Review: ‘Escape From Pretoria’ is a story of courage and engineering at its best.

Based on the real-life prison break of two political captives, ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA is a race-against-time thriller set in the tumultuous apartheid days of South Africa.

The film is based on Tim Jenkin’s autobiography Inside Out: Escape from Pretoria Prison. With the engineering of escape solutions being created and tested in what feels like real-time, the anticipation pulls you in. Your heart races at the idea of them getting caught. The failures and close calls will leave you just as shattered as our protagonists. This story is absolutely thrilling.

Performances from Daniel Radcliffe, Daniel Webber, and Mark Leonard Winter are riveting. Each a fully fleshed out portrayal of three men who did the impossible. From the accents to the sets, to the period costumes, Escape From Pretoria is triumphant storytelling. This film’s release is aptly timed for those who are part of the resistance and for being on the right side of history.

Momentum Pictures will release the thriller ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA in select TheatersODemand and Digital on March 6, 2020.

ESCAPE FROM PRETORIA is directed by Francis Annan (End of a Gun, House of the Rising Sun) from a script by Annan and LH AdamsThe film features an all-star cast which includesDaniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man),Daniel Webber (The Dirt, “The Punisher”), Ian Hart (Backbeat, The Last Kingdom)Mark Leonard Winter (The Dressmaker, “Cop Hard”) and Nathan Page (“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”).  

Review: ‘The Amityville Murders’ is a haunting take on history.

On the night of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. took a high-powered rifle and murdered his entire family as they slept. At his trial, DeFeo claimed that “voices” in the house commanded him to kill. This is their story.

The Amityville Murders offers alternative theories about the infamous killings right off the bat. Whether they a result of parental abuse, drugs, mental illness, or something altogether more sinister actually occurring in the house itself. It also seems to suggest that family and friends were experiencing unexplained phenomenon within the home. There is much controversy surrounding Ronald DeFeo and the deaths of his entire family. The house has been called one of the most haunted in America. Subsequent owners have come and gone throughout the years. DeFeo’s story of what happened that night changed so many times it’s hard to keep track of. We may never know the truth and that what makes this story a great one for film. Writers and directors can take poetic license with all the information that we do have and fill in the blanks. As the film progresses, it unequivocally suggests that the grandparents had something to do with a paranormal aspect. While of the performances in the film are a bit campy, our leading man John Robinson is amazing. He is terrifying all while being vulnerable. He carries this film from start to finish. You are rooting for his sanity and survival. Overall, the film has a classic possession feel to it. The tension is genuine and the scares are visually engrossing. The Amityville Murders is a historical true crime/ paranormal nerd’s fantasy.

THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS releases In Theaters and On Demand / Digital HD Feb. 8th!

Review: ‘THE LATE BLOOMER’, Kevin Pollak’s directorial debut, is based on a true and hilarious story.

latebloomer_th_1sht_lr_proof_2_revSometimes, when you get really lucky, you get to be part of movie history. When Kevin Pollak got the call that he was going to direct a movie version of Ken Baker‘s Book, “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body”, I was in the room. We were just sitting down for a small roundtable interview for his Tribeca Film Festival Film documentary Misery Loves Comedy, when he got a call he had to take at the table. When Kevin Pollak needs to answer the phone, you sit politely and attempt to eavesdrop. There was no need, as he hung up the phone and eagerly explained that he’d be directing a comedy about a kid who doesn’t hit puberty until his 20’s… and that it was based on a true story.
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The story of an adult male who, after the successful removal of a benign tumor resting against his pituitary gland, experiences all the changes and effects of puberty over a three-week period.

While the cast is beyond tremendous, sometimes the jokes just fall flat. The premise is outstanding so I leave it up to the audience this time to decide whether or not to catch this one. Check out the trailer below for a pretty fun preview.
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THE LATE BLOOMER
In Select Theaters and On Demand / Digital HD: October 7, 2016
DIRECTOR: Kevin Pollak
WRITER: Screenplay By Joe Nussbaum, Mark Torgove, Paul A. Kaplan, Kyle Cooper, Austyn Jeffs, Story By Joe Nussbaum and Gary Rosen, From the Book “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body” by Ken Baker
CAST: Johnny Simmons, Maria Bello, Brittany Snow, Jane Lynch, J.K. Simmons, Kumail Nanjiani, Beck Bennett, Paul Wesley
GENRE: Comedy
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

Review: ‘CLOWNTOWN’ is as frightening as it sounds.

clowntown-final-dvd-artThanks to the likes of Stephen King, Poltergeist, and American Horror Story clowns are not cool. Lately, in fact, people dressed as clowns are attempting to lure small children into wooded areas in middle America. Why? That’s just sick! In Tom Nagel‘s new film CLOWNTOWN, a group of friends is stranded in what appears to be an abandoned town, until crazies dressed as clowns try to kill them. clowntown-still-8There is good, bad, and ugly about this film. We’ll start with the bad. The story is missing just enough explanation to bother me. The back story does not go  far enough into the connection of why. That’s all I’ll say for now, because I do think the film deserves an audience. The ugly, while I’m being relatively nit-picky at this point, is as follows. The film runs long. It could have been much tighter getting to the “good stuff”. That’s basically all in that category. And now, for the good or I should actually say, the great: the acting. I have to say, with the exception of one character, this film has exceptional performances. I have to give our leading ladies a shout out for the level of terror portrayed on their faces. It reads completely genuine to me. Our clown friends are beyond unsettling. On the whole, I was impressed on this front. My favorite part of the entire film has got to be the opening scene. It harkens back to classic horror tropes featuring a babysitter and the creepy kids, brief gratuitous nudity included. It was a fantastic intro  to a story that had all the potential in the world. Also, high five for the homage final shout. I’ll let you discover that fun gem on your own.clowntown-still-12

Clowntown  opens in theaters tomorrow, September 30th.

TITLE: CLOWNTOWN
IN THEATERS: September 30, 2016
DIRECTOR: Tom Nagel
WRITER: Jeff Miller
CAST: Brian Nagel, Lauren Elise, Andrew Staton, Katie Keene, Jeff Denton
SYNOPSIS: A group of friends get stranded in a seemingly abandoned town and find themselves stalked by a gang of violent psychopaths dressed as clowns.
GENRE: Horror
DISTRIBUTOR: ITN Distribution

Review: ‘LONDON ROAD’ brings an eerie tune to the big screen.

BBC WORLDWIDE NORTH AMERICA

PRESENTS

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Based on the groundbreaking musical from London’s National Theatreimage

STARRING:

Olivia Colman, Anita Dobson, Tom Hardy

And the entire original cast from the London play

DIRECTED BY: Rufus Norris

WRITTEN BY: Alecky BlytheLondon Road Still 5

If you anything like me and millions of other curious cats across the land, you spend far too many hours watching ID channel, MSNBC news crawls, and anything resembling true crime television. Or, you might be like the other half of me. The one who grew up on musicals, studied them in school, directed them as an adult… or something of the like. Well, you smack a murder mystery grabbed directly from the headlines, set it to music, and put it on the big screen, you’ve got my attention. LONDON ROAD is based upon real life interviews with the residents of Ipswich, England in 2006, after the murders of a handful of prostitutes. Turning a small neighborhood upside down, there is a killer on the loose and everyone is on edge. When someone goes on trial, suspicion still looms large as this community tries desperately to work through the confusion and mark of death.
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Imagine if you took Sweeney Todd and combined it with Parade, then set it in today’s overly saturated news media era, that is London Road. Based upon Alecky Blythe‘s hit stage play and same original cast, the film is nothing short of haunting delight. Through clever editing director Rufus Norris and writer Blythe have created an entirely new narrative for film around the audio. Utilizing the same “lyrics” sung by multiple characters, it becomes a swirling chorus of melancholy and dark madness.

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LONDON ROAD is the perfect example that truth is stranger than fiction. The musical numbers are beautifully choreographed in the most nontraditional way, adding to suspense and interest. A nice bonus during the end credits is the actual recorded audio from the real townspeople. It’s amazing how such simple words set to hypnotic beats take on a new life and brand new meaning in and out of context. The cast is a dream, from Olivia Colman, to Tom Hardy, to Paul Thornley, there is not one misstep. I can see why the National Theatre’s run was sold out. Do not miss this opportunity to see a unique presentation of chilling brilliance.

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LONDON ROAD is a verbatim musical – which makes this a very unique and non-traditional film.

Writer Alecky Blythe used the exact words from her interviews with the of residents of Ipswich, England to create the lyrics, which were than set to an innovative score that was inspired by the dialects and intonations of these residents.

LONDON ROAD documents true events that occurred in 2006, when the town of Ipswich was shattered by the discovery of the bodies of five women. The residents of London Road had struggled for years with frequent soliciting and curb-crawling on their street. When a local resident was charged, and then convicted, of the murders, the community grappled with what it meant to be at the epicenter of this tragedy. Using their own words set to an innovative musical score, LONDON ROAD tells a moving story of ordinary people coming together during the darkest of experiences. The stage production ‘London Road’ was an immediate hit and earned five-star reviews when it premiered at the National Theatre in 2011.  It returned to the stage in 2012 for a sold-out run.

Not Rated

Runtime:  93 minutes

NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 9, 2016

Village East Cinema (181-, 189 2nd Ave, New York)

LOS ANGELES – SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

Sundance Sunset Cinema (8000 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles)

Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 (673 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena)

Review: ‘COLONIA’ holds you captive.

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How far would you go for love? Would you risk your life to save another? Based on true events, COLONIA is a harrowing thriller that follows the attempted escape from one the most bloody and disturbing cults in history.

SYNOPSIS

Florian Gallenberger’s historical thriller, set around the Pinochet coup in 1970s Chile sees Emma Watson’s (Harry Potter, Noah) Lena forced to undertake a dangerous mission when her boyfriend, Daniel (Daniel Brühl, Rush), is abducted by the Chilean secret police in 1973. Lena tracks him down to Colonia Dignidad, an anti-communist sect run by preacher Paul Schäfer played by Michael Nyqvist (Blomkvist in Sweden’s Girl With A Dragon Tattoo trilogy), where they plot an unprecedented escape.

Emma watson and Daniel Bruhl in ColoniaKnowing that the film is based on true  events makes it that much more intriguing and upsetting. With gloriously elaborate sets and pristine period costuming, the look of Colonia perfectly sets the tone as the story rolls along. Starting with vibrant colors on the political revolutionaries in Chile and turning dark and monochromatic once we arrive at Colonia Dignidad. The script is comprised of vast research on the part of Director Florian Gallenberger. Perhaps what is most disturbing is the fact that I’ve never heard about this happening. You’d imagine something so awful would be much more in the limelight. This is a small but brilliant window into a terrible point in human history.Michael Nyqvist and Emma Watson in The Colony (2015)Emma Watson is simply a more grown up and matured star now. Tackling a role in which a woman rescues her boyfriend is brave and important and not often something we’re treated to these days. Her grace on screen is timeless. Daniel Brühl, who I had the pleasure of meeting during the BURNT press conference last year, is nothing short of incredible. His presence is captivating. His role allows his to stretch his acting chops quite a bit and let me say, they are impressive. Michael Nyqvist is intimidating and frightening as  cult leader Paul Schäfer. You can feel the evil emanating off of him at the suggestion of child abuse in one key scene. He a truly scary. Daniel Bruhl in ColoniaColonia is successful as a love story and a political thriller. The film is now available to view via the streaming platform We Are Colony. You can view extras such as behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and production stills. Check out the trailer below.

Review: ‘THE CONNECTION’ out on DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD Digital!

The Connection posterA stylish, ’70’s-period crime thriller inspired by true events, THE CONNECTION tells the story of real-life Marseille magistrate Pierre Michel (Academy Award® Winner Jean DujardinThe Artist, The Wolf of Wall Street) and his relentless crusade to dismantle the most notorious drug smuggling operation in history: the French Connection. In his crosshairs is charismatic and wealthy kingpin, Gatean, who runs the largest underground heroin trade into the States. Though the fearless and tenacious Michel, aided by a task force of elite cops, will stop at nothing to ensure the crime ring’s demise, Zampa’s “La French” always seems one step ahead. As La French mounts its retaliation, Michel will be forced to make the most difficult decision of his life: to continue waging his war, or ensure his family’s safety, before it’s too late.The connection
This film is massively dynamic. From the crisp and well framed cinematography to the outstanding cast. Dujardin proves he is still a star as Michel. He owns every moment on screen as his presence is captivating. Gilles Lellouche as Gaëtan ‘Tany’ Zampa is just as powerful. In a script where both men are equally determined to protect their legacy, Dujardin and Lellouche are movie magic when they appear on screen together. The film is action packed. Even with a runtime of 135 mins, it never seems like it drags. If you’re a fan of Netflix‘s new series Narcos, The Connection is right up your alley.The connection 2 still
It deserves the multitude of praise and awards is has garnered thus far. Director Cédric Jimenez (also one of the screenwriters) clearly knows his stuff. I’d love to see more from him asap. The overall look is pretty killer from the slick wardrobe to the soundtrack of the era filled club scenes. They nailed it.  While the idea of cops and gangsters is anything new, I still think this film keeps your interest with it’s mixture of action and plan of action. The acting is beyond solid with a vast array of bad guys to run through. DVD extras include a featurette on the making of The Connection as well as some great deleted scenes. We highly recommend you catch this film and thankfully, now you can!
 
Product Information
Language: French                                                     
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: Yes
Length: 135 min.
Year: 2014                                        
Genre: Action/Foreign
Rating: NR
CC: No
DVD
SRP: $24.99                                                  
Blu-Ray
SRP: $29.93
About Drafthouse Films
Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is a curated brand of provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world. Following the earnestly simple motto of “sharing the films we love with widest audience possible,” Drafthouse Films debuted in 2010 with the theatrical release of Four Lions, which was named of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Films Of The Year.” Their diverse and unique slate includes the highly-acclaimed, Oscar® nominated documentary The Act Of Killing produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, 2013 SXSW Midnight Audience Award winner Cheap Thrills starring David Koechner (Anchorman), British auteur Ben Wheatley’s psychedelic trip into magic and madness, A Field In England, Ari Folman’s Cannes Film Festival selected sci-fi epic The Congress starring Robin Wright, Harvey Keith, Jon Hamm and Paul Giamatti, Midnight Movie sensations Miami Connection andThe Visitor and rediscovered classics Wake in Fright and Ms. 45. Recent and upcoming releases include Dutch thriller Borgman, Michel Gondry’s Mood Indigo, Sundance Award-winning documentaries The Overnighters and the recently acquired Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer’s stunning follow up to The Act of Killing. Drafthouse Films distributes films theatrically, through home video, VOD and their direct-to-consumer platforms integrating into the ever-growing Alamo Drafthouse entertainment lifestyle brand, which along with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas includes: Mondo, the collectible art boutique; Fantastic Fest, the largest international genre film festival in the US; and the pop culture website Birth.Movies.Death.

 

‘TRUE STORY’ stars James Franco and Jonah Hill in roles you never saw coming.

True StoryPosterThe mind is a dangerous place. Power is a dangerous thing. Manipulation is a dangerous game. Fame is a monster. Infamy is forever. TRUE STORY, based on real life events, is the story of former New York Times writer, Mike Finkel. Once highly regarded for gutsy journalism, his choice to fabricate pieces of one story come crashing down on him. Let go from the NYT, he moves back to middle America with his lonely and tremendously supportive wife. Soon after his return, Mike receives a phone call about a man who, when arrested for the murder of his family, claimed to be the NYT reporter, Michael Finkel. Naturally intrigued, he sets up a meeting with now inmate, Christian Longo. Armed with only his wits and a notepad, Finkel agrees to tell Longo’s story, that is, if he can get it.

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The question in this film is who’s playing whom? The manipulation of both men walk a razor thin line throughout. Jonah Hill is excellent as Finkel. Thoughtful, gentle, needing to understand why Longo acts as he does. James Franco is downright frightening in this role. The roller coaster ride of this character’s journey is plain to see, with engrossing effort on Franco’s part. These two duel it out in each scene, many times with nothing but eye contact that speaks 1000 words where there are none. This is some serious acting going on here. We all know Hill is perfectly capable of this level of intensity with Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street under his belt. Franco, while  I am a huge fan already, really knocks it out of the park as Longo. As an audience member, he is likable and seemingly sincere, all while having an undercurrent of potential sociopath. The way these two play off one another is movie magic. I really think it would be a shame to ignore these performances come awards season.

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Felicity Jones plays Finkel’s wife, Jill, with huge range, as usual on her part. She is vulnerable yet strong, as a woman stuck between a healthy marriage and the ambition of a husband hungry to rebuild his name. Once again, it’s the quiet moments that are some of the most frightening for her. Left alone in the house with remnants of Longo’s drawings and writings, she is visually confronted by his enigmatic musings that are wholly unsettling to stare at. This film is perfectly timed in its release with the popularity of The Jinx and the wildly successful podcast Serial. If you are a fan of either (which, frankly, you should be) True Story will be right up your alley.

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Bottom line, TRUE STORY will chill you to your bone. It will give you pause. The film is so profoundly menacing because it is based on actual events. That creepy crawly feeling under your skin lasts long after you’ve exited the theater. The question still remains; “Who do you believe?”

TRUE STORY is now available on VOD and comes to theaters Friday, April 10th.

SYNOPSIS: When disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel meets accused killer Christian Longo—who has taken on Finkel’s identity—his reporting job morphs into an unforgettable game of cat and mouse. Based on actual events, Finkel’s relentless pursuit of Longo’s true story encompasses murder, love, deceit, and redemption.

Cast:
Jonah Hill
James Franco
Felicity Jones
Robert John Burke
Ethan Suplee
Gretchen Mol