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Ioncinephile of the Month: Lance Edmands’ Top Eight Films….

27 February 2015 6:30 PM, PST

Have you ever wondered what are the films that inspire the next generation of visionary filmmakers? As part of our monthly Ioncinephile profile, we ask the filmmaker the incredibly arduous task of identifying their top ten favorite films of all time. As is the case with some of our previous profiled folks, sometimes we don’t receive a set ten, in this case, Lance Edmands‘ (his feature debut Bluebird gets released theatrically today via the Factory 25 Folks) delivered a hard eight. Here are Lance’s top eight, in his own words…

Making a list of my top ten films of all time is a next-to-impossible task for me. That list is constantly growing, shifting, evolving, and is probably closer to a hundred films than to ten. For me, it’s probably more relevant to list the films that inspired Bluebird specifically. That said, many of these films are also on my list of all-time favorites, »

- Eric Lavallee

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Ioncinephile of the Month: Lance Edmands (Bluebird)

27 February 2015 6:00 PM, PST

Ioncinema.com’s Ioncinephile of the Month feature focuses on an emerging filmmaker from the world of cinema. Prior to the film’s TriBeCa Film Festival world premiere debut, we’ve had the pleasure to profile Lance Edmands on a couple of occasions, namely, our In the Pipeline spotlight. Matching the frigid, desolate Maine backdrop with a communal sense of sorrow, Bluebird features an outstanding group performance with Amy Morton leading a cast comprised of Louisa Krause, Emily Meade, Margo Martindale, Adam Driver and John Slattery (the Karlovy Vary Film Festival honored the four women). Usually, we get more into the mechanics of the film, but we took the opportunity to discuss technology and distribution – both changed tremendously during the film’s journey. Here’s this month (February/March) profile on Lance, and as always, make sure to click on over to his Top Ten Films of All Time list »

- Eric Lavallee

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What’s Up Doc?: Les Blank, Alex Gibney & Alex Winter Lead SXSW Charge (February 2015)

27 February 2015 3:00 PM, PST

Now that the busy winter fest schedule of Sundance, Rotterdam and the Berlinale has concluded, we’ve now got our eyes on the likes of True/False and SXSW. While, True/False does not specialize in attention grabbing world premieres, it does provide a late winter haven for cream of the crop non-fiction fare from all the previously mentioned fests and a selection of overlooked genre blending films presented in a down home setting. This year will mark my first trip to the Columbia, Missouri based fest, where I hope to catch a little of everything, from their hush-hush secret screenings, to selections from their Neither/Nor series, this year featuring chimeric Polish cinema of decades past, to a spotlight of Adam Curtis’s incisive oeuvre. But truth be told, it is SXSW, with its slew of high profile world premieres being announced, such as Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs »

- Jordan M. Smith

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Young Bodies Heal Quickly | Review

27 February 2015 12:30 PM, PST

Youth in Revolt: Betzer’s Inexplicable Road Movie an Assortment of Prominent Instances

Director Andrew T. Betzer manages to concoct an impressively pronounced feature debut with the eerily titled Young Bodies Heal Quickly. Basically a meandering road movie about two brothers on the lam, their journey churns from magnetic portrayal of familial discord into disjointed episodes of increasingly surreal occurrences. Though Betzer’s refusal to adhere to any kind of cohesive narrative for his youthful protagonists eventually dampens the effectiveness of the film as it stumbles into its ambiguous finale, the film manages to be intriguing and unpredictable as a balancing act that is sometimes funny, observational, and even foreboding.

If their bodies heal quickly, we’re never certain of their psychological states, though both Older (Gabriel Croft) and Younger (Hale Lytle) may as well represent developmental, identity-less stages or echoes of inevitability (the figure known as Dad could »

- Nicholas Bell

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Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s The Island of Dr. Moreau | Review

27 February 2015 12:00 PM, PST

To Go On Two Legs: Gregory’s Fascinating Recapitulation of a Cinematic Train Wreck

Documentarian David Gregory graduates from an extensive history of shorts with his first feature length achievement, the verbosely titled Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. However, the title is something of a misnomer, much like another recent examination of a project that never came to fruition with its originating director, Jodorowsky’s Dune. Stanley, who had gained a successful cult following in the early 90s for Hardware (1990) and the Miramax distributed Dust Devil (1992), would engage in the sort of uphill production battle that rivalled historical studio horror stories. Weather, nervous producers, pampered diva personalities, and ultimately, Stanley’s own limitations in reigning in such aggressive setbacks would result in his being fired from the set. However, the strangeness doesn’t stop there. Gregory manages to convey the extremity of a much maligned production, »

- Nicholas Bell

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The Lazarus Effect | Review

27 February 2015 9:00 AM, PST

Death Becomes Her: Gelb’s B-Grade Horror Haunted By Its Own Ideas

With its absurd title, which recalls an era of enjoyable B-grade Sci-Fi/horror films from decades past, The Lazarus Effect seems disappointingly inclined to revel in a shallow pool of absurd, preternatural devices. Though its third act regression into silliness may seem wholly unsurprising to a majority of its core audience, the pedigree of talent both in front of and behind the camera would seem to dictate otherwise. At its outset, there’s a decent degree of mounting dread, even as we expect the consequences of these medical students’ silly actions to quickly reign a terrible wrath upon their ambitious, presumptuous brains. The title, referencing a notable character from the Bible who literally comes back from the dead, is an obvious giveaway to those familiar with the allusion, but it very meekly pits its warring scientific and »

- Nicholas Bell

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Justice For All: Samuel Goldwyn Films Take “Lila & Eve” into their Own Hands

26 February 2015 3:30 PM, PST

Samuel Goldwyn Films weren’t especially active during Sundance this year, but are smoking barrels today with the pick-up of Charles Stone III‘s Lila & Eve, the closing film at the fest is a female-centric vigilante film starring Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez. Plans are for a 2015 release.

Gist: This tells the story of Lila (Davis), a grief-stricken mother who in the aftermath of her son’s murder in a drive-by shooting attends a support group where she meets Eve (Lopez), who has lost her daughter. When Lila hits numerous roadblocks from the police in bringing justice for her son’s slaying, Eve urges Lila to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. The two women soon embark on a killing spree of their own, as they work to the top of the chain of drug dealers to avenge the murder of Lila’s son. »

- Eric Lavallee

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Down the Hatchet: Strand Take Advice from Pat Mills’ “Guidance”

26 February 2015 3:15 PM, PST

We can coin this as a double Toronto Int. Film Festival acquisitions kind of day for the Strand Releasing folks — according to Variety, they’ve used their hallway pass to add Canuck comedy Guidance to their slate. Having received positive buzz from the fest, Pat Mills’ feature debut will likely be released this year.

Gist: A closeted former child actor, out of work and alcoholic, fakes his resume and gets a job as a high school guidance counsellor, where he thrives giving terrible advice.

Worth Noting: Pulling from his own bio, Mills was a child actor who got slimed on “You Can’t Do That on Television. So did Alanis Morissette.

Do We Care?: Our Nicholas Bell reviewed Guidance at Tiff last year and graded it with a handsome ★★★½ note calling it “a dark hearted comedy that gets a lot of traction from exaggerated, inappropriate behavior draping its endearing »

- Eric Lavallee

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They’ve Gotta Have It: Strand Releasing Add May Allah Bless France! to Future Bling

26 February 2015 3:00 PM, PST

Strand Releasing’s healthy appetite for French cinema is made once again apparent with the pick-up of Abd Al Malik’s Tiff-preemed, double nominated (Best First Feature and Most Promising Actor) Césars debut. Starring Marc Zinga and Sabrina Ouazani (who got her big break in acting in Abdellatif Kechiche’s 2003′s Games of Love and Chance) , May Allah Bless France! will be released theatrically in the fall and will receive a showing (Q&A with the director) at the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2015.

Gist: The true story of a French teenager rising out from the underprivileged suburbs through love, education and rap music. Regis is a culturally gifted boy who dreams of success for his rap band through hard work and loyalty, but he must accept the drug money for the sake of his project. Discovering Islam and love, he bears with the harsh loss and paybacks of delinquency, until »

- Eric Lavallee

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Wild Canaries | Review

26 February 2015 1:00 PM, PST

Good Neighbors: Levine’s Indie Murder Mystery a Passing Homage to Classic Comedy

Actor/writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine reunites with director/actress wife Sophia Takal for his third feature, the harmlessly charming Brooklyn set murder mystery Wild Canaries, which tends to favor a bygone tradition of slapstick, noir tinged comedy. Several have compared Levine and Takal’s spousal chemistry to the likes of Myrna Loy of William Powell in their famed Thin Man series of classic films—but such an association is a tad hyperbolic. They make a charming duo, certainly, but the ragtag charm melts away in the face of the narrative’s eventual flaccid inability to remain energetically inventive, seemingly tired of its own formula by the final frames. Witty writing and effortless performances magically keep familiarity at bay, but at the end of the day, the film’s more provocative characterizations fade into a safe peripheral zone, »

- Nicholas Bell

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Focus | Review

26 February 2015 9:00 AM, PST

The Grift of Love: Ficarra & Requa’s Perfunctory Take on the Art of the Con

Those hoping for a scintillating update on the con-artist sub-genre will most likely be sorely disappointed with the latest film from directing team Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Focus (not to be confused with the Arthur Miller novel that was made into a chilling film version with Laura Dern and William H. Macy, 2001), with displays artistry that feels more akin to watching a children’s magic show with all those standardly familiar tricks. There may not be a rabbit pulled out of a hat, but its romantic inclination seems uprooted from a similar realm. There is a certain degree of pizzazz, however, thanks mostly to rare glimpses of playful, organically achieved chemistry courtesy of its charming leading lady, but as much as the film can be lauded for nimbly avoiding mention of its interracial romance (still rare in studio fare, »

- Nicholas Bell

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Bluebird | Review

26 February 2015 8:00 AM, PST

Lives of Quiet Desperation: Edmond’s Masterful, Eloquent Debut

“I stand in awe of my body. This matter to which I am bound,” is the poetic quote form Henry David Thoreau opening Lance Edmands’ impressive directorial debut, Bluebird. Dealing with a tragedy that has a rippling effect throughout a northern rural community in Maine, we’ve seen this type of dramatic dynamic countless times before, yet Edmands manages a haunting portrait of unhappy, increasingly desperate lives within a small community of deferred dreams and staunch facades. Originally premiering at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, the title ends its weary trek through the festival circuit to a much deserved theatrical release, though this type of grim, upsetting drama may have difficulty finding an audience due to its sobering subject matter. Dramatically restrained, Edmands deftly navigates the sadness of disconnect in our daily lives, and how terrible circumstances are often the impetus for waking up from that slumber. »

- Nicholas Bell

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In the Pipeline: Lance Edmands (Bluebird)

26 February 2015 7:00 AM, PST

Ioncinema.com’s In the Pipeline is a monthly in-depth conversation about the decision making and creative process surrounding American independent film productions. It features first-time filmmakers who are moments from yelling “cut” or somewhere in post-production bliss.  This month, we feature: Lance Edmands. Originally published January 24th, 2011; Factory 25 releases Bluebird in theatres Friday, February 27th.

If you live there, you know Maine is much more than just lobsters and lighthouses. Filmmaker, Lance Edmands, is going to introduce the rest of us to the local side of his home state in his feature film debut, Bluebird. Set in a small Maine town, it’s about a school bus driver who accidentally locks a young boy in a school bus on a cold winter night. The boy is taken to the hospital the next day. The story follows the aftermath of this tragedy and how it affects and changes the families involved. »

- Nicole Emanuele

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Kino Lorber Get Behind the Wheel of Panahi’s Taxi

25 February 2015 2:00 PM, PST

IndieWIRE reports that Kino Lorber has acquired the North American rights to Jafar Panahi’s latest film, the third film (2011′s This Is Not a Film and 2013′s Closed Curtain) under his “house” arrest. Having just premiered at the Berlin Int. Film Festival, by the looks of the image above, Taxi walked away with the grand daddy prize of them all – landing both the Golden Bear and the Fipresci prize. The film will be theatrically released in the fall, which means a showing at Tiff and/or Nyff are highly likely.

Gist: A yellow cab drives through the vibrant and colorful streets of Tehran, picking up a diverse group of passengers who each candidly express their opinions and worldview to the driver (Panahi).

Worth Noting: This is technically Kino Lorber’s second Panahi film release. They have the rights for This Is Not a Film – the film which saw the »

- Eric Lavallee

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My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn | Review

25 February 2015 10:00 AM, PST

Portrait of an Artist: Corfixen’s Familial Doc an Interesting Conversation Piece

There everyone was, in high anticipation at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, with Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives about to be unleashed in competition. Two years prior, he had unveiled Drive in the same place, where it took home Best Director for Refn and a wave of international critical praise by the time it had released theatrically later that same year. Reuniting once more with star Ryan Gosling, stakes were impossibly high and Refn seemed determined to do anything but repeat himself, resulting in his decision to tackle an idea he’d had for something decidedly un-commercial. A wave of boos from the fickle Cannes audience greeted Refn, followed by an incredibly divisive response upon its continued release. During the making of the film and right through the premiere, Refn’s wife, actress Liv Corfixen, was filming »

- Nicholas Bell

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Everly | Review

25 February 2015 10:00 AM, PST

Everly, Baby: Lynch’s Grindhouse Glory Shoots Blanks

If Pam Grier had starred in a 1970’s version of Oldboy directed by Jack Hill, it probably would’ve looked something like Everly, actor/producer/editor/cinematographer Joe Lynch’s sophomore effort as film director. Playing like an homage to those cheapie exploitation classics of the vintage grindhouse era, there’s an element of admiration for Lynch’s product, which, at least superficially, appears to honor its battered but resilient female protagonist by eschewing gratuitous nudity and attempting to grant her a character arc that extends beyond her desirable body (though this is accomplished only via typical fashion, i.e. her maternal instinct). But by keeping the action of the film confined to one rundown, grimy apartment in a complex apparently on lockdown a la The Raid or Dredd, no matter of grisly violence can secure our visual absorption through the film’s already slim running time. »

- Nicholas Bell

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Maps to the Stars | Review

25 February 2015 8:30 AM, PST

What’s the Matter with Havana?: Cronenberg’s L.A. Story a Hot Mess of Tangled Ideas

Couched within its episodic instances of harpooning Hollywood stereotypes, there is a rather interesting tale in Maps to the Stars contending as a wobbly family saga of vacuous types tainted by their desperate attempts to maintain a certain visibility within celebrity culture. But it’s an idea lost in its own maddening attempt at actually engaging in the mythos pointedly laid out in its own subtext as pertains to provocative motifs like incest, nepotism, and (literally) ghosts from the past. The result is a maudlin brew of wacky circumstances and over-the-top flourishes that sometimes work, but, more often than not, fall flat the longer running the time wears on. While it very much feels like a Cronenbergian endeavor, its pointed critique of a particular empty headed culture ends up feeling like a series of wink-wink potshots, »

- Nicholas Bell

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Love Thy Neighbor: The Orchard to Support “Nasty Baby” During Postpartum Phase

24 February 2015 1:55 PM, PST

Deemed “unfit” for Tiff, Sebastian Silva’s Nasty Baby is the latest addition to The Orchard’s ever expanding Sundance family grove. IndieWIRE reports that The Next section gem joins Paul Davidson’s other Park City grabs (most ballsy-attentioning getting) items such as Patrick Brice’s The Overnight, Joe Swanberg’s Digging for Fire, docs Bryan Carberry & Clay Tweel’s Finders Keepers and Matthew Heineman’s Cartel Land (both are hitting True/False Film Fest next month). The distrib will release the film later this year, which means there’ll be further ops to catch the film on the fest circuit.

Gist: This centers around a Brooklyn couple, Freddy and his boyfriend Mo, who are trying to have a baby with the help of their best friend, Polly (Wiig). Freddy is an artist, and his latest work is all about babies – it’s clear he’s dying to be a father. »

- Eric Lavallee

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Too Graphic: Film Arcade’s Pencils in “People, Places, Things”

24 February 2015 1:30 PM, PST

Making their second Sundance acquisition after picking up Kris Swanberg’s Unexpected, Deadline reports that The Film Arcade has acquired U.S. rights to People, Places, Things. Starring Jemaine Clement has a likeable man-child who is better at illustrating his feelings by toon, than with words, Jim Strouse‘s third feature will be released sometime this summer. While the U.S Dramatic Comp Sundance title funny-boned filled rom com was both tepidly and warmly received, I’m predicting this will make more box office dough than Grace Is Gone did.

Gist: A funny and complex story about a newly single father trying to take care of 6 year old twin girls, reignite his dating life, navigate his co-parenting relationship with his ex and continue work as a graphic novelist. In the film, a recently divorced father must navigate the unknown landscape of single fatherhood and dating in New York City, while »

- Eric Lavallee

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Queen and Country | Review

24 February 2015 11:00 AM, PST

Tour of Duty: Boorman Returns to Autobiographical Elements

Now at 82 years of age, British auteur John Boorman returns with Queen and Country his first feature since 2006. It is a follow-up to one of the director’s most cherished titles, Hope and Glory (1987), which documents war-torn England through the eyes of a child as his family survives the blitz. Though it’s been nearly thirty years, Boorman sets this follow-up chapter only nine years in the future, leaving behind the horrors of WWII for the Cold War ethics of the Korean conflict. Much like he managed with the film’s predecessor, Boorman achieves success by making the film a personal, insular story about a small group of characters’ experiences. The powerful emotional possibilities of the child’s perspective is left behind, now a young man discovering who he wants to be and what values he wishes to cherish. This makes for a more reserved, »

- Nicholas Bell

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