Friday One Sheet: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The title of the film is a mouthful, but the poster is a master class in negative space. From the stately (if ominous) key art, reminiscent of both No Country For Old Men, and Paris Texas, you might never guess that director Martin McDonough’s latest film is a foul-mouthed, comic farce of slapstick violence and bad behavior (albeit this is perfectly in line with his previous filmography, including In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths).

For many shits and giggles, and the most screen chewing Frances McDormand performance since Fargo, I’ve dropped in the red-band trailer below.

After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby, the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon, an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated.

Concept Teaser: Wolfwalkers

After much acclaim for The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, Cartoon Saloon, Ireland’s increasingly high profile animation house founded by Paul Young and Tomm Moore, are working on their fourth feature film, Wolfwalkers. (The third one, The Breadwinner, will be released this year.)

With a signature 2D animation style, and a quite mature, epic sensibility, Cartoon Saloon, is aiming to be the next Laika (which in turn is aiming to be the next Pixar…)

Below is a proof-of-concept teaser which is, in a word, stunning.

In a time of superstition and magic, when wolves are seen as demonic and nature an evil to be tamed, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn, comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack. But when Robyn saves a wild native girl, Mebh, their friendship leads her to discover the world of the Wolfwalkers and transforms her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.

Friday One Sheet: Lady MacBeth

A fine example of the power of just using a single, well produced still for your poster. By all accounts the production and design of William Oldroyd’s period drama, Lady MacBeth are superb, and it shows when you have faith in the power of an unclutter poster. A pull quote in yellow to offer context, but otherwise, Florence Pugh in conservative dress, hands grasping in front of her, and glancing sideways. It conveys a tone and it does it well.

Trailer: Baahubali The Conclusion

One of the great pieces of excess fantasy non-sense was 2015’s Telugu Fantasy Epic Baahubali. From S.S. Rajamouli, who made the zonkers reincarnation comedy Eega, which sees a man take vengeance on his murderer in the form of a common housefly. (It’s on Netflix as Makkhi, and it’s magnificent.)

Like an Indian Lord of the Rings, we only got part of a movie and had to wait a long time, 2 years in fact, for the conclusion to the film. The trailer, as bombastic as one might imagine, has popped up online, and while you may not have heard of it, over 10 Million people have already watched it in less than 24 hours. Baahubali: THe Beginning briefly cracked the top 10 at the box office in a minuscule number of theatres, and this for a movie sporting a near 3 hour runtime, based on an the Indian, Pakistani, Tamil and Sri Lankan’s in the USA and Canada that are hungry for blockbusters that stem from their own colourful culture.

I managed to catch part one in a packed and rowdy cinema on the outskirts of Toronto and it was one of my favourite blockbusters of 2015 for its nutbar gender politics alone.

When Sanga and her husband, part of a tribe living around the province of Mahismathi, save a drowning infant, little do they know the background of the infant or what the future holds for him. The kid grows up to as Shivudu, a free-spirit wanting to explore the mountains and in the process learns of his roots and then realizes the whole purpose of his life and ends up confronting the mighty Bhallala Deva!

When two opposite ends unite the rod breaks in between. When Shiva, the son of Bahubali realizes his past from Kattappa, he seeks to find consensus to his question : Why did Kattapa kill his father? This, Bahubali- the Conclusion showcases the answer and its consequences on the Mahishmati Kingdom when its roots are stirred.

Trailer: Baby Driver

“Shop! Let’s talk it.” Rejoice. Edgar Wright is back, at long last, with a heist drama, Oscar winners Kevin Spacey, Jamie Fox and some younger, prettier faces. And while I’m not generally a big ‘car stunt’ guy, the vehicle work here looks like a lot of fun, and not as CGI as is typical these days.

Having just had its premiere screening at SXSW last night, the ‘one last job’ action picture gets a couple of trailers (above is the International flavour) to merely whet the palette, as Sony Pictures just pushed the film from March to August 2017.

A talented, young getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. When he meets the girl of his dreams (Lily James), Baby sees a chance to ditch his criminal life and make a clean getaway. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.

Trailer: Atomic Blonde

I have little doubt that this Charlize Theron action vehicle will be anything less than excellent. You can see it right there with the single-take, medium-wide shot quality in the first minute of this trailer.

But folks, we have to talk about trailer cutting. This one is a hot mess. First the cliche ‘slowed down pop song cover’ here New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle. Second the ensuing heavy-voice over montage is just a sloppy collage of scenes to a second song, this the original version of Queen’s Killer Queen. For a movie that is no doubt stylish, a lady version John Wick if you will: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. With high caliber talent – supporting Theron is John Goodman, Toby Jones, James McAvoy and Algeria’s Sophia Boutella – one would think they could have a little discipline and coherence in the marketing.

But fair enough to all this criticism of form, my butts in the seat when Atomic Blonde comes out.

Review: Personal Shopper

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French critic-turned-filmmaker Olivier Assayas has always had a knack for combining verité, day-to-day life with stylish genre elements. His previous film, The Clouds of Sils Maria, coaxed a assured performance out of Kristen Stewart as a confident personal assistant to a French movie star; to the point where she almost overshadows the glamourous lead of the film, Juliette Binoche. Assayas collaborates once again with the young star in Personal Shopper – again in the employ of a famous actress – but here, he places her in practically in every shot.

Mixing the abstract with the mundane, Stewart plays Maureen, a budding amateur medium who is trying to commune with her recently deceased twin brother. The movie starts almost like a Kiyoshi Kurosawa film, with Maureen attempting to make contact with the beyond by spending the night in a dark old French country manor. Her day-job involves buying insanely expensive clothing and jewelry for a wealthy young movie star. It is clear that Maureen hates this job, she confesses this outright to her employer’s sleazy boyfriend, but it pays the bills while she tackles her unfinished spiritual business.

Not content with just restless spirits and luxury goods, Assayas also drops in an anonymous sexual stalker and murder-mystery to boot. And yet, Maureen spends nearly the entire film alone, in shops, on her scooter, or on the train between England and France. Her boyfriend is in Morocco and occasional talks to her via skype. Her boss is always in one city or another, for a film shoot or a fashion show, and communicates with Maureen via notes left in her upscale Paris apartment. And the stalker sends copious amounts of anonymous text messages. I mean a LOT of text messages. For a film that has its lead spend a good chunk of its run time glancing down at her phone, one would think it might get boring, but it is not so. Processing our existence through screens is very much on the artistic agenda of this film.

Would you like to know more…?

Friday One Sheet: Diminuendo

H ere is a simple, but eye-catching poster for a shoe-string A.I. picture, Diminuendo. Someone thought it would be a good idea to use the smallest typesetting possible, and drop the weird tagline, “Even silence can be broken.” (Of course silence can be broken!) on the simulacrum’s cheek. There is so much negative space here, it seems like a strange choice. Well, so is the casting. Director Bryn Pryor who does 21st century Corman kind of stuff like #iKillr and Cowboys & Engines, as well as a fair number of porn films, has assembled Walter Koenig (Star Trek), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Leah Cairns (Interstellar), Gigi Edgley (Farscape) and male porn star James Deen (who was pretty solid in The Canyon). Make of that what you will, but it’s really hard to read their names, if that is the aim. The poster was designed by MOTTO, who also did much of the designs for Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge

I am uncertain whether or not this poster will appear in cinema lobbies, or the film end up at a theatre Near You, but if it did, despite its flaws, you would probably look twice, and this is more than the effect of more expensively mounted one-sheet campaigns. So kudos for that.

Trailer: I, Olga Hepnarová

An interesting companion piece to Antonio Campos’ Christine, insofar as if you are aware of the character at the heart of the matter, cannot help but be ‘waiting’ for the inevitable in I, Olga Hepnarová. Likewise, here, it is the lead performance makes the queasy journey worthwhile. Michalina Olszanska (The Lure) essays a portrait of the 22-year-old mass murderer Olga Hepnarová, who was the last person executed by the Czechoslovakian government in 1973 for driving her delivery truck through a crowded sidewalk in Prague.

Presented in stark monochrome, it is a very uncomfortable movie about the effects of bullying (by her peers, by her family, by the state) and particular state of mental health – two subjects that are as relevant today as they were in the 1970s. I quite liked the film when I caught it at Fantasia, as difficult as it was to watch (and less than a week after a similar incident occurred in Nice, no less).

Also, man, that still above is very reminiscent of Michael Haneke, which is kind of the head-space one can easily occupy while watching this trailer. The film is being theatrically released in a few US markets by indie outfit Strand on March 24, 2017.