13 items from 2014
It’s a suggestion every filmmaker dreads reading while perusing notes from a producer: “Can’t you make your protagonist more likable?” But in the case of “Sequoia,” such a recommendation might have been well heeded. As Riley, an angry young woman bent on beating the reaper before she’s felled by cancer, Aly Michalka is much too convincing in her fingernails-on-chalkboard abrasiveness, making it difficult to develop a rooting interest in her character’s fate until the three-quarters mark of helmer Andy Landen’s road-movie dramedy. Long before that point, unfortunately, many if not most viewers will have switched off this VOD-bound indie.
To be fair, Michalka appears to be playing the role as it’s written by scripter Andrew Rothschild, who doesn’t stint on doling out annoying qualities to the supporting characters as well. But Landen and Michalka might have made the long journey more involving had »
- Joe Leydon
Riley (Aly Michalka) has been diagnosed with sarcoma carcinoma (a.k.a. mouth cancer). Her chances of survival are slim at best and it is more than likely that her lower jaw will need to be removed in the not-so-distant future. Being that the 23-year-old would rather choose how, when and where she dies, she heads to Sequoia National Park to commit suicide. Along the way to Sequoia, Riley meets-cute with Ogden (Dustin Milligan), an earnest young man with a banjo who is on his way to meet up with a bunch of his Christian cohorts. Ogden sees a beautiful young woman in need, so he turns on his Christian charm and attempts to help her. Once he finds out that Riley is on a one-way path to suicide, Ogden is left in a very precarious position. Does he help Riley achieve her goal or fight to change her mind? »
- Don Simpson
An uneven, but still strangely appealing, look at mortality, second chances and family dysfunction, the SXSW indie "Sequoia" may resemble a less joyful, arguably more honest version of the "Little Miss Sunshine" narrative, but it still has its own charms despite having many disagreeable characters. Reilly is one of them (Aly Michalka, perhaps best remembered as Emma Stone’s squeaky best friend in "Easy A"). A young, beautiful 23-year-old, she should have her whole life ahead of her. But she’s moody, sarcastic and cynical for good reason: mortally debilitating obstacles rest heavy on Reilly’s soul. She’s reached a stage three level of sarcoma carcinoma mouth cancer. And so, with the situation looking bleak (the removal of her lower jaw being an option if she reaches stage four), she decides to pack it all in with one last trip to Sequoia National Park. But Reilly’s planned suicide isn’t going very well. »
- Rodrigo Perez
Suicide can be a pretty tough subject to tackle in film. Nine times out of ten, a "will they/won't they" drama suffers from the major flaw of deflated stakes as the audience is smart enough to figure out the filmmaker isn't very likely to kill his or her protagonist. So it is actually rather refreshing when Sequoia's protagonist Riley (Aly Michalka) swallows a lethal cocktail of prescription pills in the film's first act. Yep. She's going to go through with it. The drugs are going to take some eight hours to take effect, giving Riley the time to say goodbye to her sister at their predetermined farewell spot in Sequoia National Park. That is, until her sister calls to let her know she wrecked...
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Check out an exclusive clip from SXSW world premiere "Sequoia," starring Aly Michalka ("Easy A") as a young woman battling a dangerous illness who plans one last trip to a bucolic national park. The film bows at the Austin fest on March 9 in the narrative spotlight section."Sequoia" is helmed by first-time feature filmmaker Andy Landen, a graduate of USC's film school. Dustin Milligan ("Slither"), Todd Lowe ("True Blood"), Demetri Martin ("In a World"), Sophi Bairley ("The Poker House"), Joey Lauren Adams ("Blue Caprice") and Lou Diamond Phillips ("La Bamba") also star.Here's the official synopsis:a lively young woman with a life threatening illness visits Sequoia National Park with the intention of ending her life – but her plans are complicated by her colorful family and the unexpected possibility of romance with an introspective musician. »
- Beth Hanna
Nearing its premiere at the 2014 SXSW Film Festival, director Andy Landen's romantic comedy-drama "Sequoia" releases its first official trailer. The film, set to premiere at the festival on March 9, stars Aly Michalka (CW's "Hellcats," "Easy A"), Dustin Milligan ("Beverly Hills 90210") and Joey Lauren Adams ("Chasing Amy," "Dazed and Confused," "Big Daddy," and "The Break-Up"). "Sequioa" follows the troubled journey of a terminally ill young woman who plans to end her trek to California's Sequoia National Forest with her own suicide. What she doesn't plan for, however, is the intervention of her dysfunctional family and the unexpected romance that blossoms with the shy musician who takes her to her destination, which may possibly renew her appreciation for life. The trailer presents the film as both sweet and morbid, with Michalka's character running away from her life with a complete stranger (Milligan) who accompanies her along the way to the forest as her family frantically. »
- Ziyad Saadi
One of the standout titles on the SXSW Narrative Spotlight lineup is Andy Landen's feature debut Sequoia. Starring Aly Michalka and Dustin Milligan alongside Todd Lowe, Demetri Martin, Sophi Bairley, and Joey Lauren Adams, Sequoia is the story of a troubled girl with a terminal disease that heads to the woods to call it quits on life, only to meet a dashing young man along the way. We've got the synopsis below followed by the trailer for your viewing pleasure. Set amid the epic grandeur of the California's Sequoia National Forest, Sequoia is drama-romance with a breakout performance by Aly Michalka (Former Disney Channel actor, CW's Hellcats, Easy A, pop music sister act Aly & Aj). Aly stars as a lively young woman with a...
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Sundance just ended, and we are already preparing for the next big film festival, South By Southwest. Not too long ago, the festival announced a few of the films premiering this year, but now they’ve announced the main slate. The midnight selections and some inevitable late-breaking additions are still to be announced, but this should be more than enough to get you excited. Along with many World Premieres, and Sundance favorites like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Gareth Evans’ The Raid 2, the line up also includes an anniversary screening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and an extended Q&A screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel with Wes Anderson. SXSW 2014 runs March 7 through 15 in Austin, Texas. Check out the line up after the jump.
Narrative Feature Competition
Eight world premieres, eight unique ways to celebrate the art of storytelling. Selected from 1,324 films submitted to SXSW 2014. Films screening in Narrative »
Today the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announced a diverse features lineup for this year’s Festival, the 21st edition and running March 7 – 15, 2014 in Austin, Texas. The 2014 program expands on SXSW tradition of embracing a range of genres and span of budgets, featuring a wealth of vision from experienced and developing filmmakers alike.
For more information visit http://sxsw.com/film.
Listed in the announcement are 115 of the features that will screen over the course of nine days at SXSW 2014. The lineup below includes 68 films from first-time filmmakers, and consists of 76 World Premieres, 10 North American Premieres and 7 U.S. Premieres. These films were selected from a record 2,215 feature-length film submissions composed of 1,540 U.S. and 675 international feature-length films. With a record number of 6,482 submissions total, the overall increase was 14% over 2013. The Midnighters feature section and the Short Film program will be announced on February 5, with the complete »
- Movie Geeks
After announcing earlier this month that Jon Favreau’s Chef and the Veronica Mars movie will be making their world debuts at SXSW this year, the festival has revealed its full line-up, including further very promising world premieres, alongside appearances from some of the year’s most high-profile films.
The Midnight programme will be announced early next month, along with the Shorts line-up, and the complete Conference slate a little later as well.
Led by Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, Nicholas Stoller’s anticipated R-rated comedy, Neighbors, will be making its world debut at the festival, notably marked out as a ‘work-in-progress’ ahead of its theatrical release in May.
David Gordon Green’s acclaimed Joe will make its Us premiere, having bowed at Venice and then Toronto last year. Early reviews have Nicolas Cage giving one of the finest performances of his career, with Tye Sheridan (Mud) excellent alongside him. »
- Kenji Lloyd
Not sure if there is a Short Term 12 equivalent in this year’s Narrative Feature Comp, but on paper SXSW programmers are serving up a mean (and the usual lean group of 8 out of a whopping 1,324 film entries) for the upcoming competitiuon of eight which includes notable entries (that we’ve been tracking for a good time now) such as Zachary Wigon’s The Heart Machine, John Magary’s The Mend, Leah Meyerhoff’s I Believe in Unicorns and Lawrence Michael Levine’s Wild Canaries. Undoubtedly one of the most anticipated docs of the year, on the non-fiction side we find Margaret Brown’s The Great Invisible. Below you’ll find a breakdown of the other sections (notable world preems in We’ll Never Have Paris and Faults (see Mary Elizabeth Winstead above), some Sundance items with Texan connections and other nuggets.
Narrative Feature Competition
Eight world premieres, eight »
- Eric Lavallee
The South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival has announced its full features lineup, including a new episodic section highlighting the influence of smallscreen programming.
Five films will headline SXSW, including Universal’s work-in-progress comedy “Neighbors” with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, David Gordon Green’s Nicolas Cage starrer “Joe” and previously announced pics “Chef,” directed by and starring Jon Favreau and the crowd-funded “Veronica Mars.”
The episodic section will debut six shows destined for the smallscreen, both for television and online, including Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn” series. Last year, the festival premiered the pilot of A&E’s “Bates Motel,” while the year before it debuted the first three episodes of Lena Dunham’s “Girls.”
The smallscreen programming sidebar joins a hefty selection competition entries, higher-profile Spotlight titles, experimental-flavored entries in the Visions section and Global titles.
The fest’s juried competition includes eight titles each in docu and narrative sections, »
- Alexandra Cheney
Exclusive: Gersh has inked the sister act for U.S. representation. Aly Michalka and Aj Michalka started as a singing duo before segueing into acting in the mid-2000s. The pair starred together in a 2012 Fox comedy pilot playing versions of themselves. Aj recently wrapped a recurring role on HBO’s upcoming Silicon Valley and ABC’s The Goldbergs and stars in the indie drama Angels In Stardust. Aly recurs on Two And A Half Men and stars in the upcoming indie feature Sequoia. They also starred in the 2006 Disney Channel movie Cow Belles and later in MTV’s Super Sweet 16: The Movie. The pair also is represented by Evolution Entertainment. »
- THE DEADLINE TEAM
13 items from 2014
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