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Friday, December 19, 2014

Sarah Michelle Gellar Stars As a Mental Patient In an Upcoming Drama Based On a Book By Paulo Coehlo

I'm not even 100% certain of what is even going on in this trailer. But I know Sarah Michelle Gellar is the star and that's enough to get me to pay attention. Judging by the trailer alone, VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE doesn't seem to be as ironically clever as its title conveys, but I can only hope it's at least decent--for the sake of Buffy fans everywhere. The film is based on a novel by Paulo Coelho, who wrote The Alchemist (a book so many people I know swear by). Here's more about the movie in the synopsis:

After a frantic suicide attempt, Veronika awakens inside a mysterious mental asylum. Under the supervision of an unorthodox psychiatrist who specializes in controversial treatment, Veronika learns that she has only weeks to live.

Check out the trailer:

Has anyone read the book? I'm interested to hear your thoughts about it. VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE is in select theaters and on demand January 20, 2015. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Trailer Watch: Rinko Kikuchi Is On the Hunt for Stolen Cash in a Quirky New Drama

I'll be honest, my interest in watching KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER begins and ends with its star, Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim, Babel). But I do also like its quirkiness, its intriguing premise and, really, how unexpected it is that an Asian-American actress is headlining a Fargo-esque story. The synopsis:

In this darkly comedic odyssey, Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel, Pacific Rim) stars as Kumiko, a frustrated Office Lady whose imagination transcends the confines of her mundane life. Kumiko becomes obsessed with a mysterious, battered VHS tape of a popular film she's mistaken for a documentary, fixating on a scene where a suitcase of stolen cash is buried in the desolate, frozen landscape of North Dakota. Believing this treasure to be real, she leaves behind Tokyo and her beloved rabbit Bunzo to recover it - and finds herself on a dangerous adventure unlike anything she's seen in the movies.

Watch a teaser:

Again, they had me at Rinko Kikuchi. I definitely want to see this. 

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER is in select theaters on March 13th, 2015. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

7 More Interesting Films on the Sundance Slate

Something tells me I'm going to be stalking this year's Sundance films long after they've left the festival. Since the full lineup was recently announced, I've added a few more titles to my anticipation list that I wanted to share with you. This particular rundown tends to lean more towards the crime dramas and supernatural thrillers, so if that's your poison you'll definitely want to have a look-see:


Director: Nikole Beckwith
Writer: Nikole Beckwith
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cynthia Nixon, Jason Isaacs, David Warshofsky
Description: A young woman is reunited with her parents, Marcy and Glen, after being abducted 17 years earlier. Raised in a suburban basement and renamed Leia by her kidnapper, Ben, she was told the outside world had come to an end, and now she must completely reconceive her perception of it. The bright 22-year-old is also forced to reconcile her new life with parents who are virtual strangers and her past life of captivity with Ben, on whom she was completely dependent. As Leia’s growing alienation leads to her longing for Ben, Marcy slowly implodes in her attempts to reclaim her child, and the notion of what it is to be free is called into question.


Director: Jennifer Phang
Writer: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang
Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim
Description: In a metropolis in the near future, Gwen Koe, a beautiful woman full of poise and grace, works as the spokesperson for the Center for Advanced Health and Living, a company that offers a radical new technology allowing people to overcome their natural disadvantages and begin life anew. But when a shift in company priorities threatens her job and her family, will Gwen undergo the procedure herself?


Director: Rania Attieh/Daniel Garcia
Writer: Rania Attieh/Daniel Garcia
Cast: Robin Bartlett, Rebecca Dayan, Will Janowitz, Julian Gamble, Roger Robinson
Description: In Troy, New York, two women, both named Helen, carry on seemingly complacent existences with their respective partners. Middle-aged Helen lives with husband Roy and finds comfort from a "reborn" baby doll. Meanwhile, successful young artist Helen is expecting a child with her noncommittal partner. Foreboding signs begin to appear: a meteor reportedly crashes nearby; people go missing; and inexplicable, life-altering changes spiral the Helens’ inert realities through a terrifying journey into unknown terrain.


Director: Rodney Ascher
Writer: Rodney Ascher
Cast: Documentary Subjects
Description: You are very tired. The pillow is soft. It’s late at night, and you start to drift off in your bed. Snap—your body locks up, totally frozen. But you are not asleep. You can see and hear everything. That’s when the shadow men come.


Director: J.M. Craviotot
Writer: Rock Shaink, Keith Kjornes
Cast; Tina Ivlev, Richard Tyson, Bianca Malinowski
Description: Chained by her ankle and locked away in the dismal basement of a sexual predator, Eve has been missing and presumed dead for some time. Lost to her family and friends, she wastes away in isolation between horrifying visits from her vile captor, who remains unaware that Eve has been maniacally planning her escape. With a carefully placed brick, she beats him senseless as he approaches and frees herself from his grasp at the outset of the film. But too quickly, she learns there are other girls in other houses facing sinister fates of their own. Making a deal with the devil, she vows to save them all, turning her torturer into her prisoner, one who will lead her to his prey one by one.


Director: David Robert Mitchell
Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe
Description: As 19-year-old Jay’s summer—spent hanging with friends, lounging in a backyard pool—nears an end, her unperturbed suburban existence is about to be horrifyingly upended. After sleeping with a new boyfriend, she’s suddenly pursued, slowly but persistently, by a malevolent supernatural presence that takes the form of different people. Hoping to buy time and devise a plan, Jay and her friends escape to a beach house. But it’s coming.


Director: Charles Stone III
Writer: Patrick Gilfillan
Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Shea Whigham, Julius Tennon, Ron Caldwell, Aml Ameen
Description: When teenage Stephon is killed in a drive-by shooting, his mother, Lila, slips into a paralyzing grief. She joins a support group for women who have lost children to crime and meets Eve, a woman whose little girl was killed the same night as Stephon. Lila and Eve form a friendship, and Lila begins to crawl out of her depression. She develops a burning desire to find justice for her son, and she presses the authorities for answers, but they are slow-moving and ineffective. It’s Eve who has the idea first—join together, find the drug dealers who shot Stephon dead, and bring them to justice themselves. 

The Sundance Film Festival takes place in Park City, Utah January 22-February 1, 2015. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jonah Hill and James Franco Star in a Cat-and-Mouse Thriller, Seriously

I don't know about this one. While I continue to be fascinated by James Franco as a concept (though he's widly inconsistent), I feel like I'm the last soul on Earth who Jonah Hill hasn't hypnotized into believing he's a great actor. So, when I first heard about the two of them teaming up for the cat and mouse thriller, TRUE STORY, my first reaction was..."oh." That's really all I've got. 

But maybe you'll love it, so I figured I'd share it with you guys. It's based on the book written by the lead character (played by Hill). Here's a little more about it:

When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) meets accused killer Christian Longo (James Franco) – who has taken on Finkel’s identity – his investigation morphs into an unforgettable game of cat-and-mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit and redemption.

Yeah, I've got nothing. But here's something: one of the writers of TRUE STORY is David Kajganich, who is also helped pen the upcoming remake of Stephen King's It (directed by Cary Fukunaga). Also, Brad Pitt co-executive produced the project. Take from all of that what you will. I've still got, "oh." 

The trailer is set to drop later this week. For now, here are two more images from the film:

TRUE STORY comes to select theaters April 10, 2015. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL Continues to Rack Up Awards, Inexplicably

You know that feeling you get when you meet someone who hates a film that everyone else loves just as much as you? That's kinda how I felt the other day when I came across two people who felt as much confusion as I did over all the love for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Seriously, we talked about it for, like, 30 minutes (far longer than it's worth discussing). I can only imagine what they will say when I tell them that the film has won BEST PICTURE by the Online Film Critics Society. 

I'm sure the writing's on the wall as Wes Anderson's latest snoozefest is likely to receive more accolades as we dive deeper into awards season. I'm clearly in the minority about this, especially being a member of OFCS. Anyway, for now, let's just focus on all the deserving winners -- like Richard Linklater and Life Itself. Check out the full list below:

Best Picture: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Animated Feature: The Lego Movie
Best Film: Not in the English Language: Two Days, One Night
Best Documentary: Life Itself
Best Director: Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Best Actor: Michael Keaton - Birdman
Best Actress: Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton - Birdman
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Best Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Adapted Screenplay: Gone Girl
Best Editing: Birdman
Best Cinematography: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Urban Movie Channel Announces New Vampire Horror Film

Well, this should be interesting. The Urban Movie Channel (which I first wrote about here) has announced the next film they'll stream digitally later this month -- an original horror titled TEETH & BLOOD. As promised, the channel is focused less on marquee names and more on the underrated indie talent and films otherwise overlooked by mainstream audiences/studios. That said, this new genre film already has the appeal of being slightly mysterious yet intriguing. More about it after the jump.

Directed by Al Franklin and Pamela J. Richardson, TEETH & BLOOD stars Danielle Vega (Hulu’s “East Los High”), Glenn Plummer (Saw II), King Kedar (Preacher’s Kid) and Michelle Van Der Water (VH1’s “Single Ladies”). The film will also be available on DVD on March 10, 2015.

A beautiful diva is murdered on the set of horror director Vincent Augustine’s latest film “Chapel Blood.” Somewhere between the crime scene and the coroner’s van, the body mysteriously disappears. Meanwhile, the city’s supply of donated blood is being dangerously depleted. Suspecting a connection between the events, detectives Mike Hung and Sasha Colfax go undercover at the studio to investigate. Their attempt to crack the case quickly turns into a desperate battle for survival when they uncover an age-old war between rival vampire covens that threatens to consume humanity in a final, grisly assault of Teeth & Blood!

Not gonna lie, I am super curious about this one. It sounds like it could be disastrously cheesy, or pleasantly surprising. What say you?

TEETH & BLOOD will be exclusively available for digital streaming on the Urban Movie Channel December 30th. 

The Golden Globes Make History, Completely Ignore Gugu Mbatha-Raw's Performance in BELLE

Whose bright idea was it to cram all the awards nominations announcements together like this? Seriously, we film dorks have had to reiterate the same arguments and adoration 2-3 times in the past week. Anyway, today's celebrity self-gratification comes in the form of the Golden Globe awards, which always has a few, er, interesting choices among their nominees. But the biggest news Thursday morning was that Selma director Ava Duvernay has become the first black female filmmaker to ever be nominated for a Golden Globe. *cue applause* (My full review of Selma will be posted soon)

Truthfully, I'm a little conflicted on this, only because -- like many firsts -- many, many great talents have preceded her who definitely should have been recognized. But perhaps the Globes are turning over a new leaf. I can only hope this starts a trend with other diverse talent who will be honored in years to come. Speaking of the Globes finally joining us in the new century, Latina actress Gina Rodriguez was also nominated for her hugely popular show, Jane the Virgin (a show I reluctantly gave up watching after a few episodes because, despite how great Rodriguez is on it, its soapiness became unbearable for me).

But back to the film end of things for a bit: am I the only one who thinks this year's lead actress frontrunners are hugely underwhelming? You already know how I feel about Reese Witherspoon in Wild, but Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) and...Jennifer Aniston (Cake)? Surely we're just reaching at this point. While I have not seen Cake yet, I can tell you that Jones's performance in Theory isn't really anything to write home about. She has one great scene, and then many more wallpaper scenes. In my dream world, Boyhood's Patricia Arquette (who's inexplicably in the supporting actress category) and Belle's Gugu Mbatha-Raw could easily replace ANY of the nominated leads (except Rosamund Pike, who is seriously the bee's knees in Gone Girl). The rest can go. Oh also, if we're looking at Wild for performances, Laura Dern is the best in show and no one is even talking about her.

Let' circle back to Belle for a second. Is it not weird to anyone else that the Golden Globes, who love any and all things British costume drama, have joined their predecessors in ignoring Mbatha-Raw's performance? Would it have been too much to give Mbatha-Raw some love, especially in the already underwhelming category of lead actress? Come ON.

And don't even get me started on the fact that Grand Budapest Hotel is seriously one of the most astonishingly overrated movies this year. Oh, and was it a comedy? I didn't realize that...You know what could have easily taken its slot? Obvious Child. Now THAT is a comedy. Budapest is...I don't even know what that is. Just not good. Also, I really need these awards to get off their high horses and stop ignoring the greatness that is, um, was (*teardrop*) Sons of Anarchy. Creator Kurt Sutter has a nearly perfect final season, with amazing performances throughout. Actually, just thinking about this makes me really upset (that and the fact that The Walking Dead continues to get snubbed like it doesn't even exist).

But let me end this on a good note: I love that Gillian Flynn is recognized for her ah-mazing adaptation of her own novel, Gone Girl. Also, original songs "Glory" (Selma) and "Yellow Flicker Beat" (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1) are fantastic choices (and will hopefully welcome back the more traditional movie soundtracks in the near future). And Ruth Wilson, whose fascinating performance in Showtime's The Affair I feared would go completely ignored, is honored here, along with her equally dazzling co-star Dominic West. Also, I am ecstatic to see David Oyelowo's name among the lead actor nominees (a super competitive category this year). Whether he wins or loses, his performance is spectacular in Selma. And let me not forget Mark Ruffalo, whose smaller yet vital performance in Foxcatcher provides the heart of the film. Glad to see him recognized as well.

Anyway, let me quit rambling so you can check out the full list of nominees here. Share your comments below.

The 72nd Annual Golden Globe® Awards will air on Sunday, January 11, 2015, LIVE coast-to-coast on NBC from 5:00-8:00 p.m. (PST)/8:00-11:00 p.m. (EST).

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