Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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

Art-House Dramas:

The Rover – Drama – Jun 20
Plot Summary: After a gang of misfits steals Eric’s car, he is left with nothing, stranded in a desolate town in the Australian outback. The gang left one of their members behind at the scene, however, after he was injured. Eric uses this man to find those responsible, so he can hurt them and retrieve his car. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director David Michod. Actors Involved: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, and Scoot McNairy. Potential to be Good: High. The Rover just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews. It looks like a great character crime drama with strong performances (although, I still do not really know why quality directors hire Robert Pattinson when there are other more talented actors not from Twilight available, but maybe that is just my bias). David Michod’s Animal Kingdom is one of Australia’s best imports so far this decade (and well worth checking out if you have not seen it) and The Rover looks very similar. It very well could be June’s best film (and a possible Oscar contender). This is a must-see for fans of crime dramas. Trailer: Here.

Snowpiercer – Sci-Fi Drama – Jun 27
Plot Summary: In the future a failed global-warming experiment has killed off all life on the planet, except a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer train and were spared. Now, however, they must restart society, a difficult task ripe with struggles for power. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Joon-ho Bong. Actors Involved: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Alison Pill, Kang-ho Song, and Ewen Bremner. Potential to be Good: Medium. Snowpiercer is Korean writer-director Joon-ho Bong’s first foray into English-language filmmaking. His biggest international hit to date is The Host (a great sci-fi horror film), but Snowpiercer looks potentially quite good as well. It has a great dystopian vibe to it, as it is about the lower classes trying to rise up to attain the vaulted spoils enjoyed by the privilege on the train. For fans of Korean-style horror, this is worth checking out. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

Obvious Child – Comedy – Jun 6
Plot Summary: Donna Stern is a Brooklyn comedian struggling to make it. Now, even worse, she is pregnant and must decide what to do, right on the heels of being dumped and fired all in the same week. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Gillian Robespierre (making her feature debut). Actors Involved: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, David Cross, and Richard Kind. Potential to be Good: Medium. Obvious Child looks very funny and played to good reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Jenny Slate is poised to be a breakthrough comedic star in 2014, following up very good and funny work on the TV shows Hello Ladies (stealing many scenes), House of Lies, and Parks and Recreation in 2013. Meanwhile, Gaby Hoffmann is also doing great work right now (notably being fantastic on Girls this past winter) and thus should provide Slate with a great foil. This is worth checking out for fans of indie dramedy. Trailer: Here.

They Came Together – Romantic Comedy Spoof – Jun 27
Plot Summary: A satire on the romantic comedy genre, the film is about Joel and Molly, two people who initially hate each other only to fall in love, then out of love, only to be reunited in the end by a grand gesture. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director David Wain and writer Michael Showalter. Actors Involved: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Ed Helms, Michael Ian Black, Kenan Thompson, Jack McBrayer, and Ken Marino. Potential to be Good: Low. They Came Together has an abundance of comedic talent and is from the creative forces behind The State and Stella. Director David Wain’s past feature comedies have all been decently funny as well (Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, Wanderlust, and, my favorite, Role Models), but most of his films only exist to serve their jokes and feature bland and boring characters and narratives (Paul Rudd’s fantastic, layered performance in Role Models aside).They Came Together looks to be the same – a film built solely around one big joke, void of good or interesting characters. This is still worth checking out for fans of Wain and Showalter’s comedy style, but do not expect a good overall film (but do expect to laugh a few times – plus, again, they are a ton of great funny people in this). Trailer: Here.

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