Ari Folman‘s The Congress is a trip in more ways than one. It’s visuals are lush and its ideas are rich. Like Folman’s previous film, Waltz with Bashir, the writer-director isn’t using animation only as visual expression, but also bolsters the themes by using the form in the first place. The filmmaker carefully builds his movie like a house of cards by trying to use the acting profession as a spring board and then expanding it to an exploration of self-definition, dreams, hallucinations, and detachment from reality. The film can be so head-spinning that it’s possible to get dizzy and lose focus, but when The Congress is on point, it’s as fascinating as it gorgeous.
One of my favorite films of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival was David Gordon Green‘s Joe. Nicolas Cage plays the eponymous character who is trying to live a quiet life in a rural town, but must confront his inner demons when he meets and wants to protect Gary Jones (Tye Sheridan), a young man in danger of following in the footsteps of Joe’s dark past. It’s a terrific movie, and I’m so glad that audiences will be able to see it next month.
Joe will open this year’s Atlanta Film Festival, so I got the chance to interview Green and Sheridan. During our conversation, we talked about moving from studio features to a trilogy of indies (Prince Avalanche, Joe, and the upcoming Manglehorn), viewing the film as a western, Joe as the last man on the frontier, Green and Sheridan’s upcoming projects, the festival circuit, and much more. There’s also a fun story of how Cage got Sheridan into a Snoop Dogg concert. Hit the jump to check out the interview. The 2014 Atlanta Film Festival begins tonight and runs to April 6th. Joe opens in theaters and on VOD on April 11th.
At the very least, the 2013 Atlanta Film Festival will open strong and close great. The festival has announced that their opening night film will be Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. It’s a deeply southern film that some have compared to a lost Mark Twain novel, and it’s a fitting opener to this year’s AFF. Furthermore, the festival will close out with one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year, The Spectacular Now from Athens, Georgia native James Ponsoldt, who previously won the Atlanta Film Festival’s 2008 Screenwriting Competition and the 2003 Perfect Pitch Award. I don’t know what films will be in between, but I can say without hesitation that you should rush out to get tickets for these two movies.
Click here to go to Atlanta Film Festival’s website, and you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook. The 2013 Atlanta Film Festival runs from March 15 – 24th.
Atlanta Film Festival 365 runs, “Eat, Drink & B-Indie”, a monthly conversation on the third Tuesday of every month where they talk “with Atlanta and Georgia filmmakers about a specific film, company, group or collective as we talk about their projects and network.” This month, they’ve been generous enough to invite me to be their guest, and I would love to meet and talk with Collider’s Atlanta readers. I have no idea what people want to talk about (nothing but Identity Thief questions), but I’m more than happy to answer your questions.
The event is free and will be held at the excellent Manuel’s Tavern [602 N Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30307] (I recommend the burger or the jerk chicken) on Tuesday, February 19th from 7:30 – 9:30pm. Also, since you’ll be in the neighborhood, I strongly suggest going across the street to the independently-owned rental place, Videodrome. Their selection of indie films is mind-blowing.
I’m excited for the return of Game of Thrones even though I full expect major character deaths and everyone being shitty to each other. I haven’t read the books, but this is the expectation based off the first season. Anticipation for season two is reaching fever pitch, and Atlanta folks will have a chance to break the fever early. As we previously reported, the Atlanta Film Festival is showing the premiere of Game of Thrones on the big screen, but we didn’t know what date. I assumed it would be on April 1st since that’s when everyone else is getting to see it, but HBO and Xfinity are giving fans in Atlanta a chance to see season two premiere a bit earlier. Hit the jump for more.
The line-up for this year’s 2012 Atlanta Film Festival has been announced. The festival will open with the comedy L!fe Happens starring Krysten Ritter, Kate Bosworth, and Rachel Bilson. I don’t know about the opener (I love Ritter), but ATLFF will have a popular closer with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods finishing out the festival. In between there’s some must-see stuff like Compliance (one of the best films I saw at Sundance), God Bless America (I didn’t care for it, but I was in the minority when I saw it at TIFF), the charming and Oscar-nominated Monsieur Lazhar, the horror anthology V/H/S, and the drama The Woman in the Fifth starring Ethan Hawke and Kristen Scott Thomas. Also, ATLFF has wisely recognized the cinematic quality of Game of Thrones and so in partnership with HBO and Xfinity, the festival will be showing the premiere of Season 2 at the Rialto Center for the Arts.
Hit the jump for the press release, which includes the full line-up. The 2012 Atlanta Film Festival runs from March 23 – April 1st.
[Things Fall Apart screened at this year's Atlanta Film Festival.]
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson can’t act. It’s not a slam against his character; it’s just something he can’t do. But his lack of acting ability is an absolute killer in the Mario Van Peebles drama Things Fall Apart where Jackson takes on the role of a football player who gets cancer. Jackson seriously committed to making a full-on physical transformation for the role, but he apparently couldn’t be bothered to take an acting lesson, which makes all of his hard work seem like a waste. Even if the film didn’t hinge on Jackson’s performance, it would still be beset by maudlin clichés, irritating supporting characters, and poor direction.
[Terri screened as the opening night film of this year's Atlanta Film Festival. It will be released in theaters on July 1st]
The coming-of-age genre has become so tired and packed with quirk that the majority of recent indie films in the genre are a chore. Azazel Jacobs’ Terri dodges the cliches and the quirks that have made the genre intolerable, but the film never replaces them with anything coherent or thoughtful. In its desire to keep its characters from being caricatures, the story pulls too far back and almost seems afraid to provide anything distinctive.
In the latest installment of the Running Dialogue, Russ Fischer of /Film, Curt Holman of Creative Loafing: Atlanta, and I sat down with Gabe Wardell, the Executive Director of the Atlanta Film Festival, which is currently running through April 23rd. We had a good discussion about this year’s festival, what films you should go check out, and how the staff of the Atlanta Film Festival chooses its selections. Our discussion of AFF also led to a greater discussion about the value of all film festivals both for critics and causal moviegoers.
Click here to listen to listen to Episode 6 of Running Dialogue. As always, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Last month, I was flattered to receive an invitation from Atlanta Film Festival 365 to speak on a panel about film criticism; specifically, what it means in the digital age, what stands for expertise, and does criticism even matter any more in face of the relentless democracy of the Internet? From the print side was President and Publisher of Paste Magazine, Tim Regan-Porter. The fact that AFF thought I was good enough to sit on the same panel as Tim was an honor in and of itself. I also would like to thank AFF Communications Director Charles Judson for inviting me on the panel and AFF Executive Director Gabe Wardell for moderating.
After the jump, I’ve included the full panel discussion, which ran about an hour and ten minutes and is divided into eight parts. These remarks are off-the-cuff and I apologize if I unintentionally offended any individual. As for offending folks en masse, I’m okay with that.