A few more films that premiered at Sundance at the beginning of the year are still trickling into theaters, and while some are absolutely incredible with lots of buzz like Whiplash (arriving next month), others don't seem to have the same hype. Low Down is one of those films, and the trailer seems to indicate why. There's praise in the trailer for the performances, but if the trailer is any indicator, this indie seems to meander around the story of jazz pianist Joe Albany (John Hawkes) from the perspective of his young daughter (Elle Fanning) as she watches him contend with his drug addiction in the 60s and 70s. Glenn Close, Lena Headey ("Game of Thrones") and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers also star in the film. Watch?
The rise of Xavier Dolan continues. This morning Canada's selection committee officially announced that Xavier Dolan's Mommy, Dolan's fifth feature film by age 25, will be Canada's official entry into the 2014 Academy Awards as their Best Foreign Language Film. "It's an incredible showcase for our industry," stated Telefilm's Carolle Brabant during the announcement. Mommy has been receiving mostly rave reviews since it first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this summer (read my 10/10 rave review). It's one of the best films of the year anyway, thus making it one of the best choices for Canada, especially if they want to make it all the way to the final five nominations. The film opens in Canada this month after playing at fests all over.
"These waters are my home. But now, our nets are coming up empty." This outstanding film is one of the best discoveries of Sundance this year, a riveting and extremely well-made thriller called Fishing Without Nets, filmed in Africa following Somali pirates. Fishing Without Nets is the feature debut of up-and-coming filmmaker Cutter Hodierne, adapting his own short film into a full-length feature using mostly non-actor locals. I caught this at Sundance and was very moved by it, one of those films that has stuck with me ever since then. This is a fantastic trailer giving you just a glimpse of the story in the film, as well as the complex character development that makes it better than expected. I strongly recommend giving this film a chance.
Journey to the place where the warrior spirit was born. Feast your eyes on this awesome trailer. XYZ Films has finally unleashed a trailer for Toa Fraser's The Dead Lands, a badass Maori action flick from New Zealand about the Maori warriors. The film just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, where I first saw it, and it's damn good - packed with action, it moves fast, all in Maori about Maori. This first trailer gives us a look at the cast including James Rolleston as the boy, Hongi, along with Lawrence Makoare as The Warrior, also featuring Te Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Horan and Raukura Turei. They make this look so awesome, there's no way you won't want to see this. Take a look. "If I do not return... tell stories about me."
"An ice cold knockout." Easily one of my favorite films of the year, Force Majeure from Swedish director Ruben Östlund is an entertaining dark comedy that everyone has been falling for once they get the chance to see it. Johannes Bah Kuhnke & Lisa Loven Kongsli star as the parents of a family on a skiing vacation in the French alps. When a freak avalanche causes the family to scramble for survival, it screws up the rest of their trip and things only seem to be getting crazier. As much as it may not sound like tons of fun, or seem like a dark comedy at first, this film is brilliant and lives up to the hype. Similar to the first teaser & trailer we featured back in May, this trailer includes stunning shots of the mountains, and a taste of the madness.
Today, Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett's latest thriller The Guest hits limited theaters, and if it's playing nearby, you need to make sure to see it. But if for some reason you're not convinced yet, Hobo with a Shotgun director Jason Eisener was commissioned to cut an alternate trailer that shows off how slick, fun and bad ass this indie thriller really is. Dan Stevens is likely going to be a big star, even if this movie doesn't do the trick, and you can see how charming, dashing and fantastic he is just in this brief trailer. Seriously, it's a slow time at movie theaters right now, so take a chance, and go see The Guest now. Watch!
"A journey should always be mysterious..." One of the best films of 2014 is Birdman, the fifth feature from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, following up Biutiful four years ago. Birdman premiered at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festivals, and will also play at the New York Film Festival before landing in theaters this October. After catching the premiere up in the mountains in Telluride (my review), I met up with Iñárritu for a 15 minute chat about all things: from life to filmmaking to laughter to turning 50 and the lessons he has learned. It happens to be one of the best chats I've had with a filmmaker, and it's rejuvenating to listen to him talk. "If you don't do something that does not terrify you, why do it?"
Director Lars von Trier had his explicit and sexual new film Nymphomaniac released in two parts earlier this year (Volume I and Volume II are both available on Netflix right now). And while both films come together for a four-hour story, that's not all von Trier has to show but of course. In fact, a five and a half-hour director's cut of the film screened at Berlin and Venice film festivals this year and will also screen at Fantastic Fest later this month. And now we have word that this extended, unsplit version of the film will arrive on VOD + in limited theaters October 2nd. If you need more nymphomania, here you go.
The last few films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival are starting to hit theaters as fall comes upon us, and one of those films is Listen Up Philip. The film comes from The Color Wheel director Alex Ross Perry and follows Jason Schwartzman as the snobby, prickish title character, an author on the verge of publishing his second novel, bound to be a success. But his crumbling relationship with his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) and a lack of interest in playing ball with his publisher puts him in a position to spend some time with his idol (Jonathan Pryce). But that might not be all it's cracked up to be. This film is like Woody Allen meets Wes Anderson, but far more raw and definitely worth checking out. Watch now!
At the end of another festival. Over the last weekend I traveled up to Toronto to attend my 8th year at TIFF, or the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the major festivals every fall. TIFF is now best known for scheduling over 300 films in their line-up, from tiny international discoveries to mainstream premieres, which means there's no way any hardcore critic/blogger/cinephile is missing this fest. There's just too many films to see, from various Sundance and Cannes holdovers that I've been waiting for, to major unveilings like the latest films from directors Jason Reitman and Mia Hansen-Løve. This year I was able to see 19 films as part of TIFF 2014, complimenting everything else from Cannes & Telluride. Which ones stand out?
One of the most buzzed about film's of the year has been Richard Linklater's impressive achievement that is Boyhood. Funnily enough, there's also another festival favorite getting a lot of buzz, and it's called Girlhood. No, it's not Linklater's same 12-year formula following a girl instead of a boy, but rather the story of a young girl living in the suburbs of Paris and ends up getting involved with a tight-knit group of girlfriends whose peer-pressure ends up leading to her life of dangerous drug-dealing. The film played at Cannes and is screening at TIFF now, getting plenty of acclaim, especially for star Karidja Toure. Watch!
Toke and Tusk! This might be one of the craziest, coolest, wildest movie promotions I've ever seen. Over the weekend, Kevin Smith's wacky new cult horror comedy Tusk premiered at the Toronto Film Festival (read my review) and is hitting theaters in just a few weeks. As explained by Kevin Smith: "This movie was born in a blaze, and will be released in a blaze," referring to the inception of the film during the recording of one of his SModcast episodes (during which he is usually stoned). A24 Films, releasing the film, has partnered with pot shop Buds & Roses to release two special strains of herb: Mr. Tusk and White Walrus. I can't believe this is an official promotion, but believe it or not, it totally is real and it's awesome. I love it. Can I get a sample?
Following news that Anna Kendrick's latest musical endeavor, the film adaptation of the Off-Broadway production The Last 5 Years, was picked up by TWC-Radius, another promising film has been picked up from TIFF. Deadline has word that A24 has picked up the US rights to Noah Baumbach's latest film While We're Young, starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver, Charles Grodin and more. The film follows a free-spirited Brooklynite twenty-something couple (Seyfried and Driver) who inspires an uptight documentarian and his wife (Stiller and Watts) to loosen up. Read on!
We've already seen what kind of provocative racial satire will be on display in the Sundance selected comedy Dear White People. Now we wanted to call your attention to a cool new poster for the film, if only because it's one of those indies that we think you should go out of your way to see. What's really cool about the poster is that it was designed by a fan of the film, 29-year-old architect Nikkolas Smith with a day job working on theme parks and roller-coasters for Disney Imagineering. He just felt inspired after seeing the movie at the Los Angeles Film Festival screening. It features Tyler James Williams as gay nerd Lionel, enduring the hands of one of the many white people who want to touch his big afro. See the poster below!