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› Cedric Cheung-Lau on Mtns
› Alex Winter on Making Docs
› Aust. Filmmaker Jennifer Kent
› Shadow Director Zhang Yimou
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"You guys shot the wrong man, didn't you?!" Dark Star Films has debuted a new official US trailer for the New Zealand dark comedy called Lowdown Dirty Criminals, made by filmmaker Paul Murphy (Second Hand Wedding and Love Birds). This already opened in New Zealand & Australia a few months ago, and should make its way to America sooner than later. Two wannabe gangsters find themselves in a hilariously off-kilter predicament when a botched job leaves them the target of the underworld’s finest. It's closest in tone and style to Guy Ritchie's 1998 film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, with a Kiwi edge. The film's ensemble cast includes James Rolleston, Samuel Austin, Scott Wills, Min Kim, Cohen Holloway, Robbie Magasiva, and Rebecca Gibney as "uber gangster The Upholsterer". A crime caper that tells the tale of two naïve young men searching for a better life… through crime. Ha ha. This looks like uber zany fun.
"You ever seen dirt shaped into works of art?" This is a killer ad. One of the best commercials of the year, which is why I'm featuring it. Technically it is a short film, but it's made to sell an item – a mountain bike – which also technically makes it an ad. But it's an awesome ad. The Perfect Lap is a promo film directed by Ian Schiller and Dustin Cook of the agency Sabertooth Pictures. It's made for the bike company Specialized to introduce a rad new mountain bike called the Stumpjumper EVO - the 2021 model. It is a special bike designed for fast trail rides and forest tracks specifically. The short's faux-narrative involves two mountain bike pros – Matty Miles & Matt Hunter – and their photographer each discussing their experience riding the "perfect lap" on a golden sunset ride one day, and how it was so perfect that one of them just disappeared forever. He's found again in the year 2063 and interviewed about this glorious day. Above all, the execution here is perfect - every single shot, the comedy, the music, the goofy performances. Everything is just perfect.
"Remind me to annihilate planet Earth." Full Moon Features has unveiled a trailer for a ridiculous, wacky new sci-fi comedy B-movie called Barbie & Kendra Storm Area 51 - a kind of wacky MST3K homage. Full Moon's notorious "coronaverse" expands anew in Barbie & Kendra Storm Area 51, the third (but not final!) movie in the world's only quarantine set and shot franchise. Get ready for a heady dose of pandemic panic as the dynamic duo turn on their TV and get tuned into a viral saga that takes them deep into the forbidden fortress of Area 51 and beyond! Combining insanely funny new footage with hilariously re-dubbed retro sci-fi cinema awesomeness, Barbie & Kendra Storm Area 51 is the wackiest "coronasploitation" yet! Featuring Cody Renee Cameron as Barbie + Robin Sydney as Kendra. This is as absurd as they come, with a lot of dumb jokes. But I guess that's the point? An even dumber Mystery Science Theater riff to enjoy.
"I'd do the basest things to make you choose me." Arbelos Films has unveiled a brand new official trailer for a 4K restoration re-release of a film titled Damnation, originally called Kárhozat in Hungarian. A mid-career masterwork by legendary Hungarian art house auteur Béla Tarr and the first of his internationally acclaimed trilogy of films written in collaboration with author László Krasznahorkai (in addition to the film Sátántangó), Damnation chronicles the doomed affair between bar Titanik regular Karrer (Sátántangó’s Miklós B. Székely) and the cruel cabaret singer (Vali Kerekes) he pines for while scheming to displace her brutish husband (György Cserhalmi). Described as "a poignant Communism allegory that solidified Tarr's unique aesthetic, Damnation is photographed in an exquisitely black & white palette underscored by the mesmerizing long takes that would come to be his trademark." Tarr's Damnation has been restored in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative by the Hungarian National Film Institute – Film Archive under the supervision of Béla Tarr. It will begin showing at the end of October for anyone interested in watching.
"I invite you to read the letters and see what touches your heart." IFC Films has debuted the full-length official trailer for the lovely holiday documentary called Dear Santa, examining the USPS' (United States Postal Service) 100-year-old program called "Operation Santa". If you ever wrote a letter to Santa, you know what this is all about. Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa arrive at Post Offices around the country. Through Operation Santa, the United States Postal Service makes it possible for the public to safely adopt these letters and make children's dreams come true. The film invites audiences along for the magic of this massive endeavor. This timeless doc captures the warmth and spirit of Christmastime through the lens of this great American tradition, provoking audiences throughout the world to ask themselves how they can make the world a better place, one gesture at a time. This is made by the same filmmaker behind the doc films Pick of the Litter and Batkid Begins previously. This looks like the epitome of "magical" and a heart-warming, inspiring look at how this holiday tradition brings us all together and brings joy to so many.
"When you've been lying about something for so long it becomes second nature…" Roadshow Pictures has released an official Australian trailer for a murder mystery thriller titled The Dry, from filmmaker Robert Connolly. This is set for release starting on January 1st in Australia, but has no other international release dates set yet. A Federal Agent returns to his hometown to face the demons of his past after his childhood friend dies in a gruesome murder-suicide. He begins to suspect this crime along with the death of a young woman, separated by decades, might be connected. Eric Bana (back home in Australia) stars as Federal Agent Aaron Falk, along with Genevieve O'Reilly, Matt Nable, James Frecheville, Keir O'Donnell, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Eddie Baroo, & BeBe Bettencourt. This looks like so many other small town murder mystery films, with all the usual intense emotional scenes and twists digging up dirt from the past.
"Why does it smell like death in here?" Gravitas has released the official trailer for an indie comedy titled Mags and Julie Go on a Road Trip, marking the feature debut of Ryann Liebl, who also stars in the film and wrote the screenplay. It hasn't premiered at any festivals or anywhere else. Mags and Julie Go on a Road Trip is a heartfelt, laugh out loud buddy movie in the vein of Bridesmaids mixed with Grumpy Old Men, taking the audience on a journey of what it means to be a woman and balance life. Two friends go on a road trip to the Northwoods of Wisconsin and get more than they bargained for… Starring Ryann Liebl as Mags, and Elisabeth Donaldson as Julie, along with Jeremy Keene, Wes Tank, & Angie Campbell. Unfortunately this looks excruciatingly bad, even the humor is off despite friends having fun making a film.
"Pennies saved don't add up to much." Everyone loves idioms! Or at least, we love using idioms and tossing them into casual conversations all the time. Kill Your Idioms is a two-minute animated short created by Grant Kolton that riffs on some of the most popular idioms. "You decide, do your idioms live or die in this animated poem?" Kolton takes idioms and turns them back into literal sentences, then animates a scene for each one. It's a sly lesson in English and a way to make you think about the phrases we all use and whether they're actually useful or not. The "killing two birds with one stone is actually harder" scene is the best one because the little chirps from the birds are so cute and yet they're being killed with a stone. Poor little birds.
"Our hearts beat for Greatland." Indie Rights has released an official trailer for a very strange, very wacky indie film titled Greatland, the second feature from a diplomat-turned-filmmaker named Dana Ziyasheva from Kazakhstan. This dystopian fantasy film is set in a world where "boys are married to trees, cats and dogs run for President and the Virus has become a new religion." Trapped in a world of perpetual fun and inter-species love ruled by a universal Mother, a non-binary teenager named Ulysses crosses the forbidden frontier to save his childhood sweetheart as an absurd election and a deadly virus lead to chaos & violence. Filmed in Los Angeles in a futuristic vintage style, this stars Eric Roberts, Nick Moran, J.P. Manoux, former boxing champion of the world Shannon Briggs, and horror icon Bill Oberst Jr., alongside up-and-coming young actors Arman Darbo and Chloe Ray Warmoth. This looks extra crazy and weird and kinky, but the producer hopes people will view it "as a farcical crash course in social engineering." Maybe…?
"Each year, for one day, the dead return." Epic Pictures is releasing this observational documentary film experience titled Day of the Dead to celebrate the Mexican tradition. The film's full title is officially Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life, and it's made by a graphic designer / doc filmmaker named Denise Richards. Each year, the spirits of the dead return to visit the living in this fascinating look into the famous Mexican tradition, Day of the Dead also known as Día de Los Muertos (on November 2nd this year). All throughout Mexico, various rituals are performed to honor the spirits of the dead. Families come together on this day to celebrate the life of their ancestors and lost loved ones. Day of the Dead has been featured in plenty of films, including prominently in Pixar's Coco and Bond's Spectre most recently. A more humble and appreciative look at this beloved Mexican event than all the exaggerated depictions of it in modern media.
"Why is the foreman so intent on finding you?" The Match Factory has released an official promo / sales trailer for a Spanish indie film titled Out in the Open, also known as Intemperie in Spanish. Adapted from a novel by Jesús Carrasco, the film is a Spanish fable set in an "Old West" tyrannical and oppressive version of Spain filled with misery and poorness, following a boy who runs away to find freedom. It's the story of a friendship between a boy who undertakes a journey through the desert fleeing from the relentless foreman of the town, and a Goatherd who has long lived outside society. Starring Jaime López as the boy, with Luis Callejo, Luis Tosar, Vicente Romero, Kandido Uranga, Juanjo Pérez Yuste, Adriano Carvalho, and Manolo Caro. This premiered at the Valladolid Film Festival last year, and also played at the Glasgow & Miami Film Festivals this year but has no US release set yet. Definitely worth a look anyway.
"What happened to you… Ain't got nothing to do with God, ya know." Dark Star Pictures has released an official trailer for an indie drama titled Dirty God, which originally premiered at the 2019 Rotterdam and Sundance Film Festivals. From Dutch filmmaker Sacha Polak (Hemel, Zurich), the film tells the story of a young British mother struggling to reclaim her life after a brutal acid attack. After facial surgery, her beauty is lost beneath the scars. Set in London, it stars Vicky Knight – a burn victim herself, in a stunning debut performance – as Jade. It's described as a "tragically beautiful" film telling a "story of human resilience that can't help but move you." Also starring Katherine Kelly, Eliza Brady-Girard, Rebecca Stone, Bluey Robinson, Dana Marineci, Tachia Newall, and Frieda Thiel. This film really does look exceptionally beautiful and meaningful, a touching story that can empower us to be more empathetic and understanding.