Monday, June 30, 2014

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

Art-House Dramas:

Life Itself – Documentary/Biography – Jul 4
Plot Summary: The film looks at the life of film critic Roger Ebert. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Steve James. Quality Potential: High. Steve James is best known for his excellent documentary Hoop Dreams, but he also made the well-received docs The Interrupters and The Invisible War and thus should do a good job with the material here. Roger Ebert lived a very entertaining life: writing movies, commentating on society, and of course reviewing films. He is probably the most famous of all critics, film or otherwise, and this is a must-see for those interested in film, criticism, and the man himself. Trailer: Here.

Boyhood – Drama – Jul 11
Plot Summary: This coming-of-age story focuses on Mason, a boy of five years, and how he grows into a young man. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Richard Linklater. Actors Involved: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, and Ethan Hawke. Quality Potential: High. Boyhood is ambitious unlike any film made before it. Richard Linklater and his actors periodically shot scenes over the course of twelve years allowing the actors (particularly Ellar Coltrane) to grow up before the audience’s eyes. It is a very good drama that has performed exceptionally well during its screenings on the festival circuit. It may very well even be an Oscar contender. This is a must-see for fans of great independent dramas and filmmaking. Linklater has done something special with this film. Trailer: Here.

I Origins – Drama/Sci-Fi – Jul 18
Plot Summary: A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner make a discovery that could fundamentally change everything about modern society. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Mike Cahill. Actors Involved: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, and Steven Yeun. Quality Potential: Medium. Mike Cahill’s first feature film was Another Earth (also staring Brit Marling), which was a good psychological sci-fi drama. I Origins looks like another good sci-fi drama along the same lines. It performed well at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, winning one of the feature film awards. It is worth checking out for fans of more cerebral sci-fi. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Begin Again – Musical/Romance – Jul 4
Plot Summary: Dan is a struggling music executive who has just lost his job. Greta is a young songwriter who was just dumped by her boyfriend on his way to music stardom. Dan and Greta’s paths cross when Dan hears Greta performing in a small bar in New York City. Something catches Dan’s ear and he goes out of his way to try and get an album made for Greta. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director John Carney and executive producer Judd Apatow. Actors Involved: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, Adam Levine, Yasiin Bey, James Corden, and CeeLo Green. Quality Potential: Medium. There are a few reasons to get a little excited about Begin Again. It has a good cast. It is a musical that does not seem too over-the-top and features a few very popular musicians in supporting roles. And chiefly, it is a new musical romance from John Carney who gave us the brilliant musical romance Once (if you have not seen this, do so). Also, the film was met with mostly positive buzz at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (playing more as a crowd favorite than critic favorite), and it should serve as nice alternative programing to the summer’s blockbusters – maybe a good date movie. Trailer: Here.

Mood Indigo – Romance Dramedy – Jul 18
Plot Summary: Colin is a wealthy, inventive bachelor who is deeply in love with Chloe. Their love could be cut short however as Chloe is diagnosed with a rare illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs. Colin now must do everything he can to find a cure. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Michel Gondry. Actors Involved: Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Omar Sy, Aissa Maiga, and Charlotte Le Bon. Quality Potential: Medium. Mood Indigo played to mixed reviews when it opened in France last year, but that said I still think it looks fantastic. It reminds me a lot of another Michel Gondry film I like a lot called The Science of Sleep. The cast is also fantastic, featuring many of my favorite French actors (like Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou, and Gad Elmaleh – plus relative newcomer Omar Sy is brilliant in The Intouchables and should be great in this too). This is definitely worth checking out for fans of Gondry’s fantasy-like style. Trailer: Here.

Wish I Was Here – Dramedy – Jul 18
Plot Summary: Aidan Bloom is at a crossroads in his life. He is 35 years old but things are not exactly how he imagined they would be as a younger man. His acting career has never taken off, and he feels that his life has no purpose. He is married with two kids, but their education is paid for by his father; however, things change when his father gets sick and can no longer afford to pay. Now, Bloom must homeschool his two kids. Spending time with them seems to bring something out in him that was always missing. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director-producer Zach Braff. Actors Involved: Zach Braff, Joey King, Jim Parsons, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Ashley Greene, Mandy Patinkin, Donald Faison, Pierce Gagnon, James Avery, and Michael Weston. Quality Potential: Medium. Wish I Was Here is the long awaited feature follow-up to Garden State from Zach Braff (ten years), and it looks very much in the same style and tone. As a big fan of Garden State (it spoke to me at that time in my life), I am interested to see what Braff has to say now. He crowd-funded the film (following in the footsteps of Veronica Mars) and put together a strong cast. The film has been fairly well received during its festival circuit screenings. It is worth checking out for fans of Braff’s work. Trailer: Here.

1 comment:

  1. hopefully you can join us for the movie next Saturday. I have been waiting for boyhood to come out for a long time. I am interested in this and have high expectations for it