Taylor Sheridan wrote Sicario for Dennis Villeneuve and Hell or High Water for David Mackenzie. Now, he’s directing one of his own screenplays, a wintry noir called Wind River. An FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) teams with the town’s veteran game tracker (Jeremy Renner) to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. Canadian veteran actor Graham Green is the local police presence, and Canuck rocker Hugh Dillon (The Headstones, Hard Core Logo) also has a small part. I’m a sucker for procedural crime movies set in the winter (from Fargo, to Insomnia, to Smilla’s Sense of Snow) and this looks superb in that ‘no nonsense’ Sheridan fashion.
Wind River will be getting a semi-wide release from The Weinstein Company on August 4th.
There are too many mediocre music docs. This is definitely NOT one of those. Amazon Prime financed Amir Bar-Lev’s epic four-hour Grateful Dead documentary, which was built almost entirely out of unearthed archived video. And if you have seen the official Grateful Dead archive, it looks (I’m not kidding) a lot like that Area 51 matte painting in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Long Strange Trip starts out when Jerry Garcia is a teenager, and ends with his death in 1995, and in between it (somehow) acts as both a primer for novices, and a very specific set of images and information for experts. I caught it at Hot Docs and it played like gangbusters with an enthusiastic (and greying) crowd. Also, the bands first Tour Manager has a voice that is dead-on Michael Caine, so even in the talking heads segments you are in good hands.
The 30-year odyssey of the Grateful Dead was the most unlikely success story in rock ’n’ roll history. Famously averse to publicity and seemingly incapable of recording radio-friendly hits, they flouted music-industry convention by giving their live music away to a global network of tape traders and becoming the highest-grossing concert act in America through word of mouth alone.
Long Strange Trip is the first full-length documentary to explore the fiercely independent vision, perpetual innovation, and uncompromising commitment to their audience that made the Bay Area band one of the most influential musical groups of their generation. Artfully assembling candid interviews with the band, road crew, family members and notable Deadheads (including Minneapolis Senator Al Frankin), director Bar-Lev reveals the untold history of the Dead and the freewheeling psychedelic subculture that sprouted up around it. The film also provides poignant insight into the psyche of late lead guitarist Jerry Garcia, whose disdain for authority clashed with his de facto leadership of the sprawling collective that kept the show on the road.
With a soundtrack that captures some of the band’s most dynamic live performances as well as unguarded offstage moments and never-before-seen interviews, footage and photos, Long Strange Trip explores the Dead’s singular experiment in radically eclectic music making. Much more than the “behind the music” backstory of an exceptionally talented and beloved group of musicians, the film is at once an inspiring tale of unfettered artistic expression, a heartfelt American tragedy, and an incisive history of the rise and fall of 20th-century counterculture.
Amazon Studios is giving the film a limited release in NY & LA on May 26th, and across the country in select theaters for single night playdates, but if you have Amazon Prime, Long Strange Trip will be available worldwide on that streaming platform on June 2nd.
The rebooted Planet of the Apes series keeps on chugging, and keeps on empathizing with the Apes, while making the human villains more vile with each chapter. Here we have a genocidal Colonel played by Woody Harrelson with his military apparatus, juxtaposed against Ur-Ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis returning) taking in a human orphan. As always the motion capture animation of the Apes is astounding.
After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in a battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.
Oh, and writers, please, let us all place a moratorium on “I didn’t start this , but I WILL finish it.” (blech.)
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.
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.
Whoa! Perhaps Pixar is getting back on track. An original story with some magnificent visual appeal. With Gael Garcia Bernal and Benji Bratt, this could be great. Coco releases wide on November 22. See you there!
Not really big news, but you gotta see this. We’ve been saying for years how chameleon-like Gary Oldman is. He’s played so many varying characters with such truth and/or flamboyance that it’s almost unbelievable. But this one takes the cake! Here is Gary Oldman playing former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill for the upcoming film, Darkest Hour, directed by my man Joe Wright. The film also stars the talents of Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, John Hurt and Kristin Scott Thomas. See you in the theater seats.
As if you need further proof that the rebooted Star Trek universe is flash-in-the-pan pop cultural action-blockbuster-mush instead of boldly attempting any kind of science fiction or social ideas — something more or less ended with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country — here is Rihanna fiddling while Rome burns.
While the nerd collective throws an over-the-top hissy fit about the all-Female Ghostbusters, I continue to quietly lament the Star-Wars-Too-Fast-Too-Furious-ification of this third go-around on Trek in the multiplex.
(Also, on a serious, perhaps inappropriate note, at least a more morbid one, this is twice now that Justin Lin inherits a big budget franchise, one of the leads dies tragically via car. Two data points doesn’t make a trend, but I wonder if Star Trek Beyond will have a Yelchin-bump in terms of audience interest in the same way the Furious Franchise did with Paul Walker.)
I wish more trailers were cut this good. Somehow we missed Sony’s colour-saturated, tiny shark survival movie starring Blake Lively, when it first popped up online. But with its soundtrack, voice-over and smooth edit, this is one of the best trailers I’ve seen this year, and too damn good not to post; hence, we offer it now. The film, at least in Canada, opens this weekend, even if the trailer says June 29th.
The Shallows is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who was responsible for two underrated Liam Neeson action flicks (I know, I know, there is a glut of these), Non-Stop and Run All Night