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"We've known about this for decades… Paradise that has been degraded and destroyed. We're knowingly doing this. I just want to know how far we've gone, and if there's anything we can do to stop it." National Geographic has unveiled the first official trailer for the environmental documentary Before the Flood, produced by and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Fisher Stevens. A staunch environmentalist and activist, DiCaprio travels the world conducting interviews, meeting with heads of state, and exploring the various lands of the world to address the global crisis of climate change. The doc presents a look at how climate change affects our environment and what society can do prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems and native communities across the planet. We've seen many, many climate docs recently, but I hope one of these really grabs people and wakes them up, because we all need to change - and change now.
Split is filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan's most terrifying film to date. Granted this opinion is coming from someone who finds The Sixth Sense, while a phenomenal film with a wonderfully choreographed twist, not all that scary, and, though Signs and The Village deliver the thrills, there's nothing on par with Split in terms of how relentless in intensity and so very chilling it is. Shyamalan used to be considered a master of these types of genre films. Although his work has been less than stellar in recent years, the director's filmmaking and storytelling prowess seem to be back in line. Split is his return, and, with a wonderfully creepy turn by James McAvoy in the lead role, Shyamalan's latest ends up being his absolute best horror film to date. And, holy shit, what an ending, but we'll get to that momentarily.
"Someone has to write the truth with all these lies…" An official French trailer has debuted for a WWII film titled Alone in Berlin, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival this year. Brendan Gleeson stars as Otto Quangel in this true story about a husband and wife who planted anti-Nazi notes around Berlin as a form of resistance and retaliation against the evil in the country at the time. In Germany, the film is titled Jeder stirbt für sich allein - which translate to Everyone Dies Alone. Much sadder title, but also fitting for this story. The cast includes Emma Thompson, Daniel Brühl, Mikael Persbrandt and Katharina Schüttler. I saw this in Berlin, and as much as I love the story, the filmmaking (including English dialogue) really detracted from the film - read my full review. I still recommend giving it a look for the idea behind it.
"Are you all ready?!" Netflix has unveiled a full-length trailer for the concert doc Justin Timberlake and The Tennessee Kids, profiling the latest tour from the famed musician/singer. Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme, the film follows Justin Timberlake as he performs on the road with his Tennessee Kids band and bevy of talented dancers. This looks like it might be crazy fun and will get you dancing in the aisles. The doc just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, and earned rave reviews from critics who were quick to point out that it's much better than your average concert doc. One glowing review states: "the sheer spectacle that Demme has captured will be almost impossible to fully appreciate when watched at home… but it's an exuberant thrill on the big screen." Certainly looks that way.
"Now don't you go through life worrying about whether somebody like you or not!" Paramount has finally debuted a trailer for the film Fences, directed by and starring Denzel Washington, adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. Washington starred in the hit Broadway version of the play, along with Viola Davis, and the two return for this cinematic version of this powerful story of a family in the 50s dealing with racial prejudice and poverty. Also starring Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby, Saniyya Sidney, Stephen Henderson and Jovan Adepo. Many Oscar pundits have been expecting this to be a strong last-minute contender, and from the looks of it, this will definitely get a noticed. Take a look.
"This is the really hard part. And then it gets better. And then it gets hard again…" A24 has released the first teaser trailer for 20th Century Women, the latest film written & directed by Mike Mills, which is premiering at the New York Film Festival in just a few weeks. The film is about three women living in the late 1970s who explore love and freedom living together in a bohemian house in Santa Barbara. The full ensemble cast includes Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Alia Shawkat, Laura Wiggins, Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig, John Billingsley and Waleed Zuaiter. This lovely teaser is framed around a beautiful speech by Jimmy Carter in the 70s. It looks damn good, I really love the free love vibe to this. Dive right in.
Aren't they just adorable? This sci-fi short film titled Planet Unknown features two cute explorer robots discovering a new planet for the first time, attempting to figure out if there are enough resources to sustain life. Chinese writer & director Shawn Wang admits he was inspired by Wall-E, which is obvious with these robots, but that wasn't his only key inspiration for this CG animated short. "The idea started back in 2014 when Interstellar was released. I was deeply impressed by the movie and was inspired by the two robots TARS and CASE. The idea of intellectual robots exploring space developed from there." This isn't totally groundbreaking, but it is fun and does make you dream about the possibility of life on other planets. Enjoy.
"Powerful, at times shocking, but also intensely human." Kino Lorber has debuted the official US trailer for an award-winning documentary called Fire at Sea, or Fuocoammare, from Italy about the migrant crisis affecting Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The doc won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and has played at numerous other film festivals including Telluride, Toronto and New York (coming up). The film is set on an island off the coast of Italy called Lampedusa, one of the places many migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean by boat end up. Fire at Sea was also just selected by Italy as their official entry to the Academy Awards this year, a strong push for this doc to get even more attention. I recently had the chance to see it and wrote that it's a "slow burn, but builds to a bonfire." Highly recommended for doc fans.
The question we should be asking isn't where has director Paul Verhoeven been for the past decade. The question is where has this Verhoeven been all our lives? The director whose career skyrocketed with Total Recall and Basic Instinct hasn't released a film since 2006's Black Book, the Dutch filmmaker's return to his homeland. We hoped whatever Verhoeven had in store for us next would be a return to the trashy good form with which the filmmaker had become known, and Elle, his latest, doesn't disappoint. It isn't what was expected, either, instead he gives us an eye-opening and wholly unique look at one woman's attempt to connect with any man in her life: her son, her ex-husband, her mass-murderer father, or even her rapist.
"Just wait ’till I make you a star." IFC Films has debuted a trailer for an indie drama titled King Cobra, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Based on a stranger-than-fiction true story, King Cobra is a "deliciously dark, twisted plunge into the behind-the-scenes world of the porn industry." The film is about a young gay porn star, played by Garrett Clayton, who decides to leave the producer who originally made him famous but encounters more trouble by way of two rival producers who try to cash in on his fame. The impressive cast includes James Franco, Christian Slater, Molly Ringwald, Alicia Silverstone, Keegan Allen and Sean Grandillo. It's described as "part delirious, tabloid-shocker satire, part American tragedy." Definitely not going to be for everyone, but might be worth a watch. Take a peek.
"As long as nothing interrupts that serenity, then there's nothing more magical." Gravitas Ventures has debuted a trailer for a documentary titled Don't Look Down, profiling the early 1980's publicity stunt by Richard Branson in an attempt to bring attention to his newly launched Virgin Airlines. Branson decided to hop in a hot air balloon and fly across the Atlantic Ocean, something that has never been done before and is considered dangerous even by other experienced balloonists. "The real story of this incredible adventure has never been told, and using intimate interviews with Branson and the team, never seen before archive (including footage from inside the balloon, shot in real time)." It looks quite thrilling and fascinating. Enjoy.
Just when you thought it was safe to leave your doors unlocked and your windows unbarred, a film like Safe Neighborhood comes along and completely makes you rethink the home invasion sub-genre. It's been the format for a certain type of film for awhile now, and the formula involved has been generally left unaltered. Fortunately there are filmmakers like Chris Peckover who aren't satisfied with resting on the laurels of the typical, home invasion movie, and Safe Neighborhood quickly reveals itself to be something just enough on the fringe to make it noteworthy. It's also going to be an extremely challenging movie to speak about without giving away too many of the film's shocking reveals. But let's give it a shot anyway, tread carefully.