Author

Matt Patches
After a few years of working behind the scenes on movies and TV shows (and earning an IMDb page for bragging rights), Movies Editor Matt Patches made a hard right into the world of entertainment journalism. In 2009, Patches became the Associate Movies Editor of UGO.com, departing in 2010 to go rogue as a writer-for-hire. Patches covered movies and festivals for a number of outlets, including Movieline, MTV NextMovie, CinemaBlend, and Film School Rejects, before joining Hollywood.com as Movies Editor in 2011. He proudly names "Groundhog Day" as his favorite movie of all time.
  • Sundance 2011: Bellflower - The Little DIY That Could (Be a Hit)
    By: Matt Patches Jan 27, 2011
    This year, Sundance introduced the "NEXT" series, a much-needed new category of competition films with a focus on the little -to-no budget indies that, through mostly miracle, are completed and primed for an audience. A film has many parts and the miracle, in the case of the NEXT films, is all of those components falling precisely into place while being produced for only a few grand. Sure, the movies coming out of this category don't look like a summer blockbuster (or are even on par with most "independent" films), but the fact that they're watchable is wowing enough. That's what makes Bellflower, one of the most buzzed about films at the entire fest, so impressive. Shot for pennies, writer/director/lead actor Evan Glodell's bizarre amalgamation of love story, post-apocalyptic western and love song to cinema is not only entertaining, but absorbing. Centered on Glodell's character Woodrow and his best friend Aiden, Bellflower features laid-back comedy stylings on par with Superbad peppered with the occasional flamethrower spray or muscle car chase. Mad Max would have a field day with these two. The problem with broad appeal for do-it-yourself filmmaking has been the detachment that comes with the low-fi appearance - but Bellflower could break through that barrier. The film doesn't rely on a gimmick like the ubercheap Paranormal Activity, but delivers on its weird reality to suck its audience in. The visuals are cool, the sound OK, but what enriches the film is great characters and a unique spin on a common tale. Bellflower isn't Mumblecore or a student-level "good try." These guys made a real movie and it kills with audiences. (Click here to listen to our exclusive podcast with the creators of Bellflower) With fancy moviemaking technology becoming more available to budding filmmakers, the next off-beat hit may not come from a studio backlot, but some random guy's backyard. Who would have thunk? The story-first approach may actually work!
  • Sundance 2011: The Highlights & Disappointments From The Midway Point
    By: Matt Patches Jan 26, 2011
    Watching films day in and day out over ten days is a harder task then it may seem. Waking up at 8am for your first screening and rolling out of midnight movies day in and day out can be an exhausting task and a challenge to find the real winners. Every Sundance is filled with a spectrum of titles, ranging from the big, buzzed-about hits to the lame ducks of the festival (which end up being equally infamous). We're halfway through the epic indie marathon and here are a few of the films you will want to keep a look out for later this year - and a few you may not. Highlights: Martha Marcy May Marlene This unnerving first feature from director T. Sean Durkin is emotionally unsettling in the best way. MMMM follows Martha (played by up-and-comer Elizabeth Olsen) after she escapes from an oppressive cult and rekindles a relationship with her sister. Jumping between the present and past memories of the psychological duress of cult life, it is a challenging, haunting film that will send tingles up your spine more than any shadowy figure or surprise act of gory violence. Fox Searchlight has picked up the film for release. Pariah Based on an award-winning short film of the same name, Dee Rees' Pariah takes the overdone family drama formula and makes it refreshing thanks to the film's grounded reality and restraint. Alike is a teenager struggling to hide her lesbian lifestyle from her family while trying to find romance. If Pariah were a weaker drama (which Sundance has seen plenty of in recent years), every moment, every thought Alike had on her journey would be painstakingly represented with visuals and on-the-nose dialogue - but thankfully, the story is fleshed out, each character in the ensemble drama having their own thoughts and goals. A must see when it eventually finds release. Win Win Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan headline director Tom McCarthy's latest dramedy, revolving around Giamatti's lawayer character as he balances his new responsibility as the caretaker of an elderly client, a teenage boy that enters his life and the high school wrestling team he coaches after hours. McCarthy's three for three (his previous work, The Station Agent and The Visitor), with Win Win amping up the comedy without losing any of the director's signature realism. Giamatti embodies another memorable everyman, while Bobby Cannavale and Jeffrey Tambor steal scenes left and right. Fox Searchlight will release the film on March 18. Disappointments: Homework  Quirky teenage romantic dramas are a mainstay of Sundance, but Homework hits every trope with such unimaginative fervor you would think the filmmakers were aiming to create the Scary Movie/Date Movie equivalent of independent cinema. With the long-absent Freddie Highmore returning and rising star Emma Roberts as his love interest, hopes were high, but Homework fails to deliver any surprises. Fox Searchlight (they're everywhere!) has picked the film up for release. Knuckle  An amazing true life story whose cinematic depiction couldn't capture the insanity of the situation. The documentary Knuckle chronicles a 12-year-long feud between two Irish families who settle their differences with bare-knuckled fighting. By the end of doc, filmmaker Ian Palmer passes on diving deep into the "why?" of the feud, favoring the uncut, grisly fights over structured storytelling. The footage is impressive, but after awhile, the execution becomes tedious. HBO has picked up the rights to the doc, as well as plans to remake it as a TV drama series from the producers of Eastbound & Down. Another Earth When a "second Earth" appears from behind the sun, the world is flung headfirst into a tizzy - and Rhoda's life is forever changed. A crazy, thrilling sci-fi premise is mucked up by the commonplace indie style: shaky camera work, long-winded, passive scenes of characters sitting around and a romantic plot that fails to organically tie into the intriguing, otherworldly plot. The filmmakers were inspired by the recent Sundance hit Moon, but Another Earth lacks the characters and thrills necessary to capture our attention. Fox Searchlight has picked up Another Earth for distribution.
  • Sundance 2011: 'Another Earth' - If You're Going Sci-Fi, Go Hard
    By: Matt Patches Jan 26, 2011
    The idea of "Sci-Fi" evokes flashes of classics - Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey - and the countless mega-budget summer movies that come and go every year, most collecting dust at the local Netflix depot. But the indie scene, and the Sundance playground, breeds a whole other sect of genre filmmaking: low-budget, heady Sci-Fi. The Sundance premiere Another Earth, from first time writer/director Mike Cahill, dares to drape its tragic romance storyline in a blanket of technical astronomy. In the beginning of the film, a new "Earth" has been knocked off its hidden orbit and emerged from behind the Sun. An MIT-grad astronomer Rhoda is fascinated by the new world - so much so, she suffers a terrible car accident after zoning out to the glowing blue planet. The accident kills the wife and child of an acclaimed composer and Rhoda's journey picks up four years later, leaving jail and looking for closure. But successful science fiction, especially of the independent nature, requires commitment. What made Sundance predecessor's Primer and Moon click was their integration of human drama into the crux of the science fiction story without allowing the "plot" to burden the characters. Another Earth takes a passive route. Cahill found himself with a great premise (an alternate Earth with a population that may mirror our own? Awesome!) and a loose way to connect the dots to his romance drama. It's like two films: one where humanity strives to understand the moral implications of this new world and one where a girl must confront the lives she's damaged - it just so happens the latter plot features a giant Earth in the background. See, it's Sci-Fi! Think of the best Twilight Zone episodes. Each story relied on the personal journey of the main character intertwining into the colorful, off-kilter world. That blend is what makes great Sci-Fi and why Another Earth misses the mark.
  • Sundance 2011: The Mock Doc Is Alive In Norway's 'Troll Hunter'
    By: Matt Patches Jan 26, 2011
    The faux-documentary is taking over the world. The Blair Witch Project opened our eyes to its true potential, Cloverfield blew it up into a bona fide moneymaking opportunity and now filmmakers around the world are capitalizing on the ease and milage of the mock doc. When a movie like Paranormal Activity can be shot, edited and delivered for $15,000 and gross over $100 million, it's a no brainer that budding Spielberg's would want a piece of the action. But the fad is wearing thin - a whole slate of new low-budget, shaky cam flicks are on the horizon, and more are being greenlit everyday. How many "missing tapes" can be discovered with surprisingly well-edited, shocking footage? Leave it to international filmmakers to figure out how to keep the style fresh. Yesterday, Sundance premiered the Norwegian film The Troll Hunter, a monster mockumentary that is less Cloverfield than informational nature documentary with splashes of troll attacks. The film centers on three college students who stumble upon the find of a century: an aging hunter whose job is to control the ever-growing troll population using an array of monster murdering techniques. For added effect, the film is shot from the first person perspective, the "footage" being - you guessed it - tapes recovered from the students' documentary. Lucky find. Troll Hunter sounds like a rehash of dusty ideas, but the film keeps us on our toes with lively, realistic characters and surprisingly cross-language humor. Watching 50-foot tall trolls explode and turn to stone doesn't hurt either. That's the key to the evolution of the mock doc. No longer can we turn on the camera and stage a few supernatural events. We've been there, we've done that. What will keep our attention and have us coming back for more are the people behind the camera. The person in first-person. That's why Troll Hunter won't fail to impress when Magnet releases it sometime in 2011.
  • Sundance 2011: Fox Searchlight Picks Up 'Homework', Many Heads Scratched
    By: Matt Patches Jan 25, 2011
    A few days in to the exhilarating chaos of Sundance, it's finally time for the buzzworthy films of the fest to be picked up by distributors. One of the first films that came single and quickly paired up is Homework, a coming of age drama starring Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Rita Wilson, Blair Underwood and was written and directed by newcomer Gavin Wiesen. The odd part of the deal with distributor Fox Searchlight is that Homework... well, it's atypically dull. Searchlight has a legacy for turning Sundance pick-ups into box office hits and Oscar nominees in the past, including such films as Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, 500 Days of Summer and Once. When they played at the Park City festival, buzz was aplenty with their visual and storytelling innovation. Searchlight has become synonymous with that unique perspective. Which makes the Homework acquisition all the more surprising. Homework puts the watchable Roberts and Highmore (all grown up from his Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory days) on full display, letting the two flirt, play and showcase their potential. Keyword: potential. Homework ends up puttering out into indie convention. The tropes you conjure up when thinking of "Sundance" - mumbly, "real" dialogue, stretches of walking around New York to indie rock music, weird character traits forced in for added quirkiness - all make appearances. The story of a high school slacker who skirts around finishing his homework never finds its own identity, always taking the safe route. Chalk Fox Searchlight's move to pick up the film to the power of budding young talent. With Roberts quickly becoming a hot property in the movie world and Highmore staging a comeback from child stardom, Searchlight is making a tactical play to wrangle audiences with faces over solid filmmaking. The silver lining: Highmore gets the boost he'll need to keep working. The kid is here to stay.
  • Sundance 2011: Exclusive Interview With 'The Devil's Double' Star Dominic Cooper
    By: Matt Patches Jan 25, 2011
    In 2010, Dominic Cooper made a big splash opposite Carey Mulligan in the Oscar-nominated An Education. The role showed off his suave, dapper side, but in his latest film, the Sundance debut The Devil's Double, Cooper really sinks his teeth into a role (or in this case, roles) and pushes himself to the extreme. The Devil's Double tells the story of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi military officer recruited to become the fiday, or body double, of Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical son Uday. Cooper plays two distinct roles in the film: the conflicted Latif, who struggles to take on his new job, and the murderous party animal Uday. The film is insane, to put it lightly, and the crazed tone is in part to Cooper's disappearance into the two men's stranger-than-fiction world. The Devil's Double is a wild ride and a real departure from previous work? How did you get involved with the film? I read it, with the understanding that someone else had the part that it might fall through. I read it knowing that it had been around for many, many years, many directors had been attached, It was a script that stuck in my head. I was fascinated by how little I knew of something that affected so much of my life and the world, and ultimately, it was this mad gangster movie and the opportunity for an actor to play both those roles. I was unsure about the person I heard doing the part at the time, it didn’t make sense to me. I managed to get into a room with Lee [Tamahori, director] and I auditioned for hours with him. I brought into the room something I thought this person was and who the other person was, and next thing I knew...I was doing it. It was the most exciting moment in the work I’ve done so far. Were there resources to help you better understand how this world operated? To give insight into living out both Latif and Uday's lives? No, there was nothing to like that. The difficulty for me was to understand and have compassion for this person, which I think you have to do when you’re playing someone. When you’re inhabiting someone, looking through their eyes and understanding their complexities. With this guy, I couldn’t. I couldn’t understand him - he was a madman, a berserk man that needed help. Everything he did was disgusting and atrocious. It wasn’t necessarily about him, they became more fictional characters. I think that was important for me and Lee both to kind and reach a point and use this as an incredible story but we don’t know what they said we don’t know the relationship they had. We’re making a film. And this is not meant to be stooped in the real truth. Lee said the only truth in this film is that the US got him. That's the one fact that we know of this story. That's evident in the film. You're constantly wondering what's real because the tone jumps from gritty realism to over-the-top, often comedic levels. Uday is executing these insane operations and one minute you're laughing, the next, you're horrified. How did you balance the tones of the film? That’s why you need to be in the hands of a genius like Lee, with this kind of material. An actor doesn’t know that. That’s why I have to rely on him for the tone and sensibility of the piece. I don’t know what he’s going for. I can kind of get a vague understanding. I didn’t know he was making a outrageous, horrific gangster film. What I knew is that he made the most stunning debut film with Once Were Warriors, and I knew that, if any one can handle that kind of material and those people, and can understand how those gangsters type tribal people. then he is the person to do it. And my job is to come up with something that fitted with that environment. And although sometimes humorous because you're so baffled and amazed that this human exists. Were there moments where you wanted to pull back but Lee pushed you to go further? I think it was a matter of bringing it down. He kept me very still, that was very helpful. It was his actual energy on set that was so inspiring. It was a short shoot, relatively cheap, and we had a lot to do. Technically it was difficult because of the doubling up of the scenes. What was the process of shooting two roles in one scene? Were you constantly repeating the setups and blocking? Yes, and that was why you only really got three takes on anything. Some people like to go on and do take after take, I couldn’t do that. There wasn’t time. It wasn’t stressful, I loved it. And you watched him and he had to create a new environment. It would be like...Lee wasn’t allowed to use this position or camera angle. And he was completely reconfiguring his ideas and I always think that creates the most creative inspired work and its constantly moving. Watching him with the amount of decisions he had to make, [laughs] I kind of felt my job is kind of easy. What challenges did you face embodying two separate roles, bouncing between characters on a whim? I needed to make one who is watching it believe it is two different people no matter how much reconstructive surgery one of them had had and how much they needed to look the same which they did, it was difficult to decide who was who. I needed them to be clearly two different people, I got help from my wonderful dialect coach, I got help with the make-up lady. It was about making a vocal difference and physical difference and the way in which the two characters thought differently. Into the film, you slowly realize there's a third character you're playing. Was that intentional? Oh, definitely. The one that Latif had to transform into. I wanted here to be an intricate difference in the way he went to perform as Uday. I wanted him to be slightly different still. Not quite succeeding whole heartily in becoming him - there was still something holding him back. That’s why when you see him practicing in the mirror there’s still this tentativeness about him. He was not a showman, not an actor. There was no reason he should have been able to manipulate who he is. He did it to the best of his ability and I needed that to be clear. What's next for you? Anything in the can? My Week With Marilyn with Kenneth Branagh. And Captain America. That must have been a bit bigger than what you were accustom to. It was massive - and intriguing. You play Howard Stark in the film, a character with a wealth of comic mythology. What does your role in the actual film entail? He moves the story along. He transforms him into Captain America. He’s Iron Man’s dad! He was a playboy, it was fun. How much he winds up in the film, who knows. But I hope he has an affect on it.
  • Sundance 2011: Kevin Smith's 'Red State' Leaves Studios In The Dust
    By: Matt Patches Jan 25, 2011
    Always the Hollywood renegade, Kevin Smith debuted his new film Red State at this year's Sundance Film Festival and turned the massive screening into a three-ring circus. Fans and film buffs weren't just attending the premiere to get a sneak peak of Smith's daring new horror film, but to see what the future held for the controversial picture. Red State, a gory, action-horror flick that centers on a group of religious zealots led by a vengeful pastor. Think Grindhouse with a dab of faith. The buzz was varied, some loving, some hating and most impressed by Smith's visual departure. The movie gets bloody. Very bloody. But the movie, sadly, carries more baggage than simply an enjoyable theatrical experience. For the last few months, Smith used his Twitter account and podcast network Smodcast to wage war on Hollywood's release and advertising strategies (slamming press and PR folk in the process). Red State, shot for a reported budget of $4 million (as per Smith), was a pet project of the motormouthed director and one he didn't feel comfortable putting in the hands of a marketing team. Instead, Smith campaigned for his own independent release. That means, no screenings, no ads and nothing that would increase the budget beyond production. It's an idealistic approach, one that Smith was trumpeting with his usual, mesmerizing public speaking skills at the premiere screening. Smith's plan was to auction off the distribution rights to the highest bidder who would play his game. But in the end, Smith pulled the rug from under the audiences feet - after a $20 bid Kevin Smith himself would be the one to distribute the film. Starting in March, Red State will hit the roadshow circuit, a series of screenings in giant venues (the first show is at New York's Radio City Music Hall) across the county, with tickets going for $50 - $60. Then, a proper release in October - all funded by Smith and without advertising beyond his own word-of-mouth. Many spectators (and even Smith) call the plan revolutionary, but the practice of four-walling, buying out your own theaters to show your movie and collecting all the profit, is nothing new. Why do you think Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest running movies in history, or that Repo! The Genetic Opera continues to play the midnight circuit since its release two years ago? The whole operation is more of an experiment in Smith's own clout, if the magic of Twitter and social media translates into dollars. Could Smith's success change independent cinema forever? Hopefully not. In reality, it's up to studios and smaller distribution companies to sniff out great films (a common practice at Sundance) and put money behind them so that you can watch them. Not every filmmaker can afford to rent out Radio City, and they shouldn't have to - they're too busy making great movies to have time to tweet.
  • Sundance 2011: 'Knuckle' - A Boxing Movie That Will Give You A Black Eye
    By: Matt Patches Jan 24, 2011
    The underdog. The coach. The big match. The knockout. Boxing movies - they're a staple of Hollywood. And why not? They're adrenaline-pumping stories loaded with metaphors. Audiences will always be able to relate to two men duking it out, which means the genre won't be slowing down anytime soon. 2010's two entries to the genre, David O. Russell's true story The Fighter and FX's newest drama Lights Out, make that perfectly clear. But there's another side to the fight. The real world side. The new Sundance documentary Knuckle chronicles two feuding Irish families, the Quinn McDonaghs and the Joyces, over twelve years, as they resolve their differences through hate mail, public mudslinging and bare-knuckled boxing. Director Ian Palmer followed the warring clans as they annually engaged each other in gritty, mano-a-mano duels, often resulting in the loser suffering a broken nose, bloody eyes and gashes a plenty. Brad Pitt's character in Snatch wouldn't last two seconds with these brutes. The shocking footage is the core of Knuckle, which attempts to wade through the mystery of why the families are fight. Palmer can't find a concrete answer, making the visceral fisticuffs that much more mesmerizing. The men channel their ambiguous anger into rapid punches and no one (including the fighters' wives and children) comes out unscathed. Knuckle shakes up the conventions of traditional boxing movies. You won't be cheering when Mickey Quinn McDonagh illegally sinks his teeth into his opponent's nipple, or when Big Joe, the Joyce patriarch, returns from retirement to fight another 70-year-old man. People can die bare-knuckle boxing. Rocky was never going to die. Hollywood is already eating up the documentary's raw portrayal of the underground sport. With strong buzz, Deadline reported that studios are dueling over remake rights for a possible narrative feature adaptation. Good luck to them - this one doesn't have a happy ending. In fact, it doesn't have one at all. Just more fighting.
  • Sundance 2011: 'Pariah' Is Not 'Precious,' & That's A Good Thing
    By: Matt Patches Jan 24, 2011
    When the impeccable drama Pariah eventually finds distribution, you will hear it positively lauded as "the next Precious." That's the quickie evaluation you hear around Park City, where Sundance 2011 is currently in full swing. Thanks to the Sundance 2010 hit and the combined powers of Tyler Perry and Oprah, it would seem any film led by an African-American must now undergo the Precious comparison. It's a simple write-off, and in the case of Pariah, completely unwarranted. Unlike the heavy, near-melodramatic events of Lee Daniels' urban drama (which work in context), Pariah unfolds with restraint and simplicity, reminiscent of the early independent scene when Sundance was only a budding festival. The film follows Alike, a teenager struggling to live openly as a lesbian in a community, and household, where it's impossible to do so. Embodying the film's multi-faceted characters are a cast of mostly unknowns, with the mother, Kim Wayans (sister of the Wayans Bros.), being the only familiar face. The Precious comparison is face-value: an African-American family deals with issues - but that's where the two diverge. Pariah's director Dee Rees never aims for your heartstrings, opting to let the reality of her challenging story do the work. The movie will hit you. Hard. There is one reason the Precious comparison isn't particularly damaging: the buzz could keep the film on radars and, eventually, put it in theaters. But people walking into the film are in for a rude awakening - albeit an extremely satisfying one. For complete Sundance 2011 coverage, click here.
  • Sundance 2011: 'My Idiot Brother' Proves Goofy Humor Can Have Heart
    By: Matt Patches Jan 24, 2011
    In the past few years, actor Paul Rudd has become a staple of cinematic comedy, a go-to guy to up the funny quotient of any movie. With a simple shrug, the man has guys keeling over with laughter and ladies swooning over his adorable antics (...and visa versa). We all know this. What you may not know is that, along with delivering the laughs, Rudd is an extremely competent actor, both comedic and dramatic. For a good chunk of the '90s, the actor was popping up all over the indie scene, from The Object of My Affection to 200 Cigarettes. Amid the craze of Anchorman and Judd Apatow's conquest of all things comedy, Rudd even had time to star in the Broadway play "Three Days of Rain" alongside Julia Roberts. On Sunday morning, director Jesse Peretz introduced My Idiot Brother, his latest collaboration with Rudd. The movie revolves around Ned, whose recent departure from jail leaves him penniless, single and without a life plan. For Ned, it's no big deal - he sticks to his mantra of believing in good things, looking to his three neurotic sisters for the boost he needs to get going again. With a less adept actor, My Idiot Brother could have transformed into either pure slapstick, one-liner comedy or eye-rolling indie melodramedy (a notorious Sundance offender). Thankfully, the film's neither and Rudd proves there are ways of blending both sides of his coin. Ned is equal parts The Dude from The Big Lebowski and Raymond of Rain Man, and Rudd jumps from moments of child-like simplicity (his biggest goal in the movie is retrieving his dog Willie Nelson from his ex-girlfriend) and displays of darker emotions. Watching Rudd explode is a surprisingly shocking experience. My Idiot Brother has yet to find distribution at the festival, but with several studios battling for the rights, expect to see this Paul Rudd high-point sometime in 2011.