Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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

Art-House Dramas:

(Thomas Vinterberg) – Drama – Jul 12
Summary: A teacher’s life is thrown into ruin by one innocent little lie. Filmmakers: Writer-director Thomas Vinterberg is one of the first filmmakers to embrace digital photography with his acclaimed 1998 drama The Celebration, and is one of the most respected Danish directors. He is working with composer Nikolaj Egelund, cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen, and production designer Torben Stig Nielsen. Cast: The film stars Mads Mikkelsen, who won Best Actor at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival for his performance. Expectations: The Hunt looks like a striking character drama, featuring a whirlwind central performance from Mikkelsen. In addition to his win, the film won two more awards at Cannes and was nominated for its top prize. This is definitely worth checking out for fans of great character-driven films. Trailer: Here.

(Nicolas Winding Refn) – Crime Thriller – Jul 19
Summary: After his brother’s death, Julian a thriving drug-smuggler in Bangkok is asked by his mother to track down and kill his brother’s murderer. Filmmakers: Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn is back after the biggest hit of his career with Drive, and again Ryan Gosling stars. Refn is also working again with composer Cliff Martinez (who scored Drive), cinematographer Larry Smith (who shot Bronson for Refn), and production designer Beth Mickle (who worked on Drive as well). Cast: In addition to Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas features in support (as well as a number of newcomers). Expectations: Only God Forgives was one of the most anticipated films of 2013 – and then it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May (where it was nominated for the top prize), wildly splitting critical opinion (much like Refn’s other films like Bronson and Valhalla Rising). After Drive’s almost universal acclaim, many critics see the film as a disappointment (but, it is probably more like his past films, as Drive was the Hollywoodized version of Refn). For fans of Refn’s hyper violent, slow pacing style this is certainly worth checking out (or at least renting, if for nothing more than his brilliant aesthetics), but for general audiences it is probably too eccentric. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

(Nat Faxon & Jim Rash) – Dramedy – Jul 5
Summary: Duncan is dragged out a summer hotspot by his mother and her new boyfriend. He is fairly miserable because he is an awkward teen and his mother’s boyfriend is not very nice to him. To escape his torment, he finds refuge at a local waterpark where he befriends Owen, a slick but goodhearted manager, who helps him come into his own by just being his friend. Filmmakers: Writer-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash make their directorial debut with this film, coming off an Oscar win for The Descendants (which they shared with co-writer Alexander Payne). They are working with composer Rob Simonsen (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World), cinematographer John Baily (Groundhog Day), and production designer Mark Ricker (The Help). Cast: The film stars Liam James and co-stars Sam Rockwell. Steve Carell, AnnaSophia Robb, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, Allison Janney, and Nat Faxon feature in support. Expectations: The Way, Way Back looks like a good Fourth of July movie (along the lines of Summer Rental), and a nice retreat from all the blockbusters of summer. It also has a great comedic supporting cast, and if nothing else should be funny. While critics have been a bit mixed, audiences have enjoyed the film – it won the Audience Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival and was well received at Sundance. It is probably worth checking out for fans of indie comedies. Trailer: Here.

(Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini) – Dramedy – Jul 19
Summary: New York playwright Imogene was the next big thing, but then it never really happened. Now, she has to come to terms with just being an ordinary person (and moving back in with her mother). Filmmakers: Directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini are back with their fourth feature. They debuted with the critically acclaimed (and now cult classic) American Splendor, but they followed it up with a pair of disappointing films: The Nanny Diaries and The Extra Man (which I thought was one of the worst films of its year). They are working with composer Rob Simonsen (who is also scoring this month’s The Way, Way Back), cinematographer Steve Yedlin (Looper), and production designer Annie Spitz (50/50). Cast: Kristen Wiig stars and is executively producing, while Matt Dillon, Darren Criss, Annette Bening, Natasha Lyonne, Nathan Corddry, and Mickey Sumner feature in support. Expectations: Girl Most Likely looks like a conventional (paint-by-numbers) indie comedy and critics have been mixed. However, Kristen Wiig is very funny, and looks to be in top form in this – so it should still at least be funny in moments. It is probably worth renting for fans of Wiig. Trailer: Here.

(Maggie Carey) – Romantic Comedy – Jul 26
Summary: Soon to be graduating high school senior Brandy Clark has suddenly become very anxious about going to college due to her complete lack of sexual experience. In accordance with how she typically addresses problems, she naively makes a list of all the sexual things she needs to accomplish before fall semester begins and sets off with full intention of trying them all. Filmmakers: Writer-director Maggie Carey makes her feature debut, having previously worked on many Funny or Die digital shorts. She is working with composer Raney Shockne, cinematographer Doug Emmett (Bachelorette), and production designer Ryan Berg (Childrens Hospital). Cast: Aubrey Plaza stars with a great comedic supporting cast, including: Alia Shawkat, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rachel Bilson, Andy Samberg, Connie Britton, Clark Gregg, Johnny Simmons, Scott Porter, Bill Hader, Donald Glover, Nolan Gould, and Adam Pally. Expectations: The To Do List looks very funny and could be the month’s best comedy. Plaza, Samberg, Hader, and Glover are brilliant TV comedy talents; thusly it is probably worth seeing or renting for comedy fans. It will also be interesting to see if Maggie Carey can make the jump from great comedy shorts to features films. Trailer: Here.

No comments:

Post a Comment