New INSTERSTELLAR Poster Will Not Be the End of Us

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Warner Bros. and Paramount have released a new Interstellar poster online.  The film stars Matthew McConaughey and revolves around a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole “to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.”  Like the teaser poster, the tagline is a mix of fatalism and optimism, and I’m curious to see if that will mirror the tone of the picture.  As for the shot of McConaughey in the spacesuit, his expression is inscrutable.  Is it determined?  Confused?  Hungry?  He’s a real actor now, so it’s layered.

Hit the jump to check out the new Interstellar poster.  The film also stars Anne HathawayJessica ChastainCasey AffleckMichael Caine, David OyelowoWes BentleyJohn LithgowEllen BurstynTopher GraceDavid GyasiMackenzie FoyBill IrwinTimothée Chalamet, and Matt Damon.  Interstellar opens in traditional theaters and IMAX on November 7th.

Atlanta Readers: Win Passes to See THE EQUALIZER

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Now that the summer movie season has cooled off and we’ve pushed past the Labor Day doldrums, we’re now headed into the fall with plenty of exciting movies to put on your radar, so our screenings invites are heating back up.  We’re kicking it off with The Equalizer, which has Denzel Washington being a badass, a formula that audiences tend to love.  In the film, Washington plays an ex-CIA agent who comes out of retirement to save a young woman (Chloë Grace Moretz) from the Russian mob.  The movie tested so well that Sony is already developing a sequel.

I’m pleased to announce we’re giving away 20 admit-two passes to the Atlanta screening of The Equalizer.  Hit the jump to find out how you can see the movie early and for free.  The film also stars Bill Pullman and Melissa LeoThe Equalizer opens September 26th.

Obi-Wan Kenobi Spin-off Possibly in the Works; New STAR WARS: EPISODE VII Rumors Revealed

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While our attention is mainly on Star Wars: Episode VII (as it should be), we have to keep in mind that in addition to the sequels, we’re also getting spin-offs.  Personally, I wish these spin-offs would expand the universe with new characters and new worlds, but early rumors indicate that the focus will be on established characters such as Han Solo, Boba Fett, and Yoda.  Now another spin-off rumor has surfaced, and it claims that an Obi-Wan Kenobi will have his own movie.  “For the spin-off movies they were initially going to stay away from any Jedi or Sith characters,” reports Making Star Wars, “But I’m hearing now that because of the popularity of Obi-Wan (fans recently voting for him on the official website etc) that an art team is now working with a writer on concepts for an Obi-Wan movie.”

Hit the jump for new rumors on Star Wars: Episode VII.  However, be warned that these rumors for Episode VII could be possible spoilers.

THE IMITATION GAME Wins 2014 TIFF Audience Award; Makes Headway in Oscar Race

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The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival ends today, and TIFF has announced this year’s Audience Award winner.  Audience members vote by dropping their ticket into a ballot box after a screening if they like a film, and this year they really liked Morten Tyldum’s drama, The Imitation Game.  The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing and focuses on his efforts to break the Germans’ code during World War II.  I saw the movie and quite enjoyed it, and while it wasn’t my favorite at the festival (that would be While We’re Young), I can understand why audiences went for it.  Click here for my review.

I’ll leave the official Oscar prognosticating to Adam and his Oscar Beat column, but I will say this: five of the last six TIFF Audience Award winners have gone on to be nominated for Best Picture; three of them won (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and 12 Years a Slave).  Hit the jump for the press release, which includes the runners up as well as the Audience Award winners for Midnight Madness and Documentary.


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Homeless people are cursed with invisibility.  We see them but don’t see them.  We know their behavior, but refuse to acknowledge these people for a variety of personal reasons.  Perhaps we ignore the homeless because they’re a direct look at human suffering on our streets, and we feel helpless to do anything substantial to change their circumstances.  Oren Moverman’s Time out of Mind is well intentioned in its desire to depict the daily life of a homeless person, but the director can’t develop this depiction as anything more than a distant, almost cold observation.  Additionally, Richard Gere is horribly miscast in the lead role, which further pushes us away from an issue we’d prefer to ignore in the first place.

BIG GAME Review | TIFF 2014

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A good thirty minutes into Jalmari Helander’s Big Game, a thought arises that never ceases to fade: “Shouldn’t I be having more fun considering the goofy premise?”  It’s a kid in the wilderness who’s forced to protect the President of the United States.  Then you cast Samuel L. Jackson—a man whose ubiquity and longevity in spite of some seriously questionable choice in projects is a testament to his enduring popularity—as the President. Unfortunately, while Helander and co-writer Petri Jokiranta have a promising set-up, they’re never certain if they should let the comedy come from playing it straight or if they should go broad and silly, so the film ends up falling into bland ambivalence.

’71 Review | TIFF 2014

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It’s incredibly exciting to watch emerging talent in movies.  It usually comes in a film that’s completely flying under the radar, you manage to catch it, and then you reach that wonderful position where you get to champion artists.  For a film critic, that feeling is the best, and Yann Demange’s ’71 is a film worth cheering for.  The movie itself is actually grim and intense, but that’s because it’s so damn effective thanks to Demange’s brilliant direction, Gregory Burke’s script, Tat Radcliffe’s cinematography, and Chris Wyatt’s editing.  And at the center is Jack O’Connell, who proves that his past success was no fluke.  He’s the real deal in a movie that’s too daring for Hollywood and all the better for it.

99 HOMES Review | TIFF 2014

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In my experience, home ownership is viewed as a right of passage in America.  We’ve heard of “the lawn with the white picket fence”, but no one celebrates living in the three-room apartment.  Our homes aren’t just where we keep our stuff or rest our heads.  They are part of our identity and more importantly, our family’s identity.  In the wake of the 2008 economic crash, that identity was ripped away as millions of homes were put into foreclosure.  In a country where we don’t build anything anymore, and instead just move things around, Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes is a heart-wrenching look at the foreclosure crisis, and with the help of incredible performances from Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, depicts how vultures are feasting in 21st century America.

GOOD KILL Review | TIFF 2014

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Writer-director Andrew Niccol has some thoughts about drone warfare, and he wants to share them with you.  His new film, Good Kill, is one of the first mainstream fiction films to deal directly with the subject as opposed to some wishy-washy, pretentious subtext in a Hollywood picture (I’m looking at you, RoboCop remake).  While Niccol once again shows himself to be a great “idea man”, he can’t manage to create a story even half as interesting as his subject.


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Daniel Barber’s The Keeping Room begins with a quote from Union General William Tecumseh Sherman: “War is cruelty, there is no use trying to reform it; the crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”  The Keeping Room takes place during war, but it is not about war, at least not in the traditional sense of soldiers on a battlefield.  It is more about cruelty; specifically, the cruelty visited upon women.  The threat of rape pervades the entire story, and Barber maintains the tension without ever feeling exploitative.  Although the dialogue can be a little too on the nose, the weight of the narrative and Brit Marling’s powerful performance make the dread palatable throughout this painfully relevant tale.

RED ARMY Review | TIFF 2014

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When it comes to American sports, we love our individual figures: Babe Ruth, Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky.  It’s part of the individualistic nature of county, and while we’re not against teams, we prefer legends.  There’s an entire movie set around 1980’s “Miracle on Ice”, but with Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) at the center.  These sports legends reinforce our notions of what we aspire to be. “History is written by the victors”, Churchill said, but sometimes the more interesting stories come from the defeated.  Gabe Polsky’s superb sports documentary Red Army crosses the Atlantic to explore how hockey was viewed in Russia, and how their culture affected their play and their players.  Filled with terrific mini-narratives within its larger context, Red Army is deeply insightful and constantly entertaining.

ROSEWATER Review | TIFF 2014

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Gael Garcia Bernal plays incarcerated journalist Maziar Bahari in Rosewater, but writer-director Jon Stewart is the true lead.  For fans for The Daily Show, his personality shines through every episode, and it’s one that has become wearied over the years as news coverage has declined at an exponential rate.  His hopes for a better world have become a life raft, and his refusal to give into cynicism is what keeps his directorial debut afloat even if it veers into being earnest to the point of cheesiness.  Rosewater may not have much depth, but Stewart’s personal connection to the story—both professional and ideological—give it an abundance of heart.


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I love learning behind-the-scenes stories about movies, and the crazier the movie and the production team behind it, the better.  During the 1980s, no major studio was making movies like Cannon, which was run by Israelis Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.  Their schlocky movies have developed a cult following over the years, and although some of it is ironic appreciation, the stories behind those films are fascinating.  In his new documentary, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, director Mark Hartley regales us with wild anecdotes and clips, and while the structure is a bit scattershot, it’s still an exciting and hilarious look at the madness that went into creating delightfully loony pictures.

THE REACH Review | TIFF 2014

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I like the premise of humans hunting other humans for sport because it’s delightfully ludicrous and perversely entertaining.  It’s a lean, direct concept that removes the frills to become a battle of wits between the hunter and “the most dangerous game”.  For the majority of its runtime, Jean-Baptiste Léonetti’s The Reach sits comfortably inside this framework.  The story takes the occasional shortcut, but it also works in some subtext about economic inequality, which is a nice touch.  However, as the movie starts winding down, I realized I was perhaps giving Léonetti too much credit as The Reach crashes and burns in spectacular fashion.


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In my review of Joe, I mentioned how I liked David Gordon Green’s return to smaller, character driven stories.  His newest film, Manglehorn, is another character piece, and while I stand by my appreciation for his decision to make this kind of movie, it also failed to hook me.  It’s an interesting film in how it tries to handle a character who is an intriguing collection of contradictions with regards to how he interacts with others, but eventually his navel-gazing and obsession with a lost love becomes tedious.

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