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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

EMOTICON ;), Starring ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK's Diane Guerrero, Aims to Crack the Code of Modern Communication


I have to say, I really love the discourse recent films have presented about today's new form of communication (Her, Disconnect, etc). With millenials and children resorting strictly to digital means of communicating with one another, and traditional communication--such as, say, picking up the phone--becoming obsolete, it only makes sense that art will begin to tackle this conversation plague that has caused many of us to grow apart. 

That's why EMOTICON :) caught my eye. Not only is it directed and co-written by a woman (Livia De Paolis), but it looks to tackle the communication deficit with a story that shows how to embrace both the traditional and digital trends. Another thing that's interesting about it is that it features both older and younger characters grappling with digital dependency as it affects various areas of their lives--school, romance and family. More in the synopsis:

Elena Gallenti (Livia De Paolis) is an anthropology graduate student struggling to complete her thesis on 'modern means of communication.' All that changes when she meets her new boyfriend's (Michael Cristofer) teenage kids (Miles Chandler and Diane Guerrero), who are going through their own journeys of self-discovery. Through these relationships and the help of her PHD advisor (Carol Kane), Elena comes to a better understanding of how to navigate love and intimacy in the digital age. Ultimately they develop a bond that strikes a balance between the old world and the new.

It will be interesting to see Guerrero playing a teenager since I know her as the potty-mouthed vixen on "Orange is the New Black." I'm also intrigued to see De Paolis' take on this trend topic. She has a master's degree in philosophy, so something tells me the movie will inspire a lot of rhetorical questions concerning relationships. Watch the trailer:


EMOTICON :) hits theaters May 30th.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tribeca Interview: Juliette Fairley Talks About Playing a Vampire in 'SUMMER OF BLOOD,' Challenges She's Faced as a Biracial Actress and Her Popular Short Film Series

Juliette Fairley

I had really hoped that after the success of last year's Warm Bodies, we'd see more horror romcoms sprout up. But there hasn't been many that have come down the pipeline. So I was happy to see SUMMER OF BLOOD on the Tribeca Film Festival slate. Onur Tukel wrote, directed and stars in the film that follows Erik (Tukel), a man whose phobia towards marriage and commitment eventually turns him into vampire prey.

Juliette Fairley stars in the film as Denise, one of Erik's recurring dates who he later bites and turns into a vampire. I got a chance to chat with Juliette about her role in the film, challenges she faces as a biracial actress in Hollywood, and her one woman show and film series--Mulatto Saga and Mulatto Diaries. Check it out:

Reel Talk: What interested you in the film?

JF: When I read the script, I laughed throughout and felt motivated to beg, borrow and steal for the role. I put together an awesome audition tape and Onur liked how I handled the character. Voila...that's how I booked Denise.

Reel Talk: How did you hear about the role? What was the audition process like?

JF: I met Onur at the premiere for Red Flag, directed by Alex Karpovsky. Onur starred in Alex's film. When I met Onur, he told me he was in pre-production for Summer of Blood and that there was a role for a woman of color. I put together an audition tape and sent it to him. Here's the audition tape that helped me book the role:


The rest is history!

Reel Talk: How did you prepare for the role of a vampire?

JF: All of the girlfriends, including my character Denise, were outfitted with custom fit fangs as well as cat eye contact lenses. 

Reel Talk: What was it like to have to act with all the blood and effects? Was it as fun as it looked?

JF: The fake blood was so realistic that it was gross, because it got in my hair and stained by clothes and shoes. But overall, it was fun to roll around in bed with blood everywhere. 

Onur Tukel and Juliette Fairley for SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: You’re also known for your one woman show and short film series, Mulatto Saga and Mulatto Diaries, and for helping to elevate the image of biracial characters on both the big and small screens. Can you talk a little about your experience as a biracial actress facing unique challenges in terms of casting and representation?

JF: As a bi-racial actress who looks Latina but doesn't speak Spanish, it can be difficult to find roles I am a good fit for. However, these days I am seeing more casting calls for bi-racial actresses that are ethnically ambiguous or mulatto. We are being written into scripts more often now because President Obama has made it fashionable to be a mix between black and white.

A scene from SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: I really love the dialogue that transpired on Denise’s date with Eric, when he awkwardly comments on her racial identity. Do you often find that your ethnicity becomes a topic of conversation in social situations in your real life?

JF: Definitely when I am on a date, my race will come up. A guy will ask me where I'm from or what nationality I am. I never hide it or try to cover it over. I always tell the truth that I have an African American father and white mother. Anyway, you can pretty much tell when you look at me, so the guys who ask me out generally don't have a problem with dating a girl who may have descended from Africans or African Americans somewhere along the line. Most guys that date me favor bi-racial women...and actually seek us out. But when a guy asks about my "nationality" too soon, it's a turn off.  It feels like he's trying to weed me out. Race shouldn't matter but it still does.

Reel Talk: Why should people watch SUMMER OF BLOOD?

JF: It's funny, and it's a different take on being a vampire. It's more about being a blood addict and needing to drink blood to feel better than killing people.

Onur Tukel in a scene from SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: How has your Tribeca Festival experience been this year? What does having a film at Tribeca mean to you?

JF: It's been exciting. It's a major breakthrough for my acting career. I secured an audition for Law & Order: SVU the day after the premiere so I'm experiencing a higher level of visibility as a result. It means I am at a higher level, closer to my dream of earning all of my income as an actress in studio feature films and paid indie films.

Reel Talk: What’s your dream role? Is there an actor or actress you’d love to work with in the future?

JF: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck, Justin Theroux, Jennifer Aniston, Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, James Franco, Maya Rudolph. Acting in a film with any of these gals and guys would be a dream come true. 

Reel Talk: What other projects are you currently working on?

JF: Hopefully I'll be in the sequel to SUMMER OF BLOOD.


Watch the trailer for SUMMER OF BLOOD:

Tribeca Interview: Juliette Fairley Talks About Playing a Vampire in 'SUMMER OF BLOOD,' Challenges She's Faced as a Biracial Actress and Her Popular Short Film Series

Juliette Fairley

I had really hoped that after the success of last year's Warm Bodies, we'd see more horror romcoms sprout up. But there hasn't been many that have come down the pipeline. So I was happy to see SUMMER OF BLOOD on the Tribeca Film Festival slate. Onur Tukel wrote, directed and stars in the film that follows Erik (Tukel), a man whose phobia towards marriage and commitment eventually turns him into vampire prey.

Juliette Fairley stars in the film as Denise, one of Erik's recurring dates who he later bites and turns into a vampire. I got a chance to chat with Juliette about her role in the film, challenges she faces as a biracial actress in Hollywood, and her one woman show and film series--Mulatto Saga and Mulatto Diaries. Check it out:

Reel Talk: What interested you in the film?

JF: When I read the script, I laughed throughout and felt motivated to beg, borrow and steal for the role. I put together an awesome audition tape and Onur liked how I handled the character. Voila...that's how I booked Denise.

Reel Talk: How did you hear about the role? What was the audition process like?

JF: I met Onur at the premiere for Red Flag, directed by Alex Karpovsky. Onur starred in Alex's film. When I met Onur, he told me he was in pre-production for Summer of Blood and that there was a role for a woman of color. I put together an audition tape and sent it to him. Here's the audition tape that helped me book the role:


The rest is history!

Reel Talk: How did you prepare for the role of a vampire?

JF: All of the girlfriends, including my character Denise, were outfitted with custom fit fangs as well as cat eye contact lenses. 

Reel Talk: What was it like to have to act with all the blood and effects? Was it as fun as it looked?

JF: The fake blood was so realistic that it was gross, because it got in my hair and stained by clothes and shoes. But overall, it was fun to roll around in bed with blood everywhere. 

Onur Tukel and Juliette Fairley for SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: You’re also known for your one woman show and short film series, Mulatto Saga and Mulatto Diaries, and for helping to elevate the image of biracial characters on both the big and small screens. Can you talk a little about your experience as a biracial actress facing unique challenges in terms of casting and representation?

JF: As a bi-racial actress who looks Latina but doesn't speak Spanish, it can be difficult to find roles I am a good fit for. However, these days I am seeing more casting calls for bi-racial actresses that are ethnically ambiguous or mulatto. We are being written into scripts more often now because President Obama has made it fashionable to be a mix between black and white.

A scene from SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: I really love the dialogue that transpired on Denise’s date with Eric, when he awkwardly comments on her racial identity. Do you often find that your ethnicity becomes a topic of conversation in social situations in your real life?

JF: Definitely when I am on a date, my race will come up. A guy will ask me where I'm from or what nationality I am. I never hide it or try to cover it over. I always tell the truth that I have an African American father and white mother. Anyway, you can pretty much tell when you look at me, so the guys who ask me out generally don't have a problem with dating a girl who may have descended from Africans or African Americans somewhere along the line. Most guys that date me favor bi-racial women...and actually seek us out. But when a guy asks about my "nationality" too soon, it's a turn off.  It feels like he's trying to weed me out. Race shouldn't matter but it still does.

Reel Talk: Why should people watch SUMMER OF BLOOD?

JF: It's funny, and it's a different take on being a vampire. It's more about being a blood addict and needing to drink blood to feel better than killing people.

Onur Tukel in a scene from SUMMER OF BLOOD


Reel Talk: How has your Tribeca Festival experience been this year? What does having a film at Tribeca mean to you?

JF: It's been exciting. It's a major breakthrough for my acting career. I secured an audition for Law & Order: SVU the day after the premiere so I'm experiencing a higher level of visibility as a result. It means I am at a higher level, closer to my dream of earning all of my income as an actress in studio feature films and paid indie films.

Reel Talk: What’s your dream role? Is there an actor or actress you’d love to work with in the future?

JF: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck, Justin Theroux, Jennifer Aniston, Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, James Franco, Maya Rudolph. Acting in a film with any of these gals and guys would be a dream come true. 

Reel Talk: What other projects are you currently working on?

JF: Hopefully I'll be in the sequel to SUMMER OF BLOOD.


Watch the trailer for SUMMER OF BLOOD:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

'VANISHING PEARLS' Director Nailah Jefferson Talks To "Cinema In Noir" About The Efffects The BP Oil Spill Still Has On Black Fishermen



I have to admit, I wasn't particularly well versed in the whole BP oil spill controversy until yesterday, when I watched the documentary VANISHING PEARLS. For one thing, judging by the endless BP oil spill commercials I've seen, I thought the issue had been resolved. But that is unfortunately not the case. As shown in director Nailah Jefferson's new doc, countless fishermen from Louisiana bayous (many of whom are Black) are out of jobs with still inadequate compensation. And consumers who rely on their product are now short of one of their biggest sources of food. I can't believe more people talking about this.

Jefferson was nice enough to join us on "Cinema in Noir" today talk about the film (which was distributed by Ava Duvernay's AFFRM) and how this issue has evaded headlines. In case you missed the trailer for VANISHING PEARLS, watch it here:


The film has a staggered release across the U.S. To find out when it's coming near you, click here

Also on the show we discussed the ill-fated casting of the already tragic adaptation of JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS. You may remember a while back that I had re-posted a piece written by my #JemLiveTweet band mate, Jamie from Black Girl Nerds, which pretty much echoed all my frustrations with the upcoming live action film. It looks like the filmmakers have decided to seal the fate of the movie by casting a quartet of unknown actors to play the iconic cartoon characters. Shhh....you hear that? That's the sound of my enthusiasm for this film plummeting to zero.

Here's the new poster for the film, which routed online last week:


The cast reads as follows: Aubrey Peeples (Jem/Jerrica Benton), Stefanie Scott (Kimber), Aurora Perrineau (Shana), Hayley Kiyoko (Aja). Before you ask, I don't know who any of these people are either. And how any of them have anything to do with the essence of Jem. But the ladies and I went up one side of this film and down the other on today's show. Put it this way, we're mad as hell as we're not gonna take it anymore.

Missed today's "Cinema in Noir"? Listen to the full episode here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Trailer Watch: 'JESSABELLE' Reminds Us That Bathtubs Are Evil


As I wrote in my review of Extraterrestrial earlier this week, I'm not really here for the mediocre quality of modern American horror we've been getting these days. But I received the above promo art for the upcoming Liongate film, JESSABELLE, today and just like that I'm sucked back into the vortex. Partly because it reminds me of a lesser version of the horrifying Ringu (The Ring) films, but mostly because Joelle Carter is in the film. And as a loyal Justified fan, I feel inclined to support her film.

Carter plays the deceased mom of the title character (shown above, played by Sarah Snook), who's returned from the dead to give her daughter a fatal warning. More in the synopsis below:

From the mastermind producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious comes the ghostly tale of Jessabelle. Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle (Sarah Snook of Sleeping Beauty) comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return -- and has no intention of letting her escape.  

JESSABELLE was directed by Kevin Greutert, who helmed Saw VI and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (I hopped off the bandwagon after the first few Saw films, so maybe you can offer some insight on Greutert's two installments). Robert Ben Garant (Night at the MuseumReno 911!) penned the screenplay.

The trailer (featured below) is intriguing, at best. But Jason Blum, the producer referred to in the synopsis, usually has a way of adding his own twist on old concepts--for better or worse. So hopefully this one doesn't disappoint.

Watch the trailer:


JESSABELLE opens in theaters nationwide on August 29th.

Tribeca Review: 'HUMAN CAPITAL' Is A Sleek, Engaging Thriller You'll Least Expect

Valeria Golino

What's most interesting about director Paolo Virzì's new thriller HUMAN CAPITAL, now showing at the Tribeca Film Festival, is that you're never quite sure of what you're watching until it all starts coming together in its second act, after you've realized that you haven't blinked in, like, thirty minutes.

That's because the film is so gripping, so mounting in its suspense that even as you struggle to keep together all its intertwining stories, you can't look away. It quickly shifts from the subtleties of romance to witty comedy to thriller in a matter of minutes, leading up to a deadly twist at the end that will send shivers down your spine.

Starring Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Valeria Golino (Escape from L.A., Frida, Rain Man), Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (whose performance nabbed the award for Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film) and Matilde Gioli, the Italian drama starts off unassuming--at the end of a restaurant night shift--then pulls you into the action moments later as we follow a waiter heading home on his bike who's sideswiped by two vehicles. The accident, a hit-and-run, instantly sets the tone of the film which is so full of twists and intricate detail that you'll be inclined to watch it again just to make sure you didn't miss anything. 


Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
But the suspense and cleverly written story isn't just a thriller. At its core, it's about the value of humanity--what we pay for our own and how we perceive other lives to be worth. Throughout the film the characters are constantly engaged in conversations about money and investments that, eventually, result in moral, ethical and lucrative bankruptcies. We don't realize it until the film's final moments, but it was trying to show us casual inhumanities from its very beginning. Its ending will surely spark debate.

Watch the trailer:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tribeca Review: Elisabeth Moss And Mark Duplass Star In The Refreshing Romantic Comedy, 'THE ONE I LOVE'



I think Hollywood is finally starting to understand the memo that movies can't continue to reuse romantic comedy tropes that worked in the 80s and early 90s on the millenial audiences of today. We saw it last year with Her and Enough Said, and continue to see a more interesting take on relationships in THE ONE I LOVE.

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, Top of the Lake) and Mark Duplass (You Sister's Sister, The Mindy Project) star as Sophie and Ethan, a not-so-happily-married couple who opt to retreat to a house out of town in efforts to rekindle their romance at the advice of their marriage counselor (Ted Danson). With its familiar premise, you'd probably think the film would take a page out of one of the many romcom entries before it, tying up nicely with a neat ending. But that's one of the cool things about THE ONE I LOVE; it never goes where you expect it.



That is to say, the film's premise is merely a launch point that propels it into an almost fantasy territory which yields themes of broken promises and woulda/coulda/shouldas. And nothing, including our focal couple, is what it seems. You see, Sophie and Ethan have stepped into something like an alternate dimension, a bizarro world, if you will, where they come face to face with their ideal selves--for the sake of this review, I'll call them Sophie 2 and Ethan 2 (in the film they have no unique name distinction). When Sophie and Ethan encounter their hyperbolic twins, they want to believe that this vacation has really brought out the best in them, which is evident in such scenes as Ethan 2 finally opening up to Sophie about his past indiscretions and Sophie 2's more complimentary approach to her relationship with Ethan. Trouble is, the real Sophie and Ethan realize that their rekindling is as a result of a false pretense, and an overwhelming sense of doom and longing sets in. It's like smashing cymbals of what could have been and what never was.

Though the remains of their relationship soon stack up like a heap of debris on the ground, there is something very cathartic yet heartrending about watching Sophie and Ethan pick up the pieces. How can you move forward when you realize you can never have what you never realized that you always wanted? In a compelling performance from Moss, Sophie particularly puts herself through an emotional ringer as she tries hard to retain the image of her ideal husband, without succumbing to the fact that he isn't real. Should she hold on to this fantasy, or try to repair her actuality? Is it worth it either way?



On the other hand, Ethan rejects the significance of Ethan 2, regarding him as more like an android than anything else. In that respect, he never gets to the place where he is analyzing his relationship. Where Sophie ends up seeing him for what he is not, he perhaps for the first time sees Sophie for all that she is and accepts her unconditionally. It's an eye-opening experience for him to see what always was, while it's a chapter ending for her.

What's perhaps even more fascinating is that their eventual estrangement comes as a result of a deeper understanding of their relationship, however indirectly. Duplass, who I never really connected with on screen in the past, brings his signature deadpan approach to a more textured performance. He embodies Ethan's struggles to understand how he can finally realize what has been in front of him the whole time as it slowly deteriorates before his eyes. Watching Duplass and Moss essentially play mirror images of their own characters, sometimes in the same scene, further shows how the two have a deep understanding of their characters, so much so that they can present the yin and the yang without it seeming contrived. And both sides are equally as layered.

THE ONE I LOVE is a romantic dramedy in the greatest sense--complex, genuine, funny, ironic and devastating. Screenwriter Justin Lader's feature film debut is nothing short of stunning and hopefully signals a prolific career ahead. Meanwhile, director Charlie McDowell's first feature effort similarly allows for such a unique exploration of the trials of romance. Using Doug Emmett's too-good-to-be-true sunny suburban cinematography, he creates a thin layer of duplicity where you least expect it. McDowell also allows his actors to become beautifully unhinged yet wonderfully engaging at the same time. It's a refreshing treat.

Rating: B+

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gael García Bernal Offers A Humanizing Look At Immigration In The Intriguing Yet Uneven New Doc, 'WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?'



It seems like every day there's a new discussion on U.S. immigration policy--what's wrong with it, why it's needed, what it means for the economy, among other bullet points. But very little attention is paid to the people most affected by immigration--the migrant workers, families and those seeking the ever elusive American dream. That's where WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? comes in.

Co-created and starring Gael García Bernal, this new documentary goes beyond the institution of immigration to reveal a more personal story about an unidentified body found in the Sonora Desert in Arizona known as "the corridor of death." At the beginning of the film, we don't know who this person is, where they came from or how he died. All we know is that he has a distinct tattoo etched across his chest that reads, "Dayani Cristal." But, little by little, the mystery is peeled away as we follow the official investigation to uncover the truth about this John Doe, cut through the political tape, and humanize this nameless face. 

As we get closer to unraveling the story, director Marc Silver cuts through the legal and forensic process with Bernal's more intimate scenes. The actor embeds himself with a group of migrant workers who share their own struggles to cross the border--leaving their families behind, scraping up the money, and battling extreme weather conditions and desert vultures. In doing so, we get a sense of what it is like to live in their shoes, embody their hopes and face their fears. Even the little details, like having to pay $1500 to the smuggler, become far more significant as we take their journey with them. 




But while the film has some truly poignant moments, especially when we hear more from the family John Doe left behind in their own words, the film still struggles to find a singular voice. Sometimes it highlights governmental challenges and the indifference toward these particular migrant cases. And then we hear from the men Bernal has inserted himself with. But where the film succeeds is when it answers the question in the title: Who is Dayani Cristal? Why should we care about him and what is the impact of his story?

You can argue that "Dayani" or this John Doe represents the anonymous migrant worker, the man whose story never gets told. But the film doesn't spend enough time on him. Rather, the film's views are wide and unfocused, highlighting smaller elements like the importance of religion in the migrant community and dire governmental statistics, which present a wavering exploration of the issue that makes it hard to resonate at times. It's clear that Bernal and Silver don't want to sway the audience's opinion, but in taking that stance the film loses some of its strength.

The heartbreaking moments in WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? come when our John Doe's family speak to the camera, revealing the romance between him and his wife, how much he loved his children and more about his childhood, do we get a more humanizing portrait. Though these moments are checkered throughout the film, they are most effective at the end when their voices are the last heard. It's a shame that the film doesn't spend more time with them.

Rating: B- (*** out of *****)

Watch the trailer:



WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? will release this Friday in New York City and Miami.

(Review) Tom Hardy Is On The Verge Of A Hulk-Like Meltdown In 'LOCKE'



Despite playing a range of characters throughout his 13-year career, it seems like Tom Hardy's more bestial performances are the ones you keep coming back to. Whether it's as a repressed beast (Warriors), a beast on the rise (Layer Cake), or a beast gone wild (The Dark Knight Rises), the men Hardy plays are rarely confused for being passive aggressive. In fact, they often welcome conflict. And his newest film, LOCKE, is like being inside an 85-minute wrestling match that curiously has no victor.

What's even more interesting, Hardy is the only one in the ring. The actor plays the title character in writer/director Steven Knight's (Dirty Pretty Things) tense, single-setting drama about a man experiencing a moral collapse. The thing is, he's fully aware that he's done something wrong and is determined to rub out all resulting repercussions with increasingly frustrating precision. But what he lacks is genuine remorse, actual contrition for a one night affair he had that resulted in a pregnancy that serves as the catalyst for the story.



At the time we meet Ivan, he's speeding down a London highway at 90 mph on his way to the hospital where his new baby is about to be born. He's surprisingly calm, under control, preparing to make a series of difficult phone calls that he knows will all end up with the person on the other side of the phone hating him immensely. But he approaches them all in the exact same manner, presenting them with the problem, the solution and a plan to move forward. First, he calls his colleague Donal (Andrew Scott), a fellow construction worker, and tells him that he won't be coming in to work the next morning--the day of the biggest challenge of their careers. Which then triggers an enraged call from their boss, Gareth (Ben Daniels) aka "Bastard," as it reads on Ivan's caller ID. After enduring both men's wrath, to which he responds with authority yet restrained force, he calls home to confess to his wife, Katrina (Ruth Wilson) and about his affair in the same tone he used with the two previous callers. Despite her utter devastation, he continues to present his proposed resolution in the same professional manner he struggles to maintain with everyone he speaks to this evening. By the time he speaks with Bethan (Olivia Colman), the woman in labor with his child, he is nearly numb with emotion, talking to her solely out of obligation and resenting it.

It's an interesting setup, watching Ivan struggle to maintain control over his emotions even as they threaten to erupt. Which is compounded by the fact that he is confined inside a moving vehicle with no place to freely release what is presumably The Incredible Hulk-like anger. While each of the other characters are wrought with emotion, unique to his effect on their lives, it is only in between these calls--when he is alone in his car to seethe--does he finally react to the disaster that has become his life. But instead of blaming himself for the catastrophic decision he made nine months prior to this night, he faults his predisposition to immorality, passed on to him from his father. In a series of vicious pep talks to himself directed to the empty backseat of his car, he reprimands himself for succumbing to his own fate, for failing as a man and for being a disappointment to others--his wife, sons, colleague, manager.



Hardy is impressive in this internalized portrayal that continues to mount in suspense (and the voice-over cast is particularly compelling), but the film's message seems to get lost somewhere along Ivan's eventful commute. If Knight's aim is to tackle the concept of nature versus nurture, Ivan's monologue transgression isn't enough to convey that. Each time he does it, it comes off more absurd than provocative. A voice-over by Hardy would have been far more effective and believable, especially since he's on the highway shouting at himself in the car. Or perhaps the film challenges the idea of right versus wrong: does one person's bad decision erase all the good things he has done? Can Ivan get a second chance to prove his benevolence with an impartial new life?

None of these theories are well developed in the film. At its best, LOCKE is a performance piece that merely introduces interesting concepts without fleshing out any of them. It's a gripping watch, until its anticlimactic ending that is too underwhelming to even provoke a genuine opinion. But despite its uncertain themes, Hardy's consuming performance is too fascinating to miss.

Rating: B- (*** out of *****)

Watch the trailer:


LOCKE is in theaters Friday. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tribeca Review: Debut Director Tinatin Kajrishvili Challenges The Meaning Of Love And Commitment In The Georgian-French Drama, 'BRIDES'

Maria Kitia (l) and Giorgi Mashkharshvili (r)

Before I saw director Ava Duvernay's Middle of Nowhere back in 2012, I could never grasp how relationships can sustain and prosper when one half of the couple is imprisoned. Does it matter what their crime is, the length of their sentence, whether or not they're married? What if they fall in love with someone else? Is that allowed?

These are all complex questions that Duvernay approached in the surprisingly touching film that could be a companion piece to the new Georgian-French drama, PATARDZLEBI (in English, BRIDES). Directed and co-written by first time filmmaker Tinatin Kajrishvili, BRIDES centers on Nutsa, a seamstress raising her two young children in an apartment she often shares with her mother. Though she finds some solace in her menial job, Nutsa (Mari Kitia) is overwhelmingly preoccupied with her increasingly strained relationship with husband Goga (Giorgi Maskharashvili), serving the remainder of a 10-year jail sentence. Spending her days trimming other people's clothes, caring for her children, and lining up for brief, wistful visits with her husband has begun to weigh on her, especially after a plan to work the system for Goga's release goes awry. When Nutsa's melancholy routine digs a hole too deep in her heart, she wonders how to move on without him.

Mashkharshvili and Kitia
While the premise is familiar, what springboards this emotive film is Kitia's lead performance. Her voice barely floats above a whisper, but when she can express Nutsa's story with few words--from her sluggish but determined movement to the deep sadness in her voice. Her exhaustion and sheer desperation seeps out of everything she says and does, but it is her crackling embodiment of hopelessness that is truly heartbreaking.

They say that death has four stages: shock, anger, numbness and indifference. Sometimes you experience them in a repeated cycle and some stages last longer than others, but they each are often present in the grieving process. Nutsa experiences a symbolic death in this story. At the time we meet her, she is numb--her now habitual life is consumed with longing and waiting. Though she shares her grief with other women who eagerly wait against the gates for those few minutes alone with their loved ones, Nutsa feels a particular sense of doom and crippling immobility. Compounded by the ever watchful eye of her mother, who reminds her of her obligation as a wife, Nutsa is alone to ponder whether there is more to life than this. And, if so, does she even want anything else?


A moving and surprisingly gentle story about love that challenges the meaning of commitment, BRIDES is a moving film by a promising debut director.

Rating: A (**** out of *****)

Watch the trailer:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne And Zac Efron Ham It Up In New Images From 'NEIGHBORS'


Call it my not-so-secret nerd crush on Seth Rogen, my unreliable fascination with frat boy humor, or the fact that I think there's a lot more depth in Knocked Up than people give it credit for, but I'm looking forward to NEIGHBORS. In fact, if you want full disclosure, I laughed several times watching the red band trailer recently, which you should definitely watch if you haven't already:



So here's the setup: Rogen stars as Mac, a suburban dad just trying to maintain the peace in his neighborhood where he lives with his wife (Rose Byrne) and their newborn baby, when in comes Zac Efron as a hopped-up super jock who moves next door with his rowdy fraternity house. Hilarity ensues when Rogen and Efron face off in a series of one-ups that could make up a full episode of Who's Block is This? (A TV show I totally just made up in which contestants compete with each other to reclaim their neighborhood--you know that sounds like a reality show that can happen).

The film is directed by Nicholas Stoller, who helmed Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (neither of which I cared for, but this looks way better) with a script by the team behind the video short Acting with James Franco. (I still hold to a previous point I made that suggests James Franco is his own irony and I low-key think he's quasi brilliant). 

Anyway, Universal Pictures just released a few new images from the film that should also tickle your funny bone. Check 'em out:












I'm gonna see watch this with all my friends and you can't stop me. NEIGHBORS invades theaters on May 9th. 

Trailer Watch: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix And Jeremy Renner Star In The Epic Saga, 'THE IMMIGRANT'

So maybe now I kinda definitely want to see THE IMMIGRANT. I shared the poster (left) for the upcoming epic saga, starring Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, last week on social media with a disclaimer that the premise isn't particularly compelling but I love the thought of this cast together in one film.

But then I finally got a chance to check out the new trailer and, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by it. Darius Khondji's cinematography alone makes me want to jump inside the clip. It's a familiar saga that looks like it has some twists and turns (it kinda gave me a Prestige vibe). More in the synopsis:

In James Gray's THE IMMIGRANT, Ewa Cybulski (Cotillard) and her sister sail to New York from their native Poland in search of a new start and the American dream. When they reach Ellis Island, doctors discover that Magda (Sarafyan) is ill, and the two women are separated. Ewa is released onto the mean streets of Manhattan while her sister is quarantined. Alone, with nowhere to turn and desperate to reunite with Magda, Ewa quickly falls prey to Bruno (Phoenix), a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. The arrival of Orlando (Renner) - a dashing stage magician who is also Bruno's cousin - restores her self-belief and hopes for a brighter future, becoming her only chance to escape the nightmare in which she finds herself.

In case you're unfamiliar with Gray, who directed and co-wrote the film, he is also the filmmaker behind We Own the Night (which I still think is curiously underrated), as well as Two Lovers starring Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow. 

Watch the trailer:


THE IMMIGRANT is in theaters May 16th. 

Tribeca News: Joss Whedon's Newest Film Is Already Available To Watch Online For $5

Love his movies or not, Joss Whedon stays on his grind. Despite the rather lackluster appeal of TV's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the filmmaker behind such megahits as The Avengers and Toy Story continues to crank out projects that are, if at the very least, intriguing. His newest film, IN YOUR EYES, is no exception.

Yesterday Whedon announced online in a surprise video that the drama, which had just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, has been given a Vimeo On Demand digital release immediately available for fans worldwide to watch it online via the film's website (www.inyoureyesmovie.com) for only $5. According to the press release, Whedon and producing partner Kai Cole had plans to release the IN YOUR EYES "in a new and exciting way." The two made the move via the their microstudio, Bellwether Pictures (the same company behind the most recent iteration of Much Ado About Nothing). Whedon also wrote the film directed by Brin Hill (Ball Don't Lie).

With everything moving into the digital realm these days. and online becoming the go-to place for quality content in some cases more than on the big screen, this venture seems very on trend. Cole echoes this sentiment in the press release: "It’s no secret that the distribution landscape is shifting rapidly and there are tools at our disposal as filmmakers that we could only dream about ten years ago.”

So what's the film about? Find out more about in the synopsis below:

In the frozen East Coast winter, Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) is withering away in a life of cocktail parties and lonely nights as the sheltered, soft-spoken wife of a successful doctor. Across the country in sun-drenched, arid New Mexico, charismatic ex-con Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) is struggling to find his footing and a fresh start. When these polar opposites realize they share an inexplicable connection, a unique metaphysical romance begins.


Mark Feuerstein, Jennifer Grey, and Steve Howey (of TV's Shameless) also star in the film.  

Again, intriguing if not an absolute must-see. And it's pretty cheap for a new newly released film. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but check it out and let me know what you think about it.

Tribeca Review: 'EXTRATERRESTRIAL' Is Like A Bad Copy of Too Many Other Bad Horror Films



As soon as I saw EXTRATERRESTRIAL on the Tribeca Film Festival slate, I knew I wanted to see it. It is one of the few sci-fi/horror films showing and I had high hopes for it because I generally believe modern indie horror (and especially foreign horror) is far superior to the mainstream U.S. entries in the genre today that use and abuse common tropes without even trying to add any originality or depth.

But not more than twenty minutes into this film, written by The Vicious Brothers (Grave Encounters), I realized that this was just another derivative horror that takes the cleverness of Scream and reduces it to something so cheesy and vapid that it was all I could do to keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head. The plot doesn't even matter, because you've seen it before: a group of young people (played by a relatively unknown cast only there to scream and look scared on cue) venture to a cabin in the woods and in the middle of the night they are visited by otherworldly creatures that have it out for them. *cue Cabin in the Woods, The Evil Dead, and all 100 mediocre to awful films like them*

One of the newer pet peeves I have about modern horror films is that they're too busy laughing at themselves to even consider their audience. They're having so much fun that they've forgot to let us in on the joke. Is this a horror is it just some cheap parody that isn't even good enough to claim its own wit. How many times can we see this setup, with the inane sheriff (Gil Bellows, who's so much better than this role) and the useless sole survivor who lasts as long as she does only because others sacrificed themselves along the way? It's just so tired. Plus, you can pretty much figure out what will happen mere minutes into the film. Where's the suspense in that?

Rating: F (0 out of *****)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tribeca Review: Rory Culkin Shines As A Teenager Battling Mental Illness In The Otherwise Detached Drama, 'GABRIEL'

Rory Culkin
I often wonder why Rory Culkin (Igby Goes Down) isn't a bigger movie star. He's solid if not exceptional in everything I've seen him in. He's certainly made his mark on the indie scene, which is usually a springboard to larger recognition. And he even managed to add depth to a rather thinly written character in Scream 4. Usually playing the "troubled" character hidden among similarly aged characters that consume the spotlight, Culkin's quirkiness is often marginalized. For what it's worth, GABRIEL attempts to fix that.

But while the new indie film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last week, finally puts Culkin at the forefront of the story, his performance is the only thing about it that stands out. The actor stars as the title character, an emotionally unstable teenager fresh out of a mental facility--perhaps a bit too soon--who heads back home to Connecticut where his mother (Deidre O'Connell) and older brother Matthew (David Call) can take care of him. Trouble is, he's not interested in being under anyone's care, including his family. All he wants is to reunite with Alice (Emily Meade), a childhood crush who in his mind has blossomed into the love of his life. He is determined to jump through all hoops to find her, even if it means losing his family's trust.

Culkin really seems to understand the intricacies of this character, down to biting his nails, intensely fidgeting and bouts of paranoia. It's a great character piece that allows him to dig into into the layers of a young man trapped in his own mind and grasping for some sense of stability. But living in New York, there are little details about the film that bothered me. First instance, at one point Gabriel slips out of his brother's sight and somehow has money to get to New York City to look for Alice and while there stop at a diner for his favorite meal and run out without paying and not so much as a protest from management. I often wondered whether we were just watching a dream, something that Gabriel concocted in his head. Because the way things were stacking up, it made it hard to seem like it could even happen.

Gabriel escapes from his family once more later in the film when he takes Matthew's car, somehow finds money for a ferry and gets all the way to Shelter Island, where Alice is staying with her family. Not once do we see him use any form of payment, ever. It's striking because we can only assume that his family would have only given him enough money to take the bus from the facility to their home in Connecticut and that's it. They already know Gabriel's tendency to slip out of their sight (in one scene Matthew makes a point not to leave him alone in the car with the keys, and in another scene their mother locks his bedroom door from the outside so he doesn't slip away in the middle of the night), and would likely take the precautions to not give him money for him for mobility. So how is it that he can go to and from New York any chance he gets?

Again, it's not a major plot point but it bothered me because it happens more than once and is quite obvious. The rest of the film, outside of Culkin's performance, is also hard to connect with. While we get some pieces of background history about this tragic family, I still never feel attached to any of the three main characters, or their father (who is mentioned in the past tense, but is significant to Gabriel's hysteria). While O'Connell as the protective yet helpless maternal figure does a fine job grounding the film with genuine emotion, it does little to resonate with the audience.

First time feature writer/director Lou Howe seems to approach the story from a third person point of view, which makes it seem quite distant. The film would have benefited from a first person narration, allowing the audience to get into Gabriel's head so we can better understand him. Or, maybe even better yet, a few flashback scenes would have added depth and reference. Without that it comes off elusive. Howe should be commended for taking on such a mature project that has its moments of intrigue, but GABRIEL just never quite gets there.

Rating: B- (*** out of *****)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tribeca Review: 'ZERO MOTIVATION' Is A Refreshing Dramedy About Female Soldiers, Friendship And Office Drudgery

Nelly Tagar
We don't see a whole lot of movies about female soldiers. If we do, they're often service pieces in the form of documentaries or tucked away in a time capsule of films we rarely refer to these days (Private Benjamin, G.I. Jane, etc). For some reason, they're just not cool enough to be included in frequent film conversation. Even more interestingly, we often view them as a group of women defined by what they do rather than who they are individually, which distances them from the audience on a personal level.

This is why ZERO MOTIVATION is so refreshing. It's not a movie about female soldiers, the injustices they endure in their units, nor does it push a girl power agenda. Actually, it subtly turns its nose up at the new feminist regime era that begs women to be universal role models. The women characters in this film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, are unapologetically aimless. But they're relatable to many people in corporate America today. They do their jobs because it's their jobs and that's that. Not because they like it or because it fulfills them, but because it's there and they might as well.

But at the time we meet them in the beginning of the film, they've had it. Like, they're not even trying. Tired of being overworked and underappreciated, our two Israeli protagonists--Daffi (Nelly Tagar) and Zohar (Dana Ivgy)--have only been known for their expert paper shredding skills. Which means exactly how it sounds; they handle the office supplies and shred the sensitive documents in bits and pieces. Oh, they are also really good at making coffee and delivering it to their male counterparts in the big board meetings. If women are somewhere Leaning In, they're not interested in it. In fact, they're so weighed down by their lack of progression that it is only their shared apathy that keeps them entertained.

Dana Ivgy
While Zohar is wallowing in complacency, which has turned her into a spiteful worker bee, her best friend Daffi decides to take matters into their own hands. She may not be ambitious or particularly useful as an office rat (she and Zohar spend more time trying to get to the next level of MindSweep than doing their actual jobs), but she is determined to transfer to Tel Aviv where she can escape her tyrant boss and all her problems will go away. But what she doesn't realize is that her problems aren't location or job specific. It's her.

Like Daffi, her boss (who's also a woman) is trying to move on from the triviality of her job but bumps into her own roadblocks along the way. Obstacles that make them question whether it's even worth it. Why try to get ahead when every move seems to end up unilateral? Further, moving forward just seems to be a means to go somewhere else and be unhappy. Where can you go to hide from your own misery? For Zohar, it means dealing with it, allowing the resentment mount until she begins to make her lash out at Daffi for bothering to do something about her circumstances. If they can't at least be in this together, then what else do they have?

At its core, ZERO MOTIVATION is about friendship and office survival among women who can't seem to muster the ambition to see beyond their current situations. First time feature writer/director Talya Lavie impressively creates a witty and tangible dramedy about working women hampered by their own stagnation. Known for her short films, Lavie divides this dramedy into three chapters, which is an artistic decision that isn't actually necessary as it seems to only be there to offer the audience thematic guidance.

With the humor of Office Space and the malaise of a Pedro Almodóvar piece, ZERO MOTIVATION is surprisingly engaging and a great first effort from Lavie that introduces the dazzling talent of a relatively unknown female cast to a wider audience.

Rating: B+ (*** out of *****)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elizabeth Banks Has A Night Of Bad Decisions In The Red Band Trailer For 'WALK OF SHAME'


Oh come on, you mean to tell me you've never tiptoed out of your one-night stand's apartment in the middle of the night wearing a spandex minidress, got your car towed and been mistaken for a hooker? Then you haven't lived.

Just kidding (kinda). As you will see from the red band trailer (below) for WALK OF SHAME, Elizabeth Banks experiences one helluva evening in the new comedy heading to theaters and VOD on May 2nd. The actress stars as an ambitious reporter who may be on the brink of landing a coveted new position (if she can only make it home first). More in the synopsis:

The outrageous comedy WALK OF SHAME stars Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) as a resourceful reporter whose one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden of Anchorman 2) leaves her stranded the next morning in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID, or money - and only 8 hours before the most important job interview of her career.

From Lakeshore Entertainment and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, WALK OF SHAME also stars Gillian Jacobs (Community), Sarah Wright Olsen, Kevin Nealon, Ethan Suplee, Bill Burr, and Willie Garson (White Collar). Written and directed by Steven Brill, the movie is produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, and Sidney Kimmel. The executive producers are Eric Reid, Ted Gidlow, Jim Tauber, Bruce Toll, Matt Berenson, and Peter Schlessel.

After watching the trailer, I take "outrageous" as code for "ridiculous," but I am a big Elizabeth Banks fan, so I am interested to watch it for her. Also, it's kinda funny that James Marsden has built an entire career out of playing the bad good guy (the guy you want to hate but he keeps winning you over). I should warn you note, however, that Steven Brill's track record is not so great (this is the man who brought us Movie 43 and Without a Paddle), so...yeah.

Watch the new red band trailer:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Trailer Watch: Oscar Winner Jessica Wu Explores The Issue Of Population Growth Across The World In Her New Doc, 'MISCONCEPTION'

I am just hearing about Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Jessica Wu's (Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien) new film MISCONCEPTION, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20th, and I wanted to share it with you because I love her directorial work on Parenthood (she's directed three episodes of the series).

I actually didn't realize she was an Academy Award winner until I did some research on her after noticing her name in a few articles I've read spotlighting Asian-American filmmakers. She's been in the industry since 1993 and is mostly known for her TV work for series including Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and The West Wing. Having caught the attention of Hollywood bigwigs, Wu is following up her success with a new doc that explores the issue of population growth in and outside of the U.S. More on the film in the synopsis below:

For almost 50 years, the world's population has grown at an alarming rate, raising fears about strains on the Earth's resources. But how true are these claims? Taking cues from statistics guru Hans Rosling, Misconception offers a provocative glimpse at how the world—and women in particular— are tackling a subject at once personal and global. Following three individuals, director Jessica Yu focuses on the human implications of this highly charged political issue, inspiring a fresh look at the consequences of population growth.
What I loved about the trailer, which you can find below, is that it tackles the idea of population moderation from the varied point of views of a 29-year-old man in China looking for a wife amid a dwindling female population, an African journalist who works with abandoned children, and a Canadian pro-life activist--all of whom likely have very unique perspectives on the issue.

Narrated by actress Kyra Sedgwick, MISCONCEPTION will be shown in a number of screenings at Tribeca this month. Check their website for exact listings.

Watch the new trailer:

John Turturro Looks For Love In All The Wrong Places In The Unremarkable Indie Drama, 'FADING GIGOLO'



John Turturro is one of those actors that, despite delivering wonderful performances in critically-acclaimed movies (Quiz Show, Do the Right Thing, The Big Lebowski), has yet to earn a role that catapults him from awesome supporting star to leading man (a category of which only a few selected thespians--like George Clooney--have been able to boast).

So in that respect it's great that Turturro has challenged himself by directing his own projects (like 2005's Romance and Cigarettes), some in which he's the star. Having acted in nearly 100 movies, he's clearly acquired a coveted rolodex that allows him to enlist in such talent as Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet for his films. Which brings us to FADING GIGOLO, his fifth and latest directorial effort that reunites him with Woody Allen, who directed him in Hannah and Her Sisters. Turturro plays Fioravante, a Brooklyn florist who finds himself as a male prostitute after his friend Murray (Allen) proposes an offer to him that he can't refuse--pimping out his self-assessed wilted sexual charm to available and willing women, coincidentally in order for him to experience love again. A not-so-unfamiliar concept that at its best reveals the film to be a romantic comedy, FADING GIGOLO's meandering plotline is what ultimately does it in.



For what it's worth, the beginning of the film is genuinely engaging. It's when we learn about this unusual proposition posed by Murray in a rambling discourse (made more entertaining by Allen's natural onscreen quirkiness). Fioravante is tranquilly clipping flowers at the shop, when Murray shows up with his unconventional idea that will not only get Fioravante back into the dating game (albeit in not the most orthodox way), but will also make them both some money (Murray has figured that he would take a cut of Fioravante's earnings--40, maybe 50 percent). Fioravante is hesitant at first, even revealing to Murray that he doesn't consider himself to be a good looking man, certainly not a woman magnet. Murray convinces him that this is nonsense and not every woman is after the same type. This propels interesting yet brief commentary about romance after a certain age and the subjectivity of sexuality. Seeing as though Turturro himself is a 57-year-old man, I was hoping that the movie would go deeper in this direction of a mature romance.

But it doesn't. The film's rather basic progression floats along without exploring some of its more important themes: aging, dating in the millenial age and even inter-religious relationships. I have a feeling if Fioravante was a woman, this would have gone in an entirely different direction. Unfortunately, inter-religious romance is something that is approached in a comedic way after a recently widowed Jewish woman (Vanessa Paradis) named Avigal enters Fioravante's life once he's accepted his new position as a middle-aged hustler. The two are unexpectedly drawn to each other, despite their arrangement--compelled by their respective loneliness. But they must contend with a similarly devout--yet silly--neighborhood watchman (Liev Schreiber), who may or may not be in love with Avigal, and a collective of men who wag their fingers at the relationship between Fioravante (who doesn't claim a religion) and Avigal. Meanwhile, Murray is being chased down by a separate but related set of officers who are convinced--with reason--that he is involved in the unlawful hookup of Fioravante and Avigal. (I have trouble believing this is something that is indicative of the culture, and Turturro creates a rather clumsy depiction of it).


FADING GIGOLO is a ridiculous little romp that while it flirts with the idea of an "average-looking" prostitute who's also a gentleman, it neatly bypasses a few interesting plotlines along the way. For instance, Sharon Stone's portrayal of a bitter wife could have been more intriguing had Turturro delved into her character a bit more. Dr. Parker (Stone) is relegated to a marginal role as a frisky wife who falls in lust with Fioravante, while she subconsciously analyzes him. Sofía Vergara's oversexed Selima is not written any better; she is merely Dr. Parker's sexy associate who's focused on a ménage à trois. They're clearly fluff. It would have been more interesting had the film presented the idea of an "average," middle-aged man searching for love in the oversexed and disconnected age of millenial dating. Or even the challenge of a heterosexual man like Fioravante choosing not to date under the judgmental microscope of society. 

As it is, FADING GIGOLO bounces from scene to another without connecting with the audience. Even Murray's flighty interaction with his African-American romantic companion, Cee Cee (Jade Dixon) seem hurried and glossed over, as well as the awkward racial commentary that emerges as a result. Are we to assume that the takeaway is that none of these characters can have much of a connection with their significant others in the unreliable and dizzying nature of New York City? We don't really get to know any of these characters long enough to come flatly to that conclusion. Plus, the film's more delicate (and best) moments between Fioravante and Avigal, seem to paint a different picture. While FADING GIGOLO has potential, the delivery makes it a wholly frustrating watch.

Rating: D+

FADING GIGOLO is in select theaters Friday. Watch the trailer:


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Trailer For David Fincher's 'GONE GIRL' Is Effectively Haunting

OMG I HAVE TO WAIT ALL THE WAY UNTIL OCTOBER 3RD TO SEE GONE GIRL!?!! Okay, I had to get that out because when I realized it was only April and we are months away from watching one of my most anticipated films of the year, I cried a little inside. But for now, the good folks at 20th Century Fox have broken me off a little piece of the film in the below minute and a half teaser clip that is enough to placate me for a while. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was more than a little concerned with some of the casting in the film (namely Rosamund Pike and Tyler Perry as the snaky criminal attorney), but the effectively ambiguous new teaser trailer has eased some of my worries. Director David Fincher seems to have recreated the eeriness captured in author Gillian Flynn's unsuspecting suburban mystery. From Affleck's perfectly forced half smile down to the ever-so-sweet tune of "She" by the Psychedelic Furs (a cover of singer-songwriter Charles Aznavour’s 1974 song of the same name), you instantly get a sense of romance mixed with dark fear. The only thing I am worried about at this point is Flynn's mention that she changed the ending of the story from the book (which I loved) for the film. All I can say is, in David Fincher and Gillian Flynn I must trust.

Here's the full synopsis of the film:

GONE GIRL – directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

In looking over the press release I've received, I had no idea that Reese Witherspoon co-produced the film, which is a great look for her. Hopefully she'll continue to back more interesting projects and take on edgier roles. Now that I think about it, she actually could have also been a good fit for the role of Amy, but I digress. 

Watch the trailer:





GONE GIRL is in theaters October 3rd. 

"This Is Part Of Our Cultural Heritage And No One Knows About It:" Watch The New Featurette for 'BELLE'



We've talked about BELLE, next month's 18th century epic set in England and starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (TV's Undercovers, Jupiter Ascending) a few times on Cinema in Noir, and you may remember I wasn't so excited to see yet another period film dealing with racial strife. But after watching this new featurette (shown below), I have to say I am now eating my words because it looks like the film, inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral, will highlight a story that we rarely see in film. Rather than broadly show the institution of racism as many other films have before, it will focus on a personal and sociological struggle told from a woman's perspective outside of the U.S.

The stunning ensemble cast is led by Mbatha-Raw, who is joined by Matthew Goode (who plays her father), Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, and Emily Watson among others. Read more on the film in its synopsis below:

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

It will be interesting to see if some of the same societal and racial complexities we encounter in the U.S. is reflected in Dido's story, and the unique issues she faced in England (and how much, if anything, has changed today). 

Mbatha-Raw and some of the rest of the cast (including Watson and Wilkinson) highlight the importance of the story in this new featurette:


Directed by U.K. filmmaker Amma Asante and written by Misan Sagay (best known for the 2005 TV film, Their Eyes Were Watching God), BELLE is slated to hit theaters May 2nd. 

Check out a few images from the film:








I'm psyched. Anyone else?

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