Bleecker Street Movies

Though a lot of indie glory goes to studios like A24 and Annapurna Pictures, the indie distributor Bleecker Street has their fair share of gems: Beasts of No Nation, Captain Fantastic, Paterson, Logan Lucky and more. Now their movies will be much more accessible to audiences thanks to an multi-year exclusive streaming deal they’ve just finalized with Hulu for their upcoming theatrical releases. Find out some of the Bleecker Street movies included in the Hulu deal below. Read More »

the art of self-defense trailer

If you’re reading this, that means you’ve seen The Art of Self-Defense, right? You witnessed a satire of toxic masculinity for the ages featuring a pitch-perfect Jesse Eisenberg performance, and you were blown away by that wild ending. And, for that matter, you’ve also read the other interviews /Film writers have conducted with the cast and writer/director Riley Stearns. Good. Now, bow to Grandmaster and prepare to go in-depth with Stearns on that wild ending to the film.

In case you haven’t gathered as much, there are going to be heavy spoilers for the last of act of The Art of Self-Defense from here on out. Don’t say you weren’t warned as I delve into the origin and implications of the film’s climactic scene with Stearns.

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the art of self-defense trailer

The Art of Self-Defense is not your average karate kid tale. Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is a grown man who takes Karate classes after he survives a mugging. Sensei (Alessandro Nivola) gives him wisdom like “think German” and Anna (Imogen Poots) tries to help toughen Casey up. Things quickly go too far. 

The dark comedy from writer/director Riley Stearns may be the anti-underdog tale. There are no rousing victories, as Stearns prefers to bathe the whole movie in silence, and audiences may question who and what they’re rooting for at various points. Casey is navigating a world that champions violence, so how is a man supposed to stand up for himself? 

Stearns spoke with /Film by phone about The Art of Self-Defense, which had its premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. The Art of Self-Defense is out in theaters today. 

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The Art of Self-Defense Interview

During the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, /Film had the opportunity to sit down with writer/director Riley Stearns and cast members Jesse Eisenberg, Imogen Poots, and Alessandro Nivola to discuss the upcoming Bleecker Street release, The Art of Self-Defense.

Given that this funny dark comedy is set in the world of martial arts dojo gyms, it only made sense that the press junket would be held at a dojo gym in Austin. As such, the rules were strict, including no shoes on the mat. Since the film itself is obsessed with the rules and idiosyncrasies of the karate world, it was only appropriate. 

Bleecker Street will open The Art of Self-Defense on July 12, 2019.

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the art of self-defense infomercial

If you were to turn on the TV at two in the morning and stumble on this The Art of Self-Defense infomercial, you could be forgiven for calling the number immediately. The viral marketing clip from the SXSW darling perfectly imitates those classic late-night infomercials, right down to the shoddy production, the endearing visual noise, and the stiff delivery from the various “real people, not actors.” Teach us your ways, sensei.

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the art of self-defense trailer

Everyone muses about signing up for a self-defense class at one point or another, but when Jesse Eisenberg‘s terrified young man does in The Art of Self-Defense, he gets a little more than he bargained for. The black comedy that made waves at SXSW has a new trailer, and it gives us another glimpse at what happens when Eisenberg’s timid young man buys into the toxic masculinity of karate class. Watch the new The Art of Self-Defense trailer below.

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The Art of Self-Defense Review

“I want to be what intimidates me.”

Riley Stearns (Faults) returns to SXSW with a super dark, incisive comedy that asks at what point in the process of toughening up and besting our bullies do we become precisely what we fear. The Art of Self-Defense follows Casey (Jesse Eisenberg), a nervous little accountant who tiptoes through life trying not to offend anyone. He’s the kind of unobjectionable wimp who passes his free time by listening to French lesson books on tape and jerking it to photocopied pictures of boobs (The Art of Self-Defense appears to be very low-key set in a pre-Internet and pre-Audible age, though it’s never too showy about its period setting). But when Casey is randomly, brutally attacked by a group of motorcyclists, he takes up karate in order to feel safe and strong.

There are some impossible to ignore plot comparisons to Fight Club here: the dojo is led by an enigmatic Sensei (Alessandro Nivola) and populated with worshipful men who hang onto his every word. Casey finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the culture of the dojo, irrevocably affecting every other aspect of his life. And then there’s Imogen Poots’ Anna, the dojo’s one daunting woman, who represents Casey’s inauguration, foil and redeemer in this macho new life.

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the art of self-defense trailer

Jesse Eisenberg is afraid of…well…everything in The Art of Self-Defense. Eisenberg plays a nervous nebbish who decides to sign up for a karate class in order to get over his many, many fears. But as this brief but memorable trailer shows, there’s more going on here than meets the eye. Watch The Art of Self-Defense trailer below.

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SXSW Day 3 2019

(Welcome to The SXSW Diaries, where we will be chronicling every single movie we see at the Austin-based film festival.)

Welcome to SXSW 2019 day three. In this edition: The Art of Self-Defense is masterful dark comedy about masculinity gone wrong, The Highwaymen is perfectly decent dad-tainment, Booksmart redefines the high school comedy for 2019, and Snatchers can’t quite capture its tricky blend of comedy and horror.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Faults

Writer/director Riley Stearns has been quietly working on his follow-up to his feature directorial debut, Faults. That 2014 film starred actress (and Stearns’ wife) Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who was most recently gave an excellent, assured performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Now Winstead and Stearns will collaborate once again for The Art of Self-Defense.

Below, learn more about Riley Stearns’ second film The Art of Self Defense.

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