We opened 2014 with heated anticipation for the next great turns from Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, Christopher Nolan, Lars von Trier, and a number of other cinematic vets. But the year has also treated us to a hefty sum of noteworthy first timers. We've caught a wide variety of debut attempts over the course of these past eight months, with enough qualitative range to incite reactions from "The next Hitchcock!" to "I might be able to get you a gig with my friend who does wedding videos, but don't tell him you know me." Here's a quick rundown of the debut flicks we've seen so far in '14, from great to terrible.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
Palo AltoDirector: Gia CoppolaWhy we're already on her bandwagon: In the vein of her aunt Sofia, the young Gia Coppola showcases an indubitable understanding of upper class ennui.
Hide Your Smiling Faces Director: Daniel Patrick CarboneWhy we're already on his bandwagon: Carbone's primarily wordless coming-of-age drama shows off his patience and pensiveness, not to mention his ability to skirt the self-importance than many films of Smiling Faces' ilk seem to bear.
Obvious ChildDirector: Gillian RobespierreWhy we're already on her bandwagon: It's funny as hell even within the margins of genre tradition, and sweet without succumbing to Hollywood sugar.
THE VERY GOOD
Zero MotivationDirector: Talya LavieShows promise of: A knack for absurdist humor and grounded character relationships alike.
It Felt Like LoveDirector: Eliza HittmanShows promise of: A uniquely keen empathy for how young people conduct themselves, both internally and among one another.
Tribeca Film via Everett Collection
The Bachelor Weekend/The StagDirector: John ButlerShows potential in: A good sense of humor, especially when it veers closer to Apatow than McKay.
Are You HereDirector: Matthew WeinerShows potential in: Social commentary through character construction, but Weiner needs a better handle on cinematic pacing.
The One I LoveDirector: Charlie McDowellShows potential in: Big ideas, and the presentation thereof, but lacks in the ultimate execution of where they can and ought to go.
Drafthouse Films via Everett Collection
Beneath the Harvest SkyDirector: Aron Gaudet and Gita PullapillyThere's room for improvement regarding: A sharper attention to the characters and story, which occasionally fade out of focus at the behest of a vivid North Maine setting.
LullabyDirector: Andrew LevitasThere's room for improvement regarding The acerbic but knowing humor shared by the central family members, in favor of the intense melodrama that the film feels impelled to stuff itself with from time to time.
Cheap ThrillsDirector: E.L. KatzThere's room for improvement regarding: The energy set toward invoking a truly interesting story or course of events, rather than the allowance of the "weird" or "dangerous" to take the wheel altogether like it does here.
TammyDirector: Ben FalconeThere's room for improvement regarding: An authentic commitment to the sincerity in the characters, in place of wild and wacky antics like jetski crashes and deer mouth-to-mouth... though these were probably studio notes, we have to assume.
Music Box Films via Everett Collection
Winter’s TaleDirector: Akiva GoldsmanWhat we hope he gets right next time: A more defined storytelling goal. While some of the film's elements worked in a vaccuum, Goldsman had been gestating a Winter's Tale adaptation for years, coming out the gate with something that is oddly both convoluted and terribly narrow.
MaleficentDirector: Robert StrombergWhat we hope he gets right next time: More Angie.
A Coffee in Berlin/Oh BoyDirector: Jan Ole GersterWhat we hope he gets right next time: A better understanding of the fine line between cheeky and irritating.
Earth to EchoDirector: Dave GreenWhat we hope he gets right next time: Ditch the essentially pointless found footage antic and hone in on the fleeting spirit of the kids.
TranscendenceDirector: Wally PfisterWhy we're nervous for his future: Pfister is a skilled cinematographer, but his grasp of character, story, and ambiance seem dangerously absent.
Goodbye to All ThatDirector: Angus McLachlanWhy we're nervous for his future: Ambitions seem to fall shy of originality, settling instead on retreading the same indie dramedy territory we've seen time and time again, but without any discernible charisma.
If I StayDirector: R.J. CutlerWhy we're nervous for his future: A dastardly aesthetic, paper-thin characters, a devoted marriage to teen movie cliches, and a potentially dangerous mentality driving the story altogether do not bode well for Cutler's future behind the camera.
Behaving BadlyDirector: Tim GarrickWhy we're nervous for his future: Because he thought this horrible thing could work.
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Rashida Jones may have left NBC's Parks and Recreation, but we'll be seeing plenty of her (and her work) in the coming year. Not only does she have her own series coming to HBO (and Claws sounds awesome), but she's just been cast in the lead for Steve Carell's new sitcom, Tribeca. Folks, this is a very good thing.
So here's what you need to know. First off, Carell created the show with his wife, actress Nancy Carell (formerly known as Nancy Walls), and the two will write and executive produce the series for TBS. Tribeca will be a single-camera comedy (you know you love those), and it sounds like a Law & Order: SVU parody of sorts. Jones will be playing Angie Tribeca, one of a group of police in the LAPD's elite RHCU -- Really Heinous Crimes Unit. Yup. You know you want to see what this is all about.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series "explores an eccentric but brilliant group of people who investigate crime, reveal way too much personal information and refuse to rest until justice has been served ... sort of." That description alone is enough to make you LOL, so we're expecting some seriously good stuff. Throw in Carell as the director and the fact that Jones's character is a solo rider who suddenly gets hit with a new partner (we can't wait to find out who's taking on that role), and you have one highly-anticipated series. Has it been done before? Sure. But has it been done before with the incomparable Rashida Jones and Steve Carell, who is also quite awesome? No. No, it hasn't.
Rashida Jones is reuniting with her former The Office co-star Steve Carell in a new sitcom. Just days before she makes her final appearance on hit TV show Parks and Recreation, the actress has signed on to star in a new programme called Tribeca.
Co-written by Carell and his actress wife Nancy, the comedy centres on Jones' character Angie Tribeca, an outspoken veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department's Really Heinous Crimes Unit.
Jones and co-star Rob Lowe, who is also departing Parks and Recreation, will make their final appearances in an episode airing in the U.S. next Thursday (30Jan14).
The actress played Karen Filippelli in The Office from 2006 to 2011.