› Heaven's Gate Cult of Cults
› Murphy's The Prom Netflix
› Insert Coin Videogame Doc
› Stars Fell on Alabama Film
› Joanne Froggatt in Starfish
› Jay Craven's SciFi Wetware
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"It seems to me that that so called 'dirty word' is probably the most useful word in the English language." The beloved comic book legend Stan Lee never used any curse words. Or did he…? Well, now we know the definitive answer. Honestly, who doesn't? This amusing animated short film is made from a real recording with the late Stan Lee, who passed away in 2018. Filmmaker / producer Aron Fromm put together this animated short, called Sessions with Stan, when he stumbled across this audio recording in an old folder on his computer. He explains: "I think a lot of people wonder what their heroes are like behind closed doors, and I personally find it reassuring when they’re 100% as advertised. Stan was." The funny 2-minute video animates a behind-the-scenes recording session when Stan talks about the F-word (aka "fuck") and how it is one of the most versatile words that can be used so many different ways. This will definitely make you smile.
"Do exactly as I say…" HBO has unveiled an official trailer for a documentary series titled Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults, available for streaming starting in December this year. This is the latest documentary made by filmmaker Clay Tweel, who has directed a number of my favorite docs over the years including Finders Keepers, Gleason, Print the Legend, and Make Believe. It will air as a four-part series next month on HBO Max. Most Americans will remember the shocking news story - in March of 1997, 39 people killed themselves in order to reach what they believed was an extraterrestrial spacecraft following Comet Hale–Bopp. This is the story of Heaven's Gate, a UFO religious cult based near San Diego that was founded in 1974 and led by Marshall Applewhite. We've seen many films about cults, many docs about cults, and plenty of TV specials examining Heaven's Gate and how so many people could be duped into believe this nonsense. Tweel's series uses never-before-seen footage & first-person accounts to dig even deeper into this crazy cult.
"Some people just want to be left alone. I didn't want any trouble. But after what he did to Charlie…" This is one hobo you don't want to mess with! After Hobo with a Shotgun comes a high kickin' hobo from New York City. Check out this badass short film Hobo with the High Kick, made for fun by filmmaker Bill Teck and the Wrong Reel podcast crew. The 8-minute short stars Moose Matson as the titular "hobo with the high kick", and Moose also wrote the script. Also starring Dion Baia and Stephen Koepfer. This isn't a particularly high quality production, but that's the point - just some movie geek friends having fun making a throwback short film honoring hobos that kick ass and take out the trash. I do hope Jason Eisener one day makes a Hobo with a Shotgun sequel, but until then, this is the next best hobo film to kick back with. Enjoy.
"We're not monsters… We're cultural disruptors!" Netflix has unveiled the full-length trailer for the movie musical The Prom, directed by Ryan Murphy, based on the hit Broadway musical. This debuts on Netflix in December in just a few weeks. A troupe of hilariously self-obsessed theater stars (after their latest show has flopped) swarm into a small conservative Indiana town in support of a high school girl who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom. The extravagant ensemble cast includes Jo Ellen Pellman, Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Ariana Debose, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Chamberlin, Mary Kay Place, Nathaniel J. Potvin, Logan Riley, Nico Greetham, Sofia Deler, & Kerry Washington. The original show premiered in 2016, and opened on Broadway in NYC in 2018. A "spectacular, big-hearted film adaptation of Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin and Matthew Sklar's award-winning, Tony-nominated Broadway musical." And it looks amazing!! With this cast of course it does.
"Shall we begin?" It's time to reinvent Beethoven! Again! Voguing with Beethoven is an exquisite short film made by Norwegian filmmaker Emilie Norenberg - a talented up-and-coming director. She partnered with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the local "Oslo ballroom family" to make this fantastic dance short about identity and belonging. Shot on 16mm film on the suburban streets of Oslo, the film actually tells a story (not just voguing) about a young man's journey to embrace his identity and find a place where he belongs. Starring Karim Mahmoud and Musicians of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. This is short is so cool! I wasn't expecting to be so moved by it, especially with a slightly cheesy title like Voguing with Beethoven, but it's even better than I was expecting. "We wanted to create something that felt emotive and authentic." I definitely think they've achieved that in only 4 minutes! Turn the volume wayyy up and enjoy.
"We wanted to crush the player." An official trailer has debuted for the documentary Insert Coin, another fascinating video game history doc film looking back at Midway Games. This originally was set to premiere at SXSW, then officially premiered at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival this summer. Insert Coin: The Midway Chronicles is the amazing behind-the-scenes story of one of the greatest video game studios of all time – Midway Games. Led by the "godfather of video games" Eugene Jarvis, the company pioneered the concept of live action gaming, kickstarting a new arcade boom and grossing billions of dollars in the process with massive hits like Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam – franchises still popular today. Through intimate and often hilarious interviews with the people who were there, we witness how a small, tight-knit group of friends deal with next level success and the roller coaster ride that comes with it. As a geek, I love these kind of docs! Already looking forward to watching this one. It's available in "virtual cinemas" to watch.
"Your heart knows things that your mind can't explain." Samuel Goldwyn Films has unveiled an official trailer for an adorable indie romance titled Stars Fell on Alabama, from filmmaker V.W. Scheich. This is a very "Welcome to Alabama" film, all about going back home. Successful Hollywood agent Bryce Dixon is returning to Alabama for the first time in 15 years for his high school reunion. When he learns he's the only one of his friends who isn't married with children, he convinces his client, starlet Madison Belle, to pretend to be his girlfriend. But he soon learns that success has different meanings, and romance may be closer than he thinks. Of course. Starring James Maslow and Ciara Hanna, with Jason Burkey, Jaclyn Betham, Lesa Wilson, and Ginny MacColl. This looks like it has some Alabama charm, despite being super cliche.
"He's still your same daddy, even though he looks a bit different." Freestyle Digital Media has released an official US trailer for an indie love story illness drama titled Starfish, based on a true story. This originally premiered at the Edinburgh & Busan Film Festivals in 2016, and already opened in UK cinemas four years ago as well. But is only now getting an official US release direct-to-VOD this fall. Starfish tells the story of a couple whose love is tested to its limit after their perfect life falls apart in a single moment. Tom Riley and Joanne Froggatt star as a husband and wife, a father and mother, who struggle when Tom is diagnosed with Sepsis. "It is the story of Tom and Nic Ray's love, and the survival of that love against all odds." The cast includes Phoebe Nicholls, Michele Dotrice, and Daisy Moore. It looks like an intensely emotional film to watch, such a remarkably tough story, but inspiring in its depiction of love and hope and goodness.
"You coded her to fall in love with you." Gravitas has released a new trailer for a very low budget, indie sci-fi noir film titled Wetware, from filmmaker Jay Craven. This originally premiered in 2018 at the Vermont Film Festival, and it was made mostly in Vermont by a Vermont-based filmmaker. Wetware is a film noir set in a near future set at Galapagos Wetware, a cutting edge genetic engineering firm where people down-on-their-luck apply to be Mungos—genetically altered humans with enhanced stamina for dreary jobs like street sweeping and slaughterhouses, or arduous jobs in deep sea mining, industrial agriculture, and toxic clean-up. With business booming, geneticist Hal Briggs has new ideas for high-end Mungos. What can Briggs do to make them complete? And will these altered prototypes still be considered human? Briggs experiments, changing the codes, then his prototypes escape. Wetware stars Jerry O'Connell, Cameron Scoggins, Bret Lada, Aurélia Thiérrée, and Morgan Wolk. Nothing worth watching here, you can skip this one.
"What if I could just… stop worrying?" An official trailer has debuted for an indie dramedy titled Sunny Side Up, marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Mike Melo. This originally premiered in 2017 at the Sarasota Film Festival, and is finally arriving on VOD this December for those interested. Burdened with severe social anxiety, a young funeral director tries to find comfort in a self-imposed house arrest but is challenged by a curious, spirited neighbor named Emma. Starring Hunter Davis as Gregory, racked with debilitating anxiety and a self-deprecating inner voice. Also starring Samantha Marie Creed as Emma, plus William Galatis, and Alan Pelz-Sharpe. Looks cute and fun, despite all the heaps of awkwardness.
"I know it's not always easy, but nothing ever is… That's why we make plans." Plans for… a whole life? An official trailer has arrived for Life in a Year, a new romance project from Jaden Smith (exec produced by Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith). The emotional drama is about a 17-year-old boy named Daryn, played by Jaden, who falls for a girl he meets at an ice cream shop. But when he learns that she is terminally ill, with only a year left to live, he sets out to give her an entire life in the last year she has. Cara Delevingne co-stars, with a cast including RZA, Nia Long, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Chris D'Elia. This looks sweet but extra campy, a bit overblown with its platitudes and grandiosity. But you gotta live your life! Yeah, sure.
"They say you can't forget feelings… and I still believe that." IFC Films has unveiled the first official trailer for an indie romance titled Little Fish, the latest film from acclaimed indie filmmaker Chad Hartigan (of This Is Martin Bonner, Morris from America). This recently premiered at both the Newport Beach and Philadelphia Film Festivals this fall. As a memory loss virus runs rampant, one couple fights to hold their relationship together before the disease can erase all memory of their love in this sweeping sci-fi romance. Imagine waking up and not remembering the person you love. This is the world that newlyweds Emma and Jude find themselves in, not long after meeting and falling in love. When Jude contracts the disease, the young couple will do anything to hold onto the memory of their love. The film stars Olivia Cooke and Jack O'Connell as lovers, as well as Soko, Raúl Castillo, and David Lennon. This looks great, reminds me of the sci-fi romance Equals or kind of the 50 First Dates concept but serious. I will definitely be watching this.