25 August, 2015

14 Films to See at the 2015 Sidewalk Film Festival

This will be my third year attending Sidewalk Film Festival and there is just something about this three-day extravaganza in Birmingham, Alabama that gets me more excited than just about anything else that happens all year.

It's not just the fact that there are so many good films to see that you will inevitably kick yourself for missing one simply because you chose another (a great problem to have). It's not just the fact that they close down 3rd Avenue and have a street party all weekend long with food and games and vendors. It's not just that the Taste of 4th Avenue Jazz Festival is one block away, adding even more electricity to the city. It's not just the amazing staff of Sidewalk—all of whom I admire so deeply. It's not even just the cake bites from Urban Standard.

It's all of this and more—an x-factor, if you will—that this incredible film festival possesses. A charm all it's own, amazing theaters, wonderful film programming, great parties, delectable food. I'm gushing, I know, but I simply can't help it. Sidewalk is The Perfect Storm.

At the heart of it, though, is truly the love of film. It reflects in their program every year and this year is certainly no exception! I have compiled a list of 14 can't-miss films for you to check out this year, and then added 8 more that you might have already seen on the Georgia film festival circuit, but certainly warrant a revisit.

11 August, 2015

Review: "Fort Tilden" (**)

Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott star in "Fort Tilden."

The tagline for “Fort Tilden” might as well have been something that's similarly self-indulgent and self-aware like hashtagwhitegirlproblems. It was a film that I found to be extremely disappointing. I went into “Fort Tilden” with high hopes; this is exactly the kind of movie that, generally, I love: smaller, independent quirky comedies where the humor isn’t forced and the characters aren’t flat. Written and directed by both Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers, this film was painstaking in its evocation of reality for its two primary characters: Allie (Clare McNulty) and Harper (Bridey Elliott).

08 August, 2015

The Local Lense: #GAfilm Updates 8/6 - Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, "The Walking Dead"

Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Garner and more! Hosts Beth Keener and Greer Howard bring you the 411 on entertainment news in Georgia. Find out what's filming, who's here and what to watch!



This week, catch up on the details of "Mother's Day" from director Garry Marshall, which will star Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis (to film in Atlanta); "Coat of Many Colors," an NBC TV movie about Dolly Parton's early life (to film in Metro Atlanta), and "Miracles from Heaven," starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah (currently shooting in Atlanta).

Find out what roles Ethan Embry, Merritt Wever and Corey Hawkins will play in "The Walking Dead." NBC just announced a deal with Atlanta-based producer Will Packer to produce a new Atlanta-set and shot drama titled "Buckhead." Also, check out updates from locally produced TV programs like "The Carbonaro Effect" and "The Dinner Project."

02 August, 2015

10th Annual Macon Film Festival Kicks Off with "Mavis!" (****)

Mavis Staples stars as Mavis Staples in her documentary called "Mavis!" (Staples).

“I’ll stop singing when I have nothing left to say… and that ain’t gonna happen.” That’s our introduction to Mavis Staples in the Jessica Edwards' documentary “Mavis!” Mavis is a wildly compelling and gregarious 76-year-old with a voice that booms like thunder. The exclamation point that end caps the title of the film is so perfectly befitting—it’s a wonder she doesn’t simply spell her name that way; the title is screaming at you with a smile and a buoyancy that floats you through the film. Mavis is without a doubt, the living, breathing, heart-pumping definition of an exclamation point, radiating a charisma and earnestness so vivid and loud that it nearly knocks you out of your chair.

19 July, 2015

Macon Film Festival: 2015 Award Winners

Sara Casasnovas and Jesús Lloveras star in "Day Release (Tercer Grado),"
winner of Best Narrative Feature and Excellence in Directing awards.

The tenth anniversary of the Macon Film Festival saw its most high profile guest yet (Burt Reynolds), its highest attendance yet and—in the honest opinion of this annual attendee and film critic—its best programming yet. While special screenings of "Deliverance," "Sharky's Machine," "Slow West" and opening night presentation "Mavis!" have garnered the most attention, the entire lineup is glittered with exceptional films across the board.

Several selections won two awards—"Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou" took home the Best Animated Short and Excellence in Editing awards, "Forced Contact" was awarded both Best LGBT Short and Excellence in Cinematography honors, and "Day Release (Tercer Grado)" received awards for Best Narrative Feature and Excellence in Directing.

The festival wraps up today and Audience Award winners will be announced tonight. Check out the complete list of winners after the jump.

16 July, 2015

Review: "Cartel Land" (***½)

Meth lab in Michoacán, Mexico

"Breaking Bad" meets "The Hurt Locker" in "Cartel Land," Director Matthew Heineman's investigative documentary about two vigilante forces and their common enemy: the Mexican drug cartels. Stateside we have Tim "Nailer" Foley, head of the Arizona Border Recon, armed and ready to stop the drug war from crossing the border into Altar Valley. In Michoacán, Mexico, Dr. Jose "El Doctor" Mireles leads the Autodefensas—a citizen militia determined to dethrone the Knight Templars, a ruthless cartel that terrorizes the community.

14 July, 2015

Georgia Icon Burt Reynolds Leads a Pack of Filmmakers Heading to 2015 Macon Film Festival

Burt Reynolds in his Academy Award-nominated role in "Boogie Nights."

Georgia-born film legend Burt Reynolds has been announced as a special guest of the 10th annual Macon Film Festival, taking place Thursday July 16 through Sunday July 19. Despite being born in Waycross, Reynolds was raised mostly in Michigan, Missouri and Florida. One of the biggest box office draws of the 1970s and 80s, Reynolds made it a point to return to his home state to film several of his hit films, including "The Cannonball Run," "Deliverance," "Gator," "The Longest Yard," "Sharky's Machine," "Six Pack," "Smokey and the Bandit," "Smokey and the Bandit II" and "Stroker Ace."

08 July, 2015

2015 Macon Film Festival Complete Lineup Revealed


This year's Macon Film Festival is bound to be the biggest event yet. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Macon announced last year that it would move the four-day event from February to July, coinciding with the city's annual Bragg-Jam Music Festival—creating a ten-day mega event in downtown Macon.

Kicking off our annual coverage of middle Georgia's premiere film event, we are pleased to showcase the entire lineup! Several great films are to be showcased this year, including many Georgia features and shorts, several films that also played the 2015 Atlanta Film Festival ("Divided Time," "Frame by Frame," "Old South," "Wildlike") and some very special presentations to be attended by #GAfilm icon Burt Reynolds.

OPENING NIGHT:


MAVIS!
USA (Director: Jessica Edwards) – Mavis Staples of the Staple Singers inspired millions and helped propel the civil rights movement with their music. After 60 years of performing, legendary singer Mavis Staples' message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.


SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS:


Special Screening of DELIVERANCE (1972) 
USA (Director: John Boorman) – Burt Reynolds scheduled to attend a Q&A following the screening of this iconic Georgia film. 

HOW SWEET THE SOUND: BLIND BOYS FROM ALABAMA
USA (Director: Leslie McCleave) – Directed and Produced by Leslie McCleave Filmed over the course of ten years, How Sweet the Sound tells the story of The Blind Boys of Alabama. They met as children in the 1930’s at a state-run segregated vocational school and would become one of the last great gospel quartets, traversing the famed “gospel highway” and beyond. As the surviving band members recount their unlikely success story, we see a rare, frank view of life on and off the road with these renowned performers, now in their 70’s and 80’s.

LIVE FROM NEW YORK!
USA (Director: Bao Nguyen) – "Saturday Night Live" has been reflecting and influencing life in the United States for 40 years. Live From New York! goes deep inside this cultural phenomenon exploring the laughter that pulses through American politics, tragedy and popular culture.

Special Screening of SHARKY’S MACHINE (1981) 
USA (Director: Burt Reynolds) – Reynolds scheduled to attend a Q&A following this Closing Night screening. 

SLOW WEST
United Kingdom/New Zealand (Director: John Maclean) – "Slow West" follows a 16-year-old boy on a journey across 19th Century frontier America in search of the woman he loves, while accompanied by mysterious traveler Silas. The film stars Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

WESTERN
USA (Director: Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross) – For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, TX, from Piedras Negras, MX, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life.


25 June, 2015

The Local Lense: #GAfilm Updates 6/25 - Jennifer Garner, Daniel Radcliffe, Isla Fisher

Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, Daniel Radcliffe, Josh Brolin, Isla Fisher and more! Hosts Beth Keener and Greer Howard bring you the 411 on entertainment news in Georgia. Find out what's filming, who's here and what to watch!



This week, catch up on the details of "Miracles from Heaven" with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah (to film in Georgia this summer); "Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter" with Josh Brolin and Danny McBride (filming in Georgia); and "Young Americans" with Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan (filming in New Orleans and Atlanta this fall). Plus, catch some info on "The Magnificent Seven" with Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington, set to film in Louisiana.

Find out where Isla Fisher ("Keeping Up with the Joneses"), Andrew Lincoln ("The Walking Dead"),  and Kanye West and OutKast were spotted around town!

Check out TV updates from MTV's "Finding Cater," Lifetime's "Devious Maids," USA's "Complications" and SundanceTV's "Rectify." Stay tuned to the end to see set pictures from "Allegiant: Part 1" with Shailene Woodley, "Mena" with Tom Cruise, "The Founder" with Michael Keaton and "Captain America: Civil War" with Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie.

24 June, 2015

Review: "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" (****½)

Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke star in "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl."

An adaptation of the same-titled novel by Jesse Andrews, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is about a self-aware and 'gopher-faced' (his words, not mine) high school senior named Greg (Thomas Mann) who is forced, per his mother’s request, to hang out with Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate who could barely be called an acquaintance, once she’s been diagnosed with cancer. And the result of that first, initial, forced hang-out is… well, it’s magic. And Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s direction is risky and wild and perfectly on point. He creates a world you want to live in and characters you want to believe in.