What Richard Did

If you’ve heard of What Richard Did, there’s a good chance it was in the context of a conversation about Transformers 4. A few months ago, Irish actor Jack Reynor was plucked from relative obscurity to become Michael Bay‘s new Shia LaBeouf, and What Richard Did was one of the few films on his resume. If Transformers 4 does well, this young star has the potential to become one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars overnight. But as he moves on to higher-profile roles, his sensitive turn in What Richard Did makes me hope he won’t leave indies behind completely.

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The big recent roles from Sam Rockwell have been comedic — think of his turn in Seven Psychopaths, his work in The Sitter, hell, even his Iron Man 2 performance had a comic tinge. And when audiences get a chance to see The Way Way Back later this year, they’ll see a very endearing and funny turn from the actor.

A Single Shot appears to have only the smallest funny bone. It is an adaptation of a novel by Matthew F. Jones, in which a man (Rockwell) loses his family farm, and poaches game to survive. But things go bad when he takes aim at the wrong target. The trailer is very much in a sort of post-Malick mode, with a bit of dialogue setting the stage for a cascade of imagery backed by tense, insistent violins. It gives a sense of danger more than it conveys a full story. Read More »

How do you sell a movie that’s earned the dubious distinction of having one of the highest walkout rates in recent Sundance memory? Well, if you’re the marketing team behind Rick Alverson‘s The Comedy, by defiantly playing up the horrified reactions in your own trailer.

Starring Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, The Comedy is a super dark, super dry look at the exquisite pain of being a young(ish) wealthy white dude in America. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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Given the high-profile cast (Kristen Wiig, Gillian Jacobs, Bobby Moynihan, Elijah Wood, Kevin Corrigan, Adam Brody, Garret Dillahunt, David Rasche, Jayne Atkinson, and Ryan Phillippe all appear) and its billing as a dark comedy, you’d think it’d be reasonable to expect a twisted good time from Chadd Harbold‘s Revenge for Jolly! You’d be wrong. Neither sharp enough to be genuinely entertaining nor incompetent enough to be ironically hilarious, Revenge for Jolly! may just be the most insipid killing spree you’ll ever watch.

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Tanya Wexler‘s Hysteria boasts the kind of premise that’s bound to make viewers sit up and take note: In Victorian-era England, the handsome young Dr. Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) invents the vibrator to help him treat his “hysterical” female patients by inducing paroxysms. (Or as we call it today, masturbating them to orgasm.) That it’s based on a true story, or a true-ish one anyway, makes it even more intriguing. So it’s a little disappointing that Hysteria is actually much tamer than that description would suggest, but it’s got so much charm I found myself enjoying the hell out of it anyway.

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If you’d told me that Seth Rogen would be the pleasant surprise of a quiet indie relationship drama starring Michelle Williams, I’m not sure I’d have believed you. This is her territory, after all, if it is anyone’s. (See also: Blue Valentine.) But even as the rest of Sarah Polley‘s Take This Waltz lurches between moments of understated heartbreak and scenes of thudding obviousness, Rogen quietly proves once and for all that despite his comedy roots, he’s got some serious dramatic chops.

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In 2007, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi made a splash with their acclaimed feature debut Persepolis, an adaptation of Satrapi’s autobiographical comic. For their new follow-up Chicken With Plums, the pair have drawn upon another of Satrapi’s tomes, this one the true-ish tale of Satrapi’s renowned musician uncle.

Superficially, the two projects seem like opposites. Where Persepolis was animated in stark black and white, their sophomore effort is (mostly) live-action and bursting with vivid color. What hasn’t changed, however, is Paronnaud and Satrapi’s proclivity for producing bold visuals and mixing serious emotion with playful humor.

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Having tackled the fast-food industry, the war on terror, and product placement with his last several works, Morgan Spurlock takes on the less overtly political topic of male grooming in Mansome. Featuring interviews with experts, ordinary joes, oddities, and celebrities (Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Paul Rudd, Judd ApatowJohn Waters, etc.), the lighthearted film tackles the full spectrum of masculine appearance maintenance in contemporary society. It’s a very broad topic and Spurlock only manages to skim the surface, but what Mansome lacks in real insight, it makes up for in sheer entertainment.

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