Tuesday, April 29, 2014

At the Movies – May 2014 – Part 1: Independent Films

Art-House Dramas:

Belle – Period Drama – May 2
Plot Summary:  Dido Elizabeth Belle is the illegitimate, mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Captain, who is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle. She must find her place in a world that sets her above many due to her family but still looks down on her because of her skin color. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Amma Asante and composer Rachel Portman. Actors Involved: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, and Tom Felton. Potential: Belle looks like a decent period drama. It is set in the 1700s and features a strong cast. Rachel Portman’s score will likely be perfectly suited to the material (as this type of film is right in her wheelhouse, and she has turned out some excellent work – such as: Never Let Me Go, The Cider House Rules, The Duchess, and Emma). This probably worth renting for fans of period dramas (like the great miniseries on the BBC, things like: North & South, Bleak House, Cranford, Little Dorrit, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and Downton Abbey). Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Chef – Comedy – May 9
Plot Summary: Chef Carl Casper loses his job because he argued with the owner of the restaurant he worked for at over the food they were preparing, his creativity felt hampered. Now unemployed, Casper has the idea to go out on his own, preparing the food he wants to make and cares about by way of a food truck. Meanwhile, he also tries to rekindle his relationship with his estranged family. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director-producer Jon Favreau. Actors Involved: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, and Robert Downey Jr. Potential: Leaving Hollywood films behind, which he only made to medium success (really only Elf and Iron Man are worth mentioning, among the five he made), writer-director Jon Favreau returns to the kind of films he made his name on – indie comedies, like Swingers and Made. Chef looks funny and potentially heartfelt. It should make for good counter programming to all the big movies of May. It is probably worth renting. Trailer: Here.

The Double – Comedy/Thriller – May 9
Plot Summary: A government agency clerk leads a boring life. Everything changes, however, when a new co-worker arrives. This new employee is his exact physical double, but completely opposite in terms of personality. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Richard Ayoade. Actors Involved: Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Chris O’Dowd, Sally Hawkins, Wallace Shawn, Noah Taylor, Paddy Considine, Craig Roberts, and Yasmin Paige. Potential: The Double is writer-director Richard Ayoade’s second feature, following up Submarine. It looks very odd, but cool – like a nightmare version of a Wes Anderson film. I am very interested to see it, as I generally like quirky, aesthetically interesting films that are well-done. This certainly has the potential to be one of those. The cast is also very good. The film came out in the UK last year and played to critical acclaim. Trailer: Here.

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