Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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

Art-House Dramas:

Parkland (Peter Landesman) – Drama – Oct 4
Plot Summary: A look at the JFK assassination from the perspective of those who were involved on the outside: the emergency room doctors, bystanders looking on, police officers, FBI agents, and the family of Lee Harvey Oswald. Filmmakers: This is writer-director Peter Landesman’s feature debut. He is working with composer James Newton Howard (Snow White and the Huntsman), cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (Coriolanus), and production designer Bruce Curtis (Bernie). Cast: The ensemble cast includes: Zac Efron, Tom Welling, James Badge Dale, Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Duplass, Paul Giamatti, Ron Livingston, Marcia Gay Harden, Colin Hanks, Billy Bob Thornton, Rory Cochrane, Paul Sparks, Jacki Weaver, and David Harbour. Expectations: Parkland is one of the seemingly many JFK assassination films in the works (another one I can think of off the top of my head is the TV movie Killing Kennedy). It has not played to particularly positive reviews during its advanced screenings. Most critics seemed to be mixed, but the trend is more on the negative side (which is not surprising). The cast is a bit randomly assembled, but there is some strong talent in there. This is probably only for those very interested in the gritty details of what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Trailer: Here.

Romeo and Juliet (Carlo Carlei) – Romance – Oct 11
Plot Summary: This is yet another rendition of William Shakespeare’s romance tragedy: star-crossed lovers from families that are mortal enemies who know the cost of their love but do it anyway. Filmmakers: This is the fourth feature from director Carlo Carlei, who has also directed multiple TV movies. Though, he has never made anything of note. He is working with screenwriter/producer Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey) composer Abel Korzeniowski (A Single Man), cinematographer David Tattersall (The Green Mile), and production designer Tonino Zera (Miracle at St. Anna). Cast: Hailee Steinfeld (who is looking to have a big 2013 with Ender’s Game and Can a Song Save Your Life? also coming out) and Douglas Booth star, with Damian Lewis, Ed Westwick, Stellan Skarsgard, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natascha McElhone, and Christian Cooke featuring in support. Expectations: Romeo and Juliet seems like it is targeted at the same audience as Romeo + Juliet (back in 1996): young girls who want something to swoon over. Yet, instead of making it another modern adaptation, Carlo Carlei and Julian Fellows have decided to keep the Bard and general time period (merely just adapting the other details to fit the style of film they want to make). We really do not need another Romeo and Juliet film adaptation, but by the same token we do not yet have a definitive version either (though, this certainly does not look like it will be that). However, I do have some guarded optimism. The cast is decent. Hailee Steinfeld was fantastic in her breakthrough film True Grit. Also, Fellows is a good writer and this seems to be right in his wheelhouse. Maybe this is one to rent. Trailer: Here.

Kill Your Darlings (John Krokidas) – Drama – Oct 16
Plot Summary: A mysterious murder in 1944 involves some of the greatest poets of their generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs. Filmmakers: Writer-director John Krokidas makes his feature debut. He is working with composer Nico Muhly (The Reader), cinematographer Reed Morano (Frozen River), and production designer Stephen H. Carter. Cast: The ensemble features Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C. Hall, Daniel Radcliffe (who is the lead), Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Cross, Jack Huston, and Kyra Sedgwick. Expectations: Kill Your Darlings played well at the Sundance Film Festival with critics praising its strong cast for their work. It looks to be a good character piece built on the talent of its cast and their performances. It might also be a good companion piece to Howl and On the Road. This is probably worth checking out for those that like indie character dramas. Trailer: Here.

Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche) – Romance Drama – Oct 25
Plot Summary: This is the story of Adele and Emma’s romance – the beginning, middle, and probable end. Filmmakers: Blue Is the Warmest Color is writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche’s fifth feature film. He also found acclaim with The Secret of the Grain. He is working again with cinematographer Sofian El Fani. Cast: The film stars Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. Expectations: Blue Is the Warmest Color won this year’s Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or for the festival’s best film. While Lea Seydoux is already one of French Cinema’s rising stars, Adele Exarchopoulos announces herself as a great young talent with her performance in the film – she is even garnering some awards season speculation. This is well worth checking out for fans of intense and beautiful romance dramas. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Machete Kills (Robert Rodriguez) – Action/Crime – Oct 11
Plot Summary: An arms dealer in the heart of Mexico has a dangerous weapon that he is planning on launching in an attack against the White House. With seemingly nowhere else to turn, the President of the United States enlists Machete to stop this mad man. Filmmakers: Writer-director Robert Rodriguez is again behind the camera for another Machete adventure. He is also producing, shooting, cutting, and scoring the film. Composer Carl Thiel and production designer Steve Joyner are working on the film as well. Cast: Danny Trejo returns as Machete, as do Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez. New to the series are Amber Heard, Alexa Vega, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Hudgens, Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Demian Bichir, Cuba Gooding Jr., and William Sadler. Expectations: Machete was hyper violent, campy, and ridiculous, but in a funny entertaining way. Machete Kills looks to be very much the same, and maybe even less polished. There is not really too much to say. If you liked Machete, chances are you will probably like Machete Kills as well (and the reverse). Trailer: Here.

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