My Year of Film Festivals: Looking Back at Sundance, SXSW, TIFF, and Fantastic Fest

by     Posted 1 year, 204 days ago

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I went to more film festivals this year than I ever had before.  I went to Sundance in January, SXSW in March, and TIFF and Fantastic Fest this month.  It’s exhausting, but it’s fun.  I see it as a nice break from the grind of delivering news stories.  It’s not that news is bad, or that it doesn’t have value, but it’s nice seeing the final product of the smaller films we’ve reported on since we probably only heard of them from a casting story as opposed to an onslaught of trailers and posters.  Obviously, there are film festivals where there are marquee titles making their last big push before opening in wide release (Sundance is the only festival where the biggest films—those filled with recognizable actors—might not even have distributors let alone a release date).  But it’s always a nice variety, and each festival has its own flavor.

After the jump hit the jump for my impressions of each festival.

Writer-Director Jonathan Kasdan THE FIRST TIME Interview

by     Posted 2 years, 66 days ago

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One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director Jonathan Kasdan‘s (In the Land of Women) The First Time.  The film stars Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville and Victoria Justice.  Like Richard Linklater‘s Before Sunrise (one of my favorite films), The First Time is about watching two people fall in love, except instead of taking place over one night in Vienna, The First Time takes place over a weekend and it’s about two High School students.  While I’ve seen many High School celluloid love stories crash and burn before the end credits, Kasdan pulled me in with believable dialogue, realistic situations, and he reminded me what it feels like to be seventeen and unsure of everything.  While I saw a lot of films at this year’s Sundance, The First Time was one of my favorites.

Shortly after the Festival ended, I sat down with Kasdan for an extended interview.  We talked about Sundance, the influence of Before Sunrise, how he used his own personal experiences in the script, casting, getting financing, the contrast between making studio movies versus smaller films, improv vs. sticking to the script, future projects, the irony of “discovering” talent such as Kristen Stewart before they are “box office gold,” and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim and Will Forte Talk TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE

by     Posted 2 years, 67 days ago

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One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (which is now playing on VOD and in theaters March 2).  The pic marks the first feature-length film from the comedy duo of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim and it stars Zach Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, Will Forte and Jeff Goldblum.   It’s pretty much what you’re expecting from the oddball team.  For more on the film, here’s the red band and the green band trailer.

During Sundance I was able to sit down with Heidecker, Wareheim and Forte for an extended interview.  We talked about premiering at Sundance, how the project came together, is the movie more scripted than their TV work, their thoughts on VOD, what will be on the DVD/Blu-ray, financing, what’s coming up for the three of them, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Director Colin Trevorrow and Screenwriter Derek Connolly Talk SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED at Sundance

by     Posted 2 years, 72 days ago

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One of the many films that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was director Colin Trevorrow‘s Safety Not Guaranteed.  Written by Derek Connolly, the film’s about a trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad that seeks a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and tries to discover what he’s really up to.  It’s based on a real ad that was passed around the internet in 2005 and the movie stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni.  Shortly after premiering, FilmDistrict bought the film, so you can look forward to seeing it at some point in the future.  For more on the film, you can read Matt’s review.

After seeing the movie, I got to sit down with Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly for an extended interview. We talked about premiering at Sundance, how they first met, casting, how they secured financing, filming multiple endings, using the brand new Sony F3 to shoot the film, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch the interview.

Acquisition News: Weinstein Company Picks Up BACHELORETTE, Image Acquires GOATS, and Anchor Bay Nabs EXCISION

by     Posted 2 years, 72 days ago

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The 2012 Sundance Film Festival may be over, but the acquisitions are not. We’ve got three such stories to share with you today. First up, The Weinstein Company has closed a deal for North American distribution rights to the raunchy comedy Bachelorette. The film stars Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott, and James Marsden and centers on four high school friends who reunite when the least popular of the group gets engaged to one of the most eligible bachelors in New York City. Matt praised the candidly despicable portrayal of the main characters, but was disappointed when the film tried to redeem their behavior towards the end. You can read his review here.

Deadline reports that The Weinstein Company plans on releasing the film through their new label Radius, which focuses on multi-platform release strategies. They plan on releasing Bachelorette on a multi-platform day and date release with a theatrical component. Hit the jump for acquisition news concerning the David Duchovny pic Goats and the horror film Excision.

Writer-Director Andrea Arnold Talks WUTHERING HEIGHTS at Sundance

by     Posted 2 years, 72 days ago

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At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, I was able to sit down with writer-director Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, Red Road) for an extended interview about her adaptation of Wuthering Heights that stars James Howson, Kaya Scodelario, Steve Evets, and Nichola Burley.  Here’s the short synopsis:

“What would you do if you were denied your soulmate? The passionate tale of Heathclith and Cathy, two teenagers whose elemental love for each other creates a storm of vengeance. From Andrea Arnold, comes a new take on the classic, a startling vision of desire and obsession.”

Like her previous films, Arnold has added a realistic take to the material, and it was one of my favorite films at Sundance.   During the interview, Arnold talked about being at Sundance, how she got involved in the project, her writing process, having the film vary its aesthetic depending on the characters age,  what she learned from showing the movie to friends, film vs. digital, what she has coming up, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to read or listen to the interview.

Rosemarie Dewitt Talks NOBODY WALKS, NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH, THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 2 years, 73 days ago

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Nobody Walks, directed by Ry Russo-Young (You Won’t Miss Me), was one of the many films that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  Written by Lena Dunham and Russo-Young, the ensemble drama stars John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga and Justin Kirk.  In the film, “Krasinski plays Peter, a Hollywood sound designer who’s agreed to help Martine (Thirlby) with her experimental art film as a favor to his wife (DeWitt). Martine, a beautiful and driven 23-year-old artist, comes to stay in the family’s pool house at their posh Silver Lake home, and her arrival ignites raw emotions and desires throughout the entire family.” Ennenga plays the daughter.  Since premiering, Magnolia picked up the film for domestic distribution, so you’ll be able to see it at some point down the road.

During my interview with Rosemarie Dewitt we talked about being at Sundance, who she plays in Nobody Walks and what it’s about, how the story changed along the way, karaoke and more.  In addition, since Dewitt just finished shooting Neighborhood Watch (which stars Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade), she talked about who she plays and what it’s about.  We also talked about Your Sister’s Sister and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Hit the jump to watch.

Directors Jake Schreier and Screenwriter Christopher D. Ford Talk ROBOT AND FRANK at Sundance

by     Posted 2 years, 73 days ago

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One of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was director Jake Schreier‘s Robot and Frank.  The film is set in the near future and centers on an elderly ex-jewel thief (Frank Langella) whose kids (James Marsden and Liv Tyler) give him a caretaker robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), sparking an unlikely friendship. Susan Sarandon plays a librarian who serves as Langella’s only friend.  Since premiering at the festival, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Samuel Goldwyn Films picked up the film for distribution, so you can expect to see it for yourself later this year.  For more on the film, you can read Matt’s review.

Right after seeing the film I got to sit down with Jake Schreier and screenwriter Christopher D. Ford.   During the interview we talked about the origin of the movie, how the script changed along the way, how they got financing, the design of the robot, the quick shooting schedule, what they learned during friends and family screenings, premiering at Sundance, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to either read or listen to the interview.

Mark Duplass Talks SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, Alex Kurtzman’s WELCOME TO PEOPLE, THE SKELETON TWINS, THE DO-DECA PENTATHLON at Sundance

by     Posted 2 years, 75 days ago

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One of the many films that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was director Colin Trevorrow‘s Safety Not Guaranteed.  Written by Derek Connolly, the film’s about a trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad that seeks a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and tries to discover what he’s really up to.  It’s based on a real ad that was passed around the internet in 2005 and the movie stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni.  Shortly after premiering, FilmDistrict bought the film, so you can look forward to seeing it at some point in the future.  For more on the film, you can read Matt’s review.

After seeing the movie, I got to sit down with Mark Duplass for an extended interview. We talked about being at Sundance, how he got involved in Safety Not Guaranteed and what it’s about, what it was like to watch the film for the first time with a big crowd at Sundance, and how the film changed during production.  In addition, since Duplass is involved in a number of other projects, we talked about the directorial debut of Alex Kurtzman (Welcome to People), The Skeleton Twins (Bill Hader and Anna Faris as twins), Jeff Who Lives at Home, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, The League, and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch the interview.

TOP 5: WATCHMEN Prequel Comics, CHRONICLE Interviews, 16-Bit BREAKING BAD, DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX, Sundance 2012 Interviews

by     Posted 2 years, 75 days ago

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This past week brought us a story that is near and dear to me. While I briefly give my own thoughts regarding DC Comics’ Watchmen prequel comic series after the jump, I want to use the “Top 5′s” opening paragraph space to invite readers to voice/type their own opinions on the announcement in the comments section. As a fervent fan of the series, I’m always interested to hear fellow fans’ take on Watchmen adaptations, prequels, and the like. So, with that said, what do you think? Does the creative talent involved interest you? Is it the best idea ever? The worst? Somewhere in between? Sound off in the comments.

In addition to DC’s Before Watchmen announcement, this installment of the “Top 5″ includes interviews with the cast and director of superhero/found-footage pic Chronicle, a “What If?” look at a 16-Bit Breaking Bad RPG, ten things to know about Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and Sundance 2012 video interviews with Bradley Cooper, Paul Dano and more. A brief recap and link to each follows after the jump.

John Hawkes Talks THE SURROGATE, LINCOLN, Working with Daniel Day-Lewis, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 2 years, 75 days ago

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Led by a truly remarkable performance by John Hawkes, writer-director Ben Lewin‘s The Surrogate blew me away at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  The film’s based on the true story of Mark O’Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist with an iron lung, who decides that he no longer wants to be a virgin.  With the help of his priest (William H. Macy) and a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt), we follow his amazing journey.  Trust me, The Surrogates is great on so many levels (which explains why there was a bidding war; Fox Searchlight won), and it’s definitely going to be a contender at the 2013 Academy Awards.  For more on the film, here’s Matt’s review.

Shortly after seeing the film, I sat down with John Hawkes for an extended interview.  We talked about being at Sundance, how he prepared for The Surrogate, the responsibility of playing a real person, his preference between a few takes or a lot, and so much more.  In addition, since Hawkes just worked with Steven Spielberg on Lincoln, he talked about how Tony Kushner‘s screenplay drew him to the project and what it was like to work with Daniel Day-Lewis.  Hit the jump to watch.

Bradley Cooper and Co-Director Brian Klugman Talk THE WORDS, TRON: LEGACY, PARADISE LOST, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, and More at Sundance

by     Posted 2 years, 76 days ago

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One of the best films I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal‘s first feature, The Words. The film stars Bradley Cooper as a writer who, after discovering an extraordinary lost manuscript, passes the work off as his own and receives overwhelming critical acclaim.  Jeremy Irons plays the man who originally wrote the manuscript, and the film weaves multiple narratives to tell the story.  The Words also stars Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, Ben Barnes, and JK Simmons.  CBS Films bought the film after its first screening and they plan to release it later this year.  It’s definitely a film you should be excited to see.  For more on The Words, here’s Matt’s review.

Shortly after seeing the film, I did an extended interview with Bradley Cooper and co-writer-director Brian Klugman.  We talked about being at Sundance, how the project came together and how it changed along the way, deleted scenes, how the two of them became friends (they’ve known each other for decades), karaoke, film versus digital, and a lot more.  In addition, Klugman talked about his early draft of Tron: Legacy, and Cooper talked about what it was like to work on director Derek Cianfrance‘s The Place Beyond the Pines, and the status of Paradise Lost (it’s hopefully filming this June).  Hit the jump to watch.

Aubrey Plaza Talks SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, THE TO-DO LIST (THE HAND JOB), PARKS AND REC, and More at Sundance 2012

by     Posted 2 years, 76 days ago

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One of the many films that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was director Colin Trevorrow‘s Safety Not Guaranteed.  Written by Derek Connolly, the film’s about a trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad that seeks a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and tries to discover what he’s really up to.  It’s based on a real ad that was passed around the internet in 2005 and the movie stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni.  Shortly after premiering, FilmDistrict bought the film, so you can look forward to seeing it at some point in the future.  For more on the film, you can read Matt’s review.

After seeing the movie, I got to sit down with Aubrey Plaza for an extended interview. We talked about being at Sundance, karaoke, what’s the last video game she’s played (Batman: Arkham City and Braid), 3D gaming, how she got involved in Safety Not Guaranteed and what it’s about, and what it was like to watch the film for the first time with a big crowd at Sundance.  In addition, she talked about Parks and Recreation, working with Bill Murray on director Roman Coppola‘s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, and director Maggie Carey‘s The To-Do List (aka The Hand Job), in which she plays a recent high school graduate intent on losing her virginity before going off to college.  She said filming some of it bordered on pornography.  Hit the jump to watch the interview.

Frank Langella Talks ROBOT AND FRANK, His First Book DROPPED NAMES, and More at Sundance 2012

by     Posted 2 years, 77 days ago

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One of my favorite films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was director Jake Schreier‘s Robot and Frank.  The film is set in the near future and centers on an elderly ex-jewel thief (Frank Langella) whose kids (James Marsden and Liv Tyler) give him a caretaker robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard), sparking an unlikely friendship. Susan Sarandon plays a librarian who serves as Langella’s only friend.  Since premiering at the Festival, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Samuel Goldwyn Films picked up the film for distribution, so you can expect to see it for yourself later this year.  For more on the film, you can read Matt’s review.

Right after seeing the film I got to sit down with Frank Langella for an exclusive interview.  During our extended conversation we talked about how he got involved in the project, how the script changed along the way, the design of the robot, the quick shooting schedule, filming on location, premiering it at Sundance, and a lot more.  In addition, Langella talked about writing his first book.  He told me, “It is called Dropped Names and it is about famous men and woman as I knew them from the age of 15 up to now, and I am dropping their names because they have dropped dead.  It is about famous people who are dead.”  Hit the jump for more.

Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese Talk About Doing the Music for THE RAID at Sundance; Plus a Linkin Park Update

by     Posted 2 years, 77 days ago

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Let me be very clear: director Gareth Evans’ The Raid, an Indonesian martial arts epic that tracks a SWAT team sweeping through a highrise infested with drug dealers, is a phenomenal action movie that demands to be seen.  Thankfully, Sony Pictures Classics will be releasing it on March 23, so everyone needs to circle their calendars right now.  Trust me, once you see this, you’ll understand why every critic at TIFF and last week’s Sundance Film Festival was raving.  It also explains why Screen Gems acquired the remake rights.  It’s really that good.

While at Sundance I was able to speak with with composers Mike Shinoda of “Linkin Park” and Joe Trapanese, collaborator with Daft Punk and M83, about the soundtrack. They talked about how they got involved in the project, the origin of their collaboration, Sundance, working with Gareth Evans, the programs they used (Pro Tools, Logic and Maschine), how they used “vintage toys” and external hardware for a more organic sound, and a lot more.  In addition, for fans of Linkin Park, I asked Shinoda what’s up with the band.  Hit the jump to watch.

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