January 24th, 2013

Screen Play: Sundance 2013 “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes”

The Gist:
A girl becomes obsessed with her neighbor, who looks like her dead mother.

The Stars: Kaya Scodelario, Jessica Biel, and Alfred Molina.

The Buzz: The film’s somewhat autobiographical. Writer/director Francesca Gregorini used the story to exercise a couple of her own demons. That’s about all we can say about that without giving away major plot points. We can tell you the lead, which is played swimmingly by Scodelario, was written for Rooney Mara (who ended up co-producing). Getting the project off the ground, however, took a while, and Mara got older, too old to play 17.

Photo: Courtesy of Sundance.org

December 26th, 2012

Well, now that it’s over, let’s do it again! Whoever said Christmas comes but once a year was just plain wrong. Spend the next twelve days with a dozen of our favorite movies from 2012.

January 27th, 2012

Sundance 2012’s Films That Stirred Serious Buzz

We danced on the sun, and we liked it. After burning through loads of cinema, we narrowed down the hot-topic films that had festers ablaze.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
The Buzz: Audiences stood with roaring applause to Benh Zeitlin’s mystical debut narrative; several big-time buyers, including The Weinstein Company and Sony Pictures Classics, bid for rights to tame the beast. In the end, Fox Searchlight secured the reins.

Hello I Must Be Going
The Buzz: Todd Louiso’s comedy about a divorcee and her teenage sex suitor opened the fest, and said teenager, played by Christopher Abbott (you may remember him from last year’s Sundance success Martha Marcy May Marlene), has found his breakout role.

Wish You Were Here
The Buzz: Animal Kingdom actor-turned-director Kieran Darcy-Smith shared script responsibility with his lead actress (and wife), Felicity Price. Their debut — a mystery thriller told in nonlinear form and based on truth — made audiences gasp first, applaud later.

Simon Killer
The Buzz: Antonio Campos’s trademark use of long, tedious shots and nonstop naked romps make it a tough sell, but a brilliant watch (cheers to you, Brady Corbet) for Borderline Films fans. Mainstream buyers bailed left and right during the press and industry screening, but any film that can divide an audience is worth your time.

The Buzz: Richard Gere’s celebrity factory may have drawn the masses, but it was Drive composer Cliff Martinez’s score and Nate Parker’s performance (reminiscent of Friday Night Lights’s Vince) that stole the show.

Black Rock
The Buzz: Part of the Park City at Midnight series (a the-rule-is-there-are-no-rules kind of film section), indie sweetheart Katie Aselton’s girls-gone-wild (and brutal) horror flick premiered to a loudmouthed, rowdy bunch and hooked the buyers at LD Distribution.

Red Lights
The Buzz: During his film introduction, the man who stuck Ryan Reynolds in a box back in 2010, Rodrigo Cortés, seemed apologetic for making such a polarizing film. His advice: “Don’t expect anything; it has an energy of its own.” We concur.

For a Good Time, Call
The Buzz: Audiences were hung up on Ari Graynor, and Focus Features answered Jamie Travis’s (booty) call.

Red Hook Summer
The Buzz: Despite the resurfacing of Do the Right Thing’s Mookie, a very verbal and defensive Spike Lee swore (with very colorful language, mind you) Red Hook Summer is not a sequel. You got that?

The Buzz: There wasn’t an empty seat up for grabs, hundreds of wait-listers were turned away, and celebs (hey, Will Ferrell) piled in for Leslye Headland’s comedy about three hot chicks playing second fiddle to the fat girl from high school. Looks like the mean film already has a mean following.

Getting Up
The Buzz: The inspirational documentary lives strong through a paralyzed graffiti artist who gets his creative stroke back. It actually belongs to ultra-indie film fest Slamdance but tags a special place in the heart of Lance Armstrong.

December 15th, 2011

A quickie from the Roman empire (it’s only 79 minutes), Polanski’s NYFF opener invites you to have a watch, so check your coat and your manners at the door. Adapted from the stage, the Seinfeld-ish comedy of etiquette is more of an oral action film with enough dialogue punch to TKO Larry David. The gist: one room, two couples, and a nasty verbal massacre.
It’s like: Words with Frenemies.
Take: Another couple. And Scotch.
Premieres: December 16

September 30th, 2011

From real-life cancer survivor Will Reiser’s pen, indie filmmaker Jonathan Levine’s (The Wackness) latest full house rolls Bryce Dallas Howard, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston, Seth Rogen, and leading man Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who replaced James McAvoy), into a tissue-worthy cancer comedy. When Adam (JGL) learns he needs surgery to remove a malignant tumor, leaving him with half a shot at life, he’s forced to shut up and deal.

It’s like: I Love You Man meets Terms of Endearment.
Take: A blind date and let it ride.

September 2nd, 2011

The Debt
After screening this one more than a year ago, we’re ready for it to finally pay up. The kind of debt with no ceiling, John Madden’s post-WW2 thriller should have your interest compounding. Jessica Chastain (and Helen Mirren) channels her inner Jason Bourne to play Rachel Singer, a secret agent with one seemingly impossible mission: Capture a Nazi war criminal and bring him to justice.
It’s like: Inglourious Basterds with manners.
Take: A group. Don’t go a loan.

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