Review: ‘CLARA’ has an appeal that is written in the stars.

Starring: Troian Bellisario (“Pretty Little Liars”) and Patrick J. Adams (“Suits”)
Written & Directed by Akash Sherman (The Rocket List)

CLARA tells the story of Isaac Bruno (Patrick J. Adams), an astronomer consumed by the search for life beyond Earth. Convinced that the universe is a dark and lonely place, Isaac meets Clara (Troian Bellisario), an artist who shares his fascination for the wonders of space. Their unlikely collaboration leads to a deep connection, and a profound astronomical discovery.”

The intellectual dialogue is so overwhelming intriguing from the very first scene, you cannot help but feel compelled to give your entire attention to Clara‘s unique premise. Can logic and love coexist? This is a film about loneliness and loss but also wonder and imagination, science, and faith. It’s a profound look at the universe as it pertains to intimate relationships. Seemingly an oxymoron, how could the vast beyond of space apply to two people? Clara delves into the idea of letting go to let the universe do its proverbial thing. Real-life husband and wife play astronomer and newly hired assistant attempting to find a new planet with life. Their backstories are incredibly nuanced. Patrick J. Adams is captivating in his sadness and determination. Seeing him outside of Suits in a completely different role further cements his strong presence and pull on-screen. The arch of Issac is something to behold. Troian Bellisario as Clara is simply magic. The full complexity of her character won’t be fully realized until the film’s final scenes. She owns this role.

Just when you think the script couldn’t get any better, it does. The film is hauntingly scored and beautifully edited. The stakes are high and the emotional hold Clara has on you is undeniable. It has an ending that is otherworldly. Human connection is one of the most important things on this planet. Clara explores ideas we all contemplate as we gaze into the night sky and pushes them over the edge.

In Theaters and On Demand This Friday!

New York Theater: Cinema Village
Los Angeles Theater: Arena Cinelounge

RT: 105 Minutes

*2018 Toronto International Film Festival*
*Narrative Feature Jury Award – 2018 Austin Film Festival*
*2019 Canada Now*

Review: ‘Trespass Against Us’ makes Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson family.

 

TRESPASS AGAINST US is set across three generations of the Cutler family who live as outlaws in their own anarchic corner of Britain’s richest countryside. Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) is heir apparent to his bruising criminal father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson) and has been groomed to spend his life hunting, thieving and tormenting the police. But with his own son, Tyson (Georgie Smith) coming of age, Chad soon finds himself locked in a battle with his father for the future of his young family. When Colby learns of Chad’s dreams for another life he sets out to tie his son and grandson into the archaic order that has bound the Cutler family for generations. He engineers a spectacular piece of criminal business involving a heist, a high-speed car chase and a manhunt, which leaves Chad bruised and bloodied and with his very freedom at stake. With the law cracking down and his father tightening his grip, Chad is forced into increasingly desperate measures. Featuring incredible performances – and an astonishing score by The Chemical Brothers – TRESPASS AGAINST US is at once an exhilarating crime thriller and a profoundly moving story about love and family.

There is no doubting the abilities of both Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson in this family crime drama. The two could very easily be related based on their spectacular on-screen chemistry. The action (predominantly in car chase form) is plenty and should be seen on the biggest screen possible for maximum clarity and impact. Gleeson does a brilliant job in making you squirm. Think about the most awful, offensive relative that shows up on holidays and multiply that feeling by 10. You are quickly sympathetic to Fassbender’s rock and a hard place persona. The little bit of mischievous joy he gets by rattling the cops is nothing in comparison to his brooding desire to be a better man for his wife and two kids. The last thing he wants is for history to repeat itself. He desperately tries to break the cycle, much to the chagrin of his father hence moving the plot along. Though even with the talent, there is a slowness and lack of back story that would have been nice to hear or see. The choice to make The Cutler’s a traveler family is cool in concept but I wish there had been a better explanation as to how our patriarch became so anti-establishment. One is left to assume. Ultimately, Trespass Against Us is a film about the line between family loyalty and self-preservation. The film is available on Direct TV and in theaters beginning today.

Check out a clip and the trailer below.

Directed by:                                          Adam Smith

Written by:                                             Alastair Siddons

Produced by:                                       Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Alastair Siddons

Executive Produced by:                     Joshua Astrachan, Rose Garnett, Frederick W. Green, Peter Hampden, Phil Hunt, Norman Merry, Compton Ross

Starring:                                                  Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal, Killian Scott   

In Theaters January 20th, 2017

Running Time:                                       1hr 39min

Rating:                                                   R

Netflix News: Teaser for ‘Barry’ – A Dramatic Film About A Pivotal Year in the Life of a Young Barack Obama

barrynetflix_logo_digitalvideo

As the United States transitions from one presidency to the next, and a nation examines issues of diversity and acceptance, the Netflix original film Barry resonates. On December 16, 2016, millions of members in 190 countries around the globe will have a chance to enjoy this powerful artistic exploration of a pivotal year in the life of the future 44th President of the United States, during which he developed the foundations for his views on race, government, and what it means to be American.

A young Barack Obama, known to his friends as “Barry,” arrives in New York City in the fall of 1981 to begin his junior year at Columbia University. In a crime-ridden and racially charged environment, Barry finds himself pulled between various social spheres and struggles to maintain a series of increasingly strained relationships with his Kansas-born mother, his estranged Kenyan father, and his classmates. Barry is the story of a young man grappling with those same issues that his country, and arguably the world, are still coming to terms with 35 years later.

Filmmaker Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré, HBO’s “Vice”), a Columbia University alumni, was inspired to tell the story of Barack Obama’s time at the university to write the story and direct this narrative feature. Gandhi approached fellow alum Adam Mansbach (author of “Go the F**k to Sleep”) to help tell that story, and from that collaboration Mansbach penned the script. Barry stars newcomer Devon Terrell in a deeply felt breakout performance as the young student, and features a strong supporting cast including Ashley Judd (Divergent, Double Jeopardy), Jenna Elfman (Friends With Benefits, Big Stone Gap), and up-and-comers Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), and Avi Nash (Learning to Drive, “Silicon Valley”).

Barry was produced by Black Bear Pictures and Cinetic Media. Dana O’Keefe, Teddy Schwarzman, Ben Stillman, and Vikram Gandhi produced the film. Daniel Steinman executive produced.

Review: ‘JAMES WHITE’ makes escaping reality impossible.

imgres.PNG2004x1130-stage-locarno-film-festival-1.jpgTIFF-OfficialSelection-Laurel.png

lff-2015.jpeg   2015-HIFF-Official-Laurels-small-e144405371818.png  images.jpg

unnamed-2.PNG

 

Josh Mond’s

JAMES WHITE

Starring Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

James White poster

If you’ve ever watched someone die from cancer… if you’ve ever seen the downward spiral of a loved one… if you’ve ever been lost in a haze a grief and confusion, JAMES WHITE will speak to you. What does a young man, flailing in his own existence, do to cope with the idea that one of these days, his mother will not get better? Is escapism the answer? Josh Mond‘s directorial debut lets us into the skin and brain of one man’s story.

JAMES WHITE

JAMES WHITE- Christopher Abbot & Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

As James’ mother’s health deteriorates, his ne’er do well lifestyle is forced to come to an end, but not before attempting to escape reality after the death of his estranged father. Triggering a getaway trip to Mexico with friends to avoid dealing with life, this drug, alcohol, and sex addled stay comes to an abrupt end when a call from Gail forces him to return to the couch of his childhood NYC home and take care of Mom 24 hrs a day. Struggling to put his bad boy behavior on the back burner, James walks the line between telling the world to fuck off and dropping his very existence to protect the woman he loves most in the world. As the plot progresses, we learn the this is not his first go round with mom’s illness. Do we forgive his behavior because of this? That’s for the individual to decide.

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

Mond’s script is partially based on his own experiences with his own mother. It is unapologetic and raw. You cannot take that away from Mond. No arguing that the film is ever dull or full of shit. It goes there fast and hard. Using cinematographer Mátyás Erdély was a genius move. Having recently seen Son of Saul at this year’s NYFF, his literal in your face, ultra close-up style of shooting, gives James White the immersive feeling the script calls for. I cannot imagine the film being in any other style. From the opening sequence, scored to perfection by co-star Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, with it’s organic feel and LOUD introduction, we immediately enter the world of a man who is grasping at straws to figure out who he is and what kind of person he wants/needs to be.

James White-20

Christopher Abbott gives an purely award-winning performance. His truth is on his sleeve 1000%. Somehow, through all the distasteful behavior he exhibits, you love him. Scott Mescudi is outstanding. As James’ best friend and long time player inside the family, his genuine interactions with Christopher and Cynthia feel so authentic, it’s almost hard to believe that this film isn’t a documentary at moments. Cynthia Nixon‘s portrayal of Gail is epic. With the film’s structure presented from month to month like chapters in a book, we are privy to the physical and mental changes her character endures. No matter the form of media, Nixon creates her own presence and we are lucky enough to witness it. The entire cast deserves all the accolades in the world, as does Mond for delivering a bold story.

JAMES WHITE will capture part of your soul. It allows you to let go and perhaps forgive yourself for past transgressions. Do yourself a favor and see this film.


 

Nominated for Three IFP Gotham Awards:

Christopher Abbott (Best Actor)

Josh Mond (Bingham Ray Breakthrough Actor Award) 

Audience Award

About JAMES WHITE

James White (Christopher Abbott) is a troubled twenty-something trying to stay afloat in a frenzied New York City. He retreats further into a self-destructive, hedonistic lifestyle, but as his mother (Cynthia Nixon) battles a serious illness James is forced to take control of his life. As the pressure on him mounts, James must find new reserves of strength or risk imploding completely.  The directorial debut of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE producer Josh Mond,  JAMES WHITE, which had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2014 where it was the winner of the “Best of Next” Audience Award, is a confident and closely observed debut that explores loss and the deep relationship between a mother and son.  Abbott’s strong central performance is aided by a stellar supporting cast featuring Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”), and Ron Livingston (DRINKING BUDDIES). Shot on location in New York City with an intimate visual style, JAMES WHITE follows its lead into deep, affecting places while still maintaining its fragile humanity. 

The Film Arcade will release JAMES WHITE on November 13th 

Trailer: ‘THE WITCH’ looks insanely frightening.

 
Presents
 
THE WITCH
A film by Robert Eggers
 
***Winner – Directing Award, Dramatic – 2015 Sundance Film Festival***
 
THE WITCH will have its International Premiere at the
2015 Toronto International Film Festival as a Special

The witch teaser poster In this exquisitely-made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic and possession are innovatively brought together to tell the intimate and riveting story of one family’s frightful unraveling.

 Set in New England circa 1630, The Witch follows a farmer who get cast out of his colonial plantation and is forced to move his family to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest rumored to be controlled by witches. Almost immediately, strange and unsettling things begin to happen-the animals turn violent, the crops fail, and one of the children disappears, only to return seemingly possessed by an evil spirit.  As suspicion and paranoia mount, everyone begins to point the finger at teenage daughter Thomasin. They accuse her of witchcraft, which she adamantly denies…but as circumstances become more and more treacherous, each family member’s faith, loyalty, and love will be tested in shocking and unforgettable ways.
Writer/director Robert Eggers‘ debut feature, which premiered to great acclaim at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (and won the Best Director Prize in the U.S. Narrative Competition), painstakingly recreates a God-fearing New England decades before the 1692 Salem witch trials, in which religious convictions and pagan folklore famously clashed. Told through the eyes of the adolescent Thomasin – in a star-making turn by newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy – and supported by mesmerizing camera work and a powerful musical score, THE WITCH is a chilling and groundbreaking new take on the genre.
In Theaters 2016
 
Directed and Written by Robert Eggers
Starring Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie,
Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Rating: R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity
 

Review: ‘GUIDANCE’ is an underachiever’s playbook.

Guidance_posterFormer child star, alcoholic, narcissistic David is in desperate need of a job. Using the internet, his acting skills, and his ability to overachieve only when taking the path f least resistance, he gets hired as a high school counselor. Hilarity ensues in the form of lies, awkward social encounters, and a seemingly misguided sense of self redemption. Guidance_DavidBikingWriter/Director/Star Pat Mills‘ nonchalance and willingness to look like a total whack job makes each scene a joy to watch. He has an Adam Pally quality about his timbre and tone and comic timing, which is a huge compliment. Rule breaking and advice a playboy playmate might give are the driving fores behind the comedy. His connections with the kids are genuine and as a former high school substitute teacher and current actor/writer, this film resonates pretty personally (minus the scamming and alcoholism). Guidance_2Knowing that Mills has another film in the pipeline makes me excited. He clearly understands funny, situational comedy and structure. Sharp wit, keen observational skills, and the brilliant use of self motivational voice overs make Guidance a must see. GUIDANCE opens theatrically in NYC on August 21 (Village East) and LA on August 28 (Sundance Sunset Cinema) with a national release to follow.

Toronto International Film Festival, Vanguard Section – Liz’s Review: ‘They Have Escaped’

Toronto International Film Festival, Vanguard SectionTheyHaveEscapedPoster

Sometimes we run from things; the past, the present, and the lies we tell ourselves. In Writer/Director J-P Valkeapää brings us They Have Escaped, a unique coming of age narrative about two kids on the run. Joni is a young man who goes AWOL on his military service, landing him a mandatory civil service stint at a live-in residency for wayward teens. Raisa is an unruly wild child who has been brandished too difficult to deal with by an uptight mother and ill father. Both are damaged souls. One, an introvert, the other, the very definition of extrovert. Together is run away from their lives and take off in a stolen car on the road to freedom. Along the way, they are met with emotional and physical challenges that were seemingly dismissed when they decided to venture onto the open road. Together they tackle each new day with courage, relentless spirit, and tenacity. Read More →