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"Head straight there, don't slow down, I'll handle the MTF." Time to ride into the future. Talented visual storyteller Joe Sill has dropped a new short film online. His latest project is called Autonomous, a proof-of-concept short for a bigger project created using CG animation. The film is an animated cyberpunk thriller centered around a motorcycle gang of traffickers in a world of autonomous vehicles. Yuri and her brother Nyx face off against the Metro Task Force as they transport an important package to a client. Featuring the voices of: Liz Morey, Keong Sim, Joe Biacno, Lulu Picart, Kaylin Lee Clinton, Shawn Williams, Steven Sherman. This reminds me a bit of the motorcycle CG short Ruin years ago, which was filmmaker Wes Ball's big break into the industry. This one has a whole different look and feel, but is just as impressive and as sleek as Ruin. I love the vehicle designs in this, kind of like 80s Tron meets Akira. It is a must watch.
"You've been offered another fight?" "Unfortunately… it's against me." IFC Films has unveiled the official trailer for an indie MMA drama titled Embattled, from director Nick Sarkisov (Krasny) and screenwriter David McKenna (of American History X, Get Carter, Blow, S.W.A.T.). A high school judo prodigy steps into the MMA cage to face the ultimate rival in a battle for recognition and retribution – his father. A son aspires to follow in his famous MMA father's footsteps, but along his challenging journey must figure out how to break the abusive cycle, if possible, that his father has continued. Stephen Dorff stars as the father, and Darren Mann as the son, with a cast including Elizabeth Reaser, Donald Faison, Saïd Taghmaoui, Karrueche Tran, and Colin McKenna. This looks brutal in a seriously impressive way, a cinematic story about abusive fathers and stopping abusiveness by literally fighting your father. Intense. Fire it up below.
"This isn't a story about a famous musician, this is a story about a guy growing up." Netflix has revealed the official trailer for Shawn Mendes: In Wonder, a new intimate musician documentary film about the Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes. The debut feature length doc, a TIFF special event selection this year, from acclaimed music video director Grant Singer, is a portrait of Mendes' life, chronicling the past few years of his rise and journey. It follows his "journey toward self-discovery, after the physical and emotional demands of his rise, and his last world tour, pushed him towards a personal and musical reckoning." Which sounds like what every musician goes through when they make it big, then tours the world, then ends up exhausted. Featuring footage shot over years, the music doc will be available this November on Netflix just before Shawn Mednes' new album arrives in December. Take a look.
"It begins with a game with a basket and a ball…" Dogwoof has released the original trailer for their new Blu-ray re-release of the classic, seminal documentary film Hoop Dreams made by the one-and-only doc filmmaker Steve James. The film originally premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, and remains one of the most iconic and groundbreaking films to come out of Sundance. Shot over five years, Hoop Dreams is a fascinating documentary film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional. It's about Arthur Agee and William Gates, and their families, following as the boys navigate the complex, competitive world of scholastic athletics. Roger Ebert praised the film, and wrote this in his review: "Hoop Dreams is not simply about basketball. It is about the texture and reality of daily existence in a big American city. And as the film follows Agee and Gates through high school and into their first year of college, we understand all of the human dimensions behind the easy media images of life in the 'ghetto.'" A must see documentary for anyone who loves cinema.
"They have seen something inside you." An early festival teaser trailer has unveiled for an indie horror film titled The Old Ways, from filmmaker Christopher Alender. This is premiering at the Sitges Film Festival this month, which is why this trailer is being released to build more buzz after its debut. The film follows Cristina Lopez, as played by Brigitte Kali Canales, a Mexican American reporter who goes back to her homeland of Veracruz in Mexico chasing a story on witchcraft and faith healers. But then she becomes the subject of her own story, kidnapped by a local "bruja" and her son. The indie cast includes Andrea Cortés, Julia Vera, Sal Lopez, AJ Bowen, Weston Meredith, & Julian Lerma. This is just a first look teaser, but there's enough creepy footage to give me a jolt. Snakes…! Why'd it have to be snakes?! Tread carefully.
"What is it for?" "I want to avenge my wife." Nordisk Film has debuted the full-length official trailer (with English subtitles this time!) for a Danish revenge dark comedy titled Riders of Justice, from filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen (Adam's Apples, Men & Chicken). The film is opening in Denmark this fall, but still has no international dates set. Mads Mikkelsen stars as Markus, a military vet who has to go home to his teenage daughter, Mathilde, when his wife dies in a tragic train accident. It seems to be plain bad luck - but it turns out that it might have been a carefully orchestrated assassination, which his wife ended up being a random casualty of. A few passengers find him and they set out to enact revenge. The cast includes Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Gustav Lindh, Roland Møller, Nicolas Bro, Jacob Lohmann, and Lars Brygmann. This looks so awesome! I love Mads and his beard, but it also seems to be some Danish social commentary mixed in with a brutal revenge story. And I'm so down - can't wait to watch. Don't mess with Mads Mikkelsen! Ha.
"This is the future… She's our secret, no one will know." High Octane Pictures has released an official trailer for a sci-fi action thriller titled Rumble Strip. It takes place in a near future when humanity has colonized other planets and destroyed all of Earth, but one corporation uses prisoners to mine and ship materials to the stars. The plot focuses on one ex-mercenary - when his love is kidnapped, he must save her from Earth's tyrannical leader, who he was also fathered by. It's written by, directed by, and stars Jack Littman. With a cast including Anna Khaja, Mark Adair-Rios, John Bader, & Paris Benjamin. It looks some friends made a film with absolutely no budget, which is not easy to pull off, but still seems rough around the edges. The final title card is rad, and the Mad Max-esque concept is cool, but not so sure this will be worth a watch.
"There's something about this summer that brings the past back to life…" Vertical has released an official trailer for The Giant, a murder mystery thriller that initially premiered at last year's Toronto Film Festival. Odessa Young stars as a teenager about to graduate in a small town, whose life is changed forever when a series of murders begin on the same night that her missing boyfriend suddenly reappears. "Charlotte gets the unshakeable feeling that somehow it is coming for her – in ways more troubling than she could ever know." Also stars Ben Schnetzer, Jack Kilmer, Madelyn Cline, Danny Ramirez, and PJ Marshall. There's tons of dark, grainy, close-ups in this - which is annoying but it's a style choice. I'm most intrigued by the evil force, and that shot in the rain because it is a terrifying shot. Horror fans need to check this out.
"These would not have been the clones that will ever carry your primary consciousness." It's out now! Don Hertzfeldt's latest mind-melting sci-fi short film World of Tomorrow Episode Three is now available to watch online. This final chapter is a continuation of his radical, remarkable World of Tomorrow sci-fi series about a girl named Emily. If you haven't seen any of them, we recommend starting with Episode One and Episode Two before this one. Don explains: "at one point this was going to be in theaters across the country but unfortunately the world had other plans. but i do think there's something so intimate about it that suits it very well for the small screen. may i suggest watching with good headphones?" Hertzfeldt's shorts may have stick figure characters, but they are vastly intelligent, awe-inspiring works that explore existentialism, cloning, consciousness, and much more. This one also has a healthy dose of social commentary baked into it's distant-future story following David. And if you need more convincing, read this glowing review. Enjoy.
"Are you hiding something?" Trinity Creative has released an official trailer for an indie drama titled That Good Night, which originally premiered in 2017 at the Edinburgh and Shanghai Film Festivals. The film stars John Hurt (who passed away in early 2017 before this premiered at the festivals) as Ralph, a once-famous screenwriter, who is now in his seventies and terminally ill. But he still has two final missions: to be reconciled to his son, Michael, and, secretly, to ensure he is not a burden to his wife, Anna, as he goes "into that good night". The film's cast includes Sofia Helin, Max Brown, Erin Richards, Charles Dance, and Noah Jupe. I'm not so confident about this considering it has taken three years to finally get a release, but it does look quite interesting. I enjoy Hurt's hat the most. As for the rest, it might be a heartfelt watch.
"I feel jealous when I visit other cities." Film Movement has released an official trailer for a documentary titled Mayor, which has been winning a few awards at film festivals including the NEXT:WAVE Award at CPX:DOX Fest, and the Reva & David Logan Grand Jury Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Fest this year. The film is a compelling and darkly comedic profile of the life of Musa Hadid, the charismatic mayor of the Palestinian city called Ramallah, who aspires to lead the city into the future. Filmed over 18 months, Mayor is aimed at Westerners, particularly Americans. Reviews praise the doc film as a "gripping" story of a mayor "whose job consists of the mundane tasks of running a local government mixed with the extraordinary circumstances of navigating the repercussions of a geopolitical conflict. A sincere tale of a public servant who's seeking to lead in a world that’s stacked against him." Sounds damn good, to be honest.
"Every colored man in the world got to do his part!" "And tell the white man just what he can do." Netflix has revealed the first official trailer for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, a 1920s blues movie from filmmaker George C. Wolfe (Nights in Rodanthe, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks). This is also the very last film starring Chadwick Boseman, who passed away this year. Tensions rise when the trailblazing Mother of the Blues and her band gather at a Chicago recording studio in 1927. Adapted from August Wilson's play of the same name. Viola Davis stars as "Mama Blues", also known as Ma Rainey, and Boseman co-stars as her ambitious horn player Levee. The excellent cast also includes Colman Domingo, Michael Potts, Glynn Turman, Dusan Brown, and Taylour Paige. This looks tremendous, not only with tons of exceptional music but also a handful of superb performances that will make this a lively, exciting film to enjoy this fall.