15 items from 2014
No rest for the wicked: we've barely gotten over our Oscar-night hangovers, and yet already the next major event of the movie calendar is upon us. After a few quiet weeks on the film festival circuit, Friday sees the kick off of Austin's all-encompassing, multi-platform mega-party SXSW Film Festival, which kicks off this evening with Jon Favreau's "Chef" and runs until March 15th. The fest has become increasingly important over the last few years thanks to some high-profile premieres ("Bridesmaids," "Cabin In The Woods"), and key discoveries ("The Puffy Chair," "Tiny Furniture," "Attack The Block," "Monsters," "Short Term 12"), and we're hopeful that this year'll be no different—just from glimpsing the line-up, you can see plenty of promise. If you're heading Austin-wards, or just if you're keen to keep your finger on the pulse from afar, we've picked out some of the films we're most looking forward to: take a look below, »
- The Playlist Staff
Richard Linklater’s 1991 film “Slacker” put Austin, Texas, on the indie film map. And while that movie’s motley crew of wayward dreamers, cafe philosophers and conspiracy theorists may have little to do with today’s South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, the spirit of “Slacker” and its director still resonates.
“Rick really did set the tone,” says SXSW film honcho Janet Pierson. “He’s a nice guy, he’s a great filmmaker and he’s always working.”
Indeed, no one can say SXSW is slacking off either. Last year, the event reached record levels of attendance (upward of 75,000) and premiered several breakout movies, including “Drinking Buddies” and “Short Term 12.” It’s just the stakes in Austin aren’t as high as in Park City, and the way of life, as Pierson says, “is down several notches from New York or L.A.”
While there is no such »
- Anthony Kaufman
Back when I was a humongous fan of Archie comics, there was an attempt to make the brand more hip, maybe even attract more male readers (I’m sure I was a real rarity in being a boy who preferred Riverdale to Gotham City). The publisher introduced a bunch of sci-fi-themed series like Jughead’s Time Police, Dilton’s Strange Science, Explorers of the Unknown and the future-set Archie 3000. They were more cheesy than cool and didn’t last very long. More than 20 years later, Archie has abandoned the Comics Code Authority (they were the last holdout) and are even doing stuff aimed at more mature readers, such as the popular, audience-expanding zombie-based book Afterlife of Archie. Now the New York Times reports that the princess of hipness, Lena Dunham, will be writing a four-issue Archie miniseries to release in 2015. Dunham is the latest in a not-so-new trend of comic book publishers bringing on movie and TV »
- Christopher Campbell
Odd List Ryan Lambie Simon Brew 27 Feb 2014 - 05:54
Our series of lists devoted to underappreciated films brings us to the year 2010, and another 25 overlooked gems...
By 2010, Hollywood’s obsession with 3D movies was in full swing. James Cameron’s Avatar may have given audiences a taste of what the cutting edge of stereoscope could look like, but it has to be said that the movies ushered into cinemas in its wake were a decidedly mixed bunch. Toy Story 3's 3D was extraordinarily effective, yet Clash Of The Titans looked like a blurry mess. How To Train Your Dragon came to life in its flying sequences, but the less said about the horribly murky Last Airbender, the better.
Unless we’re mistaken, none of the movies on this list were shot or released in 3D, and few of them did particularly stellar business. A few got a certain amount of critical acclaim, »
Gamechanger Films is changing the name of one of SXSW’s most prestigious prizes. Since 2009, Chicken & Egg Pictures bestowed the Emergent Narrative Woman Director Award on one young female filmmaker a year, including Lena Dunham for “Tiny Furniture” in 2010, and Amy Seimetz for “Sun Don’t Shine” in 2013. Now, the group will hand off the award-giving responsibility to Gamechanger, the first for-profit company dedicated to financing women-directed narrative features. Also read: Lena Dunham Rips Jezebel for Publishing Her Un-Retouched Vogue Photos: ‘That Was Messed Up’ While Chicken & Egg largely focuses on documentaries, the transition should be seamless; the group’s co-founders, »
- Jordan Zakarin
Lena Dunham’s popular television series Girls has already advanced the careers of its four central stars – Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, and Jemima Kirke – but the HBO production has also dedicated plenty of screen time to a bevy of other talented ladies, even those not necessarily known for their acting work. Dunham’s series has long appeared to be compelled to cast the coolest female talents for a variety of guest roles that often quite handily subvert their public and professional personas. Kathryn Hahn had an arc back in the show’s first season as the mother of Jessa’s young babysitting charges who attempts to juggle her career and her family, Rosanna Arquette stopped by for an episode, comedienne Jenny Slate showed up for one, and even Dunham’s artist mom (and Tiny Furniture co-star) Laurie Simmons has played a named character in an ep. Elsewhere, Dunham’s childhood pal Audrey Gelman (who supposedly inspired »
- Kate Erbland
It’s long been unfair to classify the SXSW Film Festival as, well, just a film festival, simply because the Austin, Texas-based March event has always been a place for more than films, with bustling Interactive and Music programs that serve as their own draw, along with a steadily expanding roster of smaller draws (from SXSW Eco to SXSports to Digital Domain to their always amusing stable of live comedic talent) all adding into the full-bodied experience that is SXSW (or, really, just full, you try walking down Sixth Street smack in the middle of the event without getting accidentally intimate with just piles of strangers). For SXSW 2014, the Film team has quite noticeably folded in a new section to their slate, one that shows the perhaps steadily closing gap between television and film, or at least proves that plenty of small screen fare looks just as good on the big screen. The »
- Kate Erbland
As weary festgoers departed Sundance last weekend, my thoughts turned not to the winners, who reaped the accolades and the distribution deals, but to the roughly 4,000 losers — all those who engaged in the melee with lofty expectations and equally lofty credit-card bills.
Sundance, after all, is an exercise in fiscal self-immolation masked as a film festival.
But each year, the festival raises a question: Why are more and more indie films getting made in defiance of all the warning signs? The majors released only 120 films last year vs. 204 in 2006, whining all the way about shrinking margins. Now look at the indies: The New York Times published some 900 film reviews last year (75 more than the year before), most of them of indie pictures. Variety last year carried 1,080 reviews.
Then there’s another anomaly: Survey the Oscar nominations, and you discover the ever-growing presence of independent financing behind supposed major releases. “American Hustle, »
- Peter Bart
Festival dedicated to showcasing work by women film-makers to screen films from Georgia and the Us
• Women successful yet sidelined in film writing and directing
The Birds Eye Film Festival has announced its opening and closing night films, along with details of its International Women's Day gala.
Celebrated as a major discovery at the 2013 Berlinale, Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross's In Bloom will kick off proceedings on April 8 with its UK premiere. A drama about two young girls growing up in newly-independent Georgia in 1992, it sets the girls' life trajectory against that of the country, which is in the midst of a civil war. Eka and Natia are best friends who like to talk about music and boys, but are forced to grow up quickly as insecurity invades their everyday lives.
The six-day festival will close with another UK premiere, a screening of Swim Little Fish Swim, which debuted at SXSW last year. »
- Ellie Violet Bramley
Sundance coverage continues with Glenn musing on the career of Aaron Katz and his latest, Land Ho!
"Mumblecore", the term given to the influx of super low-budget independent films with a rotating core of creatives, cops a lot of grief these days. I assume it's mostly from people sick of Lena Dunham’s ubiquity (she wrote/directed/starred in the incredible Tiny Furniture) or people just getting sick from the home-spun, handheld aesthetic that beset many of the movement’s features. Personally, I love that we now have the likes of Greta Gerwig, Lynn Shelton (who’s at Sundance again this year with Laggies) and Joe Swanberg amongst others. The brightest star to my eyes, however, is Aaron Katz, the 32-year-old American director who directed the woozy, boozy, teenage coming-of-age drama Dance Party USA and the deliciously cheeky Sherlock riff Cold Weather. He returns with Land Ho!, co-directing alongside Martha Stephens »
- Glenn Dunks
When I was asked to give advice for attending Sundance, I couldn’t think of anything other than the usual “Be yourself.” Which is true! But then I realized that going to Sundance for the first time can be a very daunting endeavor, so here are a few ways to make the best of your festival experience. Seek out filmmakers you admire and see their film premieres.Film festivals are a terrific way to meet your future collaborators. My short film, “Cigarette Candy,” won SXSW the same year that Lena Dunham won for her feature film “Tiny Furniture.” I met David Call, who starred in “Tiny Furniture,” and I loved his performance so much—as well as David as a person—that I wanted to make a new film with him; co-creator Christopher Radcliff and I cast David in “The Strange Ones,” which went on to premiere at Sundance in »
The Sundance Film Festival remains the quickest way for American indie filmmakers to win big. Like landing on Boardwalk and Park Place, it can often pave the way for fortune and success. But as the entertainment industry evolves and marketplace grows more crowded, filmmakers are finding that Sundance isn’t the only game in town.
As longtime indie film attorney and producer John Sloss says, “Mirroring the decentralization of specialty distribution, I think a corresponding democratization of film festivals may be afoot.”
While many industry insiders believe Sundance “is still the epicenter of the American indie film marketplace,” as Sloss sees it, at the same time, “The market has become more diffuse, so the process of selling films is more diffuse and more year-round.”
- Anthony Kaufman
The uncontested queen of angst, Lena Dunham has made an art form of self-abasement. As her TV show Girls returns for a third series, Simon Hattenstone asks, does all the unflattering exposure, you know, help?
Lena Dunham had a panic attack last night. The actor/writer/director/producer started to tot up her advancing years, and before she knew it, she was measuring out her grave. "I thought, in two and a half years I'll be 30, then 10 years from that I'll be 40, then 10 years from that I'll be 50." She shudders to a halt. Is she genuinely worried? "All the time. It's why I don't sleep at night."
Nobody in the 21st century has done angst quite like Dunham. The angst of being unloved, undesired, unattractive, unpopular, unsuccessful. The irony is that, at 27, she has been named as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, signed a $3.5m book deal, »
- Simon Hattenstone
• Bruce Willis (Die Hard) is set to star in the action thriller Captive, taking over for the previously rumored Arnold Schwarzenegger. Simon Brand (Unknown) is directing with a script by Benjamin van der Even (Che: Part Two) and Kario Salem (Chasing Mavericks) from a story by Nicolai Fuglsig. Willis will play a real estate developer who gets kidnapped and held for ransom while at work in Brazil. Production is set to begin in March. [Deadline]
- Jake Perlman
“Martha Marcy May Marlene” producer and Borderline Films principal Josh Mond is in the midst of shooting his directorial debut “James White,” TheWrap has learned. The indie drama stars Christopher Abbott (“Girls”), Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Ron Livingston (“Office Space”), Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi (“Need for Speed”), David Call (“Tiny Furniture”) and newcomer Mackenzie Leigh. “James White” stars Abbott as a troubled young man coming of age in the face of momentous family challenges. Also Read: ‘Simon Killer’ Review: An American (Creep) in Paris Mond, who wrote the script, is producing with his Borderline Films partners Antonio Campos and Sean Durkin. »
- Jeff Sneider
15 items from 2014
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