March 2016 - Posts

Review: 'Archer' Season 7 Episode 1 'The Figgis Agency' Kicks Off With a Bang — And a Body

"I swear to God I had something for this." (Episode Summary)The majority of the episode consisted of the gang's first mission for The Figgis Agency, a private investigation firm in Los Angeles set up by Cyril (because he's the only one who could qualify for a license in California, a fact that irks Archer to a predictably high degree), after the former secret agents were blacklisted from the spy game because they failed last year's last chance mission, "Drastic Voyage." Now they've been hired by a woman identifying herself as the famous starlet Veronica Dean, so Archer, Lana and Ray infiltrate a mansion in the Hollywood Hills to steal a tape containing "sensitive information" that Ms. Dean doesn't want to fall into the wrong hands. The only problem — other than Archer getting chewed up by guard dogs during the burglary and home invasion (they did, after all, run into a few occupants) — is the wrong hands are those belonging to the mysterious...
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James Franco's Movie Column: How I Became Addicted to Work

James + Semaj is a column where James Franco talks to his reverse self, Semaj, about new films. Rather than a conventional review, it is place where James and Semaj can muse about ideas that the films provoke. James loves going to the movies and talking about them. But a one-sided take on a movie, in print, might be misconstrued as a review. As someone in the industry it could be detrimental to James's career if he were to review his peers, because unlike the book industry—where writers review other writer's books—the film industry is highly collaborative, and a bad review of a peer could create problems. So, assume that James (and Semaj) love all these films. What they're interested in talking about is all the ways the films inspire them, and make them think. James is me, and Semaj is the other side of me.  This week's column focuses on "Standing Tall," which opens on Friday, April 1 in New York and Los Angeles. James: This movie is crazy French. Semaj: Catherine...
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In 'April and the Extraordinary World,' Animation Goes Steampunk Dystopian Sci-Fi

Gkids goes steampunk with "April and the Extraordinary World," its first animated Oscar contender of the year (which opens Friday at the Nuart in LA). Adapted from Jacques Tardi's graphic novel, the French-Belgian-Canadian production (from the creators of the Oscar-nominated "Persepolis"), takes place in an alternate, oppressive France of 1941, after the quest for invincibility goes very bad. Enter April (voiced by Marion Cotillard in the French-language version), a smart YA who carries on her family's research to perfect a longevity serum and lives alone with her talking cat, Darwin (who steals the movie). She soon gets ensnared in a shadowy conspiracy filled with inept government agents, bicycle-powered dirigibles, cyborg rat spies and a mysterious race of supervillains. The English voice cast includes Paul Giamatti, Tony Hale, Susan Sarandon and J.K. Simmons. If there are parallels to "Tintin," it's not accidental: Tardi sometimes...
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How Riley Keough and 'The Girlfriend Experience' Found Their Own Identity (With Steven Soderbergh's Help)

Tensions and excitement always coexist when on the verge of something entirely new and hotly anticipated. Such was the energy at the red carpet premiere of the new Starz show "The Girlfriend Experience." Intimate questions about what to see from characters and in unexpected situations were thrown out the window. In their place, the cast and crew were bombarded by everyone wanting to know just how dark and sexy the show really was. Quite, in fact, was the answer many found at the premiere event.  While it may not be completely original, "The Girlfriend Experience" only takes slight influence from the 2009 Steven Soderbergh film from which it was born. The themes of a woman leading a double life as a call girl are perhaps more relevant in today's modern landscape of transactional relationships, especially in the world of television, where shows about sex and power — like "House of Cards" — rule supreme. That relevance, along with the star power...
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Acclaimed Documentarian Alex Gibney To Helm His First Narrative Feature, 'The Action'

As the man responsible for some of the most memorable documentaries in recent memory, Alex Gibney is ready to make his way into the world of narrative filmmaking. In 2015 alone, the director made waves with two critically adored documentaries, "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" and "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine." This year, he unleashed "Zero Days" at the Berlin International Film Festival, a documentary about cyber warfare. Needless to say, Gibney is no stranger to controversy, and his first feature seems to be no different.  READ MORE: Berlin Review: Alex Gibney's Chilling Cyber-Espionage Documentary 'Zero Days' A political thriller set in the 1970s, "The Action" looks to chronicle the story of eight anti-war activists who exposed J. Edgar Hoover as he spied and blackmailed Vietnam War protesters. Seemingly inspired by true events and a group of activists who worked to unveil the FBI's highly...
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Watch: Karyn Kusama Gives Voice to Unnerving 'The Invitation' in Exclusive New Commentary Trailer

Director's commentaries for feature films are quite commonly found as DVD special features. But the director of "The Invitation," Karyn Kusama, has taken this idea a step further and incorporated it into the promotion for the film in a super-rad new trailer that comes complete with her own commentary.  Watch February's theatrical trailer for the horror-thriller while listening to Kusama delve into the themes, influences and behind-the-scenes production information. It's a great explainer, but it also goes deeper into certain thematic elements, giving the impression "The Invitation" may be something special.  READ MORE: Watch: Accept 'The Invitation' and Lose Your Mind in Unnerving New Trailer Per the film's official synopsis: "In this taut psychological thriller by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body), the tension is palpable when Will (Logan Marshall-Green, Prometheus) shows up to his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard, Into the Woods) and...
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Watch: 'Inside Amy Schumer' Spills 'Game of Thrones' Spoilers in New Season 4 Trailer

It's not that the fervor over "Game of Thrones" has actually gone away at all since Season 5's explosive finale, but in the final weeks leading up to Season 6, everyone's going to be talking about it. READ MORE: 'Saturday Night Live' Review: Amy Schumer Should Just Join the Cast Full-Time And that even includes people with entirely different shows, like Amy Schumer, who wigged up and got on a horse to remind us that her Emmy-winning sketch comedy series is also premiering next month. "Thrones" and "Inside Amy Schumer" each have their own virtues, but one thing we can all agree on: "Inside" tends, on balance, to be a lot funnier.  We'll see if Amy's new ride makes additional appearances when "Inside Amy Schumer" Season 4 premieres on April 21. Check out the promo above, and for more Amy Schumer, see below.  
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Don Cheadle Q&A: How He Convinced Miles Davis' Family to Make a Non-Traditional Biopic

Don Cheadle was never interested in making a standard-issue Miles Davis biopic. In fact, for a while there, he wasn't interested in making any kind of Miles Davis biopic whatsoever. Instead, he was hoping to play the musician in someone else's film. But years after being rumored to star in a Davis biopic, Cheadle eventually came on board to co-write, direct, produce and star in what would become the year's most inventive biopic. Cheadle's "Miles Ahead" isn't just another routine take the troubled life of a gifted musician; instead, it's an ambitious and tangential tone poem that aims to recapture Davis' essence. Billed as "an exploration of the life and music of Miles Davis," the film is set in the seventies, when Davis famously retreated from public life and did very little in the way of creating. Ewan McGregor stars as fictional Rolling Stone reporter Dave Braden, who makes it his mission to track down the star and get the scoop about his current...
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'Archer' Creator Adam Reed on Why Season 7 Swapped The Real World for Hollywood

The greatest thing about FX's "Archer" is that while you always kind of know what you're going to get when you start watching a new season, it's never always the same thing. And the impetus from that comes directly from creator Adam Reed, who has never been satisfied with repeating himself, to the point of completely rejiggering the show's premise with the passing seasons. READ MORE: Review: 'Archer' Season 7 Goes To a Literal Extreme In Answering Last Season's Big Figurative Question This year, former secret agent Sterling Archer is now working with his fellow former spies in a Los Angeles private detective agency, and the whole series is now rich with references to '70s and '80s detective shows, as well as classic Hollywood tropes — including an homage to "Sunset Boulevard" that gave the season an endpoint. Below, Reed admits that he never wants to bore himself, where certain new visual elements got their inspiration and, despite beginning the season with an...
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Murals are Defiant and Therapeutic for a Street Artist in 'PC594: The Art of Rebellion'

Here's your daily dose of an indie film, web series, TV pilot, what-have-you in progress -- at the end of the week, you'll have the chance to vote for your favorite. In the meantime: Is this a project you’d want to see? Tell us in the comments. PC594: The Art of Rebellion Logline: Street artist, political activist and single mother, Lydia Emily champions human rights on walls around the world as she battles a disease that threatens to debilitate her. Elevator Pitch:  Lydia Emily, a political street artist, battles Multiple Sclerosis while juggling single parenting of two growing daughters---one autistic--and making street art to confront society’s biggest blind spots. Challenging the mainstream agenda, her work fosters empathy and stands out in a male-dominated field. She refuses to conform, even if it means breaking laws and is taking on her diagnosis like the rebel she is. If PC594 has one thing to teach us, it’s that we are all potential alchemists who can transform...
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Watch: 'No Home Movie' Trailer Brings Chantal Akerman Back to the Screen One Last Time

Home is where the heart is. Never has that particular aphorism been more poignantly on display than in Chantal Akerman's final film, "No Home Movie."  READ MORE: BAMcinématek to Honor Chantal Akerman With Retrospective and 'No Home Movie' Release The recently deceased filmmaker's last cinematic outing is a slow, intimate look at Akerman's last days with her mother. Akerman brings a unique and stunning style of documentary filmmaking to the picture that shows just how versatile the director really was and her uncanny ability to find the profound in the seemingly everyday. It may be too slow moving and experimental for some audiences, but there is no denying the love and care that was clearly put into this production.  "No Home Movie" is coming to theaters on April 1. Watch the trailer above. 
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Jessica Chastain Graces Cannes Poster, Tribeca Shortlist Joins Apple TV and More — Indiewire's Thursday Rundown

Cannes' annual International Critics Week (La Semaine de la Critique, if you're feeling formal), has unveiled the official poster in celebration of its 55th anniversary. The new poster features Jessica Chastain in an especially lush still from Jeff Nichols' "Take Shelter," which won the Nespresso Grand Prize at the 50th edition of the section, back in 2011. Should we be expecting a Nichols repeat this year with his "Loving"? Here's hoping! Check out more of today's latest industry news below: - In further Cannes news, the festival's Fabrique des Cinemas du Monde program, aimed at aiding talented young filmmakers from emerging countries, has announced its ten finalists who have been invited to have their projects go through the prestigious program. The lineup includes four first feature films, six second feature films, two documentaries, four director-producers, four female directors and two female producers. You can check out their project...
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Watch: Two Tech-Savvy Lovebirds Try to Really Connect in Charming '3rd Street Blackout' Trailer

Negin Farsad and Jeremy Redleaf's "3rd Street Blackout" puts a savvy twist on the old "New York City as a character" trope, instead subbing in a Hurricane Sandy-felled New York City for the shiny, happy place most often seen in the rom-com world. The feature – which the duo wrote, directed, produced and starred in – follows a pair of tech-smart lovebirds who find their sanity (and their relationship!) tested by forces way beyond their control, including the hurricane, the subsequent blackout and a very smooth-talking Brit with a lot of money.  And these two really walk the tech walk. Farsad, a TED Fellow, previously directed, produced and starred in the documentary "The Muslims are Coming!" Redleaf recently won Best New Web Series at the Streamy Awards. They're plugged in, and they're bringing that sensibility to what looks like a very fun, very smart new romantic comedy.  READ MORE: Paladin to Release Quirky NYC...
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Review: 'The Americans' Season 4 Episode 3 'Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow' Could Self-Destruct

BriefingGuys, we'll get to the pressing final moments of "Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow" shortly, but let's immediately address the most glorious diversion of the hour: Elizabeth is a Mary Kay girl! Okay, okay, she's a "consultant" as they're now called, but I'm pretty sure "girl" was the accepted nomenclature during the '80s, when women selling makeup were expected to come knocking on your door. Obviously, we'll have much to discuss with Elizabeth's monstrous blonde wig in the designated section below, but we just couldn't wait that long to share a collective moment of glee over her chosen way to obtain William the clearance he needs.  Okay, now that we've got that out of the way: Panic! Elizabeth and Phillip have been exposed to a deadly chemical agent, Gabriel seems to be knocking on death's door and neither may be the most dangerous development of the last few minutes if Paige starts talking to Henry about what she knows. Not only is...
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Review: 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Season 2 Remembers That A Survivor's Story Never Ends

Looking back on the first season of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," there was a clear trajectory. The story began with 29-year-old Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) finding freedom after 15 years of captivity; by the season's end, Kimmy had not only begun building a new life for herself, but had also confronted her former captor and the bunker that had defined her life. Things weren't wrapped up in a bow in the season finale, but there was a denouement in seeing Reverend Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm) finally hauled off to jail.  That said, the first half of last year suffered from a certain lack of momentum. Season 1 of "Kimmy Schmidt" only really picked up steam with the final three episodes, which served as almost a three-parter that unified the bulk of the season's plotlines. Meanwhile, the first six episodes favored a standalone format; unlike many Netflix series, it's easy to remember that Episode 4 was "the one with the plastic surgery" or Episode 6 was...
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