Film Festivals

Episode 350 – Get Out / The Sense of an Ending

In this week’s Podcast we talk about the recent releases:

  • The Sense of an Ending
  • Get Out

We also being our coverage of TriBeCa Film Festival 2017 with details of the festival and a couple of movie picks

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Strike A Pose | Review

There are few pop songs that are as memorable as Madonna’s1990 hit VOGUE and along with it the iconic video that brought Voguing as a dance form into the mainstream conscience.  Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza and Luis Extravaganza were the vogue dancers and choreographers from the Harlem “House Ball” community who introduced “Vogueing” to Madonna and who later would become her main choreographers for the video and the Truth or Dare tour.
 
If you grew up in the era of MTV, not only will the words STRIKE A POSE make you wave your arms in the air and perhaps stick out your butt but this is also the name of the acclaimed documentary directed by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaag abut seven young male dancers  (including Jose and Luis) – six gay, one straight who joined Madonna on her most controversial tour.  On stage and in the iconic film TRUTH OR DARE – one of the highest-grossing documentaries ever – they showed the world how to “Express yourself”, now, twenty-five years later, they reveal the truth about life during and after the tour. 
 
STRIKE A POSE is a fabulously candid documentary that reunites these sleek and effervescent dancers, exploring their lives after the tour and legal battles with Madonna, their glamorous and largely inspirational impact upon society, the horrific effects of HIV/AIDS during and since the 90’s and what it meant to participate in one of the most iconic and controversial tours of pop history. The film also explores what it’s like to overcome shame and find the courage to be who you are.
 
Watching people age over time is always a luxury and so this movie does a wonderful job of showing the promise that was and where these incredible dancers ended up.  As important as the story of the star is the story of those who get to bask in the fairy dust for a short period of time; It is clear that Madonna made a huge difference in these men’s lives and the short intense formative period of time that they spent with her was extremely meaningful for these men that left a long lasting effect.
 
The movie isn’t just a “Where are they now”, at times, it manages to go deep and uncovers the realities of youth, disease and even what the dark aftermath of fame (by association) can feel like.  Watching the genuine love and respect that remains between this group of talent after all of these years is beautifully captured and of course THAT song in the background will have you tapping your toes and clicking your fingers if not striking your own pose.
Following critical acclaim and successful premieres in Berlin and Tribeca, STRIKE A POSE comes to New York for its theatrical release at IFC on January 18, 2017, followed by its broadcast premier, an exclusive VOD release, and a home video release later in June to celebrate LGBTQ Pride month.  Check local listings: http://madonnadancers.com/req.php?req=static.php&page=where-to-see
 
 

Full listing of 2016 Tribeca Film Festival Coverage

 

Day 1, Tribeca 2016

Day One, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

What joy it was to watch film after film at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival #Tribeca 2016. Sometimes five, six films in a day. We were happy as pigs in mud. Rolling around in the excellently curated selections at the festival. Our third consecutive year covering Tribeca proved a dizzying blast as between the three of us, we saw 27 films in four days at the festival. These films were all discussed on our five ‘live from New York’ podcasts devoted to the festival.

Day 2 Tribeca 2016

Day Two, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival

Day 3 Tribeca 2016

Day 3, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a full alphabetical listing of the films we watched at #Tribeca2016, with links to the podcast where each film was discussed:

  1. AFTER SPRING, at 31:06 min, Day 2 podcast
  2. AWOL, at 12:38 min, Day 3 podcast
  3. BAD RAP, at 10:10 min, Day 5 podcast
  4. THE BANKSY JOB, at 2:03 min, Day 5 podcast
  5. DETOUR, at 5:45 min, Day 4 podcast
  6. THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, at 1:45 min, Day 2 podcast
  7. DO NOT RESIST, at 7:27 min, Day 2 podcast
  8. DON’T LOOK DOWN, at 25:20 min, Day 2 podcast
  9. ENLIGHTEN US: THE RISE AND FALL OF JAMES ARTHUR RAY, at 28:56 min, Day 5 podcast
  10. THE FAMILY FANG, at 14:40 min, Day 1 podcast
  11. THE FIRST MONDAY IN MAY at 4:30 min, Day 1 podcast
  12. HERE ALONE, at 30:17 min, Day 3 podcast
  13. HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM, at 11:14 min, Day 4 podcast
  14. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, at 27:59 min, Day 1 podcast
  15. I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD, at 24:00 min, Day 3 podcast
  16. JEREMIAH TOWER: THE LAST MAGNIFICENT, at 24:54 min, Day 5 podcast
  17. KEEP QUIET, at 12:34 min, Day 2 podcast
  18. LITTLE BOXES, at 33:57 min, Day 3 podcast
  19. LIVE CARGO, at 9:16 min, Day 3 podcast
  20. THE LONER, at 17:20 min, Day 5 podcast
  21. THE MEDDLER, at 4:48 min, Day 1 podcast
  22. MOTHER (EMA), at 21:58 min, Day 1 podcast
  23. PARENTS (FORAELDRE), at 19:12 min, Day 3 podcast
  24. PISTOL SHRIMPS, at 18:45 min, Day 2 podcast
  25. SHADOW WORLD, at 15:24 min, Day 4 podcast
  26. WOMEN WHO KILL, at 2:00 min, Day 3 podcast
  27. YOUTH IN OREGON, at 1:20 min, Day 4 podcast
Day Four Tribeca 2016

Day Four, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival finds

Day 5 Tribeca 2016

Day Five, 2016 Tribeca Film Festival finds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next year, goodbye Tribeca.

 

 

Episode 319 – Tribeca Film Festival 2016 (Day 5)

Our final Podcast from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.  In this podcast we review:

The-Banksy-Job_web-1 The Banksy Job

Director: Ian Roderick Gray, Dylan Harvey
Screenwriter: Ian Roderick Gray, Dylan Harvey
Producer: Christine Alderson, Alex Hurle
Editor: Anton Short
Cinematographer: Anthony Dias
Executive Producer: David Adair, Hamish Jenkinson, Thomas Atherton, James Edward Marks
Composer: Arrws
Cast: Andy Link

Bad_rap_awk Bad Rap

Director: Salima Koroma
Screenwriter: Salima Koroma
Producer: Salima Koroma, Jaeki Cho
Editor: Salima Koroma
Cinematographer: Salima Koroma
Cast: Jonathan “Dumbfoundead” Park, Nora “Awkwafina” Lum, David “Rekstizzy” Lee, Richard “Lyricks” Lee

The_Loner_web_1 The Loner

Director: Daniel Grove
Screenwriter: Daniel Grove
Producer: Seth Caplan, Reza Sixo Safai
Editor: Brian Scofield
Associate Producer: Malcolm Granath
Cinematographer: Steven Capitano Calitri
Production Designer: Michael Bricker
Executive Producer:Patrick Grove, Luke Elliott, Daniel Grove
Costume Designer: Kim Ngo
Make Up: Alex Perrone
Cast: Reza Sixo Safai, Helena Mattson, Parviz Sayyad, Julian Sands, Laura Harring, Dominic Rains

JEREMIAH_TOWER_THE-LAST_MAGNIFICENT_web_1 Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent

Director: Lydia Tenaglia
Producer: Susan Porretta
Editor: Eric Lasby
Cinematographer: Morgan Fallon
Executive Producer: Anthony Bourdain, Chris Collins, Joe Caterini, Lydia Tenaglia
Cast: Jeremiah Tower

Enlighten_Us_web_1 Enlighten Us: The Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray

Director: Jenny Carchman
Producer: Allyson Luchak
Editor: Seth Bomse
Cinematographer: Svetlana Cvetko, Chris Dapkins
Executive Producer: Julie Goldman, Chris Clements. Amy Entelis, Vinnie Malhotra
Composer: Scott Morgan
Supervising Producer: Courtney Sexton
Comissioning Editor: Sonja Scheider

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Episode 318 – Tribeca Film Festival 2016 (Day 4)

Part 4 of our coverage of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.  In this podcast we review:

Youth_In_Oregon_Web_1 Youth in Oregon

Director: Joel David Moore
Screenwriter: Andrew Eisen
Producer: Stefan Nowicki, Joey Carey, Morgan White
Editor: Michael Taylor
Cinematographer: Ross Riege
Executive Producer: Ross Dinerstein
Composer: Joel P. West
Cast: Frank Langella, Billy Crudup, Christina Applegate, Mary Kay Place, Josh Lucas, Nicola Peltz, Alex Shaffer

DETOUR_web_1 Detour

Director: Christopher Smith
Screenwriter: Christopher Smith
Producer: Julie Baines, Jason Newmark, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross
Editor: Kristina Hetherington
Cinematographer: Christopher Ross
Executive Producer: Stephen Kellliher, Hilary Davis, Elliot Ross, Fenella Ross
Composer: Pablo Clements, James Griffith, Toydrum
Co-Producer: Jonathan Taylor
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Bel Powley, Emory Cohen

HOUSTON_WE_HAVE_A_PROBLEM_web_1 Houston, We Have a Problem

Director: Žiga Virc
Screenwriter: Žiga Virc, Boštjan Virc
Producer: Boštjan Virc
Editor: Vladimir Gojun
Cinematographer: Andrej Virc
Executive Producer: Boštjan Virc
Composer: Music Used
Co-Producer: Siniša Juričić, Ingmar Trost
Sound Designer: Matjaz Moraus Zdesar, Julij Zornik
Cast: Josip Broz Tito, Slavoj Žižek, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, William Jefferson Clinton

C18587-24 Shadow World

Director: Johan Grimonprez
Screenwriter: Andrew Feinstein
Producer: Joslyn Barnes, Anadil Hossain
Editor: Per K. Kirkegaard, Pedro Collantes, Dieter Diependaele
Associate Producer: Burton Ritchie, Harbor Picture Company
Cinematographer: Nicole MacKinlay Hahn
Executive Producer: Bertha Foundation, Abigail Disney, Danny Glover, Driss Benyaklef, Sally Jo Fifer, Wilbur Leguebe
Composer: Karsten Fundal
Co-Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen, Emmy Oost, Onomatopee Films, Final Cut for Real
Co-Executive Producers: David Menschel, Michael J. Zak, Donald Rubin, Jodie Evans, Susan Rockefeller, Matthew Palevsky
In Association With: Bertha Foundation, Fork Films, Vital Projects Fund, ITVS, RTBF, DR, Danish Film Institute, BritDoc Circle, Zap-o-matik
Story by: Andrew Feinstein, Johan Grimonprez
Based on the book by: Andrew Feinstein
Cast: Andrew Feinstein, David Leigh, Vijay Prashad, Jeremy Scahill, Lawrence Wilkerson, Chris Hedges, Robert Fisk, Trita Parsi

 

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Episode 317 – Tribeca Film Festival 2016 (Day 3)

More news and coverage of Tribeca 2016.

Awol
AWOL
  • Director:
    Deb Shoval
  • Screenwriter:
    Deb Shoval, Karolina Waclawiak
  • Producer:
    L.A. Teodosio, Jessica Caldwell, Michel Merkt
  • Editor:
    Jeffrey Wolf
  • Cinematographer:
    Gal Deren, additional camera by Jessica Bennett
  • Composer:
    Gingger Shankar
  • Executive Producer:
    Jim Lande
  • Co-Executive Producer:
    Jan Miller Corran, Tracy Scott Nadler, Walter Wiacek
  • Co-Producer:
    Andrew Hauser
  • Associate Producer:
    Anthony Cirurgiao, Christopher K. Edwards, Lisa Rees Henderson, Meghan Wilbur, Brooke Devine, Mogul
  • Consulting Producer:
    Maryam Keshavarz, Jenni Olson, Rose Troche
  • Line Producer:
    Meghan-Michele German
  • Cast:
    Lola Kirke, Breeda Wool, Dale Soules, Ted Welch, Bill Sage, Britne Oldford, Libby George, Charlotte Maltby, Sadie Butler, Hannah Dillon
WWK_web_1
Women Who Kill
  • Director:
    Ingrid Jungermann
  • Screenwriter:
    Ingrid Jungermann
  • Producer:
    Alex Scharfman
  • Editor:
    Ron Dulin
  • Cinematographer:
    Rob Leitzell
  • Executive Producer:
    Cliff Chenfeld, Craig Balsam, Jim Rosenthal, Rick Milenthal, Victor Zaraya, Stacie Passon, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen
  • Composer:
    Ivan Howard
  • Co-Producer:
    Lauren Brady, Eric LaFranchi
  • Production Designer:
    Olga Miasnikova
  • Costume Designer:
    Elizabeth Warn
  • Cast:
    Ingrid Jungermann, Ann Carr, Sheila Vand, Shannon O’Neill, Annette O’Toole, Grace Rex, Deborah Rush
Live-Cargo-Guide-Image-NEW031816
Live Cargo
  • Director:
    Logan Sandler
  • Screenwriter:
    Logan Sandler, Thymaya Payne
  • Producer:
    Thymaya Payne, Mortimer Canepa, René Bastian, Lauren Brady, Tina Preschitz, Randy Harris Hearst
  • Editor:
    Nick Ellsberg, Garret Price
  • Associate Producer:
    Jake Katofsky, Julia Hannafin
  • Cinematographer:
    Daniella Nowitz
  • Executive Producer:
    Valery Dorshimer, Scott Sandler, Ron Simons, Steven Sablotsky
  • Composer:
    Brooke Blair, Will Blair
  • Cast:
    Dree Hemingway, Keith Stanfield, Leonard Earl Howze, Sam Dillon, Robert Wisdom
HereAlone_Web_1
Here Alone
  • Director:
    Rod Blackhurst
  • Screenwriter:
    David Ebeltoft
  • Producer:
    Noah Lang, David Ebeltoft, Rod Blackhurst, Arun Kumar, Josh Murphy
  • Editor:
    Rod Blackhurst
  • Cinematographer:
    Adam McDaid
  • Executive Producer:
    Kevin Iwashina, Eric Schultz, Leigh Jones, Ian Keiser, Paul Ebeltoft, Gail Ebeltoft, Sinan Germirli, Paul Pathikal, Bradley J. Ross, Brendan Walsh, Anthony Gentile, John Gentile, Marc Bortz
  • Composer:
    Eric D. Johnson
  • Cast:
    Lucy Walters, Gina Piersanti, Adam David Thompson and Shane West.
LITTLE_BOXES_web_1
Little Boxes
  • Director:
    Rob Meyer
  • Screenwriter:
    Annie J Howell
  • Producer:
    Jared Ian Goldman, Jordan Horowitz, Ken Keller, Caron Rudner
  • Editor:
    Marc Vives
  • Cinematographer:
    Thomas Richmond
  • Executive Producer:
    Cary Fukunaga, Wyatt Gatling, Marc H Simon, Gary Gilbert, Rose Troche
  • Composer:
    Kris Bowers
  • Cast:
    Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo, Christine Taylor
PARENTS_web_1
Parents
  • Director:
    Christian Tafdrup
  • Screenwriter:
    Christian Tafdrup
  • Producer:
    Thomas Heinesen
  • Editor:
    Anne Østerud, Tanya Fallenius
  • Cinematographer:
    Maria von Hausswolff, DFF
  • Composer:
    Sune “Køter” Kølster
  • Production Designer:
    Jette Lehmann
  • Music Supervisor:
    Nis Bogvad
  • Sound Designer :
    Peter Schultz
  • Casting:
    Anja Philip
  • Cast:
    Søren Malling, Bodil Jørgensen, Elliott Crossett Hove, Miri-Ann Beuschel, Anton Honik

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Episode 316 – Tribeca Film Festival 2016 (Day 2)

Day 2 of our coverage of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.  In this podcast we review:

The_Devil_and_the_Deep_Blue_Sea_2016_film_poster The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Director: Bill Purple
Screenwriter: Bill Purple & Robbie Pickering
Producer: Michelle Purple, Jessica Biel, Mike Landry, Carlos Velazquez, Chuck Pacheco
Editor: Tara Timpone
Associate Producer: Sam Warren, Ansley Seaver Marshall
Cinematographer: J Michael Muro
Executive Producer: Ross Dinerstein, Bill Purple, Greg Shockro, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Connolly, Rick Yorn, Rob Ortiz, Stefan Nowicki, Joey Carey
Composer: Justin Timberlake
Co-Producer: Will Greenfield, Paulie Litt, Ryan Charles Griffin, Robbie Pickering
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Maisie Williams, Jessica Biel, Orlando Jones, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser

do not resist Do Not Resist

Director: Craig Atkinson
Producer: Laura Hartrick
Editor: Craig Atkinson, Laura Hartrick
Cinematographer: Craig Atkinson
Executive Producer: David Menschel
Composer: Grayson Sanders
Additional Music: Michael Stearns
Title Design : Ion Furjanic
DI Colorist: Will Cox

keepQuiet_1 Keep Quiet

Director: Joseph Martin, Sam Blair
Producer: Alex Holder, Danielle Clark, Nicole Stott
Editor: Kim Gaster, Ben Stark
Cinematographer: Márton Vízkelety
Executive Producer: John Battsek
Composer: Philip Sheppard
Cast: Csanad Szegedi, Rabbi Boruch Oberlander, Anne Applebaum, Eva ‘Bobby’ Neumann, Katalin Molnár Szegediné

Dont look down Don’t Look Down

Director: Daniel Gordon
Producer: Johnny Webb, John Battsek, Iris Maor, Daniel Gordon
Editor: Andy R. Worboys
Cinematographer: Nick Bennett, Danny Rohrer
Executive Producer: Sam Anthony, Hugo Heppell, Garfield Kennedy
Composer: Tim Atack
Cast: Richard Branson, Per Lindstrand

PISTOL_SHRIMPS_web_2-new Pistol Shrimps

Director: Brent Hodge
Screenwriter: Brent Hodge
Producer: Morgan Spurlock, Rachel Ricketts, Brent Hodge
Editor: Brent Hodge, Korey Schaefer, Andrew Huculiak, Chris Kelly
Sound Supervisor: John Diemer
Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Molly Hawkey, Angela Trimbur, Melissa Stetten, Jesse Thomas, Maria Blasucci

After_Spring_01_Ibrahim After Spring

Director: Ellen Martinez, Steph Ching
Producer: Ellen Martinez, Steph Ching
Editor: Paul Lovelace
Associate Producer: Brian S. Kang
Cinematographer: Jason Graham Howell, Frank Weiss
Executive Producer: Jon Stewart, Chris McShane
Composer: Katy Jarzebowski
Co-Producer: Jenn Durrett
Field Producer: Khalid Jabareen
Associate Field Producer: Hala Hindawi

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Episode 315 – Tribeca Film Festival 2016 (Day 1)

Join the Moviewallas “live” from the TriBeCa Film Festival 2016.  Our Day 1 coverage includes our take on:

first monday in monday

The First Monday in May

Director: Andrew Rossi
Producer: Fabiola Beracasa Beckman, Sylvana Ward Durrett, Dawn Ostroff
Cinematographer: Andrew Rossi & Bryan Sarkinen
Cast: Wong Kar Wai, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Baz Luhrmann, Andre Leon Talley, Harold Koda, Thomas Campbell, Maxwell K. Hearn, Douglas Dillon, Ricardo Tisci, Anna Wintour

the meddler

The Meddler

Director: Lorene Scafaria
Screenwriter: Lorene Scafaria
Producer: Joy Gorman Wettels
Editor: Kayla M. Emter
Cinematographer: Brett Pawlak
Executive Producer: Paul Green, Steve Golin, Shea Krammer, Susan Sarandon
Composer: Jonathan Sadoff
Cast: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Jerrod Carmichael, Cecily Strong, Lucy Punch

fang

The Family Fang

Director: Jason Bateman
Screenwriter: David Lindsay-Abaire
Producer: Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker, Nicole Kidman, Per Saari, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Jason Bateman, James Garavente
Editor: Robert Frazen
Cinematographer: Ken Seng
Executive Producer: Daniel Crown, Matt Salloway, Christina Papagjika, Caroline Jaczko, Anne O’Shea, Martina Lisec, Anton Lessine
Composer: Carter Burwell
Costume Designer: Amy Wescott
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman, Christopher Walken, Maryann Plunkett, Jason Butler Harner, Kathryn Hahn

Mother

Mother (Ema)

Director: Kadri Kõusaar
Screenwriter: Leana Jalukse, Al Wallcat
Producer: Aet Laigu
Editor: Tambet Tasuja
Cinematographer: Jean-Noël Mustonen F.S.C.
Production Designer: Minna Hint
Costume Designer: Liisi Eelmaa
Make-up Artist: Maria Indermitte
Sound Designer: Horret Kuus
Cast: Tiina Mälberg, Jaan Pehk, Andres Tabun, Andres Noormets, Rea Lest, Jaak Prints, Siim Maaten

10314750_769481149851736_2717522407761640025_n Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Director: Taika Waititi
Screenwriter: Taika Waititi
Producer: Taika Waititi, Carthew Neal, Leanne Saunders, Matt Noonan
Editor: Luke Haigh, Tom Eagles, Yana Gorskaya
Cinematographer: Lechlan Milne, ACS
Executive Producer: Sir James Wallace, Charlie McClellan
Composer: Luke Buda, Samuel Scott, Conrad Wedde
Cast: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House, Tioreore Ngatai- Melbourne, Oscar Kightley

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San Diego Asian Film Festival 2015 (SDAFF 2015) – The Real Jewel in San Diego’s Crown

sdaff

Just over a month has passed since the annual San Diego Asian Film Festival closed it’s curtains and I’m still gobsmacked by all of the incredible movies that were screened.  For it’s sweet sixteenth session, the festival run by the Pacific Arts Movement screened over 130 films from 20 countries and many to record sell-out crowds. All of the beautifully and carefully curated movies had one thing in common – they were thought provoking, poignant and showed off the talents of diverse Asian filmmakers from across the world whilst showing us many of the cultural threads and different lives in the countries that make up the rich tapestry of the continent of Asia.

This is a recap of the coverage that we live tweeted and recorded on Facebook during the festival

If you live or find yourself in San Diego and enjoy movies, you owe it to yourself to get a ticket to the next festivalmiss india america

Some of Moviewallas favorites:

MISS INDIA AMERICA

MissIndiaAmerica-Still-4-crop-770x433

 

Directed by: Ravi Kapoor

Screenwriter:Ravi Kapoor and Meera Simhan

MISS INDIA AMERICA kicked off the festival and tells a story about Lily Prasad (Tiya Sirdar) who is a winner, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Fresh off her valedictorian speech, Lily intends to continue living her storybook life according to “The Plan,” her meticulously-crafted scrapbook that ropes in her less-than-willing high school boyfriend Karim (Kunal Sharma). But when Karim is caught flirting with the reigning Miss India National, Lily is livid and takes aim at the crown to win Karim back, restore “The Plan” forever, and reaffirm her endless magnificence. Lily is appalled though when she finds that the path to glory is challenged by not just a drop-dead beauty of a nemesis (played by New Girl’s Hannah Simone), but also the internal nausea of having to win despite all consequences.

This is a smart and funny movie that transcends race and tells a story which is applicable to any nerdy girl who is threatened by the thought of losing her boyfriend to a model!  Most importantly  it is a feel good tale that reminds us that we are who we are, and deep inside there is a model waiting to get out in all of us.  Sassy and clever dialogue elevates the movie that crosses somewhere between Clueless and Legally Blonde, I can’t wait to see what this talented writing team brings us next

WONDERFUL NIGHTMARE

WONDERFUL NIGHTMARE

Directed by: Hyo-jin Kang

Yeon-woo (played by Uhm Jung-Hwa, Dancing Queen, SDAFF ’12) has the complete bourgeoisie starter package. A slick new BMW. A mixed martial arts personal trainer. Rare red steaks and French wine for breakfast. And she is head legal counsel to the biggest, sleaziest company in town.

But if we know anything about Korean rom-coms, it’s that sudden shocking comas are attracted to the rich and bitchy as much as grizzly bears are attracted to salmon wearing nightgowns of honey.

An automobile accident lands Yeon-woo in heaven, but even death can’t keep her spirit down. Korean angels cut her a deal. Teleport down into the chores, credit limits, and complications of a shabby housewife for one month. Then she will be allowed to return to the glitz, glamour, and unscrupulousness of her old life.

There have been many movies that explore what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes or bodyswap  and most often these fit squarely in the comedy genre e.g. Freaky Friday, Heaven Can Wait and most recently The Change-Up.  However, there are few movies that elegantly explore the emotion that goes with waking up as somebody else with a life that isn’t yours and is everything you didn’t want.  Welcome to the WONDERFUL NIGHTMARE; this is a deep and thoughtful look at what happens when a woman who seems to have it all wakes up in a life that she truly never desired and doesn’t want to be a part of.  This is a delightful movie that will have you laughing whilst reflecting on what it means to be human and what’s really important in life.

THE BEAUTY INSIDE

the beauty inside

Directed by: Jong-Yeol Baek

Screenwriters:Seon-jeong Kim, Jeong-ye Park and Kyung-hee Noh

Woo-Jin wakes up every morning with a different body. At first, it was a shock. Now, years later, he’s used to looking in the mirror and discovering a stranger. With only the companionship of a supportive mother and a highly-entertained best friend, Woo-Jin’s been forced into anonymity, working as a furniture designer taking orders from online clients he never has to meet. Falling in love is of course off limits. That is, until he meets E-Soo, a furniture saleswoman who makes him never want to fall asleep again.

From there, THE BEAUTY INSIDE becomes a most unusual romance, the kind that pushes its protagonists into the ultimate tests of love: can Woo-Jin be in a relationship with somebody who doesn’t recognize him? Can E-Soo feel security from a man who starts every day as a stranger? With all the magic of a good fantasy, THE BEAUTY INSIDE has the audience seeing the romantic comedy anew, much as E-Soo and Woo-Jin treat every one of their encounters like a rediscovery.

THE BEAUTY INSIDE is one of the most unique movies that explores the true nature of who you are and how this changes if you physically don’t recognize who you are in the mirror.  Stunningly shot with elegant dialogue, this film will leave you feeling like love truly can conquer all.  The most impressive thing about the movie is it’s female lead Hyo-ju Han who effortlessly captures our hero’s heart.

IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG

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Directed by: Emily Ting

Screenwriter: Emily Ting

Josh struggles with his lucrative job in finance, his practical-minded girlfriend, and his desire to become a novelist. Ruby, content with her job designing toys, imagines what she could be doing had she pursued her love of fashion design. Both are young American expats who happen to be on the same Hong Kong street when Ruby gets lost and Josh decides to help her find her way.

Soon though, their serendipitous meeting and stroll through the city leads to the kind of expat fantasy that seems to allow for limitless possibilities – even infidelity. Together, they begin to see their desires come within reach, however stymied by impracticality and fear of the unknown.

IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG elegantly and wistfully captures what happens when a spark is ignited between two people with an ocean separating them and the questions that arise when we find ourselves in a situation that we shouldn’t be in.  The chemistry between real life couple Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg as Ruby and Josh is electric and we find ourselves rooting for this would-be couple who have more than distance to potentially contend with.  Moviewallas caught a screening of this during LA Film Festival earlier in the year but the movie was so good that we couldn’t help ourselves watching a second time.

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART

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Director: Zhangke Jia

Screen-writer: Zhangke Jia

At first, the latest from filmmaker Zhangke Jia appears deceptively simple, a step back perhaps, crude even. Why would the director of THE WORLD and STILL LIFE and most recently, the brutally unsparing Cannes winner A TOUCH OF SIN, want to make what seems a visually unkempt and thematically shallow love story. A girl in small-town China has to choose between the affections of her ambitious, pushy, city boss and her aggravatingly shy, local coworker. You wonder if the great Zhangke Jia has finally wandered into a genre – the romantic triangle – that is outside his grasp.

And then you spend the rest of the film realizing how wrong you were to doubt him in the first place. Because it is only after awhile that the ambitions of the movie become evident. And when they do, you sit back in awe. As this film jumps from the initial story set in 1999, to 2014, and then giddily to 2025! And here is why this film needs to be sought out by cinephiles, because even as the movie sprints 15 years ahead with each leap, it also literally opens up, with a widening aspect ratio. The screen widens with the passage of time!  And this was one of the most joyous surprises I witnessed in a cinema hall all year. And the widening is unqualified, as the film opens up thematically (it only lulled you at the start into thinking that this was a romantic melodrama), geographically (from rural China to Shanghai to Australia) and the scope of its reach (easily commenting on the big themes as the film progresses). The film also smartly avoids the rigors of traditional epic storytelling in which the very same characters are examined through a lifetime. Instead MOUNTAINS MIGHT DEPART concentrates, in the moment, on a specific character(s) during each time period. Yes, these characters are related, but the film has no interest in looping back to re-examine each of the original players from the first act.

The visionary filmmakers often tend to put all their cards on the table at once, aiming to dazzle you upfront, but they sometimes have a hard time sustaining that through the last act when things whimper to an end. I am more impressed by films which calculatedly build their fort and become increasingly more breathless on their way to the conclusion. MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART takes off in its last act, when it bravely somersaults into an unconventional (if not transgressive, for some) relationship between two new characters. How many filmmakers possess the bandwidth to grasp for so much.

In watching sons deal with the footprints of their fathers, and in its formal structure, this is like a smarter version of Derek Cianfrance’s THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES. But no matter how you cut it, this is the work of a master.

Los Angeles Film Festival Photoset

It’s been another superb Los Angeles Film Festival this year.  If you have been keeping up with the Podcast coverage, you will have some sense of the quality of the material showcased this year.  Here are few photos from the cast and crew Q and A’s.

Diary of a Teenage girl

Diary of a Teenage Girl

LAFF2015 - 4 (1)

Las Malas Lenguas (Sweet and Vicious)

LAFF2015 - 3 (1)

My Love, Don’t Cross That River

LAFF2015 - 2 (1)

What Lola Wants

LAFF2015 - 9 (1)

JJ Abrams with the cast and crew of Infinitely Polar Bear

LAFF2015 - 8 (1)

The Overnight