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The Forest for the Trees: Van Sant’s Melodramatic Misfire
Gus Van Sant’s name seems to conjure wildly different reactions depending on how accustomed one is to his varying filmography. Whether you’re a fan or detractor of his period of ‘slow’ films, including 2003’s Palme d’Or winning Elephant, or his mainstream appeal with beloved dramas like 1997’s Good Will Hunting, one can’t argue with a certain amount of dexterity on his part as a filmmaker. But those hoping for a sensational return to any tone in particular are in for a pointedly disappointing time with his latest, The Sea of Trees. Hopelessly melodramatic and embarrassingly affected, it’s a film so emotionally tone deaf it makes Finding Forrester (2000) seem miraculous by comparison. Headlined by a high pedigree cast, awkwardly shuffled about in a revolving charade, the title is a major disappointment from the beloved filmmaker.
Read More: The Indiewire 2015 Cannes Bible Many people — Indiewire included — came to the 2015 Cannes Film Festival hoping for a major comeback from Gus Van Sant, who is in competition for this year's Palme d'Or for his drama "The Sea of Trees," written by "Buried" scribe Chris Sparling. Van Sant, an indie icon and Palme d'Or winner for 2003's "Elephant," has in recent years misfired with the tepidly received dramas "Restless" and "Promised Land." Unfortunately, as Indiewire's Eric Kohn put it bluntly in his scathing review following last night's first screening, "The Sea of Trees" is the filmmaker's "worst" yet. Kohn is not alone; the solemn drama was met with the first loud boos of the festival. (This writer sat next to a man who hissed as the credits rolled!) "Anyone has as much right to boo as they do to ovate," said "Sea of Trees" star »
- Nigel M Smith
“I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be invited. I’m happy that the film got in. It was a great experience for me,” he said at the film’s presser, which was not so packed.
“I liked the experience of making it, and I’m glad we got the opportunity to introduce it to the world,” he added. “I’m working in the United States, but it’s exciting for me to come here and support work that got I to do with these people.”
“This is fun. I look at this as sort of [eating] dessert. No matter what, we’ve declared now: here is is! Thanks for having us, hope you enjoy it. »
- Nick Vivarelli
Cannes — In the 25 years since his breakthrough film “Drugstore Cowboy” was released, Gus Van Sant has spent his time bouncing back and forth between the independent film world and more distinctly commercial endeavors. The style and tone of each work has clearly been dictated on the audience it's intended for and you can argue he’s only attempted to meet in the middle a few times, with the Oscar-nominated "Milk" or "Good Will Hunting." Van Sant’s latest work, "The Sea of Trees," sadly proves what a dicey proposition that can be. The film begins with a sullen Arthur Brennan (Matthew McConaughey) arriving at an airport. He leaves his keys in his car. He has no bags. There is no return ticket for his flight. Arthur is going to Japan and he has no plans on coming back. What he intends to do becomes more clear when he arrives at the Aokigahara forest in Japan. »
- Gregory Ellwood
One way to pass the time during “The Sea of Trees” — preferably during one of Matthew McConaughey’s interminable misty-eyed monologues — is to try and figure out exactly how many bad movies the actor, screenwriter Chris Sparling and director Gus Van Sant have managed to squeeze into their tale of a man’s lonely quest to take his own life. Almost impressive in the way it shifts from dreary two-hander to so-so survival thriller to terminal-illness weepie to M. Night Shyamalan/Nicholas Sparks-level spiritual hokum, this risibly long-winded drama is perhaps above all a profound cultural insult, milking the lush green scenery of Japan’s famous Aokigahara forest for all it’s worth, while giving co-lead Ken Watanabe little to do other than moan in agony, mutter cryptically, and generally try to act as though McConaughey’s every word isn’t boring him (pardon the expression) to death.
How this dramatically stillborn, »
- Justin Chang
Gus Van Sant will be making waves on the Croisette this weekend when his new film The Sea of Trees finally bows in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, but for now the first clip from the survival drama has debuted online for all to see just as The Hollywood Reporter brings word the film has been picked up for U.S. distribution by Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate. This first look at the film features Matthew McConaughey and Ken Watanabe attempting to find their way through Aokigahara, a mysterious Japanese forest at the base of Mount Fuji known as the Sea of Trees, or more ominously, Suicide Forest. It seems that second nickname is quite befitting as The Sea of Trees follows Arthur Brennan (McConaughey), an American trekking into the dense forest where people often go to contemplate life and death. Having found the perfect place to take his own »
- Jordan Benesh
Read More: Cannes 2015: The 10 Movies Indiewire is Most Excited to See Gus Van Sant's drama "The Sea of Trees," starring recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, has landed U.S. distribution with Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate ahead of its Cannes Film Festival premiere on May 16. The film is in competition for the Palme d'Or. Naomi Watts and Ken Watanabe co-star. Rumored to be more commercial than "Elephant," the drama that won Van Sant the Palme d'Or and Best Director award at Cannes in 2003, "The Sea of Trees" -- which boasts a Black List script by "Buried" scribe Chris Sparling -- centers on a suicidal American (McConaughey), who travels to the "suicide forest" at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan with the intention to kill himself. Once there, he encounters a Japanese man (Watanabe) who's there for the same reason. Roadside and Lionsgate also distributed "Mud," starring McConaughey. [Source: The Hollywood. »
- Nigel M Smith
For those hoping to break in, the world of screenwriting can seem like a black box. Unless you know industry insiders or have an agent, your first screenplay's journey from Final Draft to production will be an unparalleled challenge. That's why screenwriting organization The Black List teamed up with Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York to answer your burning questions. Read More: 8 Writing Tips From Screenwriting Masters Larry Gross, Naomi Foner, Henry Bean and Andrea Arnold The panelists—Chris Sparling (Cannes 2015 entry "Sea of Trees," directed by Gus Van Sant), Shari Springer Berman ("American Splendor," "The Nanny Diaries," "Ten Thousand Saints"), Michael Zam ("Best Actress") and Lara Shapiro ("The Americans")—joined moderator Franklin Leonard, creator of The Black List, to discuss everything from finding the right agent to when it's time to quit your day job. 1. Do I have to live in L.A. to have a »
- Emily Buder
For over 40 years now, tales of demonic possession have been a faithful staple of horror movies. At least one major release each year dealing with a character – usually a young woman – struggling to shake off a particularly pesky poltergeist, spirit or even Satan itself, often with the help of an in/experienced clergyman.
As such, the market for these movies has become saturated with some pretty samey fare. Which is why it’s somewhat refreshing (if not entirely novel) to see The Atticus Institute tackle the familiar subject matter as a faux-documentary/period found footage piece. We start with a familiar scene – an impending exorcism taking place in a dimly-lit, possibly subterranean scientific facility – that naturally goes pear-shaped and are then introduced to the »
- Mark Allen
Title: The Atticus Institute Anchor Bay Entertainment Director: Chris Sparling Writer: Chris Sparling Cast: Rya Kihlstedt, William Mapother, Harry Groener, Jon Rubinstein, Sharon Maughn Running Time: 83 minutes, Not Rated Special Features: The Making of The Atticus Institute; Deleted Scenes Available January 20th The Atticus Institute is a documentary style horror film edited like a basic cable type of paranormal shows with interviews of Dr. West’s family and colleagues, along with footage involving an event that occurred in the 1970s. After nearly 40 years, the secret experiments at the Atticus Institute have finally been released. Dr. Henry West (William Mapother) founded The Atticus Institute in the 1970s to test individuals [ Read More ]
The post The Atticus Institute Blu-Ray Review appeared first on Shockya.com. »
Hey there creeps! Apparently the ol’ Crypt o’ Xiii is The place to be! Ghouls are knockin’ the lid off the coffin just to get in and commence to jawin’ with the cool ghoul, yours cruelly! All right, all right, calm down… the first two fiends in line… git yer arses in here! Why look who’s here; it’s die-rector Chris Sparling and viscous vocalist Chad Kowal! Greetings o’ ghoulish ones! Chris, you’re the first contestant on Daniel Xiii’s Die-a-log of the Damned!
Famous Monsters. So, yer new flick The Atticus Institute [Which I will be reviewin' shortly - Xiii] has just been released on the ol’ home vid-gee-oh. Tell us what’s up with what’s goin’ down with the idea behind Atticus.
Chris Sparling. I wanted to make a possession movie that was more of a scientific approach to dealing with that problem rather than a religious approach. I was pretty fascinated with the idea that scientists, »
Making its first-ever Spanish pick-up, France’s Snd-M6 Group has pounced on world sales rights to “Vulcania,” a sci-fi thriller-drama produced by two associate production companies of Peter Aalbaek Jensen and Lars von Trier’s Zentropa: Zentropa Spain and Zentropa Sweden. Ran Ent. co-produces out of France.
Snd has also taken French distribution rights to “Vulacania.” Nordisk has tied down rights to Scandinavia. Alfa Pictures will release “Vulcania” in Spain.
The feature debut of Jose Skaf, part of Spain’s seemingly bottomless auteur genre talent pool, “Vulcania” is set in a small place lost in space and time, where there is no other option but to obey the village leaders.
It stars two of Spain’s fastest-rising thesps, Miquel Fernandez (“The End”) as Jonas, who always played by the rules, and Aura Garrido as Marta, a young woman who makes him question the system and realize they have been fed a lie. »
- John Hopewell
While found footage horror movies have recently began exploiting current technologies in more gleefully bizarre and enthralling ways, that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from uncovering musty reels of old-school possession footage that detail some of the “earliest” recorded cases of terror. The Atticus Institute is one such film, rewinding the clock back for a chilling History Channel-esque special that splices government-conspiracy-spilling talking heads with previously unreleased documentary footage. Writer/Director Chris Sparling understands an entire film can’t be built on VHS-quality pictures alone – despite being a sneaky advantage that hides outdated special effects – but scares are still hard to come by thanks to speedy camera-swapping whenever tension mounts at its highest peak, making the film an easy, breezy, but out-of-date spooker.
- Matt Donato
Are you ready for one of of the scariest movie experiences of 2015? We have an exclusive look at The Atticus Institute, which exposes the only case of demonic possession ever recognized by the U.S. government. Anchor Bay Entertainment presents this disturbing new horror thriller, from producer of The Conjuring Peter Safran. Take a look at our exclusive clip, before The Atticus Institute arrives OnDemand, DVD and Blu-ray January 20.
Dr. Henry West founded The Atticus Institute in the early 1970s to test individuals expressing supernatural abilities: E.S.P., clairvoyance, psychokinesis, etc. Despite witnessing several noteworthy cases, nothing could have prepared Dr. West and his colleagues for Judith Winstead. She outperformed every subject they had ever studied, soon gaining the attention of the U.S. Department of Defense, who subsequently took control of the research facility.
The more experiments they conducted on Judith, the clearer it became that her abilities were »
Following from last year’s new look and feel FrightFest (in a brand new location), the horror film festival has announced its line-up for their Glasgow counterpart. And, as with every FrightFest, there are a few first looks and premieres!
Included in the line-up is the UK premiere of the Edgar Allan Poe based Eliza Graves featuring an all-star Hollywood cast, including Kate Beckinsale, Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess and Michael Caine. Also on show is the European prememire of The Atticus Institute, world premire of The Hoarder, European premiere of The Asylum and the UK premiere of the hugely anticipated Clown, produced by Eli Roth. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the UK premieres of [Rec]: Apocalypse and There Are Monsters.
Thurs 26 Feb – Gft Screen 2
21:00 Eliza Graves (UK Premiere)
- Luke Owen
Kicking off with a special screening on Thursday 26th February and hosting eleven films on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th February, the UK’s favourite horror fantasy festival celebrates ten ‘gore-ious’ years at its second home at the Glasgow Film Festival with an all-exclusive slate of the freshest new horror films around – including three World, two European and six UK premieres!
The shocktacular line-up starts on Thurs 26 Feb in sumptuous Hammer-style with the UK premiere of the Edgar Allan Poe based Eliza Graves featuring an all-star Hollywood cast, including Kate Beckinsale, Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess and Michael Caine.
Friday’s fearsome line-up kicks off with the European premiere of The Atticus Institute, the paranormal activity shockumentary of the year, written and directed by Chris Sparling, who wrote ‘Buried’. This is followed by the World Premiere of The Hoarder, starring an on-form Mischa Barton who uncovers the worst horrors in the »
- Phil Wheat
11th edition of festival to close with UK premiere of Force Majeure, and will feature 33 UK premieres and a record 11 world premieres.
While We’re Young is to receive its European premiere as the opening film of the 11th Glasgow Film Festival (Gff) (Feb 18-Mar 1).
Noah Baumbach’s comedy stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a settled married couple who are offered a second chance at youth when hipsters Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried) come into their lives. The film premiered at Toronto International Film Festival last year.
This year’s festival will close with the UK premiere of Cannes Jury Prize-winner Force Majeure, written and directed by Ruben Östlund. The film explores the flaws and cracks in a marriage after an avalanche hits in the French Alps where the couple are on a skiing holiday with their children.
Supported by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, EventScotland, Creative Scotland and BFI, this year’s »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Ian Sandwell)
In the fall of 1976, a small psychology lab in Pennsylvania became the unwitting home to the only government-confirmed case of demonic possession. The U.S. military assumed control of the lab under the command of national security and, soon after,… Continue Reading →
- Staci Layne Wilson
Chris Sparling turned heads in circles when his 2010 screenplay Buried was made into one of the most intense films in years. The Rodrigo Cortés-directed and Ryan Reynolds-led film brought the suspense in heavy doses and kept viewers completely on edge until its very end. Following that film, Sparling wrote another confined area film, 2012’s Atm. Not wanting to be know just as the go-to guy for confined area films, Sparling decided to write and direct The Atticus Institute (out on DVD/Bluray via Anchor Bay), a film, that like Buried, provides a lot of suspense, but in a way so unique that the faux-documentary elements of The Atticus Institute are very easy to forget, and Sparling’s knack for creating likable characters and making us Believe in them (a problem that a lot of similar films have is how we never forget that what we’re watching isn’t real). As viewers, »
- Jerry Smith
It’s a miracle that as horror fans, we haven’t seen everything under the sun by now. It’s rare for a film to come along that, while it might fall somewhat within a particular genre or subgenre, not only breathes new life into said subgenre, but does so in a way that you’re able to lose yourself within the film. It happens so rarely, that when it does, it comes as one hell of a pleasant shock. Truth be told, I walked into the Chris Sparling written and directed faux-documentary The Atticus Institute with low expectations. I had absolutely loved the Ryan Reynolds trapped in a box and buried underground film Buried, which Sparling had written, but I’ve just had my fill of Pov/Found Footage/etc kinds of films that as previously stated, I had low expectations. Well, fright fanatics, I’m not above admitting »
- Jerry Smith
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