16 items from 2015
A Place on Earth: Silver’s Period Commune Channels Cinema-Verite
While his 2014 title Uncertain Terms still awaits theatrical release as it makes the rounds of the festival circuit after premiering last year at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the increasingly prolific Nathan Silver unveils his fifth feature. Stinking Heaven represents a change of pace stylistically and dramatically within Silver’s preferred parameters examining human beings tossed vicariously into strained living situations, where they often wear each other down to an inevitable breaking point. A period piece set within the confines of a well-meaning commune in early 90s suburban New Jersey, the grainy look and feel of Silver’s film lends it a vintage realism that aligns it with the cinema-verite styling of documentary filmmaker Allan King, whose films like Warrendale and A Married Couple focused, unobtrusively, on isolated groups or units of people in similar fashion.
Lucy (Deragh Campbell) and »
- Nicholas Bell
Do you know the name Isaac Gabaeff? You ought to. He’s worked on an array of great films from Be Kind Rewind to A Most Violent Year and The Place Beyond The Pines, but he’s always been one of those guys in the background whose work is at its best when you notice it only subconsciously. Now he’s stepped up to take the help with tentacle-tastic creature feature The Sand, one of the first six films released on the new Frightfest Presents label. We asked him how it all began.
“Well, you know, I got my degree in animation and then I worked on a movie called James And The Giant Peach,” he explains. “At the end of college I made a documentary called Peoplewatching on the street corner where I lived in San Francisco. It was more voyeurism than a standard documentary format. Then through the twists. »
- Jennie Kermode
An interesting effort is coming your way before long, and it’s pulling together a cast that will make it a kind of who’s who of underappreciated actors. Ghost Team, directed by Oliver Irving, has announced its cast, which includes Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, and many more.
Heder hasn’t managed to find material that resonated with audiences since Napoleon Dynamite, at least, not to the extent he deserves, and Krumholtz is almost the poster boy for not getting the recognition that you’d expect. Unfortunately, both actors often play characters that may not seem that difficult, and/or are something of a sidekick.
Though the film can’t mention its own indie status enough, meaning the budget is extremely tight, »
- Marc Eastman
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl gets sick, but she can still inspire a man to better himself, while also adding a dash of repugnant narcissism to the subgenre. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is going through quite the evolution this summer. First there was Paper Towns, in which a boy is ushered into the realization that MPDGs are people too, though it’s an Mpdg who does the ushering, and whose story we are explicitly informed is not going to be shared with us; she can go be an authentic human being in some other movie, thank you very much. And now we have Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, in which the Mpdg becomes a Manic Pixie Cancer Girl who will help a “self-hating” teenaged boy come »
- MaryAnn Johanson
Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks, will make its World Premiere at the 53rd New York International Film Festival, running from September 25 to October 11. The film was one of 26 announced as part of the festival’s main slate, along with one of four World Premieres.
Some of the main slate highlights include Todd Haynes’s Carol, featuring Cannes Best Actress Winner Rooney Mara alongside Cate Blanchett, Miguel Gomes’s three part saga Arabian Nights, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin, the Us premiere of Michael Moore’s latest Where to Invade Next, Michel Gondry’s French film Microbe et Gasoil, and the World Premiere of the documentary Don’t Blink: Robert Frank, about the life of the fames photographer and filmmaker.
- Brian Welk
Josh Trank’s debut, Chronicle, was a surprise hit of 2012. The film fused the found-footage genre with superhero tropes to create a coming-of-age story that was both fresh and exciting. Trank’s ability to transcend these tired trends and motifs made him an ideal candidate to finally do justice to the Fantastic Four franchise, one that had an unreleased early 90s film, and two poor mid-00s flicks. However, with production problems between Trank and cast members, and no advanced press screening, many pundits were concerned this would be a mess.
The results are in, and it is not only a poor film, but has been described as the worst reviewed Marvel film to-date. That’s not good. Trank responded openly via tweet to this, noting how Fox had – ah, »
- Matthew Lee
Producer Gail Egan, who has worked with Mike Leigh on Mr. Turner, Vera Drake and Happy-Go-Lucky, with Anton Corbijn on A Most Wanted Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman's last role, and with Film4Climate’s Creative Producer Donald Ranvaud on Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener, was celebrated by Alan Rickman. As was his cinematographer, Ellen Kuras, of Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind as well as first-time composer, Peter Gregson, whose music is well placed in the landscape. Cédric Anger, when I spoke with him on his composer, Grégoire Hetzel, for Next Time I’ll Aim For The Heart, told me he had wanted the music in the forest sound like a cathedral. Hetzel also composed the score for Mathieu Amalric's The Blue Room and the positioning in A Little Chaos »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
Last weekend, the new releases offered a lot of variety. The R-rated action-comedy Spy was a somewhat surprising first place finisher, taking in just about $30 million. An impressive number for any R-rated film, but not exactly a blockbuster.Still, I admit I didn’t give Spy much of a shot to win the weekend and I was proven wrong. However, I feel much more confident in my prediction of this weekends box office winner: Soaked in Bleach.
I’m just kidding! Obviously it’s Jurassic World. (Although fans of Kurt Cobain may want to look into the limited release documentary Soaked in Bleach). Let’s take a closer look at Jurassic World and it’s only other competition this weekend.
- Nick DeNitto
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015) Film Review, a film directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, and starring Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, Ronald Cyler II, Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Molly Shannon.
“I have no idea how to tell this story. I don’t even know how to start it.”
That’s the opening line of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, spoken by our lead character Greg, an awkward high school kid whose only real desire is to not be noticed at all. Greg is a kid who doesn’t have a ton of friends (and refers to his only real friend as his “co-worker”), stemming from his issues with his parents and his lack of confidence in himself. That’s not me reading subtext from the film, because there is literally a scene in which a character describes Greg in this way. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl »
- Michael Smith
Thomas Mann is an actor on the cusp. Think of Miles Teller right before the release of “The Spectacular Now” or Michael B. Jordan before “Fruitvale Station.” Once “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” hits theaters over the course of the next month, the 23-year-old actor is going to find himself busier than ever. Of course, Mann’s mug may be familiar to many moviegoers. He starred in the hit comedy “Project X” ($102 million worldwide) and had supporting roles in “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Beautiful Creatures.” “Earl,” which won both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, is on a completely different level. Based on Jesse Andrews' novel, “Me and Earl” centers on Greg (Mann), a Pittsburgh area high school senior whose life takes a turn after his mom (Connie Britton) pushes him to hang out with a family friend and classmate, »
- Gregory Ellwood
With all six original Star Wars films recently landing on Sky Store's Buy & Keep, and the highly-anticipated next chapter hitting cinemas this year, excitement surrounding the most famous of sci-fi franchises is as strong as ever.
The recent arrival of the trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens predictably kicked off a barrage of homages and parodies of every sort you could imagine. Here are some of our favourites from across the franchise:
Jack Black's Be Kind Rewind gave us the concept of 'sweding' - recreating film footage on the smallest budget. Nowadays, every hot new trailer seems to reappear on the web in the guise of cardboard and string.
It was only a matter of time before Star Wars went the same way.
Paper Star Wars
This recreation of the second Force Awakens trailer manages to be both amusing and strangely beautiful.
The running figures and »
Documentaries are particularly wonderful as a genre in how often they introduce viewers to people that they’d otherwise have about as much of a chance of meeting as they’d have of landing on the moon.
Case in point: the Angulo clan, subjects of Crystal Moselle’s intriguing and often unsettling The Wolfpack, live in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but it’s a wonder that even Moselle came across them. The family’s seven children (six boys and one girl, all with hair tumbling down to their waists) were raised almost exclusively within the confines of a four-bedroom apartment. Their father held the sole key to the front door, and he kept it locked. Home schooled by their mother and educated by a vast assortment of movies borrowed from the library and bought at a discounted price, the children were barely ever allowed outside during their formative years. »
- Isaac Feldberg
Axes of Fulfillment: Williams Explores the Lives of Malcontented Young Adults
There’s a certain way to make multiple, intersecting storylines breathe life into a narrative structure, though it’s a rather abused formula of narrative free form often masking the lack of substance at hand. To be certain, director Ryan Piers Williams makes better use of this structure than a variety of recent examples, giving us a quiet, simplistic approach of four interrelated early thirtysomethings in Manhattan instead of bludgeoning with caustic twists a la Paul Haggis. If the material isn’t innately virginal, Williams takes some unexpected turns (not to mention the added attraction of having his wife, actress America Ferrera starring as one of the main characters). At the end of the day, some of their stories in X/Y are stronger than others, but even throughout the more familiar tics, it’s a well-acted quartet, divided »
- Nicholas Bell
Filmmakers and cinephiles celebrated news Friday that producer Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures would join a group of benefactors to save beloved Santa Monica video emporium Vidiots, which had announced days earlier that it was going out of business.
Ellison’s rep said she and others would contribute an undisclosed amount of money to help sustain the Pico Boulevard shop, where writers and directors have found obscure titles and shared their love of cinema for 30 years. It had been slated to close in April because of badly sagging business.
Be kind rewind pic.twitter.com/ej6GZnXOBP
— Megan Ellison (@meganeellison) January 29, 2015
In the face of competition from streaming services and rental kiosks, revenue had plunged by nearly 25% over the last six months.
Regular customers had been aware of Vidiots’ struggles for some time, but reports in the Wall Street Journal and L.A. Times recently made the store’s imminent demise a cause celebre. »
- James Rainey
Park City, Utah – HollywoodChicago.com’s coverage of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival is far from over. This is the latest batch of reviews of movies that I’ve seen there. One film was a triumph while the other two are titles that I wouldn’t want to be stuck talking to at a party.
Image credit: Sundance Institute
Running equal portions of dry goofiness and finite inspired storytelling, Jared Hess’ “Don Verdean” is a rewarding comedy about Biblical archaeology that’s necessary for times in which religious institutions crave sensationalism to get their good word across. For those who read “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” before its child author said he made it all up, or those who saw “Heaven Is For Real” as a type of precursor to their own death’s aftermath, this movie is for them. It’s a brilliant take »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
If Chance the Gardner, the TV-educated savant played by Peter Sellers in “Being There,” had lived together with his six siblings, it might have looked something like “The Wolfpack,” a truly stranger-than-fiction portrait of a New York family who’ve taken great pains to shelter their children from the outside world, but not from the world of Hollywood movies. Indeed, so weirdly fascinating is the tale of the Angulo clan that one wishes “The Wolfpack” were that much sharper, more searching and coherently organized. Still, there is much to enjoy in director Crystal Moselle’s debut documentary feature, which if nothing else begs a where-are-they-now sequel a few years down the road.
There’s a certain fated coincidence to the fact that “The Wolfpack” premiered in Sundance on the same day as Alex Gibney’s “Going Clear,” another documentary about a hermetic community started by a self-styled guru with entertainment-industry aspirations. »
- Scott Foundas
16 items from 2015
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