"Nothing like a little friendly competition, right pal?" IFC Midnight has debuted a trailer for a 90s, VHS-throwback wacky horror titled Rent-A-Pal, which sounds like a horror comedy however it's anything but. One morning, while browsing Reddit, filmmaker Jon Stevenson came across a very strange video online: an old VHS tape called, 'Rent-A-Friend." Hosted by an enigmatic yet charming "Sam," Rent-A-Friend offered entertainment, advice, and most importantly, friendship, to lonely people in a pre-digital age. "Who would watch this?!" Stevenson asked. The answer to that question would ultimately become the story of Rent-A-Pal. Brian Landis Folkins stars as lonely bachelor who decides to "Rent-A-Pal" but discovers the cost is more than he can afford. Also starring Wil Wheaton, Amy Rutledge, and Kathleen Brady. This almost looks like something Cronenberg would make, without all his usual gore. But still Videodrome-esque creepy.
"Let the whole system give up on them… But you know what, I ain't! Okay?!" Vertical Ent. has released an official trailer for Critical Thinking, marking the feature directorial debut of actor John Leguizamo - who also stars in the film. This hasn't premiered at any festivals, but still looks like a worthwhile watch. The film tells true story of the Miami Jackson High School chess team which was the first inner city team to win the U.S. National Chess Championship in 1998. Leguizamo stars as their coach Mario Martinez, with a cast including Rachel Bay Jones, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Angel Bismark Curiel, Will Hochman, Corwin C. Tuggles, Jeffry Batista, Ramses Jimenez, and Zora Casebere. This looks quite enjoyable, a simple film about the importance of playing chess and sharpening your mind.
"I was robbed of my honor… You get outta here before they take yours, too." Vertical Ent. has released an official trailer for the indie drama The 24th, the latest film from writer / director Kevin Willmott (C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, The Battle for Bunker Hill, The Only Good Indian). The film tells the story of the all-black Twenty-Fourth United States Infantry Regiment, and the Houston Riot of 1917. The so-called "riot" was an uprising by 156 African-American soldiers in response to the brutal violence and abuse at the hands of Houston police officers. Certainly sounds very timely, and is definitely a reference to current events in America, too. The film stars Trai Byers, Bashir Salahuddin, Aja Naomi King, Mo McRae, Tosin Morohunfola, Mykelti Williamson, and Thomas Haden Church. It looks like a very powerful, very moving story to tell. But sadly it seems as if nothing much has changed in over 100 years. Take a look.
"An act of crime committed in the name of nationalism." The official trailer has released for a fascinating, eye-opening documentary titled The Andorra Hustle, from doc filmmaker Eric Merola. If you have never heard of the country of Andorra… you will now. Andorra is a very small country located in Europe nestled between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. The documentary explains how one of the country's banks, known as BPA, was targeted in outrageous scandals involving Spain's and America's governments. Say what? It's all about fighting against Catalonia's independence movement, which Spain has been trying to quell for years. "Spanish Police were of the opinion that destroying the bank accounts of the Catalonian leadership would help win their war against Catalonia." This looks like a powerful investigative journalism doc that was made under-the-radar to stay out of the focus of the governments who don't want this story to get out. But the film is out soon - debuting on VOD next month via Amazon. Learn more in the trailer below.
"One, two, three…!" Freestyle Digital Media has released a trailer for an indie dramedy film titled Teenage Badass, marking the feature directorial debut of filmmaker Grant McCord. This was supposed to premiere at the SXSW Film Festival earlier this year before it was cancelled, and will now launch on VOD in the fall. Set in 2006, Teenage Badass follows a band when they score a shot to play on the local news. But as all of their dreams start to become a reality, the band's egocentric singer / songwriter threatens to make them lose everything they have worked for. The story actually follows the drummer, played by Mcabe Gregg; and the lead singer Kirk Stylo is played by Evan Ultra. Also starring Julie Ann Emery, Kevin Corrigan, James Paxton, Madelyn Deutch, Elsie Hewitt, and Dillon Lane. The tone in this trailer is all over the place, and it seems like just some boys having fun and being teens. Not sure what the point of it is? Rock on below.
"I don't think your mom is just a regular mom." Netflix has revealed an official trailer for a family comedy titled The Sleepover, the latest from director Trish Sie, of Step Up All In and Pitch Perfect 3. When two siblings discover their seemingly normal mom is a former thief in witness protection who has been forced to pull one last job, they team up to rescue her over the course of an action-packed night. Joe Manganiello stars as an ex-flame of their mom who gets involved and helps the kids pull off this job and save the day. Starring Sadie Stanley, Maxwell Simkins, Ken Marino, Cree Cicchino, Lucas Jaye, Karla Souza, Enuka Okuma, Erik Griffin, with Malin Akerman. This looks so cheesy and absurdly fun, like the kind of Hollywood comedies they used to make in the 90s. But, uh, made by Netflix now. Still looks entertaining.
"There are no good people in there - no saints, only sinners." Lionsgate has released an official trailer for an action thriller titled Seized, the latest from B-movie action filmmaker Isaac Florentine (who also made Acts of Vengeance with Adkins). MMA action star Scott Adkins plays a former Special Forces agent whose son is kidnapped and must now wipe out three dangerous crime syndicates if he wants to see him alive again. Adkins has been starring in endless action movies recently, none of them worth watching, but he still keeps making them - he's also in Debt Collectors and Legacy of Lies this year. Seized also features Mario Van Peebles with a killer cowboy hat, Steven Elder, Karlee Perez, James P. Bennett, David Fernandez Jr., Luis Gatica, and Mauricio Mendoza. Another day, another mindless bland action movie to ignore.
"From now on, no one will tell us what we can and can't do." Quiver Dist. has released an official trailer for the indie drama I Am Woman, telling the inspiring story of Australian singer and activist Helen Reddy. This first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year, and also stopped by the Busan Film Festival - we featured the first teaser last fall. Australian actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey stars as Helen, with a full cast that includes Danielle Macdonald (from Patti Cake$), Evan Peters (from X-Men), Matty Cardarople, Dusty Sorg, Toks James, Gus Murray, and also Rita Rani Ahuja. Reddy's most famous song is one called "I Am Woman", which quickly became the anthem for the women's movement in the 70s. The film is a story of fearless ambition and passion, of a woman who smashed through the patriarchal norms of her time to become an international singing superstar. This looks dazzling! An inspiring smash-the-patriarchy story.
"We wanted audiences to feel like they could reach through the screen and touch this world." One of the best stop-motion animation studios is celebrating 15 years this year! Laika Animation originally opened in 2005 and worked on their first feature film Corpse Bride. The first film made entirely by the studio was Coraline, which opened in theaters in 2009. They followed up with four more outstanding stop-motion animated films: ParaNorman in 2012, The Boxtrolls in 2014, Kubo and the Two Strings in 2016, and Missing Link in 2019 - just last year. To celebrate the anniversary, Fandango released a 5-minute long behind-the-scenes celebratory featurette, looking back at their history and their work. I'm a big fan of Laika and almost always enjoy their movies (my personal favorite is still Kubo, also ParaNorman). This wonderful video shows how much work goes into each project and all the people crafting every piece of the production.
"Something is wrong here…" 101 Films has released an official trailer for an indie supernatural thriller titled Widow's Point, adapted from the book of the same name. This originally premiered at a few small genre festivals last year. Widow's Point follows a writer who spends a weekend locked in a haunted lighthouse to help promote his next book, where he is targeted by supernatural forces. Of course - haunted houses usually are haunted! Ha. Craig Sheffer stars in this as Thomas Livingston, along with KateLynn E. Newberry, Dominic Luongo, Kaelin Lamberson, and John Renna. This sounds like it could be thrilling, but the footage in this trailer is really bad. Then again, it's direct-to-DVD so it's not that surprising it looks this bad.
Holy turtle! This looks absolutely gorgeous! Lucan Studio, an animation studio based in Cape Town, South Africa, has released an official trailer for an animated series they are developing entirely in-house. The show is called Isaura - an animated kids series set in Mozambique with strong conservation messaging wrapped up in an epic tale of good vs evil. The story is about a young girl who discovers a talisman, which in her possession allows her to become a guardian of the ocean. This definitely has a Studio Ghibli feel to it - and io9 points out the trailer "was created by blending 3D environments, hand-drawn characters, and Unreal Engine." Very impressive. We don't usually feature trailers for shows, but the production quality here is so much better than most animated features we couldn't not share it anyway. In addition to how good it looks, I just love seeing a nice story about cleaning up our oceans, and how heroic it is to really care about nature.
"Please, Kat. It was always just a dream…" Trinity Creative Partnership has released an official trailer for a rock band comedy from the UK titled Kat and the Band, marking the feature directional debut of British filmmaker E.E. Hegarty. Seventeen year old, music-obsessed school girl Kat Malone tricks her way into managing struggling band Dollar Days, pretending to be a band manager in her twenties. Featuring original music by the real band Some Velvet Morning. The indie film stars Ella Hunt, the lead in cult classic horror musical Anna and the Apocalypse, along with Dougie Poynter, Callum McGowan, Idris Debrand, and Katherine Kelly. This looks clever and upbeat, something to watch with friends on the weekend. Have fun.