The best way to revitalize a well-worn story concept is often to approach it openly and honestly, but from an unusual angle. That’s what writer/director David Lowery does with the ages-old conflict between an outlaw, a lawman, and the woman between them, in the exceptional modern western Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Rooney Mara are the people crossed at a crucial point in time. You’ve heard the story before, or at least seen the setup: one guy pulls a criminal job, and is caught in a fight with sheriff’s deputies as a result. His girlfriend is stalwart and sticks with him, even when the consequences of his criminal actions hit hard. But life is complicated, and plans go right to hell.
Deliberately paced and more interested in aftermath than big action scenes, a shorthand caption for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints could be “Cormac McCarthy by way of The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford.” Each role is acted with calm precision, and directed with a measured hand. Lowery never falls to the temptation of overplaying a scene. It is one of the best films I’ve seen at Sundance 2013, and a must for fans of the slow burn or directors Andrew Dominik and John Hillcoat. Read More »
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In terms of message, there isn’t really much to The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman. It’s a film about love and the trials and tribulations we endure for it. Which, in a way, is pretty much the theme of half the movies ever made. What makes the film so entertaining is that it’s kind of insane. Shia LaBeouf plays the title character, who ignores society and goes on a seat of his pants adventure across Bucharest, embracing every impulse and never knowing what’s coming next. The audience can probably see what’s coming next, but getting there is a wild, frivolous ride.
Making his feature film debut, commercial director Fredrik Bond has made a visually impressive, thematically pointless joyride tainted with drugs and blood. And if that sounds like your kind of thing, you’ll love The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman. Read More »
Have you been following our coverage of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival? It’s been a crazy six days so far and with five days to go, who knows what great films are left to discover or get on your radar. So far, we’ve reviewed (or at least discussed) nearly 20 different movies that you will be talking about later this year and have plenty more on the way. Some of the highlights include Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s The East, Michael Cera in Crystal Fairy, the horror sequel S-VHS, Richard Linklater’s incredible Before Midnight and the controversial Escape from Tomorrow. Click on each of those for the reviews.
We also reviewed such buzzed about films as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon’s Addiction, the star-studded comedy The Way Way Back, and James Ponsoldt’s teen drama The Spectacular Now, all of which have been picked up for distribution. For everything else we’ve written so far, click on this link.
The latest films picked up for distrubution include Toy’s House, about a group of kids who run away from home and build a house in the woods, the tense real-life thriller Fruitvale and the Jack Kerouac/Daniel Radcliffe film Kill Your Darlings, the real life porn story Lovelace, David Gordon Green’s Paul Rudd/Emile Hirsch comedy Prince Avalanche, among others.
After the jump, read who picked those films up and which others you’ll be seeing in theaters soon. Read More »
You may remember the news stories from late in the summer of 2008. Eleven climbers died trying to climb the second tallest, and most treacherous mountain in the world: K2. The specific details of the tragedy were never made public, mostly because the survivors all had different stories to tell.
The precise intersection of those stories is the mystery director Nick Ryan unravels in The Summit, a documentary combining footage from the actual mountain with stunning reenactments and eyewitness interviews. Transitioning between the three disciplines, Ryan is able to not only tell the story of 24 climbers who climbed the mountain, he’s actually able to piece together exactly how 11 of them perished. Blending those two stories together, however, presents a problem.
Read more about the film below. Read More »
Yesterday at Sundance Jim Rash and Nat Faxon premiered their film The Way Way Back. The Descendants writers penned the film several years ago, and only made it last year. The coming of age comedy is set in a Massachusetts seaside town , and features quite a cast: Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, and Rob Corddry make up the key ensemble, and relative newcomer Liam James plays the young man Duncan, who is trying to deal with his mom’s douchy new boyfriend (Carell) as they spend summer at his family beach house.
After the screening many people commented that the film seemed like an obvious buy for Fox Searchlight. It has that easy and appealing blend of dialogue-based humor and slight pathos that tends to make a hit. Germain vocalized a similar notion in his review.
And now Searchlight is said to be close to a $10m deal to pick up the movie. If the deal goes through, Searchlight will have beat out Lionsgate, FilmDistrict, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros. in a sale that Deadline calls “one of the most spirited auctions in recent Sundance memory.” It would also be one of the priciest deals ever for the fest.
After the break, Austenland and Concussion get distribution deals, and several docs get distribution, too. Read More »
Produced by Grammy winner Alicia Keys and co-starring Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson and American Idol Jordin Sparks, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete might sound like a kiddie movie. Quirky title, popular names, and two child leads make that assumption easy. But this one, written by Michael Starrbury and directed by George Tillman Jr. (Notorious, Faster), is anything but kids’ stuff.
While the film dramatizes the ultimate childhood wish fulfillment, spending a summer without parental supervision, it does so with brutal honesty in the harsh realities of modern Brooklyn. Mister (Skylan Brooks) and Pete (Ethan Dizon), two young boys whose mothers are both MIA drug addicts, decide that living on their own and scavenging for food, medicine and soap, is better than being brought to a boys home.
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete features two beautiful lead performances and solid supporting turns by Hudson, Sparks, Anthony Mackie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jeffrey Wright. It is an emotionally effective, if not particularly resonant addition to the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Read more after the jump.
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The typical image of a “Sundance movie” often conjures up one of two things. A long, drawn-out burn with great characters, or the independently-financed comedy destined for box office glory. This post contains my thoughts on two 2013 films in the latter category.
In a World is the feature directorial debut of Lake Bell and it is a film about movie trailers. Seriously. Bell, who is best known for her roles in romantic comedies, not only directed, but wrote and also stars in this film about a woman who makes her way up in the world of Hollywood voice overs. It co-stars Dimitri Martin, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, Tig Notaro, and Nick Offerman.
The Way, Way Back is also a directorial debut, for Oscar-winning screenwriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry (again) and Amanda Peet all help tell the story of a young man coming of age over a summer at the beach.
Both films are incredibly funny, very sweet and worth your time. Read more after the jump. Read More »
Dirty Wars is a movie that you’ll watch, and which will compel you to watch your back after you’ve seen it. Paranoid viewers might think the CIA should have a list of all the people who’ve seen the film, directed by Richard Rowley, because they now know unspeakable, horrific truths about America.
In Dirty Wars, Rowley follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill deep behind enemy lines. He travels across the Middle East, Africa, and other regions to talk to people whose families — women, children, babies — have been killed by the American military. Over the course of the movie, one incident leads to another, and eventually a pattern is revealed. It seems like America is fighting an unstoppable World War against an enemy we’re creating ourselves, in countries that we aren’t at odds with.
Dirty Wars is a focused, fascinating and frightening look at war in the 21st century, and a film you’re sure not to forget. Read more below. Read More »
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