Daily Archives: April 10th, 2017

Highlights from the 2017 Phoenix Film Festival

April 10th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals 0 thoughts on “Highlights from the 2017 Phoenix Film Festival”

 

 

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The 18th Annual Phoenix Film Festival is well underway and what a year it has been so far!  While it’s impossible to see all of these films, the weekend has proved to be absolutely spectacular.  Check out the capsule reviews below and watch for full reviews in the coming weeks of the highlights so far.

“The Hero”

Brett Haley, the talent behind the writing and directing of “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” brings us yet another poignant commentary on life and aging with “The Hero,” starring Sam Elliott.  Lee Hayden (Elliott) finds his life’s work of acting waning as he ages, but when he receives a cancer diagnosis, his future seems dismal.  Attempting to  right therohe wrongs in his life, he finds that the future is what you make it.  Filled with introspection and humor, Hayden finds that life can still be meaningful even after the age of 70.  The humor, sometimes bittersweet, balances this beautiful story and Elliott shows us that he is the quintessential leading man, no matter his age.  (Opens in theaters June 9)  THE HERO Trailer

 

 

 

“Brave New Jersey”

Brave-New-Jersey-movie-7This quirky and star-filled spoof takes us back to the night that Orson Welles’ legendary 1938 “War of the Worlds” aired in the small farming town of Lullaby, New Jersey, just miles away from the supposed attack.  As this sleepy little town must now awaken and take heed, the true personalities of each are revealed.  It feels like a reunion of great comic television actors who have found a way to have a blast as they create new and frequently over-the-top characters in a solid and unique story.  Clark (Tony Hale) is madly inlove with Lorraine (Heather Burns) who is married to the mayor and bully, while Reverand Ray Rogers (Dan Bakkedahl) attempts to lead his congregation, but is more lost and irreverent than his followers.  And Sheriff Dandy (Mel Rodriguez) shines as the hapless law enforcer.  This sweet love story/dramedy will have you in stitches as you laugh and root for the underdog.  BRAVE NEW JERSEY Trailer

 

“Quaker Oaths”

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Divorce is never easy, but throw into the equation the Quaker rules and it becomes an almost insurmountable yet hilarious task.  Joe (Alex Dobrenko, “Arlo and Julie”) and Emily are married under Quaker tradition which includes all guests signing their marriage certificate.  The couple having lived apart for five of the six years of marriage,  decide to finally call it quits officially.  Upon Emily’s parents’ request, the two road trip across the country to get each guests’ signature crossed off.  As Emily and Joe reconnect and with each guest they  try to convince to cross off their name, they discover a little bit more about one another and themselves.  Filled with miscommunications and comedic situations as well as unusual characters, it’s an entertaining journey about life, love, and all the bumps in the road.  QUAKER OATHS Trailer

 

 

 

“The Midnighters”

First-time filmmaker Julian Fort creates a heart-pounding crime thriller taking you into the life of ex-con Victor who can’t resist one last bank heist…with his son, Danny (Gregory SimThe Midnighterss).  Victor (Leon Russom), sees that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but the Danny (Gregory Sims) is in way over his head.  This intense story will keep you guessing as the plot twists and turns and as you watch the characters’ motives unfold.  Skillful editing and cinematography add to this stylized drama.  What makes this particular film stand apart from many others like it is its ability to create sympathy and empathy for Victor.  We truly care for this man who continues to make one bad decision after another, but he is also a father who loves his son.  This is one impressive first-time feature film.

 

 

“Second Hand Hearts”

secondhandheartsYoung love.  We’ve all been through it, but what happens when you meet your true love only to find out it’s your girlfriend’s sister?  As Ben (Ben Isaacs) is in Japan as a freelance photographer, he bumps into Emily (Mallory Corinne) and there is an immediate spark and much, much more.   It’s a classic love story, but with a higher dose of reality making it much more relatable than most films in this genre. “Second Hand Hearts” is a non-linear story allowing us to be in the present as we understand what has happened in the recent past.  While there are some pacing issues and the character of Jaime seems a little inconsistent, it’s a film that is intriguing, keeping you invested in wanting to know how this ends.   SECOND HAND HEARTS Trailer

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Dave Made A Maze”

Director Bill Watterson co-wrote this extraordinarily unusual film with Steven Sears about a grown man who builds a maze out of a cardboard box in his living room whildave-made-a-maze-4e his girlfriend is away for the weekend. Upon her return, she finds that he is “lost” in this box.  Gathering a rescue team comprised of his friends, the group ventures in to a world in which they are not prepared.  It’s a gruesomely hilarious romp with exaggerated characters and a touch of charming sweetness.  The set designs will blow your mind as these creative storytellers take advantage of your childhood nightmares in this mesmerizing film.   DAVE MADE A MAZE Trailer

AN INTERVIEW WITH WATTERSON, THUNE, and KUMBHANI

 

 

“Killing Ground”

imageAustralian filmmaker Damien Power creates a chilling psychological thriller in “Killing Ground” as a young couple ventures out into the country for a weekend camping trip.  Noticing another campsite not far away with no activity for hours, the couple looks for clues as to where they might be.  As they find a toddler wandering nearby, their greatest fears don’t begin to compare to the horror that lies ahead.  Power sets up the perfect situations in this film that give you a sense of dread, pushing your every sense to a tipping point.  It is not a classic horror film; it is much more.  It’s clever and unpredictable as you face some of your own biggest fears.  The cast is stellar witha brilliant script and cinematography bringing you into the characters’ world of the “Killing Ground.  KILLING GROUND Trailer

 

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There are still many days ahead at the PFF with opportunities to see these films and many more!  Be sure to put “Norman,” “Graduation,” and “Tommy’s Honour” on your must-see list this week!  Go to www.phoenixfilmfestival.com for more information and screening times.

 

 

"Colossal" Creates A Monstrously Wonderful New Genre

April 10th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Review 0 thoughts on “"Colossal" Creates A Monstrously Wonderful New Genre”

imageAnne Hathaway has spearheaded this unique, genre-bending film written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo in which she and Jason Sudeikis star.  Combining  biting humor with dramatic horror, “Colossal” brings us into the psyche of two friends, Gloria and Oscar, from childhood.  How powerful is our mind?  “Colossal” answers that question in epic proportions as these two fight for survival.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

Gloria (Hathaway) is a party girl, living or should I say, sponging off of her successful boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) until one day, he has had enough and kicks her out.  With just a sac on her back, appearing a bit like a hobo, she returns to her hometown to live in her parents’ abandoned house.   Resolving to quit drinking and partying, she runs into her old chum Oscar (Sudeikis) who runs a local family tavern.  As the two reconnect, a horrific event occurs half-way around the world in Seoul, Korea.  Eventually, she determines there’s a connection, but is it too late?  Wrestling the demons from within prove to be just as difficult as the ones that stand before her on the playground from her past.

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“Colossal” is one of the most unexpectedly ingenious films of recent past.  While it has the elements of a good, old-fashioned monster story, stomping buildings and scattering pedestrians, it also incorporates the most deeply human internal conflict imaginable into the story.  Initially, it feels like an ordinary break-up/love story, but I can assure you it is anything BUT that!  Gloria and Oscar appear to be old buddies, particularly as Oscar shows her his chivalrous side, helping in anymaxresdefault (1) way that he can.  But he is much more complicated, as is Gloria, both carrying so much baggage from their past.  We get to know these two, their history, and who they truly are all the while attempting to find out how they are connected to the beast wreaking havoc in Korea.

The story finds a way to incorporate horror, drama, and comedy that on the surface, the horror seems preposterous, and it is.  However, the writing and acting is so captivating that you forget that this could never actually happen.  It’s a film that you are happy to suspend all belief and just sit back and enjoy.  Initially, you’re perplexed about how and why the events are occurring, but like a puzzle, all the pieces become apparent and you have fun putting it all together.  It’s laugh-out-loud funny one moment, and thoughtfully sad the next.  And then you’re jumping in your seat and gasping at what has just occurred.  It’s truly an innovate and well-rounded story.

FullSizeRenderWhile the script is quite original, the acting is equally as inspired as we see both of these big name Hollywood stars in roles like never before.  It’s refreshing to see a female lead that is strong and independent, but has gotten there by way of a very bumpy road.  Sudeikis shines in this dark, very dark, role.  We all knew he could do comedy and if you’ve seen “The Book of Love,” you knew he easily creates a dramatic role, but his portrayal of Oscar is seriously dark and he relishes in it.

Hathaway lit the fire to start this film and her spark and energy are captured in her role, all the while being 15 weeks pregnant.  Talking with Hathaway at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival revealed that she believed in the script and in Vigalondo.  She is an advocate of female-centered films and said, “If you want to see more women in movies, support the movies that have women in them.  I try to do my part be getting them made and hopefully making them fun to watch.”  From this reviewer’s perspective, she has succeeded.

“Colossal” is such a sheer joy to watch as you become engrossed in every character and what motivates them.  Hathaway and Sudeikis give us unusual performances allowing us to see another side of these talented actors.  Under the keen direction of Vigalondo, “Colossal” creates a new genre of film with a female in the lead.  Now, that’s a giant leap forward!

For the interview with Hathaway, Sudiekis, and Vigalondo go to http://www.reelhonestreviews.com/?p=3824

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For TIFF coverage from RHR, go to FLM

 

 

 

 

Hathaway, Sudeikis, and Vigalondo talk with RHR about their hit indie sleeper "Colossal"

April 10th, 2017 Posted by Film Festivals, Interviews 0 thoughts on “Hathaway, Sudeikis, and Vigalondo talk with RHR about their hit indie sleeper "Colossal"”

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Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis star in the upcoming genre-bending film “Colossal,” the brainchild of Spanish writer and director Nacho Vigalondo.  The film finds Gloria (Hathaway), a young woman with a drinking problem, hitting rock bottom as her boyfriend kicks her out and she returns to her hometown.  Bumping into her childhood chum Oscar (Sudeikis), their friendship is renewed, but the deep, dark secrets ever so slowly are revealed as, coincidentally, a monster is wreaking havoc in Seoulmaxresdefault (1), Korea.  The ingeniously creative film is a new spin on good, old-fashioned monster films integrating psychology and horror into one amazingly entertaining movie.

I had a chance to talk with Sudeikis and Hathaway at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and Vigalondo just recently about creating this monstrously fun yet meaningful movie.
The origins stem from Vigalondo’s love of the science-fiction author Phillip K. Dick.  While the concept of the film began as a note on a scrap of paper put into a drawer for a later date, Vigalondo certainly sees the similarities in the completed “Colossal” with Dick’s books.  With larger than life backgrounds, the characters, initially seeming rather ordinary, become extraordinary.

Hathaway and Vigalondo each shared with me how she become connected with the script and while they both eventually had the same story of her agent finding him, it is Vigalondo’s fanciful recollection that was quite humorous.  “I would love to tell you an amazing story right now,” he said.  “Like I decided to go to her place and bring drinks and my guitar.  And I sang a song in front of her porch and she fell in love with me,” he laughed out loud.”  He confided with a bit of remorse, “If I was the kind of person I would want to be, that story would be real.”

nacho-vigalondo-6Being able to create this film, according to Hathaway, couldn’t have been done in her early career.  She said, “I felt ready to take on that responsibility.  I was ready to stand up and say this is my sense of humor. This is what I believe in.  This is a filmmaker I’m backing [and] this is a script I think should be made.”  Regarding women taking on more lead roles and being more proactive in the film industry, Hathaway said, “So much of it’s on the audience.  If you want to see more women in movies, support movies that have women in them.  I try to do my part by getting them made and hopefully making them fun to watch.”

In the beginning, “Colossal” appears to be the fun, light-hearted, predictably sweet reconnection between  Sudeikis and Hathaway’s characters.  Not the case.  In fact, it’s quite

FullSizeRenderthe opposite.  While the film is at all times entertaining, there are actual fight scenes between the two actors, who reportedly are very good friends off-screen.   Vigalondo recalls rehearsing these scenes, “…to shoot it so that nobody is going to be hurt.”  Sudeikis had reassuring words, “There’s a lot of movie magic…No Hathaways were harmed during the filming of this project.”  Thankfully, as she was in her second trimester of pregnancy during the shooting of “Colossal.”

Sudeikis is not his typical, funny, sweet self in “Colossal.”  He’s dark—like we’ve never seen him before.  Vigalondo said, “It’s really exciting when you are giving a talented actor the first villain of his career.  He’s not the kind of…villain that everybody wants to play in a movie.  He just acted like a real asshole that’s really scary [and gets] darker and darker.”  Sudeikis said, “I guess he (Vigalondo) saw this guy in me!”  He laughed that he wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or not.

Both Hathaway and DSC_0790Sudeikis described Vigalondo in rather unusual but very positive ways as they recalled the director took dressing up for Halloween during filming to all-time new level (picture a cat suit with ears), however, the seriousness of one of the film’s topics was addressed…abuse.  Hathaway said, “Nacho’s purpose for making this movie was showing how unnecessary toxic macho energy is.”  She continued to explain this idea, “…where it’s gone too far [and there’s a] toxic pattern of abuse and remorse.  I think we need to examine that as individuals, as a society, and we should not be afraid of doing better.”  Vigalondo said, “The movie deals with some very delicate [and] deep issues…violence in relationships” and he wanted to be sure to be respectful of these issues.

While the film deals with some deeper and very meaningful issues, there’s a lot of laughter, suspense, and fun in the film as well.  “Colossal” transports you to an impossible situation and you willingly suspend belief as the characters and the story take you on a most entertaining trip that you won’t soon forget.  Vigalondo wanted to share one last thought with potential viewers.  “To people who haven’t seen the film, don’t worry.  Even though you’ve read a lot of spoilers, the movie still has a lot of surprises for you.”

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