The CW broke new ground in random rebooting with The Tomorrow People. The original was a British neo-futuristic series from the 1970s. It follows the next stage of human evolution as they toy with telepathy and time travel. In 1992, the series was given an update with British teenagers, including Naomie Harris (Skyfall), teleporting around town trying to stop would-be criminals.
The latest version of the series is an interesting blend of Alias and Charmed. Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell) develops super powers and finds out he’s one of The Tomorrow People. (Just like that?) He gets drafted into a secret government agency by his uncle, Dr. Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino) and must play both sides to protect his species from extinction.
The show has a great blend of action, suspense and super powers. Hear that, Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? However, it features a cast of sexy robots. Amell’s blue eyes and abs do not compensate for his cold robotic acting. Peyton List plays the group's resident telepath, Cara Coburn. In “Girl, Interrupted” we find out that Cara was deaf before her powers manifested. Despite the big developments of her character, List spent the whole episode giving sultry looks to the camera. Luke Mitchell and Madeline Mantock are also breathtakingly attractive but completely flat. I can’t help but wonder if the show could be recreated using an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue and some really elaborate special effects. The one test of any actor is being able to say the title of the series and not sound like a total dork.
Robotic casting aside, the show’s saving grace is that it’s well written and really subverts your expectations. You think you know what will happen but the show keeps surprising you. Also, the show has the right level of special effects. The super powers are seamlessly choreographed into fighting and action sequences and open up possibilities for plot twists and surprises.
There are some great characters on the show. Aaron Yoo brings some humor and badass fighting moments in the character of Russell Kwon. The group’s supercomputer TIM (Dan Stevens) also has some witty repartee and pop culture references for an artifically intelligent piece of equipment. Entertainment Weekly reports that Veronica Mars star Jason Dohring is set to join the cast. Here's hoping he brings some Logan Echols snark to the cast.
Hopefully, the series can reprogram their robotic supermodel cast members' acting hard drives because this show is well written, action packed and a great addition to The CW’s line-up. In the meantime, enjoy this Brit-tastically awesome clip from the original series.
This week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List is filled to the brim with six sensational shows, so I’m not going hold you back from the TV goodness with a long-winded intro. Here’s basically what I was going to say: I still love TV. I still love writing about TV. And I love you all for reading this right now. Sweet, now that I’ve shared my feelings, let’s get to it!
I’ve got all the scandalous details on what’s coming up for New Girl’s kinda, sorta couple, Supernatural scoop for our favorite evil-fighting brothers, and chatted with Revenge’s Madeline Stowe to learn about the future Hampton-based drama. Plus, find out what’s next for House of Lies, Community, and Smash! Read on for all the upcoming TV craziness…
1. New Girl: Oh. My. GOD!
For those of you who have not seen last night’s New Girl avert your eyes right now! No seriously, I’m about to gush over something amazing and wonderful and jaw-dropping. Did you look away? Okay good: Nick and Jess! Nick and Jess! NICK AND JESS!!! Afte a year and a half of back and forth quirky flirtations, they finally kissed and hot dayum it was perfection! Say it with me now: Squee! There’s only one little problem: Jess kinda, sorta, definitely still has a boyfriend. But I’ve got some great news for all you Nick/Jess shippers: Sam’s time is almost up!
Last week, I caught up with the oh-so handsome David Walton on the red carpet for his ABC and Hallmark movie The Makeover, and while he was pretty tight-lipped about his exact future with Jess, he did tease the kiss. "Something big is about to happen,” Walton teased. “I can’t tell you, but it’s awfully exciting. It’s going to rock the New Girl world." You are correct sir! Have y’all checked Tumblr this morning? Wow!
As much as I’ve adored Jess’s adorable pediatrician beau, I’m ready for him to scoot his cute butt out of the loft for good so that our new couple can add the benefits part to their friendship. Luckily, Walton told me that his time is almost up: "I’ve shot seven episodes and six have aired. So I’ll be on one more.” Ooh I’m beyond curious to see how Jess and Sam part ways. Does she tell him the truth? Will Nick be the one to break the news? When can we finally learn the rules of True American?! One thing I do know for sure is the fact that Walton is a Nick/Jess shipper too! The actor revealed, “I mean, Nick and Jess are kind of perfectly bad for each other in a perfect way, so I don’t want to get in the way.” That’s good love, bow our gracefully now before the shippers tear you apart.
2. Revenge: Back to Season 1 Roots
Wanna know what’s delightful? Chatting with Revenge’s manipulative matriarch Madeline Stowe. Wanna know what’s terrifying? Asking the actress to unleash her icy bitch-face on you. I’m still having nightmares! But before I was paralyzed with fear, I had the opportunity to get plenty of details about our favorite Hamptonites. Now that Emily and Victoria have reached a clandestine understanding, does this mean that our two revenge-loving ladies will finally be — gasp! — friends?
Stowe was quick to shut down any hope for a Vimily friendship. “Unless [Creator] Mike Kelley changes his mind you will not see that happening and in fact it’s going to get worse and worse,” she says. “[Kelley] is now resetting the relationship back to what it was in the first season where there’s this antagonism and suspicion and they’re going to try and destroy each other.” The unbelievably gorgeous actress says that there will be a huge change of events that will put The Initiative on the back burner. (ugh, finally!) “They’re not going to be a central thrust and what’s happening is it’s going to make Emily focus back on Victoria as the enemy and she does some pretty terrible things.” Bring back the red sharpie!
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And as for Mr. and Mrs. Grayson? Stowe told me that never wants an absolutely peachy relationship for those two. The actress says with a laugh, “I hope Victoria cheats on him like crazy! The great dynamic of the relationship is that we’re always going at it, there’s always a conflict. In fact, in the episode that we’re about the shoot, she’s trying to get out of the marriage because that renewal of the vows was just an issue of convenience, but he tries to keep her in.” Think she’ll be able to slither her way out of this one? Sound off in the comments!
3. Community: Troy and Britta... In The Bedroom?
You read that correctly right Community fans! — the Hollywood.com team screened two episodes (one and three), and I can confirm that things have definitely progressed for these two like-birds. The formerly virginal Troy now has to hide his affair from his bromantical partner Abed. Secrets don’t make friends! (Did anyone else’s teacher tell them that? No? Just me? Okay then!) Unfortunately things will heat up when Abed does find out, right in time for the whole gang's trip to an Inspector Spacetime convention!
Not only will Abed passive-agressively maneuver the convention to break Troy's poor little heart, but Jeff will do some cunning maneuvering of his own. When a female convention-ee (Battlestar Galactica's smokin' Tricia Helfer, natch) mistakes Jeff for a popular character on the series we get the chance to hear what may be the worst English accent of all time. (Editor’s Note: Pshh, Doctor Who fans — this would never happen. Like we wouldn't know a David Tennant from a Jeff Winger...) So whose hearts will break? And which couples will come back together? Make sure to sure to watch Community, Greendale Human Beings!
4. Supernatural: Confused Angel
So here’s what you need to know: tonight’s Supernatural is good — and by good I mean freakin’ fanstastic! Although our favorite conflicted angel Castiel won’t be in tonight’s episode, “As Time Goes By” (making that two episodes in a row he's been absent! Boo.) executive producer Bob Singer told me in a Q&A tuesday that he’ll be back in a big way very soon. “He’s really crucial to the tablet story,” Singer revealed. “He’s going through a trial of his own that’s personal. Naomi is very unhappy with him and Crowley is very unhappy with him, and he’s a confused angel right now.” We don’t blame him. Poor Cas, having to deal with those pesky repressed memories of an angel lobotomy!
Let’s talk tablets: Just in case you were worried that the Winchester brothers are going to be dealt another wild card tablet like the newly discovered angel one, you SPN lovers can breathe a sigh of relief. “We have the demon tablet and the angel tablet and the leviathan tablet,” Singer said. “That’s about all the tablets we could handle.” Thank goodness, those boys have enough on their plates as is!
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Bonus Casting Scoop! For those of you who enjoyed last week’s LARP-themed episode as much as we did (come on, how could you not?), get excited for another round with lesbian hacker Charlie Bradbury! “Felicia is going to be coming back in an episode,” Singer revealed. “We love Felicia. We’re just breaking the story now. She basically brings them a case.” Not gonna lie, I totally have a girl crush on Felicia. I just can’t get enough of her, and neither can Sam and Dean, clearly!
5. Smash: Meet Your New Favorite Couple!
It’s no secret that I la la love NBC’s Broadway based drama Smash. And with less than a week from the Season 2 premiere I want you to get just as excited as I am for all the amazing new characters and incredible musical numbers. Let me introduce you to my newest fangirl obsession crush: Jeremy Jordan. He’s the newest soonworthy fella that Karen will encounter in her quest for fame, but he’s not just a pretty face — the man can sing! Jordan plays Jimmy, a sarcastically snarky bartender and songwriter who is currently working on a new musical called Hit List.
A few weeks ago, I introduced myself to Jordan at an NBC party and although I tried to play it cool, it was painfully obvious that I was a huge fan. Luckily Jordan was the sweetest of the sweets and was quick to give me plenty of spoilers on what’s coming up for Karen and Jimmy. (Should we call them Kimmy? That’s pretty cute!) Jordan warned that this is not your typical fairytale couple. “It’s going to get pretty volatile,” he said. “There’s a little bit of trouble that gets in the way but eventually they come together and of course you know just as things get good they get really bad and then they get worse.” Sheesh!
RELATED: Leanne’s Spoiler List: 'Glee' Star Naya Rivera Talks NYC and Bram, ‘Justified’ Season 4 Scoop
Jordan explains that even though this couple clashes, they have a strong bond that will keep them together this season. ”There’s that energy and there’s that unspoken connection that undeniable thing between them that keeps drawing them together even though they’re so bad for each other. They really are.” Well it’s like the Bombshell song says: “Let’s Be Bad.”
6. House of Lies: Baby Maybe?
By now you've heard that Don Cheadle's Ocean's 11 buddy Matt Damon will guest star on the Golden Globe winner's Showtime comedy, House of Lies, this season. (And if you didn’t well then… surprise!) But when I caught up with Cheadle to chat about Season 2 — he pretended to be oh-so shocked at his friend's appearance. "Matt Damon does the show? That's really bad news. That dude owes me so much money," he joked. "No, wait — that's good news. I'll get to see him."
Along with Damon's appearance, Cheadle said viewers of the newly renewed show can look forward to a juicy arc with Gallweather Stern's new owner, played by Bess Armstrong, along with a meaty storyline involving the pod's current client, a casino owner. "That kind of takes up a large part [of the season] because he's a huge client," he said. Generally, Cheadle said Season 2 focuses more on the gang's personal lives. "It's just all getting more and more intertwined, especially with our relationships. It's going further and further."
Speaking of relationships, what about Marty and Jeannie? My new favorite will they/won’t they couple have been slowly piecing together what happened on that fateful drunken night, but when will they discover what really happened? "I don't know that they ever know. They put away two or three bottles of tequila so they think they know at some point, but it's never been confirmed. Then, of course, the baby shows up," Cheadle joked, referring to costar Kristen Bell's impending new arrival, which may or may not actually be written into the series. "Watch the show, you'll see," he teased. All I know is that Kristen Bell is perfection and it’s been a little over a week since I’ve seen the sloth video we all should watch it again!
How are feeling about Nick and Jess’s New Girl kiss? Counting down the days, hours, and minutes until Community returns? Excited for Revenge to return to its Season 1 roots? Tell me everything in the comments below!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
—Additional Reporting by Sydney Bucksbaum, Jean Bentley, and Shaunna Murphy
[Photo Credit: FOX; ABC; NBC (2); Showtime; The CW]
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Do you feel that change in the wind, readers? Because — largely thanks to Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham and the like — ladies are killing it behind the scenes on television right now. Today, it was announced that Hollywood mega-starlet Reese Witherspoon would join Sofia Vergara in the 'hot ladies tapped to executive produce new dramas for the upcoming pilot season' category. Excited? We certainly are. Today also brought good news for fans of Syfy's Face-Off, and the sexiness that is Demian Bichir. Read on, and try not to get too excited for 2013. It's not here yet. Live in the moment, people.
Reese's Great Expectations: We bet the CW has some high expectations for this one: The network has put Expectations — a modern take on Charles Dickens' classic Great Expectations — in development, with none other than new mom Reese Witherspoon tapped to executive produce. Expectations will center on a small-town girl who moves to San Francisco. She totally hates it there (ugh, who wouldn't) until her fortunes turn thanks to an anonymous benefactor. Meghan Lyvers and Evelyn O’Neill will also executive produce. [Deadline]
More Like Face-On: Sorry, we just couldn't resist. Syfy's special-effects make-up competition series (say that five times fast!) Face Off has been picked up for a fourth season. This season, Face Off has averaged 986,000 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, and 1.7 million total viewers. Not too shabby for a show about make-up — but having the likes of Brian Grazer guest star (as he is tomorrow night) certainly can't hurt. [Deadline]
Demian Bichir Crossing the Bridge to TV: FX's upcoming drama pilot The Bridge — which, as we already announced, will star Diane Kruger as one of two detectives hunting down a border-crossing serial killer — has found its male lead. Oscar nominee Demian Bichir will play Marco Ruiz, a Mexican detective who teams up with Kruger's character to bring down a major criminal. Ruiz is a family man, and one of the last detectives in the force that hasn't been corrupted by the nearby cartels. Annabelle Gish has also joined the cast, as a wealthy, widowed ranch wife whose husband most likely had something to do with the case Bichir and Kruger are investigating. [Deadline]
Even the Devil Has a Mother: Now this should be fun: looks like Emily Van Camp's Emily Thorne won't be the only Revenge cast member gaining a mom this season. Victoria Grayson's (Madeline Stowe) wicked ways will be put under the microscope when Maude alum Adrienne Barbeau shows up as her mother, whom creator Mike Kelley says is "somebody who knows how to use people." Hm, sound familiar? Apparently, her devious behavior helped shape the monster that is now commonly known as Victoria Grayson. [TVLine]
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: Lia Toby/WENN.com]
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The trailers for Hope Springs might lead you to believe it's a romantic comedy about a couple trying to jumpstart their sexless marriage but it causes more empathetic cringing than chuckles. Audiences will be drawn to Hope Springs by its stars Meryl Streep Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell and Streep's track record of pleasing summer movies like Julie & Julia and Mamma Mia! that offer a respite from the blockbusters flooding theaters. Despite what its marketing might have you believe Hope Springs isn't a rom-com. The film is a disarming mixture of deeply intimate confessions by a married couple in the sanctuary of a therapist's office awkwardly honest attempts by that couple to physically reconnect and incredibly sappy scenes underscored by intrusive music. Boldly addressing female desire especially in older women it's hard not to give the movie extra credit for what writer Vanessa Taylor's script is trying to convey and its rarity in mainstream film. The ebb and flow of intimacy and desire in a long-term relationship is what drives Hope Springs and while there are plenty contrived moments and unresolved issues it is frankly surprising and surprisingly frank. It's a summer release from a major studio with high caliber stars aimed squarely at the generally underserved 50+ audience addressing the even more taboo topic of that audience's sex life.
Streep plays Kay a suburban wife who's deeply unsatisfied emotionally and sexually by her marriage to Arnold. Arnold who is played by Tommy Lee Jones as his craggiest sleeps in a separate bedroom now that their kids have left the nest; he's like a stone cold robot emotionally and physically and Kay tiptoes around trying to make him happy even as he ignores her every gesture. One of the most striking scenes in the movie is at the very beginning when Kay primps and fusses over her modest sleepwear in the hopes of seducing her husband. Streep makes it obvious that this isn't an easy thing for Kay; it takes all her guts to try and wordlessly suggest sex to her husband and when she's shot down it hurts to watch. This isn't a one time disconnect between their libidos; this is an ongoing problem that leaves Kay feeling insecure and undesirable.
After a foray into the self-help section of her bookstore Kay finds a therapist who holds week-long intensive couples' therapy sessions in Good Hope Springs ME and in a seemingly unprecedented moment of decisiveness she books a trip for the couple. Arnold of course is having none of it but he eventually comes along for the ride. That doesn't mean he's up for answering any of Dr. Feld's questions though. To be fair Dr. Feld (Carell) is asking the couple deeply intimate questions so if Arnold is comfortable foisting his amorous wife off with the excuse he had pork for lunch it's not so far-fetched to believe he'd be angry when Feld asks him about his fantasy life or masturbation habits.
Although Arnold gets a pass on some of his issues Kay is forthright about why and how she's dissatisfied. When Dr. Feld asks her if she masturbates she says she doesn't because it makes her too sad. Kay offers similar revelations; she's willing to bare it all to revive her marriage while Arnold thinks the fact that they're married at all means they must be happy. Carell's Dr. Feld is soothing and kind (even a bit bland) but it's always a pleasure to see him play it straight.
It's subversive for a mega-watt star to play a character that talks about how sexually unsatisfied she is and how unsexy she feels with the man she loves most in the world. The added taboo of Kay and Arnold's age adds that much more to the conversation. Kay and Arnold's attempts at intimacy are emotionally raw and hard to watch. Even when things get funny they're mostly awkward funny not ha-ha funny.
The rest of the movie is a little uneven wrapped up tightly and happily by the end. Their time spent soul-searching alone is a little cheesy especially when Kay ends up in a local bar where she gets a little dizzy on white wine while dishing about her problems to the bartender (Elisabeth Shue). Somewhere along the line what probably started out as a character study ended up as a wobbly drama that pushes some boundaries but eventually lets everyone off the emotional hook in favor of a smoothed-over happy ending. Still its disarming moments and performances almost balance it out. Although its target audience might be dismayed to find it's not as light-hearted as it would seem Hope Springs offers up the opportunity for discussion about sexuality and aging at a time when books and films like 50 Shades of Grey and Magic Mike are perking up similar conversations. In the end that's a good thing.
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)
In Dream House – the new suspense thriller from Jim Sheridan (In America My Left Foot) – Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton a successful New York publisher who disavows his high-powered Manhattan lifestyle and relocates along with his wife Libby (Rachel Weisz) and two daughters (Taylor and Claire Astin Geare) to a picturesque New England hamlet. Their new home a quaint fixer-upper bears imprints of the family that lived there previously: Old tools and other belongings are strewn about the basement a secret room abutting the children’s bedroom is filled with discarded toys. Will and Libby see the items as charming artifacts signs that their house has a history a soul.
The new neighborhood is not so bucolic as it seems. The children complain of a man peering in on them from the front yard – a suspicion confirmed when Will discovers footsteps in the snow the next day. If that weren’t ominous enough Will later learns that five years earlier his new home was the site of a grisly murder spree in which the previous owner Peter Ward was alleged to have killed his wife and two daughters. Acquitted due to a lack of evidence Ward spent a brief time at a psychiatric facility before being released. Could the shadowy figure glimpsed outside the window be Ward returning to the scene of the crime preparing to kill again?
At this point Dream House pulls off a whopper of a mid-game twist that effectively re-frames the entire narrative. (I won’t spoil it for you but if you want to know what it is just watch the trailer which rather stupidly gives it away.) Until now Sheridan has worked steadily to foster the guise of a relatively conventional haunted-house tale presenting a portrait of idyllic domesticity while simultaneously building an atmosphere of looming peril. After the story drops its bombshell the film morphs into a sort of supernatural murder mystery with Craig’s character scouring for clues within his own tortured psyche. Characters and scenes that might have been dismissible as red herrings – a neighbor (Naomi Watts) appears oddly stand-offish; her ex-husband (Martin Csokas) cartoonishly gruff; the town cops inexplicably apathetic – gain sudden relevance.
It’s a clever gambit; it is also patently absurd. A talented cast helps make the twist easier to swallow but the film’s second half sheds credulity seemingly by the frame at points devolving into schlock. Which in a different film might bode well for some silly fun but Sheridan aims for a restrained tone that seems more suitable for a somber character study than a flagrantly preposterous suspense thriller. As it is Dream House is neither thrilling nor suspenseful.
I could probably come up with a better pan for Mr. Popper’s Penguins than “flightless and foul ” but that would entail expending more creative energy on the film than its makers did. Directed by Mark Waters (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past The Spiderwick Chronicles) and based on a 1938 children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater it is so empty and artificial and formulaic that if I didn’t know better I would have pegged it as a very cynical parody or perhaps a film within a film about some desperate mafioso’s questionable money-laundering scheme.
Jim Carrey looking tired and perhaps a little embarrassed plays the title role of an arrogant self-absorbed businessman who is taught a variety of valuable life lessons by a sextet of penguins. The penguins bequeathed to Mr. Popper in his neglectful father’s last will and testament each exhibit a single personality trait which immediately makes them more emotionally complex than the film in which they appear.
They’re assigned names accordingly: there’s Captain the leader Loudy the screamer Lovey the hugger Bitey the biter Stinkey the farter and Nimrod the stumbler. I only wish this functional naming scheme were extended to the rest of the characters in the film – i.e. Clark Gregg is Nemesis Carla Gugino is Motivation Angela Lansbury is Conscience and so on. If anything it would have allowed the filmmakers to excise a healthy chunk of dialogue which in the case of Mr. Popper’s Penguins only exists to punish the brain.
The film boasts three credited screenwriters among its crew. Though I’m not privy to each writer’s specific contributions I imagine their duties were divided in roughly this fashion: 1) scrub the story of all imagination or wit; 2) remove any deviations from pat Hollywood formula; and 3) cram it with as much toilet humor as the MPAA will allow in a PG film. You’d think that a single writer could have mangled a beloved
children's book just as convincingly but you’d be wrong: This kind of
debacle requires a team effort.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Sleepy-eyed Arkin is a petty thief who uses his legit job as a day-laborer for a remodeling company to case potential targets. Desperate to raise the cash necessary to settle a debt with his ex-wife who herself is in deep with some nasty loansharks he goes for one last score by raiding the bucolic home of his most recent employer a wealthy family that’s just left town on vacation.
But when he arrives at the house to do the job Arkin quickly realizes that the family never left; they became captives of Jigsaw — errr the Collector — a masked maniac who’s gone a step beyond the standard torture routine by rigging the entire house with a series of elaborate booby traps to ensure that anyone attempting to escape is met with an excruciating end. It’s that latter detail that helps convince Arkin to stay and try to put a stop to the Collector’s evil ambitions.
WHO’S IN IT?
In the grand low-budget horror tradition The Collector's cast is stocked with a group of attractive little-known modestly talented actors working presumably for scale led by Josh Stewart (episodes of CSI: Miami and Criminal Minds) Andrea Roth (Rescue Me one episode of Lost) Madeline Zima (Californication an episode of Grey’s Anatomy) Daniella Alonso (one episode each on CSI Knight Rider and Without a Trace) and ... honestly does it really matter who the rest of the cast members are? Most of them are drenched in blood and virtually unrecognizable for the most part anyway.
Could there be a less appealing tagline to a movie than “from the writers of Saw IV V and VI?” The phrase essentially means if we’re lucky The Collector has a chance at being just as lame and played-out as those flicks have become. Huzzah!
As you might expect from the pedigree of its filmmakers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton The Collector’s plot involves a sadistic madman subjecting assorted victims to various grisly surprisingly imaginative forms of torture. But unlike the latter Saw flicks The Collector manages to introduce some new elements that add a solid degree of suspense those films have increasingly lacked. In short it’s actually scary — in the beginning at least.
The acting not surprisingly ranges from average to distractingly poor. But that’s par for the course for films of this ilk. What’s most unfortunate about The Collector is that it gradually dispenses with the horror and substitutes torture in its place its tone transitioning disappointingly from frightening to repulsive during the second act. Then as if to emphasize the change the final third of the film is littered with one gruesome money shot after another. There’s nary a sensitive body part that doesn’t get punctured torn sliced or straight-up lopped off by the closing credits.
When Arkin first enters the house director Marcus Dunstan pieces together a gripping cat-and-mouse chase as the Collector slowly stalks his uninvited guest. As the would-be thief encounters one disturbing trap after another in his vain effort to escape Dunstan raises the tension to a fever pitch by blending tried-and-true horror devices (the creaky stairwell et al.) with expert timing and camera work.
The Collector is like the MacGyver of horror villains jury-rigging his adopted lair with enough ghastly booby traps — all made with common household items no less — to impress the Viet Cong. The place is like Disneyland for murdurous sociopaths.
In the ever-changing west of 1882 city marshal Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are two tough dudes out to clean up lawless towns a mission that takes them to Appaloosa. This small mining town has been taken over by a ruthless power-hungry land baron Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) who along with his band of thugs has run the place into the ground. Although their initial efforts are met with some success Cole and Hitch run into personal and professional conflict when a pretty mystery lady Allison French (Renee Zellweger) blows into town. She complicates the picture walking on the gray line between good and evil and generally making the Marshal and his No. 2 overcome unwelcome obstacles in their fight to bring Bragg and his boys to justice. The film based on the novel by Robert B. Parker smartly details the unique problems inherent in bringing law and order to an unruly West. Guiding his co-star Marcia Gay Harden in 2000’s Pollock to an Oscar Harris the director once again shows he has a natural affinity for steering his fellow actors at least most of them into superlative performances which includes himself. In fact the actor doesn’t seem to be the least intimidated in playing the leading role in a movie he also co-wrote directed and produced. Harris comes off as the embodiment of a dedicated lawman who quietly goes about his business determined to clean up the wild wild West his way with the help of a loyal deputy. Mortensen is wonderfully authentic as Harris’ partner in stopping sagebrush crime looking like he’s lived in those boots his entire life. Mortensen’s demeanor and style in the role of Everett Hitch evokes a true feel for a place and time long gone. Together these two do not seem fake or awkwardly contemporary but instead come off as the real deal. Irons is slippery and fun to watch as the devious outlaw Bragg proving as he did in his Oscar-winning Reversal of Fortune there’s nobody as good at playing subtle shades of bad. Zellweger on the other hand lets her acting show at every turn. To be fair her character rarely adds up but she does nothing to give any dimension beyond the obvious to a woman courting both sides of the law. In only his second outing behind the camera in a decade Harris shows Pollock was no fluke. Clearly enamored with the era he nobly honors the great American western tradition crafting a film that fits in with some of the best examples Hollywood has turned out. Some may complain that Appaloosa is long on talk and short on action but the time director Harris devotes to letting his characters develop is far more satisfying than a lot of pointless violence that many Westerns wallow in. Like Howard Hawks’ 1959 classic Rio Bravo this is an honest tale of the camaraderie between a pair of lawmen simply trying to do a job. This is a director whose emphasis is focused on his cast and he’s picked them very carefully right down to the smallest roles surrounding himself with a lot of terrific character actors. Just as impressive are the top notch production values including cinematographer Dean Semler’s stunning New Mexico landscapes.
Considering how close the last two presidential elections were including the 2000 race between Gore and Bush that came down to hanging chads and the Supreme Court it was probably inevitable that filmmakers would find a credible way to focus on a campaign that somehow comes down to just ONE vote. If you can accept that premise you’ll have a great time with Swing Vote which manages to be so funny and ultimately inspiring you may just want to stand up and cheer. The seemingly incredible premise revolves around Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) a beer-bellied perpetual loser and divorced dad who finds himself at the epicenter of a major presidential campaign--thanks to his super smart and socially aware 12 year-old daughter Molly (Madeline Carroll) who fed up with Dad’s disinterest forges his name and sneaks in to cast a vote on her own. When there’s an electrical malfunction the ballot is nullified. But with the entire election coming down to a one-vote difference authorities trace the vote to the clueless Bud who is told he will have to recast his ballot in 10 days an act that will elect the next president. As both campaigns and the media take over the town Bud Johnson quickly learns the truth of the old adage: Every vote counts. Costner’s hilarious pitch-perfect performance is one of his best. The actor is well-suited to playing this dumb but ultimately good-hearted good ‘ol boy who could tell you the name of every Nascar driver but draws a blank when asked who he supports for president. His interactions with both candidates as they shill for his vote are priceless--managing to give the far-fetched proceedings an ounce of credibility and eventual Capra-esque dignity. In films like Field of Dreams Bull Durham and the more recent The Guardian Costner evokes the American spirit as well as any actor and even playing a goofball like Johnson still summons the decency buried somewhere in all of us. He’s terrific. And so is Carroll as the precocious Molly along with a first-rate supporting cast led by Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper as the opposing candidates who seem willing to sell their soul for Bud’s favor. Grammer--as incumbent right wing President Andrew Boone--particularly oozes slick political slime while Hopper--as the liberal environmentally PC Democratic contender--flip flops with the best of them. Also standing out are Nathan Lane as Hopper’s beleaguered campaign manager and Stanley Tucci as his ethically challenged opposite number on the GOP side. You’ll have lots of fun spotting numerous real-life TV pundits brought in to comment on the fictional race (Larry King James Carville Bill Maher and even Mary Hart among them) With only one other film under his belt (2005’s straight-to-video “Never Was”) Joshua Michael Stern shows great potential here effortlessly mining the many laughs from his own screenplay (co-written with Jason Richman) and showing a sharp eye for political satire on the highest levels. He confidently guides his imposing cast with the style of a much more seasoned director and gets the most out of veteran actors. We even dare compare his achievement here to the politically tinged films of great Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington Mr. Deeds Goes To Town) which seem to share some of the core values of Swing Vote. Stern shows he has an innate sense of the absurd taking an off-the-wall idea and setting it right in the heart of reality. Use of all the TV personalities gives an air of authenticity but ultimately it’s Stern’s balancing act between high hilarity and a strong message about the core values of the American system that makes Swing Vote the winner it is. If you want to cast your vote for smart witty and irreverent filmmaking this is the movie you’ve been waiting for.