Tuesday, April 2, 2013

At the Movies – April 2013 – Part 1: Independent Films

Art-House Dramas:

Upstream Color (Shane Carruth) – Drama – Apr 12
Plot Summary: (Watching the trailer, I honestly have no idea what this is about, but it does look cool) Jeff and Kris are drawn together and set off on a journey of discovery (so yeah, that is the best I could come up with). Filmmakers: Upstream Color is the second film from ultra-low budget writer-director Shane Carruth. His first film was the very interesting sci-fi drama/thriller Primer, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Carruth is also shooting and scoring the film, and working with production designer Tom Walker. Cast: The film stars Carruth as well, along with Amy Seimetz. Though, like Primer, the film is filled with unknown actors (giving it a naturalist feel). Expectations: Anyone who has seen Primer will remember its ability to overcome its nonexistent budget due to its great writing and engaging intellectual plot – I imagine Upstream Color will be the same, which has me very excited to see it. Carruth’s film was again nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, but ended up winning the Special Jury Prize. It played to strong buzz during the festival. For those that like intellectually stimulating films, this is probably worth checking out. Trailer: Here.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mira Nair) – Thriller – Apr 26
Plot Summary: A young Pakistani man comes to America to find success on Wall Street. At first, he enjoys the spoils of the American Dream, but is constantly frustrated by the ignorant way he is treated after 9/11. This leads him back to his homeland. Filmmakers: Indian director Mira Nair is probably best known for her film Monsoon Wedding, but more recently she also directed The Namesake, which is also good. She is working with composer Michael Andrews (The Five-Year Engagement), cinematographer Declan Quinn (Admission), and production designer Michael Carlin (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen). Cast: The film stars Riz Ahmed (who is great in Four Lions), and features Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, Kiefer Sutherland, Nelsan Ellis, Martin Donovan, and Om Puri in support. Expectations: The Reluctant Fundamentalist has played to mixed reviews during its advanced screenings. It has a decent cast, and looks like an interesting thriller/character piece. I think this is probably a rental at best. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

The Brass Teapot (Ramaa Mosley) – Comedy/Fantasy Thriller – Apr 5
Plot Summary: A young couple discovers a brass teapot with magical properties – it makes them money whenever they hurt themselves. This leads them down a dark (yet comedic) path – just how far are they willing to go? Filmmakers: This is the feature directorial debut of Ramaa Mosley based on her short. She is working with composer Andrew Hewitt (Submarine), cinematographer Peter Simonite (who has worked for Terrence Malick on the second unit of his recent films), and production designer Elizabeth Jones (Damsels in Distress). Cast: This film has a great young cast with Juno Temple and Michael Angarano in the leads and supporting performances from Alexis Bledel, Alia Shawkat, Matt Walsh, Thomas Middleditch, and Bobby Moynihan. Expectations: While The Brass Teapot has only played to mixed reviews in its advanced screenings, it looks insane and a lot of fun. Plus, Temple and Angarano are among the best young actors working in indie films right now, making it all the more interesting. It is probably too weird for most people, but for fans of odd comedies this is definitely worth checking out. Trailer: Here.

The Angels’ Share (Ken Loach) – Drama – Apr 12
Plot Summary: After avoiding jail by the skin of his teeth, Robbie looks to find a fresh start. He is inspired while visiting a whisky distillery, finding that he has quite a nose for it. Filmmakers: British auteur Ken Loach is best known for his film Kes, but also had a critical hit with The Wind That Shakes the Barley more recently. He is working with cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Wuthering Heights) and frequent collaborators composer George Fenton and production designer Fergus Clegg. Cast: The film stars newcomer Paul Brannigan and features John Henshaw, Gary Maitland, Jasmin Riggins, William Ruane, Roger Allam, and Siobhari Reilly in support. Expectations: The Angels’ Share won the 2012 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize and has played to critical acclaim in the U.K. (opening there last year). It is worth checking out for fans of Ken Loach and those that enjoy grittier dramedies. Trailer: Here.

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