Latest Features

New to Streaming: ‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,’ ‘Tracks,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, January 30, 2015 at 3:00 pm 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

Amira & Sam (Sean Mullen)

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While both sides of the political spectrum are debating immigration reform and American Sniper, Amira & Sam has come along as a unique paradigm-shifting romantic comedy tackling both issues. Written and directed by former Army Officer turned stand-up comedian Sean Mullin, Amira & Sam stars Martin Starr as a Iraq War vet and his unlikely love interest, Iraqi immigrant Amira (Dina Shihabi). Stuck in a sort of geopolitical limbo, Amira sells DVDs on Canal Street until she’s forced into hiding after an encounter with the NYPD. Her uncle Bassam (Laith Nakli), formerly the translator for Sam’s unit, has immigrated to the New York and works as a truck driver. – John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Chef (Jon Favreau)

How close is too close to home? That has to be the question going through the mind of anyone familiar with the last decade of Jon Favreau’s career while watching his latest film, Chef. Smartly made and richly told, the film follows the life of a chef that is miserable working for someone else making the “greatest hits,” and finds solace, freedom, and the ability to express himself again through the independence of running his own food truck. – Bill G. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (Ned Benson)

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Following an utter failure of a release this past fall, at least one iteration of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is now available to stream: the Them version, which consolidates the story into one, commercial-friendly release. Exploring the ups and downs of a marriage between a recently split couple (James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain), it’s a respectable drama, but for those that want to see the two other versions, they will be on the Blu-ray. - Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

The Interview (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg)

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Who would’ve thought a movie complete with Katy Perry and fecal jokes could cause so much brouhaha? The Interview did just that by royally pissing off North Korea. The story surrounding Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg‘s film almost makes this high-concept comedy funnier, but it’s already got enough laughs, so it doesn’t need any help from North Korea’s unfortunate threats or cyber attacks. Following the duo’s successful directorial debut, This is the End, they’ve delivered a superior sophomore effort with this rousing bro comedy. – Jack G. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

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A stunning performance can elevate an ordinary script, yet Jake Gyllenhaal shows that first-time director Dan Gilroy has been absorbing what became of his various writing projects over the years. Here, Gilroy attacks the norm with his screenplay. We aren’t so much introduced to Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom as he announces his presence in the world of LA at night. Bloom is the anti-hero of the film, and yet you root for him throughout. Part of that is simply because he is the character we follow, but part of it is that he also exposes the deep-rooted reality of the news media. Bloom is a nightcrawler, who arrives on the scenes of accidents to record them with his camera and sell them to the morning news. But more than a skewering of the news, I found this to be a keenly precise character study of a man who succeeds precisely because he has a lack of empathy, a trait that might win you praise in other places. Gyllenhaal rarely blinks on camera, is visibly gaunt, and gives off an intensity that makes you uncomfortable. But the film is also brilliantly filled with touches of humor, evidenced by his long-winded rants that sound like they were stripped from a self-help book or the relationship he has with Nina (Rene Russo). Nightcrawler is intense, riveting, and darkly hilarious in all of the best ways. – Bill G.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

The Town that Dreaded Sundown (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon)

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While its tone wildly varies, when it comes to the glut of horror remakes, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon‘s new spin on The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a slight step ahead of the standard batch. This is a brutal and dark slasher flick that also has time–perhaps to its detriment–to be intensely sweet at times. Building characters that one roots for, the film drops in elements that messes with their world and also maintains a duality where pop-rock music can introduce a character that is brutally murdered just minutes later. In a way it can feel refreshing, but it can often leave one mystified about what the film is trying to achieve. This pseudo-documentary-meets-slasher-flick surrounds real murders and isn’t afraid to crib off of those famous Texarkana killings and the original movie it inspired. – Bill G. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

Tracks (John Curran)

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A stunningly beautiful film, director John Curran‘s Tracks traces the physical and psychological 1,700-mile trek of Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) from the central Australian town of Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. As masterfully shot by Mandy Walker, the film has images that, at times, are lucid, while its structure and Curran’s direction takes little risks. Inspired by an award-winning 1980 account (expanded from a National Geographic article published in 1979), Tracks allows us to share a journey that shaped Robyn, an awkward young woman who survived in Alice Springs doing odd jobs in exchange for a camel. - John F. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Also New to Streaming

Amazon

Wild Card

Netflix

Frida
Gloria

Hulu

Dreams
Hot Pepper
Kaisha Monogatari: Memories of You
Love is Colder Than Death

What are you streaming this weekend?

Discover more titles that are now available to stream.

New to Streaming: ‘The Duke of Burgundy,’ ‘Dear White People,’ ‘R100,’ ‘Everly,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, January 23, 2015 at 8:00 am 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

A Letter to Momo (Hiroyuki Okiura)

 A Letter to Momo, director Hiroyuki Okiura’s (Jin-Roh) second feature, is a hand-drawn animation that took seven years to make. Carefully animated, it gorgeously shows, as the flow of Momo is seamless in both the storytelling and rendering. There are spare flaws in this coming-of-age film, while anyone can enjoy and relate to the adventure. – Minhee B. (review)

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime

Dear White People (Justin Simien)

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One great aspect of the Sundance Film Festival is the occasional discovery of potential new and important voices in American cinema. Dear White People, the debut feature film from writer/director Justin Simien, heralds just that. It is a compelling, yet uneven scattershot of humor and commentary about racial conventions in the 21st century. Set in a fictitious Ivy League university, the film skewers the preconceptions of race in the modern era and how both sides of the coin can negatively reinforce stereotypes. The strength of the film is its razor-sharp dialogue brimming with quick-fire humor that would make Kevin Smith smile. Simien is a natural at creating flowing conversations that punch with intelligence and wit, but are also funny and entertaining. – Raffi A. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland)

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Sometimes one just needs to cleanse their palette or expand their mind by checking out a film even the director says is all about the experience. So when Peter Strickland explains how he tried hard not to make us want to find metaphor or meaning beyond what’s onscreen, I’m going to take him at his word. He also admitted the title The Duke of Burgundy was a joke–which “ended too late to change it”–that was intentionally misleading considering a staunch period piece this most certainly is not. No, this depraved sex dream showcasing two female lovers who push each other to the brink of sanity is more of the cricket and butterfly persuasion, or at least it has crickets and butterflies. And mannequins. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: iTunes

Everly (Joe Lynch)

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At the end of the day, a gimmick is a gimmick. Taking place in a single room, Joe Lynch’s latest film Everly can feel needlessly contained, but eventually manages to exceed beyond its basic concept. The issues are particularly in the first act, but when it starts to build some mythology and introduce characters that are more than bullet-fodder bad guys, it turns into a genuinely thrilling female-led action film. Salma Hayek is an easy highlight, proving that she still has plenty of the magnetic charisma that led to her stardom in the first place and this film showcases a fun wrinkle in her ability to pull off the bad-ass action star with charm. – Bill G. review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

The Humbling (Barry Levinson)

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Shot over 20 days, largely in director Barry Levinson‘s own Connecticut house, The Humbling is an adaptation of Philip Roth‘s novel looking at the enigmatic figure of Simon Axler (Al Pacino), a screen and stage legend who seems to have lost his gift for acting. After an eccentric stage exit during his last production in New York, Simon enters into therapy and retreats to the solitary confinement of his barely furnished country house. Little time passes before the daughter of two old friends shows up at his door and confesses to have harbored inappropriate thoughts about him since “when they were really inappropriate.” A puzzling young woman, Greta Gerwig‘s Pegeen has a complicated romantic past and some issues of her own. Just like that, a relationship is born. – Tommaso T. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes

Song One (Kate Barker-Froyland)

No doubt about, Song One has it’s heart in the right place. Set in Williamsburg and focusing on the indie music scene that populates that piece of North Brookyln, writer/director Kate Barker-Froyland‘s film explores the ties that bind a family together after a tragic accident. One night after playing his guitar for subway commuters, Henry (Ben Rosenfeld) is struck by a cab. Trapped in a coma, his mother (Mary Steenburgen) summons his sister Frannie (Anne Hathaway) back home. Frannie soon becomes obsessed with her brother’s life, scouring his room for anything that might help bring him back to life. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: AmazoniTunes

R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto)

What do you get when you cross one of Japan’s most influential comedians, a premise similar toThe Game – but with a zany wild streak of subversive humor — and a whole lot of S&M? The answer is Hitoshi Matsumoto‘s R100, a film following the mild-mannered Takafumi (Nao Ohmori) as he descends into a world of painful pleasure, the likes of which he wasn’t prepared. Similar in tone to his previous film Scabbard Samurai, I fortunately didn’t have to worry about bridging the cultural divide for complete coherence like I did there. It’s not because this one was made with a Western voice or possessed a stronger story, however. No, there was little struggle to figure out what was going on because Matsumoto decided to purposely go as absurd as he possibly could. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes

Also New to Streaming

Amazon

Breathe
Dracula Untold
We’ll Never Have Paris

Netflix

Patton Oswalt: Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time
Stonehearst Asylum

What are you streaming this weekend?

Discover more titles that are now available to stream.

‘Petra von Kant’ Hits Criterion: Turning the Theatrical Into the Cinematic

Written by Peter Labuza, January 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm 

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In the dictionary of Received Critical Wisdom, we are told that the way to turn a play into something cinematic is to open up the space. Plays can only take place in one setting, so the obvious cinematic solution is to have invent settings. Just recently, I heard A Voice of Critical Wisdom explain the genius of Mike Nichols’ debut feature, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was his ability to move the play’s action outside of the house.

This approach to understanding cinema is, without a doubt, a highly limited and ignorant one—first for suggesting that some approaches are “more cinematic” than others. (A security video of a parking lot is just as “cinematic” as Citizen Kane.) But even more egregious is the assumption that the difference between theater and cinema is simply a matter of multiple spaces. The central and greatest difference between theater and cinema is the camera. From there, directors can use the camera to express, manipulate, and direct in a way that changes the stakes of theater. And in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kantnow debuting in a magisterial Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection, the canonical German director does exactly that.

Petra von Kant came in a wave of the director’s plethora of features made in the early 1970s (one of four released in 1972 alone), and remains one of his most celebrated efforts. Most notably, it was the first in which the German director began exploring and reconstructing the American melodrama — Douglas Sirk being the obvious nod, though one character directly cites Joseph Mankiewicz — which became a key aspect of films such as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Martha.

For those who know their cinematic history, the “one-room” movie set is nothing out of the ordinary. From Hitchcock’s Rope and Rear Window to Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men to even the recent Locke with Tom Hardy, directors are just as fascinated by exploring a single space as linking multiple spaces. The question, then, is how one uses the camera to make the space more than just a theater. Fassbinder may have started as a neo-Godardian, but the cinematic material of Petra von Kant is more lucid and more streamlined — less engaged in breaking the artifice of its own materials than deconstructing the drama at hand.

The camera has a more searching quality, moving through the space as we watch our titular heroine (Margit Carstensen) prepare for another day of lounging around in her bed. Her mute (by choice or by biology?) servant, Marlene (Irm Hermann, in one of the truly great screen performances), helps her around the house, finishing the drawings for the fashion designs she is working on. But, more than anything, Petra sees herself as a feminist hero, having defiantly divorced herself out of an unhappy marriage in favor of independence. But to err is to be human. Petra’s Neiztchian superweiblich has her own interests, and when by chance she meets the lusciously virginal Karin (Hanna Schygulla, Fassbinder’s wife), her theoretical desires are replaced by tangible ones, at which point the melodrama hits full throttle.

The influence of Sirk is apparent from Petra von Kant‘s first frame, as the film’s luscious color scheme, designed by DP Michael Ballhaus, pours through every inch of the frame, the blindingly bright room often contrasted with the dark shadows of where Marlene must work. And the film’s mise-en-scène (Kurt Raab as production designer, Maja Lemcke as costume designer) similarly pops out toward us — the overflowing white rug; Petra’s boisterous blonde wig; the gargantuan, Renaissance-like mural of female pleasure plastered on one wall; and Marlene’s slick, long black dress. Hermann’s role is key — a desired longing in a position of sadomasochism. An early dance to the tune of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” signals the chance for something more open and expressive between them, a moment of beautiful stasis and pure love that is still only something temporary. But otherwise Marlene often remains in the background, her gestures of emotions limited to the way her hand suddenly shakes or the pause she takes when overhearing an unremarked dismissal by her dominant lover.

Hermann’s emotions are always registered by the camera, which is constantly searching through this environment to place the various actors into new relationships. There is a certain static element to Fassbinder’s direction; he seems to have conceived the film in a series of tableaux shots (hello, #PerfectShots!). But these are only the building blocks for Fassbinder’s drama, because it is the sudden movement of characters, such as Petra’s swift lunging for a phone, that registers as the most exciting moments in the film. This is why Fassbinder’s approach to acting style, a neo-Brechtian reduction to the monotonous, actually becomes frighteningly real. Petra can easily recite her thesis of her unemotional detached lifestyle, but when chance enters the picture — first in terms of desire, later in terms of mourning — these little pockets of emotion called humanity slip through like lightning in a bottle. And simply watch for a small, not-entirely-casual drop of a gun into a suitcase in the film’s excitingly brutal final shot. A minimalist approach to acting does not concede it to be without expression.

Much more classical, however, is the film’s rhythmic editing. Perhaps showing more Mankiewicz influence, Fassbinder often cuts on the various beats of the drama — the kind where, if directing in the theater, you would mark on the script for an actor to make a grand gesture. But Fassbinder can use the camera create the shock, often cutting to a reacting face to register the sudden shift in emotion. Along with the camera’s tendency for rack focus and zooms, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant moves with extreme velocity as it travels through the ups and downs of its melodrama. And for something that’s often about the limitations of the female role in society, this helps the film feel as fluidly possible to opening up into an infinite amount of directions while remaining deliberately closed. And what better to define cinema — Scorsese’s declaration of what’s inside and outside the frame — than the understanding that a film being limited to one space hardly means it’s anything but the purest of its medium?

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is now available on Criterion.

Recommended Discs & Deals of the Week: ‘Lucy,’ ‘My Winnipeg,’ ‘The Boxtrolls,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, January 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm 

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Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. If we were provided screener copies, we’ll have our own write-up, but if that’s not the case, one can find official descriptions from the distributors. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi)

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Although their features thus far come from different minds (both on the page and when it comes to the execution), the Oregon-based stop-motion studio Laika clearly has specific, shared preferences. Darker, more daring, and perhaps more meticulously crafted than the average studio animation, following Coraline and ParaNorman, their latest feature feels like a natural next step for the company. Based on Alan Snow‘s 2005 novel Here Be Monsters, The Boxtrolls is set in the secluded town of Cheesebridge, an isolated, dairy-obsessed place occupied by the false notion that little creatures (think Minions with more personality) located in the sewers live only to terrorize the citizens. The only one that doesn’t believe this nonsense is a boy raised by the Boxtrolls themselves, Eggs, who is named after the origins of the obligatory box outfitted to his body, and voiced by Game of ThronesIsaac Hempstead Wright. – Jordan R. (full review)

Lucy (Luc Besson)

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Luc Besson’s Lucy may be the most daft and blissfully idiotic science-fiction movie you see this year. That, of course, shouldn’t prevent you from seeing it, because the truth is that this odd hodge-podge of the cerebral and sensational is one of the summer’s most purely entertaining experiences. There’s not a bit of the ridiculous science that makes any real-world sense, but Scarlett Johannson, playing the titular drug mule who gets a mental upgrade via synthetic CPH4, forms a demented partnership with Besson’s visceral styling to deliver a B-movie delirium the film’s trailers barely hint at. As much fun as breathlessly devouring a dime-store pulp novel on a lazy Sunday afternoon, Lucy is a delightfully eccentric addition to the crazy French director’s filmography. – Nathan B. (full review)

My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin)

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The geographical dead center of North America and the beloved birthplace of Guy Maddin, Winnipeg is the frosty and mysterious star of Maddin’s “docu-fantasia.” A work of memory and imagination, the film burrows into what the director calls “the heart of the heart” of the continent, conjuring a city as delightful as it is fearsome, populated by sleepwalkers and hockey aficionados. Take part in Winnipeg’s epic annual scavenger hunt! Pay your respects to the racehorses forever frozen in the river! Help judge the yearly Golden Boy pageant! What is real and what is fantasy is left up to the viewer to sort out in Maddin’s hypnotic, expertly conceived paean to that wonderful and terrifying place known as My Hometown. – Criterion.com

The Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges)

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This wild tale of wacky wedlock from Preston Sturges takes off like a rocket and never lets up. Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert play Tom and Gerry, a married New York couple on the skids, financially and romantically. With Tom hot on her trail, Gerry takes off for Florida on a mission to solve the pair’s money troubles, which she accomplishes in a highly unorthodox manner. A mix of the witty and the utterly absurd, The Palm Beach Story is a high watermark of Sturges’s brand of physical comedy and verbal repartee, featuring sparkling performances from its leads as well as hilarious supporting turns from Rudy Vallee and Mary Astor as a brother and a sister ensnared in Tom and Gerry’s high jinks. – Criterion.com

Also Available This Week

The Drop (review)
The Green Prince
The Mule (review)
White Bird in a Blizzard (review)
The Zero Theorem (review)

Recommended Deals of the Week

(Note: new additions are in red)

12 Years a Slave (Blu-ray) – $11.99

21 Jump Street (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Alien Anthology (Blu-ray) – $24.96

The American (Blu-ray) – $7.25

Amelie (Blu-ray) - $6.74

Atonement (Blu-ray) – $7.63

Beginners (Blu-ray) – $6.60

Black Swan (Blu-ray) - $9.49

Boogie Nights (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Bronson (Blu-ray) – $10.91

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) - $7.88

Captain Phillips (Blu-ray) – $11.95

Casino (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Contagion (Blu-ray) – $8.83

Do the Right Thing (Blu-ray) – $7.00

The Fly (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Goodfellas (Blu-ray) – $8.54

Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray) – $7.50

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Blu-ray) – $5.99

Gravity (Blu-ray) – $11.69

The Grey (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Haywire (Blu-ray) – $9.29

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Hugo (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Inglorious Basterds (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Inside Llewyn Davis (Blu-ray) – $9.99

In the Loop (Blu-ray) – $7.91

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) – $7.97

L.A. Confidential (Blu-ray) – $8.65

Laurence Anyways (Blu-ray) – $12.94

Looper (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Margaret (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Moonrise Kingdom (Blu-ray) – $10.99

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Observe & Report (Blu-ray) – $9.29

Office Space (Blu-ray) – $4.99

Persepolis (Blu-ray) – $7.26

Public Enemies (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Reality Bites (Blu-ray) – $9.49

The Secret In Their Eyes (Blu-ray) – $8.09

A Serious Man (Blu-ray) – $9.80

Seven (Blu-ray) – $6.71

sex, lies, and videotape (Blu-ray) – $8.34

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $7.50

A Single Man (Blu-ray) – $8.87

Snowpiercer (Blu-ray) – $12.99

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray) - $9.96

Source Code (Blu-ray) – $5.00

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $8.64

The Truman Show (Blu-ray) – $7.99

This is the End (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Valhalla Rising (Blu-ray) – $10.79

Vanilla Sky (Blu-ray pre-order) – $8.49

Volver (Blu-ray) – $6.56

We Own the Night (Blu-ray) – $6.91

The Wrestler (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) – $9.99

What are you picking up this week?

Our 25 Most-Anticipated Films of Sundance Film Festival 2015

Written by TFS Staff, January 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm 

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Comprising at least a fifth of our top 50 films of last year, Sundance Film Festival has proven to yield the first genuine look at what the year in cinema will bring. Now in its 37th iteration, we’ll be heading back to Park City this week, but before we do, it’s time to highlight the films we’re most looking forward to, including documentaries, narrative features, and even a short.

While much of the joy found in the festival comes from surprises throughout the event, below one will find our 25 most-anticipated titles off the bat, as well as five films we’ve already seen and admired. Check out everything below and for updates straight from the festival, make sure to follow us on Twitter (@TheFilmStage, @jpraup, @djmecca and @JackGi), and stay tuned to all of our coverage here.

25. Stockholm, Pennsylvania (Nikole Beckwith)

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Perhaps one of the bleakest films amongst the Sundance Film Festival line-up, Stockholm, Pennsylvania follows Saoirse Ronan as a young woman who gets abducted for seventeen years and is told the world outside her has ended, only to be reunited with her parents and forced to adjust to life as it is. Also starring Cynthia Nixon, Jason Isaacs, and David Warshofsky, hopefully Nikole Beckwith‘s directorial debut is an impressive one. – Jordan R.

24. H. (Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia)

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Part of the NEXT line-up (which boasted such titles last year as A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Listen Up PhilipObvious Child, and more) this sci-fi drama has been on our radar, particularly after it also got announced to be part of the Berlin Film Festival line-up. Following two women in upstate New York both named Helen who live their own lives until a meteor crashes down, will this be an Enemy-esque showdown or something else entirely? Starring Robin Bartlett, Rebecca Dayan, Will Janowitz, Julian Gamble, and Roger Robinson, we’re certainly intrigued by the first trailer. - Leonard P.

23. Ten Thousand Saints (Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman)

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The duo behind American Splendor, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, will return to Sundance this year with a new drama led by Ethan Hawke, Asa Butterfield, Emily Mortimer, Julianne Nicholson, Hailee Steinfeld, and Emile Hirsch. Ten Thousand Saints follows Butterfield’s adventure to reconnect with this dad (Hawke) in the Lower East Side of New York City. Considering a Richard Linklater feature won’t be a Sundance this year, hopefully this turn from Hawke (seemingly best these days working on the independent side) will fill the void. – Jordan R.

22. The Nightmare (Rodney Ascher)

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After ruffling some feathers with Room 237, his documentary behind the theories of The Shining (which was an entertaining depiction at over-analyzation more than anything else), Rodney Ascher will be taking on something altogether different for his next project. The Nightmare, blending documentary and horror, explores the phenomenon of sleep paralysis, hopefully making for a frightening experience in Park City. – Jordan R.

21. Brooklyn (John Crowley)

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Following the aforementioned Stockholm, Pennsylvania, Saoirse Ronan is shaping up to have a major year at Sundance with another one of our most-anticipated films, Brooklyn. Coming from a script by Nick Hornby, based on Colm Tóibín‘s book, and direction from John Crowley (Boy A), the drama follows a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters, if it’s as half as good as last year’s The Immigrant, it’ll be one of the best of Sundance. – Jordan R.

20. The Overnight (Patrick Brice)

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Much of the charm at a festival like Sundance is knowing virtually nothing about a film going in and we’re hoping that stays the case with The Overnight. Led by Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and Judith Godrèche, we’re intrigued at the synopsis, which reads:  “Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, have recently moved to Los Angeles’s Eastside from Seattle. Feeling lost in a new city, they are desperate to find their first new friends. After a chance meeting with Kurt at the neighborhood park, they gladly agree to join family pizza night at his home. But as it gets later and the kids go to bed, the family “playdate” becomes increasingly more revealing as the couples begin to open up.” – Jordan R.

19. Listen to Me Marlon (Stevan Riley)

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Considering his influence and legacy in Hollywood, we’re always up for a new look at the life and career of Marlon Brando. This year’s Sundance Film Festival will provide just that with a new documentary that features previously unseen and unheard audio from Brando’s personal archive. With no talking heads or interviewees, we go through his life featuring audio and footage from the actor himself, hopefully helping to provide a complex look at his life. – Jordan R.

18. Hellions (Bruce McDonald)

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Seemingly an under-appreciated talent in some circles, director Bruce McDonald (Pontypool, Hard Core Logo) will be returning to Sundance Film Festival this year with a new entry in the horror genre. Hellions (not to be confused with last year’s singular Sundance drama Hellion) follows a town on Halloween night and specifically the treacherous journey of a young teenager as she encounters dark forces. – Jordan R.

17. Partisan (Ariel Kleiman)

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Few actors can get us interested in a film on name alone, but Vincent Cassel certainly holds that honor. He’ll be taking part in the feature debut of Ariel Kleiman, which follows him overseeing a closed community and specifically his mentoring of a young boy who does dangerous jobs for him. We’re not entirely sure what to expect from the drama, one of the reasons why we’re looking forward to it. – Jordan R.

16. Western (Bill and Turner Ross)

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After their acclaimed documentary Tchoupitoulas, the Ross brothers will head to Sundance with a new feature, Western. Capturing the divide between the two border towns of Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico due to cartel violence, this will likely be one of the most visually arresting documentaries to come out of this year’s festival. – Jordan R.

15. Knock Knock (Eli Roth)

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He further proving his action chops in last year’s better-than-expected John Wick, but Keanu Reeves will return in 2015 in a much different genre. Eli Roth‘s psychological horror Knock Knock is getting a Sundance premiere, following Reeves as happy family man who greets two young woman at his door and, well, things get weird. Said to be much less gore-filled then Roth’s previous films, hopefully his knack for uncomfortable tension is at the forefront here. - Jordan R.

14. Nasty Baby (Sebastián Silva)

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Last appearing at Sundance with two features in one year (Magic Magic and Crystal Fairy), Sebastián Silva may be slacking with a mere sole effort, but it’s one we are greatly looking forward to. Nasty Baby follows Kristen Wiig‘s character as she gets recruited to have the baby of her best friend couple, played by the director himself and TV on the Radio‘s Tunde Adebimpe, then a violent turn occurs. - Jordan R.

13. I Am Michael (Justin Kelly)

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While James Franco might get more attention at Sundance with his drama True Story, we’re more looking forward to the Gus Van Sant-produced feature I Am Michael. The film follows the account of Michael Glatze, a former gay activist based in San Francisco who went on to denounce homosexuality and became a Christian fundamentalist. Also starring Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts, it’ll also stop by Berlin soon after Park City. – Jordan R.

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New to Streaming: ‘John Wick,’ Ava DuVernay, ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,’ ‘Tinker, Tailor,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, January 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

Appropriate Behavior (Desiree Akhavan)

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When Desiree Akhavan first appears onscreen in her feature debut Appropriate Behavior, one thing is for sure: she’s a stunner. With a statuesque figure, dark cascading hair and intense eyes, the Iranian-American filmmaker and actress captivates in a way that few can. And then she opens her mouth, and the deadpan humor comes rolling out as natural as an exhale — then you really start to pay attention. – Amanda W. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Automata (Gabe Ibanez)

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Automata, directed by Gabe Ibanez, does its damnedest to tackle those tried-and-true questions about artificial intelligence from a fresh angle. And with an impressively-layered lead performance from Antonio Banderas, as well as some densely-explored existential themes on humanity, the film hits the right notes some of the time. Unfortunately, the dialogue and the central narrative arc do not live up to the ideas present throughout. – Dan M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (Spike Lee)

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One cannot take lightly the implications of a candid filmmaker opening his latest picture with the words “An Official Spike Lee Joint.” Before we can even imagine what’s to come, his third endeavor in as many years — yet only the second of two joints and, indeed, successor to “A Spike Lee Film” that was publicly encapsulated by its credited maker with the words “tough business” — thus immediately establishes itself as a push against any and all who’d care to silence his voice. A quick introductory scene practically elides over the last title’s existence wholesale, bringing us back to the church of Red Hook Summer’s since-deceased Bishop Enoch — less for the sake of delineating proper continuity between works and more, it seems, for the sake of situating and making comfortable those who are about to be offset and discomfited. As, over mere minutes, the scope rapidly expands and the voice in command only grows louder, soon made into the equivalent of a madhouse blare, his push is now in defiance of many a crucial thing: total coherence, absolute logic, formal consistency, moral decency, and good taste. - Nick N. (full review)

Where to Stream: Vimeo

John Wick (David Leitch and Chad Stahelski)

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John Wick is a refreshingly streamlined action movie. There’s not an ounce of fat in David Leitch and Chad Stahelski‘s film, and Derek Kolstad‘s script gets right everything so many revenge pictures get wrong. The familial scenes in the Taken movies, for example, are an afterthought — crap you have to trudge through to get to the shootouts. Actual time and care was put into the set-up of John Wick. When Wick’s dog dies, it’s an earned moment for the character and the film. It’s a strangely heartfelt movie, and far more sincere than most pieces of Oscar bait. What follows that effective set-up is a wildly entertaining action movie, filled with a variety of set pieces, fun kills, style, and a world that begs for a sequel. – Jack G.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Middle of Nowhere and I Will Follow (Ava DuVernay)

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It’s been difficult to one’s hands on Selma director Ava DuVernay‘s previous two narrative features, but thanks to her studio break-out now in wide release, they’re now available to stream. Middle of Nowhere, which earned her a directing award at Sundance Film Festival, follows a woman’s journey of self-discovery after her husband is incarcerated, and it’s shot by her Selma cinematographer Bradford Young. Her narrative debut, I Will Follow, follows a grieving woman and her healing process. – Jordan R.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google (Middle of Nowhere) and Netflix (I Will Follow)

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26 Things We Learned From David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ Commentary

Written by Jordan Raup, January 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm 

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Arriving on Blu-ray this week is a fiercely entertaining feature we named one of our favorites of 2014: David Fincher‘s Gone Girl. While the release is light on extras aside from an Amazing Amy book, it does include an engaging feature-length commentary from the director. While we’d recommend listening to it in full, today we’re highlighting some of the best portions from the track.

During the 2.5-hour masterclass of sorts, Fincher touches on the casting of almost every major character, how Jaws, Lolita, Vertigo, Sid & Nancy, Gone with the Wind and Manhattan influenced the film, his trials and tribulations when it came to marketing, when the film gets “really weird,” his “f*ck you” to those criticizing his long takes, how they figured out the ending on set, and much more. Check out what we learned below and, of course, spoilers abound.

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1. Almost every shot of Rosamund Pike has been retouched.

When it comes to the opening shot seen above, Fincher says it “was problematic because we had these long wigs for Amy as she’s meant to be adored. Almost every single shot of her in this movie has been retouched along the wig line in order to fix it. Wig technology has not really changed since Shakespeare and no new procedures or techniques were designed or founded on this film to make them any better than they’ve been. Thank God for digital retouching.”

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2. The sugar scene was inspired by Sid & Nancy.

sid_nancyWhen Nick and Amy first begin dating and walk past the bakery, it’s the only time Fincher has shot on the Universal backlot in his career. He goes on to say, “I love the idea of romance amongst garbage. This reminds me of the Sid & Nancy poster. They’re kissing and garbage cans and paper towels and stuff’s being strewn and flying through the air behind them.”

3. Casey Wilson is one of the funniest people ever, says Fincher.

“A lot of what the character of Noelle has to do exists in these silent flashbacks where we see this relationship that has cultivated between Amy and Noel,” Fincher says. “A lot of times we’d just bring Casey into a room and would say, ‘OK, you guys are having Chardonnay-fueled girl time in the afternoon and you are discussing Amy’s sex life.” We’d roll and they would just go on these four and five minute tears where they would just talk and talk and talk and it was incredibly Oprah-like. It was extremely heartfelt and Casey Wilson is one of the funniest people that you could ever watch. We’d be in stitches and we’d have the sound completely turned down. I didn’t even know what was being said in the next room because I’d just be looking at her face.”

4. Jaws influenced the formation of the search party.

Discussing the search party, Fincher says, “I love the notion of somebody going missing and needing a search party and having an appeal for public help. I love that it became something to do on this summer day in a small town. The kids are running to get to the common room to hear where they are supposed to go and walk single file and tramp through the underbrush and look for remains. It couldn’t help but remind me a little bit of Jaws.” He adds, “Beyond something taking place on July 4th, beyond the idea of a search party looking for remains, whenever you have 80-feet of dolly track and a walk and talk on the sand, it has to harken to Jaws.”

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5. Fincher couldn’t initially figure out where to place one of his favorite shots.

“One of the first shots that we did when we were shooting pre-scheduled material, we shot the children riding their bikes,” Fincher says. “It was such a great shot and we were going to use it in the trailer and we didn’t really have a place for it in the narrative. Then finally we said, there’s this nice moment before we go to Margot and Nick where we could use this and so we shoehorned it in there and it’s one of my favorite. Again, it feels like small-town, Middle America.”

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6. Emily Ratajkowski was cast specifically to divide audiences.

“I liked the idea of introducing Andie as this kind of werewolf that comes in the back door and just mauls him,” Fincher says with a laugh. “It’s obviously not something he resists very much. When we were looking for somebody to play Andie it was imperative from my standpoint that we find somebody that could divide the audience immediately. That you could literally take a broad sword and cut right down the center of the theater. Women are going to lean back in their chairs, be disgusted, cross their arms, and go, ‘He is a fucking prick,’ and that men would put their chins on their hands, lean forward, and say, ‘Yeah, but I mean, it’s kind of understandable.’ Emily Ratajkowski does that. She just has that ability. There’s a part of you that says I completely understand why he would make this mistake, but it’s a horrible, horrible transgression and it should be punished.”

7. The Outback line came from Fincher and their experience on set.

Showing the decline of the Dunnes’ marriage, Fincher captures a loveless sex scene, followed by the perfect line, which came from the director. “As he was walking away, I wanted him to say, ‘Let’s got to Outback tonight’ and Rosamund, I want you to — no bullshit — appreciate that as an evening out. We had been spending so much time at the Outback behind the Drury Suites where the crew was staying in Cape Girardeau, that as soon as he tried that take, everybody on the set just started laughing.”

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8. The moment where Rosamund Pike recalls a Hitchcock blonde.

The comparisons to the work of Alfred Hitchcock were certainly made around release (including by us) and now Fincher has specified an precise moment of similarity. Right after the Nick knocks Amy over before going out, Fincher says, “The last shot of Rosamund in this sequence really looks like a Hitchcock blonde to me. That really feels like Grace Kelly, the angle, the smudge of tears and snot.”

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Recommended Discs & Deals of the Week: ‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Margaret,’ ‘Twin Peaks,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, January 13, 2015 at 2:31 pm 

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Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. If we were provided screener copies, we’ll have our own write-up, but if that’s not the case, one can find official descriptions from the distributors. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

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In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder discovered the American melodramas of Douglas Sirk and was inspired by them to begin working in a new, more intensely emotional register. One of the first and best-loved films of this period in his career is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director’s roots in experimental theater. This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingenue (Hanna Schygulla)—based, in a sly gender reversal, on the writer-director’s own desperate obsession with a young actor—is a true Fassbinder affair, featuring exquisitely claustrophobic cinematography by Michael Ballhaus and full-throttle performances by an all-female cast. – Criterion.com

Gone Girl (David Fincher)

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I’m not sure if Fincher taps into anything profound here regarding relationships or gender. He does, however, craft a visceral experience that pummels the viewer with its phantasmagoric narrative and images. As the noose tightens around Nick Dunne (an excellent Ben Affleck) shot by shot in the film’s first third, you realize you’re in the hands of a gifted filmmaker. Once the Gillian Flynn adaptation reveals what happened to the one and only Amazing Amy, played by Rosamund Pike, it releases some of the most unsettling and macabre sequences of 2014. – Zade C.

Love is Strange (Ira Sachs)

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A timely New York story for any orientation, Love is Strange is Ira Sachs’ most accessible film, until its frustrating ending. Sachs, despite edging towards the mainstream, even pushing towards sitcom territory, pulls back and provides us, as usual, with no simple answer for its conclusion. If he had been working on this film within the studio system, an executive or test audience would have made him choose. Here, leaving the fate of a supporting character up in the air can either be a very smart, respectful decision or fodder for frustration. – John F. (full review)

A Walk Among the Tombstones (Scott Frank)

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Indicated by the proliferation of his action-oriented films in the last half-decade, simply uttering the name Liam Neeson spurs the specific notion of a certain sort of slick, B-movie thriller. Considering the box-office he can bring in, it’s no surprise that even with the loosest connection to a Taken-esque plot, his features in the genre are marketed as bullet-riddled blow-outs. While his latest film, A Walk Among the Tombstones, may contain impassioned phone calls, kidnappings, and even open with all-out warfare, it is distinctly of its own world: a brooding, sharp and skillfully crafted, character-focused detective story. – Nathan B. (full review)

Also Available This Week

Finding Fela! (review)
Honeymoon (review)
Jimi: All is By My Side (review)
Memphis (review)
The Two Faces of January
Wetlands (review)
Young Ones (review)

Recommended Deals of the Week

(Note: new additions are in red)

12 Years a Slave (Blu-ray) – $11.99

21 Jump Street (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Alien Anthology (Blu-ray) – $24.96

The American (Blu-ray) – $6.49

Amelie (Blu-ray) - $6.99

Atonement (Blu-ray) – $7.55

Beginners (Blu-ray) – $6.60

Black Swan (Blu-ray) - $9.49

Boogie Nights (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Bronson (Blu-ray) – $10.91

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) - $7.88

Captain Phillips (Blu-ray) – $11.99

Casino (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Contagion (Blu-ray) – $8.83

Do the Right Thing (Blu-ray) – $7.00

The Fly (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Goodfellas (Blu-ray) – $8.54

Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray) – $7.48

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Blu-ray) – $11.99

Gravity (Blu-ray) – $11.99

The Grey (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Haywire (Blu-ray) – $9.29

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Hugo (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Inglorious Basterds (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Inside Llewyn Davis (Blu-ray) – $9.99

In the Loop (Blu-ray) – $7.96

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) – $8.12

L.A. Confidential (Blu-ray) – $8.66

Looper (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Margaret (Blu-ray) – $9.99

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Observe & Report (Blu-ray) – $9.29

Office Space (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Persepolis (Blu-ray) – $7.26

Public Enemies (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Reality Bites (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Secret In Their Eyes (Blu-ray) – $8.10

A Serious Man (Blu-ray) – $8.25

Seven (Blu-ray) – $6.71

sex, lies, and videotape (Blu-ray) – $8.35

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $7.50

A Single Man (Blu-ray) – $8.87

Snowpiercer (Blu-ray) – $12.99

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray) - $9.96

Source Code (Blu-ray) – $5.00

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $8.65

The Truman Show (Blu-ray) – $7.99

This is the End (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery (Blu-ray) – $79.99

Valhalla Rising (Blu-ray) – $10.78

Vanilla Sky (Blu-ray pre-order) – $8.50

Volver (Blu-ray) – $6.56

We Own the Night (Blu-ray) – $6.91

The Wrestler (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Zero Theorem (Blu-ray) – $11.99

What are you picking up this week?

Our 100 Most-Anticipated Films of 2015

Written by TFS Staff, January 12, 2015 at 1:00 pm 

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After highlighting 40 films from 2014 we loved, it’s time to enter the unknown. While a multitude of 2015 previews simply regurgitate a list of dated releases, we’ve set out to focus on 100 films we’re genuinely looking forward to, regardless of their marketing budgets. While some might not have a release date, let alone any confirmed festival premiere, most have wrapped production and will likely debut at some point in 2015, so make sure to check back for updates over the next twelve months and beyond.

It should be noted that there are a number of films we’re greatly looking forward to but whose completion we weren’t confident about, including the next features from Andrea Arnold, Abbas Kiarostami, Jia Zhangke, Michael Haneke, Nicolas Winding Refn, Andrew Dominik, James Gray, Todd Solondz, and Lucrecia Martel. Lastly, word has it that Orson Welles‘ unseen final film The Other Side of the Wind might finally debut this year, and in that case it should certainly be at the top of this list — but, unfortunately, we don’t have enough details yet. Regardless, be sure to keep the below one-hundred films on your radar (with release dates, where applicable), and if you want to see how we did with our picks last year, head on over here.

100. Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro; Oct. 16th)

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After the disappointment that was Pacific Rim, our expectations are in check for Guillermo del Toro‘s follow-up, Crimson Peak, but there are a number of factors that have us interested. Along with featuring a return to the dark arena (both thematically and literally) he knows quite well, it’s difficult to ignore the top-notch cast of Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Mia Wasikowska. Hopefully the ideal Halloween treat, the gothic horror story will follow an author who finds out her husband has some secrets — all set in a haunted house. – Jordan R.

99. Bleed For This (Ben Younger)

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If 2014 proved anything, it was that Miles Teller was game for a leading-man role with some substance, not courtesy of That Awkward Moment or Two Night Stand, but Whiplash. He’ll land some major eyeballs with The Fantastic Four, but there’s a few dramas we’re anticipating much more. One is Bleed For This, which comes from Boiler Room director Ben Younger and follows the life of boxer Vinny Panzienza. He quickly shot to stardom when he dominated undefeated champion Gilbert Dele, but a near-fatal automobile accident left him with the news that he would never walk again. Aaron Eckhart plays trainer Kevin Rooner who helped him get back into the ring. With Martin Scorsese, the man who gave us Raging Bull, helping out as a producer, hopes are high for this one. – Jordan R.

98. Life (Anton Corbijn)

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After premiering his latest drama, A Most Wanted Man, at Sundance last year, we thought director Anton Corbijn might return to Park City, but barring any last-minute announcements that looks to not be the case. Hopefully coming later this year, as scripted by Luke DaviesLife centers on the relationship between James Dean (Dane DeHaan) and Life Magazine‘s Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson), the latter of whom had been tasked with capturing the up-and-coming actor less than a year before his rise to stardom and tragic death. – Jordan R.

97. By Way of Helena (Kieran Darcy-Smith)

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After directing the Joel Edgerton-led Wish You Were Here, Australia’s Kieran Darcy-Smith will return this year with what’s hopefully his true break-out feature. The western-tinged drama By Way of Helena teams Woody Harrelson with Liam Hemsworth, Alice Braga, William Hurt, Emory Cohen and more as we follow a Texas Ranger who seeks answers after a string of deaths. If Harrelson is in any way, shape, or form channeling his True Detective mode, this should be a sleeper hit. – Jordan R.

96. Our Kind of Traitor (Susanna White)

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After the recent A Most Wanted Man and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the world of John le Carré will once again be hitting screens this year with Our Kind of Traitor. Helmed by Susanna White (who cut her teeth in the world of TV), the drama stars Ewan McGregor, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, and Stellan Skarsgård, and we’d expect it to pop on the fall festival circuit. The story follows “a couple who find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect but are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.” – Jordan R.

95. Mojave (William Monahan)

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Academy Award-winning screenwriter William Monahan showed promise with his directorial debut, London Boulevard. His gangster pic was rough around the edges, but it had no shortage of style and fun performances. The writer has potential behind the camera, and he’s taking his second shot with Mojave, a great script written by Monahan himself. It’s a game of cat and mouse between two equally dangerous men, played by Oscar Isaac and Garret Hedlund. If the final result is half as interesting or exciting as Monahan’s script, then we’re in for a real treat. – Jack G.

94. Mission: Impossible 5 (Christopher McQuarrie; Dec. 25th)

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The last film in this franchise was probably the best of all of them. Directed by Brad Bird and buoyed by the still-burning charisma of Tom Cruise, Ghost Protocol showed that even in it’s fourth installment a movie series could keep surprising us with its quality. With Christopher McQuarrie (who previously directed Cruise in Jack Reacher) taking the directing duties and with Cruise being joined once more by the reluctant junior IMF agent played by Jeremy Renner, there is just as much to look forward to this time. McQuarrie may not be as well known as Bird, but with more to prove he might just bring more to the table as well. – Brian R.

93. Equals (Drake Doremus)

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After a few small-scale dramas, Drake Doremus wrapped production last fall on his biggest undertaking yet, the sci-fi romantic drama Equals, which comes from a script by Moon‘s Nathan Parker. Led by Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, the Apparat-scored film finds them in a society where emotions are absent, but a “disease” will bring them back. Still seeking distribution, hopefully it’ll arrive soon. – Jordan R.

92. A Tale of Love and Darkness (Natalie Portman)

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Natalie Portman is taking an ambitious leap with her upcoming feature film debut, A Tale of Love and DarknessThe content of the film, based on the Amos Oz memoir, would pose challenges for even the most vetted directors. Described as, “the story of a boy who grows up in war-torn Jerusalem, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many,” Portman has also taken on duties as the film’s screenwriter and star. Her decision to direct this film echoes another politically charged debut by an actress-turned-director, Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, and we’ll hopefully see it on the festival circuit this fall. - Zade C.

91. Regression (Alejandro Amenábar; Aug. 28th)

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Although he dabbled in Hollywood with the 2001 horror drama The Others, Alejandro Amenábar has spent much of his time crafting acclaimed features in his native land of Spain, including Open Your Eyes, The Sea Inside, and, most recently, Agora. He’s now back in English-language territory for his next work, the thriller RegressionLed by Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson, the film is set in 1990 in Minnesota and follows a detective investigating a girl that has accused her father of an unspeakable crime. The father doesn’t remember what happened, but when a renowned psychologist joins the case, the conspiracy is unraveled. Also starring David Thewlis, David Dencik, Lothaire Bluteau, and Devon Bostick, it’ll land later this summer. – Jordan R.

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New to Streaming: ‘Lucy,’ ‘Closed Curtain,’ ‘Love is Strange, ‘Frank,’ and More

Written by TFS Staff, January 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm 

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With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.

The Book of Life (Jorge R. Gutierrez)

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When Guillermo Del Toro produces an animated film about traveling into the afterlife and then releases it in time for Halloween, one would be right to expect some family-friendly creepiness. The big surprise, then, is that Del Toro, who cornered the market on nightmares with Pan’s Labyrinth’s Pale Man, has hitched his cart to The Book of Life, a colorful, joyous and buoyant lark that draws more from Mexican tradition and Greek myth than ghoulish Burton-esque kitsch. – Nathan B. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

Closed Curtain (Jafar Panahi)

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Jafar Panahi, working with co-star Kambuzia Partovi, crafts a spiritual sequel to 2012’s This Is Not a Film that’s deeper, more mysterious, and perhaps even grimmer. What’s initially a close-quarter story of personal redemption grows into a two-headed beast: a documentary on the film you’re seeing and narrative concerning the documentation of said film. But it isn’t traveling down enough rabbit holes so as to eventually be incomprehensible — at least not when the emotional logic guiding one shot to the next is so crystal clear. 2014 offers no better option for fans of meta-textual and political cinema alike. – Nick N.

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

The Congress (Ari Folman)

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Trippy, bizarre, surreal and hallucinatory are all excellent adjectives with which to describe Ari Folman‘s The Congress. Adapted from a novel by legendary sci-fi author Stanislaw Lem (Solaris), the film is a hybrid of live-action and mind-bending psychedelic animation; as this is the filmmaker’s follow-up to Waltz with Bashir, those familiar with that title know that Folman is far from a traditional filmmaker. Delightfully surreal and spectacular in its scope, The Congress is a strong testament to the originality and talent behind Folman’s vision of where cinema can take us in the years to come. – Raffi A. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon Prime

Frank (Lenny Abrahamson)

There’s no definitive path on the unwieldy journey that is the creative process. We’ve seen countless films tackle various approaches in an attempt to find an answer, but it’s never quite been done in the vein of Lenny Abrahamson‘s peculiar, occasionally aimless, and ultimately resonant Frank. While the initial draw is perhaps Michael Fassbender in the role of our strange title character, loosely based on the late Chris Sievey, our focal point is that of Jon (Domnhall Gleeson), whom we meet as an aspiring musician who can’t seem to conjure any worthwhile lyrics. - Jordan R. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Kenneth Branagh)

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The closer Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit gets to its routine “chase the bomb” conclusion, the less interesting it becomes. The good news here, of course, is that it ends up being interesting at all, and not just one more cold, limp exercise in rebooting a franchise. In the pantheon of espionage films, it’s somewhere in the middle—better than many of the lackluster Bond and Bourne movies and nosing ahead of 2002’s The Sum of All Fears. Anyone bracing themselves for a January bomb can sigh in relief; Tom Clancy’s Ryan is alive and well here, despite being a bit younger and more inexperienced than previous iterations. – Nathan B. (full review)

Where to Stream: Netflix, Amazon Prime

Jimi: All is By My Side (John Ridley)

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On paper, a biopic of Jimi Hendrix without the rights to his music seems like a complete waste of time. Even with John Ridley‘s All Is by My Side detailing the guitarist’s two years prior to the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, the thought of not using an iconic track for the credits is a daunting one to overcome. Thankfully, with a bit of ingenious sound design and multiple sensory collages of images and music, we’re able to experience the tale as though inside Hendrix’s one-of-a-kind mind. It’s an attempt to bring a line from the script—”I want them to see the music like I do”—to life, putting us in his shoes rather than merely positioning us on the outside looking in like so many other biographies are love to do. – Jared M. (full review)

Where to Stream: Amazon, iTunes, Google

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