ENJOY THE SHOW
"This is not the first incident." Mubi has unveiled an official US trailer for an indie film titled Beginning, an award-winning debut feature from Georgian filmmaker Dea Kulumbegashvili. It premiered at the Toronto, New York, & San Sebastian Film Festivals last fall, and won tons of awards including Best Film in San Sebastian and the FIPRESCI Prize at TIFF. In a sleepy provincial town, a Jehovah Witness community is attacked by an extremist group. In the midst of this conflict, the familiar world of Yana, the wife of the community leader, slowly crumbles. From Mubi: "One of the most striking debuts in recent memory, Dea Kulumbegashvili's feature marks the revelation of an exciting new voice in cinema. Shot in luminous 35mm long takes that boldly evoke isolation and longing, it tells a profound story of a woman's resilience facing communal hostility and violence." Starring Ia Sukhitashvili & Kakha Kintsurashvili. This is one of the finest cinema discoveries of last year, and looks like it's worth your time to discover when it's released soon.
"These are sharks… but they can fly, you say?" Dark Sky Films has released an official trailer for a totally ridiculous action CGI-spectacle called Sky Sharks, from filmmaker Marc Fehse. First there was Iron Sky, then there was Sharknado, then there was the Iron Sky sequel (The Coming Race), now there's Sky Sharks. After an arctic research team discovers a long-lost Nazi warship frozen in the ice, they inadvertently unleash the Third Reich's unknown secret weapon: Sky Sharks. What if the Nazis had been secretly developing giant modified flying sharks flown by undead super-humans? Yeah, that's all they've got for a concept this time. The film's cast includes Tony Todd, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Eva Habermann, Naomi Grossman, Amanda Bearse, Robert LaSardo, and Dave Sheridan. This is one of the strangest trailers you'll ever see, with barely any good footage, and a title placed over a random shot of a city. Huh? Have fun, I guess…
This is just too adorable not to share, even if it is just a glorified commercial for a global biopharmaceutical company. Unbreakable is a cute 2-and-a-half-minute animated short film made by a boutique animation house in NYC called Roof Studio founded by Brazilians. It tells the story of a little bunny from a toy shop, named Barbara the Bunny, that starts to cough one day. She is sad that no one can help her as she wanders around town until she finds the right person to help repair her and make her perfect again. A very obvious healthcare story, but the whole short is still so mesmerizingly detailed it's possible to just watch and enjoy it for the artistry all on its own. "Our goal was to create buildings, characters, colors, and textures that are in perfect harmony to form something truly memorable! Given the detail and complexity that went into this, we knew this project could be bigger than just the final film." It's a nice little escape for a few brief minutes.
"The problem is that boy you were with…" Gravitas has debuted the official trailer for an indie romantic drama titled The Violent Heart, a tale of two star-crossed lovers. This initially premiered at the Deauville Film Festival last year, and is slated for a VOD release in February. Fifteen years after the murder of his older sister, Daniel finds himself falling for Cassie, a vivacious high school senior. The film is described as a "southern gothic-inspired Romeo & Juliet story set in the American heartland." Yep. Starring Jovan Adepo as Daniel, and Grace Van Patten as Cassie, along with Mary J. Blige, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Lukas Haas. This the latest film from former commercials director Kerem Sanga (of the films Trigger Finger, The Young Kieslowski, First Girl I Loved) and, oddly, is produced by Shawn Levy & Tobey Maguire. This film looks like it carefully navigates some complex topics, telling a nuanced story of love and growth.
"If we don't speak for ourselves, then who will?" Strand Releasing has unveiled an official US trailer for an indie queer drama from Hong Kong titled Twilight's Kiss, originally known as Suk Suk, both written & directed by filmmaker Ray Yeung. This originally premiered at the Busan Film Festival in 2019, and played at numerous other fests including the New Zealand & Prague Film Festivals last year. The film is a quiet portrayal of a gay relationship between two men in their twilight years. Pak, 70, a married taxi driver who refuses to retire meets Hoi, 65, a retired single father. Although both are secretly gay, they are proud of the families they have created through hard work and hardship over the years. As Pak and Hoi fall in love they contemplate a possible future together. Suk Suk studies the subtle day-to-day moments of the two men as they struggle between conventional morals and their personal desires. Starring Tai-Bo as Pak, Ben Yuen as Hoi, along with Au Ga Man Patra, Lo Chun Yip, Kong To, & Lam Yiu Sing. This looks quite good.
"She was ahead of her time…" "She took it upon herself to defend herself in front of the jury." HBO has debuted a full-length official trailer for their documentary series titled The Lady And The Dale, produced by Mark and Jay Duplass. The doc is launching as a 4-episode series at the end of the month streaming on HBO Max. The Lady and The Dale explores the story of mysterious entrepreneur Elizabeth Carmichael, a trans woman who rose to prominence when she released a fuel-efficient three-wheeled vehicle during the 1970s gas crisis. The series dives deep into the rise & fall of Liz's extraordinary life through fraud, family, identity and the pitfalls of the American Dream. It's described as a "genre-bending" series that details the "amazing true story of [this] 1970's transgender entrepreneur". All the paper craft animation in here is a bit odd, but as a Duplass production, I can dig it. Plus we don't get too many docs with this kind of look anyway.
"What's the wife of a big Hollywood producer doing livin' under a house?" Quiver has unveiled an official US trailer for an indie psychological thriller titled Paradise Cove, the latest film made by the musician / filmmaker Martin Guigui (Beneath the Darkness, The Bronx Bull, Freddy Monday). How's this for a crazy concept? A contractor and his wife move to Malibu to flip his mother's beach house and are terrorized by the deranged homeless lady living under the house. Watch out for the unhinged squatter! The film is described as a "super fun throwback thriller" that seems to be riffing on a lot of the dumb 90s suspense films. Mena Suvari stars with Todd Grinnell, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Eddie Goines, Krista Allen, Horacio Galaviz, and Eddie Rivera. This looks a bit too wild and kooky, not in a good way. But you never know…?
"Do we have any debris close to our trajectory?" Another excellent short film from Australian filmmaker Josh Tanner - who has been entertaining us with top notch shorts, like The Landing and The Rizzle, for years. His latest is called Decommissioned, and it's a space sci-fi horror based on a true story. In 2006, an old Russian spacesuit was decommissioned and turned into a satellite launched into orbit called SuitSat. This really happened. Tanner then takes that and imagines what might happen… next. And it's freaky. His short stars Joey Vieira as Commander Diaz aboard the International Space Station, who encounters the mysterious SuitSat. With David Normand as the voice of "Houston". Watching this I couldn't even figure out how the heck he made this, I'm entirely impressed. And it's a genuine thrill to watch, it looks great and feels real in every way. This fantastic sci-fi short packs a punch in only 6 minutes. Definitely worth a watch.
"I'd never thought I'd be mourning the place itself…" Gravitas Ventures has released an official trailer for a documentary film titled Meltdown, another new look at the climate crisis with a focus on discussing how Greenland is the epicenter of this criss and how art can (or cannot) help us deal with the problem. Produced as a small, intimate conversation set on a large, stunning canvas, Meltdown follows acclaimed photographer Lynn Davis & climate scientist Tony Leiserowitz to the tiny, picturesque town of Illulisat, Greenland (Google Maps), which is "Ground Zero" for the climate crisis. There they discuss the convergence of art + science in how we view the world. This looks + sounds like a different take on climate docs, focusing more on the conversation and how people can work together to make a difference. We just need to stay optimistic.
"One thing that never changes - a bunch of assholes kill me for reasons that remain a mystery." VVS Films + Hulu have revealed the first official trailer for an action thriller titled Boss Level, another time loop sci-fi film borrowing the genre concept. This is the latest from action filmmaker Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin' Aces, The A-Team, The Grey), who hasn't made a new film since Stretch back in 2014. Frank Grillo stars in this as a retired special forces officer who is trapped in a never ending time loop on the day of his death. He must figure out how to escape the sinister program and save his own life, but of course. The film's excellent ensemble cast includes Annabelle Wallis, Mel Gibson, Naomi Watts, Michelle Yeoh, Will Sasso, Rob Gronkowski, Ken Jeong, Mathilde Ollivier, and Selina Lo. This looks like some vintage action movie fun, exactly what I'd expect from Carnahan. I just hope it's worth the wait and not a let down.
"Why would you make a toy with three heads!?" Disney has unveiled an official trailer for a new collection of short films titled Pixar Popcorn, debuting right away later this week on the Disney+ streaming service. These 10 new short films from Pixar Animation Studios are all brand new, never-before-seen "mini-shorts". Disney has been creating series like this with 90 second shorts for all kinds of franchises - now it's Pixar's turn to have fun with all of its characters. The collection of 10 mini-shorts features characters from Pixar favorites like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars, and The Incredibles, in all-new, bite-size stories created by Pixar's talented animators. The only one we're missing is Wall-E! Bring our yellow pal back again, please and thank you. A few years ago, Pixar debuted a set of shorts called SparkShorts, made by filmmakers telling unique stories about their own experiences. These were some of the best shorts Pixar has ever made, and I hope they keep making more like this in addition to bringing back all the characters we know & love already.
"You don't wanna know what's going on in my house." Focus Features has unveiled an official trailer for an indie film titled Boogie, marking the feature directorial debut of famous restaurateur / chef / writer Eddie Huang. Focus is releasing this in theaters at the start of March, despite not hitting any film festivals first. Set in contemporary New York City, the film follows a Chinese-American basketball phenom who struggles to balance the expectations of his immigrant family with his own dreams of becoming a player for the NBA. Taylor Takahashi stars as Alfred "Boogie" Chin, who struggles to make a life as a very talented basketball player. The cast also includes Taylour Paige (from Zola), Pamelyn Chee, Mike Moh, Alexa Mareka, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Perry Yung, and Pop Smoke. No surprise, this looks damn good! An authentic story told by an authentic voice on the experience of being a part of America's "melting pot" culture. Enjoy.