Category Archives: Movies

IndiePix Unlimited offers movie mavens a highly-curated catalog of cinematic gems

On the road again? This summer join IndiePix Films for a journey to the Dominican tropics for On the Road, Somewhere (Algun Lugar), a poignant coming-of-age road trip drama.  The feature debut of writer/director Guillermo Zouain will premiere exclusively on August 12 on IndiePix Unlimited, IndiePix Films’ streaming subscription service. Admit you may not have heard of him. Admit you always will after seeing the flick, so wonderful it was an Official Selection at numerous festivals including the Miami International Film Festival, the Chicago Latino Film Festival, Cine Las Americas and the International Film Festival of Panama.

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On the Road, Somewhere follows three high-school best friends, Oliver (portrayed by Arnold Martínez), Moises (Javier Grullón) and Hemingway (Victor Alfonso), on a summer road trip through the Dominican Republic–their last together before college.  Oliver needs to arrive at all costs to the remote town of Pedernales to say goodbye to his high school sweetheart before she moves away to New York.  Moises is documenting the trip as a last tribute to his love of photography before enrolling in a career in civil engineering.  And Hemingway seeks to escape his oppressive family and become a writer in a society that despises authors.
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Along the way, the car breaks down frequently, leaving the three boys stranded with nearly every character under the Dominican sun: a Haitian hitchhiker, a famous photographer and an intriguing artist.  And when these strangers trigger a series of adventures unexpectedly changing their travel plans, their celebratory journey may well become a final farewell. 

Nominated for Best Feature Film at the 2015 Miami International Film Festival and Top Indie Film Awards 2015, among numerous other accolades, On the Road, Somwhere will initially only be available on IndiePix Unlimited, which  gives passionate cinephiles 24/7 access to a highly-curated catalog of cinematic gems from both international auteurs and visionary new voices alike. There, it joins other contemporary classics of world cinema including 2009 Cannes Camera D’Or winner, Samson & Delilah; Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s feature-length debut; the Golden Lion-nominated Women Without Men and Noaz Deshe’s powerful White Shadow.  For just $5.99 per month, those film and more than 400 others across all genres will be available on any device or platform through IndiePixUnlimited.com or apps available on iTunes or Google Play.
 

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Collector’s Edition” on Blu-ray and DVD: May the force be with you.

It will happen, in a galaxy not so far, far away. It will happen in the Milky Way, right here on Earth. It will first happen on Halloween in Sweden and Holland  . . . and happen in the United States and Canada on November 15.

Save the date. This is important. Those are the dates Star Wars devotees will experience—up close and in eye-popping 3D—the highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D Collector’s Edition. May the force be with you.AVCO_3D_pack_shot

For the first time—and just in time for the holidays (make note!)—viewers can bring home Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 3D, encased in stunning, collectible packaging. The exclusive four-disc 3D Collector’s Edition contains the original theatrical release on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD, along with originally released bonus features and brand-new bonus material, including additional deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes conversations with cast and crew and revealing, never-before released audio commentary by director J.J. Abrams.

Yes, this is important news. Upon its debut last December, Star Wars: The Force Awakens received rave reviews from both critics and audiences, and shattered box office records with over $936 million domestic and $2 billion worldwide. The film has since been nominated for five Academy Awards and took home the BAFTA Award for Special Visual Effects. The Force Awakens re-ignited the Star Wars franchise and fans eagerly await the next installment, arriving in theaters December 2017, as well as the first in a series of standalone films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, premiering this December 16.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens saw the eagerly anticipated reteaming of original Star Wars stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, along with Anthony Daniels (the only actor to have been in all seven Star Wars films) and Peter Mayhew. The returning cast was joined by newcomer Daisy Ridley, who beat out fierce competition to take the principal role of Rey; BAFTA Rising Star Award winner John Boyega as reluctant stormtrooper Finn; Emmy nominee Adam Driver as the villainous Kylo Ren, and Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron.

Having established a musical legacy with his iconic scores for the previous six films in the Star Wars saga, acclaimed composer John Williams returned to score“Star Wars: The Force Awakens, ultimately garnering his 50th Oscar nomination for it. Nothing but music to our ears!

3D COLLECTOR’S EDITION BONUS FEATURES:

  • Audio Commentary with J.J. Abrams Enter the mind of visionary director J.J. Abrams as he reveals the creative and complex choices made while developing the first film in the new Star Wars
  • Foley: A Sonic Tale Foley artists, consisting of old pros and new talent, unite to bring the world of Star Wars: The Force Awakens alive through the matching of sound to action.
  • Sounds of the Resistance Hear how the epic sound design of Star Wars: The Force Awakens moves the Star Wars legacy forward.
  • Deleted Scenes View never-before-shared scenes that didn’t make the film’s final cut.
  • Dressing the Galaxy Costume Designer Michael Kaplan reveals how the costumes of the original Star Wars movies were re-envisioned for a new generation.
  • The Scavenger and the Stormtrooper: A Conversation with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega The two new stars share the thrill of working together on the adventure of a lifetime and becoming part of the Star Wars
  • Inside the Armory Take a fascinating tour through the design and creation of the weaponry in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  • Classic Bonus Features These offerings from the April release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, include the complete story behind the making of the film, an unforgettable cast table read, insights from legendary composer John Williams and deleted scenes, as well as features that dig deeper into the creation of new characters such as BB-8, the design of the climactic lightsaber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren, the film’s remarkable digital artistry and the Star Wars: Force for Change global aid initiative.

    The force will be with you.

 

First Run Features releases a slew of fascinating must-have documentaries

Everyone who knows our obsession over films, knows we always embrace the goodies released by First Run Features.  Let’s take a look at four recent must-haves.

When Justice isn’t Just
The film, directed by Oscar-nominated and NAACP Image Award winner David Massey, addresses the concept and reality of justice in the United States, particularly in regard to racial disparities in the American criminal justice system. Filmed in cities across the country, this dynamic documentary explores why so many unarmed black people have been targeted and killed by law enforcement officers, an issue that has taken center stage in the national consciousness. unnamed (2)The filmmakers talk to legal experts, activists and law enforcement officials who speak to the inequality within our criminal justice system. The film asks the crucial question of how to prevent more violence in this country, including Black on Black deaths. Activists, law enforcement officials, legal scholars, and the family members of victims offer a range of responses. At its heart, When Justice Isn’t Just confronts our broken criminal justice system, focusing on the incarceration rate of people of color. As the Black Lives Matter movement—and citizens nationwide—question the accountability of our justice system in cases of police violence, the film is an essential addition to the ongoing discussion about reform and renewal. Available September 13.

From the producers that brought us Persepolis and Delicatessen comes this family road trip comedy. Claire and Maurice, both survivors of previous marriages, have to take their whole family on a road trip to Claire’s father’s funeral. This tightly knit family is composed of Claire’s vegetarian son, Alex, who’s secretly fond of Maurice’s daughter, Lucie, the teenage rebel. Meanwhile Claire’s poet brother is along for the ride. unnamed (2)And of course don’t forget young Prune, Claire and Maurice’s daughter, who will develop a passion for France’s emblematic cows. Will this family of misfits survive the trip?

Weight
You beat the weight or the weight beats you–it’s the test every powerlifter faces when approaching the bar. But the weight that’s been pressing down on coach and gym owner Paul Steinman is something far more challenging than sport.  Bombing out on his squats at the 2012 American Open was just one more failure for Paul. It had been a bad stretch for him both in and out of the gym–now it’s time to make good.
unnamedOne year later, he’s back in the same place and competing at the same meet, with his wife and partner Rebecca at his side. As a super heavyweight Paul will lift in the day’s final flight, leaving time to sit and think about all that’s happened. What do you do when the weight feels heavy? Can you get up? Andrew Filippone Jr.’s Weight is a dramatic, character-driven documentary set in Brooklyn, following Paul and Rebecca over a challenging year.
DVD Extras: Epilogue • Biographies • Audio Commentary with Rebecca Steinman

Dark Diamond is a poised, stylish, assured thriller about a man who, out of retribution, vows vengeance against his relatives who abandoned him. Pier Ulmann comes from a family of powerful diamond dealers, who he believes are responsible for his estranged father’s death. To take revenge, he insinuates himself back into the family enterprise, with an elaborate caper in mind.unnamed (3)

The Professor: Tai Chi’s Journey West
A film by Barry Strugatz, The Professor is a documentary about Tai Chi and one of its great masters, Cheng Man-Ching, a man who brought Tai Chi and Chinese culture to the West during the swinging, turbulent ’60s. Featuring a rich array of vintage archival footage, the film tells the story of his remarkable life and features Tai Chi as a martial art and a spiritual practice.images
DVD Extras: Cheng Man-Ching performs his 37 Movement Form • The Origin of Tai Chi • Medical Science & Tai Chi: Interview with Peter M. Wayne, PhD, Harvard Medical School

Spring & Arnaud
Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight’s “artful and art-filled love story” (The Globe and Mail) is a documentary about two unique characters is also an unforgettable look at art, love and mortality. Influential photographer Arnaud Maggs, turning 85, embarks on a series of self-portraits that wryly depict his life’s work.unnamed (1) Spring Hurlbut at 60 is creating haunting works that evoke mortality while harboring the certainty that Arnaud’s time is limited. Together more than 25 years, each grapples with the nature of an artist’s creativity where the drive for invention and discovery resists life’s finite reality.
DVD Extras: Seven Short Films

The ground-breaking “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” continues to prove its cinematic importance

It’s a film ripe for rediscovery. While Mike Nichols was shooting scenes with Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, and Candice Bergen at what was then known as Folkestone Studios in West Vancouver for Carnal Knowledge. Nearby, Robert Altman and his crew were building Presbyterian Church, an actual Old West mining town for his period western, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, starring the then real-life couple, Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. Remember René Auberjonois? The man best-known for the Broadway musical flop Coco and who appeared in the Altman film says McCabe & Mrs. Miller is the best film he’s ever been in. “That is the one that will be on my tombstone,” he coos.
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With its fascinating flawed characters, evocative cinematography by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, and soundtrack that innovatively interweaves overlapping dialogue and haunting Leonard Cohen songs, McCabe & Mrs. Miller brilliantly deglamorized and revitalized the most American of genres. The screenplay is based on Edmund Naughton’s 1959 novel McCabe; Altman referred to it as an “anti-western film” because the film ignores or subverts a number of Western conventions.

So important is McCabe & Mrs. Miller that in 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.Criterion is releasing the flick on Blu-ray and DVD on October 11.

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES 

* New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
* Audio commentary from 2002 featuring director Robert Altman and producer David Foster
* New documentary on the making of the film, featuring actors René Auberjonois, Keith Carradine, and Michael Murphy; casting director Graeme Clifford; and script supervisor Joan Tewkesbury
* New conversation about the film and Altman’s career between film historians Cari Beauchamp and Rick Jewell
* Featurette from the film’s production, shot on location in 1970
* Q&A from 1999 with production designer Leon Ericksen, hosted by the Art Directors Guild Film Society
* Archival footage from interviews with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, in which he discusses his work on the film
* Gallery of stills from the set by photographer Steve Schapiro
* Excerpts from two 1971 episodes of The Dick Cavett Show featuring Altman and film critic Pauline Kael
* Trailer
* Essay by film critic Nathaniel Rich

Krzysztof Kieślowski’s epic masterpiece “Dekalog” opens in a stunning restoration

This is no ordinary opening of a film. This is the stunning new restoration of the legendary 10-part epic Dekalog (also known as The Decalogue). The film opens theatrically for the first time in 15 years.
Time still is friends with Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog, newly-restored on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the filmmaker’s death. The film begins its U.S. theatrical run at the IFC Center in Cleveland on September 1. The masterpiece will be accompanied by a national roll out to more than 20 cities.  Criterion Collection and Janus Films will release the series on Blu-ray and DVD on September 27; they include longer theatrical versions of the series’ fifth and sixth films, A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love.

Originally made for Polish television, Dekalog focuses on the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland, whose lives become subtly intertwined as they face emotional dilemmas that are at once deeply personal and universally human.The series’ ten hour-long films draw from the Ten Commandments for thematic inspiration and an overarching structure, and grapple deftly with complex moral and existential questions concerning life, death, love, hate, truth, and the passage of time. Shot by nine different cinematographers, written alongside longtime collaborator Krzysztof Piesiewicz, with stirring music by Zbigniew Preisner and compelling performances from established and unknown actors alike, Dekalog arrestingly explores the unknowable forces that shape our lives.

Stanley Kubrick was a huge fan of the film, saying that “these films dramatize their ideas with such dazzling skill that you never see the ideas coming, and don’t realize until much later how profoundly they have reached your heart.”

This new digital transfer of Dekalog was sourced from the 35mm original camera negatives provided by Telewizja Polska and stored at Filmoteka Narodow. When possible, the restoration of each episode was supervised and approved by its respective cinematographer.

IF YOU GO
9/1/2016 Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Cinematheque
9/2/2016 NYC: IFC Center
9/2/2016 Montreal, QC: Cinema du Parc
9/5/2016 Vancouver, BC: Pacific Cinematheque
9/9/2016 San Francisco, CA: Alamo Drafthouse New Mission
9/9/2016 San Rafael, CA: Smith Rafael Film Center
9/16/2016 Coral Gables, FL: Coral Gables Art Cinema
9/17/2016 Los Angeles, CA: Cinefamily
9/29/2016 Rochester, NY: George Eastman House
9/23/2016 Pleasantville, NY: Jacob Burns Film Center
9/22/2016 Austin, TX: Austin Film Society
10/14/2016 Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma City Museum of Art

“Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene” offers a look into the life and times of the original shock jock

He was a radio and TV personality like no other, a pioneering shock jock and talk-show host long before the Sterns and Springers sprung into action. Petey Greene took on racism like no one before and become an inspiring voice for understanding.  His true-story is told in Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene (Virgil Films), a riveting documentary featuring rare footage and classic interviews.
In the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s, Greene emerged as a one-of-a-kind voice speaking out against racism, crime and poverty. An ex-con, he used his years in prison as an education in people and society, and as a radio host and later a TV personality in Washington, D.C., spoke the people’s language to point out what needed to be changed to make life better for everyone.

Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle (who portrayed Greene in the 2007 award-winning feature Talk to Me) narrates this insightful documentary that explores the life and times of Greene, the bombastic radio DJ-activist who rose to prominence in the ’60s via his groundbreaking show, Rapping With Petey Greene. By the ’70s, he was hosting Petey Greene’s Washington, a similar show on TV,  whose wide range of guests included a young shock jock named Howard Stern, shown here in rare footage wearing blackface and an afro during an interview with Greene. (Stern has called Greene the greatest radio personality of all time.)

Fearless and provocative, Greene galvanized audiences with his frank and often humorous commentaries on topics like race, religion, poverty, sex and corruption. He was unafraid to state truths that others would rather avoid, such as, “People use drugs because drugs is good!” Numerous prominent figures appear in the film to pay tribute to Greene’s importance and influence, including sportscaster James Brown, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, former Washington Mayor Marion Barry and actor Robert Hooks, who calls Greene “the ghetto jester, the original rapper.”
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Adjust Your Color: The Truth of Petey Greene is an invaluable reminder of the power of speaking the truth loud and clear.

 

Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker . . . sink your teeth (or dentures) into a masterful film

Some say Ethan Hawke was Born to Be Blue. Of sorts. Hawke portrays (quite wonderfully) jazz legend Chet Baker in Born to Be Blue (IFC Films). In the ’50s, Baker was one of the most famous trumpeters in the world, renowned as both a pioneer of the West Coast jazz scene and an icon of cool. By the ’60s, he was all but washed up, his life in shambles due to years of heroin addiction. In his innovative anti-biopic, director Robert Budreau zeroes in on Baker’s life at a key moment in the ’60s as the musician attempts a hard-fought comeback, spurred by a passionate romance with a new flame (portrayed by Carmen Ejogo).
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“I didn’t want some pretend jazz movie in a black turtleneck,” says Hawke. “To me, it’s about the music, the person, the period, the place. Look at the nineteen fifties–they have their own charisma and feel, from the cars to the music to the energy. I find it all tying together to create this special time.”

Time was not Baker’s friend.  Hooked on heroin in 1957, his career died after Baker was involved in a drug deal gone so wrong a brutal beating knocked his teeth out. He couldn’t play anymore,” adds Hawke, “until he learned to play with dentures.”

Sink your teeth into a great flick.

“Confirmation” revisits the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings with grit and power

It only takes one voice to change history. Let’s discuss Anita Hill and her powerful voice.
In July 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Judge Clarence Thomas to fill Justice Thurgood Marshall’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. In October, during the final days of Thomas’ confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, both Newsday and NPR broke the story that one of Thomas’ former employees, law professor Anita Hill, had accused him of sexually harassing her 10 years earlier. These revelations triggered a maelstrom of events, with both Hill and Thomas testifying about the allegations before a stunned and riveted television audience.

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Kerry Washington as Anita Hill; Wendell Pierce as Clarence Thomas
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The real Thomas and Hill

History has been revisited in the HBO Home Entertainment TV movie Confirmation, now on DVD with Digital HD and Blu-ray with Digital HD. The film details the explosive Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings, which brought the country to a standstill and forever changed the way we think about sexual harassment, victims’ rights and modern-day race relations. It looks behind the curtain of Washington politics, depicting a pivotal moment in American culture that became a turning point in workplace equality and gender politics.

The HBO Film was nominated for two 2016 Emmy Awards including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Kerry Washington as Anita Hill).

The Blu-ray and DVD releases include brief discussions with Washington and Pierce on the historical impact of the hearings as well as “Character Spot” featuring cast members discussing the character they play.

Save the date! “All the Way” gets our vote as best TV movie of the year

“Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation, but not a fact.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Yes, Hillary will win, but put aside that lovely thought . . . just for a moment. As race relations and presidential politics continue to be top-of-mind, hot-button issues, HBO will be bring the Emmy-nominated All the Way to Blu-ray and DVD on September 6. Recently nominated for eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Bryan Cranston, who reprises his Tony-winning role), the powerful film underscores the fact that as much as things change, they remain the same.

All the Way is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s tumultuous first year in office in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination. Witness LBJ during his early administration, as he stakes his presidency on what would be an historic, unprecedented Civil Rights Act. Johnson finds himself caught between the moral imperative of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the expectations of the southern Democratic Party leaders who brought Johnson to power. As King battles to press Johnson while controlling more radical elements of the Civil Rights movement, Johnson navigates the bill through Congress, winning a landslide victory against Barry Goldwater, but causing the South to defect from the Democratic Party.
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Bryan Cranston is brilliant; joining him in pivotal roles are Anthony Mackie as Martin Luther King, Jr., Melissa Leo as Lady Bird Johnson, Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey, Stephen Root as J. Edgar Hoover and Frank Langella as Sen. Richard Russell.
You may now return your thoughts to Hillary.

Warning! Andy Samberg will have you pissing in your pants in “Popstar”

There’s something funny about Justin Bieber. We’ll star with this bon mot: He has no talent. On the other hand, Andy Samberg is funny. In Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping , a mockumentary  about a former boy-band member trying desperately to salvage his failing solo career (think Bieber), he is fucking funny. If you miss the flick in your local theatre, the film comes to Digital HD on August 16, On Demand on August 30, and Blu-ray and DVD on September 13. You can thank Universal Pictures Home Entertainment for this side-splitting comedy.

We won’t give away too much, but Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping goes behind the scenes as music sensation Conner4Real (Samberg), the breakout star of a popular but disbanded hip-hop group, finds his popularity plummeting after a disastrous album release, leaving his fans, sycophants and rivals all wondering what to do when he’s no longer the dopest star of all . . just as he launches a highly publicized solo tour.

It’s funny because SNL alums Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone (the comedy collective known as The Lonely Island) wrote the screenplay, a razor-sharp, music-filled send-up of pop celebrity chronicles the exploits of the lovably egotistical singer-rapper (and his 32-person entourage) as he attempts to win back the hearts of his once-adoring fans. The trio also produced the film, along with comedy mastermind Judd Apatow.

And oh! Popstar co-stars a who’s who of comedy superstars, including Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Joan Cusack, Imogen Poots, Chris Redd, Bill Hader, Kevin Nealon and Will Arnett. And there are laugh-out-loud cameos from such music-world VIPs as Justin Timberlake, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Carrie Underwood, DJ Khaleed, Seal, P!nk, Nas, , Usher, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Ringo Starr, , Simon Cowell, Questlove, Mariah Carey, RZA, T.I., and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Could this be the life story of Bieber? Never say never.