Universal via Everett Collection
Every movie I saw in 2013, ranked from worst to best:
112. IDENTITY THIEFThe first comedy movie to not make me laugh once.
111. SAVING MR. BANKSInsulting, manipulative, dishonest, and unkind, with occasional song breaks.
110. SCARY MOVIE 5These movies have gotten much worse since we were 13.
109. GETAWAYINT. RACECAR. NIGHT. Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez crash into stuff.
108. GROWN UPS 2So much vomiting, so many homophobic jokes, so little plot.
107. I GIVE IT A YEARAn ugly, loveless rom-com that isn't clever enough to be satire.
106. DEAD MAN DOWNAll I remember is a whole lot of dark alleyways.
105. A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN IIIThe best part is the closing credits (I'm not being flip, they're actually kind of fun).
104. MOVIE 43Bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke...
103. WINNIE MANDELADesperately important story turned into a desperately dull movie.
102. TWICE BORNNo summary available due to lack of anything interesting happening in this movie.
101. R.I.P.D.Somebody forgot to give Ryan Reynolds any jokes.
New Line Cinema via Everett Collection
100. THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONEThis movie could have been funny if Wonderstone wasn't such a d**k.
99. ONLY GOD FORGIVESInteresting in the moments when it's not shoving its unpleasantness down your throat.
98. MAN OF STEELSetup: cerebral reinvention of Superman. Payoff: mass property damage.
97. CARRIEBeat-by-beat remake without any of the original's spirit.
96. THE TO DO LISTUncomfortably raunchy and mean. Thank God for Bill Hader.
95. KICK-ASS 2More Mean Girls shtick would have benefited this weak sequel.
94. PHANTOMI'm not sure this was actually a finished movie.
93. WRONGObnoxiously nonsensical, but not without its share of laughs.
92. THE SMURFS 2Mostly cloying, but Neil Patrick Harris is incurably watchable.
91. HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS Dumb.
89. NOW YOU SEE MEPossibly the worst ending in a 2013 movie, but a few bits of fun along the way.
88. WE'RE THE MILLERS[Pop culture reference]
87. RED 2John Malkovich's facial contortions save this from total failure.
86. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS It hsa a few pros, but is mostly one giant... well, you know.
85. RIDDICKSurprisingly intriguing, when it isn't being deplorably sexist.
84. FREE BIRDSEh, turkeys are kinda funny.
83. PRISONERS Thankfully, scenes of Hugh Jackman yelling are intercut with the far superior scenes of Jake Gyllenhaal yelling.
82. WHITE REINDEER Any minute now, this movie is going to reveal its inner glory! Any minute now!
81. EVIL DEAD A better horror flick than the original! But still mostly forgettable.
80. GBFMostly charming, undone by its "safe" and "classy" ending.
79. THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALISTIt's kind of hard to get past how boring the title is.
78. DESPICABLE ME 2 Lots of minions. People like minions, right?
77. JOHN DIES AT THE END Not nearly as weird as it thinks it is or wants to be.
76. 2 GUNSHey, wait a minute, this movie is kinda funny! ... Not that funny, but kinda.
75. SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES MEI like to call this movie Click Offerman.
74. WHITE HOUSE DOWNWould be more fun if we were ready to laugh about terrorism.
73. AT ANY PRICEBoooriii— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?!
72. BAD MILONot quite up to par with your expectations for the "Ken Marino has a demon in his butt" synopsis.
71. MONSTERS UNIVERSITYLackluster prequel, nice to look at, big band music.
70. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES In its audacity, this silly amalgam of YA tropes can actually be a lot of fun.
69. THE CONJURING Fascinating subplots about the exorcism industry would be better served at the head of the film.
68. PEEPLESThere's a joke about wristwatches that I still think about.
67. SIDE EFFECTSSoderbergh's farewell caper doesn't have as much fun as its loony plot would demand.
66. ELYSIUMBroad and clumsy, but how wrong can you go with Bald Matt Damon?
65. OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFULIt works with Dark Side of the Moon.
64. THE COUNSELORThe book was better. Wait, this wasn't a book? Well it should have been.
63. IN A WORLD...A fun, biting look at an unappreciated industry! ... until it dissolves into mild genericism.
62. THE LONE RANGER Oh come on, you didn't love the William Tell climax?
61. THE WOLVERINENot always engaging, but at least it's about something.
Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
60. WARM BODIESNot really about anything, but at least it's engaging.
59. THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWNUndeniably powerful, but feels like it could use a few more revisions.
58. ENDER'S GAMESpace Camp: The Movie! (Slightly less expensive than actual space camp.)
57. PACIFIC RIMMonsters vs. robots aside, there's a riveting world constructed in the backdrop of this sci-fi epic.
56. ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUESThe battle royale does not disappoint.
55. YOU'RE NEXTThe fun, swift hook isn't nearly as interesting as the great character work that it replaces.
54. THE WAY WAY BACKI, too, long to get life advice from a waterpark-dwelling Sam Rockwell.
53. SOME VELVET MORNINGEven if you see the twist coming, the chemistry here is impeccable.
52. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIREShut up, Peeta, I'm trying to watch all the good parts of this movie.
51. 20 FEET FROM STARDOMA story that deserves a little more spirit and energy than it is given in this documentary.
50. DON JONNo. 50 on "Best Movies" list, No. 1 on "Best Trailers."
49. THE ROCKETA feel-good kids' adventure substantiated by the gravities of war. Wins in both areas.
48. CRYSTAL FAIRY & THE MAGICAL CACTUS AND 2012Beautifully shot, interestingly written, impressively acted.
47. MUD Yes, we all loved The Goonies, and we all loved David Wooderson, so...
46. CUTIE AND THE BOXER A vivid struggle that is equal parts artistically, martially, and internally based. Engrossing all the way.
45. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Tom Hanks' best performance in ages in a dramatic thriller that feels real (for obvious reasons).
44. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG As a Legend of Zelda fan, this movie's world awakened something in me.
43. FRUITVALE STATIONThis character story is at odds with its out-universe goal, but Michael B. Jordan is unforgettable.
42. BEFORE MIDNIGHTI'm still not sure how I feel about that ending, but it was good to catch up wit Jesse and Celine.
41. DARK TOUCHEverything that Carrie could have been. A shocking fantasy about human pains.
Walt Disney Co via Everett Collection
40. THOR: THE DARK WORLDMore Chris O'Dowd.
39. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLORIntellectually stimulating, but doesn't hit all its emotional marks.
38. THE WORLD'S ENDI've been saying "Gooey Wooey Egg Man" for months.
37. THE GREAT GATSBYLights! Music! Pizzazz! Moxy! The bee's knees! The cat's pajamas!
36. ENOUGH SAIDBest TV drama's male lead + best TV comedy's female lead = quite a charming romantic dramedy.
35. SIGHTSEERSWell, this is rather amusi— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?!
34. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINESNot sure if the "three stories" approach makes for the most powerful character work, but it's an enchanting ride.
33. THE WE AND THE I A bus full of inner-city high school kids turns into a magical kingdom thanks to Gondry's dreamy edge.
32. NEWLYWEEDSA love triangle with marijuana as the third party. Weighty, but never overly so, and funny throughout.
31. GRAVITY. . .
30. PRINCE AVALANCHE Heh heh, look at Paul Rudd's mustache.
29. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Yes, we all loved the 'ludes scene. Very, very much.
28. ALL IS LOSTRobert Redford, you still got that same oomph. You too, ocean.
27. SAVING LINCOLN The weirdest, goofiest, funniest biopic about Abraham Lincoln ever.
26. THE KINGS OF SUMMER Kids run away, live in the woods, grow up, make jokes. Always a charming endeavor.
25. AMERICAN HUSTLE Little more than a cartoon, but an emotionally explosive and riotous one at that.
24. THE HEAT Melissa McCarthy insisting on stepping out of a moving car earns a full five minutes of laughter alone.
23. DRINKING BUDDIESNever dips too low on the emotional spectrum, but stays real and fresh in the face of the rom-com genre.
22. UPSTREAM COLORA difficult, confusing, harrowing thinker.
21. STOKER Somehow both effectively haunting and deliciously fun.
Room 237: the movie/Facebook
20. ROOM 237 Less a doting tribute to The Shining or Kubrick than it is to movie-lovers and their bottomless well of theories.
19. BLUE JASMINE Each party fires on all cylinders in Woody Allen's Streetcar gem, Sally Hawkins especially.
18. S#X ACTSThe sadness of this story of our youth's desperate obsession with and reliance on sex is its authenticity.
17. IRON MAN 3 The first true action comedy in Marvel's line of films shows how much fun superhero movies can really be.
16. ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW Take notes, John Dies at the End. THIS is one weird f**king movie.
15. NEBRASKA Father vs. son, past vs. present, dreams vs. reality. Everything here is touching, funny, and inviting.
14. PAIN & GAIN Michael Bay talks a long, hard look in the mirror with this biting send-up of everything his other movies represent.
13. THIS IS THE ENDFar more interesting and insightful than it will get credit for being, This Is the End uses a literal apocalypse and no dearth of d**k jokes to deconstruct tenets of friendship and social politics.
12. THE ACT OF KILLING While this documentary would benefit from restructuring, the power of its message (especially its final few monents, not to mention the "anonymous"-heavy credits) is painfully resonant.
11. FROZENOffering the magic and whimsy you'll remember from time-honored Disney classics, but so much more in the way of its message, Frozen might very well be the most magnificent and meaningful animated feature yet to spring from Walt's legacy.
10. COMPUTER CHESSIt doesn't have much to say about the human condition (beyond maybe highlighting our propensity for arrogance and self-directed delusion). It doesn't tell a story that'll stick with you for very long. But Computer Chess reigns supreme as, far and away, the funniest movie of 2013.
9. SPRING BREAKERS A dark, wicked, wholly upsetting reflection of the toxic direction in which we might be headed. And James Franco gives a tour-de-force of a performance with his demonic scoutmaster Alien.
8. IT'S A DISASTER An intelligent, meticulously directed farce about group politics and conflicting personal philosophies, executed to near perfection thanks to the rhythmic participation of a more than capable cast.
7. 12 YEARS A SLAVEAn unprecedented masterpiece that sings the traumas not only of Solomon Northrup, a free man captured and sold into slavery, but in his fellow sufferers as well. For my money, the true anchor of the story is in Lupita Nyong'o's Patsey, whose suffering is unlike anything we've seen managed on the big screen in years.
6. HER With so much to say about such tremendous topics, Her manages to still dive so deep into the heart of its story: the pangs of love in the wake of the inevitable fallibilities of romantic relationships. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson alike give dynamic performances, and Spike Jonze mystifies us with his strange, cold, all-too-familiar world.
A24 via Everett Collection
5. THE SPECTACULAR NOWThis is one of those movies you try to convince yourself to inch out of your top 10, or five, for fear of being seen as juvenile. ButThe Spectacular Now hits such genuine notes with Miles Teller's Sutter, climaxing at a moment where you'll recognize an angst so true to life and so criminally absent from most movies about the journey toward self-love.
4. FRANCES HA Months and months after my first encounter with it, this deceptively simple film sticks in my head, reminding me that its every artful beat is riddled with emotional weight and ironic humor alike. Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach give us the a New York movie to rival Annie Hall, zooming in and out of the perspective of the young women and men who occupy, and drown within, today's version of the biggest, most stupefying city in the world.
3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVISSadness, coldness, loneliness, failure... such wonderful things when handled by filmmakers like the Coen Brothers. Padding this antithesis of triumph with some of the most beautiful, somber music you'll hear all year, Inside Llewyn Davis makes us fall in love all over again with the very idea of the artistic struggle.
Touchstone Pictures via Everett Collection
2. THE WIND RISESHayao Miyazaki's final movie doesn't pass judgment on its hero, a man so devoted to his work (building weapons) that he neglects his wife, sister, and friends. It doesn't endorse these choices either. Instead, it hones in on the passions of its hero/antihero, challenging us to sympathize with a fellow whose only desire is to do his job while we lament his sacrifices. More even than Gravity does the frequently airborne animated picture induce dizzy spells as we connect with the conglomerate of colorful, intriguing characters in this grim but dainty biography.
Cinedigm via Everett Collection
1. SHORT TERM 12 There are so few flaws to highlight in The Wind Rises, Inside Llewyn Davis, Frances Ha, and the other entries on this top 10 list. What separates Short Term 12 is not a complete lack of error, but in an umatched spirit for the telling of its story. The movie wants us to feel the pains of counselor Grace (Brie Larson) and the disavantaged children for whom she cares, highlighting abused Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) and orphan Marcus (Keith Stanfield). It also wants us to feel the hope that it brings to these characters in their plight to overcome the hands they have been dealt. Every emotion in this movie carries through with such force. For those of us who know any of these trials personally, they ring tremendously true. For others, they work to invite you into this sad but hopeful world. We've been gifted with a ton of exemplary cinematic works this year, but nothing sticks with me more than this tearful, heartrending masterpiece.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
If Sundance is the studious valedictorian of film festivals, than South by Southwest is the party animal younger broth—who's just as smart (if not more) as his stuffy sibling. Held in Austin, Texas every March, SXSW is a rootin' tootin' celebration of cinema, hosting big Hollywood premieres, the best of the best from Sundance and plenty of off-beat indies primed and ready for discovery. Some of the year's best films premiere at the festival—need I remind you of Kill List—and most make their way to release, making SXSW a festival to keep your eye on.
The line-up for this year's fest has been officially release, and sports highly anticipated movies like Jonah Hill's 21 Jump Street and Cabin in the Woods, the long-awaited meta-horror from Lost/Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard and producer Joss Whedon, the premiere of Judd Apatow's new TV show Girls (written and starring Lena Dunham) and new projects from acclaimed directors like William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Kevin McDonald (Last King of Scotland), Will Ferrell, Jay Chandrasekhar of Broken Lizard and the Duplass Brothers (Cyrus).
Check out the films below and let us know which ones you want to hear more about!
Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with some major and rising names in cinema.
Films screening in Headliners are:
21 Jump Street
Directed by: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, Screenplay by: Michael Bacall, Story by: Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill
Police officers Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) get sent back to high school as undercover cops in the action-comedy 21 Jump Street. Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, with Ice Cube (World Premiere)
BIG EASY EXPRESS
Director: Emmett Malloy
Emmett Malloy’s latest film invites us aboard a train ride unlike any other with Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show.
The Cabin in the Woods
Director: Drew Goddard, Screenwriters: Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard
Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story, think again. From fan favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes The Cabin in the Woods, a mind-blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out. Cast: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford (World Premiere)
Director: Gotham Chopra
Filmmaker Gotham Chopra spends a year on the road decoding his father and spiritual icon Deepak Chopra. (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Lena Dunham
Created by and starring Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture), the HBO show is a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of girls in their early 20s.
Cast: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver (World Premiere)
The Hunter (Australia)
Director: Daniel Nettheim, Screenplay by: Alice Addison, Novel by: Julia Leigh, Original Adaptation by: Wain Fimeri
A mercenary is dispatched from Europe to the Tasmanian wilderness by a mysterious biotech company to search for the last surviving Tasmanian tiger.
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Frances O'Connor, Sam Neill (U.S. Premiere)
Director: William Friedkin, Screenwriter: Tracy Letts
A garish, Southwestern tale - a violent black comedy about a desperate Texas debtor (Hirsch) who plots to kill his mother with help of his family (Haden Church, Gershon). They hire a crazy Dallas cop who moonlights as a contract killer (McConaughey) to do the job, but Killer Joe asks for their teenage daughter (Temple) as a retainer. The film is based on Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts' (August: Osage County) award winning play. Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church (U.S. Premiere)
MARLEY (UK / USA)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
The definitive life story of Bob Marley - musician, revolutionary, legend - from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, incredible performances and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best. Directed by Academy-Award-Winner Kevin Macdonald. (North American Premiere)
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
This year’s 8 films were selected from 1,112 submissions. Each film is a World Premiere.
Films screening in Narrative Feature Competition are:
Director/Screenwriter: Matt Ruskin
When Simon’s brother is arrested for armed robbery, he is asked to commit a string of similar crimes in an attempt to get his brother acquitted.
Cast: Nico Stone, Adam DuPaul, Seymour Cassel, Kristin Dougherty, Brian McGrail (World Premiere)
Director: Megan Griffiths, Screenwriters: Richard B. Phillips, Megan Griffiths, Story by: Richard B. Phillips & Chong Kim
A young Korean-American girl, abducted and forced into prostitution by domestic human traffickers, joins forces with her captors in a desperate plea to survive. Cast: Jamie Chung, Matt O'Leary, Beau Bridges, Jeanine Monterroza, Scott Mechlowicz (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jonathan Lisecki
Jenn and Matt, best friends since college who are now in their thirties, decide to have a child together, the old-fashioned way - even though Matt is gay and Jenn is straight. Cast: Jenn Harris, Matthew Wilkas, Mike Doyle, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Jack Ferver (World Premiere)
Gimme the Loot
Director/Screenwriter: Adam Leon
When Malcolm and Sofia’s latest graffiti masterpiece is buffed by a rival gang, these two determined Bronx teens must hustle, steal, and scheme to get spectacular revenge and become the biggest writers in the City. Cast: Tashiana Washington, Ty Hickson, Meeko, Zoe Lescaze, Sam Soghor
Los Chidos (Germany / Mexico / USA)
Director/Screenwriter: Omar Rodriguez Lopez
The Gonzales family tries hard to hold on to their beautiful Latino traditions of misogyny and homophobia when a tall, white, industrialist stranger appears, challenging their place in the exploitative food chain. Cast: Kim Stodel, María De Jesús Canales Ramírez, Manuel Ramos, Cecillia Gutiérrez, (World Premiere)
Director: Martha Stephens, Screenwriters: Martha Stephens, Karrie Crouse
A pink-slipped music teacher ponders his stalled relationship and place in the world during an arduous trek across Kentucky’s Sheltowee Trace Trail. Cast: Timothy Morton, Bryan Marshall, Karrie Crouse, Harrison Cole, Michael Abbott Jr. (World Premiere)
Director: Sean Baker, Screenwriters: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
The film explores the unlikely friendship between 21-year-old Jane (Dree Hemingway), and 85 year-old Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women whose worlds collide in California's San Fernando Valley.
Cast: Dree Hemingway, Besedka Johnson, Stella Maeve, James Ransone, Karren Karagulian
The Taiwan Oyster
Director: Mark Jarrett, Screenwriters: Mark Jarrett, Jordan Heimer, Mitchell Jarrett
Two Ex-Pat Kindergarten teachers in Taiwan embark on a quixotic odyssey to bury a fellow countryman. Cast: Billy Harvey, Jeff Palmiotti, Leonora Lim (World Premiere)NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT
High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.
Films screening in Narrative Spotlight are:
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar, Screenwriters: Peter Gaulke, Gerry Swallow
Unable to impregnate his wife, Tommy and friends rob a sperm bank - to get Tommy's long-ago donated sperm back. The crazy plan goes hilariously awry and shows how far a couple will go to create a new life.
Cast: Paul Schneider, Olivia Munn, Kevin Heffernan, Wood Harris, Nat Faxon (World Premiere)
Director: Adam Sherman, Screenwriters: Adam Sherman, Dave Reeves & Rachel Hardisty
Just another story about love.
Cast: Lukas Haas, Madeline Zima, Jake Busey, Tania Raymonde, Regine Nehy (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Two brothers compete in their own private 25-event Olympics.
Cast: Mark Kelly, Steve Zissis, Elton LeBlanc (World Premiere)
Fat Kid Rules The World
Director: Matthew Lillard, Screenwriters: Michael M.B. Galvin, Peter Speakman
Troy, a depressed overweight teenager, gets sucked into the punk rock world by Marcus, a charming street musician. But when Troy discovers Marcus’ drug addiction, he suddenly must figure out the true boundaries of friendship.
Cast: Jacob Wysocki, Matt O'Leary, Billy Campbell, Lilli Simmons, Dylan Arnold (World Premiere)
frankie go boom
Director/Screenwriter: Jordan Roberts
a flick by bruce about his little brother frank who's a crybaby fuck who shouldn't do lame-ass embarrassing shit if he dozn't want people 2 see it
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Chris O'Dowd, Lizzy Caplan, Ron Perlman, Chris Noth (World Premiere)
Hunky Dory (UK)
Director: Marc Evans, Screenwriter: Laurence Coriat
From the producer of Billy Elliot comes this funny, coming of age film featuring songs from artists such as David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, Dusty Springfield and Electric Light Orchestra. Cast: Minnie Driver, Aneurin Barnard, Danielle Branch, Robert Pugh, Haydn Gwynne
(North American Premiere)
In Our Nature
Director/Screenwriter: Brian Savelson
Taking place over a single weekend, an estranged father and son accidentally end up in the same country house with their two girlfriends.
Cast: Zach Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery, Gabrielle Union (World Premiere)
Director: Guy Maddin, Screenwriters: Guy Maddin, George Toles
I'm only a ghost... but a ghost isn't nothing.
Cast: Isabella Rossellini, Jason Patric, Udo Kier, Kevin McDonald, Tattiawna Jones (U.S. Premiere)
See Girl Run
Director/Screenwriter: Nate Meyer
What happens when a 30-something woman allows life's "what ifs" to overwhelm her appreciation for what life actually is. Disregarding her current obligations, she digs into her romantic past in hopes of invigorating her present.
Cast: Robin Tunney, Adam Scott, Jeremy Strong, William Sadler, Josh Hamilton (World Premiere)
Director: Jonas Åkerlund, Screenwriter: Chris Millis
When Franklin Franklin accidentally kills his landlord, he must hide the body; but, the wisdom of his beloved brother and the quirks of his neighbors, force him on a journey where a fortune awaits him. Cast: Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, James Caan, Johnny Knoxville, Juno Temple (World Premiere)
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Director/Screenwriter: Bob Byington
Time flies for everyone: Thirty-five years in the life of Max, his best friend Sal, and a woman they both adore. A deadpan fable about time sneaking up on and swerving right around us.
Cast: Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman, Jess Weixler, Stephanie Hunt, Kevin Corrigan (World Premiere)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
This year’s 8 films were selected from 845 submissions. Each film is a World Premiere.
Films screening in Documentary Feature Competition are:
Bay of All Saints
Director: Annie Eastman
As the last of the notorious water slums is demolished in Bahia, Brazil, will three single mothers face homelessness or rally for a better life? (World Premiere)
Beware of Mr. Baker
Director: Jay Bulger
Ginger Baker is the original rock ‘n roll madman junkie drummer superstar who everyone thought was dead but somehow survived 50+ years of heroin abuse, disastrous experiments and 5 marriages on 4 continents. (World Premiere)
The Central Park Effect
Director: Jeffrey Kimball
The film reveals the extraordinary array of wild birds who grace Manhattan’s celebrated patch of green, and the equally colorful, full-of-attitude New Yorkers who schedule their lives around the rhythms of migration. (World Premiere)
Director: Chris James Thompson
A documentary about the people around Jeffrey Dahmer during the 1991 summer of his arrest for the murder of 17 people in Milwaukee. (World Premiere)
Seeking Asian Female
Director: Debbie Lum
When an American man with "yellow fever" meets a Chinese woman half his age online, documenting their attempt to build a marriage from scratch reveals hilarious and troubling complications for the couple and the filmmaker. (World Premiere)
The Sheik and I
Director: Caveh Zahedi
Commissioned by a Middle Eastern Biennial to make a film on the theme of "art as a subversive act," independent filmmaker Caveh Zahedi (I am a Sex Addict) is threatened with a fatwa. (World Premiere)
Directors: Jodi Wille, Maria Demopoulos
The Source Family was a radical experiment in '70s utopian living. Their popular restaurant, rock band, and beautiful women made them the darlings of Hollywood; but their outsider ideals led to their dramatic undoing. (World Premiere)
Welcome To The Machine
Director: Avi Zev Weider
Upon fathering triplets, filmmaker Avi Zev Weider explores the nature of technology, seeking answers about what it means to be human. (World Premiere)
Shining a light on new documentary features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.
Films screening in Documentary Spotlight are:
Director: Kevin Mazur
Renowned celebrity photographer, Kevin Mazur, gives us an all access pass to the life behind the velvet rope and in front of the camera. Candid, revealing and bold interviews with Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and more, take us inside the blurred lines of privacy, pliable journalism, celebrity, fame and what it feels like to be consumed. (World Premiere)
America's Parking Lot
Director: Jonny Mars
Pull up a front row seat as two die-hard fans of 'America's Team' spend their last season with the Dallas Cowboys at historic Texas Stadium, and scramble to preserve their place in America’s Parking Lot. (World Premiere)
Director: Nelson George
On Thursday, November 7, 1991, Earvin “Magic” Johnson made the stunning announcement that he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from basketball immediately. The Announcement gets to the core of Magic’s incredible personal journey. (World Premiere)
Beauty Is Embarrassing
Director: Neil Berkeley
A funny, irreverent and inspirational look into the life and times of one of America's most important artists, Wayne White. (World Premiere)
Director: Katie Dellamaggiore
Amidst financial crises and unprecedented public school budget cuts, Brooklyn Castle takes an intimate look at the challenges and triumphs facing members of a junior high school’s champion chess team. (World Premiere)
Code of the West
Director: Rebecca Richman Cohen
Frames a high stakes showdown in the halls of the Montana State Legislature. The future of medical marijuana is at stake. (World Premiere)
Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes
Director: M. Slinger
A true document of the art and culture of glass pipe-making. It is the first film to ever bring to light this invisible sub-culture in a comprehensive and well-informed format. (World Premiere)
Directors: A. Sabin, David Redmon
Young Russian girls join a modeling agency to seek work in Japan, but get caught up in an unregulated system that reveals an unseemly side of the fashion industry. (U.S. Premiere)
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters
Director: Ben Shapiro
Acclaimed photographer Gregory Crewdson’s 10-year quest to create a series of haunting, surreal, and stunningly elaborate portraits of small-town American life — filmed with unprecedented access as he makes perfect renderings of a disturbing, imperfect world. (World Premiere)
Just Like Being There
Director: Scout Shannon
Through the eyes of Daniel Danger, Jay Ryan, and the gig poster community, Just Like Being There focuses on poster artists, the music they commemorate, MONDO film posters, fans, bloggers, galleries, collectors and everything in between. (World Premiere)
Scarlet Road (Australia)
Director: Catherine Scott
The film follows the extraordinary work of Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton. Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, she specializes in a long over-looked clientele - people with disability. (North American Premiere)
Director: Andrew Garrison
A choreographer finds beauty and grace in garbage trucks, and against the odds, rallies reluctant city trash collectors to perform an extraordinary dance spectacle. On an abandoned airport runway, two dozen sanitation workers -- and their trucks -- inspire an audience of thousands. (World Premiere)
Waiting For Lightning
Director: Jacob Rosenberg
From the producers of Step into Liquid, comes the story of visionary skateboarder Danny Way, who jumped China’s Great Wall and created a new movement in sport. (World Premiere)
Wikileaks: Secrets & Lies (UK)
Director: Patrick Forbes
The in-depth story of Wikileaks told by all the key players. Sulphurous, personal and moving, it documents history in the making at the lawless frontier of new technology and mainstream media. (North American Premiere)
WONDER WOMEN! The Untold Story of American Superheroines
Director: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
This documentary examines the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman and introduces audiences to a dynamic group of real life superheroes who continue to fight the good fight both on and off the screen. (World Premiere)
Audacious, risk-taking artists in the new cinema landscape that demonstrate raw innovation and creativity in documentary and narrative filmmaking.
Films screening in Emerging Visions are:
Black Pond (UK)
Directors: Tom Kingsley, Will Sharpe, Screenwriter: Will Sharpe
An ordinary family is accused of murder when a stranger dies at their dinner table. Stars BAFTA-winner Chris Langham and British Comedy Award Winner Simon Amstell. Cast: Chris Langham, Simon Amstell, Amanda Hadingue, Colin Hurley, Will Sharpe (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Kirsten Sheridan
Five street teens break into a house in a rich Dublin suburb for a night of partying. But games are twisted into something more emotional and ultimately out of control through a series of surprising revelations. Cast: Seana Kerslake, Johnny Ward, Kate Stanley Brennan, Shane Curry, Ciaran McCabe (North American Premiere)
Director: Andrew Beck Grace
A quest to eat locally becomes a meditation on community, the South and sustainability. Eating Alabama is a story about why food matters. (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Rebecca Thomas
Rachel, a 15-year-old fundamentalist Mormon, believes she's had an immaculate conception by listening to rock and roll. She flees to Las Vegas to escape an arranged marriage, seeking answers to her mysterious pregnancy.
Cast: Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken, Billy Zane (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Nir Paniry
A scientist is trapped in the memories of a criminal and must solve a crime in order to get back home to his family.
Cast: Sasha Roiz, Dominic Bogart, Jenny Mollen, Nick Jameson, Brad Culver (World Premiere)
Francine (Canada / USA)
Director/Screenwriter: Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky
Academy-Award-winner, Melissa Leo, plays Francine, a woman struggling to find her place in a downtrodden lakeside town after leaving behind a life in prison.
Cast: Melissa Leo, Keith Leonard, Victoria Charkut (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Kevin Mcmanus, Matthew Mcmanus
For three 14-year-old boys at St. Mark's Middle School, it's always a good day for a funeral.
Cast: Dylan Hartigan, Alex Maizus, Jordan Puzzo, Charles Odei, Kevin Corrigan (World Premiere)
Hard Labor (Brazil)
Director/Screenwriter: Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra
Helena prepares to open her own business: a neighborhood grocery store. She hires a maid. But when her husband Octavio is suddenly fired from his job, Helena is left to support the family alone.
Cast: Helena Albergaria, Marat Descartes, Naloana Lima, Marina Flores (U.S. Premiere)
La Camioneta - The Journey of One American School Bus
Director: Mark Kendall
On a 3,000-mile adventure across the borders between the Americas, La Camioneta follows the journey of one out-of-service American school bus as it is repaired, repainted and resurrected into a Guatemalan camioneta. (World Premiere)
The Last Fall
Director/Screenwriter: Matthew A. Cherry
An NFL journeyman struggles to deal with life's complexities after his professional career is over at age 25.
Cast: Lance Gross, Nicole Beharie, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Harry Lennix, Keith David
Leave Me Like You Found Me
Director/Screenwriter: Adele Romanski
Big trees, broken hearts. The story of a lovesick couple’s breakup & makeup while camping in the wilds of California. Cast: Megan Boone, David Nordstrom (World Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Tim Sutton
Max, a quietly troubled 15-year-old, leaves his lakeside town to live with his father on the sun-blasted fringe of suburban Arizona. What begins in a calm and lush environment ends in a drastic, frayed confusion. Cast: Max Schaffner, Zach Cali, Cody Hamric, Addie Barlett, Aaron Buyea (World Premiere)
Sun Don't Shine
Director/Screenwriter: Amy Seimetz
Two lovers, on the back roads of Florida, do very bad things.
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Kentucker Audley, AJ Bowen, Kit Gwinn, Mark Reeb (World Premiere)
Directors: Silas Howard, Ernesto Foronda, Screenwriter: Valerie Stadler
When May returns to LA and runs smack into JP, the man she left behind, past and present collide sending them on a twenty-four hour journey in search of what they lost.
Cast: Monique Curnen, Sung Kang, Joshua Leonard, Mousa Kraish, Michelle Krusiec (World Premiere)
Director: Bill Ross, Turner Ross
Three young brothers' immersive journey into the sensory wonders of the New Orleans night.
Director/Screenwriter: Aleksander L. Nordaas
The film revolves around huldra, a mythical, tailed creature, found by two crime scene cleaners in a concealed cellar. Someone’s been keeping her down here for decades, for reasons soon to surface. Cast: Silje Reinåmo, Jon Sigve Skard, Erlend Nervold, Morten Andresen (North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Wu Tsang
A magical-realist portrait of the Silver Platter, a historic bar in Los Angeles that provides a safe space for Latin/LGBT immigrant and queer art communities to come together in love and conflict.
Director/Screenwriter: Ya'ke Smith
A family is shaken to the core when they discover their son has been molested. As they struggle to deal with the betrayal, their son heads towards a total mental collapse.
Cast: Irma P. Hall, Mikala Gibson, Jordan Cooper, Shelton Jolivette, Eugene Lee (World Premiere)
24 BEATS PER SECOND
Showcasing the sounds, culture and influence of music and musicians, with an emphasis on documentary.
Films screening in 24 Beats Per Second are:
Amor Cronico (Cuba / USA)
Director: Jorge Perugorria
Weaving footage of singer Cucu Diamantes’ Cuban tour into a fictional love story. The result is an energetic display of her glamorous and infectious performance style and a fascinating portrait of Cuba today.
Cast: Cucu Diamantes, Adela Legra, Liosky Clavero, Andres Levin, Jorge Perugorria (World Premiere)
Bad Brains: Band in DC
Directors: Mandy Stein, Benjamen Logan
How four young men from DC changed music forever. (World Premiere)
Charles Bradley: Soul of America
Director: Poull Brien
The incredible late-in-life rise of 62-year-old aspiring soul singer Charles Bradley, whose debut album rocketed him from a hard life in the projects to Rolling Stone magazine’s top 50 albums of 2011.
Director: Dave Boyle, Screenwriters: Dave Boyle, Michael Lerman, Joel Clark, Goh Nakamura
After a devastating breakup, musician Goh Nakamura hits the road with his irresponsible cousin to pursue a promising rebound with fellow musician Yea-Ming Chen.
Cast: Goh Nakamura, Michael Aki, Yea-Ming Chen, Lynn Chen, Ayako Fujitani (World Premiere)
Grandma Lo-fi: The Basement Tapes of Sigrídur Níelsdóttir (Iceland / Denmark)
Director: Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir
At the tender age of 70 she started making music - and then she couldn't stop! A tribute to the Danish/Icelandic artist and late bloomer Sigrídur Níelsdóttir.
Paul Williams Still Alive
Director: Stephen Kessler
A documentary filmmaker tracks down actor/singer/songwriter Paul Williams in an attempt to find out what happened to his idol. (U.S. Premiere)
Rock 'N' Roll Exposed: The Photography of Bob Gruen (UK)
Director: Don Letts
Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Yoko Ono, Alice Cooper, Billie Joe Armstrong and others discuss the incredible life and work of the world's foremost rock 'n' roll photographer, Bob Gruen.
(North American Premiere)
Director/Screenwriter: Hans Fjellestad
The 100-year history of the loudest street on the planet, The Sunset Strip. (World Premiere)
Under African Skies
Director: Joe Berlinger
Paul Simon returns to South Africa to explore the incredible journey of his historic Graceland album, including the political backlash he received for allegedly breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime.
Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots
Director: Mark Ford
20 years after riots ripped through Los Angeles, Uprising documents how hip hop forecasted – and some say ignited – the worst civil unrest of the 20th century. (World Premiere)
A diverse panorama of international filmmaking talent, including premieres, interactive documentaries and shorts.
Films screening in SX Global are:
Director: Ashtar Sayed, Screenwriter: Dr. Mahendra Purohit
Inspired by a true event. Scarecrow tells the true story of a young woman who is attempting to escape from an abusive arranged marriage. Cast: Arti Rautela, Amit Purohit (North American Premiere)
Crulic - The Path to Beyond (Romania / Poland)
Director: Anca Damian
The animated documentary feature-length “Crulic – The Path to Beyond” tells the story of the life of Crulic, the 33-year-old Romanian who died in a Polish prison while on hunger strike.
Cubaton - El Medico Story (Estonia / Sweden)
Director: Daniel Fridell
El Medico - a Cuban house doctor who wants to become a cubaton star - is facing a serious choice between serving the state and becoming a popstar. (North American Premiere)
Her Master's Voice (UK)
Director: Nina Conti
Watching someone talk to themselves has never been so interesting. (World Premiere)
ITALY LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT (Italy / Germany)
Directors: Gustav Hofer, Luca Ragazzi
Gustav and Luca, two Italians, have to decide: Should they stay in Italy, or leave it? (North American Premiere)
Mustafa's Sweet Dreams (Greece / UK)
Director: Angelos Abazoglou
Mustafa, a 16-year-old pastry shop apprentice dreams of becoming a famous baklava chef in Istanbul. (North American Premiere)
Director: Tamae Garateguy, Screenwriters: Tamae Garateguy, Diego A. Fleischer
When a film director hires two screenwriters to make a gangster movie, a fiction feast starts: femmes fatales, mobs fighting for the same neighborhood and a limitless hero who defies every movie concept. Cast: José Luciano González, Joel Drut, Chang Sung Kim, Vladimir Yuravel, Miguel Forza de Paul
¡Vivan las Antipodas! (Germany / The Netherlands / Argentina / Chile)
Director: Victor Kossakovsky
Haven’t we all wondered at some point what was happening just at this moment beneath our very feet at the other side of the planet?
Acclaimed standouts and selected previous premieres from festivals around the world.
Films screening in Festival Favorites are:
Director/Screenwriter: Christoffer Boe
How long will you go, to hold on to the person you love?
Cast: Nicolas Bro, Marijana Jankovic, Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Robert Donne, Colm O'Leary
Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father's estate, Swanson (Tim Heidecker), a desensitized, aging Brooklyn hipster, strays into a series of reckless situations that may offer the promise of redemption or the threat of retribution.
Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, James Murphy, Kate Lyn-Sheil, Alexia Rassmusen
Dreams of a Life (UK / Ireland)
Director: Carol Morley
An imaginative quest to go beyond the newspaper reports and solve the mystery of who thirty-eight year old Joyce Vincent was and why she lay undiscovered for three years after her death in one of the busiest parts of London. (North American Premiere)
God Bless America
Director/Screenwriter: Bobcat Goldthwait
Loveless, jobless, possibly terminally ill, Frank has had enough of the downward spiral of America. With nothing left to lose, Frank takes his gun and offs the stupidest, cruelest, and most repellent members of society. Cast: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr (U.S. Premiere)
The Imposter (UK)
Director: Bart Layton
In 1994 a 13-year-old disappears without trace in Texas. Three years later he resurfaces in Spain with accounts of a horrifying kidnap. His family is overjoyed – but all is not as it seems.
Indie Game: The Movie (Canada)
Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky
With the twenty-first century comes a new breed of artist: the indie game designer. These innovators design and program their distinctly personal games in the hope that they may find connection and success.
Director/Screenwriter: David Zellner
A fever-dream fable about Annie, a rebellious girl devoid of parental guidance or a moral compass. She roams the countryside looking for adventure, and finds it one day in the form of an abandoned well. Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner, David Wingo
Last Call at the Oasis
Director: Jessica Yu
A powerful argument for why the global water crisis will be the central issue facing our world this century.
Director: Eduardo Sanchez, Screenwriters: Eduardo Sanchez, Jamie Nash
Exploring the parallels between psychosis, addiction and demonic possession, Lovely Molly tells the story of what really happens before the exorcist arrives.
Cast: Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis, Alexandra Holden (U.S. Premiere)
The Raid (Indonesia)
Director/Screenwriter: Gareth Huw Evans
Rama and his special forces team fight their way through a rundown apartment block with a mission to remove its owner, a notorious drug lord.
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno
WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists
Director: Brian Knappenberger
We Are Legion takes us inside the world of Anonymous, the radical "hacktivist" collective that has redefined civil disobedience for the digital age.
Live Soundtracks, cult re-issues and much more. Our Special Events section offers unusual, unexpected and unique film event one-offs.
Films screening in Special Events are:
An Evening With Sacred Bones Records
Director: Jacqueline Castel
Brooklyn-based record label Sacred Bones presents an evening of original and curated programming of music videos, short films, works in progress, and a rare screening of their first film production, Twelve Dark Noons. (World Premiere)
Director: Richard Linklater, Screenwriters: Richard Linklater, Skip Hollandsworth
Based on real-life events, this dark comedy follows Bernie Tiede, his recently deceased friend Marjorie Nugent and District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson who is determined to get to the bottom of the crime. Cast: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Brady Coleman, Richard Robichaux
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Director: Drew Denicola
A feature-length documentary about the massive critical acclaim, dismal commercial failure, and enduring legacy of pop music’s greatest cult phenomenon, Big Star. (Work in Progress)
Casa de mi Padre
Director: Matt Piedmont, Screenwriter: Andrew Steele
Will Ferrell plays a Mexican rancher who must defend his father's home against the country's most infamous drug lord. Cast: Will Ferrell, Gael García Vernal, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, Pedro Armendáriz Jr., Nick Offerman
Girl Walk // All Day
Director/Screenwriter: Jacob Krupnick
A feature-length dance music film that combines freestyle dance with the daily chaos of New York City, set to Girl Talk's recent mashup album, All Day. Cast: Anne Marsen, John Doyle, Daisuke Omiya
Director: Amir Bar Lev
5 DJ's Turn the Table on The History of Music.
Directors: Adam Russell, John Sear
A ground breaking feature-length show controlled entirely by the audience using laser pointers. It is the first viable example of a standalone interactive experience capable of running in commercial movie theatres. (North American Premiere)
The Oyster Princess (1919) with original live score by Bee vs. Moth (Germany)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch, Screenriters: Hanns Kraly & Ernst Lubitsch
The Oyster Princess is Ernst Lubitsch’s tart 1919 silent comedy that parodies the rich and the spoiled. Austin jazz/rock band Bee vs. Moth performs their original score live with the film for the first time. (World Premiere)
At the time of Scream’s release in 1996 the state of Hollywood horror was at a pretty low-point. For every Dracula there was a Frankenstein. For every original idea there were dozens of painful sequels. There were some truly terrifying films released during the decade but there wasn’t a lot we hadn’t seen before. Then along came Wes Craven’s now classic slasher pic a revisionist take on the genre that simultaneously dissected its tropes while embracing them. It was equally hilarious and horrific thanks to the auteur’s precise execution and Kevin Williamson’s sharp sardonic script that dynamically pooled the characters’ points of view with those of the audience. Scream’s self-awareness was a true game-changer that has carved a very nice place in film history for itself. Fifteen years and two sequels later the franchises’ principle players have all returned to Woodsboro to catch up on cinematic commentary and thwart the sadistic plans of yet another Ghostface killer in Scre4m.
In how many ways does this bloody new chapter differ from the others? Not many. The story begins when Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott now the best-selling author of a self-help book returns home on the last stop of her promotional tour. There she meets up with Dewey and Gale Weathers-Riley (David Arquette and Courtney Cox) her friends and mutual survivors of the Woodsboro Murders though there’s precious little time for a warm reunion because someone has inherited the mantle of Ghostface and begun taking out the town’s well-endowed teenagers. The trio along with a young and attractive cast of victims and suspects including Emma Roberts Hayden Panettiere Nico Tortorella and Rory Culkin attempt to stop the killer despite an escalating body count.
As with the original Williamson’s screenplay is the most valuable part of the production. He employs the same narrative formula he did in ’96 but puts it in contemporary context riffing on cinema’s current trends (namely sequelitis and the torture-porn craze the latter which the filmmakers are clearly not fans of) his own franchise (the opening self-deprecating sequence is absolutely riotous and perhaps the funniest in the entire series) and America’s social media obsession (Twitter Facebook and YouTube references take the place of pagers and other outdated cultural staples further separating the film from its predecessors) which plays a larger part in the story and its characters motivations than you really want to know. If there ever was a film for and about the been-there-done-that post-modern generation it’s Scre4m.
While Williamson is at the top of his game Craven’s direction doesn’t appear to have evolved much since helming the original (a sad fact considering his creative growth with Music From The Heart and Red Eye). A few eerie shots aside he doesn’t take any risks with the material resulting in a monotonous merry-go-round of murders that’s consciously grislier but noticeably less effective than those found in the earlier entries. Thankfully his enthusiastic cast is more than willing to go over-the-top and beyond to sell the (few) scares; Panettiere particularly stands out as the confident Kirby Reed as does Alison Brie as the slimy PR girl Rebecca Walters. They’re all archetypes fitting into the film’s modus operandi of amusingly adhering to conventions and making it relatively easy for you to predict who’s going to die without spoiling the fun.
Still with so many preconceived notions about what Scre4m should be it’s hard to imagine all moviegoers loving its throwback premise and downright silly tone. What was once clever is now contrived; what was once refreshing and exhilarating for horror buffs is now exploitative of their common knowledge and passion. As a horror-comedy hybrid it brings some funny but not a whole lot of fear; in other words it’s very much like the original. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
The Toronto International Film Festival has an impressive slate of films lined up for its 35th anniversary. The Canadian film festival will host 25 World Premieres, 15 Gala Premiers and 35 Special Presentations films from a multitude of acclaimed and upcoming directors. The most anticipated films to debut at the festival include Darren Aronofsky’s followup to The Wrestler, the stately-looking Black Swan, and Mark Romanek’s adaptation of bestseller Never Let Me Go, starring new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield. Robert Redford’s Lincoln assassination drama The Conspirator and John Cameron Mitchell’s tearjerker Rabbit Hole, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s perplexing Biutiful are also generating some interest and buzz. Less promising features include Stone, a thriller so generic that Ed Norton's cornrows look like the most interesting thing about it, and Trust, David Schwimmer's melodramatic internet predator panic piece. But don't quote us on that, film festivals are always full of unexpected surprises, and you can never be sure what's going to become a hit.
The Toronto Film Festival will take place from September 9-19th. For a full summary of the films appearing in the festival, check out the official list below.
The Bang Bang Club. Steven Silver, Canada/South Africa World Premiere The Bang Bang Club was the name given to four young photographers, Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek and Joao Silva, whose photographs captured the final bloody days of white rule in South Africa and the final demise of apartheid. The film tells the remarkable and sometimes harrowing story of these young men – and the extraordinary extremes they went to in order to capture their pictures. The film stars Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, Neels Van Jaarsveld and Frank Rautenbach.
Barney's Version Richard J. Lewis, Canada/Italy North American Premiere From producer Robert Lantos, Barney’s Version is a film based on Mordecai Richler's prize-winning comic novel. Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) is a seemingly ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life. Barney?s candid confessional spans four decades and two continents, and includes three wives (Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Rachelle Lefevre), one outrageous father (Dustin Hoffman) and a charmingly dissolute best friend (Scott Speedman).
Black Swan Darren Aronofsky, USA North American Premiere A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company. Black Swan takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect. Black Swan also stars Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.
Casino Jack George Hickenlooper, Canada World Premiere Based on a true story, Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, the former high-powered lobbyist whose bribery schemes and fraudulent dealings with Indian casinos ultimately landed him in prison, and stunned the world. It remains the biggest scandal to hit Washington, D.C. since Watergate. The film also stars Barry Pepper, Kelly Preston, Rachelle Lefevre and Jon Lovitz.
The Conspirator Robert Redford, USA World Premiere While an angry nation seeks vengeance, a young union war hero must defend a mother accused of aiding her son in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Directed by Robert Redford, the film stars James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Kevin Kline, Evan Rachel Wood and Tom Wilkinson.
The Debt John Madden, USA North American Premiere Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington star in this thriller about three Israeli Mossad agents on a 1965 mission to capture a notorious Nazi war criminal. Thirty years later, secrets about the case emerge.
The Housemaid Im Sang-Soo, South Korea North American Premiere In this erotic thriller, the housemaid of an upper-class family becomes entangled in a dangerous tryst. A satirical look at class structure, reminiscent of the work of Claude Chabrol, this sexy soap opera is a story of revenge and retribution.
Janie Jones David M. Rosenthal, USA World Premiere Aspiring recording artist Ethan Brand gets a stunning surprise on the opening night of a tour – a strung out former groupie appears unexpectedly, pleading with him to care for their daughter while she pulls herself together. Enter Janie Jones.
The King's Speech Tom Hooper, United Kingdom/Australia North American Premiere The King's Speech tells the story of the man who would become King George VI, the father of the current Queen, Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George „Bertie? VI (Colin Firth) reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded nervous stammer and considered unfit to be King, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country into war.
Little White Lies Guillaume Canet, France World Premiere Despite a traumatic event, a group of friends decides to go ahead with their annual beach vacation. Their relationships, convictions, sense of guilt and friendship are sorely tested. They are finally forced to own up to the little white lies they have been telling each other. Directed by Guillaume Canet and starring: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte, Valérie Bonneton and Pascale Arbillot.
Peep World Barry Blaustein, USA World Premiere On the day of their father?s 70th birthday party, four siblings come to terms with the publication of a novel written by the youngest sibling that exposes the family?s most intimate secrets. The project's available for distribution, and stars Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Ben Schwartz, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Taraji Henson and Ron Rifkin.
Potiche François Ozon, France North American Premiere A bourgeois housewife (Catherine Deneuve) takes on a rough union leader (Gerard Depardieu) in François Ozon's sparkling comic war between the sexes, and the classes.
The Town Ben Affleck, USA North American Premiere The Town is a dramatic thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope, and escaping a past that has no future. In the Boston neighbourhood of Charlestown, Doug MacCray is the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers. But everything changed on the gang?s last job when they took bank manager Claire Keesey hostage. Questioning what she saw, Doug seeks out Claire. As their relationship deepens, Doug wants out of this life and the town, but now he must choose whether to betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.
The Way Emilio Estevez, USA World Premiere Martin Sheen plays Tom, an American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago. Driven by his profound sadness and desire to understand his son better, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage. Along the way he learns what it means to be a citizen of the world again and discovers the difference between “The life we live and the life we choose.”
West is West Andy De Emmony, United Kingdom World Premiere Manchester, Northern England, 1976. The now much-diminished, but still claustrophobic and dysfunctional, Khan family continues to struggle for survival. Sajid, the youngest Khan, is under heavy assault both from his father's tyrannical insistence on Pakistani tradition, and from the fierce bullies in the schoolyard. His father decides to pack him off to Mrs. Khan No 1 and family in the Punjab, the wife and daughters he had abandoned 30 years earlier. The sequel to East is East, West is West is the coming of age story of both 15-year-old Sajid and of his father, 60-year-old George Khan.
Another Year Mike Leigh, United Kingdom North American Premiere A happily married, middle-aged couple are visited by a number of unhappy and lonely friends who use them as confidantes. When an unmarried friend falls for their young son, they watch as events unfold. The film stars Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Peter Wight, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley, Karina Fernandez and Martin Savage.
Beginners Mike Mills, USA World Premiere When his 71-year-old father (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) must explore the honesty of his own relationships. From the director of Thumbsucker.
The Big Picture Eric Lartigau, France World Premiere Paul Exben is a success story. He has a great job, a glamorous wife and two wonderful sons, except that this is not the life he has been dreaming of. A moment of madness is going to change his life, forcing him to assume a new identity that will enable him to live his life fully. The Big Picture, an adaptation of the novel by Douglas Kennedy, is directed by Eric Lartigau and stars Romain Duris, Marina Foïs, Niels Arestrup and Catherine Deneuve. It is produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam.
Biutiful Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spain/Mexico North American Premiere This is a story of a man in free fall. On the road to redemption, darkness lights his way. Connected with the afterlife, Uxbal is a tragic hero and father of two who's sensing the danger of death. He struggles with a tainted reality and a fate that works against him in order to forgive, for love, and forever. The film stars Javier Bardem.
Blue Valentine Derek Cianfrance, USA Canadian Premiere Blue Valentine is the story of love found and love lost, told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks.
Brighton Rock Rowan Joffe, United Kingdom World Premiere Based on Graham Greene's 1938 novel, we follow the odd relationship between a young thug on the rise in the British underground and a tea room waitress who witnesses a crime he has committed.
Buried Rodrigo Cortés, Spain/USA Canadian Premiere When Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up six feet underground with no idea who put him there or why, life for the truck driver and family man instantly becomes a hellish struggle for survival. Buried with only a cell phone and a lighter, poor reception, a rapidly draining battery and a dwindling oxygen supply become his worst enemies in a tightly confined race against time.
Conviction Tony Goldwyn, USA World Premiere Conviction is the inspirational true story of a sister?s unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters? (two-time Academy® Award winner Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction.
Cirkus Columbia Danis Tanovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina International Premiere After twenty years of exile, a husband returns to his hometown in Herzegovina to settle some scores with his ex-wife, armed with a new Mercedes, a sexy new girlfriend and a mangy black cat.
Dhobi Ghat Kiran Rao, India World Premiere In the teeming metropolis of Mumbai, four people separated by class and language are drawn together in compelling relationships. Shai, an affluent investment banker on a sabbatical, strikes up an unusual friendship with Munna, a young and beautiful laundry boy with ambitions of being a Bollywood actor, and has a brief dalliance with Arun, a gifted painter. As they slip away from familiar moorings and drift closer together, the city finds its way into the crevices of their inner worlds.
Easy A Will Gluck, USA World Premiere After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean-cut high school girl (Emma Stone) sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne?s in The Scarlet Letter, which she is currently studying in school – until she decides to use the rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing.
Henry's Crime Malcolm Venville, USA World Premiere After serving three years in prison for a bank robbery he did not commit, an amiable but aimless man decides to rob the bank for real. His plan involves infiltrating a local theatre company, but his scheme gets complicated when he falls for the company?s lead actress. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Fisher Stevens, Peter Stormare, Danny Hoch and Bill Duke.
The Illusionist Sylvain Chomet, United Kingdom North American Premiere From the director of The Triplets Of Belleville comes a film of grace and unique beauty. Working from a never-produced script written by Jacques Tati for his daughter, Chomet tells the story of a magician who was pushed aside by rock and roll, yet finds one young girl who appreciates his magic. The film stars Jean-Claude Donda and Eilidh Rankin.
In A Better World Susanne Bier, Denmark/Sweden International Premiere The story traces elements from a refugee camp in Africa to the grey humdrum of everyday life in a Danish provincial town. The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait. Soon, friendship transforms into a dangerous alliance and a breathtaking pursuit in which life is at stake.
I Saw the Devil Kim Jee-woon, South Korea North American Premiere A hard-boiled thriller from Korean master Kim Jee-woon, I Saw the Devil is a tale of bloody vengeance against a dangerous psychopath who has committed a gruesome series of murders.
It's Kind of a Funny Story Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, USA World Premiere Stressed-out teenager Craig checks himself into a mental health clinic – where he finds himself in the adult ward. Sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside, Craig learns more about life, love and the pressures of growing up. The comedy-drama stars Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis.
Jack Goes Boating Philip Seymour Hoffman, USA International Premiere Adapted from Bob Glaudini's acclaimed Off Broadway play, Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, friendship and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples. The film stars John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Amy Ryan and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Hoffman making his feature directorial debut.
L'Amour Fou Pierre Thoretton, France World Premiere Yves Saint Laurent built one of fashion's most celebrated empires. This moving documentary chronicles his rise, his lifelong partnership with Pierre Bergé and their decision to auction off a lifetime of precious art and objects.
The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen Andrew Lau, Hong Kong North American Premiere In 1920s Shanghai, hero Chen Zhen single-handedly avenges his mentor?s death by killing all the Japanese at a dojo in Hongkou, only to be showered with bullets while making his legendary flying kick. Now, years later, Chen Zhen, who is believed dead, returns in disguise to infiltrate a criminal empire and to dismantle the evil collusion that plagues the country.
Lope Andrucha Waddington, Brazil/Spain World Premiere Andrucha Waddington brings famed Spanish playwright Lope de Vega?s passionate life to the screen. The young poet returns to Madrid from war and gets his foot in the door of Madrid's most important theatre troupe – quickly charming his boss's daughter. His childhood friend, Isabel de Urbina, also falls under the spell of his poems. So much seduction eventually brings misfortune and he must flee Madrid.
Love Crime Alain Corneau, France International Premiere Dangerous Liaisons meets Working Girl in this deliciously caustic tale of office politics. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier as mentor and ingénue, Love Crime is a remorseless clash of two competing egos.
Made in Dagenham Nigel Cole, United Kingdom World Premiere Sally Hawkins stars as Rita O?Grady, the catalyst for the 1968 Ford Dagenham strike by 187 sewing machinists which led to the advent of the Equal Party Act. Working in extremely impoverished conditions for long, arduous hours, the women at the Ford Dagenham plant finally lose their patience when they are reclassified as “unskilled.” With humour, common sense and courage, they take on their corporate paymasters, an increasingly belligerent local community, and finally the government itself. The film also stars Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James and Rosamund Pike.
Miral Julian Schnabel, United Kingdom/Israel/France North American Premiere From the director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes Miral, the visceral, first-person diary of a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem as she confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life. Schnabel pieces together momentary fragments of Miral's world – how she was formed, who influenced her, all that she experiences in her tumultuous early years – to create a raw, moving, poetic portrait of a woman whose small, personal story is inextricably woven into the bigger history unfolding all around her.
Never Let Me Go Mark Romanek, United Kingdom World Premiere Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) spent their childhood at a seemingly idyllic boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed and they must confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.
Norwegian Wood Tran Anh Hung, Japan North American Premiere Adapted from Haruki Murakami's bestselling novel. Watanabe, a quiet and serious college student, becomes deeply devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman with whom he shares the tragedy of their best friend?s death. When Naoko suddenly disappears, Midori, an outgoing, vivacious and supremely self-confident girl marches into Watanabe's life. The film stars Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara.
Outside the Law Rachid Bouchareb, France/Algeria/Tunisia/Italy/Belgium North American Premiere Bouchareb's follow-up to Days of Glory is an epic French gangster movie in the tradition of Once Upon a Time in America. The film follows three brothers from childhood in Algeria through turbulent years in Paris, as their paths diverge towards radical politics and violent crime.
Rabbit Hole John Cameron Mitchell, USA World Premiere A family navigates the deepest form of loss in John Cameron Mitchell's screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart deliver captivating performances as a husband and wife who fight to save their marriage in the life that begins again after tragedy.
A Screaming Man Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France/Belgium/Chad North American Premiere One of Africa's preeminent film artists, Haroun returns to themes of family and loyalty in war-torn Chad. A father and son work together at the pool of five-star hotel, but the civil war forces life-and-death choices upon them.
Stone John Curran, USA World Premiere. Robert De Niro and Edward Norton deliver powerful performances as a seasoned corrections official and a scheming inmate whose lives become dangerously intertwined. Stone weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin. The film also stars Milla Jovovich and Frances Conroy.
Submarine Richard Ayoade, United Kingdom World Premiere British comic Richard Ayoade delivers his hotly-anticipated feature debut Submarine. One boy must fight to save his mother from the advances of a mystic, and simultaneously lure his eczema-strafed girlfriend in to the bedroom, armed with only a vast vocabulary and near-total self-belief. His name is Oliver Tate.
That Girl in Yellow Boots Anurag Kashyap, India North American Premiere Ruth is searching for her father – a man she hardly knew but cannot forget. Desperation drives her to work without a permit, at a massage parlour, where she gives "happy endings? to unfulfilled men. Torn between several schisms, Mumbai becomes the backdrop for Ruth's quest as she struggles to find her independence and space even as she is sucked deeper into the labyrinthine politics of the city's underbelly.
Tamara Drewe Stephen Frears, United Kingdom North American Premiere Based on Posy Simmonds? beloved graphic novel. When Tamara Drewe returns to the village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown upside down. Tamara – once an ugly duckling – has been transformed and is now a minor celebrity. As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighbouring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play.
The Trip Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom World Premiere Follow two good friends in this hilarious road movie as they embark on a tour of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales of Northern England, eating, chatting and driving each other crazy. The film stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
Trust David Schwimmer, USA World Premiere Safe and sound in their suburban home, Will and Lynn Cameron (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) used to sleep well at night. When their 14-year-old daughter, Annie, made a new friend on-line – a 16-year-old boy named Charlie – Will and Lynn didn?t think much of it. But when Annie and Charlie make a plan to meet what happens in the next twenty-four hours changes the entire family forever. Charlie is really a 40-year-old serial pedophile (Tom McCarthy) and, once Annie?s rape comes to light, it becomes a touchstone event that reverberates through the entire family.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Woody Allen, United Kingdom/USA/Spain North American Premiere Woody Allen's latest comic ensemble piece follows a group of Londoners struggling with failing marriages, restless libidos, the perils of aging and desires that drive a series of decisions with unforeseen consequences. The film stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Lucy Punch and Naomi Watts.
Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is a drag -- a recent divorcee in a dead-end job who basically has one word for everything: “No!” Then one day he is dragged to one of those super positive self-help seminars that forces him to say “Yes” to everything or face dire consequences. Thing is it works. Need Viagra? Yes. Bungee jumping? Yes. A quick hummer by his over-sexed septuagenarian neighbor (Fionnula Flanagan)? Uh … yes? Carl’s newfound agreeable self gains him more than he ever imagined. He even finds the love of his life a kooky musician/amateur photographer named Allison (Zooey Deschanel). Of course all this goodwill does have its consequences and Carl learns some valuable lessons. Sound familiar? Hey if Liar Liar worked once why not go back to the comedy well? Jim Carrey is just his best when he’s in a comedy -- even quirky comedies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He is so at home in the shoes of this kind of loveable loser who gets to live life in broad strokes. He knows how to play for big laughs without going overboard. So from now on Jim just say NO to thrillers like The Number 23. In the top notch supporting cast Sasha Alexander is a deadpan standout as the Persian wife he orders online and veteran Terence Stamp is a hoot as the self-help guru who gets Carrey into his predicament in the first place. Also very amusing are his best buddies played by Bradley Cooper and a hilarious Danny Masterson. As his bonkers New Zealand-esque boss Flight of the Concord’s Rhys Darby is a riot as Carl's boss. Deschanel is kind of the “straight man” here but she’s handles it well if not memorably. Peyton Reed is a fairly reliable comedy director with mostly hits (Bring It On The Break-Up). He knows Yes Man exists as a vehicle for the Jim Carrey brand of comedy and lets Carrey hog the spotlight. The movie lives or dies on what Carrey can deliver and on that scale Yes Man is a hit. There are some bits that fall flat and might have been cut but for all its broad humor Reed manages to keep it grounded and in simple scenes between Carrey and Deschanel the movie even borders on sweet. In a season of dark drama on screen -- and off -- the antidote could well be this dumb but fun time killer. So is a little comic relief worth the $10 in the economic downturn? We say YES!
Yet another in a LONG line of teenage sex comedies this one manages somehow to be fresh and appealing -- despite the formu-lay-ic premise. That’s right another horny 18 year-old boy (Josh Zuckerman) is determined to lose his virginity any way he can. Ian can’t seem to become a “man ” upstaged by a Lothario of an older brother Rex (James Marsden) and his even more successful 14 year-old younger brother. He is constantly humiliated by the giant donut costume he wears for his job at the mall and can’t even get to first base with Felicia (Amanda Crew) a girl who thinks of him only as her best friend and nothing more. With the pressure of going to college as a sexual outcast what’s a hot-to-trot young dude to do? In this case -- using encouragement from pal Lance (Clark Duke) and with Felicia along for the ride -- the threesome take off in the unsuspecting Rex’s prized Pontiac GTO for a cross-country drive Ian thinks will end with the payoff of sex with a hot blonde named Ms. Tasty (Katrina Bowden) he met on the Internet. Unfortunately the one-day outing turns into a three-day nightmare for the trio with brother Rex on their trail and friend Lance getting a little too cocksure for his own good. Oh and did we forget to mention the Amish farm they manage to work into the tour? In the obligatory Jason Biggs role Josh Zuckerman is totally winning as a sex-starved high school graduate looking desperately to tame his out-of-control libido. With sharp comic timing and no end to the ways he is willing to humiliate himself for the sake of his art Zuckerman should have a bright future. Although the casting of his friend Lance played by the pudgy Duke would seem to be an attempt to emulate the Michael Cera/Jonah Hill teaming of Superbad Duke’s go-for-the-big laughs approach feels like we are seeing this kind of goosed-up sex maniac act for the first time. As the female “best friend” Felicia Amanda Crew is very appealing and thankfully grounded in reality. Marsden is hilarious as dopey Rex who prizes his vintage GTO and his own sexual prowess even more than the love of little bro. Seth Green has some funny bits as the sarcastic Amish man who somehow seems to know how to fix hot rods. Bowden is gorgeous and devious as the Internet hottie who may not be all Ian hoped for. Special mention also to Charlie McDermott and Mark Young who as a recurring kind of geek chorus playing two inept high school girl magnets. NOT. Director and co-screenwriter (with John Morris) Sean Anders manages to infuse what could have been a stale leftover piece of American Pie with new life and that’s largely thanks to some very funny VERY raunchy situations he dreams up for these likeable and recognizable characters. The premise of a so-called Sex Drive also offers ripe opportunities in this genre and Anders gets a lot of play out of it particularly from Duke whose uninhibited acting grabs most of the big laughs. Although they crank the gross factor way up the film doesn’t lose sight that it’s mostly a coming-of-age comic look at a rite of passage most young guys -- and girls -- will identify with. Although much is predictable Sex Drive has a strong sense of what it wants to be and in the end even turns sweetly romantic something most films of this stripe rarely do.
Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector opens with a man scratching his plumber’s-crack re-using a cotton swab to clean his ear and wearing the sleeveless shirt he uses as a towel. Naturally this is Larry (the Cable Guy) a health inspector. Halfheartedly inspecting the local food joints he’s leading the life that suits him well. But when his boss (Thomas F. Wilson) assigns him a serious-minded female partner (Iris Bahr) his world is turned upside down--or at least made less comfy. Larry’s called in to investigate “some fartin’ Jewish folks” at a swankier restaurant and learns that it’s not an isolated incident. While Larry’s unorthodox methods manage to arouse the interest of a waitress (Megyn Price) with bowel habits that he adores his tactics arouse the ire of the restaurateurs he investigates and it costs him his job. Now he’s forced to do whatever it takes to prove his innocence. Even the D-listers here must’ve gone straight to confession upon accepting these roles to help cushion their bank accounts. Let’s start with Larry the Cable Guy (of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour “Git-R-Done” fame) who is one of the most successful stand-up comics today. He’s right in his element seemingly with fart blanche on toilet humor but to the unconverted he’s a little more than grating. Speaking of grating the (hopefully) affected voice of Bahr makes the movie mostly unlistenable in addition to being unwatchable. But take pity on her for this is no way to jumpstart a movie career. Tony Hale clearly still reeling from the potential cancellation of TV’s Arrested Development (on which he plays Buster) also lowers his star and integrity with an ambiguous character here. And Joe Pantoliano shows his face. The once great character actor reaches a new low with this one even if his performance isn’t all bad. Health Inspector masters the art of the fart. But more disgusting than the settings with which the farts are juxtaposed is the ad nauseam (pun intended) level of over-usage. So congratulations go to along with fart Yoda Larry the Cable Guy director Trent Cooper who makes his feature directorial debut. And might we add what a fart-tastic debut it is! But it’s not all farts ladies and gentleman--all forms of gross-out humor are exploited unlike ever before. On the er serious side the collection of running jokes adds to a few legit laughs. Cooper helms a story that naturally doesn’t work deferring instead to Larry’s natural um charisma. The script offers no segue into Larry’s stand-up persona but anyone who sees this here flick ain’t lookin’ for no dang Oscar winner. Clearly Health Inspector will appeal to Larry’s following but is not meant for those of sound mind.
Tom Cruise thriller to open Urbanworld Film Fest
Tom Cruise's new thriller, Collateral, will open the eighth annual Urbanworld Film Festival Aug. 4 in Manhattan, The Associated Press reports. In the film, Cruise plays a contract killer who hijacks Jamie Foxx's taxicab. It also stars Jada Pinkett Smith and Mark Ruffalo. "Collateral is the perfect film to open this year's Urbanworld," festival founder and Urbanworld Films president Stacy Spikes said in a statement Monday. "This picture illustrates what the term 'urban' truly represents in 2004. Urban is about sensibility, not just ethnicity." lass="storylinks">Collateral opens nationwide Aug 6. The festival, which runs August 4 - 9, will include panel discussions and feature, documentary and short film screenings. It will also feature the Actor's Spotlight, with former honorees Samuel L. Jackson, Billy Dee Williams, Vondie Curtis Hall and Rosie Perez.
Zach Braff's film wins Maui Film Fest
In other festival news, Zach Braff's feature directorial debut Garden State was awarded best feature film at the fifth annual Maui Film Festival. According to the AP, a record 20,000 people who attended the festival. Braff, who plays Dr. John 'J.D.' Dorian on the NBC sitcom Scrubs, accepted the award as the five-day festival concluded over the weekend. The film, which opens in limited release July 30, revolves around a man (Braff) who returns home for his mother's funeral and breaks free of a lifetime of medication-induced passivity, striking up a relationship with a quirky young woman, played by Natalie Portman. Braff, 29, also wrote the screenplay.
AFI releases 100 best movie songs
The American Film Institute released a list of 100 best movie songs Tuesday, with the song "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz taking the No. 1 spot. The song made famous by Judy Garland as Kansas farm girl Dorothy was followed by "As Time Goes By" from Casablanca at No. 2, and the title tune from Singin' in the Rain at No. 3. The rest of the AFI top 10: 4. "Moon River" from Breakfast At Tiffany's; 5. "White Christmas" from Holiday Inn; 6. "Mrs. Robinson" from The Graduate; 7. "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio; 8. "The Way We Were" from The Way We Were; 9. "Stayin' Alive" from Saturday Night Fever; 10. "The Sound of Music" from The Sound of Music.
Jessica Simpson cancels concert due to illness
Jessica Simpson had to cancel her Tuesday show in Providence, R.I., because of a kidney infection, Columbia Records spokeswoman Renee Pfefer told the AP. According to Pfefer, the 23-year-old singer is under a doctor's care and planned to resume her summer tour promoting her album In This Skin in New Hampshire on Wednesday. Simpson, who stars with her husband Nick Lachey on the MTV's reality series Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, was scheduled to go on stage before a nearly sold-out audience. Organizers hoped to reschedule the performance.
David Bowie gets sucker punched
A wayward lollipop hit singer David Bowie in the eye during a concert at Friday's Norwegian Wood Festival in Oslo, and although he wasn't seriously injured by the candy, the incident was enough to piss off the 57-year-old singer. "Lucky you hit the bad one," Bowie quipped to the crowd of 7,500, reminding them he only had one good eye since the other eye was damaged in a childhood fight. According to the AP, Bowie continued to joke about the occurrence throughout his performance. At one point, he threw one of his guitar picks into the crowd, and then asked if he'd hit someone in the eye. Norwegian newspapers tracked down the alleged culprit, who claimed it was an accident, but didn't publish her name.
Doris Day gets Presidential Medal of Freedom
Doris Day, who is being honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday in Washington, said her fear of flying will keep her from traveling to the capitol to accept it from President Bush. Day, who won an Oscar nomination for the 1959 romantic comedy Pillow Talk and made several gold records, blames her fear of flying on too many overseas trips with Bob Hope entertaining U.S. troops. "I saw him on his knees many a time, " she said. "In fact, we were all on our knees. We flew in snowstorms, whatever, to get to the next show. When I hit the ground, I said, 'Never again.'" The entertainer has also been recognized for founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation, which has sponsored annual Spay Days to reduce animal overpopulation. The Medal of Freedom distinguishes service in a range of fields, including the arts, sports, business and science.
Lollapalooza canceled due to poor ticket sales
The 2004 edition of the Lollapalooza tour was canceled due to weak ticket sales, organizers said Tuesday. This year's Lollapalooza lineup included Morrissey, Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey the Flaming Lips, Pixies and Wilco. But Pollstar magazine editor Gary Bongiovanni told Reuters Lollapalooza was also was a victim of a talent roster that appealed to an older audience. "I look at that lineup and I see a lot of acts that have been around a long time. They're probably not bands that are going to be in the top five acts that your average 15-, 16- or 17-year-old is going to be listening to," he said. "The older you get, the less inclined you're going to be to spend eight hours out in the sun with 15,000 other people." He cited the Vans Warped Tour as an example of a tour that has done consistently well because its heavy emphasis on the "skate punk" bands that are popular with young listeners.
B-ball beats Clinton in TV ratings
Despite all the hoopla over his new book and hour-long TV interview, basketball finals beat out former President Bill Clinton's appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes in the week's TV rankings. Here are the Top 10 prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen Media Research for June 14-20: NBA Finals Game 5: L.A. Lakers at Detroit Pistons, ABC, 21.8 million viewers; 60 Minutes, CBS, 15.8 million viewers; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 14.1 million viewers; CSI: Miami, CBS, 14 million viewers; Without a Trace, CBS, 12.8 million viewers; Law & Order, NBC, 11.8 million viewers; Cold Case, CBS, 11.4 million viewers; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 11.4 million viewers; Two And a Half Men, CBS, 11 million viewers; and Last Comic Standing 2, NBC, 10.4 million viewers.
Joan Rivers returns to Sin City
Joan Rivers will return to Las Vegas for the first time in nine years, appearing for four nights at the Stardust hotel-casino starting next Wednesday, the AP reports. "The last time I appeared in Las Vegas, they were wearing hoop skirts and Davy Crockett hats," the comedian joked. "But they say, 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.' And as far as fashion is concerned, that's a good thing." Rivers will be performing her "Can We Talk?" routine, a candid discussion about everyday life. Rivers also will be hosting the awards ceremony for the Stardust's Red Carpet Celebrity Slot Tournament, which is scheduled for Thursday.
Top Story: Whitney Houston in Rehab Center
Whitney Houston, who told Diane Sawyer on ABC's Primetime in December 2002 that she had gotten away from her drug usage through prayer, is undergoing treatment in a drug rehabilitation clinic, The Associated Press reports. A spokesman said the singer "thanks everyone for their support and prayers" but declined to offer any further details. Houston, 40, lives in Atlanta with her husband, R&B singer Bobby Brown, and their 10-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina. Life in the Houston-Brown household, however, has always been far from humdrum. Last month, Brown was sentenced to 60 days' jail time for violating probation. One of the violations was for allegedly hitting Houston last December, leaving her with a bruised cheek and a cut lip. Houston has also had her shares of run-ins with the law. In January 2000, she lost a bag at Hawaii's Keahole Kona International Airport that contained less than half an ounce of marijuana and three partially smoked marijuana cigarettes. But the drug possession charges were dropped after a drug counselor said the singer did not need treatment for substance abuse.
Sheen, Richards Proud Parents
Charlie Sheen and wife Denise Richards became parents to their first child, daughter Sam Sheen, Tuesday in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. The baby weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces at birth, and both mother and daughter "are doing great," Sheen's publicist said in a statement issued Monday. Sheen, 38, who currently stars on the hit CBS comedy Two and a Half Men, has a 19-year-old daughter, Cassandra, from a previous relationship. It is the first child for Richards, 33, who was last seen in the horror spoof Scary Movie 3.
Paris and Nicole Take Show on the Road
Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie have loaded up their pink pickup truck in Miami Beach, Fla., and are headed to Beverly Hills, Calif., in a road trip to be documented for The Simple Life 2--the follow-up to the hit Fox reality show The Simple Life. Here, the socialites-turned-TV stars are driving themselves on a 30-day cross-country trip with no money, credit cards, cell phones or boyfriends and will stay with several different families, the AP reports. Filming is expected to begin in the next few days with the eight episodes set to air in June.
Jada Pinkett Smith Tours With Britney Spears
Jada Pinkett Smith, who stars in the upcoming thriller Collateral opposite Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, is moonlighting as a singer. MTV.com reports that Pinkett Smith will open for all eight of Britney Spears' Onyx Hotel Tour shows in the U.K. beginning on April 27 in London with her band Wicked Wisdom. Wicked Wisdom, which formed about a year ago, does not yet have an album out yet but the group frequently plays the Los Angeles club circuit. Collateral, which is set for release Aug. 6, was helmed by Michael Mann, who directed Pinkett Smith and husband Will Smith in the 2001 biopic Ali.
Sugar Ray Leonard Joins The Contender
Five-time world boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard will be joining Sylvester Stallone in the upcoming NBC reality show The Contender. The series, developed by Survivor creator Mark Burnett, DreamWorks SKG co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and Stallone, features aspiring boxers vying for $1 million in prize money and a shot at becoming America's next boxing superstar. According to Reuters, Leonard, 47, will serve with Stallone as an on-air adviser and mentor to aspiring boxers competing on the show. The 16-part series is scheduled to debut sometime next season.
Prince Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Prince, who will launch his 38-city Musicology tour March 29 in Los Angeles, was among eight musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Monday in New York. Others honored at the 19th annual induction were the late George Harrison, Texas group ZZ Top, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, English rock-jazz fusion band Traffic, rocker Bob Seger, R & B vocal group The Dells and Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner, The Purple One kicked off the festivities with a performance of "Let's Go Crazy," "Sign O' The Times," and "Kiss," that, according to Reuters, brought the formally dressed audience in the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to its feet.
Geffen Victorious in Guns N' Roses Album Dispute
U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer cleared the way yesterday for Geffen Records to release a greatest hits album next week from the rock band Guns N' Roses over the objection of its lead singer, Axl Rose. Rose had argued that he did not give consent for Geffen to release a new greatest hits compilation, which consists of 14 singles including "Welcome to the Jungle," "Sweet Child O' Mine" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" from the Interview With the Vampire soundtrack, and objected to the selection of songs, the timing of its release, the album's artwork and the remastering of the original tapes. A spokesman for Universal Music called the lawsuit meritless and said the album will be released as scheduled on March 23.
Role Call: Gurinder Chadha Takes Nine Wives
Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha will helm the romantic comedy Nine Wives for New Line. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project is about a commitment-phobic guy who breaks up with his longtime girlfriend and wakes up every morning with a different wife. Chadha, who is just completing the Bollywood musical Bride and Prejudice, is also developing I Dream of Jeannie at Columbia and Tucker Ames at Fox 2000.