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"Dude, so many comments." Whoa. Ever since mobile phones were implemented high quality cameras, the world has begun to respond and change. We can now capture anything and everything (good and bad) as it happens - sometimes unexpectedly. This short film, titled #eyewitness, is one in a series of shorts made by the Amsterdam creative agency Vertov Media and founder / filmmaker Martijn Winkler. Swiped (aka #tagged) is "a seven-part drama series about the influence and unforeseen consequences of smartphones on the lives of several twentysomethings, told from the perspective of their phones." This particular short film is about a young man capturing a car accident which turns out to be an attack. It follows Karim as he deals with the aftermath of recording and uploading the video, including threats from the man perpetrator. This short stars Roy Kaneza and Samer Fahad. All of the shorts were made in The Netherlands and shot in single takes, without any VFX (so they claim), with a camera rigged attached to the phone. A must see short.
"Life is a road straight and narrow - stay on the road, and it will take you safely home. But make a wrong turn, and you will meet the darkness." Lionsgate has finally unveiled an official trailer for a psychological thriller titled Fatale, which is opening in theaters in 15 days. This is the first of any footage we've seen for this film, which was delayed from the summer and is now opening in theaters (whatever ones are open) this December. The film stars Michael Ealy as Derrick, a married man who is tricked into a murder scheme by a female police detective. Fatale is described as "a suspenseful and provocative psychological thriller and an unpredictable game of cat and mouse where one mistake can change your life." Also starring Hilary Swank with Ealy, joined by Mike Colter, Danny Pino, and Tyrin Turner. Be careful, friends. This looks super creepy and more intense than expected - Ealy giving one hell of a dark, angry performance. Check this out.
Remember this day. December 3rd, 2020. For today is the beginning of a new era in Hollywood. Warner Bros announced major, game-changing news: ALL of their big releases in 2021 will be available on HBO Max and in movie theaters on the same day. All of them. Every single one - from Dune to Godzilla vs Kong to The Matrix 4 to The Suicide Squad to Judas and the Black Messiah to Space Jam 2. (However, only in the US because HBO Max is currently only available in the US. International plans not yet confirmed.) This is major news - essentially meaning the era of "theatrical windows" (as they are known) is over. Let me be one of the first to say - good riddance. Theatrical windows were a hindrance, preventing innovation that is necessary in the world we now live in with wifi/streaming available worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic just helped speed up this evolution, and this decision was made to offer all of the movies safely to everyone throughout 2021. You now get to choose how you want to watch – in a movie theater or at home (or both).
"We're now crazy about music." GKids has released an official US trailer for a funky Japanese anime film titled On-Gaku: Our Sound, opening in US theaters in December. It first premiered at a few animation festivals last year, and already opened in Japan in January of this year. The film is about a trio of delinquent schoolkids who form a band. Animated almost entirely by director Kenji Iwaisawa, and featuring a lead performance by Japanese alt-rock legend Shintaro Sakamoto, On-Gaku: Our Sound brings its own sound and vision to the Hiroyuki Ohashi manga from which it was adapted. With pitch-perfect deadpan humor, the animated film presents a highly original take on the beloved slacker comedy: a lo-fi buddy film with a blaring musical finale that will leave you wanting an immediate encore. I dig how unconventional & unique this looks, not your typical anime in style or substance, with a dose of "adult" language & themes. Rock on!
"People remember what you did…" Roadshow Pictures has released a a full-length Australian trailer (listed as "Trailer 2" following the first look) for a murder mystery thriller titled The Dry, from filmmaker Robert Connolly. 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. What's really going on…? 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 is set for release starting on January 1st, New Years Day, in Australia (since it's currently summer down there). It's a superb trailer, the eerie music and mystery and emotions mix together in just the right way to get my full attention.
"It was something I was born to do, and I was able for once in my life to be able to show people what I could do." Branded Studios has released an official trailer for a new Stallone documentary, but it's not about that Stallone, it's about the other one. Who, you ask? Well… it's time to find out. Stallone: Frank, That Is is an inside look into the fascinating life, career and survival of the most unknown famous entertainer in Hollywood. Frank Stallone has seen it all. Frank Stallone has done it all. But, who is Frank Stallone? You know the name, now discover the Grammy and Golden Globe nominated singer, songwriter, musician and actor who has been entertaining audiences for over fifty years, all the while living in a giant shadow. Often regarded as "Rocky's brother" and long living in Sylvester Stallone's giant shadow, Frank Stallone has spent more than 50 years carving out a career as a multi-faceted entertainer. This looks like such a fascinating and enjoyable doc about a unique and talented musician who isn't really famous… but that doesn't matter much.
"Do you think there's something beneath?" Of course there is! Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for The Dig, an indie drama from actor / director Simon Stone. The film is set in the late 1930s just before World War II in England. A wealthy widow hires an amateur archaeologist to excavate the burial mounds on her estate, leading to the historic discovery of Sutton Hoo and an undisturbed ship burial. The site is important in understanding the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia & the early Anglo-Saxon period, as it illuminates a period that lacks historical documentation. The Dig stars Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes, along with Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, Ken Stott, Archie Barnes, and Monica Dolan. This looks quite good, and all those RAF planes roaring overhead make it that much more gripping. View below.
"Just go talk to her, man, she's cool…" Trust the nice guy, they say. Toxic is an intriguing, suspenseful short film about toxic masculinity made by up-and-coming filmmaker Mike Manning. Now available to watch online - and it's worth a look. The film plays on insecurities and the confusion of expectations vs reality, but also shows us how one fragile male ego cracks after being rejected by a woman at a party. Toxic stars John Bain as Darren, Keisha Castle-Hughes (Academy Award nominee for her performance in 2002's Whale Rider) as Irene, and Nican Robinson as his friend Erik. The production value of this short is excellent, and there's a very eerie atmosphere to the whole thing. Toxic masculinity is an important topic to address in film, though I think this falls a bit short without extra context. But that's the point - ambiguity and intrigue.
"Rich or poor, nobody can escape. What a tragedy." MTV Documentary Films has released an official US trailer for 76 Days, a chilling fly-on-the-wall documentary capturing the first 76 days during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in China. Raw and intimate, this documentary captures the struggles of patients and frontline medical professionals battling the vicious COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan. It focuses primarily on the many hospital workers and the endless patients in Wuhan, where the virus originated, earlier this year before it began to spread around the world. Filmmaker Hao Wu had to setup an intricate system to collect footage - another filmmaker named Weixi Chen and an uncredited "anonymous" contributor would secretly send him their footage from Wuhan. This just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and is being released virtually by MTV (!) this month. It's a harrowing and heart-wrenching look at how devastating this virus is.
"Afterward, go out and film yourself getting arrested at a protest rally. Then you'll be the best movie of the year." One of our favorite lists that kicks off this time of the year is from filmmaker John Waters - his Top 10 favorite films from this year. For 2020, Waters has chosen yet another (expected) eclectic mix of films, lead by the uber wacky comedy Butt Boy (trailer here), about a guy who discovers he has a serial killer ass. Literally. I always love seeing what Waters picks every year, because he's one of the few who has no shame about admitting his personal tastes. They're all films he loved that did something for him, and he explains so simply yet eloquently why he loves them. And no surprise, his picks for 2020 are as wild & weird & kooky as expected. No one else has a Top 10 like Waters'. And that's why I enjoy highlighting his picks year after year.
Miyazaki is back!! NHK in Japan has unveiled an official trailer for a brand new Studio Ghibli movie titled Earwig and the Witch. But don't get too excited about the return of Ghibli. The film is the latest feature directed by Goro Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki's son who also directed the films Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill. Because it's uh, his father's studio, he convinced Ghibli to "return from the dead" to make another new film - this one being their first entirely CGI creation. And it looks pretty rough, to be honest. Earwig and the Witch, also known as Âya and the Witch, was supposed to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this year - instead it's debuting direct-to-TV on the NHK channel in Japan on December 30th just before the end of the year. It follows an orphan girl, Earwig, who is adopted by a witch and comes home to a spooky house filled with mystery and magic. This features the voices of Kokoro Hirasawa as Âya, Gaku Hamada, Shinobu Terajima, and Etsushi Toyokawa.. There's a handful of new promo videos for the upcoming debut later this month (view below), but there's still no worldwide release dates yet. Check it out.
"Mike had so, obviously, become a different guy." Gravitas has released an official trailer for a documentary film titled Diving Deep: The Life And Times Of Mike deGruy, a profile of an incredible naturalist and underwater adventurist. When ocean explorer and filmmaker Mike deGruy dies unexpectedly in an accident, his wife returns to the edit room to make a film. You may not have heard of Mike deGruy’s work to save our oceans but seeing it will change your perspective forever. The film is not only a look at his life exploring the depths of the oceans, but it is also a call to action on behalf of the world's oceans (yes, we must save them!). The doc features vibrant commentary from Mike's friends and collaborators: filmmaker James Cameron, National Geographic Explorer Sylvia Earle, British broadcaster David Attenborough, and the deGruy children. I am a serious admirer of people who are courageous enough to go and defiantly explore our world.