"Have you ever felt something for an object?" Dark Star Pictures has released an official US trailer for the French indie Jumbo, which originally premiered at last year's Sundance & Berlin Film Festivals. Finally! I've been waiting for this to get released, because it's an underrated, kinky, quirky gem that deserves to be seen. Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That's when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park's new flagship attraction. The two start an unexpected romance that cannot be defined. Noémie Merlant (from Portrait of a Lady on Fire) stars, with Emmanuelle Bercot, Bastien Bouillon, Sam Louwyck, and Tracy Dossou. I reviewed this from Berlinale last year, saying it's "uniquely original, surprisingly serious, and impressive." A worthy discovery.
"The best music and the best whiskey come from the same part of the country." Gather ’round and revisit this classic country music documentary film Heartworn Highways. Rarely screened, the beloved 1976 documentary portrait of the outlaw country movement will be re-released nationwide in virtual cinemas on February 5th this winter. In the mid-'70s, filmmaker James Szalapski documented the then-nascent country music movement that would soon become known as "outlaw country." Inspired, in part, by newly-long-haired Willie Nelson's embrace of hippie attitudes and audiences, a younger generation of artists including Townes Van Zandt, David Alan Coe, Steve Earle and Guy Clark popularized and developed the outlaw sound. This kind of seems like the anti-country music film about country music, which means it might be worth a watch even if you don't care much for country music. As usual, this is the best time to catch up with the film.
"Everything in the world is about sex. Except sex." Kino Lorber has revealed an official trailer for an indie psychological thriller / realist drama titled Test Pattern, a film marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Shatara Michelle Ford. This originally premiered at the Blackstar Film Festival back in 2019, and it played at numerous other festivals the last few years. Test Pattern follows an interracial couple whose relationship is put to the test after a Black woman is sexually assaulted and her white boyfriend drives her from hospital to hospital in search of a rape kit. The film stars Brittany S. Hall, Will Brill, Gail Bean, and Drew Fuller. Winner of top prizes at both the BlackStar and New Orleans Film Festivals, this gripping social thriller offers a "unique exploration of institutional racism and sexism from a Black female point of view." Those bold title cards at the end about sex are very powerful & entirely accurate. This is worth a look.
"Some people say an opera singer needs to suffer." Entertainment Films in the UK has released an official trailer for Falling for Figaro, a spunky indie comedy about finding your voice. Literally. The latest film by acclaimed director Ben Lewin (The Sessions), Falling for Figaro is a romantic comedy set in the fierce world of opera singing competitions, starring Danielle Macdonald (Dumplin’, Patti Cake$, Skin) and Joanna Lumley (Me Before You, The Wolf of Wall Street, Absolutely Fabulous). A brilliant young fund manager leaves her unfulfilling job and a long-term boyfriend to chase her lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer… training up in the Scottish Highlands. The film's cast includes Shazad Latif, Gary Lewis, Hugh Skinner, Rebecca Benson, Bhav Joshi, and Margaret Fraser. This definitely looks like a fun British singing comedy, but I don't know how it will play with people who don't also love opera. Take a look anyway.
"Godfather or Pope, I don't want to see you or your family of crooks!" Film Movement has released the official US trailer for mafia crime drama Mafia Inc, made in Montreal by filmmaker Quebecois filmmaker Daniel Grou. Set in Montreal in the 90s, the film tells the story of the Gamache family, tailors for the Paternò Mafia family for generations. Vince works on behalf of Frank the godfather with his eldest son, and seeks to earn his stripes by impressing him, but goes too far and ends up starting a war. Based on the book with the subtitle: "The Long, Bloody Reign of Canada's Sicilian Clan." Starring Marc-André Grondin as Vince, along with Sergio Castellitto, Cristina Rosato, Benz Antoine, Mylène Mackay, Domenic Di Rosa, Gilbert Sicotte, Mark Day, Pina Di Blasi, Rafael Petardi, & Ali Hassan. This actually looks pretty good, with all the usual mafia tropes, but still cool to see a mob story set up in Montreal of all places.
"Or are there unintended consequences for the worse?" HBO has revealed a trailer for a documentary film titled Fake Famous, debuting directly on the TV / streaming starting at the beginning of February. This is the feature directorial debut of tech journalist Nick Bilton, exploring the meaning of fame and influence in the digital age through a social experiment. Following three Los Angeles-based people with relatively small followings, the film explores the attempts made to turn them into famous influencers by purchasing fake followers and bots to "engage" with their social media accounts. The young trio he selects — aspiring actress Dominique, fashion designer Chris, and real estate assistant Wylie — in return have wildly different experiences as their fake followers grow by the thousands each day. Peeling back the layers to reveal what’s really happening behind the scenes of influencer fame, the film highlights our obsession with the number of likes, followers, and favorites we get and how most of our online world is more fabricated than we realize. Definitely something we need to debunk more and more as we continue to tumble down into the digital age.
"Descendants of these people are still living up their on the mountain?" Signature Entertainment in the UK has released a new UK trailer for the backwoods horror thriller titled Wrong Turn, from filmmaker Mike P. Nelson. We featured the full US trailer a month ago. Technically speaking, this is actually the seventh film in the Wrong Turn franchise, despite the same title. This time around, friends hiking the Appalachian Trail are confronted by "The Foundation", a cult community of killers who have lived in the mountains for hundreds of years. Suddenly under siege, Jen and her group of friends seem headed right to the point of no return. Starring Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Bill Sage, Emma Dumont, Dylan McTee, Daisy Head, Tim DeZarn, as well as Matthew Modine. This is a much better trailer than the other one, way more intense and more footage of the freaky stuff that happens in the woods. Don't stray from the trail, kids.
"Dude - what gives!?" Blue Fox Entertainment has released an official trailer for Young Hearts, an indie romance film that originally premiered at last year's Slamdance Film Festival. This one is worth a watch. Produced by Jay and Mark Duplass, this charming coming-of-age story is about two high schoolers who fall into first love, only to discover life is a lot more complicated than they could ever imagine. Yeah surprise, surprise. Anjini Taneja Azhar & Quinn Liebling star as the lovers, with a cast including Alex Jarmon, Ayla Carda, Kelly Grace Richardson, Eric Martin Reid, and Tanner Orcutt. The film is described as "an honest look into the naive yet complex social/cultural worlds of today's young people." This looks way better than you're probably expecting, a refreshing update on contemporary young love. Check it out below.
"It is…a little…romantic." Freestyle Digital Media has debuted a trailer for Bad Cupid, a romantic comedy (dark comedy) from filmmakers Diane Cossa & Neal Howard that's arriving on VOD this February. John Rhys-Davies (aka Gimli / aka Sallah) stars as Archie, aka Cupid, a "God on a mission to ensure that true love always wins." Or, short of that, that someone is going to die trying. Not that he particularly cares which outcome it is. That's Archie's "Bad Cupid" approach to romance and beware anyone who gets in his way, especially anyone he's actually trying to help. A reinvention of the "Cupid" concept arriving just in time for Valentine's Day this year. The film's cast includes Shane Nepveu, Briana Marin, Claybourne Elder, Christine Turturro, and Amelia Sorenson. This looks fun and is made immeasurably better by having John Rhys-Davies as Mister Bad Cupid, kind of like a Valentine's Day riff on Bad Santa. Watch out for love.
"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…
"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.