It ooesn’t get better than this.
The movie A Shorty History Of Decay tells the story of Nathan Fisher, a thirty-something Brooklyn “hipster” (Bryan Greenberg) whose writing career is stalled, much to the chagrin of his ambitious live-in girlfriend, Erika (Emmanuelle Chriqui).
When she unceremoniously dumps him, Nathan retreats into a depressive funk, not knowing where to turn– finish the novel? work on the play?– when he gets a call from his brother in Florida telling him his father has been hospitalized. Racing down to “snowbird” central, Nathan finds his father (Harris Yulin) on the mend (albeit grumpy), and his normally addled mother (Linda Lavin) a bit hazier than usual.
His quick visit turns into an extended stay during which he discovers that his aging parents are actually in much better control of their lives than he is. He also meets a woman (Kathleen Rose Perkins)–his mother’s manicurist, no less– who is the polar opposite of Erika, but who may just be exactly what Nathan needs.
A Short History of Decay is an American comedy film written and directed by Michael Maren. It stars Bryan Greenberg, Linda Lavin, Harris Yulin, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Benjamin King and Kathleen Rose Perkins. Though its title is taken from the work of philosophy by Emil Cioran, it is not an adaptation of the book.
The film was shot in October and November 2012 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina and New York City. It premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 12, 2013 and it opened theatrically at the Village East Cinema on May 16, 2014.
A Short History of Decay
Directed by: Michael Maren
Starring: Emmanuelle Chriqui, Bryan Greenberg, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Linda Lavin, Harris Yulin, Rebecca Dayan, Barbara Weetman
Screenplay by: Michael Maren
Production Design by: Matthew Petersen
Cinematography by: Nancy Schreiber
Film Editing by: Timothy Snell
Costume Design by: Hayley Swinson
Art Direction by: Harrison Colby
MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references.
Release Date: May 16, 2014
Taglines: Being a teenager can be murder.
A pair of abused and neglected teenage girls almost get away with murder: Sisters Sandra and Beth learned early in life that they had no one to depend on but each other. But when their addict mother Linda makes plans to move the girls in with her abusive lover, the girls’ situation becomes unbearable. Seeing no other way out, Sandra and Beth recruit their classmates to help them plan their mother’s murder.
When the girls’ guilt spins out of control and they compulsively confess their involvement to friends, rumors that they are cold-blooded killers reach the ears of the authorities. The film is a harrowing and heartbreaking look at the teen subculture that nurtured the girls’ murderous fantasies and covered up for them after they committed an unthinkable crime in an effort to create a normal life for themselves.
Perfect Sisters is a 2014 Canadian crime drama film directed by Stanley M. Brooks. The film stars Abigail Breslin and Georgie Henley. The film was released on April 11, 2014. The film was based on the novel The Class Project: How to Kill a Mother, which itself was based on the real-life murder of Linda Andersen.
Film Review: Perfect Sisters
Ineffectual and cartoonish, “Perfect Sisters” dramatizes a case that shocked Canada a decade ago, when two teenage girls killed their alcoholic mother in order to be free of the chaos wrought by her perpetual irresponsibility — a well-planned crime that several of their classmates knew about before it happened.
TV producer Stan Brooks’ first directorial feature provides scant psychological depth, drawing its characters and staging their incidents in crude fashion, despite superficial production gloss. A limited U.S. theatrical launch April 11 is unlikely to significantly heighten visibility for a pic already available on demand and destined primarily for smallscreen sales.
Based on Toronto Star reporter Bob Mitchell’s true-crime tome (which is purportedly far less sympathetic toward the protags), Fabrizio Filippo and Adam Till’s script introduces us to high schoolers Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth (Georgie Henley of “The Chronicles of Narnia” films) as they, along with a little brother, suffer yet another move to new digs.
The cause is, once again, their divorced mom Linda (Mira Sorvino) and her penchant for the bottle, which inevitably causes her to lose jobs and get them evicted. When she acquires a new boyfriend (James Russo) to pay the bills, his abuse and general creepiness hardly improve the family’s lot beyond the realm of rent.
Figuring they might actually be better off without Mom — but with an insurance settlement — the sisters hash out potential matricidal scenarios with best friends Justin (Jeffrey Ballard) and Ashley (Zoe Belkin), though whispers quickly spread beyond that close circle. Nonetheless, the real-life figures (whose names aren’t used here, since they were still minors when convicted) managed to pass the deed off as an accidental death for a time. They remain controversial figures in Canada, since they were incarcerated for only a few years each and subsequently attended universities on scholarship.
The unimaginative telepic tenor is varied — but not improved — by broad bits in which Sorvino plays various caricatured “ideal” mother figures. Mixing the heroines’ puerile fantasies with their much-less-than-ideal reality is a potentially interesting idea, but “Perfect Sisters” is no “Heavenly Creatures,” to say the least. Nor does the cliched dialogue or just-OK cast (in which Henley comes closest to creating a rounded character) help ground disturbing events in a credible everyday milieu a la “Razor’s Edge” and other fact-inspired tales of teen homicide. Still, the pic somewhat improves in its last third, when the deed is done and the girls prove very poorly equipped to keep their secret.
Shot in Winnipeg (the actual events took place in Mississauga, Ontario), the pic is competent but rather flavorless in all tech/design departments.
Directed by: Stanley M. Brooks
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Georgie Henley, Mira Sorvino, James Russo, Rusty Schwimmer, Zoë Belkin, Jeffrey Ballard, Sarah Constible
Screenplay by: Fab Filippo
Production Design by: Gordon Wilding
Cinematography by: Stéphanie Anne, Weber Biron
Film Editing by: Robin Katz
Costume Design by: Noreen Landry
Art Direction by: Scott Rossell
Music by: Carmen Rizzo
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Release Date: April 11, 2014
F-list actress Gina Carano stars as Ava, a trained fighter with a dark past in the movie In The Blood.
When her new husband (fellow F-lister Cam Gigandet) vanishes during their Caribbean honeymoon, Ava uncovers a violent underworld of conspiracy in the middle of an island paradise. Armed with a deadly set of skills, Ava sets out to discover the truth – and to take down the men she thinks are responsible for his abduction, one by one.
The movie In The Blood gets a very limited theatrical release (second and third run cinemas) the same day that it debuts on Video On Demand.
Film Review: In the Blood
I’ll be honest about this film, I am NOT a big action film fan nor do I like ultra-violent films. In the Blood is clearly BOTH of these— especially the latter. The amazing thing is that although the violence made me cringe, it was also a movie that kept me glued to the screen…and my adrenalin pumping!
The film stars Gina Carano and if you’ve never heard of Miss Carano, I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s only done a few films, though she is famous…as an MMA and Muay Thai fighter!! And, as you’d expect from a woman with such training, her skills are INSANELY good. Heck, she seems tougher and more capable than all the male action stars of the genre—and she makes it all look so real! By comparison, films by Van Damme and Steven Seagal look like kids’ films!!! I also love Carano because although she is pretty, she’s NOT the Hollywood type. She has real curves and looks like she’s NOT the product of plastic surgery and bulimia!!
The film is set on some fictional Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation or, perhaps, they intend it to be the Dominican Republic (there are three Spanish-speaking countries in the Caribbean—and it’s not Cuba and they said it wasn’t Puerto Rico in the movie*)—they never say. Regardless, the place is corrupt…very, very, very corrupt.
It’s so corrupt that when an American tourist is kidnapped (or possibly killed), those responsible for it pay EVERYONE to pretend it never happened—even the cops! So, this leaves Ana (Carano) all alone in a hostile country where practically no one seems able or willing to help. The neat thing about the film is that it is wonderful at misdirection. It’s a very smart film as again and again I was surprised by who was behind all this and why. And, how it all ends is simply impossible to anticipate**.
Overall, this is a super-high action film with an amazing heroine—one that doesn’t stand around waiting to be saved by a man—and I love that. Carano plays the real thing—and action hero in every sense of the word— and a darn scary one!!
So do I recommend the film? Well, I don’t know. Its violence level is off the charts and it’s certainly NOT a film for the kids, your mother or Father Flannigan! Plus, even if you THINK you like action films, you might just find this one too intense, bloody and violent. Often, Ana kills—much like Sonny Chiba did in his Street Fighter films. But aside from the violence, it’s an exceptional film all around. Heck, even NOW after the movie’s been over for some time, my heart is STILL pounding… it’s that intense and that well made.
*They said the film is NOT set in Puerto Rico and talked about how they can escape to the nearby island of Puerto Rico. But, in reality, the film was actually made in Puerto Rico. I don’t know what this will do for tourism!
**If you SERIOUSLY anticipated all the twists, turns and surprises in this film, drop me a line. You are DEFINITELY psychic and I want to talk to you about the Florida Lottery.
In the Blood
Directed by: John Stockwell
Starring: Gina Carano, Cam Gigandet, Danny Trejo, Luis Guzmán, Stephen Lang, Eloise Mumford, Yvette Yates, Hannah Cowley
Screenplay by: James Robert Johnston, Bennett Yellin
Production Design by: Monica Monserrate
Cinematography by: Pedro Juan López
Film Editing by: Lucas Eskin, Doug Walker
Costume Design by: Milagros Núñez
Set Decoration by: Carmen Marie Colon Mejia
Music by: Paul Haslinger
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language.
Studio: Anchor Bay Films
Release Date: April 4, 2014
In the movie Just A Sigh, actress Alix (Emmanuelle Devos) meets a mysterious Irishman (Gabriel Byrne) on the train to Paris, where she is headed for an audition. Immediately drawn to him from this chance encounter, she follows him, and falls in love with him, before facing what could be a new life.
Alix and Doug were not supposed to meet, but they did. Alix was on a train bound for Paris where she was going to audition for a film, having just left Calais where she had performed in an Ibsen play. Doug, a literature professor, had left England for Paris, where he was to attend the funeral of a dear friend.
They were not supposed to meet and yet they did. They did because Alix, whose relationship with her boyfriend was at a crossroads, fancied this handsome serious-looking gentleman on the Paris-bound train. They did because Doug, although not in the mood for love, quickly fell for her. They were not supposed to meet but their brief encounter would prove to be overwhelming.
Film Review: Just a Sigh
A tonally heterogeneous but emotionally coherent dramedy centered around a beautifully modulated turn by Emmanuelle Devos
Cut off from the daily grind by a dead phone battery and overdrawn credit card, a Gallic actress decides to follow her own whims for a day in “Just a Sigh,” a tonally heterogeneous but emotionally coherent dramedy from Jerome Bonnell (“Queen of Clubs”). This is the young helmer’s fifth and most mature work, frequently using long takes to showcase a beautifully modulated turn from Emmanuelle Devos in something approaching real time. Though tough to pigeonhole genre-wise, the Tribeca competition title should interest upscale arthouse buyers, with the presence of co-star Gabriel Byrne an added marketing bonus.
A striking single take opens the film as it follows Paris-based thesp Alix (Devos) from making a personal phone call backstage to waiting in the wings of a provincial theater before leaping onstage for a performance of Ibsen’s “The Lady From the Sea.” As in that play — never properly excerpted, a classy move that suggests Bonnell isn’t unnecessarily transfixed by intertextuality — the female protag has to choose between the man she shares her life with and a traveling stranger who arouses an inexplicable passion in her.
Alix — whose b.f., Antoine (voiced by Denis Menichot), remains offscreen — meets the mystery man the next day on the early morning train back to Paris, where she has an audition before having to travel back to Calais for an evening performance. They catch each other’s eye, and the man, who turns out to be an English speaker (Byrne), finally makes conversation with her as they arrive, asking for directions to the Basilica of St. Clotilde.
Drowsy, too shy, not entirely at ease in English and perhaps somewhat nervous and absent-minded because of her upcoming tryout, Alix leaves the enigmatic man be when another passenger steps in to give him more precise directions. But after her somewhat humiliating yet extraordinary audition — a simple, one-sided telephone conversation, impressively played in two entirely different registers — Alix’s thoughts drift back to the stranger on the train. Perhaps subconsciously encouraged by the fact that she can’t get hold of Antoine because of her cell-phone issues, she finds herself taking the subway to the church the stranger asked about, where she sees him taking part in a funeral procession.
This is only the film’s setup; less than 30 minutes have passed by the time Alix finds the man, whose name turns out to be Douglas. While it’s always clear what Alix is thinking and going through, Bonnell and Devos have little need for explanatory dialogue; indeed, Alix either is on her own or keeps to herself before tentatively making contact with Douglas, at which point she’s asked to tag along to a bar by another memorial-service attendee, Rodolphe (Gilles Privat).
After its quietly observational but always fully comprehensible character-drama setup, the film eases into whispery romance as Alix and Douglas try to see where their initial spark takes them. A revelation about Alix’s unexpected new role in her relationship with Antoine further puts this unexpected encounter into perspective.
But the film also contains unexpected bursts of humor, starting with Rodolphe’s chuckle-inducing maladroitness, and culminating in a terrific scene that combines high drama and lowbrow comedy when Alix hits up her sister (Aurelia Petit) for cash. Though the lack of access to phones or funds often feels contrived in films, Bonnell uses it here to illustrate character — Alix is insouciant about money and not interested in technology — and, at the same time, to suggest that for one day, she’s a fish out of the water in her hometown, leading her to do things she wouldn’t normally do.
The tonal shifts are all handled smoothly; Devos can switch gears mid-scene like nobody’s business, but Bonnell also keeps things coherent with long takes that let humor, drama and introspection coexist side by side, just like in real life. The use of classical works on the soundtrack by composers such as Vivaldi tries, perhaps a tad too self-consciously, to infuse the film with gravitas, though they’re nicely offset by the different varieties of live music Alix and Douglas encounter as they amble through Paris on what turns out to be World Music Day.
Just a Sigh
Directed by: Jérôme Bonnell
Starring: Emmanuelle Devos, Gabriel Byrne, Gilles Privat, Aurélia Petit, Laurent Capelluto, Denis Ménochet, Sébastien Pouderoux
Screenplay by: Jérôme Bonnell
Production Design by: Anne Bachala
Cinematography by: Pascal Lagriffoul
Film Editing by: Julie Dupré
Costume Design by: Carole Gérard
Music by: Raf Keunen
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Distrib Films
Release Date: March 21, 2014
Eliza Hittman’s powerful debut feature tells the story of Lila (Gina Piersanti, in a stunning debut), a fourteen year old spending a hot summer in a blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood far removed from the bustling city. Awkward, lonely, and often playing the third wheel, Lila is determined to emulate the sexual exploits of her more experienced best friend.
She fixates on Sammy, a tough older guy, when she hears that “he’ll sleep with anyone.” Deluded in her romantic pursuit, Lila tries desperately to insert herself into Sammy’s gritty world, but in doing so she puts herself into a dangerously vulnerable situation.
It Felt Like Love is a 2013 independent drama film, the first feature film directed by Eliza Hittman. It Felt Like Love premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and subsequently screened at such festivals as International Film Festival Rotterdam, Maryland Film Festival and Giffoni Film Festival. It was acquired by Variance Films in November 2013, with a theatrical release in 2014.
Film Review: It Felt Like Love
An evocatively shot, rawly unsentimental coming-of-ager from debut helmer Eliza Hittman, “It Felt Like Love” follows a vulnerable teen who envies the sexual experience of her confident older friend and determines to have a relationship of her own.
An evocatively shot, rawly unsentimental coming-of-ager from debut helmer Eliza Hittman, “It Felt Like Love” follows a vulnerable teen who envies the sexual experience of her confident older friend and determines to have a relationship of her own. The writer-director’s stress on the small, degrading details that attend yearning as well as her protagonist’s desperation and self-deception make it more mood piece than straightforward narrative, but the ultra-confident production proves that Hittman’s a talent to watch. Nevertheless, critical and fest admiration are likely to trump commercial success here. The microbudget indie will next court Euro buyers from Rotterdam’s Tiger competition.
It’s summer in working-class Brooklyn. Wide-eyed, 14-year-old Lila (Gina Piersanti) tries to learn from her experience as third wheel in the relationship of charismatic Chiara (Giovanna Salimeni) and her boyfriend Patrick (Jesse Cordasco). Not only is she witness to their heavy petting sessions on the beach and in the bedroom, but Chiara confides intimate details that virginal Lila only pretends to understand.
When Lila sets her sights on thuggish college boy Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein), she impetuously claims a level of sexual expertise that sets her up for humiliation and heartbreak. Although Sammy isn’t interested, he doesn’t — at first — reject her outright, and the mere fact he answers her texts encourages her to spin more lies: to Chiara, her neighbor Nate (Case Prime), her distracted father (Kevin Anthony Ryan) and herself.
Hittman’s screenplay was written around the talents of her impressive non-pro cast, with the modern-dance expertise of Piersanti and Salimeni, both highly credible thesps, figuring prominently. However, with the central emphasis on Lila’s unsentimental education, the narrative fails to provide the character with enough likability to balance her obsessive pursuit of Sammy and her ill-judged bravado.
In her interactions with her father, Lila comes off a typical sullen teen. It is only late into the film when audiences learn something that might be an underlying psychological factor for her behavior. The odd, unclimactic final scene brings the dance rehearsals full circle, but still feels able to be improved on.
Tightly framed, expressive lensing by Sean Porter (“Eden”) supports the poetic realism of the visuals, and calls to mind the beach photographs of Rineke Dijkstra, Lynne Ramsay’s “Ratcatcher” and Cate Shortland’s “Somersault.” Spot-on costume and accessory design by Sarah Maiorino telegraphs reams of information about the characters while feeling completely natural.
The music is diegetic, with song selections related to the hip-hop and rapping talents of the young male cast. More important is the rich sound design, in which the heartbeat of nature, particularly the roar of the waves, align the audience with the rush of Lila’s emotions.
It Felt Like Love
Directed by: Eliza Hittman
Starring: Gina Piersanti, Giovanna Salimeni, Ronen Rubinstein, Sophia Jurewicz, Anna David, Maria Salimeni, Viktoria Vinyarska
Screenplay by: Eliza Hittman
Production Design by: James Boxer
Cinematography by: Sean Porter
Film Editing by: Scott Cummings
Costume Design by: Sarah Maiorino
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Variance Films
Release Date: March 21, 2014
From the whimsical mind of director Tim Burton, BIG EYES tells the outrageous true story of one of the most epic art frauds in history. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, painter Walter Keane had reached success beyond belief, revolutionizing the commercialization of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes.
The bizarre and shocking truth would eventually be discovered though: Walter’s works were actually not created by him at all, but by his wife Margaret. The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a colossal lie that had fooled the entire world. A tale too incredible to be fiction, BIG EYES centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.
Big Eyes is a 2014 American biographical film directed by Tim Burton, starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. The script was written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The film is about the life of American artist Margaret Keane—famous for drawing portraits and paintings with big eyes. It followed the story of Margaret and her husband, Walter Keane, who took credit for Margaret’s phenomenally successful and popular paintings in the 1950s and 1960s, and the lawsuit (and trial) between Margaret and Walter, after Margaret reveals she is the real artist behind the big eyes paintings.
Big Eyes had its world premiere in New York City on December 15, 2014. It was released in theatre on December 25, 2014 in the U.S. by The Weinstein Company. The film was met with positive reviews, praising the performances of both Adams and Waltz. Adams won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical and was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Waltz was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance and Lana Del Rey received a Golden Globe nomination for the film’s theme song “Big Eyes”.
Taglines: Life can change at the turn of a page.
Michael (Liam Neeson) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction author who has recently left his wife, Elaine (Kim Basinger), and is having a tempestuous affair with Anna (Olivia Wilde), an ambitious young journalist who wants to write and publish fiction.
At the same time, Scott (Adrien Brody), a shady American businessman, is in Italy to steal designs from fashion houses. He meets Monika (Moran Atias), a beautiful Roma woman, who is about to be reunited with her young daughter. When the money she has saved to pay her daughter’s smuggler is stolen, Scott feels compelled to help. They take off together for a dangerous town in Southern Italy, where Scott starts to suspect that he is the patsy in an elaborate con game.
Julia (Mila Kunis), an ex-soap opera actress, is caught in a custody battle for her 6 year-old son with her ex-husband Rick (James Franco), a famous New York artist. With her support cut off and her legal costs ruinous, Julia is reduced to working as a maid in the same upscale boutique hotel where she was once a frequent guest. Julia’s lawyer Theresa (Maria Bello) has secured Julia one final chance to change the court’s mind and be reunited with the child she loves. Rick’s current girlfriend Sam (Loan Chabanol) is a compassionate onlooker.
At its heart, Third Person is much more than a collection of love stories —it is a mystery, a puzzle in which truth is revealed in glimpses, and clues are caught by the corner of the eye — and nothing is truly what it seems.
Third Person is a romantic thriller film directed and written by Paul Haggis and co-starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Moran Atias, Kim Basinger, and Maria Bello. The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.
Review for Third Person
aul Haggis’s new movie, “Third Person,” Anna (Olivia Wilde), a go-getting New York journalist, is having an affair with Michael (Liam Neeson), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist in a funk. In a darkened room in a posh Paris hotel, he tries, with diminishing confidence, to finish writing a book. He flies Anna over, and they taunt each other, make love, play complicated erotic games. They’ve been carrying on this way for two years—fighting keeps the affair alive. Neeson, now sixty-two, is recognizably stalwart—tough-tender and imposing—and it’s a pleasure to see him acting with a woman after so many fantasy characters and man-alone genre movies. The revelation is Wilde.
A slender beauty with high cheekbones, she makes Anna a full-fledged neurotic, candid and demanding and changeable, shifting abruptly from snuggling happiness to angry defiance. At one point, after Michael locks a naked Anna out of his hotel room, she races down the hallway to her own room and falls into bed laughing. Wilde’s Anna seems to have no center, but that’s the point. She’s harboring guilty secrets, as is Michael, and Haggis’s insight in this movie is that guilt doesn’t make people sodden or reclusive. On the contrary, it makes them frantically alive, seeking to grab something they’ve missed.
There are six main characters in “Third Person,” all of whom are just as surprising as Anna and just as messed up. Haggis tells three stories, set in Paris, Rome, and New York, about different kinds of love, and his unifying theme is that a “third person”—a child, an old lover—lingers in the background of every serious relationship. He intercuts the stories, as he did in “Crash” (2004), but this time the characters don’t impinge on one another—at least, not until the end, when he changes our relation to everything we’ve seen.
As we discover, four of the six have failed as parents, sometimes with disastrous results, but “Third Person” is hardly an accusation. Haggis shapes the stories as complicated adventures undertaken by damaged people whose unhappiness compels them to take risks. Much of the dialogue is prickly and intimate—so intimate that, at times, one has the impression that Haggis is unloading personal obsessions into his narratives, as Bergman and Fellini did.
Adrien Brody, whom I have found languid and uninteresting in the past, provides a second revelation. He uses his hollow bemusement and hangdog recessiveness to create an effective portrait of a man in a rut: Scott, a self-disgusted businessman who steals designs from Italian fashion houses in order to make cheap knockoffs in sweatshops. Scott wanders into an American bar in Rome and, in a lengthy scene, which Haggis builds slowly, becomes enthralled by a beautiful and comically hot-tempered woman from Romania, Monika (Moran Atias), who seems to have escaped from a Rome Opera production of “Carmen.” She is carrying five thousand euros in cash to redeem her daughter from smugglers who are holding the girl in a boat.
The story doesn’t quite make sense, especially as Monika rushes out of the bar, leaving the money behind. But Scott is roused from his self-absorption by the woman’s crazy vivacity, and he tries to help her out. Is he being conned? He doesn’t much care: Monika is funny and street-smart in ways that he could never be. Brody, energized now, enters into Scott’s passion with the mixed fascination and fear of a man who may be throwing his life away but is happy to be doing something decisive at last.
The tale dominated by Mila Kunis, as Julia, a rattled New Yorker, lacks the exuberant spirit of the other two. Julia is one of those infuriating people who can’t pull themselves together, no matter how high the stakes. Broke, disorganized, always late, she has lost custody of her little boy, whom she longs for; a year earlier, she may have hurt the child. Her ex-husband, a famous artist (James Franco, uncharacteristically fierce), has had her cut off financially and her visitation rights blocked. Kunis, scrambling through the city, gives the ultimate in desperate, bottom-dog performances—those saucer eyes never stop pleading. Haggis treats this screwup with great sympathy, recounting her cascading dilemmas in sorrowful detail. Life in the world Haggis creates is marked by bizarre coincidences, missed opportunities, and terrible luck. Living it isn’t easy for anyone.
Directed by: Paul Haggis
Starring: Olivia Wilde, Caroline Goodall, James Franco, Maria Bello, Moran Atias, Mila Kunis, Adam Brody, David Harewood, Liam Neeson, Kim Basinger
Screenplay by: Paul Haggis
Cinematography by: Gianfilippo Corticelli
Film Editing by: Jo Francis
Costume Design by: Sonoo Mishra
Set Decoration by: Raffaella Giovannetti
Art Direction by: Dimitri Capuani, Luca Tranchino
Music by: Dario Marianelli
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexuality / nudity.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: June 20, 2014
Based on a true story, Infinitely Polar Bear is a funny and heartbreaking portrait of the many unexpected ways in which parents and children save each other.
While most fathers spend their days at work, Cam Stuart (Mark Ruffalo) is more likely to be found mushroom-hunting, cooking elaborate meals, or working on one of his many half-completed projects. His family’s wealth keeps his family just barely afloat, while Cam struggles to live with manic depression. When Cam has a manic breakdown that lands him in a mental hospital, his wife Maggie (Zoe Saldana) and their two young daughters, Amelia and Faith, are forced to leave their house in the country and move into a cramped apartment in Cambridge, where Maggie tries to find a decent job, with no luck.
Broke, stressed, and overwhelmed, Maggie applies to business school and is accepted to Columbia University’s MBA program. Seeing this as her chance to build a better life for their daughters, Maggie asks Cam to become the primary caregiver for the girls while she completes her degree in New York. After all, routine is what the doctor ordered and the girls miss their dad. Cam agrees, hoping to rebuild his family. But the two spirited girls are not interested in making things easy for him.
With Maggie away in New York, Cam quickly realizes that he’s in over his head. Over the course of the next 18 months, as Maggie rushes to complete her degree, he learns, through trial and a lot of error, how to take care of his precocious daughters as well as himself. After years of struggling to find his place in the world, Cam may finally have found where he fits in.
Infinitely Polar Bear
Directed by: Maya Forbes
Starring: Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, Keir Dullea, Wallace Wolodarsky, William Xifaras, Mary O’Rourke
Screenplay by: Maya Forbes
Production Design by: Carl Sprague
Cinematography by: Bobby Bukowski
Film Editing by: Michael R. Miller
Set Decoration by: Jennifer Engel
Costume Design by: Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
MPAA Rating: R for language.
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Release Date: January 18, 2014
Taglines: One guy can ruin the perfect relationship.
At 29, the most long-term relationship Sasha (Leighton Meester) and Paige (Gillian Jacobs) have ever been in is with each other, using their co-dependent friendship as an excuse not to venture out into the dating world alone. But when Paige meets nerdy Tim (Adam Brody) and starts to get serious for the first time, the nature of their friendship begins to shift. Fearing she’s being cast aside, Sasha tries to keep their relationship the same, but does growing up also mean growing apart?
Life Partners is an American comedy film directed by Susanna Fogel and co-written with Joni Lefkowitz. It is Fogel’s feature film directorial debut. The film stars Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Brody, Greer Grammer, Gabourey Sidibe, and Julie White. The film premiered on April 18, 2014 at the Tribeca Film Festival in the Spotlight section. The film was released on November 6, 2014 on demand platforms, and in select theaters on December 5, 2014.
Set in Minneapolis, Minnesota, principal photography began in April 2013 and lasted 19 days. The film was primarily shot in Glendale, California and Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. Some scenes were shot at Griffith Park and at Long Beach, California during the Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride. Other scenes were also filmed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Minneapolis skyline and a few Minneapolis landmarks are also shown in the film.
We’ve all had a best friend. Especially for women, this relationship is as intense as any romantic partnership we will ever have. She’s the person we share our innermost fears with, the person who drives us to the emergency room, the person we bring as our date to weddings. Particularly nowadays, when people are encouraged to take their time in committing romantically, these quasi-marital friendships can last well into our 20s if not 30s, and are a huge part of the Zeitgeist.
It’s surprising, then, how rarely these friendships are accurately portrayed in American films. In mainstream romantic comedies, we’re treated to the “comic relief sidekick” friend who is unflaggingly supportive of the movie’s protagonist (and overly interested in her love life). And we’ve seen the onscreen frenemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage her “best friend” through broad set pieces that sometimes literally involve hair-pulling. But what about that person you love more than anyone in the world…but still talk about behind her back and find yourself subtly one-upping when you’re feeling insecure?
That person you love so much that it kills you to see her making mistakes and why doesn’t she just listen to you when you tell her how to fix her life? That person who drives you so crazy with her passive-aggressive crap that when you complain about it to the guy you’re dating, he can’t help but ask why you’re still friends with her because he just doesn’t get it? It’s that friendship my cowriter Joni and I set out to study with this film, in the tradition of films like Nicole Holofcener’s Walking and Talking that are unparalleled in their realism about female friendship and its absurd amazingness.
Just as we believe there’s a dearth of honest films about female friendships, we also feel a need for films about gays and lesbians having relatable experiences in a diverse world. Joni and I identify differently (she’s gay, I’m straight) and we wanted to represent her community without focusing a narrative on “coming out” or emphasizing the politics of her sexuality in a way that would make the film niche. On the contrary, we wanted to universalize it. Not only did we want to show a platonic gay-straight friendship where neither character is romantically interested in the other, but in executing the script as a director, I strived for accessibility.
In casting, I sought actresses who were widely known and broadly appealing to play lesbians, like Leighton Meester who lends so much credibility, nuance and heart to a role that could not be further from her role on GOSSIP GIRL. As for her straight counterpart, I tried to avoid the plight of the generic romantic comedy heroine by casting Gillian Jacobs, an actress known for her quirky personality and cult comedy fanbase.
As far as my aesthetic approach to directing this film, I aimed for a combination of real and slightly elevated. I’ve always admired directors like Cameron Crowe who combine naturalistic writing and performances with a real sense of style that lends an element of wish fulfillment, fun and entertainment. With this in mind, I tried to encourage moments of spontaneity and raw emotion, while still delivering the scripted comedy and avoiding an overly improvisational or haphazard feel. I approached production design, costume and music with this same philosophy in mind, always aiming for a combination of real and slightly elevated.
With all that said, my hope with LIFE PARTNERS is to deliver a female friendship comedy that resonates and entertains, hitting that sweet spot between a “film” and a “movie” as it explores the universal theme of friendship…along with some related themes (sexuality, women at the center of their own narrative, to name two) that deserve more of a spotlight.
“Leighton especially was really fun to transform from this gossip girl to someone who was representative of the lesbian community and who wasn’t passing as a lipstick lesbian. She doesn’t have a lot of money, she is thrift shopping her stuff or is inheriting it from different people or had it since college and I think making that evident was incredibly important, so we did that. Everything she wears is from a thrift shop or borrowed – it was a beg borrow and steal kind of movie.”
“Your mid to late 20s are such a hard time to dress yourself because you don’t have the money to be the professional you want to be but you need to look professional and that’s something PAIGE has really nailed that SASHA hasn’t figured out. PAIGE is really reveling in being this young lawyer on a career path, and even in her casual wear, you see that.”
The rest of the team came together quickly but efficiently and in April 2013, the 19-day shoot began. Set in Minneapolis, LIFE PARTNERS was shot entirely on the east side of LA, primarily in Glendale and Eagle Rock.
The strong relationship between Leftowitz, Fogel and Mollick extended to their cast and crew, their relaxed professionalism creating a sense of ease and comfort for anyone on set. Fogel’s supportive and good-natured attitude as a director proved incredibly impactful. Meester elaborates, “She’s really ahead of what a lot of people are capable of at her age and especially for somebody who is directing their first feature, I’ve never seen someone be so humble and confident, creative, in tune, and collaborative.” Jacobs adds, “It’s one of the calmest sets I’ve ever been on and for a first time director, that’s really an accomplishment. Everyone seems happy to be at work every day and everything went smoothly. I’ve worked on a lot of movies this size where that is not the case and I think Susanna sets the tone, so it’s been really great.”
Even when Meester & Jacobs had an evening shoot in an unheated pool, playful shrieking and humming the Super Mario Brothers theme took the place of any potential complaining. Their immediate bond didn’t go unnoticed.
“With this the friendship connection between the girls is so important, you’re kind of just taking a gamble,” says Fogel. “You have meetings with each one and if you feel like they would like each other, you just roll the dice on that, but we’re glad they ended up really clicking and becoming friends.” Lefkowitz continues, “I’m sure by the last day they were speaking another language. On day one, everyone was a little nervous and tense but seriously, by day two, they were humping each other before every take, we were like ‘WHAT is happening?’ – we’re just so lucky we found two people with such an odd sense of humor, like Gillian would come to set in a tree costume and they would make crazy videos, they just thought the same weird things were funny and made the same weird voices when they would rehearse their scenes. They related to each other in that weird way and that’s just luck that they were both the same brand of abnormal.”
Jacobs adds, “This movie is all about our friendship and you don’t really know when you meet each other what you’re actually like and turns out she’s a freak like me, so it’s been awesome…we both realized we were goofy weirdoes early on. It’s fun to have someone like that, where you can be as weird as you want to be. The whole crew was kind of like that on this film so it was a fun, silly environment for us.”
The last day of shooting, which took place at Griffith Park, production bought a food truck for the crew and Brody brought in more cupcakes from his favorite bakery than a small independent film crew could possibly eat. It is worth noting not a cast or crew member was absent at the wrap party where karaoke was involved and shirts featuring an inside joke from set printed on the front were disseminated among the group.
Heading towards the film’s festival run, Fogel & Lefkowitz ruminate on how far they have come. “There’s so much that we reflect on and write about that comes from our friendship and how much we’ve changed over the years,” says Fogel. “We always mine our own lives and experiences for stories, but when we met we were both so different. Joni wasn’t out of the closet yet and I was a weird insecure pretentious indie rock person. We evolved into grownups together and we will continue to do that over the next few decades. Having met right after college and now being in our 30s and making this big leap to this next phase of our careers is exciting to do together.”
Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Starring: Leighton Meester, Gillian Jacobs. Adam Brody, Mark Feuerstein, Julie White, Abby Elliot, Greer Grammer, Kate McKinnon, Beth Dover, Gabourey Sidibe
Screenplay by: Susanna Fogel, Joni Lefkowitz
Production Design by: Matt Luem
Cinematography by: Brian Burgoyne
Film Editing by: Kiran Pallegadda
Costume Design by: Courtney Hoffman
Set Decoration by: Danielle Laubach
Art Direction by: Nicolas Kelley
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content.
Studio; Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: December 5, 2014
Taglines: Love Accidentally.
Take Care” is a comedy about a woman (Leslie Bibb), who returns home from the hospital after getting hit by a car, only to realize no one wants to take care of her. After being brushed off by her sister, (Nadia Dajani), best friend, (Marin Ireland) and neighbor, (Michael Stahl-David) she reluctantly asks an ex-boyfriend, (Thomas Sadoski) to help her.
When a car crash leaves Frannie immobilized, she is brushed off by everyone she can count on. With nowhere else to turn, Frannie reluctantly calls her ex, Devon, for help. It isn’t before long that old wounds emerge and are made worse when Devon’s crazy new girlfriend shows up.
Directed by: Liz Tuccillo
Starring: Leslie Bibb, Thomas Sadoski, Betty Gilpin, Michael Stahl David, Nadia Dajani, Marin Ireland, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Tracee Chimo, Michael Godere
Screenplay by: Liz Tuccillo
Production Design by: Jacqueline Jacobson Scarfo
Cinematography by: Anne Etheridge
Film Editing by: John Carhart
Costume Design by: Sarah Mae Burton
Set Decoration by: Anna Pasz
Music by: Elegant Too
Studio: Phase 4 Films
Release Date: December 5, 2014