"This is our new community. Not everyone is a racist, Mack." FilmBuff has debuted a trailer for an indie comedy titled Little Boxes, about an interracial couple that moves from New York City to a small, mostly white town in Washington State. This played at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, but this is the first time we've heard about it. The family is made up of Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, and Melanie Lynskey, which seems like a spunky mix and there's some good jokes in this trailer referencing exactly that. The full cast includes Oona Laurence (the girl from Pete's Dragon), Janeane Garofalo, Christine Taylor, and Nadia Dajani. It looks fun, but that's the most I can say, as some of the comedy seems a bit too contrived.
The best of the best - that you didn't see last year. We have returned with another set of worth watching, underseen films from 2016. Back again is our annual list of the 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2016 (find all the past lists here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007). Featured below is a hand-picked, double-checked line-up of the best independent and/or mainstream films that were either quietly dumped, ignored by audiences, or not marketed well enough. There's a mix of documentaries and features, all of them criminally underseen. So to give them some extra attention in the spotlight, and to support some of the finest filmmakers out there, here's our best you didn't see in 2016 recap. Full list below!
"I must emphasize that everyone stay as still and as quiet as possible." A trailer has debuted for an indie film premiering at the SXSW Film Festival this month. Titled Most Beautiful Island, the film follows an undocumented immigrant living in New York City (the "island" referenced in the title) trying to figure out how to make a life in the city. Spanish actress Ana Asensio stars, and she wrote and directed it as well. It's described as "a chilling portrait of an undocumented young woman's struggle for survival as she finds redemption from a tortured past in a dangerous game." Along with the trailer there's a poster designed by Mondo artist Jay Shaw below. This trailer starts out fairly good, but gets very weird and creepy by the end.
"We've been calling these islands the 'Wild Wild West' with all things been going on around here." FilmBuff has debuted a new official trailer for the film Live Cargo, from director Logan Sandler. Live Cargo stars Keith Stanfield and Dree Hemingway as a grieving couple who escape to an island in the Bahamas for some recuperation. However, they end up caught in a turf war between Roy, the island's aging patriarch, and "Doughboy", a dangerous human trafficker. The full cast includes Robert Wisdom, Sam Dillon, and Leonard Earl Howze. This looks like yet another intriguing tropical-island thriller, along with Isolation. I'm a fan of Keith Stanfield, and I like seeing B&W films, just not so sure this is worth watching. Take a look.
"They really don't want you here." "It's a shame, if only they'd got to know me." An official UK trailer has debuted for a romantic drama titled Hampstead, taking place on Hampstead Heath, a large grassy public park in London. The film stars Brendan Gleeson as a man living in the wild in a hand-built shack in the park. An American woman, played by Diane Keaton, meets and falls in love with him and joins in his fight to save his home. The full cast includes James Norton, Jason Watkins, Lesley Manville and Alistair Petrie. This looks like a quirky, charming, totally-British romantic drama that may win over a few people.
"Give humanity a chance." The Orchard has released an official US trailer for the indie comedy adaptation Carrie Pilby, based on the book by Caren Lissner. We just featured an international trailer for this film a few weeks ago, but this new trailer is quite a bit better. The film stars talented young actress Bel Powley in her next big follow-up to The Diary of a Teenage Girl, her break out film from a few years ago. Powley plays Pilby, an ultra-intelligent young woman struggling to find her place in a society that is no where near as smart as she is. The cast includes Jason Ritter, Gabriel Bryne, Nathan Lane, and Vanessa Bayer. I'm interested in checking this out, it looks fun and charming. Plus I just want to see Bel Powley in another film.
"I shouldn't have brought you guys out here." Cinelou Releasing & Freestyle Releasing have unveiled the first trailer for a mysterious, eerie sci-fi horror film titled Phoenix Forgotten, about a group of kids who disappeared from Phoenix, Arizona in 1997. The film is being billed as a Blair Witch-esque found footage thriller about these kids who went into the desert on the night lights were seen above Phoenix. The "unseen footage has finally been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition." The cast includes Florence Hartigan, Chelsea Lopez, Justin Matthews, Luke Spencer Roberts; with Wes Ball, T.S. Nowlin, Ridley Scott, Mark Canton, and Courtney Solomon producing. This definitely looks creepy, and it definitely looks like they want to replicate the Blair Witch concept, but with aliens in Arizona. Have a look.
"I wish I could stay…" The first official trailer for Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland's thriller Berlin Syndrome has arrived online. This film premiered at Sundance Film Festival this year in the World Competition section, and it's kind of a dramatic suspense-thriller about an Australian tourist visiting Berlin. She meets a guy and goes home with him, but wakes up and discovers she's trapped inside his apartment, and can't get out at all. It gets a bit crazy at that point, as she tries to figure out what's going. Max Riemelt stars, along with Teresa Palmer. The cast includes Lucie Aron, and Matthias Habich. This is a very powerful trailer, I'm impressed. It's a good film, but a bit weird as you can see from the footage. Take a look.
"I wouldn't get too attached to that boy…" An official international trailer has debuted for an indie film titled Mean Dreams, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year (in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar) and also played at the Deauville Film Festival and TIFF. The stylish romantic thriller is about Casey and Jonas, two teens desperate to escape their broken and abusive homes after falling in love. This stars Sophie Nélisse as Casey and Josh Wiggins (from Hellion, Max) as Jonas, along with Bill Paxton and Colm Feore. I caught this film at Cannes last year and it's solid, an enjoyable and thrilling story about young lovers. The lead performances are outstanding, making the film better than it really is. Worth a look.
"This is what we got. It's a bank job, and everybody's gunna be going in on this one." A trailer has arrived for a film titled The Mason Brothers, the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Keith Sutliff originally hailing from Tampa, Florida. The crime thriller is about a group of brothers + bank robbers who try to pull off a clean heist, but things go wrong. Starring Brandon Pearson, Matthew Webb, Michael Whelan, Julien Cesario, Chris Park, and Nazo Bravo. It's clear this is an homage to Tarantino and to Reservoir Dogs specifically, but it also seems to be inspired by Christopher Nolan's films, too. Doesn't look that good.
The lesson I've learned covering film festivals is that sometimes the best films aren't always the one you loved at first sight, sometimes they're the ones that you remember. There's something about them. It could be the performance, it could be the story, it could be something else about it that gets into your mind and still lingers there. Something about it that you keep thinking back to, even if it isn't a perfect film, there's something you can't shake. That is usually the sign of a great film, and film festivals (which are exhausting to cover) help us figure out which ones leave a lasting impression because there's so many to see in so little time. To wrap up my 4th year attending the Berlin Film Festival (aka Berlinale), I want to recap a few of my favorite films and favorite performances of the 2017 festival. I hope all these films end up on your radar.
"It's all about the brotherhood." Netflix has debuted the official trailer for a film titled Burning Sands, which initially premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year. Directed by newcomer Gerard McMurray, making his feature debut, the film is about a fraternity pledge named Zurich played by Trevor Jackson. Deep into Hell Week, he finds himself torn between honoring his code of silence or standing up against the intensifying violence of underground hazing. The cast includes Alfre Woodard, Steve Harris, Tosin Cole, DeRon Horton, along with Moonlight star Trevante Rhodes. I'm already totally opposed to hazing and fraternities, so these kind of films don't interest me much (especially just to watch so many people suffer). But this does look like it might be a good film, so perhaps it is worth watching. Have a look.