11 items from 2017
Chicago – The familiar character actor and voiceover artist, Sam Elliott, has been breaking out in that latter part of his career. Known for his cowboy roles, smooth bass-tone voice and epic mustache, the icon has been seen lately in diverse roles in “Grandma,” “Digging for Fire,” “Grace and Frankie” and his latest – and perhaps greatest – “The Hero.”
Photo credit: The Orchard
“The Hero” is co-written (with Marc Basch) and directed by Brett Haley, who had previously directed Elliott, opposite Blythe Danner, in “I’ll See You in my Dreams.” Haley must have been inspired, because he wrote “The Hero” expressly for Elliott, and uses the actor’s cowboy character past as a basis for the role of Lee Hayden, an old actor with a broken past, and a health condition that changes everything. Elliott is masterful as the lead in the film, »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
It’s a little bit of an understatement to say that filmmaker Ben Wheatley has not made mainstream movies so far. His films are niche items, albeit sometimes incredibly compelling ones. This week, he makes what might be his most mainstream flick possibly, an action comedy of sorts in Free Fire. Although still decidedly independent, this is like the Mexican standoff sequence in Reservoir Dogs, but if that was an entire 90 minute movie. It’s a riot of a film. A literal blast, if you will. Helping to lead the charge is Brie Larson, who seems incapable of not turning in very solid work when the camera starts rolling. She’s just dynamite. The movie centers around an arms deal gone bad. Taking place in Boston in 1978, two gangs meet in an abandoned warehouse, ostensibly to buy/sell some guns. Set in motion by middle man Ord (Armie Hammer) one »
- Joey Magidson
Joe Swanberg has had one of the more interesting career upswings of any independent filmmaker out there. After being one of the essential founders of the mumblecore indie movement, he made a right turn of sorts a few years back. Opting for bigger stars and similarly simple premises, he’s found more acclaim than ever before. Between Drinking Buddies, Happy Christmas, and Digging for Fire, Swanberg is as exciting a writer/director as ever before. Most recently, Swanberg has teamed up again with frequent collaborator Jake Johnson for Win It All, a film that at once feels both different and similar than what he’s been up to lately. Above all else, it’s a great vehicle for Johnson, who does his best work when paired with Swanberg. The flick is a character study, centered on gambler Eddie Garrett (Johnson). He’s broke, but charming. A nice guy unable to resist a card game, »
- Joey Magidson
‘Win It All’ Is a Low-Stakes Table But a Good TimeJoe Swanberg’s latest character study combines neo-noir and lawnmowing.
I may be overly sympathetic towards Eddie (Win It All’s protagonist played by Jake Johnson) during the film’s opening credit sequence, because I recently took a similarly bleary-eyed train back home from Chicago’s Chinatown after a long night of cutting my losses. It’s not just that, though. Win It All is a slow-burn dramedy set on undercutting the romanticized, disheveled losers of noir while still developing a charm of its own. Johnson, in his expressive, frumpy portrayal of a low-stakes gambling addict — the kind of guy that wears a thin gold chain around his neck and really means it — finds pain, humor, and hope in a dead-end card junkie.
- Jacob Oller
Two new indie distributors injected some life into the specialty box office this weekend with two unconventional releases.
Both “Colossal” (Neon Films) and Japanese anime smash “Your Name.” (FUNimation) rode positive reviews to strong box office. With more conventional World War II drama “Their Finest” (Stx), three films from non-establishment distributors show impressive arthouse strength.
Jessica Chastain vehicle “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” shaping up to be the biggest specialty release so far this year, justified its initial wider run with a solid second weekend.
At least nine of the new limited releases this week also are available on Video on Demand. The only one to see much traction was “Alive and Kicking” (Magnolia), directed by specialty industry veteran Susan Glatzer, marking an unusual documentary presentation from Blumhouse Productions. The dance movie grossed $9000 in five theaters. »
- Tom Brueggemann
The new Netflix comedy Win It All is the third collaboration between Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson, following Drinking Buddies and Digging for Fire. The duo approached the new film differently than their previous work, describing it as a “straight-up comedy.” The A.V. Club sat down with Swanberg and Johnson, as well as cast members Joe Lo Truglio and Aislinn Derbez, to find out how this new approach altered the filmmaking process. »
- Baraka Kaseko
Movies about gamblers are fun. Movies about reformed gamblers, on the other hand, tend to put the viewer in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the protagonist to relapse. That’s the challenge taken up by Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson—who previously collaborated on Drinking Buddies and Digging For Fire—in their latest joint effort, Win It All. Can they sustain viewer interest in a story about a literal loser who’s making a sincere, committed effort to overcome his gambling addiction and straighten out his life? Not really, as it turns out, but there’s enough disreputable behavior bookending the righteousness, and enough solid jokes along the way, to make the effort moderately entertaining.
Johnson doesn’t deviate much from his winningly hangdog New Girl persona as Eddie, who’s first seen getting cleaned out in a backroom poker game. (The film is set in Chicago, which is »
- Mike D'Angelo
The most radical thing about “Win It All,” a perfectly agreeable little movie about one man’s attempt to put his gambling problems behind him, is that it follows a pretty conventional arc. More than a decade after director Joe Swanberg started cranking out rambling, improvisatory lo-fi movies, he has wound up funneling those tendencies into formula. At the same time, “Win It All” shows only just enough interest in narrative to keep its light entertainment value in play, while resisting the impulse to tell all but the simplest of stories. It’s still a talky character study, but Swanberg has steadily shown a far greater regard to holding the interest of a general audience, and this is the closest he has come so far.
It’s a reasonable outcome for a movie produced exclusively for Netflix, where Swanberg recently did a full season of his observational comedy “Easy,” further »
- Eric Kohn
He started to make films before Netflix’s streaming empire skyrocketed, but it couldn’t be a more perfect venue for the films of Joe Swanberg. While it’s unfortunate most people will experience the upcoming films of Bong Joon-ho and Martin Scorsese from home, Swanberg’s rag-tag, lo-fi approach is an ideal fit for this kind of viewing. With that, we have the trailer for next film, Win it All, which premieres at SXSW and lands on Netflix next month.
A reunion after Drinking Buddies and Digging for Fire, Jake Johnson leads the film (along with co-writing it), playing a gambler who tries to dig himself out of debt after a bad decision. Swanberg and Johnson have proven to be a strong fit together and this one doesn’t look to shake up that winning formula. Also starring Keegan-Michael Key, Joe Lo Truglio, and Aislinn Derbez, check out the trailer below. »
- Jordan Raup
For his first feature film in two years — quite possibly a record for the prolific writer/director/producer/editor/actor — Joe Swanberg returns with “Win It All,” which is set to premiere at South by Southwest this weekend. Netflix just released a trailer for the movie, which stars co-writer Jake Johnson. Watch below.
Johnson — who previously worked with Swanberg on “Drinking Buddies,” “Digging for Fire” and an episode of “Love” — plays a gambler who vastly overestimates his own abilities (and luck, for that matter). “When he discovers cash in the bag, he’s unable to resist the temptation and winds up deeply in debt,” reads the Netflix synopsis. “When the prison release is shortened, Eddie suddenly has a small window of time to win all the money back.”
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- Michael Nordine
Jake Johnson and Joe Swanberg seem to have a pretty good thing going. The actor starred in the director’s “Drinking Buddies” and “Digging For Fire,” his TV series “Easy,” and now his next feature, “Win It All.”
Read More: 20 Must-See Movies At The 2017 SXSW Film Festival
- Kevin Jagernauth
11 items from 2017
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