"You don't have to go with us. Once you do, there's no turning back…" Enderby Entertainment & Gotham Group have debuted the trailer for a thriller called Blackway, about a grotesquely crooked cop played by Ray Liotta - perfect casting for this role, that's for sure. He steps over the line one last time, assaulting a woman who then takes a small crew to confront him head on. Anthony Hopkins and Julia Stiles co-star, with a cast including Alexander Ludwig, Lochlyn Munro and Hal Holbrook. This is one of those films where you can't believe it has this cast, with that many reputable names, yet looks so awful. Even the score is terribly cheesy. No really, this just looks straight-to-cable awful. I am sorry this isn't any better than it is.
"For those who don't know me, my name is John. And I'm a real success story…" Icon Films Australia has debuted the first official trailer for Blood Father, a film by Jean-François Richet (Assault on Precinct 13 remake, Mesrine Part 1 & Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1), starring Mel Gibson as an ex-con badass who gets into some gritty action trying to save his daughter, played by Erin Moriarty. This kind of has the toss-up mix of being part Taken, part John Wick in a way, plus all Mel Gibson, reset in the deep South with a No Country tinge - and it actually looks pretty damn good. The cast says it includes William H. Macy, Thomas Mann, Elisabeth Röhm, Diego Luna & Dale Dickey. This is definitely worth taking a look at.
"So this is the life I've forgotten…" A24 has unleashed the first amazingly awesome new trailer for Swiss Army Man, the controversial and wacky film from Sundance this year that prompted a few walk outs - but mostly lots of acclaim from audiences and critics. Yes, this is the film starring Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse, but it's so much more than that. Paul Dano stars as a man stuck on a deserted island until this corpse suddenly shows up, helping him come back to life again. This trailer is kind of a teaser but it does capture the whimsy and magic of the film, since it's more of a zany comedy than it is depressing. Have at it. The film was picked up at Sundance by A24 after earning quite a bit of buzz - read my review from the fest.
"This is the story of some brothers whom Nature hadn't dealt the best of cards." Drafthouse Films has unveiled the official US trailer for Danish director Anders Thomas Jensen's wacky black comedy Men & Chicken. Described as an "outlandish hybrid of The Three Stooges and The Island of Dr. Moreau", the film stars Mads Mikkelsen (with a nice mustache), David Dencik, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Søren Malling and Nicolas Bro. It's about two outcast brothers who get together after their father dies and end up at an island called Ork, where they discover a horrible truth about themselves and their relatives. Pretty sure this won't be for everyone, but if you're into darkly hilarious slapstick comedy from Denmark, you better take a look.
"Welcome to Los Angeles." Get ready for something wild and wacky. The first trailer has debuted for Max Landis' feature directorial debut, Me Him Her, which was filmed around Los Angeles in 2013. The sex comedy is about a semi-famous TV star named Brendan, played by Luke Bracey, who is coming out of the closet and recruits the help of his friend, played by Dustin Milligan. The full cast includes Emily Meade, Alia Shawkat, Angela Sarafyan, Casey Wilson, Geena Davis, Scott Bakula, Haley Joel Osment, Kyle Bornheimer, Jake McDorman, Lance Henriksen. There's some strange and totally weird stuff going on in this trailer, it seems that it's the kind of film that just needs to be seen to be fully understood. Landis cut together his own version of the trailer that he says matches the tone better - also included below.
"Mom, don't talk to my friends." Sony Classics has debuted a trailer for indie comedy The Meddler, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival just last year. Directed by Lorene Scafaria, the film stars Susan Sarandon as a widower who gets a little too close to her daughter, played by Rose Byrne. The full cast features J.K. Simmons, Billy Magnussen, Jason Ritter, Michael McKean, Lucy Punch. The film did get some good reviews, like this from David Ehrlich: "Imagine if Clueless had starred a 68-year-old Susan Sarandon as an overbearing mother and you’ll have the right idea about Lorene Scafaria’s The Meddler, a sweet and sneakily effective portrait of a woman learning how to re-engage with the world after the greatest loss…"
"Tell him to get me my money!!" RLJ Entertainment has debuted a trailer via the Today show for a film called Nina, starring Zoe Saldana as the very rambunctious Nina Simone, who was a singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. While there was a documentary made about Nina recently nominated for an Oscar this year, called What Happened, Miss Simone?, but this film is a much more powerful drama and features the relationship between Nina and Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo. Both Saldana and Oyelowo look kind of amazing in this, no seriously, they looks incredible. Kind of interesting to follow up the Oscar ceremony - like, look, here is a great black performance!! Or two! The full cast includes Mike Epps, Ronald Guttman, Ella Joyce and Ella Thomas. I'm looking forward to seeing this. Take a look below.
"It's our life. It's our family's life!" The Orchard has debuted a new poster and trailer for the upcoming US release of Joachim Trier's indie Louder Than Bombs, which played at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Jonah, along with Amy Ryan, Gabriel Byrne, David Strathairn, Devin Druid and Isabelle Huppert. The film is about how two boys cope with growing up after their mother is killed in a car crash, which is shown in vivid detail in this trailer and in the film. There's something very emotionally appealing about this, I'm not sure what it is, but every single trailer draws me in. Maybe it's just the way Isabelle Huppert walks around… I'm still looking forward to catching this soon. Take a look below.
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 - celebrating their 31st year. The 2016 winners of the Spirit Awards were announced Saturday before the Oscars at a ceremony out in Santa Monica. The big winner this year was Spotlight, awarded Best Feature, but that's not all - there were plenty of interesting, surprising, exciting wins during the night. Carol finally won something this season - Ed Lachman picked up Best Cinematography. Tangerine's Mya Taylor won Best Supporting Female, and Beasts of No Nation took both Best Male performance awards. You have to love it when the Spirit Awards shake things up like this! Read on for the list of Indie Spirit Awards results.
Briefly: Fox Searchlight has announced an official release date for Nate Parker's feature directorial debut, and the Sundance Film Festival double award winner, The Birth of a Nation, starring Nate Parker. The film will open in theaters "nationwide" (that's what it says!) on October 7th, 2016 later this fall. Parker plays Nat Turner, a former slave that organizes an uprising movement in 1831 to free African-Americans in Virgina. The cast includes Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller and Aja Naomi King. The film won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in January, and was picked up by Fox Searchlight in a record-setting deal. Check back soon for any trailers.
"Love doesn't work this way - you can't take everything and stuff it back in the box." Sony Pictures Classics has debuted the first trailer for the indie comedy Maggie's Plan from director Rebecca Miller, about a woman whose plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with John, a married man. Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke star as the couple at the center, along with Julianne Moore, Travis Fimmel, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Wallace Shawn. This film has been playing at festivals ever since first premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last year, including at Sundance, New York and the Berlin Film Festival. This might not be for everyone, but if you're interested in a comedy about an affair, have at it.
A movie about a missing woman… and a lost man. This looks quite good. Vanishing Angle has debuted an official trailer for Dennis Hauck's indie drama Too Late, starring John Hawkes as a private investigator searching for a missing woman. This crime noir follows him around various seedy parts of Los Angeles, encountering many interesting people. The full cast includes Crystal Reed, Dash Mihok, Rider Strong, Vail Bloom, Jeff Fahey, Robert Forster, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Dichen Lachman, Sally Jaye, Natalie Zea, and Joanna Cassidy. The film will be released exclusively on 35mm in theaters across North America in Spring 2016, according to the website. If you're curious, definitely check out the trailer below.
"Can the vacation, or the crisis, or whatever it is, just be over now? Can you come back to reality, because this is not reality. Echo Park is not reality." Array Releasing has debuted a new trailer for the indie drama Echo Park, the directorial debut of celebrity photographer turned filmmaker Amanda Marsalis, starring Mamie Gummer and Anthony Okungbowa. This "lyrical drama" is about two people coming together across cultural economic and racial boundaries. This initially premiered back in 2014, but Array has been finding gems like this to release and it's just hitting theaters in April. I'm totally sold, this looks really good, a refreshing change from the typical romantic drama. That shot of Mamie at 1:22 is just so beautiful. Enjoy!
What a year so far. I had an amazing time at Berlinale this year. Not because all of the films were amazing, but because I met incredible people in Germany. I even met a very nice guy who works in film distribution while riding the train from Berlin down to Prague on my way out, and we talked for hours about films and distribution in the Czech Republic (where he works). Over the last week, I've encountered and talked with so many wonderful people - discussing films and the world. This is what festivals are all about, bringing people together, encouraging discussion. And yes - there are films to see. Plenty of them. I saw a grand total of 16 feature films at the Berlin Film Festival this year - here's my final recap with thoughts on each one below.