"Your family needs you." "My family needs me? What about when I needed you…" An early teaser trailer is out for a film titled Goliath, a Canadian feature that has been in the works for years already. It's finally set to release on VOD starting in February this year, after first premiering in 2019. When Robin Walker returns home for her father's funeral, she's forced to confront the bitter family she left behind, as well as personal demons; resulting in the reveal of an unsettling secret. "Goliath was the ultimate film school," states the first-time director Luke Villemaire. "We took the trial by fire approach that many first-time filmmakers are forced to endure when struggling to break into the industry. It was incredibly tolling, but I was determined to see this project through, and it has ultimately been a rewarding experience." This was originally shot back in 2016 in Quinte West, Ontoario and nearby areas. The film stars Jessica Sipos, Michelle Mylett, Jon Cor, Shannon Kook, Daniel Maslany, Krista Bridges, & Andrea Roth. Not much to see here so far.
"Have you ever dance in a theatre before?" One of the best festival discoveries from 2022 is this Pakistani film titled Joyland, marking the feature debut of filmmaker Saim Sadiq. It was submitted by Pakistan for the 95th Academy Awards, but unfortunately it didn't make the cut as one of the five nominated. Joyland first premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section, and it also just played at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival this month in their Spotlight section. "Take a first glimpse into the daring, soul searching film that delves deep into the challenging complexities of desire and gender identity through the lens of the Rana Family." The youngest son from a traditional Pakistani family takes a job as a backup dancer in a Bollywood-style burlesque theater, and he quickly becomes infatuated with the strong-willed trans woman, BIba, who runs the show. It stars Ali Junejo, Alina Khan, Rasti Farooq, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sameer Sohail, and Sania Saeed. I rave about this film in my own review, saying that "it's an absolutely magnificent and enlightening feature about gender roles and how society is evolving."
After the 95th Academy Awards nominations were announced earlier this week, at least three of the big nominees are returning to theaters again. Most of the studios want all of these films to earn more now that they've been highlighted by The Academy voters. First up, the biggest surprise of this week - a nomination for Andrea Riseborough in the indie drama To Leslie - has put the spotlight on this film. Momentum Pictures will re-release To Leslie in six theaters (limited to start) this weekend - beginning from January 27th onward. In addition, A24 is re-releasing The Daniels' masterpiece Everything Everywhere All at Once in theaters nationwide (1400 screens) this weekend, so that everyone can see why this film deserves the 11 nominations it got. Finally, Searchlight is also re-releasing Martin McDonagh's The Banshees of Inisherin in theaters nationwide this weekend, since that film received a total of 9 nominations - including Best Picture & Best Director. Now is the perfect time to catch up with these films playing on the big screen.
"Do you know when this is going to end?" Cohen Media Group has revealed a new US trailer for an Israeli indie drama titled Let It Be Morning, finally arriving in US theaters in February. The film first premiered in 2021 at the Cannes Film Festival, playing in the Un Certain Regard section. It later won in 9 awards at the Ophir Awards (Israel's Academy Awards) including for Best Film, Director, Actor and Actress. From Eran Kolirin (director of The Band's Visit) comes a new powerful and timely film Let It Be Morning. In the film, a Palestinian-born Israeli citizen attending his brother’s wedding in an Arab village finds himself unable to return home to Jerusalem when a road is blocked by Israeli soldiers. A bitter sweet comedy about a state of siege, both internal & external and about a man who built a wall around his heart, and how the walls starts coming apart when another, more real wall is built around the village where he was born. Starring Alex Bakri as Sami, Juna Suleiman, Salim Daw, Ehab Salami, Khalifa Natour, and Izabel Ramadan. Looks like another good film from Israel addressing their problems and bad relationship with Palestinians.
"When you become a mother, you feel like you are split in two." XYZ Films has revealed the official trailer for the indie Mexican horror titled Huesera: The Bone Woman, opening in US theaters this February. It first premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival last year and has been earning rave reviews at other fests including Neuchâtel, Bucheon, Edinburgh, Bergen, Fantastic Fest, and Sitges. Huesera follows the story of Valeria, a young woman expecting her first child who becomes cursed by a sinister entity. Plunged into a terrifying and dangerous world, a group of witches emerge as her only hope for safety and salvation, but not without grave risk. Natalia Solián stars as Valeria, with a cast including Alfonso Dosal, Mayra Batalla, Mercedes Hernández, Aída López, and Martha Claudia Moreno. This looks insanely scary once the trailer gets going, lots of freaky footage in that second half! That part of the crib breaking viscerally like a bone is just terrifying. Horror fans must watch out for this one! Arriving in select theaters and on VOD soon.
"If anything, he's the smartest person in this stupid town." Visit Films has revealed an official trailer for the indie sci-fi comedy titled Aliens Abducted My Parents And Now I Feel Kinda Left Out. How's that for a film name! Did it get your attention? This just premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival playing in the "Kids" section of the fest, and it's still seeking a distribution deal. Miserable after her family moves to a small town, a teenage aspiring journalist named Itsy befriends Calvin, her strange, space-obsessed neighbor who believes his parents were abducted by aliens, and joins him on his journey to find them. As an up-and-coming journalist, Itsy decides to write an exposé, but she discovers much more about him. It stars Emma Tremblay, Jacob Buster, Will Forte, Elizabeth Mitchell, Kenneth Cummins, and Matt Biedel. I'm curious to see this! I like the trailer, there's some good lines in here. I'm just wondering if they actually will find aliens! I hope the twist isn't that they were just taken by a government organization or something.
"It's nice to be old. It's nice to have fun with no buttons." Greenwich Ent. has revealed an official trailer for an indie comedy titled iMordecai, which is an amusing title for this film about a cranky old timer whose life is changed when he gets a new iPhone. How's that for a story? This initially premiered at the 2022 Naples Film Festival last year, and is set in Florida. A holocaust survivor born and raised in a different time, must now face the realities of modern world. when confronted with an unfamiliar object, an iPhone will Mordecai be able to fit into a world that has changed so much around him? Starring the wonderful actor Judd Hirsch (he's also in The Fabelmans) as Mordecai, along with Sean Astin, Carol Kane, Nick Puga, and Azia Dinea Hale. This actually looks really sweet and nice, not as cheesy as expected. Might actually be an entertaining and uplifting film worth watching, a nice break from all these usual depressing stories.
"I don't know how I can help." Gravitas Ventures has revealed an official trailer for a crime thriller titled Among the Beasts, the latest from actor / filmmaker Matthew Newton. Now set to open both in theaters and on VOD coming up in February. When a gangster's daughter reluctantly teams with a former Marine to find her kidnapped cousin, the combat veteran must overcome his own demons in order to rescue the child. There's not much more to the plot than that, yet another of these junk films being dumped on VOD every week. This indie thriller stars Tory Kittles, Libe Barer, Sarunas J. Jackson, Kate Easton, Jeremy Holm, Mark Mitton, with Jon Bass, and Jim Norton. Unfortunately this looks instantly forgettable and entirely uninteresting, not even worth watching the trailer either. Save yourself the trouble and just skip it.
"We are the beings that need to survive in order to keep this planet alive." An early teaser has launched for yet another upcoming Sundance 2023 film, this one titled Divinity, playing in the Next section at the fest kicking off this week. From writer / director Eddie Alcazar, Divinity is also produced by Steven Soderbergh, along with a handful of other producers. The short description explains: Two mysterious brothers abduct a mogul during his quest for immortality. Meanwhile, a seductive woman helps them launch a journey of self-discovery. It's a retro sci-fi thriller shot in black & white. Starring an impressive cast: Stephen Dorff, Moises Arias, Jason Genao, Karrueche Tran, Bella Thorne, and Scott Bakula. Sundance adds that "Alcazar leads a skilled team of creative collaborators to construct this world, and together they conjure a boldly lit black and white wonder with untold mysteries hidden in the shadows." With music by DJ Muggs & Dean Hurley. This looks wild!! You have to see this footage, punk sci-fi like we don't see anymore. Must see.
"How is that girl ever gonna learn that she has a place in this world?" "What makes you think she has a place in this world?" Altitude Films in the UK has revealed an official trailer for Blue Jean, an outstanding film marking the feature directorial debut of Georgia Oakley. This first premiered at the 2022 Venice Film Festival last year in the Venice Days sidebar, where I first saw it. It's as good as it looks! Set in the 1980s in England, the film follows a young woman named Jean, played by the very talented actress Rosy McEwen (she was also in Vesper last year). She must carefully navigate the tumult of a rise in LGBTQ hate during the Margaret Thatcher era. As pressure mounts from all sides, the arrival of a new girl at her school catalyses a crisis that will challenge Jean to her core. Also starring Kerrie Hayes, Lucy Halliday, Stacy Abalogun, and Izzy Neish. This already won a bunch of awards from BIFA, and will open first in the UK in February.
"Now I'm not being dramatic, but… these people are evil." Focus Features has revealed an official US trailer for Polite Society, a kick ass new British film marking the feature debut of filmmaker Nida Manzoor ("We Are Lady Parts"). This is premiering in just a few days at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, as part of the Midnight section, which is why they're dropping this trailer just before that unveiling. A merry mash up of sisterly affection, parental disappointment & bold action, Polite Society follows martial artist-in-training Ria Khan who believes she must save her older sister Lena from her impending marriage. After enlisting the help of her loyal friends, Ria attempts to pull off the most ambitious of all wedding heists in the name of independence and sisterhood. The cast includes Priya Kansara as Ria, with Ritu Arya, Nimra Bucha, Akshay Khanna, Seraphina Beh, and Ella Bruccoleri. I just listed this as one of my Most Anticipated at Sundance, can't wait to see Ria kick some ass!! Looks like it will be a blast, especially with a big audience.
"Make sure he is elected." Samuel Goldwyn Films has revealed the new US trailer for Cairo Conspiracy, the film formerly known as Boy From Heaven, set entirely in Egypt even though it's actually a Swedish production. This premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Best Screenplay award, and has since played at numerous other festivals including Zurich, Hamburg, London, Busan, Vancouver, Ghent, Mill Valley. The story follows Adam, the son of a fisherman, who is offered the ultimate privilege to study at the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the epicenter of power of Sunni Islam. Shortly after his arrival in Cairo, the university's highest ranking religious leader, the Grand Imam, suddenly dies and Adam soon becomes a pawn in a ruthless power struggle between Eqypt's religious and political elite. The film stars Tawfeek Barhom as Adam, Fares Fares, Mohammad Bakri, Makram Khoury, Mehdi Dehbi, Moe Ayoub, Sherwan Haji, and Ahmed Lassaoui. I saw this in Cannes and gave it a positive review, mostly because it's so frighteningly honest about corruption and that is worthwhile to show. I still recommend it.