"I don't want him having this kind of life." Lionsgate has debuted the first official trailer for a gritty crime thriller titled We Die Young, the latest film starring Belgian badass Jean-Claude Van Damme (he's also in The Bouncer from last year). The film focuses on the struggles of gang life in Washington DC, telling the story of a 14-year-old boy inducted into a gang. He wants to keep his younger brother safe, but is already being scouted. When an war veteran comes into the neighborhood, they see an opportunity to find a revenge and get out before it's too late. In addition to JCVD, We Die Young also stars Elijah Rodriguez, Joana Metrass, Jacob Scipio, Uriel Emil, Nicholas Sean Johnny, Joseph Long, and David Castañeda. So many of these forgettable action films being made, and despite starring JCVD this doesn't look any good.
Back to Sundance we go for another year of discovery. What's on the line-up this year? Out of the 110+ films showing at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, I've chosen 10 that I'm looking forward to seeing the most. To keep things well balanced, I've chosen 5 feature films and 5 documentaries from the line-up. There are so many films playing at the fest, and so many I'll end up seeing (30+), that this is a quick list to get everyone acquainted with some of the work premiering in 2019 (I just want to go see everything). There are new films from filmmakers like Ritesh Batra and Lulu Wang, and incredible documentaries that are also worthy of our attention, plus many other films. You never really know what will good or bad, but here's my first few picks.
"Right now, everything's possible even if this life may be a dream." Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a fascinating French drama titled Paris Is Us, the feature debut of filmmaker Elisabeth Vogler. This short trailer is packed with visually stunning footage, making this look like a striking, damning, compelling look at modern day France and all that's happening in the country. The description is vague: "Dreams and reality collide as a young woman navigates a tumultuous relationship amid rising social tensions, protests and tragedies in Paris." The story involves a young woman who was supposed to meet a boy, but she misses the flight and the plane crashes. "Taken in the vertigo of a death that has been narrowly avoided, she moves away from reality and the present." Starring Noémie Schmidt, Grégoire Isvarine, Marie Mottet, Lou Castel, and Schreiber Alexandre. No idea what's going on here, but it looks crazy cool. Got my attention.
"There's gotta be an explanation! So what do we know?" Surprise! Warner Bros has debuted the first trailer for Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, a new Nancy Drew movie produced by Ellen DeGeneres that we didn't know much about before this dropped. This small town mystery stars Sophia Lillis, who also played the young Beverly Marsh in It: Chapter One, as "Nance". WB last made a Nancy Drew movie in 2007 starring Emma Roberts. A bit of an outsider struggling to fit in to her new surroundings, Nancy and her pals set out to solve the mystery, make new friends, and establish their place in the community. Also starring Linda Lavin, Sam Trammell, Andrea Anders, Zoe Renee, Mackenzie Graham, and Laura Wiggins. This latest Nancy is a longboard-riding know-it-all, which seems like a perfect update nowadays.
"It's our responsibility to report unclean behavior." Dark Sky Films has released a full-length official trailer for the dystopian thriller Level 16, which first premiered at Fantastic Fest last year. Sixteen-year-old Vivien is trapped in The Vestalis Academy, a prison-like boarding school, keeping to herself and sticking her neck out for no one. Until she is reunited with Sophia -- the former friend who betrayed her. Together the girls embark on a dangerous search to uncover the horrifying truth behind their imprisonment at this academy. They soon end up running for their lives. Katie Douglas stars as Vivien, along with Celina Martin, Sara Canning, Peter Outerbridge, Amalia Williamson, Kate Vickery, and Kiana Madeira. Looks rather creepy and quite mysterious - a cool, contemporary mix of some intriguing genre ideas. Check it out below.
"I'm sure that you are a different person, but I don't want you to get out." Damn this looks intense. HBO has debuted an official trailer for an indie drama titled O.G., which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year. This was filmed at an actual prison, with real-life prisoners playing prisoners. The story centers on Louis, a maximum-security inmate and a former gang leader who genuinely regrets his crimes and, while serving over 24 years behind bars, has tried to live a new life of dignity and self-respect. Just weeks before release, he encounters Beech, a new prisoner (played by real-life inmate Theothus Carter) who asks for his help. "The younger inmate echoes of his older counterpart, stirring instincts within Louis that had long been buried beneath a tough exterior." Jeffrey Wright stars, with William Fichtner, Boyd Holbrook, Mare Winningham, Bahni Turpin, Yul Vazquez, David Patrick Kelly, and Ato Essandoh. Enjoy.
"They're trying to screw us! I'm going to tear you down…" The Orchard has debuted the first official trailer for an indie drama titled The Hummingbird Project, which already premiered at the Toronto and Vancouver Film Festivals last fall, arriving in US theaters this March. You don't want to sleep on this one. The film is the latest from Quebecois filmmaker Kim Nguyen (War Witch, Two Lovers and a Bear, Eye on Juliet), a thriller about two high-stakes traders with a plan to build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey, so they can make millions. But of course it's easier said than done. The cast features Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek, Michael Mando, Johan Heldenbergh, Ayisha Issa, and Sarah Goldberg. This is described as a "modern epic" that "exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world." This looks totally wild and captivating, I'm very curious to watch. Dive right in.
"Everyone around you are disgusting little insects." Gunpowder & Sky has debuted the killer full-length, official trailer for the indie horror drama Lord of Chaos, which originally premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year in the Midnight section (as a late addition to the fest). The indie film is based on "truth and lies", as the marketing indicates, telling the (mostly true) story of an attempt to launch Norwegian Black Metal, following its most notorious practitioners at the time. The plot is actually about a teenager's quest to spread Norwegian Black Metal in Oslo, Norway in the early 1990s, which results in a very violent outcome. Rory Culkin stars, with Emory Cohen, Sky Ferreira, Jack Kilmer, and Valter Skarsgård. The first teasers for this didn't show much, but this trailer gives us plenty of crazy footage to chew on. And this looks totally gnarly, with some crazy violent, intense moments hinted at in this full trailer. Don't ignore this one.
There's not much to this brief teaser trailer, but we want to feature it anyway in order to put this little film on you radar while they finish it up before release. Night Run is an 80s throwback horror action thriller made by filmmaker Erick Solis, already filmed and heading into post-production now. It was crowdfunded on Indiegogo and they're trying to finish it up and get it ready for release sometime soon. Described as a "supernatural Death Wish" of sorts, this is about a construction worker who resurrects on Halloween night looking for the men that murdered him a year before. The rad synth score in this teaser is by Crockett, and I can't wait to hear more of it. The cast includes Tyler Cole, Jake Hays, Cameron Tagge, and Rebecca Weaver. We'll be keeping an eye on this project and watching out for more updates/trailers as they arrive.
"Our abilities can't fix things. If something's broken, it stays broken." Liongsate + Codeblack Films have debuted the first official trailer for an indie film titled Fast Color, which premiered to quite a bit of acclaim at the SXSW Film Festival last year. The film is about a young woman who is forced to go on the run when her superhuman abilities are discovered. Years after having abandoned her family, the only place she has left to hide is home. Talented actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Ruth, with a small cast including David Strathairn, Saniyya Sidney, Lorraine Toussaint, and Christopher Denham. This received fantastic reviews out of SXSW and looks like a promising little film, lead by a powerful performance from Mbatha-Raw. I'm very much looking forward to catching this, what a tremendous trailer that will get your attention.
"I never wanted that. Even if he had it coming… And he did." RLJE Entertainment has debuted the official trailer for an indie film titled The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, which is one of the best titles for a film in the last few years. This character study is not so much an action film or a thriller, but more of a look at the life of Calvin Barr, played by Sam Eillott, indeed the man who killed Hitler and then years later killed Bigfoot (to save the world). The film is not what you're expecting, but is actually impressive in quite a few ways - Elliott's performance is outstanding, and the cinematography/look of everything is very cinematic. The small cast of the film includes Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston, Sean Bridgers. Caitlin FitzGerald, Larry Miller, Ellar Coltrane, and Mark Steger as The Bigfoot. FS is quoted in this trailer from my glowing review at the Sitges Film Festival. I highly recommend this film, it's really worth a watch.
"This is the match that everyone's been dying to see." Netflix has released the first official trailer for an indie drama titled High Flying Bird, the latest film by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh following his iPhone film Unsane. This is about a sports agent, played by André Holland, who pitches a young, rookie client on an intriguing & controversial business opportunity during a pro basketball lockout. "The outcome raises questions of who owns the game – and who ought to." High Flying Bird features an acclaimed cast that includes Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan, and Bill Duke, plus appearances from NBA athletes Reggie Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Donovan Mitchell. This looks damn good! I'm really digging Soderbergh's new super-indie style, there's something fresh and exciting about his films these days. And it looks like a subversive, clever story that flips the tables.