Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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

Art-House Dramas:

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them – Romance/Drama – Sep 12
Plot Summary: Eleanor Rigby and Conor Ludlow were in love. Now they are not. Each of them has a side to the story. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Ned Benson. Actors Involved: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciaran Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, and William Hurt. Quality Potential: Medium. Initially, Ned Benson wanted The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them to be two films – Her and Him – but that prospect asks a lot of audiences (even indie film audiences), especially when you are making your feature debut. Sadly, the separated films are thought to be much better than this composite. That said, the film looks like a potentially powerful romance drama, probably playing on the more depressing, sadder side. And, Benson has put together a great cast. Trailer: Here.

The Guest – Thriller – Sep 17
Plot Summary: The Peterson family is grieving the loss of their son in combat. One day, a soldier named David shows up at their house claiming to be a friend of their son’s. The Petersons invite David to stay with them, but suddenly a series of accidental deaths begin to surround David. Could he be the cause? Key Filmmakers Involved: Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett. Actors Involved: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Ethan Embry, Joel David Moore, Leland Orser, and Lance Reddick. Quality Potential: Medium. The Guest looks like it could be a very good thriller. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett are coming off the success of their great horror/thriller You’re Next (which I highly recommend). This is a contender for September’s best film. Fans of indie thrillers definitely want to check this one out. Trailer: Here.

Tracks – Drama – Sep 19
Plot Summary: Robyn Davidson wants to attempt the impossible. She decides to walk across West Australia’s desert with only four camels and her dog. It is a journey of almost 2,000 miles. This is based on a true story. Key Filmmakers Involved: Director John Curran. Actors Involved: Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver. Quality Potential: High. Tracks is an incredible story of a brave young woman who did something unbelievable. The film looks very good, with beautiful photography and a strong central performance from Mia Wasikowska (who may even garner a nomination or two, assuming the film gains traction). John Curran is a good director, who excels at involving dramas (such as The Painted Veil); so this is right in his wheelhouse. Tracks is a drama that is worth seeing – it is another contender for best film of September. Trailer: Here.

Fort Bliss – Drama – Sep 19
Plot Summary: Maggie Swann is a decorated U.S. Army medic who returns home after an extended tour in Afghanistan. She has been away for a long time and is hoping to reconnect with her young son, but it proves to be difficult as he has needed to grow up without her. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Claudia Myers. Actors Involved: Michelle Monaghan, Ron Livingston, Pablo Schreiber, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Dash Mihok, and Freddy Rodriquez. Quality Potential: Medium. Fort Bliss is an important drama in a number of ways. First, it details the realistic experience of women serving in the military, something usually avoided in cinema (and popular media in general). And second, the film showcases the real struggles that veterans face when they return home (they do so much and yet are often treated terribly by the programs supposedly set up to help them; it is just plain awful). Michelle Monaghan gives a brilliant performance at the center of the film (which will hopefully get some recognition). This is one of the better military dramas of the last few years. Trailer: Here.

Art-House Comedies:

God Help the Girl – Romance Musical – Sep 5
Plot Summary: Eve is hospitalized with emotional problems, but she is trying to work through them writing songs. Her passion for songwriting seems to do the trick, leading to her venturing into the city (Glasgow, Scotland) were she meets two young musicians, James and Cassie. The three hit it off, beginning a dream-like summer renaissance. Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Stuart Murdoch. Actors Involved: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, and Hannah Murray. Quality Potential: Medium. Stuart Murdoch is the front man of indie band Belle & Sebastian; he is making his directorial debut with this musical, which if nothing else will feature great music. He has a good young cast (Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray already exhibited great chemistry in the Skins’s episode Pure). God Help the Girl looks like it is going to be a ton of fun. I am excited to see it. Trailer: Here.

Tusk – Horror – Sep 19
Plot Summary: Podcaster Wallace Bryton is given an exclusive interview with reclusive mariner Howard Howe. Wallace ventures up to Canada to meet Howard, but he is captured and tortured by Howard, who turns out is a maniac. Howard has the twisted plan of turning Wallace into a walrus (for who know what reason…I guess we need to see the movie to find out…He is probably just a crazy person). Key Filmmakers Involved: Writer-director Kevin Smith. Actors Involved: Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, and Michael Parks. Quality Potential: Low. Tusk looks a bit insane. The idea is really out there (or maybe not considering the weird and random stuff made in horror films). Kevin Smith made a reasonably good horror film with his last Red State; so, there is some potential for Tusk to be fun too. Smith will also not be afraid to do whatever madness crosses his mind, which could make for some great deranged stuff. I grew up with Smith’s films. I still really like Clerks and Chasing Amy. I am interested to see how Tusk does critically and commercially. I would like to see Smith return to making witty films whatever form they may take. Trailer: Here.

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