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"You can endure it all, my dear Dara." 101 Studios has debuted an official US trailer for the Serbian WWII drama Dara in Jasenovac, made by acclaimed Yugoslavian filmmaker Predrag Peter Antonijevic. This is Serbia's official Academy Awards selection for Best International Feature this year. In the summer of 1942, the family of twelve-year-old girl Dara was taken away and separated into two concentration camps. She is witnessing all the horrors of the Ustashe regime. After her brother and mother are killed, she tries to save the life of her younger brother, hoping that her father may still be alive. The film is set in the Nazi-occupied Croatian Ustasha regime "NDH" in former Yugoslavia during WWII. This is the first modern WWII movie that takes place in or shows this NDH era camp. The cast includes Biljana Cekic as Dara, along with Anja Stanic, Zlatan Vidovic, Luka Saranovic, Jakov Saranovic, Simon Saranovic, Sandra Ljubojevic, Nikola Radulj, and Rajko Lukac. This looks like another harrowing story of perseverance and tenacity.
"There's not a point where we're not reinventing ourselves." Utopia has unveiled a trailer for an indie doc titled Crestone, made by filmmaker Marnie Ellen Hertzler. This premiered at the True/False Documentary Film Festival last year, and stopped by a number of other fests, arriving on VOD in February. In the desert of Crestone, Colorado (on Google Maps), a group of SoundCloud rappers live in solitude, growing weed and making music for the internet. When an old friend arrives to make a movie, reality and fiction begin to blur. The doc film is described in reviews as "the most fascinating intersections between form and content I can remember since Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze fucked with it in Adaptation." That one quote intrigues me more than the synopsis. To top it off, the film also features a score by Animal Collective's Geologist & Deakin. This looks like some wild, gonzo filmmaking that attempts to capture a scene while getting lost in it.
"We're about to have a pool party!" Vertical Ent. has debuted one final official US trailer for the "musical cinematic experience" known as Music, created by pop artist Sia in connection with the launch of her new album this month. The film has been marred in controversy regarding its portrayal of an autistic teen being played by a non-autistic actor. But Sia still wants the film to shed new light on the autistic experience. Zu, played by Kate Hudson, is a newly sober drug dealer who receives news that she is to become the sole guardian of her half-sister named Music, a young girl on the autism spectrum. The film explores two of Sia's favorite themes: finding your voice and creating family. Sia's music is integral to the film's story. Through fantastical musical sequences she paints an alternative world for Music, Zu, Ebo and their community. Ten original songs have been written for the film and performed by the vibrant cast. Hudson stars with Maddie Ziegler, Leslie Odom Jr., Ben Schwartz, and Juliette Lewis. This one will debut on VOD next month.
"Are you experiencing any kind of temporal anomaly… in your life?" Amazon has unveiled their first look teaser trailer for an indie romantic comedy titled The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, adapted from Lev Grossman's short story of the same name. This is a bit like last year's Palm Springs, but about teenagers in love. The film introduces us to Mark, played by Kyle Allen, contentedly living the same day in an endless loop whose world is turned upside-down when he meets mysterious Margaret, played by Kathryn Newton, also stuck in the time loop. Mark and Margaret form a magnetic partnership, setting out to find all the tiny things that make that one day perfect. Of course, they're learn all the truths about love along the way. The cast includes Josh Hamilton, Al Madrigal, Cleo Fraser, and Anna Mikami. This looks super cute and amusing, but it does just seem like a teen rehash of Palm Springs. I'm hoping there's something more to it.
"Today is our turn! We must persevere!" Signature Ent. in the UK has debuted an official UK trailer with English subtitles for yet another Russian war action movie (they really love making these) titled The Final Stand, formerly known as The Last Frontier. Described as "1917 meets Hacksaw Ridge," it is a "gripping and hard hitting WWII thriller based on the unbelievable true story of the heroic military stand outside Moscow in 1941." The film tells the story of the Podolsk cadets' heroic stand outside Moscow in October 1941. They were sent to the Ilyinsky line of defense, fighting alongside units from the Soviet 43rd Army to hold back the German advance until reinforcements arrived. Hopelessly outnumbered, young men in their teens laid down their lives in a battle lasting almost two weeks to obstruct the far superior German forces advancing towards Moscow. Starring Aleksey Bardukov, Evgeniy Dyatlov, Sergey Bezrukov, Lubov Konstantinova, Artyom Gubin, and Igor Yudin. This looks intense and hellishly violent as expected.
"Thank you for giving birth to him." Film Movement has unveiled an official US trailer for the latest feature film from acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase. We first wrote about a teaser for this film last year, and it was initially scheduled to debut at the Cannes Film Festival (before the fest was cancelled). It will instead launch in "virtual cinemas" around the US at the end of this month after first opening in Japan last year. True Mothers, originally known as Asa ga Kuru in Japanese, is about a young Japanese couple that adopts a child, but then six years later they are contacted unexpectedly by the child's birth mother. Or at least a woman claiming to be the birth mother. Starring Arata Iura, Hiromi Nagasaku, Aju Makita, Miyoko Asada, Taketo Tanaka, and Ren Komai. True Mothers is also Japan's official submission to the Academy Awards this year. This looks like heart-wrenching and strikingly emotional cinematic storytelling.
"So we did it - actually moved in together… Scary, isn't it?" "Terrifying." Indeed it is… Strain Pictures has debuted this "fun little horror short film" titled Burnt, both written and directed by British actor Danny Morgan. A young couple move into a new home and find a little gift leftover by the previous tenants. But this old toaster isn't the warm welcome they thought it might be. Starring Scott Chambers and Becca Hirani. This is another great simple but clever horror short that takes a wacky idea and makes it believable. At least for 10 mins. Now I don't want toast. Tip via Danny: "Set video quality to HD and play loud!" Enjoy.
"There's no one up there… Your mind is just playing tricks on you." Lionsgate has revealed a second trailer for the indie psychological thriller Fear of Rain by filmmaker Castille Landon. A girl with schizophrenia struggles with the terrifying hallucinations as she begins to suspect her neighbor has kidnapped a child. The only person who believes her is Caleb – a boy she isn't even sure exists. The film stars Madison Iseman as Rain Burroughs, hence the title being a play on her name. Also starring Katherine Heigl, Harry Connick Jr., Israel Broussard, Enuka Okuma, as well as Eugenie Bondurant. Fear of Rain is a described as "a terrifying thriller that takes you inside Rain's mind as she confronts the frightening hallucinations of her imagination to determine whether there is real horror hiding right next door." This looks like a horror film in the second half of the trailer, perhaps with a twist that she actually solves a real crime? Very interesting.
"Now there's a lady!" Netflix has unveiled an official trailer for a 30-minute fun short documentary called What Would Sophia Loren Do?, directed by filmmaker Ross Kauffman. The film introduces us to Nancy "Vincenza" Kulik, an Italian-American mother and grandmother living in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Her life's philosophy has been based around the phrase "What Would Sophia Loren Do?" Nancy has seen her share of life’s challenges, but has always been able to stay joyful and resilient, inspired in part by a different Italian mother, Sophia Loren. Netflix is also releasing Loren's latest film, an Italian drama titled The Life Ahead. The two women reminisce about the ups and downs of life, discussing how to overcome challenges and what has kept them going. "Through the experiences of these two extraordinary women, we come to understand what it means to face life’s challenges with resilience & love, and to age with courage, humor, and joy." Yay.
"A mere mortal, dare to slay a god?" CMC Pictures in China has revealed an official US trailer for a Chinese film titled A Writer's Odyssey, about an author of a fantasy novel. The film is set for a simultaneous release in February in both China and the US. A Writer's Odyssey tells the story of Kongwen Lu, played by Dong Zijian (from Ash is Purest White), the author of a fantasy novel series following a heroic teenager on a quest to end a demon's tyrannical rule. Through a strange twist of fate, the fantasy world of the novel begins to impact life in the real world, leading Guan Ning, played by Lei Jiayin, to accept a mission to kill the author. The cast also includes Yang Mi, Yu Hewei, Guo Jingfei, and Tong Liya. This looks like one of those crazy concepts where the fantasy world bleeds into reality. The visuals are pretty cool, I'll give it that. Nothing is impossible, follow your imagination to enter a new world, get ready for the fiercest battle.
"Can music change the world?" Oscilliscope Labs has revealed the trailer for Truth to Power, a doc film profiling the political side of the band System of a Down. The Grammy-winning lead singer of System of a Down, Serj Tankian, helps to awaken a political revolution, inspiring Armenia's struggle for democracy through his music and his message. Set to the propulsions of an original soundtrack composed by Serj, his critically acclaimed solo work, as well as the iconic music of System Of A Down, Truth to Power is also an artist portrait doc with a revealing look at the musician as he writes music—from inception to recording—and pursues ambitions outside of the band. It includes memories from legendary producer Rick Rubin on System Of A Down's early years and its unlikely breakthrough, the bandmates' candid insights about the splinters and highpoints for the group, and stories from Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello on his bond with Serj as social justice advocates and their "Axis of Justice" nonprofit. Hell yes! This looks fantastic.
"You're here to be a human sacrifice!" Screen Media has debuted a full-length trailer for the wacky action horror film Willy's Wonderland, which we first teased last year. This is the gnarly movie about Nicolas Cage fighting evil furry animatronics. A quiet drifter is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Willy's Wonderland - which seems to be mocking Chuck E. Cheese. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash -- and only one side will make it out alive. The film stars Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, and Chris Warner. I don't even need to watch this trailer, I'm already sold! Bring it on. This looks like just the right mix of insanity and bloody mayhem and Cage Rage. Can't wait to watch with pizza & beer.