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"I have no idea who I'm supposed to be out there…" MGM has debuted one final official US trailer for the wrestling drama Fighting with My Family, described as a "heartwarming and smart comedy that proves everything is worth fighting for when it comes to family." This movie is now playing in theaters everywhere, as it already opened on Valentine's Day last week. Fighting with My Family is about a former wrestler and his family now performing at small venues around the UK, whose kids get the shot of a lifetime when they're invited to try out to join the World Wrestling Entertainment league in America. Florence Pugh stars as Saraya, with Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Jack Lowden, plus Vince Vaughn, Stephen Merchant, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson playing himself. The film has been getting great reviews (after premiering at Sundance), so even if you're not a huge fan of wrestling it sounds like it might be worth a watch anyway.
"We can all be sincere, but um, what's it all for?" A24 has unveiled the first trailer for The Souvenir, hot off of its back-to-back festival appearances at the Sundance Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival this year. It won the Grand Jury Prize, the top award, in the World Cinema Dramatic section at Sundance, and has earned quite a bit of acclaim from critics at both fests. Honor Swinton Byrne (Tilda Swinton's daughter) stars as Julie, a young woman try to get into filmmaking. The film chronicles her life with a manipulative, emotionally abusive older man she meets and falls in love with, played by Tom Burke. The cast includes Tilda Swinton, Richard Ayoade, Jack McMullen, and Frankie Wilson. This will appeal to those who love high art cinema, as it's a very nuanced personal story and many critics are falling head over heels for it.
There's something strange in the neighborhood, someone new and just a bit weird. Synonyms is the latest film from Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid (Emile's Girlfriend, Policeman, The Kindergarten Teacher), co-produced by German filmmaker Maren Ade, and it premiered in competition at the Berlin Film Festival (where it also won the Golden Bear top prize). I caught this film during the festival and I must say - I have never seen anything like it before, which is always impressive. Synonyms is a very weird, wild, funny, odd, satirical French-Israeli dark comedy of sorts. It's hard to describe, and even harder to understand after an initial viewing, but the more I talk about it and play scenes back in my mind, the more I admire its boldness.
"All we can do is give our heartfelt interpretation of his life and his music…" Paramount has debuted a new featurette for Rocketman, the upcoming biopic about the life of famed musician Elton John, as played by Taron Egerton. The promo video explains that it's actually Taron singing the songs in the film, and even Elton was impressed by him. This is the latest film made by Dexter Fletcher (Sunshine on Leith, Eddie the Eagle, Bohemian Rhapsody despite not being credited). Paramount seems to be capitalizing on Bohemian Rhapsody's success and preempting any discussion on whether Taron is worthy enough for the role. The full cast includes Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin, as well as Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden, Steven Mackintosh, and Gemma Jones. There's another trailer out later this week to build the hype even more.
"Once again: who are you?" MiLa Media and Invisible Pictures have debuted the first trailer for a creative new horror thriller titled Every Time I Die, from director Robi Michael making his feature debut. The film is a twisted time loop thriller, about a disturbed young man with a mysterious past whose tragic death is just the beginning of his troubles. The big flip with this is that it's told from the perspective of guy who's dead trying to stop his killer from striking again. Drew Fonteiro stars, with a cast including Marc Menchaca, Lia Johnson, Michelle Macedo, and Melissa Macedo. This looks really cool, there's something strange but very compelling about it. And there's definitely a Memento vibe going on. This trailer is worth a watch.
Awww. Another adorable, heartwarming short from Pixar. The animation studio has unveiled the third short film as part of their exciting SparkShorts program, featuring innovative and creative short films made at the studio by first-time filmmakers. Following the first two shorts, Purl, and Smash and Grab, this new one is about an unexpected friendship. Kitbull is about a fiercely independent stray kitten and a big pit bull. Together, they experience friendship for the first time. The animation style for this one is much than Pixar's usual work, utilizing a hand-drawn look instead of Pixar's typical 3D rendered style. It reminds me of old Disney animated films. And it has that same charm and authenticity with the story. This might be one of my favorite Pixar shorts they've ever made, it's just lovely and amusing and so cute. Watch Kitbull in full below.
"There is definitely something going on behind-the-scenes…" HBO has debuted their official trailer for the documentary titled The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, the latest film made by prolific doc filmmaker Alex Gibney. This just premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival last month as one of the opening night films, and is getting released by HBO starting in March. Not too long of a wait for it. Another hard-to-believe, but it-all-really-did-happen story - The Inventor profiles a Silicon Valley "inventor" named Elizabeth Holmes. The film exposes her as a modern snake oil sales(wo)man, who swindled investors out of millions to create a magical black box medical device for doing multiple blood tests. Gibney interviews many former employees and various people involved in her company, known as "Theranos", and examines how she apparently achieved some kind of success before the truth got out. As it always does… This doc is a bit of a straightforward presentation of the real story of Holmes, but it's incredibly fascinating nonetheless.
"I found you an engaging and remarkable man, Brian." Oscilliscope Labs has debuted a new trailer for the restored re-release of The Hours and Times, the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Christopher Munch. This played at the Toronto Film Festival in late 1991, then at the Sundance, Berlin, and Tokyo Film Festivals in 1992. The film has been restored from the original 35mm negative elements, and re-printed as fresh 4K DCP, which will be touring theatrically starting in March for those interested in catching this. The film is a fictionalized account of what may have happened when John Lennon and Brian Epstein went on holiday together to Barcelona in 1963. Starring Ian Hart as John Lennon (of The Beatles), and David Angus as Brian Epstein (manager of The Beatles). The film won numerous indie awards back in 1992, but never really got a chance to shine. Hopefully it will find a bigger audience with this re-release. Check it out.
As another film festival comes to an end, it's time to celebrate and commemorate with the announcement of the awards. The 69th Berlin Film Festival is finishing up, and the winners were revealed at the Closing Ceremony, including the winner of the coveted Golden Bear for Best Film. That top prize was given to a film called Synonyms, directed by Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid (seen above), regarded by most critics as the best of the fest anyway. It's a French-Israeli dramatic satire set in Paris that's about the difficulties of immigration and integration. Other big winners include François Ozon's By the Grace of God about abusive priests, and the documentary Talking About Trees covering Sudanese cinema. Full list of the winners below.
"A song of praise." Grasshopper Films has released an official trailer for a critically acclaimed documentary titled Black Mother, the latest film from director Khalik Allah (Popa Wu: A 5% Story, Field Niggas). This premiered at numerous film festivals last year, and is getting released theatrically in the US starting next month. From the red light districts to lush rainforests, Black Mother is a loving and lyrical ode to Jamaica and its people, a visual poem that is at once deeply felt love letter and ecstatic street-corner prayer. From the NY Times: "Gliding from color to black and white, from digital to analog, from grim realism to spiritual ecstasy, the film offers a song of praise to the island of Jamaica and a reckoning with its painful history and hard-pressed present." This poetic, experiential doc is like a museum piece, and definitely isn't for everyone.
"I'm going to get you to somewhere safe… and then you'll be free." A new official US trailer has debuted for the charming adventure Mia and the White Lion, which was first released last year in France under the title Mia et le lion blanc - since it's made by a French filmmaker, though the dialogue is mostly in English. The story is about a young girl from London who moves to Africa with her parents where she befriends a white lion cub. After the lion grows up, she decides to set out on a journey across the South African savanna in search of another land where Charlie can live out his life in freedom. Daniah De Villiers stars as Mia, with a full cast including Mélanie Laurent, Langley Kirkwood, Ryan Mac Lennan, Lionel Newton, Lillian Dube, and Brandon Auret. This was shot at the Welgedacht Reserve in South Africa, and filming took place over three years to make the story feel even more authentic. Who doesn't love a big, cuddly cat?
One of the most fascinating discoveries of the Berlin Film Festival this year is a German dark comedy titled O Beautiful Night, which is the feature directorial debut of a German animator and/or filmmaker named Xaver Böhm. This stylish, neon-drench indie is about a lonely, nihilistic kid named Juri who is greeted by a guy who identifies himself as Death - a spiny, chain-smoking, crack-head with a tiny scythe necklace who first encounters Juri inside one of those smoky automated casino joints (which are all around Germany). He takes him on a late night adventure around town, stopping to get drugs, win money, and finally to get drinks at a bar. It's actually a cool concept for a film - not necessarily that original, but nicely refreshed this time.