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› Alex Winter on Making Docs
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"Pashka, a dog, be a dog." Kino Lorber has unveiled the official US trailer for an acclaimed Russian drama titled Beanpole, which first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this summer. After winning the Best Director in Un Certain Regard award in Cannes, the film has gone on to play at the Telluride, Toronto, Hamburg, London, Busan, and New York Film Festivals this fall. Beanpole is made by a 28-year-old Russian filmmaker named Kantemir Balagov. Set in the city of Leningrad (now known as Saint Petersburg), in 1945 at the end of WWII, two women search for meaning and hope in the struggle to rebuild their lives amongst the ruins. Described as a "richly burnished, occasionally harrowing rendering of the persistent scars of war." Starring Viktoria Miroshnichenko & Vasilisa Perelygina. This definitely won't be for everyone; some critics are flipping for it, others not so much. Worth a look anyway, at least for the distinct "painterly" style.
"Every day could be an adventure…" Disney has debuted another official trailer for their live-action update on the animated classic Lady and the Tramp, which is skipping theaters so it can be used as a Disney+ centerpiece at launch next month. Lady in the Tramp is a lovable dog movie telling the romantic tale of a sheltered uptown Cocker Spaniel dog and a streetwise downtown Mutt. All of the dogs used in the film are rescues, which means it's not entirely all CGI. Featuring Justin Theroux as Tramp, Tessa Thompson as Lady, plus the voices of Sam Elliott, Ashley Jensen, Janelle Monáe, Benedict Wong; and a human cast including Kiersey Clemons, Yvette Nicole Brown, Thomas Mann, Arturo Castro, Parvesh Cheena, and Adrian Martinez. I said it before and I'll say it again, but doggone it, this movie doesn't look that bad. I'm charmed by this trailer, it's so darn cute and heartwarming. Or maybe I just really love dogs…
"I looked at him, and he ran to me. That's when everything started to get a lot better." First Run Features has debuted an official trailer for an indie documentary titled To Be of Service, the latest doggie doc to arrive this year. From experienced doc director Josh Aronson, To Be of Service explores the remarkable life changes resulting from the introduction of trained service dogs into the lives of military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not all war veterans can get this kind of help, but for the lucky ones who are paired up with a service dog, the unconditional love and support offered by these highly trained canines become the bedrock for them to re-engage with the outside world and to learn to feel again. The film profiles these veterans and their service dogs: Greg Kolodziejczyk and Valor, Sylvia Bowersox and Timothy, Tom Moody and Mako, Brandon Lewis and Booth, Phil Bauer and Champ, Walter Parker and Jackson. Aww.
"Didn't really plan this trip, I just had to… get away." Dark Star has released an official trailer for the film titled Spell, with a screenplay written by the lead actor Barak Hardley. "Featuring a new original song and forthcoming video from Weezer, a fun cameo from Weezer's frontman Rivers Cuomo, and a 'sparse, icey' score by Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, the surreal tale made its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival to great acclaim, bringing home the award for 'Best Ensemble Cast.'" This dark comedy, "bizzaro thriller" is about an American illustrator who runs out of medication while wandering the isolated Icelandic countryside - unsure if his compulsions are related to his disorder or if he's being forced to unlock ancient secrets. Starring Barak Hardley, with Jackie Tohn, Magnus Jonsson, and Birna Rún Eiríksdóttir.
Another unique hand-made short film. I'm OK is an animated short film made by London-based animator / filmmaker Lizzy Hobbs, inspired by the life and art of Austrian Oskar Kokoschka. Following the end of a stormy love affair, Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka enlists in the First World War. After suffering serious injuries in battle, he experiences a series of memories and visions as medics transport him through the forests of the Russian front. I'm OK explores "the wounds of heartbreak & trauma." The gorgeous short features individually hand-painted frames that put together tell stories about Kokoschka's life and art. "I found the music that [Kokoschka] associated with the period, read his plays, his writing, and studied all his prints and paintings. And then I animated on and around the work," Hobbs explains. View the short below.
"The world isn't how you think it is." "Why not? This is my life." Netflix has debuted an official trailer for an indie film from Italy titled The Man Without Gravity, also known as L'uomo senza gravità in Italian. This film seems similar, in a few ways, to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But instead of a baby being born old, this baby has no connection to gravity. He just floats. A gravity-defying baby raised in seclusion matures into an extraordinary man—and an international celebrity—but he still longs for an ordinary life. Starring Elio Germano as Oscar, with a cast including Michela Cescon, Elena Cotta, Silvia D'Amico, Vincent Scarito, and Pietro Pescara. This actually looks quite charming and uplifting (no pun intended, but it definitely works). Perhaps a little cliche, but still seems like a good story about how to live your own life even when everyone else wants a part of it. I'm curious about seeing this one, might be a good discovery.
"Won't someone help me lose my mind?" Abramorama has debuted the trailer for the music documentary film titled Mountaintop, opening in select theaters this month. The film is a "raw and extremely unfiltered look" at the process of Neil Young working with Crazy Horse to make their first new album in 7 years - titled Colorado. It's another one of these "how we made the music" docs cross-promoting the album, much like Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars – also out this fall. But this one has more curse words. "Providing fans around the world with the opportunity to see how Neil and the band put it all together is a particularly rare and exciting experience," said Abramorama CEO Richard Abramowitz. "Witness the laughter, tensions, crusty attitudes & love of a rock & roll band that's been together for 50 years as they share their passion, first and foremost… for the music." The fish-eye lens footage in this is a bit odd, but maybe that's the point.
"Be careful… This village will challenge you every step of the way." Disney UK has released yet another new official trailer for the highly anticipated sequel Frozen II (or just Frozen 2). We've already seen three other trailers before this, including the original teaser, but with a month to go they're kicking the marketing into high gear. More trailers, more posters, more marketing galore! The first movie from 2013 is renowned all over the world and beloved by audiences young and old. This time they venture north into a mysterious foggy "Enchanted Forest" where they learn the truth about an ancient mystery of their kingdom. Featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, plus Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown; with new music from Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. It looks like yet another fun, magical, mysterious adventure with all these beloved characters.
"About his discussions with a frog…" Stage Russia has debuted an official trailer for a documentary titled Rezo, a film about the famous Georgian writer, artist and puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze. Rezo is best known as the screenwriter of the iconic Soviet movies Mimino and Kin-dza-dza. He has been awarded the title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature in France, and New Yorker recognized his Stalingrad as one the best theatrical performances of 2010. His sculptures adorn the streets of Saint Petersburg and Odessa. Timur Bekmambetov also produced the film, and says about it: "Rezo has become family for me. This movie is my homage to a senior colleague and a sign of the deepest recognition of his identity, talent and incredible charm. There is no room for indifference in his stories. They cut directly to the heart." Half of this film is drawn by Rezo himself, a mix of classic doc storytelling & animation. I will say - it looks crazy mesmerizing.
"We have no choice but to embark on this perilous journey…" Universal Pictures has debuted the magical first official trailer for the new Dolittle movie, titled in full (originally) The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. However, they are sticking with only the short title of Dolittle officially, based on the classic stories of the famous physician who discovers that he can talk to animals. Robert Downey Jr. stars as the Doctor, with a live-action cast including Michael Sheen, Jessie Buckley, Antonio Banderas, Ralph Ineson, plus Jim Broadbent. The animal voice cast features Tom Holland as Jip, Marion Cotillard as Tutu, Rami Malek as Chee-Chee, Ralph Fiennes as Barry, Emma Thompson as Polynesia, Kumail Nanjiani as Plimpton, Selena Gomez as Betsy, John Cena as Yoshi, Octavia Spencer as Dab-Dab, Carmen Ejogo as Regine, and Craig Robinson as Fleming. This looks wildly imaginative, and adventurous, almost like a Disney movie - but is isn't. Although the music choice in this trailer is horrendous, doesn't fit at all with this.
"Daniel is simply an aspect of your mind." Samuel Goldwyn Films & Shudder have unveiled a full official trailer for Daniel Isn't Real, a horror-thriller which has been playing on the festival circuit all year after originally premiering at SXSW. From writer / director Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind of Hate), and adapted from Brian DeLeeuw's novel, the film is about a college freshmen named Luke who resurrects his childhood imaginary friend Daniel to help him cope. But he ends up in even more trouble. Miles Robbins stars as Luke, with Patrick Schwarzenegger playing his friend Daniel, plus Sasha Lane, Hannah Marks, and Mary Stuart Masterson. This looks super trippy and totally wild, definitely "mind-bendingly freaky" as the quote says. Reviews so far are good; it's an intense trailer that should put this on your radar.
"Might be taking these letters a little too seriously…" Epic Pictures has debuted the first official trailer for the indie horror comedy Red Letter Day, which will be available to watch this November after premiering at numerous film festivals earlier this year. A typically quiet suburban community descends into chaos and paranoia after the delivery of mysterious red letters. A recently divorced mother and her two teens receive the letters, instructing them each to kill or be killed. As the bloodshed begins, they find themselves in a race against time to protect the ones they love from the people they thought they knew. This looks quite twisted. Starring Dawn Van de Schoot, Hailey Foss, Roger LeBlanc, Tiffany Helm, Kaeleb Zain Gartner, and Peter Strand Rumpel. It's a wicked concept, that definitely brings out the worst in people. Have fun.