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Our Coverage + Reviews from the Sundance Film Festival:
"Ancestors, please protect her…" Disney has debuted another new TV trailer, only 60 seconds long, for their live-action Mulan movie opening at the end of March in theaters everywhere. This latest preview plays like a cut down version of the most recent full-length trailer, with just a few extra shots throw in. This live-action update of Mulan is directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider, McFarland USA, and The Zookeeper's Wife) and stars Liu Yifei as the legendary Hua Mulan. It's adapted directly from the original 1998 animated movie, about a young Chinese maiden who disguises herself as a male warrior in order to fight and save her father. Set in China during the Han dynasty, she takes her father's place to fight off an incoming Hun invasion. The cast includes Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Yoson An, Gong Li, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma, Ron Yuan, Jimmy Wong, Rosalind Chao, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. This continues to look better than everyone expected.
Sometimes a friendship can change the world. Ironbark is a film that doesn't really fit into the Sundance Film Festival, but that doesn't really matter. It's not the typical independent, quirky, contemporary work of cinema that you'd expect to see in Park City in January. But it's still a damn good film. Perhaps even better than many of the other films playing at Sundance that aren't as taut and intriguing and moving as this one. Ironbark is based on a true story, a 60s espionage thriller the same vein as Bridge of Spies about how an unlikely international friendship between two people saved the world. It's a fantastic film, better than I was expecting considering it's just about two spies, and it seriously moved me - I was almost in tears by the end.
Step aside zombies and ghosts, haunted hair is going to be all the rage in 2020. And I'm not talking about The Ring. The immensely talented writer / director Justin Simien is back at the Sundance Film Festival with his second feature film (following his directorial debut Dear White People premiering at the festival in 2014). His new film is called Bad Hair, a major horror moment introducing us to a new horror concept - haunted hair weaves. The film goes all out with that haunted hair concept, perhaps indulging a bit too much, but nonetheless this still feels like a landmark film in the horror genre. It definitely will not be for everyone, because not all of us have had to deal with nappy hair, but that's also exactly why this film rules. It's original and creative and clever and specific, and introduces us to Elle Lorraine as Anna and her haunted weaves.
"Funny, furious, and surprisingly accurate." Quiver Dist. has debuted the first official trailer for Run This Town, an indie dramedy that initially premiered at the SXSW Film Festival last year, and also played at the Traverse City and Napa Valley Film Festivals last year. A young journalist and a young political aide become entangled in a larger-than-life political scandal as they struggle to navigate adult life living in Toronto. Like all their friends, Bram and Kamal are struggling to climb the ladders at their respective workplaces: Bram at a newspaper, Kamal at City Hall. When Bram learns of a scandal involving Kamal’s larger-than-life boss, he seizes the moment to advance his career. The film stars Ben Platt, Mena Massoud, Nina Dobrev, Scott Speedman, Gil Bellows, along with Jennifer Ehle and Damian Lewis. This is a particularly intriguing trailer, I like the cold opening and the flashes of people at the end. Sometimes it's all you need to sell a film.
The endless routine of a monotonous life. It gets us all. Afterwork is an animated short film from Ecuador made by filmmakers Luis Usón and Andrés Aguilar. It premiered at numerous film festivals in 2017 and won a handful of awards, now it's finally online for everyone to watch. This depressing riff on the Coyote & Road Runner and old "Looney Tunes" cartoons is about a cartoon rabbit who goes to work every day chasing a carrot, but he can never catch it. Of course. The film mixes animation styles to show us his life outside of "work" - how dull and lonely it really is. A cautionary tale and wake up call to teach us that no matter how glamorous things seem at work, there's more to life than just that job. Beware: this short is a bit depressing.
We are proud to premiere this beautiful official poster art for the film The Mountains Are a Dream that Call to Me, an indie feature screening in the NEXT section at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival this month. Set in Nepal, the lovely, poetic film is about two people who cross paths on the trekking routes in the Annapurna region. One is a young Nepali heading down from the mountains with plans to leave and move to Dubai. The other is an Australian woman escaping life and a recent loss to find relief in the grandeur and beauty of the Himalayas. The film is worthy of our attention and I want to support it as much as I can, not only because we don't often see films from Nepal, but also because it's just a beautiful film about mountains.
"I am telling you guys, Jack could be the real deal." Focus Features has debuted the first official trailer for Jon Stewart's latest film, titled Irresistible, his second feature following Rosewater in 2014. The tagline already drops a provocative tease: "Jon Stewart is back, and he has something to say." The film is about a Democrat strategist who helps a retired veteran run for mayor in a small, conservative Midwest town. Steve Carell stars as Gary Zimmer, who tries to get an unexpected ex-Marine local elected to office in Wisconsin. This also stars Chris Cooper, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, Mackenzie Davis, CJ Wilson and Will Sasso. It seems pretty damn good so far, in my opinion. Hopefully it's as provocative as it sounds, an entertaining yet stirring look at the many flaws in America's democracy. Recommend giving this one a look.
"You will retract the statements to the press immediately." "Or they will shoot our engineers?" Goldwyn Films has debuted an official US trailer for Mr. Jones, a film by Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland (of Europa Europa, Washington Square, Spoor). This first premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last year, and stopped by numerous other international film festivals - a true story about a great writer. Mr. Jones brings to the screen the extraordinary and powerful story of the real-life Welsh journalist who uncovered Stalin's genocidal famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, which killed almost 10 million. Before WWII begins, he travels first into Russia, then down to Ukraine, becoming the first to break the news in the western media of the government-created famine in the Soviet Union. Starring James Norton as Gareth Jones; and he's joined by Vanessa Kirby, Peter Sarsgaard, Joseph Mawle, Kenneth Cranham, Celyn Jones, Krzysztof Pieczynski, Fenella Woolgar, and Martin Bishop. An important film about the necessity of journalism.
"You don't want me to stay?" IFC Films has released a new US trailer for an New York City indie romantic drama titled Premature, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival one year ago. It also went on to play the San Francisco, Dallas, Montclair, Seattle, London, Denver, and Hawaii Film Festivals. Premature a romantic drama in the vein of If Beale Street Could Talk or Blue Valentine. Set in Harlem, Zora Howard stars as a young woman who meets "handsome and mysterious outsider" Isaiah, played by Joshua Boone. Then "her entire world is turned upside down on her path towards self-discovery as she travails the rigorous terrain of young love the summer before she leaves for college." Of course. Also starring Michelle Wilson, Alexis Marie Wint, Imani Lewis, & Tashiana Washington. This looks particularly sweet and honest.
"Think of the splash it would make… No critic has spoken to this guy in over 50 years." Sony Classics has revealed an official trailer for the film The Burnt Orange Heresy, an adaptation of a classic novel about the art world written by Charles Willeford. This premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year at the end of the festival, a delightful surprise (here's my review). Claes Bang stars as an art critic who gets in over his head when he's invited by an eccentric collector to his villa near Lake Como, only to learn there's a long lost painter hiding out in the guest house. His affair with an American woman, played by Elizabeth Debicki, complicates things further. The eccentric cast includes Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland, and Rosalind Halstead. This is another trailer that gives away too much, but I love this film and must support it anyway.
"If you take anger out of my heart… I'll never hate again." Blue Fox Ent. has released a new official trailer for the documentary Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words, about the Supreme Court justice and his entire career in law and politics. Although Clarence Thomas remains a controversial figure, loved by some, reviled by others, few know much more than the news headlines as well as the recollections of his contentious confirmation battle with Anita Hill in 1991. Yet, the personal odyssey of Clarence Thomas is a classic American story and it should be better known and understood. This doc film tells the Clarence Thomas story truly and fully: "unscripted and without narration, the documentary takes the viewer through this complex and often painful life, dealing with race, faith, power, jurisprudence, and personal resilience." Sounds like a compelling watch! Even if you don't care for him much. Take a look at the new trailer below.
"Why hack the ships when you can hack the pilots?" Dust has debuted an impressive new sci-fi short film titled Sky Fighter, available to watch in full for free today on their YouTube channel. This dense 15-minute short is about two pilots fight a war in the distant future in their fighter-bomber spacecraft. But is the true enemy their alien opponent…or each other? This is just a few notches above the usual homemade sci-fi, with an awesome set and some fantastic VFX work throughout. There's one incredible shot when they finally get a look out of a window. I love when filmmakers go all out reminding us what space is really like and in order to leave us in complete awe. Sky Fighter stars Tom Maden, Jess Gabor, and Erik Palladino. There's also a killer score by Bobby Villarreal to go along with the visuals. Highly recommend giving this your time.