has canceled the baseball drama, after one 10-episode season. Executive producer Kevin Falls tweeted the news on Monday evening, also posting, “Thank you to our faithful fans for trying so hard to save us.”
I'm sorry to tell you that @PITCHonFOX will not be getting a second season. #Pitch
— Kevin Falls (@KevinFalls) May 2, 2017
Though “Pitch” was one of the most hotly anticipated new series of the 2016-2017, the cancellation is not a surprise. Despite the early buzz, the baseball drama never connected with viewers, averaging a 0.8 live-plus-same day Nielsen rating in the 18-49 demo and 3 million total viewers per episode. Following its first 10 episodes, Fox did not go forth with a back-order, signaling the imminent cancellation.
Premiering in September 2016, “Pitch” last aired in early December of last year. However, Fox executives remained optimistic about the show, telling reporters in January that no decision had been made yet. “We »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
By mid-May, the broadcast networks must make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2017-18 TV season, and which… won’t.
As that deadline draws near, TVLine is singling out a few “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on creative strides (and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to cold, hard numbers.
Related2017 Renewal Scorecard: What’s Coming Back? What’s Getting Cancelled? What’s on the Bubble?
Next up is an ambitious Fox drama that may be heading to the showers.
The Show | Fox’s Pitch »
Worlds collide in the new trailer for Aftermath, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scoot McNairy (Our Brand Is Crisis, 12 Years A Slave) and Maggie Grace (The Taken Series, Lockout), alongside Martin Donovan. Catch the intense thriller, inspired by actual events, hitting theaters and on-demand April 7th! In addition to the trailer, we also have the first poster featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This new trailer for Aftermath debuted on YouTube today, teasing quite the unique story. Two strangers' lives become inextricably bound together after a devastating plane crash. Inspired by actual events, Aftermath tells a story of guilt and revenge after an air traffic controller's (Scoot McNairy) error causes the death of a construction foreman's (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wife and daughter. We're choosing not to include any actual details about the true story the film is based on, since there will be some huge spoilers revealed if we did so.
The supporting cast is rounded out by Martin Donovan, »
Although season one of the Pitch TV show on Fox premiered to low ratings which only grew lower, the network has not yet either cancelled or renewed Pitch for season two. As previously reported, network execs Gary Newman and David Madden indicated the network would consider the show for renewal.Dan Fogelman, who is enjoying great success with his other new series -- NBC's This Is Us -- says he is optimistic about Pitch getting a second season on Fox. A sports drama series, Pitch follows gifted young pitcher, Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury), who becomes the first female Major League Baseball player. Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelo, Dan Lauria, Mo McRae, Meagan Holder, and Tim Jo also star.Read More… »
Exclusive: House Of Lies star Dawn Olivieri and Mo McRae (Fox’s Pitch) have snatched up roles in Diamond Film Production’s Den of Thieves, the crime thriller for Stx that stars Gerard Butler. Christian Gudegast is at the helm for this film, which he co-wrote with Paul Sheuring. Based on true events, Den of Thieves is a bold action thriller in the tradition of Heat. It follows an elite crew of bank robbers who set out to pull off the ultimate heist and get to the money… »
Could Pitch have a chance on another network? Recently, Fox boss Gary Newman said he would be open to airing the TV series on sports channels, TVLine reports.The baseball drama stars Kylie Bunbury as the first female player for Major League Baseball. The cast also includes Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ali Larter, Mark Consuelo, Dan Lauria, Mo McRae, Meagan Holder, and Tim Jo. Season one of the show ended in December after earning lower-than-expected ratings.Read More… »
13 items from 2017
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