Month: April 2016
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”.