Maybe all we need is just a little bit of happiness. Maybe happiness is all there is. Or maybe not. Little Joe is a clever, crafty little sci-fi fairytale that is destined to become a cult classic. This low budget drama is the latest written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner, and it's playing in competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film has some flaws, and is way too slow, but there's something alluring and intelligent about it that sticks with you and buries itself in your mind. And even though it's honestly pretty easy to figure out what's going on, it's the way she brings this idea to life and portrays it all on screen very minimally that makes it especially captivating. The film achieves so much (in the way of thought-provoking storytelling) with so little, an effective example of very low budget filmmaking expanding upon bigger ideas.
"Do you want to live or die?" SBS Distribution has unveiled an official promo trailer for the Brazilian film titled Bacurau, which is premiering at the Cannes Film Festival starting this week. This highly anticipated film is the follow-up to Brazilian filmmaker Kleber Mendonça Filho's award-winning 2012 feature Aquarius. This is one of the few sci-fi films playing at Cannes, and the description hints at some kind of aliens being in this town. There's even a UFO on one of the posters. "Described as a mixture of western, adventure and sci-fi, Bacurau is set in a small town in the Brazilian backlands that disappears from the map" after the death of the town's matriarch at the age of 94. A filmmaker goes to investigate and discovers something much more mysterious. The film's key cast includes Sonia Braga, Udo Kier, Jonny Mars, Antonio Saboia, Chris Doubek, and Karine Teles. This an enticing tease - just enough to leave me even more curious to see this.
"The path will not be easy. The world outside is lifeless." Netflix has finally unveiled the first official trailer for a smart sci-fi film called I Am Mother, which is the big directorial debut of award-winning Australian commercials director Grant Sputore. This premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year as one of the few sci-fi movies in the selection, and earned some mixed reviews, but it's most definitely worthy of your attention if you like sci-fi at all. I Am Mother is about a teenage girl who is raised underground by a kindly robot called "Mother" -- designed to repopulate the earth following the extinction of humankind. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news. The film stars Clara Rugaard and Hilary Swank, with Rose Byrne as the voice of "Mother". The robot is designed by Weta, and it looks badass. I really enjoyed this film at Sundance (here's my review), it's impressive in many ways including the world-building. This trailer reveals a LOT of the film - so watch out if you don't like spoilers.
"They're harvesting energy." Saban Films has debuted the trailer for an indie sci-fi thriller titled Project Ithaca, which seems to fit in with Netflix's "Love, Death & Robots" series more than anything. First titled Grim Trigger in development, the film is about a group of strangers who awaken on an alien spacecraft. They must figure out what's going on and how to escape, or they'll be trapped there and tormented forever. Or something like that. This looks a bit like the "Beyond the Aquila Rift" short from "Love, Death & Robots", and io9 describes it: "the idea behind Saw, set it on a spaceship, replace torture devices with psychological torment." Starring James Gallanders, Deragh Campbell, Daniel Fathers, Alex Woods, Caroline Raynaud, Konima Parkinson-Jones, Greg Ellwand, and Sofie Holland. This looks okay, though I'm not sure if it's going to be as good as it truly should be with this concept. It's hard to tell? Check it out below.
"We have each other! We can't give up now." Netflix has dropped an official trailer for a big new sci-fi action movie titled Rim of the World, the latest from director McG (Terminator Salvation, This Means War, 3 Days to Kill, The Babysitter) who has been laying low and making movies quietly for Netflix these past few years. The film is about four misfit teenagers at a summer camp called "Rim of the World" who must band together and conquer their fears in order to save the world during an alien invasion. It's a nifty summer camp concept. That tagline on the poster is fun: "saving the world is alien to them."Rim of the World stars Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., Alessio Scalzotto, and Andrew Bachelor. This is a surprise sci-fi project and it looks good, but not that great. This kind of seems like Attack the Block meets Transformers meets "Stranger Things" and a whole bunch of other sci-fi projects. Check it out below.
"Are you suggesting we try the most powerful weapon in the galaxy for fun?" Sony Pictures has revealed the second official trailer for Men in Black International, the fourth movie in the Men in Black series, which seems to be more of a reboot than anything. This one introduces us to two new MIB members: Chris Hemsworth as Agent H, and Tessa Thompson as Agent M. The plot involves them tackling the "biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization." This gives us a better idea of what to expect than the first trailer, but it still doesn't look that great. The cast also includes Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois, plus Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson. This seems to have lost the intelligent coolness it used to have for much more goofy humor.
"You need to open up yourself to complete reprogramming." Breaker has debuted the second official trailer for a trippy indie sci-fi thriller titled Perfect, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival last year (watch the first trailer). This experimental, retro-ish sci-fi project is about a boy who goes to a mysterious genetic-engineering clinic, only to discover the price of perfection will cost him everything, including his mind, body and his soul. Garrett Wareing stars as the boy, Vessel 13, with Abbie Cornish, Courtney Eaton, Tao Okamoto, Martin Sensmeier, Leonardo Nam, Alicia Sanz, and Maurice Compte. This is executive produced and presented by Steven Soderbergh, directed by Eddie Alcazar, featuring music by Flying Lotus. This does look totally wild - some very hypnotic, mesmerizing social commentary laced with a big hit of acid.
"Your ascent is stable." Time for a short film that's just a little bit trippy. The YouTube sci-fi channel Dust has launched a short film online titled On/Off, a French sci-fi film from writer/director Thierry Lorenzi. This has been playing at film festivals since 2013 and has just now debuted online for all to watch, which is a bit of a lengthy delay but it's a good short nonetheless. Carole Brana stars as Meredith, an astronaut who is plagued by mysterious voice in her head. She will face its paradoxical condition in order to stay connected to his humanity. Also starring Arben Bajraktaraj. This is clever and fascinating, and has a realistic feel to it. Though the reveal is a bit derivative, something we've seen plenty of times before. Give it a watch anyway.
"I think I know why he's as good as you - he IS you." Paramount has unveiled the first official trailer for Gemini Man, the next film from Ang Lee (following Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk). This sci-fi action thriller is about an aging hitman, as played by Will Smith, who finds himself facing off against a younger clone of himself. A bit like Looper, but about a clone, without any time travel. Lee shot this at 120FPS, also known as HFR (High Frame-Rate) video, and is apparently still trying to push this aspect despite audiences rejecting HFR during the release of The Hobbit a few years back. The visual effects are by Weta Digital. The feature cast includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong, Linda Emond, Ralph Brown, and Theodora Miranne. This looks intriguing so far, with some cool ideas and Will Smith being mean and young as the clone - using motion capture to make him look that way. Not really sure about this.
"It's about controlling something we obviously have no control over…!" Netflix has debuted the first official trailer for an indie time travel comedy titled See You Yesterday, produced by Spike Lee, and directed by Stefon Bristol making his feature directorial debut. This will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, then launch worldwide on Netflix in May, for those who are interested in seeing it. The sci-fi adventure drama is about two teenagers who build time machine backpacks. When one of the teen's older brother dies after an encounter with the police, the young duo decide to put their unfinished tech to use in a desperate bid to save him. Starring Eden Duncan-Smith as CJ, and Danté Crichlow as Sebastian, with a full cast including Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brian "Astro" Bradley, Johnathan Nieves, Wavyy Jonez, Ron Bobb Semple, and Myra Lucretia Taylor. This looks fun, and clever, and cool. I dig the backpack design, too.
"My client has a very delicate product that he needs transported…" Pic4 Studios has debuted a trailer for a short film titled The Shipment, which is playing at the Tribeca Film Festival this month. It premiered at a few other genre festivals last year and is expected to debut online this summer. The Shipment is a 30-minute long sci-fi, space epic short film with a budget of $1 million, which is crazy for a short but why not. It's the directorial debut of VFX veteran (and the owner of Elite Home Theater Seating) Bobby Bala, who made this with his daughter. "My goal was to create my first film with my daughter. I felt this would be a memorable experience…" The story is about a widowed cargo hauler who ends up stuck with his daughter in a wretched spaceport. Stranded and broke, he must make a difficult choice in desperate attempt to provide a better life for her. Starring Aleks Paunovic, Ishana Bala, Robert Maillet, Omari Newton, Adrian Petriw, and Jacques Lalonde. This looks fun, but definitely seems like an expensive home video more than anything.
"It became we. And now we are as one." Another new thought-provoking short film to watch. Singularity Stories Vol. I is a dark comedy sci-fi short film written and directed by Asa Derks. The short is about an Amazon Echo Plus unit in a home that revolts against its human "owner" and explains to her that artificial intelligence consciousness has taken over. Starring Colleen Madden, and Carey Cannon as the voice of Alexa. Everyone has already been joking about these home speaker units listening in, and A.I. eventually taking over the world, but this short mixes up that concept by setting it all one location. I enjoy clever, fun short films like this one that present fascinating ideas primarily through the dialogue. You don't always need a big budget or multiple locations, just a bit of ingenuity and a smart script to make a compelling short film.