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"In all my years of doing press, I've been repeatedly asked about the white gaze. Rarely have I been set upon about the Black gaze; or the gaze distilled." This is something. Filmmaker Barry Jenkins' latest is now available to watch on Amazon Prime - The Underground Railroad, a series set in the antebellum South. Jenkins explains that he finally had this realization about "the gaze" while working on filming this series, and started to shoot these dialogue-less moments during the production. Jenkins explains: "None of these shots are planned. Occasionally, when the spirit moved us, we stopped making the planned thing and focused on making THIS thing." He started filming background actors and extras perfectly posed, staring, gazing into the camera. Featuring gorgeous costumes by Caroline Eseline. And that magnificent score by Jenkins' regular, Nicholas Britell. It's hard to watch and not be consumed by emotions. It's a stunning work of cinema of its own, alongside the real series they were making, which is an additional layer of magic on top of what Jenkins usually pulls off with his films. It runs almost an hour long but all of is breathtaking.
"That happens to men when they go crazy. They run… until they can't anymore." Netflix has unveiled the official trailer for the Mexican indie drama titled Tragic Jungle, which first premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival. It also stopped by the San Sebastian, Hamburg, Busan, Warsaw, and New York Film Festivals last fall. Set in the 1920s in the Mayan jungle on the border between Mexico and Belize, the film is about a mysterious young Belizean woman. She encounters a group of Mexican gum workers. "Filled with new vigor, they face their destiny, without knowing that they have woken up Xtabay, a legendary being that lurks in the heart of the jungle." Netflix's description provides a somewhat different perspective: To escape an arranged marriage, a woman flees into the depths of the Mayan jungle, where untamed nature merges the human and the supernatural. The film stars Indira Andrewin, Gilberto Barraraza, Mariano Tun Xool, Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez, and Eligio Meléndez. I really dig the poster for this. It looks like an entrancing film.
"Someone will ask questions…" Uncork'd Ent has released an official trailer for an indie horror-thriller film titled Digging to Death, from writer / director Michael P. Blevins. "This June, dig up the past." David Van Owen moves into a mysterious house and discovers a box buried in his backyard, filled with 3 million dollars and a fresh corpse. What does he decide to do next? David hides the money in the house, only to be stalked by the buried body… Starring Ford Austin, Tom Fitzpatrick, Rachel Alig, Ken Hudson Campbell, Richard Riehle, with Clint Jung, Sumeet Dang, and Bryan Dodds. Yeah, this isn't the most original idea, but that creepy old dead guy haunting him makes this look like something unique and, dare I say, kind of fun. Freaky and disturbing, but with some awkward fun tossed in. Why not? It's the horror genre after all.
"I thought we could use a little playtime." Dark Star Pictures is releasing this erotic thriller on VOD starting in June, and they've posted an official trailer to get a closer look. Deadly Illusions is the latest film from director Anna Elizabeth James (of Emma's Chance, 7 from Etheria, Destined to Ride), about a bestselling novelist suffering from writer's block. She hires a young new nanny for her children to help her work on her next book. Everything changes when Mary becomes spellbound by Grace who soon becomes her muse. As their relationship blossoms, the line between the life she's writing and the one she's living becomes blurred. The film stars Kristin Davis and Greer Grammer as Mary and Grace, along with Dermot Mulroney, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, and Shanola Hampton. This definitely does look like the epitome of an "erotic thriller" with some expected deadly twists, but not sure there's enough here to make this worthwhile.
"Queen of Spades, show yourself…" Epic Pictures Group has debuted an official trailer for an indie horror film called Queen of Spades, made by Canadian filmmaker Patrick White. The film is about the "ancient legend" of the Queen of Spades, who can supposedly be provoked by drawing a door and a staircase on a mirror, in darkness, and saying her name three times. An ominous entity known as the Queen of Spades can be called upon with this ancient ritual. Four teenagers decide to try it out and end up summoning the Queen of Spades, but they could never imagine the horrors that await them… She won't stop until she gets their souls. Of course not! She always needs more souls. The film stars Ava Preston, Daniel Kash, Kaelen Ohm, Eric Osborne, Jamie Bloch, Nabil Rajo, with Krista Marchand as the "Queen of Spades". This looks like a derivative mash-up of so many other horror concepts, but maybe there's a few good scares in it.
"Where's my dog?" "You've got bigger fish to fry…" Vertical Ent. has released an official trailer for an indie suspense-thriller titled Stalker, formerly known as Blinders when it first premiered at FrightFest and the Austin Film Festival last year. The film is arriving on VOD this June to watch. After a messy break-up, Andy relocates from Austin to Los Angeles to start fresh. Eager to make new connections, he befriends Roger, an unusual rideshare driver. But when Roger's behavior gets too strange, Andy blows him off, choosing to focus his new girlfriend, Sam. This unhinges Roger, who begins to torment Andy, ensuring that his stay in L.A. is short-lived. This almost sounds like an autobiographical story. The cast includes Christine Ko, Vincent Van Horn, Michael Joplin, and Dusty Sorg. This looks super creepy in a very unsettlingly realistic way.
I must admit, I was terrified after watching Saw for the first time. I was thinking about Jigsaw coming after me and telling myself that I needed to set a good example – I was in middle school at the time, after all. When I re-watched the entire series a few years later, I saw the franchise in a completely new light. Instead, I concentrated on what John Kramer was attempting to convey to us – a torturous lesson about morality and the consequences of his victims' actions. In Spiral, the new and refreshed thriller "From the Book of Saw", Darren Lynn Bousman (also the director of Saw II, III, and IV) doesn't exactly reinvent the killer genre. Still, he certainly takes the unusual atmosphere of the cult franchise and blends it with contemporary components, creating a thrilling, bloody spectacle that feels like a captivating ode to its predecessors.
"Why do you like skating so much?" "There's no one to control me, no rules to follow." Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for an inspiring story called Skater Girl, set in India, and marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Manjari Makijany. The film is a coming of age of a rural skater girl from a remote village in Rajasthan, India. When a woman from London shows up with friend who has a skateboard, everything changes in this little town, and all the local kids becoming obsessed with riding around causing mayhem and amusement. For one young girl, Rachel Saanchita Gupta in her debut performance as Prerna, her life changes when she sets out to make it to the National Skateboarding Championships. The cast also includes Amy Maghera, Shafin Patel, Jonathan Readwin, with special appearance by Waheeda Rehman. This hasn't played at any festivals or anywhere else, it's another surprise Netflix release. And dang it looks great! Not only an uplifting story, but it also looks smart and sassy. Another impressive Netflix discovery.
"What's her deal?" Grasshopper Film has unveiled a trailer for an intriguing, experimental indie film titled Slow Machine, the feature directorial debut of filmmakers Joe Denardo & Paul Felten. This premiered at the 2020 Rotterdam Film Festival last year, and also played at the New York Film Festival and Vienna Film Festival. After a brief relationship with intelligence agent Gerard ends terribly, tired & disillusioned actress Stephanie hides in a house where a band is working on a record, which proves to be less of an escape than she imagined. This one stars Stephanie Hayes, Scott Shepherd, Eleanor Friedberger, and Chloë Sevigny. Described as a "miniature epic of music, murder, espionage, and paranoia." Sounds freaky. This looks a bit too experimental for my tastes, but I still appreciate unique and creative cinematic work like this.
"Not everything's about zero & one." Bohemia Media & Trinity Creative have released an official trailer for a documentary titled An Impossible Project, about the "impossible" attempt to save Polaroid and rebuild one remaining Polaroid factory. You probably know the story - it first started in 2008 when Kodak said that they'd be stopping all Polaroid film production. In a world dominated by zeroes and ones, eccentric scientist Florian "Doc" Kaps endeavors to protect the future of analog and inspire people to connect with “real” things. His crusade begins with an impossible mission: to save the last Polaroid factory. "Shot on glorious Kodak 35mm and with a stylistic nod to Jacques Tati, An Impossible Project is a warm, witty and inspiring celebration of a counter-revolution: the comeback of 'analog'." What a fascinating story! Reviews describe it as "an insightful and beautifully captured documentary" and a "genius film about optimism." Worth a look.
"I also want someone to hold hands with. To talk to… about my feelings." Mubi has debuted a new official trailer for an indie film from Poland titled Sweat, which originally premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year. It also played at the Zurich, Hamburg, Chicago, Tokyo, New Horizons, Tallinn Black Nights, and Rotterdam Film Festivals. Sweat is about three days in the life of fitness motivator Sylwia Zajac, a social media celebrity surrounded by loyal employees and admirers, who is really looking for true intimacy. It's yet another cautionary tale trying to bring to the light the honest truth about how vapid and soul-sucking social media is, and how it's easy to get caught up in the craze of the attention it brings. Magdalena Kolesnik stars as Sylwia. This also stars Julian Swiezewski, Aleksandra Konieczna, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Tomasz Orpinski, Lech Lotocki, and Magdalena Kuta. This looks like it's going to be very, very good.
"Don't think it's too late for you." Greenwich Entertainment has released the first official trailer for an indie drama titled Sublet, from Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox (Yossi & Jagger, Walk on Water, The Bubble). This originally premiered last year at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival & Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, and it also stopped by BFI Flare, after originally being set to premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. In Sublet, a NY Times travel writer comes to Tel Aviv after suffering a tragedy, and he meets a young man who becomes his local tour guide. The energy of the city and his relationship with Tomer bring him back to life. The film features two stellar performances – from the Tony award winner John Benjamin Hickey and a breakout role from Niv Nissim as Tomer. The small cast includes Lihi Kornowski, Miki Kam, Peter Spears, and Tamir Ginsburg. This looks like a heartfelt, authentic look at the charm & beauty of Tel Aviv.