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Film festivals are becoming more accepting of genre films — perhaps it started with TIFF’s excellent Midnight Madness program, which has run for well over a decade, or perhaps it’s simply the more mainstream presence of genre stories and ideas in general, thanks to the popularity of horror and sci-fi on television. Regardless, festivals like Sundance and SXSW are competing with TIFF when it comes to debuting big projects for genre audiences.

SXSW just revealed the ten titles in its Midnighters lineup for 2014, and they include the world premiere of Bigfoot found-footage film Exists from director Eduardo Sanchez. There are also a couple showings of The Guest (above) from the You’re Next team of director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett, with Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens starring. Inside creators Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo have Among the Living, and the horror film Oculus debuts as well.

SXSW runs from March 7-15. You’ll find the Midnighters selections, and various shorts lineups, below.

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Infinitely Polar Bear

Briefly: The 2014 Sundance Film Festival is over and done but the we’re still seeing the effects of the fest on film distribution. Three of the festival’s more popular films were just picked up for future release. The first is Infinitely Polar Bear, the Bad Robot-produced dramedy starring Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana. Sony Pictures Classics acquired the rights. No release window has been planned yet but the movie is wonderful. Read our review here.

Also now headed to a theater near you is Ping Pong Summer, Michael Tully‘s ode to the Eighties, which has been picked up by Gravitas Ventures and Millennium Entertainment. They’re planning a theatrical run early this Summer. Read our review here.

And finally, Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel‘s Japanese action film Killers, produced by Gareth Evans, was picked up by Well Go USA Entertainment. It’ll be out in the fourth quarter of this year. Thanks to The Wrap.

Ken Taylor - Alice in Wonderland header

My mind just exploded. Every year, the Mondo Gallery in Austin, Texas hosts a massive art exhibit during South by Southwest but, this year they’ve outdone themselves. They’re teaming with Oh My Disney for a show called Nothing’s Impossible, and it’s all art based on Disney properties.

The show opens March 7 and remains open until March 11. It’ll feature new works by Ken Taylor, Martin Ansin, Kevin Tong, Tom Whalen, Aaron Horkey, Daniel Danger, JC Richard, Mike Mitchell, just a murderer’s row of amazing artists. Only one piece has been revealed, Alice in Wonderland by Ken Taylor, which you can see in part above. Check it out in full below along with all the info. Read More »

Open Windows header

We got a list of part of the SXSW premiere lineup of films not long ago, with Veronica Mars and Jon Favreau’s Chef announced as the fest’s first wave of films. Now we’ve got most of the rest of the festival’s lineup. The midnight selections and some inevitable late-breaking additions are still to be announced, but this should be more than enough to get potential attendees excited about the 2014 lineup.

SXSW will feature the premiere of Nacho Vigalondo‘s Open Windows (above), as well as the feature Faults from Riley Stearns, who directed the great short film The Cub. (Faults features Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the lead in a story about cult brainwashing and deprogramming.) There’s also a great set of films imported from Sundance, including Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood, which only played twice in Park City, and films such as The Raid 2 and Frank, the latter of which features sequences shot at last year’s SXSW.

Check out the full lineup below. Read More »

girl-walks-home-comic-header

There’s an implied threat in the title of the film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Those words together suggest menace and victimization. An image forms, not of a woman out for an enjoyable stroll, but of one who might not make it home.

A reversal of that threat is the core of this vampire film written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour. Luminescent black and white photography buttresses a very spare approach to story. Into the tale are woven supernatural tropes, and elements of westerns and ’50s rebel movies. Shot in California but set in Iran, with dialogue in Farsi, the film’s images and characters are a collision of Iranian and American cultures, specifically with respect to social politics of sex and gender. This is an inversion of classic horror, because it is not about victimization of the person described in the title, but rather that person’s retaliation against forces that seek to dominate and subjugate.

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The Voices

After several attempts to go the modern leading man route toplining blockbusters, Ryan Reynolds makes a bold career choice with The Voices. He plays Jerry, a mentally ill man doing his best to live a healthy life. He likes his assembly line job, and asks out a beautiful girl. Things are looking up. Except for the fact he believes his cat and dog are speaking to him. What the cat says is not good, and not only because the pet spits vulgarities in a thick brogue.

Make no mistake. Marjane Satrapi, director of the stunning animated film Persepolis, has not made a version of Dr. Dolittle starring Ryan Reynolds. The Voices twists Jerry’s plight into dark shapes, resulting in a frequently disturbing, frequently hilarious and always surprising film. Read More »

Whiplash' with Miles Teller

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival is coming to a close and, Saturday night, the best films of the festival were named. Whiplash, the Miles Teller drumming film, was the night’s big winner, taking both the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award as well as the Grand Jury Prize. Sony Classics picked it up earlier in the week.

Peter, Russ and myself are all back from in Park City, UT and over the next few days, we’ll tell you our favorite films of the best. But, below, look at the full list of official award winners.  Read More »

Ping Pong Summer

“The year is 1985. Rad Miracle is a shy, 13-year-old white kid obsessed with two things: Ping-Pong and hip-hop.” That’s the first sentence of the Sundance description of Ping Pong Summer, a new film by writer/director Michael Tully. The instant I read that, I had to see the film. It just so happened that the screening was my final film of the festival. I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate send-off. The film blends sports and coming of age traditions, wrapped in Eighties nostalgia, resulting in a sweet, funny film that just feels right. Read More »

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