Ever since Iñárritu's Birdman won Best Picture (and a bunch of other Oscars) a week ago, the film has received plenty of criticism and negativity. I, however, will defend the film as I think it's an exciting and original look at the struggles of artistry, told through the opening of a stage performance. One of my other favorite films in recent year was another Oscar winner, Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan, and it is very similar to Birdman in many ways. Thanks to a tip from Film School Rejects, an editor named Miguel Branco has cut together a video showing side-by-side visual comparisons between Birdman and Black Swan. It's rather mesmerizing to watch set to Alexandre Desplat's lovely "Wong Chia Chi's Theme" from Lust, Caution.
"What if we die?" "Well what if we live?!" There's only one way to find out! What a charmer. WellGo USA has released a trailer for Gren Wells' indie comedy The Road Within, about three friends who escape from a psych center and go on a three-day journey out into the wilderness. Robert Sheehan stars as Vincent, who has Tourette's, and he is joined by Zoë Kravitz and Dev Patel in the cast. The adults are played by Kyra Sedgwick and Robert Patrick, an odd duo that will probably end up together by the end. I haven't heard much about this, but it looks better than expected and I wouldn't mind checking it out. Give it a look.
"It's a crime… that I want to feel young?" Ah, mais oui, Gérard Depardieu! We've seen a UK trailer for this previously, but another one should be more than enough to satisfy. IFC Films has debuted the official US (meaning MPAA-approved) trailer for one of Abel Ferrara's latest films, Welcome to New York, starring Gérard Depardieu, Jacqueline Bisset and Paul Calderon. Depardieu plays a billionaire with ultimate money and power, who is driven by a "frenzied and unbridled sexual hunger". I'm not sure if I'm that into this film's lavishness, but that is quite a way to sell it. The trailer is barely SFW, but I'm sure the film is not.
At the Academy Awards last weekend, a couple of little Sundance indie sensations won big awards. One of them was Whiplash (the other was Boyhood), written and directed by Damien Chazelle who was named multiple times by winners including J.K. Simmons (Best Supporting Actor) & Tom Cross (Best Editing). The film also won Best Sound Mixing, taking home a total of three Oscars. It has been a long journey for Chazelle, as he first premiered Whiplash as a short film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. That short got him the financing to make the feature, and the rest is history. Whiplash was one of my favorite films of 2014 (#2!) so I'm happy it won; it's another excellent indie success story. Luckily, the original short is now online.
"Would you like to push me up the street?" Today's trailer selection is for an adaptation of a play about an elderly woman named Mary Shepherd who lived in a battered car on the driveway of the writer Alan Bennett for 15 years. Oscar winning actress Maggie Smith plays Miss Shepherd, a character she has played before on stage and on the radio, and she looks like quite a hoot. She's joined by Alex Jennings as Alan Bennett, with appearances by Dominic Cooper, James Corden, Jim Broadbent, Frances de la Tour and a few others. The film won't be released for another 8 months, so this is more of our first teaser, but it's also just a fun introduction (for those unfamiliar) to an odd story that should make for an amusing film. Enjoy.
What's next for the Oscar winner? How about another challenging role. The Daily Mail has revealed the first look photo of the most recent Best Actor Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne in the new film The Danish Girl, from director Tom Hooper (of The King's Speech, Les Miserables). In the film Redmayne plays Einar Wegener, a painter in the 1920s who decides to transform into a woman after he poses in their clothes when a model doesn't show up. He later became Lili Elbe, and this first photo shows Redmaybe in full make-up and clothing as Lili. It will make anyone do a double take. "We're looking at everything from a feminine perspective," Redmayne told them. "I think it's the most sensitive role I have played." Take a look.
Filthy. Rich. Spoilt. Rotten. IFC Films has recently unveiled the official US trailer for Lone Scherfig's The Riot Club, which will be getting released in March after initially premiering at TIFF 2014 last year. This debaucherous drama delves into the lives of the elite members of Oxford University's "Riot Club", based on the real-life Bullingdon Club, though I'm sure they want nothing to do with this. The young and beautiful cast of Riot Club includes Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Jessica Brown Findlay, Natalie Dormer, Holliday Grainger, Olly Alexander, Tom Hollander and Sam Reid. As much as I am fond of director Lone Scherfig, I'm not any more interested in this than I was after the first trailer. Give it a shot.
Briefly: Fox Searchlight has confirmed (via @ERCboxoffice) a release date for the upcoming indie sensation Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, which won both the Audience Award & Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and won our hearts too. The film earned a top spot on our list of the Best of the Fest, as well as plenty of glowing reviews by the end of the festival. It's definitely going to find an audience outside of the fest, and Fox Searchlight is banking on its success. The studio has scheduled a limited release starting on July 1st, 2015 this summer, which is when they usually open one of their new Sundance gems. We'll be following this release closely as it's one of our favorites, too.
Some good news for a great film out of the Sundance Film Festival. Director Jim Strouse, who last played Sundance with the films The Winning Season and Grace Is Gone, returned this year with a film called People, Places, Things starring Jemaine Clement as a graphic artist/illustrator. The charming film was quite enjoyable, I would actually recommend it and I hope people get a chance to see it, a very amusing little romantic comedy. Deadline is reporting that up-and-coming distributor The Film Arcade has picked up People, Places, Things for a US release, sometime this summer. The indie distributor is also releasing Sundance faves A.C.O.D., Song One, The Voices, They Came Together and Dinosaur 13. So keep an eye out.
The Independent Spirit Awards are an annual award given in the name of independent film, featuring plenty of those little indies which deserve the honor and recognition that they usually don't receive… Now celebrating their 30th year. There's quite a few repeats here that will end up winning at the Oscars, but so be it. The 2015 winners of the Spirit Awards were announced Saturday before the Oscars at a ceremony out in Santa Monica. The big winner this year was Birdman, awarded Best Feature, with everything else spread between a variety of winners including Richard Linklater, Nightcrawler, J.K. Simmons, Julianne Moore. Nothing out of the ordinary, but a solid set of winners this year. Read on for the list of Indie Spirit results.
During the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, we highlighted what seemed to be the first trailer for the comedy Welcome to Me starring Kristen Wiig. However, that turned out to be a sales trailer for the film while it was still looking for distribution, and it was taken down. But now the real, official trailer for the film has surfaced as the film has been set to arrive in limited theaters in May. In the film Wiig plays a woman with borderline personality disorder who manages to get her own show on a local TV network after she wins the lottery jackpot. It looks like a fun, quirky showcase for Wiig but there's a great supporting cast too. Watch!
"I'll make you a deal - I want three things…" With this film now playing in theaters in Canada, there's no better time to feature the first official trailer for Elephant Song from Canadian distributor eOne Films. Elephant Song is a psychological drama starring Xavier Dolan, the same filmmaker who made Mommy and Laurence Anyways, as a rather eerie patient with a mysterious past. Captain Pike of Star Trek, actor Bruce Greenwood, also stars as the hospital's director, and both Catherine Keener and Carrie-Anne Moss appear as well. I don't want to give away anything else in the plot, but the trailer should give you a good idea what's going on. I missed seeing this at TIFF, and I've been waiting to catch it. I've got to say, this trailer makes me more intrigued, even if I prefer Dolan as a director he certainly can act, too. Take a look.
As another film festival comes to an end, it's time to celebrate and commemorate with the announcement of the awards. The 65th Berlin Film Festival just ended (my own mini recap here), and the winners were announced at the Closing Ceremony, including the winner of the coveted Golden Bear for Best Film. That top prize was given to a film called Taxi, directed by and starring Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who drives around Iran in a taxi picking up various passengers. Everyone I talked to who saw it loved it, and so did the jury, lead by Darren Aronofsky. Another fest favorite, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín's subversive and harrowing new film El Club, picked up the Silver Bear runner-up prize. View the list of winners below.
My second year attending the Berlin Film Festival has come to an end. I caught another 14 films, which combined with the 32 I saw at Sundance, puts my tally at 46 brand new 2015 films screened in three weeks (yea I'm a bit exhausted, suffice it to say). But I saw some great films in the last week, including Terrence Malick's latest and Pablo Larraín's latest. Berlinale has been stepping up their game these last two years, bringing in a robust selection of top notch features to see and hosting an exciting festival for movie fans of all ages. I'm glad I could make it back, and I hope to keep returning (even with Sundance in January). So which films did I see and which were the best? Here's my final breakdown of all 14 films I saw at Berlinale.