Acclaimed filmmaker Terrence Malick returns to the Cannes Film Festival this year 8 years since winning the Palme d'Or in 2011 for The Tree of Life. His latest film is officially titled A Hidden Life (in French: Une vie cachée), originally called Radegund while in production - which is also the name of the town in Austria (St. Radegund) where most of the film takes place. This 2 hour, 53 minute-long film tells the true story of a young farmer in rural Austria during World War II who refuses to sign an oath to Hitler, landing himself in prison. We have seen and heard many stories about conscientious objectors, but this time it's told from the perspective of the Nazis - or rather, someone who was conscripted to join the Nazi army (like most Germans and Austrians) and refused to do so. His family was scorned and spat at, and he never could get out of jail. Malick's A Hidden Life ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 20, 2019, 1:13 pm
"Better than Titanic!" Yellow Veil Pictures has debuted an official promo trailer for an indie dark comedy horror thriller titled Harpoon, the latest feature from Canadian filmmaker Rob Grant (Mon Ami, Desolate, Alive). This just premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival this year and is on the hunt for distributors at the Cannes Market, which is where this trailer comes from. Rivalries, dark secrets, and sexual tension emerge when three best friends find themselves stranded on a yacht in the middle of the ocean due to suspicious circumstances. Sounds a bit like Holiday or The Boat, but maybe not entirely. Starring Christopher Gray, Munro Chambers, and Emily Tyra. The best part about this trailer is the ridiculous fake quotes they use throughout, mocking all the ridiculous quotes that usually appear in most trailers anyway. Ha. Good stuff. Here's the first promo trailer (+ festival poster) for Rob Grant's Harpoon, direct from YouTube: Harpoon is a black comedy about the rivalries, dark secrets, ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 20, 2019, 11:17 am
"When I'm dancing I block out the world." "I know what you mean..." Entertainment One UK has debuted a new UK trailer for Gurinder Chadha's Blinded by the Light, the joyous musical comedy about a teen from England who loves Springsteen. This premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to universal acclaim, and it's going to be a big hit when it opens later this summer. Inspired by a true story, based on Sarfraz Manzoor's memoir, the film is about a Pakistani boy named Javed who finds his own voice and his identity after being introduced to Bruce Springsteen growing up in the 1980s in the UK. This stars Viveik Kalra as Javed, including Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura, Hayley Atwell, and Dean-Charles Chapman. It was one of my favorite films from Sundance this year and one of my quotes (from this review) is featured in the trailer + on the new UK poster. Rock ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 19, 2019, 5:43 pm
I genuinely love animation and I always enjoy catching every new animated film, wherever they may come from, however they may be made. I Lost My Body, also known as J'ai perdu mon corps, is a charming new French animated film directed by Jérémy Clapin about a missing hand. This first premiered in the Critics' Week sidebar at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and it's wonderful. Really wonderful. One of the most imaginative, ambitious, and touching animated films of the year - there's no debate. It's unconventional and unique, but so easy to enjoy and fall deeply into, even if it is just a bit creepy at times. I'm so glad I caught this film in Cannes, as it's a smaller one and animation usually gets brushed aside at this festival. But this deserves our attention, and the acclaim, as it's a truly beautiful film and a one-of-a-kind animation creation. Clapin's I Lost My Body, also known as just Grab (the ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 19, 2019, 5:23 pm
Two men on a rock in the ocean slowly go mad. In 2015, Brooklyn-based filmmaker Robert Eggers made quite an impression in the film industry with his vintage indie horror film The Witch. He's back with his second feature film, titled The Lighthouse, and let me be the first to tell you that it's a masterpiece. I have no qualms proclaiming this right away, because the film is absolutely phenomenal. Perfection. Eggers' The Lighthouse premiered in the Directors' Fortnight sidebar at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, and it deserves to breakout and be adored by moviegoers all over the world because it really is an extraordinary work of cinema. Every single shot is masterful. The score is exquisite. There are frames from this that will be studied for decades. It's visceral, intense, hilarious, terrifying, engrossing storytelling about two men and madness. The Lighthouse is set on a small rocky island somewhere in the Atlantic, and is more of a magically mad ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 19, 2019, 4:40 pm
There's no rules, no limits, to the kind of stories that can be told in the sci-fi genre. They can be big or small, space operas or intimate dramas or even noir thrillers, commenting on and critiquing society, politics, and culture through smart storytelling. Vivarium is another terrific indie sci-fi feature, a twisted thriller set in only one location. This premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Critics' Week sidebar, and was barely finished just a week before they brought it here. It's also yet another new sci-fi film borrowing from "Black Mirror" and "Twilight Zone" as a contained concept that doesn't provide all the answers, but it's clever and captivating enough to keep us wondering what's next. I dug this film. It's my kind of twisted, minimal sci-fi. Vivarium is directed by Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan, making his second feature film after Without Name, with a background in graphic design. The film very quickly introduces us to a happy, ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 18, 2019, 2:39 pm
"They realize later that this is the future." An official trailer has debuted for a new documentary titled And We Go Green, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, and directed by his collaborator on Before the Flood, Fisher Stevens (and co-directed by Malcolm Venville). The doc film is a look at the creation of Formula E, and all-electric version of the world famous Formula 1 races, which uses all the same tracks and similar vehicles that are quiet because of no gas. The film features footage from Jean-Eric Vergne's championship-winning season. "The documentary encapsulates the true mission and purpose of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, to show how competition drives technological development and how the excitement of sport can have a meaningful social impact and alter perceptions of electric vehicles." This is one of two new green docs that DiCaprio produced, including Ice on Fire, premiering at Cannes. Looks pretty good - check it out. Here's the first official trailer for Fisher ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 18, 2019, 1:29 pm
Maybe all we need is just a little bit of happiness. Maybe happiness is all there is. Or maybe not. Little Joe is a clever, crafty little sci-fi fairytale that is destined to become a cult classic. This low budget drama is the latest written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner, and it's playing in competition at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The film has some flaws, and is way too slow, but there's something alluring and intelligent about it that sticks with you and buries itself in your mind. And even though it's honestly pretty easy to figure out what's going on, it's the way she brings this idea to life and portrays it all on screen very minimally that makes it especially captivating. The film achieves so much (in the way of thought-provoking storytelling) with so little, an effective example of very low budget filmmaking expanding upon bigger ideas. Set in the near future, the story is about ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 17, 2019, 11:34 pm
"What brings you to Mongolia?" Vertical Entertainment has debuted a new trailer for an indie adventure comedy titled Burn Your Maps, from writer/director Jordan Roberts. This first premiered at film festivals back in late 2016, and has taken three years to finally get an actual US release. No idea why, but this trailer might give you a hint that it's just not all that. Burn Your Maps is about a family in emotional turmoil that is taken by surprise when an eccentric 8-year-old American boy, Wes, has an existential epiphany - he believes that he is in fact a Mongolian goat herder. So they travel to Mongolia and things get even crazier, of course. Jacob Tremblay stars with Vera Farmiga, and a cast including Virginia Madsen, Marton Csokas, Jason Scott Lee, Suraj Sharma, Arielle Rombough, Ramon Rodriguez, and Glynis Davies. This looks cute but also awkward and just strange, not sure what to make of it or why it was ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 17, 2019, 6:19 pm
With the original John Wick, screenwriter Derek Kolstad and co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch created an atmospheric neo-noir thriller with exhilarating action sequences, an iconic action hero in John Wick, and an equally iconic lead performance by Keanu Reeves. The film, about an ex-assassin (Reeves) who comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that killed his dog, earned $88 million worldwide, and thus began the John Wick Cinematic Universe™. Stahelski and Kolstad doubled-down on the non-stop, exquisitely choreographed bloodshed in the sequel John Wick: Chapter 2 while exploring the mythological, hyper-real criminal underworld John Wick inhabits. Now, with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Stahelski and Kolstad walk a tightrope between world-building and trigger-pulling to deliver a propulsive action flick with some of the most impressive stunts and set pieces in American action cinema. The action picks up directly after Chapter 2 ends, as Wick finds himself declared "excommunicado" from the Continental after killing Camorra crime boss Santino ...
Author: Adam Frazier
Posted: May 17, 2019, 2:07 pm
"It is such a fundamental change in the way the Earth is behaving that we need to communicate that as powerfully as possible." Kino Lorber has debuted the first US trailer for the documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, which has been playing at every major film festival since it premiered at TIFF last fall. It has also played at Sundance, Berlinale, Vancouver, Calgary, Santa Barbara, Boulder, Portland, Hong Kong, CPH:DOX, and the Seattle Film Festival most recently. Three experienced doc filmmakers travel to six continents and 20 countries to document the impact humans have made on the planet. And it doesn't look good. "A stunning sensory experience and cinematic meditation on humanity's massive reengineering of the planet, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is a years-in-the-making feature documentary." Scientists now argue that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century as a result of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth. The footage in this looks ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 17, 2019, 1:36 pm
"We started out with nothing... you built all of this!" Breaking Glass Pictures has debuted the official trailer for an "arthouse thriller" titled She's Just a Shadow, a new film by director Adam Sherman set in Tokyo. This "modern, dreamlike take on the gangster genre" is an action-packed story about "a matriarchal crime family engaged in a vicious gang war. A deranged killer is leaving his victims on railroad tracks all over Tokyo, and the only thing more dangerous than him is the vicious love triangle within the family itself." Three stories involving multiple characters collide in this Japanese gangster flick. Starring Tao Okamoto, Haruka Abe, Mercedes Maxwell, Haruna Ayane, Noriko Arai, plus Japanese musician Kihiro, and Kentez Asaka. I'd say this is a hyper-stylized, neo-noir, but I'm not even sure that does it complete justice. Here's the official trailer for Adam Sherman's She's Just a Shadow, direct from BGP's YouTube: A beautiful Japanese madam and her ladies. A deranged, drug-addled Tokyo ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 17, 2019, 12:55 pm
"After you left, I sat by the window every day. Just hoping that one day I'd look out and you'd be there..." Animation is not just a genre, it's a powerful storytelling tool, a technique that any filmmaker can use to bring their story to the screen. Cradle is an exceptional example of the power of storytelling in animation. Written & directed by Devon Manney as his USC thesis project, the short film won the Student Academy Award in 2017. Returning to home after losing both arms overseas, a young veteran battles phantom pains, prosthetics, and memories of his pre-war life while reaching for a sense of normalcy. Featuring the voices of Devon Manney, Alexa Nikol Curran, Trevor Larson, & Rosie Richards. Another must watch short. Thanks to Short of the Week for the tip on this one. Original description from YouTube: "Returning to the USA after losing both arms overseas, a young veteran battles phantom pains, prosthetics, and memories of ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 16, 2019, 11:10 pm
"Are you scared?" Universal + Illumination Ent. have debuted a final trailer, dubbed "Together", for Chris Renaud's The Secret Life of Pets 2, the sequel to the animated hit from a few years ago about pets and the life they have after their owners leave. This gives us the best look at the story yet, taking them to a farm and on another adventure around the city. Each of the pets from the original are now dealing with different life changes. Can Max, Snowball, Gidget and the rest of the gang find the inner courage to face their biggest fears? The full voice cast includes Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Dana Carvey, Albert Brooks, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Kylie Hart, Nick Kroll, Pete Holmes, and Harrison Ford as Rooster. This really looks like it will be amusing and adorable, and also uplifting and inspiring. The Killers track used here is pretty much perfectly in this, ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 16, 2019, 10:54 pm
I'm celebrating my 10th year attending the Cannes Film Festival, after first coming here in 2009. I love this festival, and I always love coming back, and I always say this every year. But this year, in honor of my 10th time here, I've decided to do something special. I'm giving away 10 copies of the classic Ebert book: "Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook". Ebert wrote this book while at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival and it was first published later that year. It became lost in time, until I was introduced to it before coming to Cannes in 2014. I wrote a series of blog posts that year referencing this book and mirroring my own experiences. And I've never forgotten about it. The book was republished (with a new intro by Martin Scorsese!) a few years back and is now widely available (check Amazon) in case you want to read it yourself. Not many people know ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 16, 2019, 6:15 pm
"You don't want to wonder, 'what if?'" Netflix has revealed an official trailer for a romantic comedy titled Always Be My Maybe, the feature directorial debut of "Fresh Off the Boat" executive producer / writer Nahnatchka Khan. The film is co-written by and also stars comedians Randall Park and Ali Wong, playing old childhood friends who reconnect and fall in love later in life. This will be hitting Netflix at the end of the month, so if you're excited to watch it there's not too long of a wait - which is always great news when Netflix surprises us. The impressive cast includes Michelle Buteau, Vivian Bang, Karan Soni, Charlyne Yi, Daniel Dae Kim, James Saito, with Keanu Reeves and Lyrics Born. It's not the most original story concept, but this does look really cute and funny. Plus, it has Keanu Reeves as the "other guy". Here's the official trailer (+ poster) for Nahnatchka Khan's Always Be My Maybe, from YouTube: Childhood ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 16, 2019, 5:25 pm
"The President's top guardian angel has fallen." Lionsgate has debuted the first official trailer for Angel Has Fallen, the latest action sequel following up Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen before it. Gerard Butler returns as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning, who is framed once the President comes under attack, and must figure out what's really going on. Isn't this the exact same plot as the other two? The cast includes Morgan Freeman as the President, with Piper Perabo, Lance Reddick, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tim Blake Nelson, Nick Nolte, Chris Browning, Danny Huston, and Michael Landes. This one looks like it takes place entirely in the woods, not much in a city at all - until those CGI shots at the end. Here's the first trailer (+ poster) for Ric Roman Waugh's Angel Has Fallen, from Lionsgate's YouTube: Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) is framed for the attempted assassination of the President and must evade his own agency and the ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 16, 2019, 4:58 pm
"If Sutton were alive today, he wouldn't be robbing banks - he'd be robbing the wealthy." Vertical Ent. has debuted an official trailer for an indie con thriller titled Lying & Stealing directed by Matt Aselton. The film tells the story of two clever grifters who team up for one big heist. Ivan is a gifted and discerning art thief who wants out. Elyse is an aspiring actress whose own past transgressions in Hollywood haunt her, as well as a mountain of debt. These two outsiders are drawn to each other. Starring Theo James and Emily Rartajkowski, with Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Fred Melamed, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Tim Bader, Evan Handler, and Keith Powell. It looks like a fun, low budget art heist film - but doesn't seem that original. Here's the first official trailer for Matt Aselton's Lying & Stealing, direct from Vertical's YouTube: Ivan (Theo James) is a gifted and discerning art thief who wants out. Elyse (Emily Rartajkowski) is an aspiring ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 16, 2019, 12:56 pm
There's a new film that just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year titled Les Misérables, but it has nothing to do with Victor Hugo's famous novel (of the same name) or the musical or any of that. It's a contemporary story set in a suburb outside of Paris, France, and it's a remarkably fresh, masterful feature directorial debut of a filmmaker named Ladj Ly. The festival is just getting going, but it's one of the best films I've seen here so far - impressive in every way, especially from someone making their first feature film. But damn does it rule. It's an intense watch. This Les Misérables is one of those intense films that you take a deep breath while watching, and only start breathing again once it's over. I admire how raw and honest and ambitious it is. The story gives us plenty to chew on, while never descending into negativity or hopelessness. Ladj Ly's Les Misérables is ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 16, 2019, 12:30 pm
"You know I have to do this..." "I know you do." Quiver Distribution has unveiled the official trailer for an odd little indie drama titled Astronaut, the feature directorial debut of Canadian-British actress Shelagh McLeod. The concept for this sounds like it could be a super goofy comedy, but it's really a straightforward drama - and it looks very, very cheesy. Richard Dreyfuss stars as a lonely widower who battles his family, ill health, and time, in order to win a competition for a golden ticket to visit space. The cast includes Lyriq Bent, Krista Bridges, Graham Greene, Richie Lawrence, and Colm Feore as the Elon Musk-esque billionaire who offers the once-in-a-lifetime trip to space. I'm stunned this film even exists, seems so bland. Here's the first official trailer (+ two posters) for Shelagh McLeod's Astronaut, direct from YouTube: Angus (Dreyfuss), a lonely widower, has his long-extinguished dream to become an astronaut reignited when a national competition is announced. The prize? One ...
Author: Alex Billington
Posted: May 15, 2019, 11:22 pm