21 December, 2016

Atlanta Film Society Announces First 14 Selections from 2017 Atlanta Film Festival

After the 40th annual Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) in April of 2016 saw record-breaking numbers of works submitted, festival attendees and media impressions, the Atlanta Film Society (ATLFS) immediately put plans in place to maintain the momentum. In preparation for the 41st ATLFF next spring, the organization is pleased to announce a first slate of programming comprising feature length and short films, narratives, documentaries, pilot episodes, music videos, animation, puppetry, experimental and virtual reality.

“We are really excited to release a first wave of films that represents every category of our festival programming,” said ATLFS Executive Director Christopher Escobar. “ATLFF isn’t just one thing, and by including short films, pilots and virtual reality alongside features, we are presenting a greater picture of what to expect this year.”

"American Pastoral" Review (***)

Ewan McGregor and Jennifer Connelly star in "American Pastoral."

Ewan McGregor made a bold choice in his directorial debut with "American Pastoral." Phillip Roth is easily one of the best American authors of the past 25 years. His work is beastly. McGregor attempted to tame the beast. "American Pastoral" is simply a convoluted story about a man, his family and America during the tumultuous Vietnam era—and then some.

"Lion" Review (***½)

Editor's note: I've been begging Alexandra James to write for Reel Georgia for months and months. Recently, Alex joined the team down at the Savannah Film Festival for a few days and I was able to coax her into finally writing a review. I think you'll find that both the writer and her work are equally as charismatic and approachable as they are thorough and accomplished. I am thrilled to add Alex to the Reel crew. -CM

Dev Patel stars in "Lion."

Familiar themes of displacement, familial dysfunction, a desire for resolve, and great cast performances all help Garth Davis’ debut feature film, "Lion," evoke all the feels at all the right times. "Lion" is a poignant drama that takes viewers on a laborious personal journey that, fortunately, lands in inspiration and the aforementioned resolve. Though the film successfully plays on its viewers’ emotions, it does have its shortcomings in other areas. Are these shortcomings so prominent that they distract from the truly remarkable story that the film is based on? Nah. But they are shortcomings that keep this good film from reaching the status of excellency that it seems right on the cusp of.

"Loving" Review (****½)

'Tell the judge I love my wife.' Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star in "Loving."

Jeff Nichols shows a solemn, moving picture of Richard and Mildred Loving’s life together. Richard and Mildred Loving lived in Virginia in the 1950s. They loved each other immensely. They married in Washington D.C. shortly after discovering they were expecting a child.

Despite the marriage license—a binding legal document—cops entered their home in the middle of the night and put the Lovings in jail. Mildred spent five nights in jail; she was eight months pregnant. The law enforcement in their small country town prosecuted the Lovings because at the time, interracial marriages were against the law in Virginia. The judge forced them out of Virginia for the next 25 years, against the threat of a prison sentence.

12 November, 2016

"Tower" Review (***½)

"Tower" mixes animation with archival footage.

"Tower" follows the tragic story of the 1966 University of Texas at Austin sniper shooting. This documentary brilliantly juxtaposes live action film, radio archives, and animations to parallel the narration of both survivors and witnesses to the event.

One thing I had difficulty remembering was how unheard of school shootings were at the time. It's almost an unsettling blast from the past into just a relevant presence, but one important aspect of this film is that it does not 'glorify' the killer. "Tower" truly focuses on the heroes and survivors, while honoring the victims.

"Arrival" Review (****½)

Amy Adams stars in "Arrival."

Denis Villeneuve, one of our most consistent filmmakers, has crafted one of the best sci-fi movies of the decade with "Arrival." A slow-burn, intellectual approach keeps the story front and center—and what a story it is.

Amy Adams plays Louise Banks, a linguist whose skillset becomes invaluable when mysterious spacecrafts land around the world—twelve different ones to be exact. Hovering quietly above random locations across the globe, humanity has to make the next move. Do we attack? What do they want? Why are there twelve? These questions are only the beginning of the mystery that falls into the hands of Louise and her physicist partner Ian (Jeremy Renner).

22 October, 2016

"Attack of the Killer Donuts" Review - Rome International Film Festival (***)

Justin Ray and C. Thomas Howell star in "Attack of the Killer Donuts."

Grab a beer and few friends because "Attack of the Killer Donuts" is all kinds of bizarre fun. This low-budget horror/comedy has all of the trappings of a late night, nothing-else-to-watch good time and what it lacks in actual scares it makes up for in more than a couple of laugh-out-loud scenes.

"Cruiser" Review - Rome International Film Festival (**)

Lori Beth Sikes and Shuler Hensley star in "Cruiser."

The found-footage horror film "Cruiser" explores a lot in its 80 mins—human suffering, predestination, evil and the perverse power of God.

Sam Hensley Jr. wrote the film that stars his Tony Award-winning brother Shuler. The film starts as most any horror film, with an average guy living an average day. Rookie Officer Chip Tate's cop car has just been outfitted with several cameras and he begins what appears to be a regular day on day on the job. Every day is typical, until it becomes the day you die.

21 October, 2016

Pablo Larraín's "Jackie" to Open Up Savannah Film Festival

Natalie Portman stars in "Jackie."

Pablo Larraín's highly-buzzed Jackie Kennedy Onassis biopic, "Jackie," is slated to open the 19th annual Savannah Film Festival on Saturday, October 20, 2016.

"Jackie" recently had its world premiere at TIFF, where it was bought by Fox Searchlight. The arthouse distributor is set to provide the film with a robust awards campaign, with Natalie Portman's lead performance sure to receive the most attention.

10 October, 2016

Security in "Insecure:" Issa Rae Set for World Domination

BronzeLens Artistic Director Deidre McDonald
and "Insecure" creator and star Issa Rae.
On Friday, August 26, a crowd gathered in Atlanta's Georgia Pacific Auditorium for the Bronze Lens Film Festival’s First Glance Friday, awaiting the much anticipated HBO series "Insecure" from star-on-the-rise Issa Rae.

The show opens with iconic LA spots and the extremely appropriate "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar. As the show played, it was quite evident that Issa Rae and "Insecure" will be 'Alright.' The show was funny, but it was more than just a series of one-liner laughs.

"Insecure" is really real. The show centers around the 'aggressively-passive' Issa and her best friend Molly, who are navigating their late 20s in Los Angeles. Faced with the issues of the unmarried, educated black female, Issa and Molly entertain with their quick wit and unbridled truth. "As a black woman, the more educated you are, the less likely you are to get married."