Seek out these counter-programming entries during the hot months
If you've been paying attention to HitFix's on-going 2013 Summer Movie Preview Countdown, you know what the site's staff is eagerly anticipating as we turn the corner into blockbuster season. High concept entertainment like the comic book stylings of "Iron Man 3," "Man of Steel" and "The Wolverine" have already been mentioned, as well as other genre fare, from westerns ("The Lone Ranger") to horror ("The Conjuring"), comedy ("The World's End") to sci-fi ("Star Trek Into Darkness"). How will the top five turn out next week? We'll know soon enough, but in the meantime, we've cooked up a list of under-the-radar goodies to check out in between all the big budget fun.
Plus: Tracy Morgan as...?
The White House Correspondents' Dinner has always been an occasion where the President of the United States can poke fun at himself, the press and Washington. The POTUS then usually endures some good ribbing from that night's comedic headliner. This year, President Obama had a little more fun than usual.
And how did 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' get Quaid the part?
Chasing the American Dream is a theme so pervasive in US cinema – and often beyond – that it scarcely seems like a theme at all: it's the principle upon which much Hollywood storytelling is built, after all. But few filmmakers have done as much in recent years to redefine and recontextualize the Dream as Ramin Bahrani. North Carolina-born, but of Iranian heritage, Bahrani has a distinct personal perspective on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that has colored all his work to date: the late Roger Ebert, one of his earliest and most loyal champions, has repeatedly described him as the best American director of his generation.
The Zac Efron-Dennis Quaid drama is now in theaters
Ramin Bahrani's robust farmland drama "At Any Price" has been splitting the critics since its premiere at last year's Venice Film Festival, where it was greeted with scattered boos: some admire its command of old-fashioned melodrama, while others find it gauche and contrived. It's an unfamiliar position for Bahrani, who received pretty universal adoration for his microbudget features "Man Push Cart," "Chop Shop" and "Goodbye Solo" -- the late Roger Ebert, in particular, was a vocal proponent of his work.
One-minute glimpse plays up the film's quirky comedy
Yesterday, Kris posted the "teaser" for the teaser of David Gordon Green's Sundance hit "Prince Avalanche." Today, we get the actual teaser, which is still doubtless a slip of a thing compared to whatever trailers hit in the near future. Movie marketing -- even for the little guys -- sure is a peek-a-boo process these days.
Anyway, the one-minute tease is charming enough, understandably selling the film on its loopy comedy rather than its affecting undertow of mourning for an endangered American spirit. The film's certainly funny enough not to bewilder audiences seeking another "Pineapple Express," but it represents a more considered integration of Green's earlier indie melancholy and recent broader comic instincts than the trailer lets on.
Plus: four more new films added to the Official Selection
The all-star Competition lineup for next month's Cannes Film Festival just got a little starrier. And sexier. "Only Lovers Left Alive," a vampire romance from veteran independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, was one of the more surprising omissions when the Official Selection was unveiled last week: Jarmusch has a long history with Cannes, after all, and the film was widely assumed to be ready in time. What was the problem?
Jeff Nichols's latest hits theaters today
Hmmm. I really don't know what else I can say about "Mud." I love the movie. There is no way it won't land on my top 10 at the end of the year. I've been over the moon since I saw it pre-Sundance and I haven't been too worried about over-hyping it because I think it will find and land comfortably with its audience.
We talked to star Matthew McConaughey. We talked to director Jeff Nichols. Guy had his less-enthusiastic say in Cannes last year and I offered my counter in Park City eight months later. Will we be talking about it at the end of the year, when the awards season takes hold? Time will tell. I certainly hope so. But for now, I'm encouraging all the film lovers I know to check it out this weekend, and that includes you. It's opening in limited release and I'll be eager to see how it's received, so when/if you get around to seeing it, head on back here with your thoughts. And as always, feel free to vote in the poll below with your reaction.
He'll produce with Smoke House partner Grant Heslov and potentially direct
George Clooney is finishing up "The Monuments Men" for release later this year, which he is also producing along with Smoke House partner Grant Heslov. The duo, with Ben Affleck, picked up Oscars for Best Picture in February for "Argo," and according to The Wrap, Clooney and Heslov are re-teaming with journalist Joshuah Bearman -- whose 2007 Wired article spawned the Iran hostage crisis drama -- for something called "Coronado High."
The film, which Sony Pictures is in talks to acquire, will be based on an as-of-yet unpublished article about a group of teenagers used to smuggle drugs in Coronado, a resort community across the bay from San Diego near the Mexican border. But that's all we have to go on at the moment.
Watch the 13-minute ad, made by Ridley Scott Associates
Today marked the start of Sundance London -- the second annual mini-festival of highlights from the Sundance Film Festival, transported across the pond and into the cavernous surrounds of the UK capital's O2 Dome. I've been dipping into the press screenings, catching up on a few titles I missed in Park City back in January, and will report back over the weekend. Having missed last year's inaugural edition, I'm still getting acquainted with this notion of festival as franchise; roving film journalists may not be that jazzed about it, but for civilian film buffs who can't fly to Park City on a whim, a second-hand programme is precisely the point.
Project finds a buyer ahead of Cannes Film Market
Filmmaker Kevin Macdonald is about to go deep sea diving with Jude Law. Deadline reports that the film "Black Sea" has been positioned as his next with Law in the lead as a laid-off submarine captain who gets involved in a scheme to seek out a storied sunken sub that might be loaded with gold in the Black Sea.