Category Archives: In Theatres

2014 Oscar Guide: Parade of Trailers

The fall is my favorite season for several reasons: the weather, the holidays, the foliage, the movies—oh, the movies. This is when studios release their best contenders for Oscar glory, more than four months away. Every year, I aim to watch all of the Oscar hopefuls before nominations are announced (this year on January 16, 2014).

Here is my second-annual list of this year’s major contenders in various categories, along with release dates.

Past Releases

FRUITVALE STATION

Continue reading 2014 Oscar Guide: Parade of Trailers

Alternate Posters for GRAVITY

Check out these terrific alternate posters for Gravity, courtesy of ShortList.com. These are my three favorites, but click here for more.

2013 Fall Film Guide

(Re-posted from LimitéMagazine.com)

With the start of September comes the much-anticipated fall film season—the time of year when studios and independent distributors alike present their best hopes for Oscar gold and some big box office dollars. This season, keep your eye on some key dramas like Gravity,Inside Llewyn DavisAmerican Hustle, and The Wolf of Wall Street, among others. And following his turn in this spring’s Star Trek into Darkness, British import Benedict Cumberbatch continues to make waves this side of the Atlantic in four features (12 Years a SlaveThe Fifth EstateThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugAugust: Osage County).

Tell us in the comments which films you’re most looking forward to seeing.

Note: All non-authored pieces’ loglines are courtesy of IMDb.com.

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2013 Top 10 Indie Summer Flicks

(Re-posted from LimitéMagazine.com)

Man of SteelStar Trek into DarknessWorld War Z. These are the movies we won’t be talking about in this summer movie feature. For the fourth year, Limité is taking a look beyond the standard blockbuster studio fare to bring you some of the most-anticipated independent films with a summer release date. Proving that a $100 million budget is not a necessity—and is often a hindrance—to deliver a powerful story, these 10 films masterfully transform a small budget into a big punch.

1. FRUITVALE STATION

by Daniel Quitério

January 1, 2009. Oakland, CA. Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black male, was caught in a physical altercation on a train a mere two hours after celebrating the passing of the new year with his friends. Held at the Fruitvale BART station by the police, an agitated Oscar was restrained by the officers, held with his face against the ground. One officer then pulled out his gun and shot the unarmed Oscar in the back, ultimately ending his life. (The officer claims he was reaching for his stun gun.) Fruitvale Station tells the true story of Oscar’s last day alive. A conflicted young father, he was just trying to get by, and although he didn’t always make the soundest choices, he was loved dearly by his family and friends—none of whom believed he deserved his ultimate fate.

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THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES: The Year’s First Amazing Film

It’s not often that I watch a movie and feel compelled to write about it (unless I have to)—that is, write beyond the 140 characters allowed by Twitter. But I recently watched Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines and instantly knew that I had to get the word out. Without knowing much about the film, I knew I wanted to see it (despite a trailer that did not interest me) for two reasons: 1. It’s Derek Cianfrance, and I LOVE Blue Valentine (which topped my annual Top 20 list in 2011), and 2. It stars Ryan Gosling, who, in my opinion, is one of the most talented actors alive today. Now, I watch a lot of movies. A LOT. And it’s hard to come by a truly great film nowadays that can compete with the purity and heart of those from the Golden Age of cinema. So rest assured that I am not half-heartedly slinging around superlatives when I say that The Place Beyond the Pines is one of my all-time favorite movies.

Continue reading THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES: The Year’s First Amazing Film

2013 Oscar Guide: Parade of Trailers

If you’re anything like me, you’re sure to watch most (if not all) of the major Oscar-contending films before nominations are even announced (this year on January 10, 2013). Here are trailers and release dates for just some of this year’s major contenders in various categories.

Past Releases

THE AVENGERS

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIR8Ar-Z4hw]

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDY89LYxK0w]

Continue reading 2013 Oscar Guide: Parade of Trailers

Review: The Artist

NOTE: This review contains spoilers.

Some time last year, I thought to myself, “Why doesn’t anyone make a silent film today? It would be interesting to see a contemporary filmmaker’s take on early cinema.” And then The Artist came along …

I had been looking forward to seeing The Artist since it screened at Cannes mid-last year. The film follows 1927 silent screen superstar George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) as he holds firmly onto his principles at the expense of his career in the wake of the emergence of “talkies.” Following a chance encounter with one of his fans, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), who bumps into him (literally), she is immediately bitten by the Hollywood bug. As her acting career takes off in the talking pictures, Valentin’s begins to flounder. It’s the stuff A Star Is Born is made of.

Typically, I’m a sucker for movies about movies, and being a classic film buff, I was excited about the prospects of watching a modern-day silent film set in the ’20s, a pivotal period in early cinema. Having just watched it, I can say that it’s a terrific film. As is the case with any great film, all elements come together to make one great picture—a reminder that the sum should always be greater than its parts. The film, much like its leading man Dujardin, is debonair, classy, and charming. The beautiful black-and-white cinematography by Guillaume Schiffman merges with some dazzling performances by Dujardin, Bejo, and John Goodman (who plays a Cecil B. DeMille-type studio executive).

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John Hawkes Performs “Marcy’s Song”

Watch Oscar nominee John Hawkes perform “Marcy’s Song” from Martha Marcy May Marlene. Here’s the official music video of his cover of this Jackson C. Frank song. The film is in limited release now.

In Theatres: Moneyball

Based on the Michael Lewis-penned book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, the film version with the abbreviated title is backed by a slew of awards favorites, including screenwriters Steven Zaillian (Oscar winner for Schindler’s List, 1993) and Aaron Sorkin (Oscar winner for The Social Network, 2010); director Bennett Miller (Oscar nominee for Capote, 2006); and producers Michael De Luca (Oscar nominee for The Social Network), Rachael Horovitz (Emmy winner for HBO’s Grey Gardens, 2009), and Scott Rudin (Oscar winner for No Country for Old Men, 2007). And then, of course, there’s the acting talent, lead by Brad Pitt (Oscar nominee for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008) with a supporting performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman (Oscar winner for Capote).

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, “Oscar voters, pay attention.”

There are several things I love about the fall, my favorite season. Chief among them is that it’s the start of awards season—all of the year’s best movies are reserved until this time of year with the thought being that Academy Award voters are most likely to remember the last movies they see. (It’s not a surprise that films that open earlier in the year are largely ignored come February’s ceremony.) It’s all about strategy. And it works. Just ask Billy Beane (portrayed by Pitt in Moneyball), who leveraged an unconventional strategy to build a successful baseball team in 2002. (Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for this pretty awesome segue.)

Summary:

Billy Beane was once a would-be baseball superstar who, stung by the failure to live up to expectations on the field, turned his fiercely competitive nature to management. Heading into the 2002 season, Billy faces a dismal situation: his small-market Oakland A’s has lost its star players (again) to big-market clubs (and their enormous salaries) and is left to rebuild his team and compete with a third of its payroll. Driven to win, Billy takes on the system by challenging the fundamental tenants of the game. He looks outside of baseball, to the dismissed theories of Bill James, and hires Peter Brand, a brainy, number-crunching, Yale-educated economist. Together, they take on conventional wisdom with a willingness to re-examine everything and armed with computer-driven statistical analysis long ignored by the baseball establishment. They reach imagination-defying conclusions and go after players overlooked and dismissed by the rest of baseball for being too odd, too old, too injured, or too much trouble, but who all have key skills that are universally undervalued. As Billy and Peter forge forward, their new methods and roster of misfits rile the old guard, the media, the fans, and their own field manager, who refuses to cooperate. Ultimately, this experiment will lead not only to a change in the way the game is played, but to an outcome that would leave Billy with a new understanding that transcends the game and delivers him to a new place. (courtesy of Yahoo! Movies)

Director: Bennett Miller

Screenwriters: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin

Producers: Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Scott Rudin

Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt

Genre: Drama, Sport

Distributor: Sony Pictures

Official Site: moneyball-movie.com

Runtime: 133 min.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiAHlZVgXjk]

Hit & Miss: Another Earth, The Devil’s Double

I’m usually a pretty good judge of movies before even watching them. I can often tell whether I think a movie is going to be good or bad based on the trailer, logline, filmmaker, cast, or any other factor. Of course, this is not unique to me. Many of us have this super power. But every now and then, my senses go awry and I find myself in disbelief. Here are a couple of recent examples:

Hit

ANOTHER EARTH

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8hEwMMDtFY]

Going In: I’m not much for sci-fi, and after having seen the trailer, I just had a feeling—this is not going to be a good movie. And that’s a shame, because Fox Searchlight is my favorite distributor—but hey, even Fox Searchlight is entitled to a not-so-great movie once in a while. (Has anyone seen The Tree of Life?) Another Earth looked sleepy, boring, quiet, and any other number of synonyms that describe bland.

Stepping Out: BEST. MOVIE. OF. THE. YEAR. (so far) I can’t believe how wrong I was with this one. Brit Marling. Remember that name. She wrote, produced, and stars in this micro-budget indie that was directed by Mike Cahill. Nearly everything about this film is perfect. The dynamic performances. The breathtaking cinematography. The mesmerizing music. And most especially, the complex characters in a simple, original story. It just goes to show you, a film’s budget is no barometer for how good a movie is. The writing is (among other things). You can go into space with a tight script. And this film is proof.

Miss

THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auE1FAGP1Kc]

Going In: The true story of the man who was forced to act as Uday Hussein’s double. (That’s Saddam’s son, folks.) I was easily intrigued, quite simply because I hadn’t seen anything like this before. And speaking of something I haven’t seen before, (based on the trailer) it looked like Dominic Cooper was turning in a performance unlike any other he’s done. I’m sold.

Stepping Out: WTF! Sure, there is gory violence, but this film isn’t nearly as gritty as I thought it would be. Sure, Cooper’s performance is solid, but that’s pretty much all this Lee Tamahori-helmed film has going for it. It’s glitzy, golden visuals are clearly implied in the trailer and poster, but I was mostly going into this film with the overall concept in mind. Clearly, I wasn’t paying close enough attention. This film resembled more of a flashy music video than any film worth my time. (I was actually expecting something on par with The Hurt Locker, in style and substance.) Mind you, I didn’t hate it—and “not hating it” is the best compliment I can offer.