I love a good psychological thriller that allows you to decipher what is real and what is not or leave you to wonder if there is a true reality in the story at all. In honor of the release of Danny Boyle’s Trance, which sets prominently on my must watch list, here are some movies I endorse skewed toward independent cinema. Of course there are the standby favorites that everyone knows like The Matrix, Inception, Memento (again, my favorite movie ever) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but here are some ones that may be alittle less known. I also took some inspiration from a fellow blogger Mette and her ongoing series to present them to you:
The Machinist (Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh) emaciation ● guilt ● hallucinations
The Nines (Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy) escapism ● fantasy ● multiple lives
It was my first time attending the Atlanta Film Festival though I have lived in Atlanta for almost 10 years (yes, crazy I know); now that I have moved back into the city I can hear about such things. I didn’t get to go to most of the festival (on a count of that crazy thing called a day job), but I took part in the opening and closing night movie screenings and parties…
I ate tacos and cupcakes (quite a combination!), I drank (had my very first screwdriver ever!), I met new people (actors are the best company!), I exercised my Southern/Georgia pride… oh, and I took in two great movies with great post-screening discussion (i.e. director James Ponsoldt pictured above):
In the last week, I’ve seen alot of Matthew McConaughey. For the record, this is not a complaint. Between Netflix’ing Killer Joe (yes, I FINALLY saw it) and attending the opening night screening of Mud for the Atlanta Film Festival (quite a coup from Sundance, ATL film), I have witness some of what has been considered the new era of Matthew McConaughey. He wipes off that unattainable-pretty-boy-dream-boat-undercover-romantic-persona that he wallowed in during his infuriating stream of medicore-at-best rom-coms in the last decade and finally decided to fall into more complex, dirty, dare I say wickedly obscene characters that are not apologetic about their less than savory past indiscretions that have molded the people they have become. We see this in his portrayal of the outwardly composed, inwardly crazed rouge Texas detective who harbors the knowledge to meticulously carry out a number of contract hits in Killer Joe, a fact meant to horrify you as there seems to be enough business to keep him busy. We see it again when he plays a not-so-pretty, hapless, gun-touting Arkansan wanderer who is both passionately lovelorn and also capable of violence.Bearing the weight afforded to these titled characters, at the beginning he pays it cool, not putting all of his cards on the table and slowly lets us discover who these characters are at their core. And for it, we can now discuss Matthew McConaughey the actor in serious terms.
“You want some chicken? I stopped by the K-fried-C.”… or A Look atKiller Joe
Killer Joe is a movie that keeps you tethered to the despicable story with its dark humor even with the sense of lingering evil and violence hanging around. In this movie, we meet Chris (Emile Hirsch), a guy who is stuck with a $6000 drug debt after his mother has taken the cocaine he was suppose to sell. His boss is after him for the money so what is a guy to do? He believes that his saving grace is the $50K life insurance policy on his mother that will go to his teenage sister Dottie (Juno Temple) in the event of her untimely demise. And with that begins some unsettling and emotionless conversations between Chris, his dumb father (Thomas Haden Church), and his skeezy stepmother (Gina Gershon) on offing his mother. A deal is made with Killer Joe to do the deed but since they won’t have the money until after she is dead, the innocent yet eerie Dottie (Temple is brilliant in this role), who Joe has become smitten with, become his retainer. The erotic interplay between Joe and Dottie gives a new dimension to Joe’s moral impropriety and leaves us to wonder just how similarly depraved he and Dottie really are. When things do not go as plan and Joe can not be paid, McConaughey shows us all a bigger glimpse into Joe unpredictable nature. We are left with a horrific conclusion punctuated with sexual humiliation (via fried chicken) and violent maddness that revolves around the interactions between the main characters. This movie is about the karma that lies in their dark intentions; violence begets violence. And we remain entranced by the horrible actions of these f-ed up people. My Grade: B+
So I’m back home in Atlanta and missing Park City already. I hope you were following along with me on twitter (@shalathomas) where I shared festival tips, initial reactions of films I screened, people I came in contact with, and all the fun things I experienced at Sundance this year. If you did, I hope you had fun getting a glimpse into all the happenings. If not, don’t fret. Starting today I will be recapping all of it and giving you longer reviews of some of the amazing movies that were shown this year. Out of the three (consecutive) ones I have attended, this was by far my favorite year in terms of cool stuff related to the festival and the quality of film programming. Stay tuned! In the meantime, the festival is still going on so check out some of the ways you can keep up with what is going on in Park City:
One of my best friends, Cortney and I had a movie-going Friday night and saw a double feature - Magic Mike, which I had been anticipating because, you know, I’m a warm-blooded woman and the thought of a movie showcasing hot male strippers is both attractive and hilarious to me, and Savages, the latest (and my first) film from legendary director Olivier Stone. These two were also on my list on what to look out for this summer. I would like to confess here that yes, we did only pay for Magic Mike and movie hopped to Savages. Cortney introduced me to this last year and if we are ever caught, she is the one I’m blaming. I’m a good girl so only a big, corrupting force would ever persuade me to do something like that ::sly smile:: Anyway, on to the mini-reviews…
Do See:Magic Mike (Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughy, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez)… especially if you like seeing attractive men in various state of undress. Serious, this movie is a must see if only to witness female movie-goers cat-calling like they were ACTUALLY in a strip club. I liked the movie because it was fun, even when it tried to be a untold tale of the unglamorousness world of male stripping (you know, the drug use, body issues, vanity, the corruption of fast money… the penis pumps). The movie follows two guys - “Magic” Mike (Tatum), a guy who has been in the game for six years but whose true passion is designing and making furniture (yes, really) and Adam “The Kid” who Mike gets introduces into the stripper world and mentors him to be a star performer. The fun moments come when we see snippets of the cast of characters that make up the elite dancers of the Tampa strip club. Through glimpses into wardrobe changes (uhh, strippers sow their own thongs?!?) and different costumes and characters (I will never look at a firemen or policeman the same way again), I laughed so hard I cried alittle. Not one of Tatum’s best turns as an actor though and the less romantic spin they introduced with Adam’s sister did nothing for me, but I enjoyed the movie nevertheless. The MVP award goes to Matthew McConaughey would was so great as the ex-dancer turned strip club owner Dallas. Dallas took himself so seriously it made for some great moments on screen. His outfit in the above picture says it all. I have seen many articles (though I haven’t read them) discussing how men would also enjoy this movie but I dare anyone to try to get their boyfriends into this one; I was alittle embarrassed for them. But in the best way possible.
Don’t See: Savages (Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek) I don’t have a ton of experience with Olivier Stone movies and so not a big fan of his work (this may be strange but he doesn’t exactly dabble in my film genres of choice) so I may be in the minority here on my thoughts about this film as I was not too impressed. Savages is a film meant to shock, disgust, and dismay (as I have heard is little bit of Oliver Stone’s style). Based on the book by Don Winslow, the movie follows an independent mary jane business headed by best friends, the pacifist Ben (Aaron Johnson) and the militant Chon (Taylor Kitsch), which becomes in jeopardy when a big time Mexican cartel lead by the widow Elena (Salma Hayek) moves in and want to take over. Since Ben and Chon do not comply with their requests, the cartel’s enforcer (Benicio del Toro) kidnap the guys’ shared girlfriend “O” (short for Ophelia, played by Black Lively) and holds her hostage. With the help of the local DEA agent the guys have in their pockets (John Travolta), they scheme to get her back. Explosions, guns, and gangster bravado really does nothing for me as a movie watcher; What I was really intrigued me enough to see this movie was the three-way romantic relationship between the main characters - Ben, John, and Ophelia. I was more interested how these people fit into each others lives and complete each other in a way to make this relationship work. The film only hints at their dependency on each other; I wish it would have done more in order for me to care more about these characters and really invest in their plights. Disappointingly Blake Lively didn’t bring that same special something to her role as O as I was hoping for; she was more from Serena from “Gossip Girl” than Krista from The Town. The best part of the movie was Benicio del Toro who gave new meaning to the term sadist and always seems to deliver in my opinion. Oh, and I hear that somebody thought it was a good idea to change the movie ending. If anything, I wish I would have read the book and skipped the movie, which I sure was better written and more exploratory on the characters. Uma Thurman should be happy that she was edited out of this one.
The Paperboy /FIrst look photo from the upcoming Lee Daniels (Precious) movie starring Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron, John Crusak, and Nicole Kidman. Extra, extra! Nicole Kidman has gone trashy! Read more all about it! (and see more movie stills)
Magic Mike /New trailer for the upcoming Steven Soderbergh comedy loosely based on the stripper past of Channing Tatum. In this movie, veteran stripper Magic Mike (Tatum) teaches a newbie (Pettyfer) about his profession while trying to fulfill his dreams and start up a romance. The movie also stars Matthew McConaughey (in a role he was born to play) as an ex-stripper and strip club owner as well as Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello as fellow strippers. I don’t know what it is about this movie, can’t really put my finger on it (though I want to), but something tells me I’ll be at the opening midnight showing. And then again the next day.