Film Features

How A24 is Saving Movies

How the Small Distribution Company is Giving a Much Needed Voice to First-Time Directors

a24films.com

My first proper date with my first ever girlfriend was to see Spring Breakers, the weirdest movie granted a wide theatrical release in 2013.

Directed by the mostly-underground Harmony Korrine, the film became notorious for James Franco's performance as Alien, an off-beat, very colorful gangster with a head covered in dreadlocks and an accent somewhere between a Tallahassee truck driver and Marcellus Wallace. I saw that movie in theatres. I didn't know it at the time, but the A24 Productions logo that kickstarted the experience would go on to become one of the most important symbols you could pin to a movie in the 2010's. It's since become a mark of excellence. Now, in 2020, you see a movie distributed by A24, and you know one thing: that movie will certainly be awesome, but might even be visionary, too. A24 is very quietly saving movies, and they're doing it by going against the most time-held and obvious of box office rules: They invest in uncertainties.

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FILM

Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend of May 24

Watch Will Smith degrade himself with blue body paint in Disney's "Aladdin."

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

This week, Will Smith degrades himself with blue body paint for our amusement.

WIDE RELEASE:

Booksmart

BOOKSMART Trailer (2019) Lisa Kudrow, Olivia Wild, Teen Movie www.youtube.com

Directed by Olivia Wilde and produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, Booksmart looks like a Gen-Z version of Superbad. The movie follows two high school seniors, Amy and Molly, who decide that the eve of their graduation is the perfect time to make up for "wasting" their teenage years on studying and achieving good grades. Early reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and the movie looks raunchy, edgy, and representative. Booksmart is easily my pick of the week.

Aladdin

Disney's Aladdin Official Trailer - In Theaters May 24! www.youtube.com

Disney's latest live-action adaptation is here, and like all the live-action adaptations before it, Aladdin looks...okay, I guess. Honestly, it's hard for me to understand the appeal of all these live-action Disney adaptations. They're technically fine, but considering the fact that animation brought so much of the inherent charm and magic to the originals, these remakes seem doomed to always come up short. Take Genie, for example. Animated goofball Genie is fun and awesome. Partially-CGI-blue-body-paint-Will-Smith Genie is just unsettling.

Brightburn

BRIGHTBURN - Official Trailer #2 www.youtube.com

What if Superman...was evil? That's pretty much the premise behind Brightburn, a superhero horror movie produced by James Gunn and written by his brother and his cousin. I love the idea of a horror movie that subverts superhero archetypes, but at the same time, the trailer looks surprisingly dull considering the subject matter. Ultimately, this might be more of a generic spooky boy flick than anything truly groundbreaking.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Diamantino

Diamantino – Official Trailer www.youtube.com

A Portuguese-language, genre-bending political comedy that made waves at Cannes 2019 (ultimately taking home the Grand Prize during International Critics' Week), Diamantino looks absolutely absurd. The plot follows a disgraced soccer star who sets out on a journey to find a new purpose for his life. The movie seems to involve incredibly bizarre imagery, including futuristic technology, galactic landscapes, and puppy fever dreams. If you appreciate bizarre cinema and can find Diamantino playing near you, I'd highly recommend checking it out.

Isabelle

Isabelle | Official Trailer (HD) | Vertical Entertainment www.youtube.com

If you ever watched The OC and wondered what Adam Brody is doing now, here's your answer. Isabelle is one of those horror movies that seems designed solely to pad Netflix's Halloween offerings. We've seen the premise a bajillion times––a couple gets haunted by some generic ghost girl––and outside of Ringu, I don't think it's ever been done well. I don't know what audience this movie is geared towards, but if it happens to be you, just go watch Ringu again instead.

Film Lists

Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend of March 15

Featuring some sick teens who are just dying to stand "Five Feet Apart"

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

This week we get yet another entry into the "sexy dying teenagers" canon.

WIDE RELEASE:

Five Feet Apart

FIVE FEET APART - Trailer #2 - HD (Haley Lu Richardson, Cole Sprouse) www.youtube.com

Some things just go together – peanut butter and jelly, salt and vinegar, romantically-inclined teens and crippling disease. You cried during A Walk to Remember when that girl died from leukemia. You cried during The Fault in Our Stars when that guy died from cancer. You'll probably cry during this one too, because these teens both have cystic fibrosis, meaning they need to stay six feet apart at all times or else they'll die. But wait, this movie is called Five Feet Apart. Does that mean…? Yup. Life-threatening disease can't stand in the way of young love, so they're gonna smooch even if it kills one of them. Which it definitely will. And yes, the guy is half of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Trailers www.youtube.com

Sophia Lillis (Beverly from It) stars as the legendary teen detective in the newest reboot of Nancy Drew. This iteration sees Nancy Drew as the new kid in town, bored with suburban mediocrity as she skateboards down way-too-safe residential streets. If only there were a spooky, scary mystery to solve! Great news, there is. It's the mystery of the hidden staircase, which happens to be located in an old mansion that Nancy has broken into. Where does this hidden staircase lead? To what ends was it built? Why doesn't she just climb the hidden staircase and find out? Find out this weekend.

Wonder Park

Wonder Park (2019) - New Trailer - Paramount Pictures www.youtube.com

Imagine if some dumb amusement park you made up as a kid turned out to be real. You had no idea how roller coasters operated. You probably still don't. Those rides you made up would be literal death traps. But Wonder Park is a children's movie, so it can't explore the logical ends of its inane premise. Instead, the fantastical park is now populated by a bunch of annoying, talking forest animals who communicate entirely through flat jokes. Also, the park is overrun by zombie monkeys for some reason. As Nickelodeon Movies' first animated feature since 2015, Wonder Park looks disappointing, at least based on the trailers. But trailers don't always do a movie justice, so if you're a fan of animation, it might be worth checking out for yourself.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Ash is Purest White

Ash is Purest White | Official US Trailer | Starts March 15 www.youtube.com

A Chinese crime drama currently holding a 100% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. Ash is Purest White follows the relationship between a young dancer and a mobster. While witnessing a fight between her boyfriend and a rival gang, the young dancer shoots one of the attackers and gets sentenced to five years in prison. The epic narrative spans fifteen years of the dancer's life and plays out more like a melodrama than a crime film. If you're a fan of powerful foreign language films with sweeping narratives, Ash is Purest White is definitely up your alley.

The Mustang

THE MUSTANG - Official Trailer [HD] - In Theaters March 2019 www.youtube.com

Matthias Schoenaerts plays a violent convict who participates in a prison rehabilitation program revolving around training wild stallions. The Mustang is one of those movies that takes its simple premise, does exactly what you expect with it, but you'll probably enjoy the film if you enjoy the concept. In other words, The Mustang is the same "bad man redeemed" story you've seen many times before, except this time he's redeemed through friendship with a wild horse instead of through sports or raising a baby or whatever.


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com



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Film Lists

Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend of February 1st

What's playing this weekend? Glad you asked.

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

Maximize your time by only seeing the movies recommended to you by some guy on the Internet.

WIDE RELEASE:

Miss Bala

Miss Bala Trailer #1 (2019) | Movieclips Trailers www.youtube.com

Gina Rodriguez's parents died, but that won't stop her from vacationing in Mexico with her best friend. It's just two gals livin' it up south of the border, when oh no, here come the cartels to kidnap them. Now sweet Gina needs to help the cartel if she wants to save her friend, but what will she do when the bad guy turns out to be hot? It kind of looks like Twilight except the sexy guy is a drug dealer instead of ancient vampire. Makes sense, considering it's directed by Catherine Hardwicke who also directed―you guessed it!―Twilight. Wait for the reviews.

LIMITED RELEASE:

Arctic

ARCTIC | Official Trailer www.youtube.com

The ultimate survival match, Man v Nature. Mads Mikkelson stars as a plane crash survivor stranded in the arctic with a young woman who can't move on her own. Now if he wants to survive, he needs to trek through the wilderness, dragging the woman on a sled, fighting snowstorms and polar bears. The cinematography looks nice, but the movie seems harrowing. If you're into survival fare, this is right up your alley.

The Wild Pear Tree

The Wild Pear Tree (official trailer) www.youtube.com

Nominated for a Palme d'Or at Cannes, this Turkish film is about a young man who returns home after college while trying to save money to publish his first novel. There, he clashes with his gambling-addicted father and the various people and culture that shaped his youth. Even in the trailer, the imagery seems immediately profound. Reviews are also glowing, so if you're out to see a movie that will make you think and potentially analyze your own ambitions, this seems like a great choice.

They Shall Not Grow Old

They Shall Not Grow Old – New Trailer – In Theaters February 1 www.youtube.com

Peter Jackson has created one of the most impressive documentaries ever made. They Shall Not Grow Old offers an up-close look at WW1 through the lens of first-person accounts and footage gathered from the BBC and Imperial War Museum, all restored with unbelievable clarity. The resulting product looks like it was shot in a Hollywood studio, and makes you feel closer to the Great War and the young men who died there than you might have believed possible.

NETFLIX:

Velvet Buzzsaw

Velvet Buzzsaw | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix www.youtube.com

Velvet Buzzsaw is a horror movie about the high art world from the writer/director behind Nightcrawler. It also stars Jake Gyllenhaal. If that's not enough to get you excited then, much like high art, you probably just don't get it. But as an added bonus, it's on Netflix so you don't even need to leave your house to see what's sure to be the most talked about movie release of the weekend. It also looks like a lot of fun.


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com



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FILM & TV

REVIEW | Manbiki Kazoku at Cannes 2018

A Well-Deserved Palm d'Or Winner

018 FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK/GAGA CORPORATION/AOI PRO. INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

It's a story about a family not too different from your family...assuming your family steals food, kidnaps children, and dances for money.

These are some elements of the plot of Hirokazu Kore-Eda's latest film showcased in competition at the festival. The director returned to the festival with Shoplifters, a seemingly less loud statement of a film compared to those surrounding it in the competition. However, this made it no less impactful for the jury who awarded it the top prize. It also happened to be a favorite of critics for good reason. The story itself deserves many honors, and the cinematography makes it even better.

2018 FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK/GAGA CORPORATION/AOI PRO. INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A father, Osamu, and his son are frequent shoplifters in order to support their family. On their way home one night, they come across a young girl freezing in the cold. The plan is to take her home for a night, but when Osamu's wife becomes aware of the abuse the little girl suffers at home, they decide to keep her with their family, composed of the grandmother as well as another sister, both struggling financially, too. This doesn't strengthen their love for one another, however, which is one of the most moving parts of the film's storyline.

An audience will be unable to help but fall in love with these characters and the way they interact with one another. The grandmother is hilarious in her joking about the family and griping about not receiving enough money from outside relatives. Osamu and his wife laugh about how being in close quarters makes it difficult for them to have sex without someone walking in. The children play as much as they steal, and when the shop owners take notice, they do not call the police but instead try to encourage them to just enjoy their time as siblings.

At the underbelly of the story, however, is the fact that the young boy and the young girl at not actual siblings given the uncanny nature of her joining the family. It is something we are unable to forget, from the news reports on the television about her being missing and Osamu's wife cutting off her hair in response. There are also struggles for the different members to truly identify one another as mother, brother, sister, etc. Something, they know, is uncomfortable about it, and soon the audience learns exactly what this is. The most interesting part of all of this is the fact that family is actually engaged in a very sketchy business, but the plot is built up in a way that we don't really care about the illegal actions.

Instead as the characters get caught in their bad decision-making and the truth behind the relationships unravel, a viewer will become engaged in what will happen to everyone, and whether or not there will ever be a future for this family unit. It is unconventional. It is not natural. But when these characters separate from one another into more "normal" circumstances, we are forced to wonder if they are really happier, and if not, was the wrong thing actually the right one? It expands the understandings of the meanings of both family and happiness.

2018 FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK/GAGA CORPORATION/AOI PRO. INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last year, the jury's choice for the top prize in competition (The Square) at the festival felt moronic, like some frivolous statement about how silly the world of art was made by those who support the art world the most strongly. The year prior, with I, Daniel Blake, it spoke to the way that art can influence politics and policy. This year was my first at the festival where I felt the jury not only chose the strongest film in terms of its cinematic craftsmanship, but also the one with an important story. In the current climate we live in, where the world feels like it is often at a loss for love and comfort, focusing on a film that puts the importance of forming such lasting bonds at the forefront was both the smart and the right choice for the Palm d'Or.

Running time: 120 min | Director: Hirokazu Kore-Eda | Starring: Franky Lily, Ando Sakura, Matsuoka Mayu, and more!


More about the Cannes Film Festival can be found here.


Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a former radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. Visit her website for more.

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FILM & TV

BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | Cannes Film Festival Edition

Didn't Have Time for the French Riviera? We Made the Trip for You!

Courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival

The sand. The stars. The summer film festival everyone wants to attend.

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about having your pants scared off? Maybe you just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have you covered. And in this week's special edition, we give you our favorites from the Cannes Film Festival, which ended last weekend. Take a peek at our top picks...

Memento Films

Se Rokh (3 Faces)

The director of this film is banned from practicing the art form in his country, and if he creates films is unable to leave Iran, meaning he was not at the premiere for this film. However, it still created a buzz. It involves a famous actress who is reached out to by a young woman who looks for her help to produce a film her parents are not keen on helping out with. The actress, the teenager, and the director himself head out on a road trip to document the traditions of her village, meeting a slew of creative characters along the way.

Watch an interview with the team of "Se Rokh"

Running Time 1hr 40m | MEMENTO FILMS DISTRIBUTION | Director: Jafar Panahi

Starring: Behnaz Jafari, Marziyeh Rezaei, Jafar Panahi, and more!

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