Review: ‘Endings, Beginnings’ is the emotional roller coaster we didn’t know we needed.

In present-day Los Angeles, Daphne (Woodley), a thirty-something woman, navigates love and heartbreak over the course of one year. Daphne becomes intertwined with friends Jack (Dornan) and Frank (Stan) after meeting them at a party. During that time, she will unlock the secrets to her life in a sudden turn of events and in the most surprising of places. 

There’s something emotionally tangible about the editing and performances in Endings, Beginnings. Woodley is easily the representation of every viewer after an adult relationship comes to an end. There is a grounded, vulnerability that feels familiar. But out of context that could sound boring. What you’re getting with this script’s progression is all the aspects of the human experience; passion, volatility, depression, exhaustion, excitement, lust, self-loathing, hope, and everything in between.

Shailene Woodley has earned this script. It’s an awesome platform for her abilities. The dynamic between Woodley and Dornan vs Woodley and Stan is like night and day. This is a joy to watch because as the plot rolls along you begin to realize this isn’t truly a film about the two relationships. They are the springboard. Sebastian Stan and Jaime Dornan are brilliant, beautiful foils for one another in every single way. Both equal parts passionate and sexy but for very different reasons. While this lets Woodley showcase her ability to play both a light and dark side of her personality, it’s merely the beginning of this story. At the heart of it, the film is about self-actualization. It’s about forgiveness and growth through your mistakes and the mistakes of others. The script is complex and rewarding. I highly recommend Endings, Beginnings for everything that it represents, which is a lot. At the end of the film, you’ll easily take a huge breath in and exhale any expectations you had at the start of the movie. Drake Doremus has given us a perfect watch right now.

Samuel Goldwyn Films will release the romantic drama,ENDINGS, BEGINNINGSin On Digital April 17, and On-Demand May 1, 2020.

ENDINGS, BEGINNINGS is directed by Drake Doremus (Equals, Like Crazy) who co-wrote the script with Jardine Libaire, who makes her feature screenwriting debut.  The film stars Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent franchise), Jamie Dornan (50 Shades franchise, A Private War), Sebastian Stan (Captain America franchise, “Gossip Girl”), Matthew Gray Gubler(500 Days of Summer, “Criminal Minds”), Lindsay Sloane (Bring It On, She’s Out of My League) and Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer,” Singles). 

 

Review: ‘And Then I Go’ will haunt every parent in America.

AND THEN I GO

In the cruel world of junior high, Edwin suffers in a state of anxiety and alienation alongside his only friend, Flake. Misunderstood by their families and demoralized at school daily, their fury simmers quietly until an idea for vengeance offers them a terrifying release. Based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, this unflinching look at adolescence explores how the powerful bonds of childhood friendship and search for belonging can become a matter of life or death.

With two small children, I now have a whole new set of anxiety as I research schools. I remember how bullying affected me when I was middle-school age. But with social media and the lack of consequences I have seen surrounding some children’s behavior, I am increasingly nervous about what my kids are getting themselves into through no fault of their own. My sister is newly a fulltime school counselor. The lack of coping skills and the increase of online harassment makes these kids more vulnerable than ever before. She job has quickly transformed from a few state-mandated cases into the disciplinary dumping ground for her particular administration. The uphill battle keeps getting higher.

The new film And Then I Go looks deep inside the isolation of two young boys as they are tormented by issues at home and school, some of their own doing and some by association. Performances from Melanie Lynskey and Justin Long are equal parts exhausted parents and concerned, loving individuals. They are caught in a cycle of changing behavior typical of their older son’s environment and a second child whose innocence is still intact due to age and personality. You feel for all parties involved and if you’re a parent yourself, can understand the look of desperation and quick jump to judgment.
The anchors of the film are undoubtedly our pair of lost boys, Arman Darbo and Sawyer Barth. These two give performances that will leave you breathless. The emotional depths to which these two have to go are heartbreaking and raw. Some moments are so natural you will wonder if there is a script at all. We will be seeing much more from these two in the future. Tony Hale and Carrie Preston offer us an insight into the minds of school staff and the attention they try to give to all their students. They are in the same mindset as parents emotionally and mentally. Exhaustive attempts to serve each child as an individual either stick or they don’t. All we can do is our best and remember why we do the jobs in the first place.
From the opening voiceover, there is an air of anxiety and melancholy. A deep seeded feeling of dread looms over the film as the plot rolls along. The cinematography and lighting are key to setting the film’s mood and tone. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, truly. While I was able to figure out where the film was headed, I was so invested in the characters that I was rooting for a different outcome throughout. You cannot help but hope that something or someone will intervene. But as a former teacher, I have seen the overcrowding and felt the burnout in taking work home, yet trying desperately to keep track of not only the kids in my own class but others. Resources being slashed left and right doesn’t help administration, teachers, and parents to do their very best. We are only human. I for one will be seeking out Jim Shepard‘s novel, “Project X”, immediately. And Then I Go should be required viewing for every adult in America today.

The Orchard will release AND THEN I GO On Digital and On Demand April 17, 2018.

The film features a stellar cast led by Justin Long (Yoga Hosers, Tusk, Accepted), Melanie Lynskey (“Castle Rock,” “Togetherness,” Heavenly Creatures), Tony Hale (“Arrested Development,” “Veep”), Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station, The Belko Experiment), Carrie Preston (“Claws,” “True Blood”), and powerful performances from teenage actors Arman Darbo (Defenders of Life) and Sawyer Barth (Super Dark Times).

 

Review: ‘Love At First Child(Ange et Gabrielle) is a charming familial rom com.

Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, July 11 on all major platforms includingiTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.

Gabrielle (Isabelle Carré) is a single mother, her 17-year-old daughter Claire is pregnant, however the child’s father Simon has no desire to be involved with his future baby. When Gabrielle takes matters into her own hands and asks Simon’s father Ange (Patrick Bruel) for help, an unexpected relationship begins.

Oozing with charm, Love At First Child is heartwarming and funny. The story of a hypochondriac womanizing architect and a down to earth pharmacist coming together over a grandchild couldn’t be more interesting. It’s a story of familial redemption. it’s another chance at living the life these characters always wanted deep down. Isabelle Carré as Gabrielle is a lovely foil for Patrick Bruel‘s stubborn Ange. Revealing much more about the plot would spoil the film. For me, it harkens back to Three Men and a Baby in the best way possible.This script could easily find itself in a position for an American remake with a similar audience as the upcoming Toni Erdmann. Though, trying to recreate the chemistry for both films again doesn’t seem possible. Delightfully scored and beautifully shot, you simply cannot go wrong with this little gem.

 

91mins / Comedy /France /Color / Distributor: Under The Milky Way

DIRECTED BY: ANNE GIAFFERI

In French with English Subtitles

__

ALSO RELEASED BY UNDER THE MILKY WAY ON ALL MAJOR VOD PLATFORMS ON JULY 11 AS A PART OF THIER “COMEDIES À LA CARTE” COLLECTION:

– DYKE HARD (Directed by: Bitte Anderson, Comedy, Sweden, 90 mins)

– NOT MY DAY (Directed by:Peter Thorwarth, Comedy, Germany, 110mins)

– ONE MAN AND HIS COW (Directed by: Mohamed Hamidi, Comedy, France, 91 mins)

– WINWIN (Directed by: Daniel Hoesl, Comedy, Austria, 84 mins)

Review: ‘CAMERA OBSCURA’ is a well developed horror.

Camera Obscura

In theaters today, June 9th and on VOD and Digital HD on Tuesday, June 13th

SYNOPSIS: A veteran war photographer with PTSD sees imminent deaths in his developed photos, questioning his already fragile sanity and putting the lives of those he loves in danger.

Camera Obscura has an engrossing plot. The script has nods to horror classics like Amityville, Final Destination, and every haunted object film out there. Adding in the element of PTSD allows the audience to further question what is real and what is in the mind’s eye. There are some truly vibrant visuals when those lines are blurred. With a fair number of skin-crawling moments thrown in, Camera Obscura does its job at entertaining and keeping you guessing. I certainly did not see the ending coming. I will also give credit to the fact that the pace is already ramped up in full force before we’re even 20 minutes in. The cast is wonderful with particularly outstanding moments coming from Catherine Curtain and (no stranger to the horror genre) Andrew Sensenig. All while utilizing throwback ideas, Camera Obscura stands on its own as something disturbing and unique. You can catch the trailer below.

TITLE: CAMERA OBSCURA
IN THEATERS: June 9, 2017
AVAILABLE ON VOD AND DIGITAL HD: June 13, 2017
DIRECTOR: Aaron B. Koontz
WRITERS: Aaron B. Koontz, Cameron Burns
CAST: Christopher Denham, Nadja Bobyleva, Catherine Curtin, Chase Williamson, Noah Segan
GENRE: Thriller, Horror

Review: ‘WOLVES’ depicts a young man trapped between boyhood and manhood.

Presents

Bart Freundlich’s new film WOLVES

From the famous courts of West 4th Street, to the tenements overlooking the bridges of the lower east side, Wolves paints an original, diverse, and emotional portrait of a boy becoming a man in New York City. 18-year-old, Anthony Keller is a high school basketball star. Now in his senior year he is being recruited by Cornell University, a dream come true.  Called “Saint” by everyone at his school (St. Anthony’s), he does his best to live up to his name.  He is captain of his team, a good student, has a long time girlfriend and some good friends.  But the ease with which he moves through his life is a facade. At home, Anthony struggles with his troubled Father, Lee Keller, (Michael Shannon) and his gambling addiction.  Anthony’s Mother, Jenny, (Carla Gugino) has made it her mission to keep the family afloat but has done so only with great emotional and financial sacrifice.

As Anthony approaches the end of his senior year and the city finals, he is faced with adversity from all sides, and the stakes are high.  He must find his own definition of what it means to be a man, both on and off the court, and in doing so he is confronted with the decision of a lifetime.

There is definitely more than meets the eye to this coming of age, high school basketball story. Newcomer Taylor John Smith plays “Saint”, a kid trying desperately to make everyone around him happy. He is emotionally stretched thin and like many high school students who want/need to achieve their lofty dreams, finally meets his breaking point. WOLVES is filled to the brim with fantastic performances. With a heavy hitting cast alongside Smith, there are more layers to this film, and it all comes down to perspective.

Smith’s lead performance is natural, endearing, and powerful. The abusive aspect of the film coming directly from Michael Shannon (as his father), is tough stuff for any actor. But for Smith to easily go toe to toe with a vet like Shannon, all I can say is, “Bravo.” Speaking of Shannon, he plays a real self-loathing scumbag. Unhappy and resentful professor with a gambling addiction, he not only doles out physical abuse to his son but a heavy handed dose of emotional as well. Shannon gives a performance closer to his early seasons on Boardwalk Empire, short fuse and potentially underlying sociopathic tendencies. Carla Gugino is better than ever as the mother trapped in a marriage of frustration and protection of her son and her own sanity. Grittier than her performance in Match but equally as wonderful. For me, the most noteworthy role is one of the smallest. As a momentary surrogate father figure, former pro-baller and wise truth speaking guru, John Douglas Smith is a master. Some of the most impassioned moments in the script come from the mouth of this character Socrates (aptly named). I could have watched this man wax philosophic for the entire film. He was the grounding force the script so desperately needed, as not to lead it into after-school special territory.

On the whole, you will route for WOLVES and the storyline. You can catch the film in theaters and On Demand, tomorrow March 3rd. Check out the trailer below.

In Theaters & On Demand on March 3rd

RT: 110 Minutes

Review: ‘I AM MICHAEL’ places James Franco on emotional seesaw in this true-life story.

A film by Justin Kelly

Starring: James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY:
Justin Kelly (King Cobra)
Based on The New York Times article “My Ex-Gay Friend” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY:
Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting, To Die For)

PRODUCED BY:
Rabbit MandiniJames Franco and Vince Jolivette (Palo Alto, Spring Breakers, Lovelace), Michael Mendelsohn (I Am Wrath, Lord of War, Air Force One) of Patriot Pictures, Scott Reed and Ron Singer of That’s Hollywood.

I AM MICHAEL is the incredible true-life story of Michael Glatze (Franco), a high-profile queer youth activist who created a national controversy when he claimed to no longer be gay and became a straight Christian pastor. The film follows Michael from his life in San Francisco with his boyfriend Bennett (Quinto), where he pursues political activism, a journalist career at XY Magazine, social awareness, and sexual exploration, to his days of personal self-discovery. After a traumatic scare, Michael is plagued by doubt and paranoia, and begins a religious reawakening. Michael renounces his gay lifestyle, rejects his friends, and endeavors to find his “true self.” He explores Buddhism and Mormonism, yet ultimately lands at a Christian Bible school in rural Wyoming where he meets his girlfriend, Rebekah (Roberts), and becomes the pastor of his own church. This powerful new film captures one man’s haunting journey through modern concepts of love, denial and redemption.

Crisis of conscience, fear, confusion, exploration, self-loathing, and everywhere in between. I Am Michael follows the unusual journey of Michael Glatze, a man whose inner turmoil pulls him every which way. Emotional tethers bring Glatze back and forth between his intellectual desire to live in God’s light and path, or whatever that means to him at any moment in time, and the natural desires that come with being a human being. Not wanting to be labeled as a gay man, his oftentimes outwardly offensive exploration comes at the cost of personal relationships. The story rolls along at a rapid pace, which never takes away from the tumultuous up and down in Michael’s life. Franco, is brilliant, as per usual. If you haven’t delved into the huge range of his work, you are genuinely missing out. The man is a PR genius and I still wonder when he has time to sleep. Quinto, as boyfriend Bennett, also bring a beautifully grounded performance and is the perfect foil for Franco’s energy. Emma Roberts plays what some might call a tragic role, as Glatze’s eventual fiance’. A young Christian girl willing to look beyond the past and love Michael for who he claims to presently be and believe. The film features the song “Crucify” by Tori Amos (Which I’ve conveniently shared underneath the trailer!). Its placement is both poignant and perfect in tone and lyrics. Overall, I am Michael gives us a glimpse into a place where religion and sexuality collide and perhaps illustrates the intolerance from both angles. The film comes to theaters and on VOD today, January, 27th.

 

Opening in Theaters and VOD on January 27th

Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Frameline Film Festival, Provincetown International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival.
RT: 101min

Review: ‘CLAIRE IN MOTION’ stars Betsy Brandt in a desperate search for her missing husband.

Breaking Glass Pictures will release the upcoming psychological drama/thriller 

CLAIRE IN MOTION

 in theaters and On Demand January 13, 2017. 

CLAIRE IN MOTION is the second feature film by filmmaking team Lisa Robinson and Annie J. Howell (Small, Beautifully Moving Parts) and stars Betsy Brandt (CBS’ “Life in Pieces,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad”) in a breakthrough performance that twists the missing person thriller into an emotional take on uncertainty and loss.

Three weeks after Claire’s husband has mysteriously disappeared, the police have ended their investigation and her son is beginning to grieve. The only person who hasn’t given up is Claire. Soon she discovers his troubling secrets, including an alluring yet manipulative graduate student with whom he had formed a close bond. As she digs deeper, Claire begins to lose her grip on how well she truly knew her husband and questions her own identity in the process.

Playing the convincing role of math professor and mom comes so naturally to Betsy Brandt, one might actually think this film was based on a true story. With facts and figures guiding her everyday life, she quickly learns they aren’t going to help figure out who she really married. The plot moves swiftly. There is no lag time between the opening scene and transitioning entering the mysteries. The pace and editing are such that you can feel the immediate push from the outside world on both Claire and her son to accept the fact that husband and father are not coming back. It is the quintessential, “You think you know someone,” piece. It lends you to wonder who your significant other is when they’re not with you. Work friends, hobbies, the gym, lunches, seemingly mundane moments impact us each day so why would they not impact your partner in the same profound way? But, the torturous unanswered questions left in the wake of any ended relationship are the ones that stick with us. Claire In Motion is a quiet and yet profound look into reaching beyond yourself and into the lives of those around us.

Narrative Spotlight Audience Award – SXSW Film Festival 2016

Official Selection, New American Cinema – Seattle International Film Festival 2016

TITLE: CLAIRE IN MOTION
IN THEATERS AND ON DEMAND:  January 13, 2017
DIRECTOR:  Lisa Robinson, Annie J. Howell
WRITERS:  Lisa Robinson, Annie J. Howell
CAST:   Betsy Brandt, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Chris Beetem, Sakina Jaffrey
GENRE:  Psychological Drama, Thriller
DISTRIBUTOR: Breaking Glass Pictures

Review: ‘DON’T WORRY BABY’, Daddy’s got you.


Presents

DON’T WORRY BABYDon't Worry Baby poster

The modern family dynamic can be complicated, at best. With the divorce rate at 50%, blended families are more the norm than anything else. The idea of Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids and a dog no longer fits inside a neat little box. If anything, that’s the oddity now. In the new film DON’T WORRY BABY, writer/director Julian Branciforte takes this concept to a whole new level.

Struggling photographer Robert (Magaro) and his philandering father Harry (McDonald) realize that they each had a one-night stand with the same woman, Sara-Beth (Walker), in the same week. Years later, they realize that either one of them might be the biological father of her adorable four-year-old daughter. They begrudgingly agree to share fatherly duties while awaiting a paternity test.

Don't Worry BabyRobert and Harry are strangely pitted against one another for “father of the year” status, in an awkward competition of responsibility. Robert is not only navigating relationship normalcy but he is grasping to find happiness in general. Harry, in a sad attempt to outdo his son, uses demeaning words and actions to cut Robert down at every turn. Branciforte’s story is immensely compelling, offers moments of surprise and nothing but honesty. The performances all around are outstanding.

Dreama WalkerJohn Magaro‘s Robert battle self-loathing and confusion as he finds his way through career, life and love. This role for Magaro is proof that his natural talent is way more than enough. Chris McDonald‘s Harry is a self-righteous prick coming to terms with his own life long mistakes as father and husband. The performance is something I have to come expect from McDonald’s. There is a reason he has had such a long career. Dreama Walker, as Sara-beth, could have been a throwaway character. The ins and out of a quietly complex young woman were well played by Walker. As the film progresses, we become more and more invested in each role as Branciforte does a wonderful job developing everyone. To believe this story, this is absolutely necessary. With solid smaller roles filled by Britt Lower and Tom Lipinski, some of the film’s most shining moments come from Talia Balsam as Harry’s wife Miriam. The dynamic between Sara-beth and the woman betrayed is an unexpected one, but truly inspiring. Let me not forget to mention how fantastically darling Rainn Williams is as Mason, the young lady there is so much to do about. This little sweetheart is meant to be on the big screen. The chemistry between the entire cast combined with tight direction make this a winner.

Don't worry baby stillDON’T WORRY BABY is ultimately about making amends. Coming to terms with what we’ve created emotionally is a huge task, and it’s one that this film dives into head first. You can catch Don’t Worry Baby in theaters and On Demand this Friday, July 22nd.

In Theaters and On Demand
July 22nd

Starring
John Magaro (CarolThe Big Short, Woody Allen’s Upcoming Series)
Chris McDonald  (Happy GilmoreThelma and Louise)
Dreama Walker (CBS’s The Good Wife)
Tom Lipinski (USA Network’s Suits)
&
Talia Balsam (No Strings AttachedAMC’s Mad Men)

Written & Directed By
Julian Branciforte

Review & Interview: ‘APPLESAUCE’ writer/director talks total weirdness and hilarity.

Applesauce Poster

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Just one seemingly innocent question is the spark that ignites the entire rest of one quirky and fantastic film. Onur Tukel’s APPLESAUCE will get under your skin and inside your psyche. applesauce Dylan Baker

Synopsis:

 Every Tuesday night, radio talk show host Stevie Bricks invites his listeners to call in and share “the worst thing they’ve ever done.” Tonight, Ron Welz (writer/director Onur Tukel) is ready to share his story.  But soon after he confesses on the air, someone starts sending him severed body parts. Ron becomes paranoid, terrified. His life begins to unravel. His marriage begins to fall apart. He has no idea who’s tormenting him. Is it his insolent high school student? Is it his best friend? His own wife? In a city like New York, there are eight million suspects and each one could have a bone to pick with someone like Ron.

Applesauce still, Onur, copsOnur takes upon the role of Ron with hilarious gusto. After he answers “the question”, someone begins to torment him by sending him “gifts” that remind him of what he did. The question not only effects him but his wife and their best couple friends, when they answer the question, as well. Everyone is angry but each is guilty of being haunted by their own past. The fallout spreads like a virus, spoiling the sanity of these four individuals. The circumstances get weirder and weirder, but you’re already along for the ride. This cast clicks and whirs like a well oiled machine. Tukel’s script is filled with pop culture digs and the realities of intimate relationships. It’s a crazy give and take between bizarro land and total nonchalance. I was all in from the beginning. APPLESAUCE_web_1


I had the pleasure of interviewing this multifaceted artist about this truly unique indie. Enjoy.


Liz: Firstly, this is some wacky and wonderful stuff. I’m gonna need more asap. Just throwing that out there. What in the world was the inspiration for this unique story?

Onur: The inspiration was a true story that happened to a friend of mine in college.  We were at a party together and he accidentally cut a stranger’s finger off.  He was haunted by this event for years.  We’ve visited this story dozens of times – over dinners, at parties, at various social gatherings – and it always captivates whoever’s listening.  We always wondered whatever happened to the injured person, how it changed his life. My friend and I also agreed that having a character tell the story over dinner would make a terrific starting point for a film. This was, indeed, the lynch-pin. I started with that and the script wrote itself.

Liz: You wear a ton of hats in making your films. Do you find that’s been a necessity or for the love of the project?

Onur: When you make a really low-budget film, yeah, you have to wear a lot of hats.  I was the costumer, the production designer, co-editor, writer, co-actor, and co-producer.  The DP was also the operator, best boy, gaffer, and grip.  The producers are handling props and also working on production design and script supervising. The PA is doing the work of six people. Everyone’s wearing a lot of hats. You have no choice! Of course, love factors into the whole process. But when people get over-extended, it becomes stressful, and that sucks. Still, when that camera rolls and you get a take that really pops, it’s all worth it. Then, in the editing room, when you start piecing it together like a puzzle and it starts to come to life, it’s magic. On the next one, I hope to have a bigger budget and crew so I can focus exclusively on the writing, directing and editing. This will give the other crew members a chance to focus on fewer things, as well.

Liz: For Applesauce, specifically, what was the length of time from page to production? Shooting to wrap?

Onur: I finished the first draft of the script in August of 2014 and rewrote it over several months. We went into production in November and wrapped on December 31, 2014.   Just four months later, it premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in April.  The schedule was nuts: fast-paced, chaotic, exhilarating and at times, infuriating.   I made a vampire movie when I was 26 in Wilmington, NC and we were rushed into production, much like we did on Applesauce.  The entire crew of six decided to abandon the movie because they thought we weren’t ready.  I recruited the camera operator Bryan Kupko and asked him if he wanted to make the movie with just a two-person crew.  He shrugged and said, “Sure.”  And that was all I needed to hear.  I just wanted a camera rolling; wanted to hear that purr of the film threading throughout the CP-16 as it burned itself up at 24 frames per second.  The crew eventually came back on board and we dug in and got the movie made, but I was ready to go with one person.  I feel alive on a film set.  A group of creative people working together to make a movie is a beautiful battlefield.  Even when it seems like films may be losing their cultural significance, it’s an honor to be called a director.

Liz: The dialogue is delicious. Super natural, which leads me to think there was a lot of improv involved?

Onur: Delicious. Super natural. You’re delicious and super natural, Liz. Hope that doesn’t sound creepy. Yes, there’s always improvisation in my movies, but it’s always very scripted at the beginning.  We will improv a scene if the words don’t sound real or the dialogue feels flat.  I always want the scene to have life and that usually means severing a sentence or two, rearranging some lines, or tossing the dialogue out all together. Sometimes we’ll use 100% of the dialogue. Sometimes 70%. Sometimes none. Plus, I’m rewriting the script during production, so it’s always changing.  I just want it to feel real, whatever it takes.  If what I’ve written works, great.  If it doesn’t, the hell with it!

Liz: Loved the structural choice to use Stevie Bricks as a transitional catalyst. It made for some quick relief from the adult realness (even as those scenes funny as hell) You totally could have gotten away with just having him as the opener. Talk about utilizing that character throughout, if you would.

Onur: The brilliant Dylan Baker gives such a great performance. I used him like a one-night stand. Literally. We had him for eight hours. I squeezed as much as I could out of him during that time, knowing we would edit him into the movie as much as possible.  He was very busy working on another project and I gave him maybe 10 pages of dialogue the night before his shoot.  He came in and nailed it.  I just sat back and watched.  I threw in a couple suggestions here and there to feel like I was a big shot and so I could tell people, “I directed Dylan Baker,” but I didn’t do a thing.  I didn’t really direct anyone in the movie.  That’s why it’s pretty good!

Liz: How does casting generally work for you? Do you have people in mind while writing or do you use a more traditional route with casting directors?

Onur: I wrote the role of Kate for Jennifer Prediger.  She’s a dear friend, but I was a fan or her work before I met her.  It’s easy to write for her because we kind of speak the same language.  We’re self-effacing, jokey, over-histrionic at times, charming when we need to be, yet self-aware when we’re both being sniveling little assholes. I was also friends with Trieste Kelly Dunn long before I cast her.  We both have connections to North Carolina, which might be one of the reasons we find the same things funny. North Carolinians can bullshit about anything.  I could probably talk to Trieste about a blade of grass for two hours.  I always have a blast in her company. The great Max Casella and wonderful Dylan Baker were brought on through a casting director named Stephanie Holbrook. The thought of making a movie now without her is terrifying. I won’t do it. She’s absolutely indispensable. She also happens to be a sweetheart. Lots of lovely people on Applesauce.

Liz: What advice can you give writers/artists in a world saturated with naysayers and Youtube clips/fleeting attention spans?

Onur: Read as many books as you can. The act of reading is creative. Whatever damage technology is doing to our attention spans can all be reversed with reading. Of course, this is easier said than done. Reading is a luxury for those with time. Outside of that, you better use your free time doing your art, whether it’s writing, drawing, recording music, playing music, making movies, etc. After all, if you ain’t doing that, you ain’t an artist.  If you are creating art, don’t be self-important. You’re not special and you’re probably not that good.  I have to tell myself this all the time. Every now and then, someone flatters me with praise. It’s nice to hear, but the day you start believing that stuff, you’re done. Before you know it, you’re lecturing people on how to make art like I’m doing now. I’m so ashamed.  I’m the last person who should be giving advice.  You should see my apartment. It’s like Hooverville for roaches in here.

Liz: I want to say THANK YOU for taking the time to chat with me. I cannot wait to see what’s next!

Onur: Thank you, Liz.  It’s an honor answering your great questions!

 
Starring Max Casella, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Tukel, and Dylan Baker
The Disturbingly Riotous Tale of Secrets, Lies and Severed Body Parts Comes to VOD and EST Digital on November 24, 2015

Review: ‘TRANSFATTY LIVES’ makes living for something, everything.

filmbuff logo
Presents
Transfatty Lives posterSo many of us participated in “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. The real question is, how many of us took 60 seconds to Google why we were doing it? Patrick Sean O’Brien‘s inspirational documentary TRANSFATTY LIVES paints a stunning, incredibly raw picture of ALS.
TransFatty_Press_1 Tribeca

At 30, Patrick Sean O’Brien was TransFatty, a New York City DJ, Internet personality, and filmmaker. He spent his days as a beer-drinking creative force, making art films about perverts, vulnerable souls, and Howard Johnson’s restaurants. Then his legs started shaking.

Defying sentimentality, TRANSFATTY LIVES takes you on an emotional roller coaster from Patrick’s wild, fun-loving days into the dark heart of ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease). Given 2 to 5 years to live, Patrick first loses his ability to walk, then move his arms, then to swallow, and even to breathe. With the support of his bewildered friends and family Patrick braves the unthinkable and turns his camera onto himself.

As the director and star of his own documentary, Patrick films every step of his debilitating journey from first diagnosis through his current paralysis. Forcefully lacking self pity, he captures the emotion, humor, and absurdity of real life as he makes art, gets political, falls in love, fathers a son, and fights extreme depression and paranoia.

At 40, Patrick has completed this film by typing directions to his editors with the movements of his pupils. Miraculously, TRANSFATTY LIVES is not a movie about death. Because, while Patrick’s brain stopped being able to control his muscles, it remains brilliantly alive, allowing him to ask: “What if my diminishing physical abilities can be inversely proportional to my journey inward? And, more importantly, “will there be bacon and unicorns once I get there?”

Still 3 - TransFatty LivesPatrick’s film is moving, impactful, and funny. Narrated by Patrick, mostly through voice-to-text on his computer via eye movements, the structure of the film is high impact with footage from his previous quirky films, photographs of his adventures, and dairy entries starting from 2005, when he was diagnosed with ALS. Completely unafraid, what began as a film about Patrick’s love for Howard Johnson, soon becomes a film about his journey. His crew seem to become a huge part in his care-taking. Along with his family, they are totally immersed in Patrick’s world, as much as someone without ALS can possibly be. If you’re not crying half way through this doc, you may not actually have a soul. Patrick has created a lens through which the audience can begin to understand just how quickly this disease sucks the life out of you physically. Having Patrick as the center of this project is invaluable. Firstly, he’s intensely charming. Using humor and positivity, he is able to put us at ease. But, moments of extraordinary challenge break the surface at every turn, throwing reality back into our faces just as quickly. The film’s balance is sheer perfection. TRANSFATTY LIVES should be seriously considered as awards season ramps up in the coming weeks. Patrick Sean O’Brien is a brilliant filmmaker and one hell of a human being.

TRANSFATTY LIVES is opening in Los Angeles and On Demand on November 20th and in New York on December 25th.
 TRANSFATTY LIVES won the ‘Audience Award’ at The Tribeca Film Festival, Milano Film Festival, and American Film Festival in Poland. It was also a Top 20 Film at HotDocs International Film Festival.

Review: ‘I SMILE BACK’ is Sarah Silverman’s game changer.

Presents
i smile back posterSarah Silverman has been making us laugh for ages now. Her raunchy comedy style is beyond funny. Though, we’ve never seen her in a role like the one she plays in I SMILE BACK. As a mother of two children, insurance salesman husband, massive house in the burbs, Silverman plays a woman on the edge of a cliff. This film is not funny. Sarah Silverman I Smile Back still So many mothers try their damnedest to attain a facade of perfection. Doing it all, every day, can take its toll. Even more so  if underlying issues bubble to the surface and collide head on with mental illness and addiction. Silverman‘s character, Laney, has a routine. Hubby wakes her up as he is heading out the door. She rises, makes her kids their personalized lunches, breakfast, gets them to school… then all hell breaks loose in her world. Faking it through the moments has become the bane of her existence so pills, alcohol and sex become her destructive outlet. When the cracks begin to show and the fun wears off, Laney’s sporadic outbursts among the masses, and worse, the ones she knows intimately are simply the beginning of all the walls imploding around her. The film tackles so many touchy subjects unapologetically. Based on Amy Koppleman‘s novel (which she adapted for the screen along with Paige Dylan) I SMILE BACK pulls no punches in parading Laney’s self destructive behavior for the audience to cringe along with. Whether or not we’ve experienced addiction first hand, we all know someone who has. Depression doesn’t have a magical cure. Bruce, Janey, son, Josh Charles, I smile Back stillSarah Silverman should, hands down, get an award for this performance. Do not for one minute think that was an easy performance to pull off. It is raw, dirty, unglamorous, and very real. If this doesn’t open up an entire new avenue for her career, then shame on Hollywood. Sharp tongued and effortlessly pointed, Silverman owns this film from minute one. Josh Charles as supportive husband Bruce is no throw away character. Endlessly in love with his wife, knowing full well what she is capable, there are moments real truth is revealed. Through brief remarks, side glances,even if he tolerates her behavior, he does not condone it. His portrayal is incredibly realistic in each moment. He never asks too much of her but strives for her happiness even if it means making unpleasant family decisions. It is an unafraid performance. Laney and dad Sarah Silverman still from I smile Back
I Smile Back not only tackles addiction, depression,  mental illness, but breaking the patterns that have been, and are being, passed down generation to generation. The film is brave. The script is bold. It will leave you with a sense of reality some may not be ready to accept. Audiences will be lucky to dive into this film head first. We’re very proud to recommend I SMILE BACK.

I SMILE BACK open tomorrow, October 23rd in NY at the Angelika! Available On Demand November 6th.
Laney is an attractive, intelligent suburban wife and devoted mother of two adorable children. She has the perfect husband who plays basketball with the kids in the driveway, a pristine house, and a shiny SUV for carting the children to their next activity. However, just beneath the façade lie depression and disillusionment that send her careening into a secret world of reckless compulsion. Only very real danger will force her to face the painful root of her destructiveness and its crumbling effect on those she loves.
Starring: Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Tom Sadoski and Mia Barron
Directed by: Adam Salky
Written by: Amy Koppelman (based on her novel) and Paige Dylan
Running Time: 85 minutes
Rating: R
#ISmileBack

‘The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared’ is finally available in the U.S.!

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This incredibly funny and endearing film is one of the most upbeat things I’ve seen this year. Long story short, not unlike the title suggests, Allan is turning 100 and is stuck in a nursing home. Reminiscing through pictures and stories from his past, Allan decides to jump out of the window and go on an adventure, anywhere. He ends up with a suitcase full of money belonging to some pretty scary people and on his way to freedom he runs into other wayward souls that get entangled in his absurd journey.

Allan (Robert Gustafsson) and Julius (Iwar Wiklander) in THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN. Courtesy of Music Box Films.

Allan (Robert Gustafsson) and Julius (Iwar Wiklander) in THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN. Courtesy of Music Box Films.

Lead actor Robert Gustafsson is an absolute delight. Comic timing and facial expressions of a real genius, he takes this film through time and through encounters with historical figures like Ronald Reagan and Joseph Stalin, just to name a few. With a passion for blowing things up and an innate ability to talk to anyone, Allan becomes a double agent, a soldier, and perhaps the actual creator of the atomic bomb.

THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN. Courtesy of Music Box Films.

THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN. Courtesy of Music Box Films.

The film is a mixture of scenes from Allan’s youth and the shenanigans he’s gotten himself into on his birthday. Adapted beautifully from the novel of the same name by author Jonas Jonasson, with the help of screenwriters Felix Herngren & Hans Ingemansson, it is definitely full of belly laughs and good times. Herndren, also the director, gives us a colorful, lush, and impeccable comedic foreign film, unlike the many melodramatic features we’re used to getting from over seas. The theater I was in was in stitches the entire duration, and when you can get a theater full of critics laughing, well that’s a feat unto itself. I highly recommend you catch this movie. It is available in theaters in on demand!

Allan (Robert Gustafsson) in THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN. Courtesy of Music Box Films.

Allan (Robert Gustafsson) in THE 100 YEAR OLD MAN. Courtesy of Music Box Films.

Powered by the antics of a mischievous centenarian on the run, comic fable The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared abounds with irreverent charm.  After a long and colorful life working in munitions and getting entangled in the Spanish Civil War, the Manhattan Project, and other definitive events of the 20th century, Allan Karlsson finds himself stuck in a nursing home.  Determined to escape on his 100th birthday, he leaps out of a window and onto the nearest bus, kicking off an unexpected journey involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some wicked criminals, and an elephant named Sonya.  Like an unruly Nordic cousin of Forrest Gump, Allan’s youthful escapades and current adventures weave together into an offbeat treat for anyone who’s young at heart.  Starring beloved comedian Robert Gustafsson, this fanciful spin on world history is based on a best-selling novel and also the highest-grossing Swedish film of all time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson star in ‘MAGGIE’ – a post-apocalyptic Zombie flick with Midwestern flare and some incredible acting.

Maggie PosterThere is no denying that most of us are fans of anything zombie genre. With The Walking Dead becoming a televised phenomenon, we got to see a story line based around the characters and not the infected. This is very much the scenario in Henry Hobson‘s new film Maggie. Wade has promised his late wife that he would  do anything to protect their daughter. Living in a world where an infection causes people to turn into cannibal zombies, the government have ordered that at 8 weeks into said infection, you must deliver your family member to the hospital quarantine wing… where they essentially wait to die. But how can you just give up? What if your loved one is different? What if you believe they can be saved?Maggie still Arnold and Abigail breslinArnold Schwarzenegger plays Wade with a love and affection that is altogether new for him. This legendary action star is gentle and protective, and any of us would be proud to  call him Dad. He is able to hold the screen in long quiet shots with complete ease and not much more than his pensive face. I would  love to him  in more roles like this, as he is clearly capable of giving us an entire range of real emotion without any slow motion explosions going off behind him. Joely Richardson is Caroline, Wade’s second wife and Maggie’s stepmother. After sending her two small children off to live with relatives one Maggie returns to the home, she is hesitant to fully trust Wade’s parenting decisions, as would anyone afraid of being attacked by a zombie. Supportive but always on edge, Richardson displays the same great acting talents we’ve come to know from The Tudors and Nip/TuckMaggie Still Babigail ArnoldThe real star of this film, hands down, is Abigail Breslin. To navigate as a teenager in a world where awkwardness is already the norm, then add in the inevitability of turning into a monster is quite the feat. Breslin is graceful and raw in her spiral both emotionally and physically. She is able to balance sadness, thoughtfulness, and a little bit of frightening all at once. I am truly impressed with her portrayal of Maggie and it should not go unnoticed by Hollywood. MaggieMaggie is Henry Hobson‘s first feature length film. He is known for his genius art direction with title sequences, ironically including The Walking Dead. Hobson’s experience is evident in the way he chooses to shoot in an almost kamikaze style. Indie films have smaller budgets and tight schedule, but his actors and crew trusted him so much that at the drop of a hat, the entire team would run from one location to another in order to fit in a shot to capture a perfect moment in time and its natural light. I see a great future for Henry Hobson if Maggie is any indication of what he is capable of. Joely Abigail Arnold Maggie stillDon’t expect massive actions scenes but do expect some phenomenal makeup effects and a truly lovely script by John Scott 3. For a first time screenwriter, he definitely knows his stuff about the genre and great family dynamics. Maggie is a slow burn, beautifully shot and scored, with one hell of an ending. It’s slightly outside the box for a zombie film and for Schwarzenegger, but totally worth your time. You can check out Maggie in theaters and On Demand today, May 8th.

Below you can find the audio from The Tribeca Film Festival press conference I attended for Maggie. Joely, Henry, and Arnold were in attendance. All three were completely gracious and articulate, it’s worth a listen for some  insider information on the production. Enjoy!

http://maggiethefilm.com/

3 New Movies You Can Rent Tonight – 3.10.15

Summary:

I’ve been dying to see this ever since I missed it at New York Film Festival. Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss and Jonathan Pryce? Not to mention those in the trailer! Quirky to the nth degree, I say, Listen Up Philip!

I have yet to take advantage of my Amazon Prime membership, but I don’t have to pay for it, it’s free for Prime members!


Summary:

John Hawkes has not stopped making those tiny gems and he’s brought a whole cast with him this time.

I swear this was on Netflix two days ago, but now I can’t find it.


Summary:

Liz reviewed this heart-stopper back in December. It’s from the producers of Headhunters, one of my favorite movies of 2011. (Now on Netflix)

Netflix Announces May 21st Release Date for New Apocalyptic Series ‘Between’ – Photos

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Between is the story of a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody except those 21 years old and under. The series explores the power vacuum that results when a government has quarantined a 10-mile diameter area and left the inhabitants to fend for themselves.

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10 years Later… ‘WTC View’ is being released on iTunes. Liz interviews Director Brian Sloan and star Michael Urie

Michael Urie in WTC View. Courtesy of Brian Sloan.

Everyone has their own story. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they found out about the planes hitting the towers. It was not a good day for our country. Sadness, confusion, fear all still come to mind when allowing ourselves to go back to that day. What many people outside New York will never understand, is what happened the days and months following the attacks on 9/11. WTC View, was released 10 years ago. Tuesday, March 3rd, it is finally available on iTunes. This film is a beautiful glance at the time after the world came to a stop in 2001. What we, as New Yorkers, felt, saw, smelled, heard, and had to process after a day that will never leave us. Read More →

NEW Trailer: Christina Hendricks in ‘Lost River’ Looks Vibrant & Emotional

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Lost River In Theatres April 10
Available Same Day on Digital HD

“Lost River” is a dark fairy tale about love, family and the fight for survival in the face of danger. In the virtually abandoned city of Lost River, Billy (Christina Hendricks), a single mother of two, is led into a macabre underworld in her quest to save her childhood home and hold her family together. Her teenage son Bones (Iain De Casestecker) discovers a mystery about the origins of Lost River that triggers his curiosity and sets into motion an unexpected journey that will test his limits and the limits of those he loves. Read More →

‘The Sublime and Beautiful’- Liz’s interview with writer/director/star Blake Robbins

SUBLIMEBEAUTIFUL

Grief is a very personal experience. Some of us cry, some lash out at loved ones, some shut down. A few even look at a loss as an excuse to reassess their lives. Either way, it is a loss. Five years ago yesterday, I lost someone very special to me. I had experienced the loss of family members before, but this, this was something altogether different. Tyler was a beloved friend. I guess I never actually knew how close we were until after he was ripped from my life without real explanation. The hole gets smaller each day but just barely. There are moments, songs, pictures, that still take the wind out of me. It’s the most horrible feeling. Grief owns me at times. It’s still a process. In Blake Robbins new film, The SUBLIME and BEAUTIFUL, all those feelings rush back into my brain and heart. Read More →

Last Chance: HBO GO Movies Expiring At The End of August!

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These 3 are actually expiring August 24th!

  • The Best Man Holiday – Sequel to The Best Man (1999)
  • The Counselor – Either you love it or you hate it. I hated it, but have a strange desire to give it another try. Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz
  • Enough Said – James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss

There are a lot of movies expiring, these are the ones I would want to catch. My personal suggestions in RED. Read More →

On Demand: 5 Documentaries You Can Watch This Weekend

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Video Games: The Movie

Video Games: The Movie

These are the movies that are newly available online to stream or download before or during their time in theaters.

Read More →