Birth of a Nation

Of all the films that played at Sundance this year, perhaps none got more hype than Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation. Not only did it get spectacular reviews, it scored the biggest Sundance deal ever, with Fox Searchlight forking over $17.5 million. The distributor promptly set Birth of a Nation for a fall release, right at the start of awards-movie season, and now it’s getting a head start on the marketing by dropping the very first promo.

Parker stars in his own directorial debut as Nat Turner, a devoutly religious slave who becomes a traveling preacher — and, eventually, the leader of the bloodiest slave rebellion in American history. Armie Hammer plays Nat’s owner, and Penelope Ann MillerJackie Earle Haley, and Aja Naomi King also star. Watch the Birth of a Nation trailer after the jump.  Read More »

12-years-a-slave-header

The new film from director Steve McQueen (Shame, Hunger) is based on the true story of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who was kidnapped and held as a slave for over a decade. In 12 Years a Slave, Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Northrup, and we see his horrific journey and what amounts to years of imprisonment as a slave as he is tormented by captors and owners.

The impressive cast also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhane Wallis, Lupita Nyongo, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams and Garret Dillahunt. The story is wrenching — if Django Unchained played fast and loose with history, this is the film that attempts to tell the story of a slave’s emancipation from more true-to-life details. The trailer has an air of Oscar bait about it, but the emotions it calls up are undeniable. And knowing the way McQueen’s films work, the trailer could be a much more audience-friendly experience than the final film will be. Read More »

Twelve Years a Slave (2)

The name Solomon Northup may not ring a bell for most people, but Steve McQueen and his star-studded cast could help change that this winter with Twelve Years a Slave.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Northup, a free man who was tricked and sold into slavery as an adult. He spent a dozen years working on plantations before eventually finding his way to freedom once more. Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight HenryPaul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams, Alfre Woodard, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o are also among the cast. See the first official stills from the movie after the jump.

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Editor’s Note: We’re re-running Germain’s review of this film from Sundance, as Beasts of the Southern Wild is in theaters now, and very much deserves your attention.

When the film world converged on Park City, Utah for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, several movies were highly anticipated. Beasts of the Southern Wild was not one of them. But in the truest and most exciting tradition of this legendary film festival, word of mouth after the first screening spread like wildfire and Benh Zeitlin‘s directorial debut became the talk of the town. Fox Searchlight purchased the film for distribution and screenings later in the week all sold out.

So does Beasts of the Southern Wild live up to those wild expectations? Absolutely. It creates an entire new world where a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) lives in squalor with her father Wink (Dwight Henry). When Wink gets sick, Hushpuppy’s world is almost literally turned upside down and she must come to grips with her inner strength, her mortality, and a whole lot more.

After the jump, read more about this fantastic film or – if you aren’t in a reading mood – watch a video blog featuring Peter and myself. Read More »

Forget costumed heroes, vampire hunters, rogue assassins, and ’80s action stars — the summer flick I’m really dying to see centers around a six-year-old girl. Beasts of the Southern Wild, a fantasy drama from first-time director Benh Zeitlin, flew almost completely under the radar before it hit Sundance in January. In the months since, however, it feels like no one’s been able to stop raving about it.

That kind of buzz can get downright annoying when a film takes too long to jump from the festival circuit into theaters, but fortunately Fox Searchlight isn’t holding out too long for this one and has it slated to open later this month. The first trailer released last month offered a small glimpse of the movie’s magic, and now they’ve given us an enchanting new clip and an intriguing featurette to go with it.

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